Who's Afraid of the Giant Baseball Hat?
I DIDN'T KNOW the Atlanta baseball team was celebrating its home runs by having the home run hitter wear a big novelty cap until I saw the news that Major League Baseball had banned the big novelty cap. I don't much care what teams that aren't the Baltimore Orioles do, especially in the other league, but it was nice to hear that the Atlanta team had a celebration that wasn't racist. Except now it doesn't have one, because the big cap has been outlawed.
Major League Baseball reportedly banned the big novelty cap because the New Era Cap Company complained that it encroached on New Era's contract to be the exclusive supplier of major-league on-field caps. It's tempting to ask whether a platter-sized joke item worn in the dugout really qualifies as on-field cap—or how New Era can claim its exclusivity covers jumbo headgear when it doesn't offer teams any jumbo headgear of its own—but that literalism would let New Era off the hook a little too easily.
By making the complaint, New Era was confessing that its own arrangement with baseball is as pointless and obtrusive as the big novelty caps. In 2016, after decades in the business of making hats to fit the specifications of major-league baseball teams, the company introduced a specification of its own: the New Era logo would be permanently showcased on the caps, as high-contrast as the Mets' NY logo or the Dodgers' LA. From then on, it has been impossible to watch a baseball game without receiving a New Era brand impression (stitched, since 2019, by non-union workers) with every single pitch.
In baseball, as in everything else, the product for sale is people's attention, sliced into ever more separate chunks for resale. In exchange for $1 billion over 10 years, Nike got the right to put giant swoosh logos on the front of the jerseys; this year, teams are rearranging their old sleeve patches to make room for selling ads on the sleeves. The whole fad for celebrating home runs by having the slugger put on something ridiculous—like a garish team-logo chain necklace—has been an ongoing study in how quickly fun can be converted into merchandising.
Major League Baseball's problem with Atlanta's big novelty hat wasn't that it was a cap, but that it was an unauthorized promotional opportunity. Even if the sports memorabilia company that reportedly put the hat into the Atlanta players' hands doesn't seem to be selling giant hats on its own website, someone else could be inserting some other object into that screen time for profit.
It seemed backward, at first, that Major League Baseball would be bossing the Atlanta players around at the behest of its cap-manufacturing contractor. Who takes orders from whom, here? But Major League Baseball, it turns out, is a minority owner of New Era. When the money was talking, it was talking to itself.
VISUAL CONSCIOUSNESS DEP’T.
More Spring Tulips
More consciousness at Instagram.
New York City, April 27, 2023
★★ A ragged ring of dried dog diarrhea was smeared on the sidewalk, to be washed away if the rain ever came. Despite the heavy clouds, though, no rain was showing up. Sun glimmered momentarily, then things returned to the same green-under-gray as before. Smoke oozed from the top of a trash barrel in the park, with a sheaf of paper smoldering down inside. A patch of dandelions had already gone to seed; evergreen shrubs pushed out pale and drooping new tips. The construction machines seemed to be gone from inside the park, but the construction fence remained. Behind it, a ginger ale can stood on a bench no one could reach. On a bench outside the park, meanwhile, an empty bottle of eggnog liquor lay flat, surrounded by packaging scraps. Hardly anyone was trying to dress for spring.
EASY LISTENING DEP’T.
The Indignity Morning Podcast is also available via the Apple and Spotify platforms.
SANDWICH RECIPES DEP’T.
WE PRESENT INSTRUCTIONS for the assembly of a sandwich from Our Sisters Recipes, Compiled in Pittsburgh, Penna., by Nettie M. Kaufman, published in 1909, found in the public domain and available at archive.org for the delectation of all.
1 cup chopped white meat of chicken; 3 olives, chopped; 1 tablespoon capers. To the above add mayonnaise dressing and spread on thin slices of bread.
— Mrs. E. M.Lazarus.
If you decide to prepare and attempt to enjoy a sandwich inspired by this offering, kindly send a picture to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading INDIGNITY, a general-interest publication for a discerning and self-selected audience. We depend on your support!
I didn’t know about the giant cap until reading this! Immediately forwarded to my more baseball-inclined fiancé. Good to know the sleeve patch ads ARE new and not just something I failed to notice until this season.