April 13, 2010

Those Ad-Free Days At Fenway

Thomas Grillo, Herald:
The pitches at Fenway Park don't just come from the mound.

Ads surround the ballfield, causing some to long for the days when they could watch a game without being bombarded by signs. ...

Many Sox fans recall a time when the only sign at Fenway Park was the Jimmy Fund billboard in right field. They say the proliferation of ads has turned the park back into a commercial zone. ...
Really?

24 comments:

Benjamin said...

“Fenway is a gem that shouldn’t be messed up by all those signs,” said John Vrooman, a sports economist at Vanderbilt University. “Fenway belongs to the Sox, but it also belongs to baseball and should remain pure.”

Moved by the understanding that purity of Fenway Park is the essential condition for the continued existence of baseball, and inspired by the inflexible determination to ensure the existence of Red Sox Nation for all time, the Commissioner must promulgate rules removing these advertisements.

A Seawolves Fanatic said...

Is it just me or has anybody else become attached to the ads on the Green Monster?

Seeing old pics with no ads on it looks plain and kinda boring.

That's my generation I guess, who have lived there whole lives with ads everywhere.

redsock said...

I sometimes see clips of a home run into the screen from when I first got hooked on the Sox (late 70s) and it looks abandoned and bizarre. Not all the time, though.

It is odd how old ads from the 1930s or something look nice but seeing ads now annoys me.

Benjamin said...

I refuse to get nostalgic about ads -- they're advertising! -- but wistful nostalgia for a time that never was is ridiculous. And purity fetishism is always creepy.

It is odd how old ads from the 1930s or something look nice but seeing ads now annoys me.

They might have been a bit more understated, since graphic arts technology was less developed then.

Or maybe you just aren't as familiar with the brands, so you don't feel the same sort of overload and fatigue. With the distance of history, you can more easily take a sociological interest in Lifebuoy Health Soap ("More than Soap -- a Health Habit") or laugh at the gall of that old "Clear Heads Choose Calvert" whiskey ad the way you might at the old Flintstones cigarette ads.

L-girl said...

Benjamin makes good points. I agree on all.

Right now many of us are experiencing advertising fatigue. We are so inundated by advertising at every turn for everyfrigginthing that each ad becomes more of an irritant. If we only saw the ads on the Green Monster - if not every moment of the entire game was sponsored and ads weren't being forced on us every minute - the GM ads probably wouldn't bother us.

L-girl said...

Self-promotion (I'm allowd)

L-girl said...

Oh shit, that was the wrong link. It's this one. Honest mistake, I swear.

redsock said...

Maybe the world was better when everything was in black and white.

johngoldfine said...

"And purity fetishism is always creepy."

That's awfully nicely put!

9casey said...

John Vrooman, a sports economist at Vanderbilt University. “Fenway belongs to the Sox, but it also belongs to baseball and should remain pure.”



Maybe they should work on keeping baseball pure and let the parks sell furniture....

Jere said...

I think it was different pre-47 when they painted The Wall green, because there was no tv. After that baseball games got built-in televised advertising. However the ads have been back since '76, when they added that high back wall behind the bleachers for billboards. (which was recently cut down again, but the ads became the free-standing kind) So a large percentage of fans can't possibly remember when the Jimmy Fund was the only sign in the park. I say ban all ads from everything, just because.

L-girl said...

Where my sister and I had lunch today, they had the NYY home opener (and ring ceremony) on TV. We sat where we couldn't see it, but I heard M Kay intoning throughout. Much nauseating worship of the Return of Shemp.

Judy told me she posted on Facebook "having lunch with sister" and someone asked, Are you going to the Yankees game?

Judy: "I just said no. Didn't go into what a stupid question that was."

redsock said...

I heard M Kay intoning throughout

And you were able to keep lunch down?

sigh said...

Right now many of us are experiencing advertising fatigue. We are so inundated by advertising at every turn for everyfrigginthing that each ad becomes more of an irritant. If we only saw the ads on the Green Monster - if not every moment of the entire game was sponsored and ads weren't being forced on us every minute - the GM ads probably wouldn't bother us.

I find this interesting from my perspective of viewing baseball games five time zones away to the east. Where you see ads everywhere in the ballpark and find the sponsored moments highly instrusive, I find the way ads are presented in baseball games quite refreshing.

The reason for this is that being English, I'm a (real) football fan and also a rugby league fan. Sports are highly commercialised here too, as are the broadcasts on pay TV, but the major difference is that where American team uniforms are unmolested, uniform sponsorship is universal in soccer, both rugby codes and other team sports, now including the officials' uniforms as well (though this does offer the comedy value of Scottish soccer referees being sponsored a chain of opticians). Perimeter advertising is universal and has been for as long as it has in the US, so along with a lot of people I don't even register that it's there.

When watching baseball I find it easy to concentrate on the game because the actual sport itself - the onfield action - is left fairly pure. The uniforms are not sullied with sponsorship and even the manufacturer's logo is an extremely discrete speck on the sleeve. The players themselves are not onfield shills for faceless corporations. If team kit is your thing (and it happens to be mine) you can wear your team's uniforms without paying for the privilege of advertising Verizon or Geico or any other corporation you have no interest in promoting. This means that stylistic changes apart, Red Sox uniforms look largely the same now as they did as long ago as the 1930s.

L-girl said...

And you were able to keep lunch down?

It was very good food. I wouldn't let him ruin it.

L-girl said...

I'm a (real) football fan

There happens to be more than one sport called football. I'd rather watch paint dry than any of them, but they're all real sports.

L-girl said...

When watching baseball I find it easy to concentrate on the game because the actual sport itself - the onfield action - is left fairly pure.

But the sport itself has to be watched via some medium. Calls to the bullpen, pitch counts, scoreboards, announcers' "keys to the game" (gee, I wonder why they're called that?), behind the plate ads, etc, have all been woven into the action of the game. Some teams are showing ads between pitches.

You might find it refreshing, but pure it ain't.

sigh said...

There happens to be more than one sport called football. I'd rather watch paint dry than any of them, but they're all real sports.

Yes, I'm aware of that. That was just a misplaced glib parenthesis on my part; it's pretty common in Europe for soccer to be referred to that way since it was the original game called football. My apologies. I wouldn't suggest for a moment that other games called football aren't real sports; I think American football and Gaelic football are great games and I assume the same applies to Australian Rules footnball of which I seem very little (though it does seem ironic to me that in the American game the ball is kicked so rarely).

sigh said...

But the sport itself has to be watched via some medium. Calls to the bullpen, pitch counts, scoreboards, announcers' "keys to the game" (gee, I wonder why they're called that?), behind the plate ads, etc, have all been woven into the action of the game. Some teams are showing ads between pitches.

Well, yes, it does have to be watched via some medium. Until such time as my wife and I relocate to California, my medium is MLB.TV and occasional visits to ballparks. I can certainly see why every moment of the game being sponsored annoys you so much and in time possibly the same things would irk me similarly. I find those things easy to ignore because for me they meld into the rest of the constant chatter from the play-by-play and colour commentators that is standard for American commentators, at least for baseball. I don't mean chatter in a negative sense, because I enjoy the baseball commentary on both TV and radio and find it informative and in case of teams like Orsillo and Remy (and Eckstein last year) the warmth between the two is enjoyable - it's a complete contrast to hyperbolic and inane ramblings and ranting of TV and radio commentators over here.

You might find it refreshing, but pure it ain't.

Perhaps pure isn't the best word, then. I just mean that in contrast to other sports I watch where the players and officials themselves are sponsored ads, in baseball and other American sports you're not looking at constant advertising on the field itself; the uniforms serve a single purpose - to distinguish the players of one team from the players of the other.

L-girl said...

Yes, I'm aware of that. That was just a misplaced glib parenthesis on my part; it's pretty common in Europe for soccer to be referred to that way since it was the original game called football.

Thank you, sigh. As I said, I dislike all of those sports, but I dislike snobbery even more. :)

I sure wish I could tune out the chatter.

redsock said...

I liked the "(real)" ... because soccer is cool and football sucks!

The "sponsored by" stuff often makes no impression, but not always. But it has also been around for a long time -- Mel Allen calling Yankee home runs Ballantine blasts, for example -- though it was likely not so saturated throughout the broadcast. Red Smith referred to home runs as "Chesterfield Satisfiers" or "White Owl Wallops" and when Getty gas sponsored MFY games in the 70s, HR calls mentioned "another Getty Goner".

When MLB teams played in Japan, players had little ads/logos on their batting helmets. And Selig has okayed things like putting movie ads on the sides of the bases.

Gareth said...

The thing that I found most unusual when moving to the US is the way that the commentators so smoothly weave together the commentary with the advertising, so that it can be hard to tell the difference between the two (the Giant Glass radio ads often exploit that); of course, the same thing happens on NPR, too, where the journalists read the sponsorship pitches.

I can't think of a game I watched growing up where the commentary and the advertising are so thoroughly interwoven although, as sigh points out, things like shirt sponsorship are ubiquitous in football and Gaelic games (though in Gaelic games the sponsors are mostly still very local - a hotel from the appropriate county or a small construction company). TV advertising never seems quite as intrusive to me in football, rugby, etc. since the games themselves are structured differently and offer fewer opportunities for breaks.

Jere said...

And in the 80s, Phil Rizzuto's HR call was...

Hey Don Mattingly, this Bud's For You!

Also, I think this is new this year--just the graphic with the batter's name and stats on NESN now comes with a little corporate logo.

Oh, and another big move was bringing the ads back to in-play fences. Fenway's had ads all over like I said since '76 when they added the message board, etc, but it wasn't till the new ownership when they started doing ads on the Monster (again), and along the right field wall, and even on the cf wall for a time. I think the Yanks may have started that trend--I remember when they added a yellow Kodak ad on the right field fence and being shocked at just the fact that the Yankee Stadium fence, in one spot anyway, wasn't blue!

L-girl said...

And in the 80s, Phil Rizzuto's HR call was...

Hey Don Mattingly, this Bud's For You!


More than that, Bud's call was "Every time a Yankee hits a home run, this Bud's for you" - until alcohol ads were banned.