Good morning, and happy Presidents/’s/s’ Day. (Did you know that the holiday’s name and punctuation vary from state to state? There’s a good breakdown here.)
Now then: As Phil mentioned in yesterday’s Ticker, the Reds soft-launched their uni advertisement over the weekend via some photos posted on social media. The advertiser’s identity — a supermarket chain — was first reported a few weeks ago by Sports Business Journal. While the Reds still haven’t made an official announcement, the sleeve ads in the social media pics appear to confirm the SBJ report. Cincinnati thus becomes the sixth MLB team to announce a uni advertisement for 2023, following the Padres, Red Sox, D-backs, Angels, and Astros. (Several additional teams have said that they’re actively searching for a uni advertiser, including the Blue Jays, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Mets, Phillies, Rangers, Twins, and Yankees. It’s not yet clear whether any of those teams will have uni ad deals finalized by Opening Day.)
While Cincy’s sleeve ad looks more innocuous than some of the others we’ve seen (or at least it looks fairly innocuous on the team’s home jersey; it’s not yet clear if the ad’s white background will be retained for the team’s other jerseys, or if the background color will change to match the jersey color), the ad has brought about a disturbing ripple effect that I want to address here.
Here’s the deal: The Reds, like other MLB teams, plan to maximize TV exposure for the ad by basing its placement on the player’s handedness (you can already see this playing out at the various spring training camps). When the ad appears on the right sleeve, the Reds’ standard Mr. Redlegs sleeve patch will, as usual, appear on the left, where it’s been since 2007:
But what happens to Mr. Redlegs when the player has to wear the ad on the left sleeve? Let’s take a look:
As you can see, they flipped Mr. Redlegs so that he’ll still be forward-facing on the right sleeve (sort of like how the American flag is reversed when appearing on the right sleeve, so it looks like it’s moving forward). Now let’s zoom in on the reversed version and see how it compares with the original:
As you can see, the revsersed version is mostly a mirror image of the original, with two exceptions: First, they flipped the “C,” because they didn’t want it to appear backwards, which makes sense. And second — and this is really the whole point of this blog post — they moved the “C” to the opposite side of the chest.
I reallyreallyreally hate that. The Reds have never worn the “C” on that side, so Mr. Redlegs’ uniform is now inaccurate. Even worse, it’s inaccurate because of a fucking sleeve ad. That’s all kinds of wrong. Just one more reason why uni ads suck.
The proper move, of course, would have been to keep the “C” in its proper spot, which would have meant that only part of the “C” would be visible. You might think that wouldn’t look good, but there’s actually historical precedent for it, as seen here:
They could have — and should have — done something like that. Or else not have reversed the patch to begin with, because it would have looked fine running in the same direction, even on the opposite sleeve. (In case you’re wondering: Thankfully, there should be no similar issues regarding the patches on the team’s road greys and red alts.)
Incidentally, according to that SBJ article I mentioned earlier, the Reds are getting only $5 million per year for this uni ad — an amount that basically buys you a utility player or a second-string catcher. By contrast, the Padres and Red Sox are getting $10 million and $17 million per year, respectively, from their uni advertisers. Why the disparity? Because the Reds are a small-market team with a smaller TV audience, so they can’t deliver as many “brand impressions” as the Padres and Bosox and therefore can’t command as high a price for their sleeve ad. But they’re still competing in the same payroll market as the other 29 teams, and now they’ll be at an even greater financial disadvantage in that market because the bigger teams will be adding more uni-ad revenue to their bottom lines than the Reds will. In other words, uni ads are just another example of the rich getting richer, which is just another reason why uni ads suck.
(Big thanks to pseudonymous reader Block “O Canada” for the Prexy Day link.)