And apparently, Major League Baseball, Louisville Slugger have now entered the pink hall of shame.
It's not because they are profiting from the disease. Change takes time. I accept, in fact, I understand and I'm even willing to embrace the concept that corporations and for profit organizations like MLB are NOT in the business of philanthropy. They are in the business of making money.
If they choose to do something and make sizeable donations to charitable causes from their massive profits, in this environment, I'll take what I can get. Research is taking a hard hit (unintended but now intentional pun). I'm not going to turn my back on donor dollars nor am I going to bite the hand that feeds.
Unless they turn into playground bullies.
Which both MLB and Louisville Slugger did.
On Mother's Day.
In the name of Breast Cancer Awareness.
When TWO players attempted to honor their moms. Both of the moms are in the Breast Cancer Club.
MLB and Louisville Slugger are tied to Wait.For.It. KOMEN.
Business Insider has an article titled MLB Players Barred From Using Breast Cancer Awareness Bats Not Made by Exclusive Corporate Sponsor.
Apparently, another company, Max Bat, got in on the pink thing and was bullied out of the game.
In a weird twist of events, we've been informed that our pro guys can't use these on Sunday. Booooo twitter.com/MaxBatBaseball…
— MaxBat (@MaxBatBaseball) May 10, 2013
@maxbatbaseball did they give a reason? Seems those pink labels have been used in past years. Are they not allowing pink bats at all?
— Wes Campbell (@RWesCampbell) May 10, 2013
@futilityinfldr Players have them. Received late word that they can't use them Sunday. #frustrating
— MaxBat (@MaxBatBaseball) May 10, 2013
Another angle. These babies are sweet! Maybe the guys can use them in bp and auction off for research. twitter.com/MaxBatBaseball…
— MaxBat (@MaxBatBaseball) May 10, 2013
As you can see, there was an exchange on twitter among a couple of fans and Max Bat. This was playing out late on Friday. The last suggestion seemed to be a great compromise. Let them use the bats for batting practice and then auction them off for RESEARCH. Music to MY EARS. But alas, THAT was not acceptable either. There were deals in place, people held exclusive rights and the whole thing is rather disgraceful.
Touche to Jeff Passan who wrote the following for Yahoo. He gets it. He grasps the whole damn thing. The pettiness, the corporate greed, the fact that MLB and Louisville had the chance to make it right and CHOSE to hold their ground.....
Jeff's piece (reprinted below in its entirety) is pitch perfect:
What started off as a wonderful tradition and homage to breast cancer survivors everywhere, the use of pink bats on Mother's Day, has turned into another ugly example of corporate greed. Hopefully sometime between now and Sunday, Major League Baseball and Louisville Slugger will realize there are few greater sins than monetizing disease, and fix that.
Baltimore outfielder Nick Markakis and Minnesota third baseman Trevor Plouffe, both of whose mothers are breast cancer survivors, received special bats from manufacturer MaxBat this week. They have been told not to use the bats, with their pink MaxBat labels, because they don't comply with a league policy – one Louisville Slugger purchased through a charitable donation.
Bats with this pink MaxBat label don't comply with league policy. (@maxbatbaseball)
In early April, MLB official Roy Krasik sent an email to all league-approved bat manufacturers outlining the rules on pink bats. The email, obtained by Yahoo! Sports, specifically mandates the only company allowed to manufacture a pink bat with its name on the label is Louisville Slugger, "the MLB official licensee."
To get that designation, Hillerich & Bradsby, the parent company of Louisville Slugger, made what one source deemed "a sizeable donation" to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the league's charitable partner. The terms of the donation included other manufacturers being able to make pink bats but not stamp the bat with their logos. MaxBat, which declined comment through a spokesman, made bats for Markakis, Plouffe and other major leaguers that were standard colors – with pink MaxBat labels.
The league apparently considered this running afoul of a portion of its rule that states companies other than Louisville Slugger can make pink bats so long as "no ribbons, corporate logos, distinguishing marks or names of charities are included on the bat." MaxBat could be subject to a fine for simply shipping the bats to players.
None of this is necessary. Louisville started the pink-bat operation in 2006 to raise awareness for breast cancer. The entire sport embraced it. On Sunday, pink will bathe fields – shoes, gloves, batting gloves and, yes, bats.
Nick Markakis hoped to use a MaxBat with a pink logo to honor his mom, a breast cancer survivor. (USA Today)
Just not as many as there should be. While the stubbornness of bat manufacturers is evident – just make a label-less bat for one day – their refusal to do so is a legitimate action of protest.
Their argument: Since when is awareness for sale?
Raising money for charity is often a painful process, and if a company like Louisville is willing to donate money – more than $500,000 since the inception of the program, it claimed on its Twitter feed – that is a great victory. At the same time, Louisville's insistence on including the no-label clause for its competitors does more harm to the point of the day – increasing awareness – than its donation does good. The money is simply not worth the aggravation for any of the parties involved, particularly Louisville, which used its Twitter account to spin corporate gobbledygook about all the good it has done.
From a business sense, of course Louisville doesn't want its competitors putting labeled pink bats in stores and claiming they're just like the ones major leaguers swung. Then again, for such good friends of cancer research, Louisville seems far more concerned with ensuring a monopoly on that market than painting the batter's box pink with every bat possible, manufacturer and label be damned.
Plouffe took to Twitter to show his initial anger, writing: "Seriously disgusted that a company would block awareness for Breast Cancer research so their brand can stand out. Thanks @sluggernation !" He followed up: "Sorry Mom. I can't use my Breast Cancer Awareness bat on Sunday because @sluggernation 'owns the rights.' Because that's what it's about…"
He later deleted the posts and apologized to Louisville, though it's not altogether apparent why. He was exactly right. Awareness had a price. And it's one agreed upon by Louisville, MLB and the players' association, which in its collective-bargaining agreement with MLB says players will abide by league-mandated rules on special equipment days.
All of this can go away easily. Louisville can say that it would be happy to donate money to Komen with no strings attached, a sign of true giving – and if it declines to do so, it will be obvious just how hollow the donation was in the first place. MLB can allow Plouffe, Markakis and others to use their bats this year and change the rule back to how it used to be: Every manufacturer can make labeled pink bats. And rather than focus on who can't swing pink bats, we remember what Mother's Day in baseball should be: a time to honor the wonderful, strong women in our lives.
Before Plouffe deleted his posts, his mother, Diane Plouffe, tweeted at him:
"As a breast cancer survivor I thank my son Trevor for keeping up the fight for a cure!"
It is indeed a wonderful cause, one MLB has embraced and taken to levels far beyond what anybody imagined pink-bat day could be. Like so many things done right, of course, it reached a point where the money involved killed the good will and caused this, a truly unnecessary mess.
Fix it, baseball. Fix it, Louisville. Make Sunday pink for everyone.
Me again.... Is ANYONE seriously surprised that somehow Komen is in the midst of this mess. Protect the brand. At the expense of all else. I wanted to highlight some of Jeff Passan's best observations. The thing is? The whole piece is one giant ball of brilliance. Blinding pink brilliance.
I highly recommend reading this piece from Fox Sports. The last paragraph... just read the last paragraph.
And then.... the tweet that was heard 'round the world....
All players can use pink bats Sunday with any bat company that makes a modest donation to @komenforthecureGreat..... After all, someone needs to fund that hefty pay hike ..... Oh... Never Mind.... I'm just plain disgusted.
— MLB Public Relations (@MLB_PR) May 11, 2013
Note to MLB (and for that matter, WWE, too): Komen isn't the only game in town. Maybe next year you can share the wealth. For starters, how about making donations to organizations that fund research that seeks to SAVE LIVES or research that seeks to find ways to protect the next generation.