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Should phone companies sponsor the bullpen phones?

La Russa Phone

Did you know that the Chinese word for “crisis” is the same as that for “opportunity.” Ha! Just kidding! That’s not true at all! But it makes people feel better, so why not let ‘em go with it? And besides, it’s not like there isn’t some truth to it. When bad things happen it gives you an opportunity -- hell, sometimes an engraved invitation -- to reflect and see if things could be done a better way.

Or at least a more lucrative way. CNBC’s Darren Rovell is good at thinking along those lines and thinks out loud today about how Tony La Russa’s ill bullpen phone communication could be spun into an opportunity for Major League Baseball and some lucky sponsor:

Major League Baseball has 16 official sponsors, and surprise, surprise, not one of them has anything to do with phones ... Imagine LaRussa picking up a smart phone with a huge logo on it or going into a booth built in each dugout with the company’s logo on it to text on it. As part of the deal, that company would get a media buy included that would assure that the TV networks would show the managers making the call.

Always look on the green side of life, I suppose. But I do wonder: what happens if last night’s event took place -- a bullpen coach misunderstands the manager’s instructions -- but this time there’s a giant “Verizon” or “Sprint” logo on the side? Isn’t that, you know, bad marketing? I don’t think phone companies run negative ads against each other anymore, but if they did, a dropped call or garbled communication would basically write one itself.

I floated the idea on Twitter earlier and people told me that no one blinks when the headsets -- sponsor-supplied equipment! -- go down during NFL games, so maybe I’m just being paranoid. Or maybe I’m just looking for any excuse to avoid having commercialism and corporate sponsorship intrude any further into the game than it already has.