Sunday, April 25, 2010

Who are the ad wizards ... ?

Back in the halcyon April of aught-five, when I was about to graduate from college and spring had just sprung and the Orioles were tearing up the league, having gone 16-7 for the month and even sweeping the Yankees in a four-game set — in short, when all seemed right with the world — I chanced to come across a local-TV ad for the lowly Kansas City Royals.

Because I was in school in Providence, R.I., at the time, I figured I'd try out this crazy newfangled package, which allowed the user access — grainy, choppy, largely unsatisfactory access — to whatever out-of-market game his baseball-besotted heart might desire. Using an S-video cable, I'd Bogart the downstairs TV of our senior-year house, watching my then-surging O's intently and shouting drunkenly at what I thought were blatant bad calls and generally bugging the shit out of my roommates.

Anyway, one of's side-benefits (or -drawbacks, depending on how you tend to look at these things) is that you never really know whose broadcast the service is pulling from, your team's or the opposition's. So on one of these fine April days — I believe it was a game in which Geronimo Gil keyed a late rally, if you can believe that ever actually happened — during one of these broadcasts I caught an ad encouraging ... no, beseeching ... no, begging Royals fans to come out to Kauffman Stadium. In this endeavor — I thought shamefully — the spots employed the voices of various little kids, who talked about playing on the fun slides and monkey bars in the park's jungle gym or hanging out with Slugerrr the Lion or, you know, tweaking out on cotton candy — in short, any- and everything not having to do with Royals baseball itself.

Now, at the time I found myself tsk-tsking. How sad, I thought, for an organization to find itself reduced to selling the experience at the ballpark over the product on the field. My Orioles, as bad as they'd been since '98, were surely on the upswing now; we had our coterie of flashy free-agent signings (Miggi, Raffy, Javy, Sammy) to lure folks back into Camden Yards; no way would we ever hit the bottom Kansas City had.

Ah, but fate, as Morpheus once put it so eloquently to Neo, is not without a sense of irony. Because today I find myself praying ... no, imploring ... no, begging the Orioles brass or MASN execs or ... whoever to please get these infernal "Defining Moment" ads off the air.

Look, MASN broadcasts are already plenty painful. To say nothing of the actual play on the field (I'll let the 3-16 record suffice), we have to put up with Gary Thorne, who in another life was a fine play-by-play guy — for professional ice hockey. When Thorne's out, we get the pleasure of Jim Hunter licking Jim Palmer's ballsack for nine innings at a time. Then there are the constant fuck-ups: the wrong counts, the wrong number of outs, a three-run homer against the Birds that was actually a grand slam against the Birds.

Long story short, the commercials should offer a reprieve between bouts of prime, grade-A suckage — suckage infesting everything down Oriole Way, from the field to the booth to the truck. Instead, we get these ridiculous, unwarrantedly braggy ads in which Orioles fans, huddled together on a Baltimore rooftop, mitts on and all, taunt an opposing pitcher, daring him to throw the heater. "The faster it comes in, the farther it goes out," one guy says, shit-eating grin splayed across his mug.

These spots wouldn't even be cool if we were, say, the Phillies or Rays right now; wouldn't we want to be more magnanimous in victory? But let's not get ahead of ourselves. We're not the Rays or Phillies or Yankees or Cardinals. We're 3 and 16. Three and sixteen. Can't we film a quick series of ads that play up the charm of the warehouse or the cheap Natty Bohs or the Bird's killer blow jobs?

Still, I guess it could be worse. At least it was the Nats who got the worst of this series of ads. Um, yeah, we do know who Wil Nieves is — by your own admission, a guy who will never, ever do this again:

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