Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Empty Pocket Needs A Refill

On the way home from CT tonight, saw the front cover of the Herald with a story about dudes bickering over the 1912 WS trophy. The story's not all that interesting--aside from the fact that one of the guys is actually "Pete Nice" from 3rd Bass--but what I can't understand is how a major Boston newspaper could put the OLD Red Sox logo on the front page. They changed that thing a year ago! It was big news!

Just when I thought everybody'd finally heard... oh wait, except for those WB Mason trucks...and that National Floors Direct billboard. And windshield decals everywhere... oh, and if you're a casual fan or something and you're thinking, Maybe they used the 1912 logo, eh, no, Peg, the one they used came out in the 70s/80s* and lasted through the 2008 season.

*Creamer's page (which isn't 100% accurate) now shows its first year as '76--I think it used to say '83 or '79 or something. I smell a new research project...

[Alternate post title: "I shoulda started MAOL: Media Against Outdated Logos"]

Friday, November 27, 2009

Criminals At Steiner Sports Still Spamming Blogs And Robbing Customers

Now showing up on Google, new spam comments from Steiner! Tom Palomino has done his time, and now "Sam Enriquez" is making the rounds with new, more to-the-point ad comments on unsuspecting blogs. Looks like he started in early November, and while he hasn't found my blog yet, I'm guessing more of his "work" will soon start showing up in searches.

In the meantime, ol' Tommy Palomino's shill bids have shown up in more Steiner auctions, using the "Palomino2" moniker. Yes, Steiner Sports has their own workers bid on their own memorabilia, making the actual customers pay more money. Sick.

Another crappy thing I've realized with Steiner is the method they must use to sell game-used merch from the Yankee clubhouse. Here's what Brandon Steiner said about how his partnership with the Yanks started:

[The Yankees] had a problem in the stadium with things leaking out of the clubhouse. I explained to them that there's a way for us to put a system together that would make you guys feel more comfortable so that you don't feel like things are getting stolen or leaking out of the clubhouse. I'd be accountable to you, and I can explain to you the products that I'm creating*, what I'm doing, and you'd have input to make sure that your fans, which is your prized possession, are getting an authentic deal.

To me, that's not so much "let's be business partners" as it is "let's be partners in crime." Steiner pays the Yanks to produce equipment strictly for the purpose of selling it later as "memorabilia," and both sides make out like bandits. The result is stuff like this: A Xavier Nady "game used" World Series hat. Is there really anything special about this hat? (Side note: Nady wasn't even on the Yankees' World Series roster, which brings up yet another issue with this company--how do they define "game-used"?) When I look at these hats, I don't see a well-worn piece of history with a connection to who wore it. I see a product, given to a player who knows ahead of time that they'll be giving it right back so it can be sold. I mean don't you think Xavier Nady would want to pass something like that on to his kids? That tells me they can produce as many hats (bats, jerseys, etc.) for each player as they want, solely for resale purposes. And as if it couldn't get any more mechanical, look how on those auction pages they don't even bother to take more than one picture of each hat, using three pics common to each auction.

And then, of course, if you really do want any of these sanitized-for-your-protection, barely-worn hats, you have to bid against Steiner's minions as they jack up the price. (In the case of the Jeter hat, it's up to $2,800 dollars, but the reserve price has not yet been met.)

And people will say that these companies can charge this much for this crap because people will buy it. That always seems to be the excuse: "Hey, as long as someone's willing to pay the price, yay capitalism!" But have you noticed the people who say this are always the ones who aren't interested in buying that particular product? When it's gas prices, we all complain. If it's something you need, you're protesting in the streets, if it's something you don't, you say "That's business." Gimme a break. If all the bread companies started charging 25 dollars a loaf, guess what? The richest people will still buy it. Does that mean we should all be okay with it and praise the "fair market system"? No, we should hang 'em up by their Buster Browns like the criminals they are. So think about that next time you use that argument. Are "people" buying this stuff, or are "rich people" buying it? There's a big difference.

*Did you catch that language? Products he's creating! That's where things like the "locker nameplate" (like the one their employee is bidding on above) come from. Invented items made strictly for the point of selling later.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Red Sox Continue History Of Not Holding Onto Alex Gonzalez

A-...wait for it...-Gone.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New 9/11 Stuff

"You are signed up to do the water balloon sling shot @ the United Way Rally this friday! See you there! Jennifer"

...and other pager messages from the morning of 9/11/2001 are being released sequentially here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Evil-Free March

Red Sox not playing Yanks in spring training. First time since 1997, unless I missed one.

Monday, November 23, 2009

This Dirt Is Free

It started with some advertising disguised as a comment on my blog. It was a little different than usual, in that "Tom" almost seemed like a real person who just happened to be pitching the giant memorabilia company he was connected to in the middle of a topical comment. I did a search on the text of his comment to see if it popped up all over the place, but aside from Allan (Joy of Sox) confirming he got a similar comment from "Tom," I didn't find anything.

A few days later Tom returned with a new comment containing the same ad for his "client" (I'll reluctantly mention their name: Steiner Sports), proving he's not actually a reader of my blog by not reacting to the post I wrote about him. So I Googled again, and this time similar comments of his came up all over the Web. His M.O. was to read the top post at a blog, come up with an opinion on it from the perspective of a fan of that blogger's team, throw in his ad into the body of his comment, and then wrap it up with a "go team." So now this guy was pissing me off in more than just the "sneaky advertising" way--he was saying "Go Red Sox" in one breath, and "Go Yankees" in the next.

Tom spent a lot of time on this during his mid- to late-October spree. Before disappearing as quickly as he arrived, he posted under names like "Tom Palomino," "Tommy P," and "," victimizing over a dozen Red Sox blogs and at least 25 Yankees sites among others, even fooling some bloggers into responding to him. Google "my client, Steiner Sports" to see scores of his comments. Another good way to see his work in action is by looking at this page, (or see photo at left) which shows his activity at different team sites within the same larger site which he has one user name for. You can see a "Go Yanks," a "Go Sox," and a "Go Mets" written by the same person right in a row! How's that for "authenticity"?

But it gets worse. As if Steiner Sports's methods here aren't shady enough, they also appear to be instructing their henchman Tom to go to their own memorabilia auctions to jack up the prices. That is, unless there's another guy calling himself "Palomino" who happened to be bidding on Steiner-MLB memorabilia right at the same time Tom was making his comment rounds (the main listing pages show the Steiner logo), there's something really fishy going on here.

But fishy is nothing new to Steiner, who seem to be involved in a different lawsuit every week. In the last month we've heard about their "refurbished" Yankee Stadium seats and the jacket they stole. Then there was the time they deceived fans through an e-mail promotion. And the time the Players' Association sued them. And the time they stole Ralph Branca's money. (They've also been on the other end, suing Yadier Molina and David Ortiz for not signing enough autographs.)

Regardless of how they do business, Steiner Sports is a massive memorabilia and marketing company tied to MLB, the Yankees, the Red Sox, and over 5,000 athletes. They do not need any more money, and it stinks that they'd go around to blogs trying to sneak advertising in. To bid on their own auction items to drive up the price, though, is a whole other (immoral if not illegal) pack of wax. It's no surprise the BBB gives them an F.

This whole episode has really got me thinking about memorabilia. As you know, I love the thought of getting stuff that comes from Red Sox players or Fenway Park. My house is probably the only one in the world that contains both a speaker from Fenway and a game-worn undershirt of a Red Sox hitting coach. And I appreciate what companies like Steiner set out to do, which was to make stuff like that available. But to say Steiner "legitimized" the sports memorabilia industry is like saying the Internet ticket agencies legitimized the scalping industry. A guy in an office in a suit can fuck you over just as well as a guy in sweatpants on the street can--at least the sweatpants guy doesn't charge "convenience fees."

Think about what Steiner does. They sign athletes to exclusive contracts that force them to sign only their collectibles and only at their shows. They have them come to an office and sit there signing literally thousands of items, as their authenticators monitor the action with dollar signs in their eyes. Then they sell each item for a ridiculous price to you. Example: how much would the average Yankee fan pay for a Derek Jeter autographed picture? I'm not talking about a picture in a solid gold frame complete with a tuft of Derek's pubes. I just mean a glossy piece of paper, picture of Jeter rounding the bases, his rushed John Hancock on the side in blue ink. 50 bucks? A hundred? Try 600 dollars. ($700 with frame!) So if Brandon Steiner has Jeter sign 1000 of these, he stands to make 600 grand. Add to that jerseys ($850--super cheap because it's just a replica), cleats (a bargain at $2,500), balls (pocket change--$500 each), and you can see how this company is basically Devlin-McGregor.

What does this do for innocent kids who want their favorite player's autograph? I'd say it makes it unattainable, wouldn't you? Unless their dad is a Rockefeller, or they're lucky enough to get close to the player. But that would only happen if that player chooses to sign in the first place (much less of a possibility thanks to their exclusive Steiner contract). Ironic, isn't it? The player thinks, "I wouldn't want this autograph to get in the hands of baaaad people, so I better not sign," yet they're keeping the autograph out of the hands of a real fan, while allowing "collectors" to get their officially authenticated stuff, signed mechanically in a closed-off room for pay, at obscene prices. (Can you say TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS for a Joba Chamberlain game-used jersey?)

It's just like when people defend the zoo for locking up animals: "Hey, they get fed, and they don't have to worry about predators." Okay, well why don't you hop in this cage here for the rest of your life--don't worry, there's plenty of food in there! You'll never worry again. You like Cheetos, right?

The point is, memorabilia is no longer in "the wild," but in the only place worse: a sterilized office on the top floor. And forget about running a card store these days. Unless you want to sell out to Steiner, the Wal-Mart of sports junk, with a blue light special in the jock strap (literally?) department.

And now Steiner has yet another venture, the "Last Licks" ice cream/card stores. Since Brandon Steiner loves kids so much (kids who have 20 grand burnin' a hole in their pocket, I guess), he's developed a store where they can get an ice cream treat, buy some five dollar packs of baseball cards, and get autographs when their favorite stars periodically stop by. You know what this is leading to, right? Pretty soon these stores will be all over the country, pulling athletes in every city away from the local card shop, and into the Steiner store to do signings. (I actually came to that realization before reading that the chain is "soon to become a franchise"--so there you have it.) And guess what, kids? It ain't free! Make sure you bring your wallet to the ice cream store, because friendly Mr. Steiner will not only charge you for the autograph, he'll make you pay extra if you want an inscription or a certificate of authenticity.

Everybody has the right to make money. Brandon Steiner is an admitted "entrepreneur since birth"-type, and that's fine. The guy would sell you the Brooklyn Bridge and include a certification hologram. Not the way I roll, but his right nonetheless. But just because a businessman can come up with an idea, that doesn't mean he should go through with it. An autograph is a souvenir of a special moment--Brandon will tell you that. So what is it in his mind that says, "if I pay the celebrity, he'll sign all the autographs I want, and I'll resell them to make a profit, while taking the personalization completely out of the whole experience"? That's not giving to kids, that's taking from kids. Are the millions worth it? I can't imagine this man gets much sleep at night.

This is just the latest industry to become globalized and monopolized. Every MLB web site looks the same. Every NFL coach wears the same kind of jacket. Everybody's on facebook. Every car, phone, store, restaurant, and cable provider comes from the same little pool of corporations. And soon, every piece of sports memorabilia will have a Steiner hologram on it. Where's the variety and the locality? There should be limits on how far a company can stretch, how much money they can make. It's okay to go for as much as you can get, but why shouldn't we limit that amount so everyone gets a fair chance?

Until that happens, and aside from boycotting, which I know I'll be doing, what can be done about Steiner? It's up to the athletes! These guys who make so much money anyway should think about not whoring out their signature to the highest bidder (which is always Steiner). We know David Ortiz and Yadier Molina won't be doing any more business with these guys, buy how about everybody else? Why not decided for yourself who gets your autograph? It's a piece of you. Do you not sign enough contracts?

Note to bloggers: If you're on the following list, you have a comment from Tom and an ad for a mega-corporation that they DIDN'T PAY YOU FOR that you might want to delete:

Sox and Dawgs, Sawxblog, Over the Monster, Bottom Line, Mighty Quinn, Red Sox MLBlog, Brownie Points, Cursed to First, Red Sox Video Diaries, Sox Monster,, River Ave Blues (who warned him), Pinstriped Bible,, In Mo We Trust, LoHud, iYankees, Son of Steinbrenner, Toasted Joe, Bronx Baseball Daily, Pinstripe Alley, Ultimate Banter, Daily News, Yankees MTM, No You're a Towel, Pinstripes PA, Jorge Says No, TYBW, My Pinstripes, Flair for the Dramatic, Sox vs. Stripes, 3:10 to Joba, Weblog That Derek Built, Behind the Moat, Yanks Baseball Whisperer, NY Baseball Hack, Kim Jones' blog, and even that silly woman who "divorced" the Yanks that one time for publicity. And that's just the Red Sox and Yankees blogs.

Sometimes Tom claims to feel guilty and that he needs to push merchandise to support the family. Other times he admits he's getting paid and that he "LOVE(s) IT." Sometimes he goes to Yankee blogs as a Red Sox fan or Mets fan for a nice twist. He also goes to Celtics blogs and Laker sites, as a fan of both rivals. He also likes the Mets, Phillies, Tigers, Dodgers, and Alabama football (and delves into women's tennis), usually pretending to be a fan of the team being blogged about, and always plugging Steiner. You can also find him at neutral sites like FanGraphs and message boards, and even Steiner client Derek Jeter's blog (on which he called Steiner his "boss" as opposed to "client.") My favorite one, though, is when he went so far as to pretend to be a UMass-Lowell RiverHawks basketball fan.

I know thinking about the personality of this hired gun is like reminiscing about what it was like when Mrs. Doubtfire was our nanny, but I really wonder about this Tom guy. Who knows who he really is--if it's just somebody within Steiner, or someone they actually recruited to go on this mission. It's funny how all his comments have the feel of an outsider who comes in with all this knowledge, but just can't seem to mix in with the group. He comes by, reiterates what the host is saying, then makes an awkward, incongruous comment about why you might want to think about joining his religion, and when he sees everybody's avoiding him, he moves on to the next group. And who's the marketing genius over there at America's top sports marketing firm who decided to have him use the same damn name to post as fans of different teams? I guess it doesn't matter now, as the entity known as Tom Palomino has retreated into the e-night. Since I doubt the company made too much money from Tom's reign of terror, the only possible effect Steiner could see from his filthy footprints now is its own undoing. But we should be so lucky.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Kwiz #2

What 80s movie character had an earring, a T-shirt with a shopping-related slogan on it, and a poster of a "brat pack" actor?

Answer in comments, please. Okay, so I know I still haven't even laid down the rules for this Kwiz Season, but I wanna keep it going so I'll do that later. Also note, I'm gonna be putting up a HUGE post soon so if you're reading this on Sunday evening you have an advantage because no one will scroll down this far tomorrow.

SM Rulz!!!oneone

The average Sunday for Red Sox fan Seth Myers.

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