As Mr. Lung’s elder by some 12 days, it often falls to me to provide discipline when he goes off on his wild rants. However, I ask you the reader to please remember that I do this out of love; not because I want to but because I have to. And as my parents always used to say, this is hurting me more than it’s hurting you.
Where to begin? How about with the fact that Target’s interest in the game of baseball just shows how healthy the sport is today. After strike shortened seasons and steroid tainted stars, the game has reached ever greater levels of popularity. The willingness of big corporations like Target to put their name on a stadium just shows how far baseball has come. The legions of JDs, MBAs and PR men who have to put their stamp of approval on an undertaking like this means that these same corporations now have a stake in what happens to the game. They don’t want to see it fail any more than we do.
Going beyond that, corporate advertising has always been a part of the game. Wrigley Field got its name as much from the company as it did from the team owner who funded its construction. And I bet that if you could go back in time, you’d find that even the Roman coliseum was sponsored by some local entity. Maximus’ Chariots or something like that. As I’ve mentioned before in these pages, baseball, like all sports, is a business and in business you have to make money. If you don’t, you go the way of Lehman Brothers.
Now I’ll admit that baseball owners (along with owners of other sport franchises) get a pretty sweet deal. The team and the owners usually only have to front a small part of the tab and the city, state and county tend to get stuck with the rest. But once you figure in tax revenues, increased tourism and the implicit commitment from the team that they’re going to stick around, I don’t think you’ll find many people complaining. I’ll say it again. Baseball is a business and advertising is part of business. Corporations like Target, Comerica Bank and U.S. Cellular are just doing what they do best: looking at the demographics and then advertising to them in the best way possible.
However, I have to say at the end of the day, I love Target. I was there just this past weekend to pick up odds and ends for so much cheaper than it would cost to buy them at my local CVS. Maybe Target exploits its workers but compared to Wal-Mart and the fast food joints, they aren’t doing so bad. The only real problem is that it’s really hard to get the smell of children’s sweat out of the stuff I buy there. That’s the price of capitalism.