Sitting at Busch Stadium last night, watching the Red Birds eek out a victory over the Reds, my eyes were frequently attracted to the huge Budweiser neon in right-center. During one of the many lulls in the game during the first seven innings... and there were many (batter tightens and re-tightens his batting glove; pitcher steps off the mound and scratches his crotch; catcher jogs out to whisper a few words to the pitcher; etc etc)... I decided to count the number of sponsors visible in the ballpark. Believe me, there are signs all over the place.
My final tally was 40. I'm sure I missed a few. And some of them change during the game. In a slow game, you can try to pick the next sign to change. It seems every square inch of space has been sold to some advertiser. And that's just inside the stadium. Outside, Busch Stadium makes you feel as though you're standing in the middle of Times Square at night.
Here's the point. The Cardinal management has found a way to cash in on every aspect of the game, even to the distraction from the sport. The cost of tickets, hot dogs, beer, soda, popcorn, clothing, parking, big screen promotions (they were promoting Blues hockey last night, believe it or not) and all the rest bring in a lot of dough. (2 hot dogs and 2 beers cost me $33 last night. At least I got sauerkraut on my dog....and on my lap.) The name of the game is obviously money.
Here's a partial list of the companies fighting for your attention with their signs (besides Bud):
Big Mac...Fox Sports...CocaCola...the Post Dispatch...Hardee's...Dierberg's... Dobbs...National Car Rental...Scottrade.. Gulf...State Farm...Bank of America...Weber Seasoning...Fabick...Mercy Medical...BJC (a hospital group)..Jimmy Johns...Stifel...Office Essentials....Boeing. And I'm only halfway through the list.
No wonder I'd rather watch a game on TV. At least I can hit the mute button when the commercials come on. And while I'm in a complaining mode, I think Major League Baseball should strictly prohibit organs and organ players at any and all baseball games. These people can't stand a moment of silence; they fill every pause with their musical enthusiasm. Maybe they're paid by the note. I'm sure there's a nice little village in the Ozarks where they could gather.
I was going to end this diatribe with a word from my sponsor, but enough's enough. In the meantime, I'll be rooting for the Cards to take it all this fall.