They say good things, bad things and all things tend to come in threes. That has proven to be true for Major League Baseball this week, and unfortunately for Bud Selig and company they’re talking all three right on the chin.
Of course I’m referring to the botched replay review in Cleveland on Wednesday night that put umpire Angel Hernandez under the microscope, the misapplication of Rule 3.05(b) on Thursday night that resulted in a two-game suspension for umpire Fieldin Culbreth, and now comes MLB’s decision to enforce their banning of labeled pink bats not manufactured by Louisville Slugger during this year's Mother's Day games.
Yahoo! Sports Jeff Passan covered the controversial bat story in-depth in a piece written on Friday night. In it, he clarifies MLB’s reason for enforcing the ban. It turns out they reached an exclusive rights deal with Hillerich & Bradsby, the parent company of Louisville Slugger, to manufacture pink bats designed to bring awareness to breast cancer in exchange for “a sizable donation" to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The agreement guarantees the famous bat company’s image will always stand out from the others during MLB's Mother’s Day game, so it was certainly a worthwhile investment for them.
According to Passan, an email outlining the agreement was sent out to the other league-approved companies in April. As a part of those guidelines, the other companies (including MaxBat) are still allowed to manufacture pink bats, but the catch is their bats cannot include ribbons, corporate logos, distinguishing marks or names of charities. So basically, other companies can bring awareness to the cause, which is the most important thing, but you won’t know who created it unless it’s a Louisville Slugger.
That will create a bit of a problem for some players. Most notably, Minnesota Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe and Baltimore Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis. Neither will be able to use the MaxBats they ordered to honor their mothers, who are both breast cancer survivors. Obviously, the day holds an extra special meaning for them, but their message won't seen because even though the bats themselves are standard-colored, a pink label brandishing the company's name is also included. It's a no-no, and Passan adds the company could be fined just for shipping them to the players.
It seems absurd, I know, but an agreement is an agreement, even if it doesn’t take the best interests of the cause and the honorable intentions of the players into consideration. The guidelines should be clear, so the fact it got to this point shows a blatant disregard of the rules by the MaxBat company.
Now, with that said, if there was ever a day during the baseball season where everybody should be on the same page and not just looking out for themselves, wouldn't this be it?
Is it really necessary for Louisville Slugger to own the day, regardless of how handsome their donations continue to be? Did Major League Baseball do the right thing by giving them those exclusive rights, and are they enforcing the rules a little too tightly by banning pink labels? And, to be fair, is the MaxBat company just as guilty for trying to push their own agenda?
All questions I'm sure people have an answer for but. Personally, though, I think it's far too many questions to consider on a day that was designed to honor the most important women in our lives and an occasion designed to keep them healthy or help them feel a little better. For that, I believe this qualifies as a black eye for MLB on the same week they suffered a broken nose and a busted lip courtesy of their umpires. They're the ones in the middle of it all, and they're the ones allowing what should be a simple, special day, to deteriorate into a battle over rights and guidelines.
That's not a good look — at all. And this wasn't a good week — at all — for MLB.