Wooden's World of Baseball

Friday, March 14, 2008

All about the giveaways

Erik Estrada and Wilmer ValderramaIt's been said that what makes minor-league baseball so much fun is the giveaways. Certainly, as a fan, I'm of two minds about them. When I'm making a road trip, I try to avoid them so I can avoid the crowds, but I love them for the hometown team – except maybe the bobbleheads.

What disgusts me are the folks that show strictly for the giveaway, then leave. Not to pound on the bobblehead aficionados, but these are usually the culprits. They remind me of the adults that push the kids out of their way for a foul ball or an autograph. For the record, the only foul ball I'm interested in keeping is the one I catch. Cleanly.

For the first time in three seasons, The P-Nats have made a point of promoting the upcoming giveaways—ahead of single-season ticket sales, of course—devoting stories this week for every month of the season.

April features the no-brainer standby: The magnetic schedule. Perfect for for every refrigerator or office cubicle.

May celebrates the annual "Internet safety night," featuring D-List celebrity Erik Estrada, who will be played by Wilmer Valderrama, a.k.a. "Fez" from "That 70s Show" in the movie version of that, um, '70s series. Hence, the photo above.

June brings back a much better giveaway: replica batting helmet. Too often these have been replaced with the mini, ice-cream sundae version, but I fondly remember the blue-and-yellow "H" plastic helmet from the nearby Holyoke Millers of my youth.

July gives me my excuse to explain my stand on fireworks. I appreciate that they draw crowds, but I never stay for them. Why? Because there is no fireworks show that's worth getting stuck in a parking lot waiting to get out. I also hate it when it's a close, but high-scoring game because the pesudofans get restless.

August brings the other staple giveaway: The cheap baseball cap. I have a bunch, but I usually end up giving them to my sons because they're so flimsy. That said, the PNats are giving out visors for the first time since I've been going, which is amazing given that it has been known to break 90 degrees here from time to time.

Of course, the promotions that I've always loved the best are food promotions. Specifically, dollar hot dogs. Now my friend Shawn up in Hagerstown does present an alternate argument, which is that when they bundle the food with the ticket, it's a recipe for disaster (pun most definitely intended). But as my other reader Phil says, going to the ballgame has always been about the food. Or as Humphrey Bogart once said:

A hot dog at the ballpark tastes
better than a steak at The Ritz.


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