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Uniforms, Numbers, Publicity Stunts, etc…

new Tampa Bay Rays logosA few noteworthy items have built up over the past couple of days, so here you go:

No NFL Inquest this week because, well, I didn’t get around to it and now it’s Thursday. I promise to bring back the keen insights and trenchant analysis next week and for (nearly) every football week thereafter.

Get it while it’s hot: a full rundown of next year’s MLB uniform changes. There’s some really interesting stuff in there, including a new (and very weak) identity for the “Tampa Bay Rays” (above) and some wicked cool alternates for the Indians and the Blue Jays.

No changes for the O’s, but you knew that.

via Uni Watch

Speaking of new identities, the details of Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s new sponsors/number have been made official.

I’m actually fascinated by auto racing paint schemes and numbering systems, so feel free to nerd out with me on this.

Finally, don’t forget to cast your vote on what happens to Barry Bonds‘ record-tainting home run ball. Marc Ecko deserves major props for this little stunt. I can’t imagine a cooler way to handle it, an opinion that’s backed up by this article. Anything that annoys Bonds can’t be all bad.

For the record, I cast my vote in favor of branding the ball with an asterisk. Man I hope that one wins.

22 comments to Uniforms, Numbers, Publicity Stunts, etc…

  • Andrew in Rochester

    POWDER BLUE unis! Oh my God, they’re wonderful…..ly hideous! Awesome, but in the wrong way!

    I like the new Rays uniforms, though…they have a nice classy look to them, even thought that name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. The Yankee Stadium patch is a nice touch – but dear lord, powder blue pants!

  • Joe the Guy

    Marc Ecko has too much money.

    But I still voted for the *

    brand that right on there and mail it back to barry.

  • dfgolf

    Tampa Bay is going to have “TAMPA BAY” on their away jerseys again next season?

    Isn’t that going to offend people in Palm Harbor or Valrico or Sarasota or St. Pete?

  • neal s

    Actually, Drew, the home and away jerseys next year will both say “Rays”.



  • dfgolf

    Really? They’re not going too have TAMPA BAY on their away shirt? What dumb ass advised to do that? The same people they have advising them in Baltimore?

  • neal s

    Their brand is new enough, and weak enough, that they may as well present themselves as a regional, or Florida, or just “baseball” team. Going city-free actually gives them a kind of standing, a sense that they’re bigger and stronger than they really are. It makes a lot of sense.

    We take the whole “Baltimore” thing very personally, but you have to look at the bigger picture with stuff like that.

  • neal s

    By the way, everyone: if clicking those image links doesn’t work (you might get a “forbidden” error) just refresh your browswer and they should come up fine.

  • df1570

    Sorry, Neal. You should stick to hosting this fine web site you’ve started.

    Marketing obviously isn’t your thing.

    “Going city-free” gives no team – including Tampa Bay – any kind of standing.

    Intentionally disassociating yourself with the city you play in, particularly after you once had your city’s name proudly displayed on the front of your jersey, is NOT making them any bigger or any stronger.

    And it DOESN’T make sense.

    Great web-site, bro.

    I’ll give you a D- on your marketing term paper, though.

    Don’t worry, as Mr. Hand said in “Fast Times” — “I think you’ll…squeak by.”

    As for “taking it personally” in Baltimore. You’re f*cking right about that one. Maybe I’ll change your grade to a D+…lol

    Since 1993, this regime has had the freedom to return “BALTIMORE” to the road jerseys and they haven’t.

    In 1995, this regime ordered the word “BALTIMORE” removed from the team logo.

    In 2003, this regime instructed it’s on-air announcers, PA announcers and anyone affiliated with the club in a PR/broadcast capacity to refrain from referring to the team as the “BALTIMORE Orioles” and call them, simply, “The Orioles”.

    In 2005, the team removed the word “BALTIMORE” from the top of the dugout, where it once read, “welcome to the home of the BALTIMORE Orioles.”

    Call their office. “Thank you for calling the Orioles, how can I direct your call?”

    So, I ask you, Neal – and everyone.

    If they don’t give a shit about Baltimore, why should Baltimore give a shit about them?

    I know, that’s very Zen like…breathe in, breathe out, and think about it.

  • neal s

    Actually, Drew, marketing is a big part of what I do and study in my other life. And I stand by what I said because I was relating it specifically to the Rays. The issues they face there are not the same as the issues the Orioles face here. And hell, they don’t even actually play in Tampa Bay — they play in St. Petersburg. If Camden Yards was in Laurel or Aberdeen would we feel the same way about how the O’s approach using “Baltimore” in their marketing efforts? I doubt it.

    That said, three points:

    First, thanks for the kind words on the site. You might have had your tongue in your cheek but I still appreciate it. I like to think we’ve got a good thing going.

    Second, there’s no question that the Orioles have made a concerted effort to de-emphasize “Baltimore” in their overall identity. It’s neither fair nor accurate, however, to say they’ve completely ignored it. MASN has been running a pre-game intro all season that features both the word “Baltimore” and a handful of Baltimore sights (the “Eutaw Street” sign, for example). They also have the “BAL” abbreviation up on the home scoreboard, at least some of the time (that’s what it said during the “Take Back the Yard” game). Those are two examples off the top of my head.

    The real issue is this: the Orioles have an identity problem that extends way beyond whether or not they use the word “Baltimore.” What they need is a thorough brand audit, undertaken by an outside entity like TBC or 4Thought or Vitamin or Planit (to name just a few local shops). And, in fact, they’d do well to turn over all of their marketing and identity pursuits to an outsider.

    Of course, that won’t happen. And in fairness, I’m sure there are good, talented people on their in-house team who are hamstrung by decisions from above.

    Which pretty much puts us back at square one, does it not?

    Either way, the “Baltimore” issue is real, but it’s just one symptom of a larger problem.

    Finally, don’t forget that the Phillies and the Cardinals both forgo city names on their road jerseys. Food for thought.

  • dan the man

    I’ve heard every broadcaster say the word “Baltimore” this year.

  • df1570

    Nothing at all “tongue in cheek” about my compliments for your site.

    If I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t be here.

    Enough said on that subject.

    St. Louis has “STL” on their hats and Philadelphia has a “P” and the word “Phillies” links them to their city.

    But what the other teams do, or don’t do, has nothing at all to do with what the Orioles should do.

    The Orioles don’t have an identity problem. They have an integrity problem.

    No marketing shop in the market can do more for the O’s integrity than they can do by themselves.

    In their heart of hearts (and I’ve had people who work there agree with me on this), they know “we’re” right. They know they need to re-connect with Baltimore. But those at the top won’t do it. It’s probably because they don’t know how to initiate it without looking like they’re issuing a mea culpa for the years of shitting on everyone in Baltimore.

    And yes, the team’s announcers have referred to the team as the “BALTIMORE” Orioles…but only in a sequential game reporting sense…that puts “Baltimore up 6-5 in this one after that double by Markakis.” They still NEVER refer to them as the BALTIMORE Orioles
    when addressing the team in a marketing sense…”Hey Orioles fans, don’t forget, good tickets (about 34,000 of them) are available for next Friday’s game between Toronto and the Orioles.”

    Gotta show to do…

    Have a great Friday all…

  • Chris

    Drew, I dunno if you’re fit to teach this marketing class. A class on civic pride? Maybe. Marketing? No. Here’s a marketing lesson rooting in cold, hard facts: It’s common knowledge that most of the money in the region lies outside of Baltimore City (Owings Mills, White March, Etc). Therefore it only makes sense that most of the money pumped into leisure events such as sports, theatre, fine dining, etc. comes from outside of the city. If you live in Baltimore City, you see that the majority of people who live here can’t afford or don’t have the time for an outing at a baseball game. Either that or they’ve got more important things to worry about than a baseball team. Despite the condos and renovated waterfronts, this town is by no means a Chicago or Boston or New York or DC that has the volume of people with money and time to sustain a bad baseball team.
    So what is a BUSINESS like the Baltimore Baseball Orioles to do? MARKET TO WHERE THE MONEY IS. De-emphasize the brand “Baltimore” which the country instantly associates with “The Wire” and our often league-leading murder rate. Yes, it’s sad. Yes, it’s a crying shame. I love Baltimore, but I understand business enough to know that the folks in the warehouse are just trying to keep their jobs. And the way they do that is to target where the money is and bring that money in AT ANY COST. It’s just a shame it has to be at the cost of the city’s identity.

  • Brendan

    Drew, I’ve got a good read for you:

    Heard you say that on air yesterday too. Thought it was funny…

    Bottom line is if you search it out hard enough, yeah, you’ll find where it’s omitted. Call the Red Sox number once, Terry Fran answers the phone with no mention of “Boston”.

    Obviously the jerseys are a problem for a lot people. They’d be less of a problem if we ever won. The other stuff is just picking in my opinion.

    Like Bill Simmons wrote in his piece on the Pats this week – “Sports is the toy department of life.” There’s more important things to worry about, like the right side of the Skins O line.

  • neal s

    I was surprised how well they held up against the Eagles, actually. It seems — at least at this early stage — that the backups are up to the task.

  • Brendan

    I hope so. If so, I might finally start having faith in the personell decisions over there by ol’ Vinny C. Or it could just be Buges’ coaching.

    Either way, it would be a good example of how a team in a fairly constant, 10+ year state of dissaray finally decided it was time to make smart moves as oppposed to those bone-headed, ego driven ones.

    Granted it takes a hell of a lot longer in baseball, but hopefully the O’s are taking steps in that direction too. I believe they are. MacPhail is step one in a thousand step process.

  • neal s

    I think the O’s are improving. I mean, just take a look at this article from the Sun about Tejada. They’re obviously asking the tough questions and having the difficult conversations. That’s not something we’ve seen here in quite awhile.

    That said, it’s going to take awhile. I just hope that next year’s team is at least fun.

    And I think the Skins are a good sleeper pick this year for a playoff run.

  • dan the man

    I have no problem with the broadcasters not saying “Baltimore” before the word “Orioles” every single time. I mean, sooner or later, it just going to sound stupid. “Hey Baltimore Orioles fan, get your Baltimore Orioles tickets at the Baltimore Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, MD” I mean, at some point, you have to just say Orioles because that’s just the name of the team. It’s ok to shorten it. Everyone knows they’re in Baltimore. It’s ok to say just “Orioles”. Sheesh.

  • df1570

    Dan, if you hustle, you might be able to take advantage of that 2-for-1 sale at “Apolgies R Us”.

    Look, it’s really very simple.

    The club has clearly gone out of their way to remove any formal, obvious connection to BALTIMORE. If you can’t see that, with the examples I’ve provided before, you’re, well…just not able to separate reality from your fantasy world.

    They can just say “Orioles” all they want on the broadcasts. They should, in fact, because it WOULD sound redundant to say BALTIMORE Orioles every time.

    But that’s really neither here nor there when it comes to the organization’s intentional disassociation with BALTIMORE.

    I know for a fact it’s intentional. People who work there (or did before they got wise) have given me all the details.

    Now, if you think that’s smart, then keep on apologizing for them and you can join the other 8,000 who will be there most nights next year except when Boston and New York fans take over the park.

    I forgot more about marketing and community relations last Thursday than they know at OPACY.

    With cooperation from the players, the manager and the front office, the city’s perception (win OR lose) of the organization could be changed in two years or so.

    I’m a dummy and I know what to do.

    But they want to do it THEIR WAY. Well, THEIR WAY hasn’t been working for the better part of 10 years now.

  • I hate the new Rays Unis and I hate the fact that Tampa Bay is not across the chest in the away Unis

  • dan the man

    You really like the spandex undershirts??

  • Brendan

    Just no baggy pants on the road in Baltimore. You may be arrested or heavily fined.

  • neal s

    I don’t want to labor this point, but I’d like to ask you, Drew, to consider something.

    You, me, Nestor, Haynie, Chris, Ryan, and a host of other people within our respective circles represent a certain target market. But as Chris astutely pointed out, we don’t represenent a majority of the market.

    We would all love to see “Baltimore” returned to both the logo and the road jerseys. That’s because we love the city.

    But take your anger about the lack of “Baltimore” in their identity system and put it in a drawer for a moment. Once it’s safely out of your mind, and you’re thinking fairly, answer me this: are you really asking the Orioles to market well, or are you asking them to market to you?

    My point is that they have a marketing problem, of which the “Baltimore” issue is but a symptom. Your point seems to be — and correct me if I’m wrong — that the “Baltimore” issue is the issue, and that if they correct it then they’ll do better, win or lose.

    I just can’t agree with that. My gut tells me that fans in Bel Air, White Marsh, Laurel, Catonsville, Hunt Valley, York, Aberdeen, etc could, by and large, give a damn about the word “Baltimore”. They just want to see the team do a better job at two things: respecting the fans and winning (in that order).