As a general rule in life, I try to do what I can to avoid being a crank. I’ve seen too many tweets from Keith Olbermann screeching from his digital rooftop about how Hezekiah “Pints” McGuinness would take Shohei Ohtani to the cleaners to let that happen to me or my brain. Sometimes though, a hospital pays eight figures per year to put a gaudy four-inch-by-four-inch advertisement on the sleeve of your favorite team’s jersey and the primal parts of your brain begin to take hold.
In case you missed the off-white square on Twitter, SNY, or the photo above, the Mets became the latest team to put an advertisement on their jersey under a new program added in the most recent CBA. The design, which has since been given a limited lifespan as Steve Cohen says in addition to being too big, it’s made of Phillies colors, immediately made the Mets the main character of baseball Twitter last Thursday night. The official Mets tweet had 2,226 replies, 1,659 quote tweets, and 3,000,000 views in just about 24 hours. Typically those are numbers reserved for airlines accidentally posting pornography or a 1980s sitcom star accusing the president of cannibalism.
For a variety of reasons, the New York Presbyterian advertisement that will be on the Mets jerseys for the foreseeable future is one of those moves that smacks of the Wilpons scrounging for a few extra dollars. Naively, I assumed this was something that the Mets wouldn’t take advantage of, or even if they did, they wouldn’t look like a UFC canvas when it happened. After all, Steve Cohen is a history-appreciating Mets fan worth nearly $20B, is spending nearly half a billion dollars on payroll, and makes enough money that if he dropped a $1,000,000 note on the ground, it would not be worth his time to pick it up. Unfortunately, I forgot that having $17.5B doesn’t mean you’re going to say no to having $17.51B.
The idea of a hospital, a place designed to provide care for sick people, shelling out a minimum of $10M per year to plaster their advertisement on the Mets jersey is almost as off-putting as the Mets team account trying to pass off accepting a giant, novelty-sized check as A New Amazin’ Patch Partnership that they’re proud to announce.
The same health care system that charges $10 for individually wrapped cough drops paying more money than a normal person will see in their lives just to make sure you, the viewer, don’t go more than 5 seconds without being reminded of what to buy and who to give your money to is the only way the past 150 years of baseball in our society could’ve ended.
As the past few decades have passed, advertisements have taken the walls, the grass, the stadium names, the calls to the bullpen, the postgame shows, the radar guns, and eventually the pitch clock. Finally, the Mets themselves have become the newest billboards. A vehicle to make you think of a hospital every time you see Max Scherzer come set or Francisco Lindor standing in the box.
New York Presbyterian is the first advertisement on the jerseys of the New York Mets, but they won’t be the last. Another sponsor will take their place, more advertisements will pop up on helmets and, eventually, across the players’ chests. Every jersey sold at the stadium will come with an ad sewn onto it, memorial patches will be pushed aside to make sure executives get their money’s worth and your eyes are never too far from their logo.
There was no way of knowing it as Adam Ottavino walked off the field after giving up a walkoff to Garrett Mitchell on Wednesday night, but he had thrown and you had witnessed the final ad-free pitch in Mets history. More than anything else, I’m disappointed I didn’t see it coming.