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Should phone companies sponsor the bullpen phones?

Oct 25, 2011, 2:02 PM EDT

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.

  1. halladaysbiceps - Oct 25, 2011 at 2:06 PM

    I’m all for this marketing idea. But, don’t let is be Metro PCS. That phone service stinks. Every other phone call drops. If MLB managers used that provider to call down to the bullpen, starter’s complete game numbers would double across baseball.

  2. Joe - Oct 25, 2011 at 2:06 PM

    Or they could just text. Not that that is without it’s hazards.

    • Francisco (FC) - Oct 25, 2011 at 2:17 PM

      My smart dictionary is not as smart as it thinks…

    • 14thinningstretch - Oct 25, 2011 at 2:24 PM

      It would work great until autocorrect got a hold of ‘Rzepczynski’.

  3. hotkarlsandwich - Oct 25, 2011 at 2:12 PM

    Could you imaging Tony LaRussa with a NFL Head coach style headset on all game. That would be hilarious. He could talk to the catcher like the OC talks to a QB.

  4. thejokewriter - Oct 25, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    Companies sponsor everything else in the stadium, why not sell the bullpen. Just bring back the old Verizon ad…”Can you hear me now?”

  5. bleedgreen - Oct 25, 2011 at 2:41 PM

    Phillies have the AT&T Call to the Bullpen that they show on TV.

  6. Clinton Manitoba - Oct 25, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    I know this is a discussion of marketing and slapping a name on something, just wanted to add…
    The landlines are really the only way to go for the bullpens in regards to security.
    If a cell service was used, there are cell phone jammers that can fit in ones pocket to prevent a call from being made or received.
    CB radios are easily ineffective with fans able to pick up the same frequency and can disrupt communications.
    Direct point-to-point copper (more maybe fiber) is the only logical solution for the bullpens.

    • kopy - Oct 25, 2011 at 2:53 PM

      What about 2 soup cans with a string attached? The tricky part is getting the string from the dugout to the bullpen without interfering with the field of play.

      • El Bravo - Oct 25, 2011 at 3:08 PM

        Best comment of the thread, or day, but then I read Cur’s below, and shat my pants. HAHAHAHHA! I always laugh at that stupid bird that flew in front of an RJ fastball. Stupid bird! AHHHHH!

  7. cur68 - Oct 25, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    Carrier Pigeon. Thats the answer. Those things never fail…providing they don’t fly in front of Randy Johnson.

    • El Bravo - Oct 25, 2011 at 3:09 PM


  8. unconventionalidiot - Oct 25, 2011 at 3:01 PM

    The Cubs, of all teams, used closed circuit cell phones a few years ago. I thought they did this for one season but I can only find this story about them doing it for one game.

  9. Brian Donohue - Oct 25, 2011 at 3:09 PM

    It’s actually not exclusively a Western invention, this odd apposition of meaning that Craig mentions and ridicules. But I’d pay more attention to the history than to any particular example. There’s every bit as rich a tradition of wordplay in Chinese as we have in English. When I translated the poems of Lao Tzu years ago, I had LOL moments of realization in studying the Shakespearian tricks he was playing with certain characters of ideograms (keep in mind this is very ancient literary Chinese, not at all like modern Mandarin/pinyin). So while from a contemporary perspective, SD’s point can lightly stand on its own (the link Craig points to), it remains an example of something that the great poets of ancient China — LT, Li Po, Chuang Tzu, to name just a few — would have relished. I have no idea whether any of these greats actually employed the wordplay in question, because I haven’t read more than a fraction of the vast literature that exists from ancient China; I’m just saying the predilection was always there, as far back as you can trace their literary history.

  10. steviekthr3e - Oct 25, 2011 at 5:18 PM

    Minor league teams across the nation already do this.

    Roger Dean Stadium: “METRO PCS call to the bullpen”

  11. beanster71 - Oct 25, 2011 at 6:36 PM

    Siri would’ve done a better job managing the 8th inning last night.

  12. foreverchipper10 - Oct 25, 2011 at 6:49 PM

    Remember when they were going to put logos on the bases? I am so glad that never happened.

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