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Firestone becomes official tire of Major League Baseball

Dec 18, 2009, 4:20 PM EDT

Outside of the Big Bust Challenge Trade, there isn’t a lot happening in baseball today, so let’s look at little stuff. Stuff like Firestone becoming the Official Tire of Major League Baseball.  I just left the business world, so I don’t care about the synergies and cross-promotional opportunities involved here, but there were still a couple of things in the official announcement that caught my eye:

in the summer of 1925 [Harvey] Firestone opened a ballpark in Akron, Ohio, for one of his employees.

He built a whole ballpark for just one of his employees? And to think: this year your boss will cite a tough economy for not even having a cash-bar Christmas party.

The agreement, which marks the largest sports sponsorship for the 109-year-old Firestone brand outside of motor sports . . .

This is shocking to anyone who slavishly followed professional bowling in the 1970s and 80s and didn’t think that there could possibly be something bigger than the Firestone Tournament of Champions. Remember when Mark Williams shot an unheard of low score of 191 in the 1985 final, but still won it because Bob Handley somehow shot a 140? You don’t? Um, OK, I’ll move right along . ..

“MLB has a vast and loyal fan base who demand a great performance from
their clubs and great value from the products they support. These fans
are a perfect fit for the Firestone brand.”

But how many MLB fans have those demands for high quality pooped upon year after year?  If you continue to root for the Royals, you may very well settle for tires that go bald after 15,000 miles.

“We are proud to welcome Firestone into the MLB family and look forward
to bringing our fans and their customers closer together through
exciting and innovative programs.

Hmmm . . . innovative programs . . . tire company . . . THEY’RE BRINGING BACK BULLPEN CARS!

Under this agreement, Firestone will become exclusive sponsor of the in-stadium portion of All-Star Game balloting.

Oh. No bullpen cars. Well. I suppose the paper ballot thing is innovative. Not as innovative as the online All-Star Game balloting that gets millions of more votes and stuff, but it’s perfectly fine. Maybe, you know, you could look into the bullpen car thing?

Baratta said in an interview with The New York Times that “the
demographics of MLB mirror the U.S. population closer than any other
sports entity.”

This is surprising to me. I had long heard and assumed that MLB fandom skews way whiter, way older and way richer than that of other sports. Basically, it’s a lot of guys like me and my dad watching games, ya know?  Oh well, glad to hear I’m wrong, if indeed Mr. Baretta is right about this.

Wait. Maybe he’s talking about the demographics of the actual players: non-Hispanic blacks are at about 9% or so, whites are just under 60%, Hispanics are at around 28% and Asians are a shade under 3%.  That’s probably closer to the whole than the other major sports.  But why do you care if the players, as opposed to the fans, mirror the overall demographics? Are you just selling tires to the players? How elitist. 

OK, now someone trade someone for someone else. There’s only so much entertainment to be had via sponsorship deals.

  1. lar @ wezen-ball - Dec 18, 2009 at 4:59 PM

    Boy, are you bored on this last Friday before Christmas or what, Craig?
    I have to say, I initially thought the “Big Bust Challenge” link was going to be something else…

  2. YankeesfanLen - Dec 18, 2009 at 5:00 PM

    Yes (ahem) I do remember the Firestone Tournament of Champions as well as ABC telecasts of many bowling events on Saturday afternoons.
    Their use of the Firestone name when they have been owned by Bridgestone for many years confuses me. Most independent tire deals will either not have the Firstones on hand and try to sell you Bridgestones since the second TireGate with Ford over the Explorer which was not a pretty pr sight. This ended a 90+ year association between the two companies.. It begs the question: If I attend an MLB game and if induced to buy tires because of clever advertising, team loyalty, etc. where would I find them? Just don’t know who goes to one of their few remaining stores with the Firestone brand, they’re a rare breed. And obviously less than stellar reputation.
    If I’m a rich old whitey, I’ll just can the car and buy an Audi, the Official Luxury Car of the New York Yankees.

  3. Neon Noodle - Dec 18, 2009 at 5:16 PM

    RE: Speeding up the game. What if there were a fleet of 9 cars per team that drove all the players out to their positions. I estimate it would save 5 seconds per half innning. So 2*5*9 = 90 seconds, or 1 minute 30 seconds.
    That’s not much, but seeing as getting rid of God Bless America would take off about 1 minute and 20 seconds and that was taken seriously, maybe the cars wouldn’t be such a bad idea..

  4. Jason @ IIATMS - Dec 18, 2009 at 8:15 PM

    I’d bring back bullpen cars immediately. Seriously. I’d even punt the DH if it meant the bullpen car…and love the DH.
    Something like a delorean with the gullwing doors….add in some dry ice and you have the best entrywagon ever.

  5. Old Gator - Dec 20, 2009 at 3:45 PM

    “…in the summer of 1925 [Harvey] Firestone opened a ballpark in Akron, Ohio, for one of his employees.”
    Playing first base, Bugs Bunny. Playing second base, bugs bunny. At shortstop, Bugs Bunny. At third, Bugs Bunny. In left field, Bugs Bunny. Bugs Bunny in center. Right field, Bugs Bunny. Catching, Bugs Bunny. And the pitcher today is…Bugs Bunny.

  6. Old Gator - Dec 20, 2009 at 3:49 PM

    Damn that “submit” button.
    Okay, Craig, let me preface this by acknowledging that I took you to task for wasting our time and this space on the A-Rod/Kate Hudson fiasco. However, there come those moments when blatant hypocrisy may be well justified in order to render a brilliant moment of insight. This is just such a time.
    I think that Firestone should consider picking up the slack in Tiger Woods’ endorsement profile. After all, their slogan is “Where the rubber meets the road,” isn’t it?

  7. Forerunner 305 review - Jan 12, 2010 at 10:10 AM

    I was wondering what is up with that weird avatar??? I know 5am is early and I’m not looking my best at that hour, but I hope I don’t look like this! I might however make that face if I’m asked to do 100 pushups. lol

  8. Norah - Jan 20, 2010 at 2:24 AM

    That sure is cool. I wish I could afford something like this! Also, has any heard any word on the new 2011 Dodge Charger?.

  9. Ivy Lodrigue - Feb 3, 2010 at 12:14 PM

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  10. uniforms - Feb 8, 2010 at 10:56 PM

    Hey good blog. I have a question (I’m smacking different blogs with different questions) what do you think was the best play from last night? are you happy or pissed with the Saints win?

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