The Best Comments From This Wall Street Journal Op-Ed on MLB's 'Ugly Sweatshirt Crisis'
Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed taking a (presumably) tongue-in-cheek shot at Major League Baseball's playoff hoodies. These are the ones—adorned with each team's postseason slogan and logo and various MLB branding—that players wear in the dugout, because October baseball is a frigid, hellish nightmare that serves only to remind us that summer is gone and never coming back.
More than that, the hoodies are advertisements that MLB hopes will sell more of those very hoodies to fans. The league has been doing this for basically forever, offering limited edition commemorative gear for the postseason and other special occasions. All sports leagues do this. It's a key cog in the professional sports-industrial complex, and it's just smart promotional marketing, in general.
Anyway, the hoodies are fine, so I was originally planning to use this space to defend them from the baseless and unnecessary attacks in the WSJ article. But then I made a critical error in judgment.
I waded into the comments section.
So, rather than pointing out the obvious—that these hoodies, while certainly cheesy, are fun and harmless fan apparel geared more toward younger fans than readers of the Wall Street Journal—I'm just going to highlight and analyze a couple of my favorite comments. It's Friday, after all. Let's have some fun.
Are you sure?
Well, OK then. You have been warned. (Names have been omitted to protect the innocent.)
1. Strength of Convictions
This commenter starts strong by condemning MLB's regular-season coaches sweatshirts for being too "cookie cutter" before immediately complaining about special uniform days that let teams try new things. That's a real power move right there. I'm just glad someone finally had the courage to stand up for what's right and boycott these hoodies worn by adults who get paid to hit a ball with a stick.
2. A Dying Sport
MLB generated $10 billion in revenues for the first time ever in 2017, its 15 straight season of year-over-year revenue growth.
3. Mom's Basement
Who do these nerds think they are, anyway, telling professional athletes who are already required to appear 162 times a year in matching pinstriped uniforms and high socks what they can and can't wear?
4. Get Off My Lawn
Everyone knows 100 percent wool, sheered and stitched by hand under the light of an oil lamp in the livestock pen behind your ranch on the edge of the Great American Frontier, is the only real and true way to make a hoodie. Also, here's an embroidered cotton sweatshirt I found after a quick search on MLB's web store. (OK, fine, it's 80/20 cotton/polyester.)
5. Millennial Snowflakes!
6. An Actual Good Point
Here we have a legitimate gripe—that the slogans would work a lot better if they were less arbitrary and more organic. The main WSJ article mentions this, too. This is a good branding lesson in general. Marketing (and, especially, promotional marketing) is much more effective if the messaging and design align closely with a brand's established mission and voice. When you start trying to force things, you run the risk of coming off as inauthentic. Basically, don't be that Steve Buscemi gif. Stay true to your clients' brands (and your own).
And don't ever read the comments.