CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run... (09/09)
<< Previous Column
Wezen-Ball: Rememberin... (09/08)
Next Column >>
Wezen-Ball: Adopting t... (09/19)
Next Article >>
On the Beat: Great Exp... (09/12)

September 12, 2011

Wezen-Ball

MLB's Terrible Decision on Sept. 11

by Larry Granillo

I've been trying to figure this out since I first heard about it on Twitter yesterday afternoon (when I happened to be at Miller Park, where a wholly appropriate and moving "God Bless America" montage on the scoreboard may have brought a tear to my eye).

Let me briefly recap the situation as I understand it:

The players on the New York Mets, in honor of the September 11 first responders *and* in in the same spirit as the September 21, 2001, game that New York City remembers so well, wanted to wear FDNY, NYPD, and Port Authority caps in last night's tenth anniversary game. They petitioned Major League Baseball for permission, but MLB told them "no". Joe Torre, in his official capacity with the league, said something about MLB wanting all teams to have a uniform tribute (ie, the New Era caps with an American flag on the side) on the anniversary. An ESPN article also made it sound like the players were ready to defy MLB anyway until the Mets management asked them not to for fear of the repercussions the club would face. In the end, the players wore the hats during the pre-game ceremonies and then wore their "approved" caps during the game. According to Mets' pitcher R.A. Dickey's Twitter feed, the hats were taken away from the players (by someone official, presumably) immediately following the ceremonies so that they couldn't be worn during the game.

Okay, maybe that wasn't so brief, but it was the best I could do. As I said, I've been trying to figure out the rationale behind this for almost 24-hours now. Some people seem to believe that MLB's refusal was purely financially motivated, that their agreement with New Era (which includes selling the hats in MLB's official shops for $36.99) was the only reason they declined the players' request. After all, if the the "on-field" caps were never worn on the field, people might not be so excited to shell out $40 for their own version.

Others seem to think that MLB's refusal was based on some form of slippery slope argument, that, by allowing the Mets to wear these non-standard caps, they might be opening the door to other, less-appropriate tributes in the future. Buster Olney tweeted that some executives he talked to understood MLB's point-of-view. One exec told Olney: "What happens if there's an earthquake, and many killed? And then a Katrina-like hurricane in an MLB city?"

Of course, there are many flaws with that logic. First and foremost is that September 11 is an incredibly rare and profound tragedy, unlike anything the United States had seen in 60 years. What's more, MLB has allowed non-standard hats due to tragedies before. After the shooting at Virginia Tech, for example, Nationals players wore VT hats that night. In Pittsburgh in 2009, the Pirates were allowed to wear Pittsburgh Police Dept. hats in response to the deaths of three Pittsburgh police officers. I'm sure there are plenty of other examples. Why, then, is MLB so worried about the precedent being set in this case?

At this point, I just don't think there are any reasons that Major League Baseball could trot out that would hold up to scrutiny. That's not to say MLB didn't have their reasons - obviously they did, and they were probably some sort of amalgamation of a business relationship with New Era, a fear of further teams trying to deal with tragedies, and a desire to honor the anniversary uniformly across the league. It's just hard to see how any combination of those reasons - or anything else they may have been considering - could outweigh the poor PR and just plain foolishness of the final decision.

Bad call, Major League Baseball.

9 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

gtgator

"What's more, MLB has allowed non-standard hats due to tragedies before. After the shooting at Virginia Tech, for example, Nationals players wore VT hats that night. In Pittsburgh in 2009, the Pirates were allowed to wear Pittsburgh Police Dept. hats in response to the deaths of three Pittsburgh police officers."

"The players on the New York Mets, in honor of the September 11 first responders *and* in in the same spirit as the September 21, 2001, game that New York City remembers so well...."

NY players wore hats just was Nats and Pirates players wore hats - right after the event in question. This was a 10th anniversiary "tribute". Apples and oranges.

I doubt the NFL will have special patches or uniforms for the 70th anniversiary of Pearl Harbor in 3 months. I am guessing baseball won't have special hats for the 70th anniversiary of D-Day in 2014. There are a number of significant days in US history. 9/11/01 is such a date. And MLB did permit an exception right after the event. But for anniversiary dates, I see no reason an exception was needed because it does open a slippery slope.

Sep 12, 2011 10:52 AM
rating: 2
 
Dan W.

This is ridiculous. Slippery slope arguments in general don't have much of a leg to stand on, but what does the slope lead to in this case - more thoughtful commemorations? God forbid.

Sep 12, 2011 11:00 AM
rating: 1
 
gtgator

Then you might as well eliminate the standardized uniform rules. Because never a day goes by that doesn’t mark the anniversary of a tragedy involving US citizens. If that's what people want, that's fine. MLB obviously does not.

Sep 12, 2011 11:29 AM
rating: 3
 
PaddyE

I don't think it is ridiculous at all. There is a big difference between appropriate immediate response to a tragedy and turning it into a recurring commemorative "occasion," and like Memorial Day and Veterans' Day (aka Armistice Day), eventually a cheapened and mostly empty tribute.

More thoughtful commemorations would be fine, but by definition that means there is thought put into them, each and every time. In this case the question I would have for the Mets players is are the others who died in the WTC collapses less worthy of commemoration than those from the NYFD/NYPD/NYPA? I'm not asking if they were more or less heroic or brave at that moment, but whether they are somehow less dead or less worthy, and should not be honored equally. Wearing hats of those agencies honors only them, whereas the flag on all uniforms honors the other WTC victims, as well as the service men & women who have died since (as well as before).

Sep 12, 2011 12:03 PM
rating: 3
 
dianagram

I'd love to see all stadia remove the playing of "God Bless America" during the 7th inning stretch (because it HAS been 10 years since the attacks), but that's just me.

Sep 12, 2011 12:23 PM
rating: 26
 
eighteen

Amen. Those of us who know and appreciate this country's greatness don't need a half-assed song as a reminder; and those who need a reminder aren't worth the effort.

Sep 12, 2011 12:42 PM
rating: 11
 
PaddyE

I was going to go there too, but had too much trouble limiting myself to only that. Suffice it to say, the fewer times I have to stand to pretend I believe in god and jingoism, the better. Thankfully, my team (Giants) seems to appreciate that their fanbase includes an awful lot of folks that lean my way, and so since the start of the 2002 season they've limited GBA renditions to Sundays & nationally televised games.

Sep 12, 2011 14:03 PM
rating: 9
 
frampton
(870)

I'm with Diana on that point.

Sep 12, 2011 12:35 PM
rating: 0
 
amazin_mess

Only Bud Selig could pull this off. And I love how he deftly made Joe Torre the point man too.

Gotta go - I have to buy one of the $37 American flag hats that are made in China.

No one actually wonders why the NFL eats MLB for lunch, do they?

Sep 12, 2011 13:08 PM
rating: 1
 
You must be a Premium subscriber to post a comment.
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
<< Previous Article
Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run... (09/09)
<< Previous Column
Wezen-Ball: Rememberin... (09/08)
Next Column >>
Wezen-Ball: Adopting t... (09/19)
Next Article >>
On the Beat: Great Exp... (09/12)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Fantasy Rounders: The Young and the Splitles...
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of Thursday, May ...
Premium Article What You Need to Know: Bummed!
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Friday, May 22
West Coast By Us: Day 1: In The Land Where E...
Premium Article Rubbing Mud: The Quarter-Season Odds Report
Going Yard: The Near Perfection of Pederson

MORE FROM SEPTEMBER 12, 2011
The Prospectus Hit List: Daily Hit List for ...
Premium Article Divide and Conquer, NL East: The Phillies' C...
Premium Article Kiss'Em Goodbye: Chicago Cubs
Premium Article Kiss'Em Goodbye: Baltimore Orioles
Premium Article Collateral Damage: And Down the Stretch They...
On the Beat: Great Expectations
Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Stockpiling Closers

MORE BY LARRY GRANILLO
2011-09-16 - Tater Trot Tracker: Trot Times for September...
2011-09-14 - Tater Trot Tracker: Trot Times for September...
2011-09-13 - Tater Trot Tracker: Trot Times for September...
2011-09-12 - Wezen-Ball: MLB's Terrible Decision on Sept....
2011-09-12 - Tater Trot Tracker: Trot Times for September...
2011-09-11 - Tater Trot Tracker: Trot Times for September...
2011-09-10 - Tater Trot Tracker: Trot Times for September...
More...

MORE WEZEN-BALL
2011-09-22 - Wezen-Ball: Through the Years: Mariano River...
2011-09-21 - Wezen-Ball: Comic Stylings
2011-09-19 - Wezen-Ball: Adopting the NFL's Weekly Schedu...
2011-09-12 - Wezen-Ball: MLB's Terrible Decision on Sept....
2011-09-08 - Wezen-Ball: Remembering Ripken and "Unassail...
2011-09-06 - Wezen-Ball: Pitcher Wins as Top-Grossing Fil...
2011-09-01 - Wezen-Ball: Today's WWN Headline
More...

INCOMING ARTICLE LINKS
2011-09-12 - Tater Trot Tracker: Trot Times for September...