#Hot Corner

Major League Baseball's mixed 9/11 messages

Harry How

Yesterday I wrote about Bobby Valentine's meretricious comments about the Yankees' response in the aftermath of 9/11. Last night, Keith Olbermann said mostly what I said, but of course better (here's the video; skip ahead to 3:27 mark for Valentine).

Earlier in the show, Olbermann did a segment on botched 9/11 commemorations; the baseball stuff starts at the 1:50 mark if you don't care about the tone-deaf Lakers ...

I suppose I agree with Olbermann that Major League Baseball should let the Mets wear "hero hats" instead of the official commemorative caps. It's clearly about merchandising, made worse by the fact that the official commemorative caps aren't even attractive; just slapping a little flag on the side of an otherwise symmetrical cap doesn't look good.

I have a bigger problem with the commemorative caps. Or rather, I have a question: When does this all become too much? I don't mean in New York on 9/11, necessarily. But since 9/11, Major League Baseball has taken advantage of every single opportunity to commemorate the military, and it seems like ... well, like pandering.

There. I said it. Between Memorial Day and Veterans Day and Armed Forces Day and Independence Day and 9/11 Day and the other days I'm probably forgetting, Major League Baseball just loves putting that little flag on caps, or (worse) turning every team's logo into a flag, whether it looks good or not (usually not). And it's pandering, pure and simple. Worse, it's numbing. The more often you do something, the less effective it becomes. I've made the same argument about Jackie Robinson Day, and everybody wearing No. 42.

Now that Bud Selig's given up on killing the Twins, one of my only real gripes is that he's never willing to say no to the pandering. Someone at MLB comes up with a pandering idea, and apparently there's not an adult in charge who says, "You know what? Let's not do that."

An adult in charge would say, "Here's what we're going to do. Every Memorial Day, we're going to respectfully honor our veterans who have passed away, with pregame ceremonies. Every Armed Forces Day, we're going to honor our living veterans and service-members, especially those who played professional baseball, with pregame ceremonies. On the 4th of July, we're going to festoon our ballparks with bunting. And on 9/11, we're going to give the Mets or the Yankees -- whomever's playing at home then -- special dispensation to wear special caps. But that's about it. And we're never, ever going to turn these dates into marketing gimmicks. Oh, and 'God Bless America'? That's out, because it's so obviously disrespectful to our Muslim and our non-believing fans. Thank you for working so hard to make these days exactly as special as they should be."

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