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Drop-in ads during radio broadcasts aren’t a new thing. And I kinda like them.

Aug 26, 2013, 2:33 PM EDT


Just read a column by Bob Greene over at which itself launches off Richard Sandomir’s article from last week about “drop-in” ads during radio broadcasts of baseball games. Those are the little plugs you hear meshed into the game action such as “with that RBI double the Orioles have scored the First Financial First Run of the Game” or “and now here’s Terry Collins with the Samsung Galaxy call to the bullpen.” There are a gabillion of those. Mostly radio, but increasingly on TV too.

Sandomir’s article counts them and notes that their use is expanding. Greene neither approves nor condemns, using them as a larger point about how we’re living in a commercialized world so this sort of thing is inevitable. They’re both right about the points they make. There isn’t mention of the fact, however, that while drop-ins are ubiquitous, they aren’t new or really different than that which we heard even in the alleged Golden Age of Baseball.

Mel Allen used to do drop-in ads for Yankees sponsor Ballantine Beer, coining the term “Ballantine Blast.” As in “Mantle drives one to right … it’s gone! There goes another Ballantine Blast! How about that!”  At other times the Yankees were sponsored by Getty Oil. The announcers would refer to homers as “Getty Goners.” Obviously that didn’t happen 60 times a game but it did happen during what were often the game’s highlights. What we’re seeing now is a difference in degree, not a difference in kind.

And to be honest: I sorta don’t hate the drop-ins. I actually kind of like them on some narrow level in that it reminds you that you’re listening to a local broadcast. National games and even a lot of local TV games have gotten so slick with standardized national commercials and advertisers. Bud and Pepsi and big movies and everything else are all over the place. But if you listen to a radio broadcast you hear ads for muffler shops and local restaurant chains and other weird things unique to an area (and in my case foreign to me as I listen to a lot of out-of-town radio broadcasts).

I like hearing those ads for the same reason I like driving on older highways instead of interstates: it’s a small part of America that, for now anyway, is resisting the standardization that is so prevalent. It’s not “pure” or fantastic or anything — it’s still just an ad, or a motel or diner or what have you — but there was a time when you could travel in this country either literally or virtually and be exposed to weird stuff you don’t see in your town. The digital age and national advertising initiatives are helping erase that weird stuff the same way the interstate highway system has erased the apparent differences in communities. And that’s kind of a bummer.

So let’s hear it for weird brands of local sodas — if there are any left — sponsoring a stolen base. Or some local insurance agent with a surname that is common in Minneapolis but weird elsewhere sponsoring that collision on the basepaths. They’re not as good as some old highway through that forgotten town, but they’re the closest things we have to that in baseball.

Oh, and for no reason:

  1. raysfan1 - Aug 26, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    Be sure to drink your Ovaltine.

    • anthonyverna - Aug 26, 2013 at 5:41 PM

      Ovaltine? A crummy commercial? Son of a b****!

    • km9000 - Aug 26, 2013 at 6:46 PM

      I like how in the old days, TV and radio shows would flat-out tell kids to have their parents buy from their sponsor.

    • pjmarn6 - Aug 27, 2013 at 12:35 AM

      King CACA strikes again. The ads pay his salary. Not for one minute is his going to say anything against the over subscribed ad radio programs that dare to allow a few minutes of baseball. I used to listen to the armed forces baseball games on radio. No advertisement. Then baseball decided :HEY PEOPLE ARE LISTENING TO THE GAME AND WE ARE NOT GETTING OUR MILLIONS and killed that radio site.
      I got so sick of listening to blatant bull shit on the yankee radio site. I never turned it on again.
      Back in the 50’s when WPIX televised the games, I remember one half inning break when there were no sponsors. Just the two commentators telling stories. Now to play the druggies and listen to horseshit on the radio, one has to listen to 90% commercials. Screw that.

      • raysfan1 - Aug 27, 2013 at 12:33 PM

        How, exactly, is this a reply to my silly “Christmas Story” reference?

        Also, if you are truly 60-something years old and thus remember 1950’s radio broadcasts, then using juvenile, lame name based insults for Calcaterra reflects far more poorly upon you than it does him. In case you have not considered this, insulting someone’s family name insults the person’s whole family and not just the person. He seems to be more forgiving than I am as I would just block your account.

  2. allmyteamsareterrible - Aug 26, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    “I heard that.”

    “Dyanmite drop in Monte.”

    • misterj167 - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:24 PM

      “This double play brought to you by Barth’s Burgery, because no one knows roadkill like Barth.”

      “I heard that!”

      • Senor Cardgage - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:40 PM

        What do you think’s in the burgers?

      • km9000 - Aug 26, 2013 at 6:49 PM

        “Nothing conveys the performance of a pitcher better than his win-loss record.”
        “Do you really believe that?”
        “No, it’s just the introduction to the opposite sketches…”

      • anthonyverna - Aug 26, 2013 at 9:35 PM

        Misterj167 and Senor Cardgage win the Internets for today.

  3. bravojawja - Aug 26, 2013 at 2:47 PM

    A couple months ago, the Braves scored 6 runs in a game, so I got $6 off an oil change from Not JiffyLube. I think they’re doing a deal about home runs (a 4 bagger!) in the 4th inning getting a 4th tire free. Or something. Love this stuff.

    • misterj167 - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:28 PM

      I remember a story about an NBA team (The Magic?) offering free tacos from Taco Bell or something if the team scored 100 points or more. The team in question was routing their opponent and kept piling on so the fans could get free tacos, which got the opposing team angry, thinking they were just running up the score…wish I could remember details…

  4. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Aug 26, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    The Orioles have become unofficial sponsors of Orange Crush soda. I wish they did official marketing on this, they really blew a golden opportunity.

    • 1981titan - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:51 PM

      Wouldn’t that be an Orange opportunity?

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Aug 26, 2013 at 4:08 PM

        Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?

  5. dawgpoundmember - Aug 26, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    The Bernstein advantage.

  6. kopy - Aug 26, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    And now the Yankees have the W.B. Mason whistle in the stadium every time an opposing batter strikes out.

  7. Francisco (FC) - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    Heck it’s done EVERYWHERE, not just in North American trasmissions.

    “HIT de Frica, Frica el sabor de lo natural presenta al bateador de turno Jose Lobaton…”

  8. mississippimusicman - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    Our local historical society has, for years now, painstakingly restored and maintained all of the old advertizements painted on the walls of the buildings downtown, especially those of obscure companies. The entire wall of our downtown civic center carries an ad for SinAlco orange soda. My favorite thing about travel is finding the things that make each place I visit unique. Long live the local ad.

    • misterj167 - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:35 PM

      Here in Chicago I lived for a while on the far north side, up by Devon and Western, and on Western there was this classic movie theater that had been around for maybe a century and was due for demolition. When they finally tore it down, the entire adjoining wall to the next building was covered by an ad for a bank that had long predated the theater…,-87.68991&spn=0.024782,0.038581&t=m&z=15&layer=c&cbll=41.996711,-87.689924&panoid=EVZy_8mJxyzNZCrckSuelg&cbp=12,234.67,,0,5.9

  9. lew24 - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    My buddy complains that there is too much signage on the outfield walls. He says, “I wish we can go back to the old times where there wasn’t any signage!” I had to explain to him that if you go back to the 50s and 60s there were plenty of signage!

  10. earpaniac - Aug 26, 2013 at 4:20 PM

    This has been going on since tv/radio began. Anybody remember the Flinstone’s cigarette commercials?

  11. rje49 - Aug 26, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    For those old enough to have watched TV in the 50’s, my favorite ads were the Yoo-Hoo chocolate drink ads with Yogi and Mickey. Cartoon bodies with photograph grinning heads running around the outfield. Legs running, heads still. So corny and stupid you can’t forget them. “Mee-Hee for Yoo-Hoo” I’ll have to see if I can find it on UTube…

    • dcarroll73 - Aug 26, 2013 at 11:52 PM

      Didn’t they have one Yoo-Hoo ad in which Yogi, after downing a Yoo-Hoo of course, ran up the flag pole to catch a ball? Man, would there be demands for testing after that play! Actually if any human from Adam to present ever could have done this, my money is on Yogi. There were many reasons that Stengel said everything would be all right as long as “my man” was in there.

      • rje49 - Aug 27, 2013 at 8:12 AM

        Yeah, the flagpole thing does ring a bell.

  12. ih1357 - Aug 26, 2013 at 7:00 PM

    i only listen to the radio while watching the tribe and love all the ads. we always end up siging them and have them stuck in our heads cause its the same commercials amd ads everyday lol

    • km9000 - Aug 26, 2013 at 11:15 PM

      You’re lucky. My team’s ads make me wanna chuck my phone against the wall. Usually I just lower the volume instead, though sometimes I just end up forgetting about the game.

  13. sdelmonte - Aug 26, 2013 at 7:53 PM

    A Ballantine Blast beats a text message from Texiera and an a-bomb frm A-Rod anytime.

    Though the Mets games coming from the Peerless Boilers broadcast booth is just a bit silly.

  14. DJ MC - Aug 26, 2013 at 10:15 PM

    I’ve always loved the *local telephone company* Call to the Bullpen.

    Here, that meant Bell Atlantic, and before that C&P Telephone. I have fond memories from before Verizon uber alles.

  15. proudliberal85392 - Aug 27, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    Here in Phoenix, there’s the Century Link call to the bullpen.

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