Jun 30, 2008

Sports Illustrated ranks ballpark promotions

Sports Illustrated surveyed baseball fans in 30 MLB cities to rank the best and worst promotions (among other things). The Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Cleveland Indians are in the top three, while the New York Mets, Washington Nationals, and Boston Red Sox have the lowest overall ratings.

Even better than the rankings themselves are some of the fan comments about the best and worst giveaways:
  • Milwaukee: "The funniest was Jeffrey Hammonds bobblehead after he was cut by the team."
  • San Diego: "The best promotion was a free Padres blanket. The worst was an ugly floppy hat that had a bigger logo of the sponsor than of the team. I would like to see more promotions of items people could actually use, such as the team blankets and cups."
  • Los Angeles: "Pink tote bags for Mother's Day was the best. That jerk who sued the Angels is the worst. I would like to see only women get the pink tote bags again."
  • Detroit: "My favorite was Magglio Hat/Hair day, I think that day was a blast. You have people of all ages walking around with a Tigers cap and curls hanging out the back of them."
  • Colorado: "Honestly, the best was a 'Loyal Fan' pin I received after sitting through a three-hour rain delay a couple of years ago."
  • New York Yankees: "The worst was one of the bobblehead nights when they only gave them out to kids. I hate paying 10-year-olds $10 to get a bobblehead."
  • Minnesota: "Worst: Minnesota Road Map Night. The road maps turned into giant airplanes sailing down from the upper deck. Best: Dairy Queen Spatula Night. The clink, clink of 10,000 spatulas was incredible. I still use the spatula on the outdoor grill."
(via GameOps.com)

Jun 25, 2008

Promotions gone bad: Major league forfeits

Check out ESPN.com's list of the last 10 major league baseball forfeits. Many of them are due to game day promotions gone horribly wrong. Some examples:

Aug. 10, 1995: Dodgers fans littered the field with giveaway souvenir baseballs in the ninth inning, and Los Angeles forfeited to the Cardinals.

July 12, 1979: Thousands of fans overran the field at Comiskey Park during the "Disco Demolition Night" promotion between games of a doubleheader. The White Sox forfeited the nightcap to Detroit.

June 4, 1974: Cleveland forfeits to Texas when a riot breaks out at 10-Cent Beer Night.

Sept. 30, 1971: Souvenir hunters overrun R.F.K. Stadium and the Senators, despite leading 7-5 with two outs in the ninth, forfeit their last game in Washington to the Yankees.

Sept. 26, 1942: Hundreds of children, guests of the Giants in a promotion to bring scrap metal for the war effort, swarmed the field after the eighth inning, and New York forfeited to the visiting Boston Braves.

A complete list of forfeits can be found at Retrosheet.

Beer and violence in Cleveland

Here's a great article from ESPN about a Cleveland Indians game on June 4, 1974, featuring a "10-Cent Beer Night" promotion that ended in a riot. Some highlights:

The '74 Indians were a smorgasbord of mediocre and forgettable talent playing in an open-air mausoleum. That year, in a city that fielded one of the founding professional teams (the Forest Citys, incorporated there in 1869), 85 percent of the seats at home games went unsold. All those empty seats meant a balance sheet written in red. The team's executive vice president, Ted Bonda, could put up with losing teams and an ugly stadium (he had inherited both in 1972), but he would not tolerate insolvency. Bonda called a meeting to discuss options for improving attendance, which must have felt a little like trying to figure out how to get people excited about a trip to the orthodontist. Someone, apparently a team employee likely acting out of desperation, suggested copying the Texas Rangers, who had recently hosted a successful "10-Cent Beer Night." We can imagine the grim silence in the boardroom as the group considered this obviously dangerous remedy. How interested would Cleveland be in such a promotion?

Accounts vary as to the volume proffered -- 8 ounces? 10? 12? -- but the price was certain enough: 10 cents per cup. Fans -- and we shall use this term for lack of a better one -- could buy up to six cups at a time, with no system in place to prevent a designated mule from purchasing a full complement, handing them off to underage clients, and returning for more.

Even though the Indians offered copious amounts of beer at cut-rate prices, a great many attendees opted to play with a handicap, arriving at their seats drunk, stoned or both. The June 4 promotion turned out to be quite popular, drawing 25,134 people, more than double the average crowd that season.


Through deliberate coordination or spontaneous groupthink, hundreds of fans showed up with pockets full of firecrackers. Anonymous explosions peppered the stands from the first pitch, lending the game a war-zone ambiance that would seem increasingly appropriate. Though it is not clear whether this impromptu celebration cost anyone a finger or hand, an uneasy je ne sais quoi settled into the stadium along with clouds of exploded gunpowder and marijuana smoke.


As the night wore on, the crowds grew bolder, and packs of fans frequently scurried across the outfield. One man tossed a tennis ball into center field, then scrambled after it. After throwing the ball back into the seats, he led park security on a little jog, pausing at one point to hug another fan, perhaps a long-lost relative, who had jumped out to greet him. Ushers dragged away one of the two, while the other leaped into the stands and was borne away by dozens of gleeful, anonymous hands. The rain of beer became a hail of rocks, batteries, golf balls and anything not bolted down.


In 1974, it did not occur to the Indians organization to request an additional police presence at the ballpark for their beer-fueled promotion. If any municipal police were in the stadium that night, they were off duty and quite possibly as drunk as anyone else.

Early on, the demand for beer surpassed the Indians' capacity to ferry it to concession stands, and a luminary, perhaps the same person who suggested the promotion in the first place, decided to allow fans to line up behind the outfield fences and have their cups filled directly from Stroh's company trucks. The promotion achieved critical mass at that moment, as weaving, hooting queues of people refilled via industrial spigot.

The public address announcer reminded spectators not to litter onto the field, and refuse rained down harder. The grounds crew had not sat down since the second inning, and outfield fans used them as moving targets...

Read on ... it gets much worse...

Jun 14, 2008

Round-Up: Hockey Night in Canada Theme to CTV

So the rights to the Hockey Night in Canada Theme have been purchased by CTV, and will be now be known as the Hockey Theme. There's not much we can add to the conversation, but here are some fun blog posts from the past week on the topic:
  • James Duthie: "I will be composing lyrics to go with the music and performing it live (with Dreger and McKenzie on background vocals) to open every broadcast... I was asked about “The Song” in roughly 497 radio interviews this week (They all went pretty much like this: “Yes, I’m excited. Yes, it will be a little weird at first. No, I don’t know how the monkey feels about it.”)"

  • Scott Feschuk: "..forget the Exciting National Contest. Instead, try to salvage some dignity and manufacture some new tradition ... by a) securing the rights to Stompin’ Tom’s The Hockey Song, and b) swiping a page from the TV show Weeds ... by having the tune performed each week by a different musical artist – The Hip one Saturday night, Arcade Fire the next, Anne Murray after that and Trooper when some band phones in sick at the last minute..."

  • Scott Feschuk (again): "So CTV has purchased exclusive rights to the Hockey Night in Canada theme song, presumably for use on TSN and beyond. This feels a bit like Superman ripping off Batman’s theme song to score chicks..."

  • Ken Campbell: "If I were a hockey fan – and I am – I’d be a lot more concerned about some of the things that are going on around the game than whether or not I’ll be able to hear The Hockey Theme next season when I watch hockey on Saturday night."

  • David Staples: "The rhetoric is getting out of control here. The CBC wasn't going to burn all copies of the song, after all, just stop playing it on Hockey Night in Canada. Some of you may be truly grateful for CTV's big-hearted "salvation" of the song, but I see it as Claman and her people pulling off a brilliant negotiating ploy, using the very real attachment that Canadians feel for the song to win a better rights deal for themselves."

Jun 13, 2008

LA Lakers pre-game show - creating a huge virtual video screen

Check out this video of the NBA finals pre-game show. The LA Lakers hung a white sheet around their video scoreboard, and projected huge video images onto it -- creating a huge video scoreboard. As the video ends, the sheet falls away as the player introductions begin. It's a simple effect, but very impactful.

Jun 10, 2008

New York Yankees fans boo the sun

New York fans love to boo (we've blogged about Buffalo boos before), and FanHouse.com tells us that Yankees fans even boo the Sun. Fans cheered when a cloud moved in front of the brigh sun during the 5th inning, and then they booed a few moments later when the sun returned.
(Thanks CC!)

Jun 7, 2008

Mariah Carey throws the ceremonial first pitch at a Japanese baseball game

At least she didn't sing the National Anthem!

(via Balls)

Listen to the Hockey Night In Canada Theme Song

For all the Canadians lamenting the loss of the Hockey Night in Canada Theme, check out Fong Songs for four versions of the song by the Shuffle Demons, Mother of Pearl, Moxy Fruvous, and the Jimmy Smith Band.

Jun 5, 2008

Great Promotions: "Cheaper By The Gallon"

The Fort Meyers Miracle have a promotion running for every Monday home game called "Cheaper By The Gallon". This is a great promotion because its creative, and thorough -- I guess you can say they've covered all the bases. Some of the elements of the promo:

  • The lowest price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline offered in South Fort Myers, will equal the cost of a box seat ticket for that night's game.
  • For example, "Sharpie's Super Stop" has regular unleaded gas at $3.86 a gallon, then $3.86 is what you pay for a box seat that normally costs $7.00.
  • Fans will have the chance to win anything from a gallon of water to a gallon of sour cream. Anything that comes in a gallon is fair game for a "Cheaper by the Gallon" Monday giveaway.
  • Monday patrons will also benefit with a discount on popular items from the grill -- hamburgers, cheeseburgers, bratwursts and chicken sandwiches. The same price for a gallon of gasoline is the same reduced price for these ballpark favorites.
  • Since there are four quarts in a gallon, if there are four people in your vehicle when you arrive at Hammond Stadium, your parking is free on Monday nights.
  • Every fan who attends a Monday night game will be entered into a drawing to receive a pass for free gas, courtesy of the Miracle.
(via Ben's Biz Blog)

Goodbye to the Hockey Night in Canada Theme?

Update June 7:

Watching CBC this morning, and they're reporting that CBC Sports offered composer Claman $65,000 a season for the rights to the song, as well as a total rights buy-out of $1,000,000.

CBC's being raked over the coals for this by Canadian hockey fans -- but I think some of the anger has to be directed to Claman (and her representatives) as well. If the report of the $65,000 per season is true, certainly that's more than fair compensation for a 60-second theme song on the broadcast.

Does the public really want CBC to spend that much money for a song? And if the song is so important to Canadian culture -- should Claman be allowed to charge CBC a ransom in order for Canadians to enjoy it?

Update June 6:

Although we love hockey here in Canada, it's not often that hockey music is debated on Parliament Hill. Here's a transcript from a media scrum today with Jack Layton, leader of Canada's New Democratic Party (via The Commons):

Reporter: Mr. Layton, there’s talk that CBC may cancel the theme music for Hockey Night in Canada, you know the duh duh duh duh duh —

Jack Layton: What do you mean do I know?

Reporter: What do you think?

Jack Layton: It’s kind of second to the national anthem. Why would they do that?

Reporter: (Inaudible)

Jack Layton: Why would they? Oh my God. Well, I think we need an emergency debate in the House of Commons. I think we need to mobilize Canadians in defence of that amazing tune that just gets our blood coursing through our veins. It’s a signature. It’s the musical signature of who we are. How dare they? That music belongs to the people. I call on Canadians to rise up and sing.

The q & a was in regards to several media reports that CBC has decided to stop using the immensely popular Hockey Night in Canada Theme song next season, due to a rights fee dispute with the song's composer. Based on the reaction in Canada today, hockey fans clearly think that decision is "offside". Here's a sampling of blogger comments:
But wait! Apparantly the decision is not final, and the theme song just might be coming back next year. Moore, the executive director for CBC Sports says:

"We've been reaching out to [composer Dolores Claman] and her representative, and haven't heard back," Moore said. "We're prepared to do a deal, we're prepared to talk, but we're not prepared to do a deal at all costs."

If an agreement can't be reached, Moore said a nationwide contest would be held for Canadians to submit a new theme song.

"We have to responsibly have another plan if, for some reason, we're not able to do a deal. We've had this plan in place for more than a year," said Moore, adding the controversy and debate created by a contest wouldn't necessarily be bad. (via CBC Sports)