MLB Scoots Rays off their Merchandising “A-List”
Well, you knew it had to end sometime. You knew that the romance between the Tampa Bay Rays and the hotshots that pop together the multimedia packages and Major League Baseball-endorsed product catalogs had to fall out of love with the Rays at some point and push them again down within the bowels of the MLB basement.
Even if it was only 2008 when the Rays seemed to come up and surprise everyone outside of the Tampa Bay area with their stealth brand of defensive plays mixed with a honest dose of unseen power could the MLB brass-heads at MLB Advanced Media decide to also join the Rays train and speed their presence all over the Internet with such fury.
But just as fast, since the Rays had an awful September that took them early out of the American League Wild Card race, you know the same talking heads who chatted up the Rays potential and obvious “underdog” mystic that would sell products became instant turncoats the minute the axe fell upon the Rays neck in 2009.
So it really did not surprise me at all that the MLB 2010 Spring catalog only had a handful of photos, and the only Rays mentioned uniform is of course, on the main Majestic page ( pages 14-15) in the center of the catalog. But I guess even having a few half dozen photos and Rays team-based items is better than what we experienced from MLB before 2007. And maybe I am pushing this issue a bit, but with all the positive word speak that has been thrown out over the last two seasons, you thought we were out-of-the MLB closet.
So maybe I am a bit bitter here, but then I also think we have gained enough respect to al least have a dozen entries in the catalog. Take for instance page 12-13 that feature the women’s section of MLB available clothing. There are 4 items listed on those pages showing American League East teams, but none from Tampa Bay, Toronto or Baltimore.
Heck, the first item you see in the top corner of page 12 is a pink and white striped New York Yankees top and panties set…. Wonder if they come in A-Rod’s size? Seriously, I guess I will just have to admit to myself that outside of Tampa Bay, and maybe even just on this West Coast of Florida, Tampa Bay gear sells. But what happened to those huge 2007 sales numbers, and those surprising 2008 sales profits that proclaimed the Rays one of the better MLB sold products in those years.
Were they just a Nationwide 2008 phase outside of our region? Could it really be that the rest of the MLB fan faithful caught a whiff of the 2008 Playoff fever, then departed the train just after the last out in Game 5.5 of the 2008 World Series? I am beginning to think that was the thing all along. So maybe I am ranting and raving about nothing. Maybe I got spoiled by the adulation and the pomp thrust upon the Rays in 2008 and it lingers so long into 2009 I did not notice as people were pulling away from the Rays bandwagon.
And there are spots in the catalog where Rays gear shows a presence like in the Crystal Stacked Ring photo on page 20, or the fan personalized Rays round clock for $ 29.99 on page 22. Maybe it is that my own perception has become a bit off center and askew and I am expecting those fans to stay loyal. I am not trying to gain ground on the multitudes of Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs or Dodgers merchandise.
That would just be plain silly and ignorant. But I was hoping to see some nice play with the Teams new blue uniforms, or maybe something besides their new Batting Practice cap on Page 2 , but then again, the Rays cap is in the top position. But it is hard for me to sometime fathom how quickly you can slide against gravity up the MLB mountain in merchandise sales, then just as fast free fall towards oblivion again. But as people always tell me, “Baseball is business”, and in business you always lead with your hot hand.
So I guess the proverbial hot hand slapped me today with a huge dose of reality check time to my preconceived notions of the Rays overall national prominence. It probably will not be the first time this fact hit the Rays Republic in 2010, and I know it will not be the last I get a bit frustrated or irritated by the sheer focal absence of the Rays when MLB spin doctors speak about future merchandising programs and events.
Sigh, guess sometimes it takes a bit to get into some people’s thick heads that thing are not always as they appear. Well, at least a Rays player got some MLB love when Rays 2-time All Star Evan Longoria got his player coin card featured on page 18. So maybe there is some closet love for certain aspects of this team, and I guess I am going to have to adjust my priorities and accept it for now…..maybe.
But at least I can say the Rays have gotten more MLB love this Spring than the Colorado Rockies, who propelled themselves into the 2009 National League Playoffs, and only got one photo of any of their Team logo merchandise in the main center page spread by Majestic. Guess some love is better than none.