MLB Opening Day Promos Were Mostly Boring (But Safe)—and What Teams Have In Store for 2021
Baseball is back. And when we say back, we mean really back, meaning (some) fans are back in the ballparks. Last year was fun in its own way, with home run balls clattering into cardboard cutouts of fans and celebrities. But, there’s nothing like that buzz of a ballpark full of fans, even if its only partially full.
And, from a fan perspective, it’s nice to look forward to promotional giveaways at the gate again.
Since yesterday was Opening Day, we thought it'd be fun to take a look at various promotional schedules around the league to see what teams were doing for Opening Day giveaways. What we found was a mixed bag.
Despite all the hype (and the thousands of unused 2020 promo items sitting in warehouses and players’ garages) some of the first promotional giveaways were kind of ... boring.
The Rays, Marlins, Astros, Cardinals, Rockies, Brewers and Rangers are all giving out schedule magnets for either the first home game or during the first week of home games. Heck, the Rays are doing schedule magnets for the first three home games of the season.
There’s nothing wrong with a schedule magnet. They’re arguably one of the most practical promotional giveaways you can give to a fan, especially one without season tickets, so they can plan their season and decide which games they really need to get tickets for.
It’s just that after a whole season of empty ballparks, fans might want a little pizzazz in addition to a magnet. Something that really celebrates the return to something like normalcy.
Dinger's got your 2021 Magnet Schedule, courtesy of @ArrowGlobal 🗓️
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) March 30, 2021
— Jenny Draves (@aeiou_women) April 2, 2021
You’d at least want a T-shirt, right? Or a rally towel?
The Phillies have been giving out Opening Day T-shirts for a while now. And it’s always fun to go back through them to remember the anticipation for the season relative to how it played out. This season, the team did a “Welcome Home” rally towel using the throwback-uniform color scheme:
(Third-party merchandise sellers took matters into their own hands in some cases, like BreakingT’s “Miggy/Snowpening Day 2021” T-shirt, celebrating a Miguel Cabrera home run on a snowy day in Detroit.)
There's probably a good reason for the abundance of schedule magnets and absence of over-the-top promos. Even with the backlog of products and the excitement around Opening Day, the fact is that calendar magnets are a safe and practical choice.
They can be used later in the season, just in case virus news took a turn for the worse in the weeks leading up to Opening Day and ballparks had to keep fans out after all. Schedule magnets are also easy to mail to ticket holders in the event something like that happened, which would prevent teams from getting stuck with even more promos they can't distribute.
But, right now, it looks like things are inching back to normal. Mets-Nationals was postponed due to a positive COVID test, but if things continue with existing safety protocols, there’s no reason fans won’t be able to enjoy some more exciting stadium giveaways as the season rolls on.
That appears to be the plan for most teams:
The Rays have announced their promotional schedule for this season: pic.twitter.com/f5g8PbaadR
— Adam Berry (@adamdberry) March 9, 2021
Once their first home series against the Yankees is over, the Rays will hand out replica AL Championship trophies on April 13. The Marlins will give out “Tropical Shirts” on June 13. The Astros will also give out AL Championship replica trophies (which should probably include a replica asterisk) and Jose Altuve replica jerseys. And the White Sox will give out “312” hats sponsored by Goose Island and “Los White Sox” soccer jerseys.
MLB definitely hasn't given up on giveaways, even after a season without any. And while it would have been cool for teams to maybe throw in some of their unused 2020 bobbleheads for Opening Day fans or hand out items celebrating the return of live crowds, we'll definitely take the schedule magnet. We're just happy baseball is back.