What Happens When an MLB Team Trades a Player Days Before His Scheduled Bobblehead Night?
Since his 2011 debut for the Houston Astros, who called him up following the trade of Hunter Pence to our Philadelphia Phillies, J.D. Martinez has proven an admirable hitter. The 2015 All-Star has clubbed 123 home runs and driven in 411, with most of his output benefiting the Detroit Tigers. The American League Central constituents thought highly enough of the right fielder to give him a bobblehead night centered around their Game of Thrones Special Ticket Package, but, business being business, they ended up trading him to the Arizona Diamondbacks yesterday, 10 days ahead of the giveaway-included game versus, interestingly, the Astros.
"Game of Thrones," the wildly popular fantasy drama, whose seventh season premiered on Sunday, has become a promotional goldmine for Major League Baseball, and the Tigers all set to make Martinez—who already reaped the rewards of the success "The Walking Dead" has had—the latest beneficiary of its grasp on viewers. Having shipped him to the National League for three prospects, the Tigers, who sit five games behind the Cleveland Indians — the reigning pennant holders — and who could also soon jettison stars Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander and Justin Wilson, face an interesting decision ahead of next Friday’s tilt. Their website lists the bobblehead as being available only for purchasers of the package, but clicking on the ticket link leaves interested parties with a “Thank you for your interest—this offer is no longer available” message. That certainly means that fans ventured to the internet earlier in the season to secure the collectible, but management’s move to transform the roster puts the slightest damper on the impending celebration.
While the Tigers will no doubt draw a healthy crowd to Comerica Park when the Astros, owners of the American League's best record, come to town, will those who selected the package delight as much in receiving the bobblehead as they would have had Martinez survived what could be a cost-cutting housecleaning? Going forward with the distribution despite his departure would not be unprecedented, as no team wishes to incur any sort of financial loss, which the Tigers would suffer if they were to scrap the plan. In fact, honoring the 29-year-old, whose new squad is 10.5 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers, would not even mark the first occasion that a team has fulfilled a bobblehead event surrounding a since-traded Martinez, as the Indians, after trading catcher Victor Martinez (who, following his 2011 stint with them, has played for the Tigers since 2013, go figure!) to the Boston Red Sox in 2009, still issued his keepsake.
Bobbleheads are a booming business that we revel in covering, especially when they teem with originality. “Game of Thrones” has proven a reliable partner for MLB in various means, so it’s understandable that the Tigers would want to put a few more fannies in the stands for a night, but the desire to attract backers for years by building their farm system led them to part with Martinez, who, ironically, won the American League's Player of the Week honor on Sunday.
Given the adulation that the HBO show has won (Facebook feeds from Sunday night alone could validate that.), one would think that no matter where the franchise sent Martinez, fans will still honor their package commitments and gobble up the goodies. The Tigers have the seventh-cheapest ticket prices on the secondary market at $51.17, but in harsh economic times like these, that can sound like a million bucks. Supporters cannot plan trips to Westeros and Essos, but they can flock to Downtown Detroit to melt their cares away and might even catch a good game when doing so.