Every now and again, a professional sports league will make a decision that makes essentially no sense. According to San Francisco Giants beat writer Alex Pavlovic, Major League Baseball has done just that, putting the kibosh on personalized bat decals.
Teams were told at winter meetings that personalized bat decals can't be used. Giants had a few guys with them. That's some NFL-level stuff.
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) March 25, 2016
Some of you may not have an idea what Pavlovic talking about and therefore, may not have a sense of just how ridiculous this ban is.
Fortunately, we’ve got a visual.
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) September 17, 2014
Really, there are two problems with this.
One is of the problems was presented brilliantly by Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk.
“I can’t see the reason for this. I know Major League Baseball has, in the past, been sensitive about corporate logos and stuff, but bat makers don’t put those on the handle. They’re on the barrel. I can’t see how it could interfere with the use of the bat either, nor how it might serve as some cover for cheating or chicanery of any kind.”
Absolutely. There’s no corporate or competitive reason to ban these things.
The second problem is that these things are not noticeable. If Major League Baseball didn’t want anyone’s attention going to these decals, they would have been well advised to just not say a word about them. They don’t exactly stand out with a live crowd or those watching on television.
By issuing this ban, Major League Baseball is giving fans more of a chance to form an opinion on the decals than they ever would have before. The opinion of this fan is that Major League Baseball is taking itself too seriously and in doing so, borrowing the NFL’s “No Fun League” model.
We’d love to hear anyone defend this decision. Until then, this looks like an odd place for MLB to put its foot down.