Thursday, April 18, 2013

M's promotions continue to baffle

It's been nearly three months since the last Weisenheimer post because I've been waiting until I had something really important to say: The Seattle Mariners' promotions can be baffling.

The latest chin-scratcher is "Beard Hat Night" which is coming up on Friday, April 26 when the M's play the Angels. They were in full-plug mode for this promotional event during last night's broadcast. The giveaway item is accurately and descriptively named, but as Ansel Adams once said, there is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept. There's the sharp image at left. The fuzzy concept is a knit cap with a knit beard attached. On those cold, Safeco Field evenings in April, you'll be able to keep your chin warm! Want one? The first 20,000 fans through the turnstiles next Friday get one free. At current attendance rates, this would leave quite a few extras that could be distributed at homeless shelters and other places where cold chins are a problem. Still, I'm sure that many folks are busy ordering tickets just to get a beard hat to add to their Mariner memorabilia collection.

Who thinks of this stuff? We wonder if the beard hat concept was cooked up to honor manager Eric Wedge, who is sporting a beard these days; my Sweetie, the official scorer, wants to fine him $100 for each day until he shaves it off. Maybe it was a nod to bearded pitcher Brandon Maurer, though a rookie hurler with an ERA of 9.95 isn't typically the sort upon whose shoulders (or chin) a big gate attraction is built.

More mysterious than beard hat night is the following evening's promotion. April 27 at the Safe will be Dustin Ackley bat night. As of this writing Ackley is batting .143 with an OPS of .356. Will the Ackley autographed bat given away that game have holes in it? This reminds me of the beloved bat I owned as a kid. It was christened the "Ray Oyler Toothpick" in honor of the outstanding shortstop who hit .165 for the Seattle Pilots in 1969.  Oyler's career-high seven homers that year helped drive his OPS up to .526, which dwarfs Ackley. (I apparently had an affinity for light-hitting shortstops as a kid; I still have my Dal Maxvill (career average .217) model baseball mitt.)

In his defense, Ackley has been on a tear. He was batting only .091 a week ago; if he continues on this hot streak he may be above the Mendoza Line by next Saturday. Otherwise, he may set a record for lowest batting average by a guy who has his name on bat night.

At right is a photo of my favorite M's promotional item ever--or at least part of it. "Anything Can Happen" was the team's official slogan in about 1984, and this medallion was once attached to a keychain that was given away at a game one night. I thought it was such a funny slogan--the "anything" that happened was a 74-88 record that year, the second-best in the team's dismal history to that point--that I used the keychain for many years. The chain broke ages ago, but I still keep the medallion in my spare-change dish just for a laugh.

Nothing yet tops the 2011 giveaway of the Franklin Gutierrez flyswatter, unless it's the J.J. Putz soul patch, pictured at left. I don't own one, but there's one for sale at Gasoline Alley Antiques, which has a lot of M's stuff in stock, including a certificate that proclaims "I was in attendance for Gaylord Perry's 300th Career Victory." The certificate is autographed by the Hall of Fame pitcher. There were few of those issued; attendance at the May 6, 1982 milestone game at the Kingdome was 27,369. Famously, two days later "Funny Nose Glasses Night" drew 36,716. That particular giveaway was hatched as something of a joke; the 1981 jacket night commercial below, with outfielder Tom Paciorek, started it. There's a great story about the night on the M's website. According to the yarn, people were interested in the glasses and, in true War-of-the-Worlds fashion, believed the promotion was real and called the team to ask when it was. They made it happen the following year. Also interesting to consider: three of the promotions on this page feature whiskers. I wonder how many other hairy promotions the M's have run over the years. Not sure if Buhner or Boonie Buzz Cut Nights count.

Say what you will, beard cap night is certainly creating a fuzz; er, buzz. After all, they tricked me into writing about it.

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