Having worked for a MLB team for some time and recently started a non-profit volunteer group here locally in Houston (www.charitychickshouston.com), I feel this travesty of a plan strikes a nerve or two so I'm entitled to speak my mind.
Bud Selig is no stranger to criticism and I'm no stranger to throwing my opinion out there. I'm having some difficulties swallowing the fact that Bud Selig (who urbandictionary.com defines as "a dumbass baseball commissioner" and nails it head on) mandated all players and on-field personnel to wear the number 42 in honor of Robinson. Let's first be clear that I am not knocking Robinson or his Foundation as I think they have made immeasurable strides in the area of racism and segregation since 1973. I simply think with the star-power, marketing, and media possibilities the MLB has behind them, they had the chance to do something outstanding. To take a step further in the name of fundraising and non-profit. I think of one of the many events I've planned or helped plan and know first-hand what having MLB standing behind your cause could do for you. It is amazing what fans are willing to do in the name of charity and how happy they are to do, but MLB chose to take the easy way out and order jerseys instead.
Here's there plan.. by asking all 30 teams (that played that day) which include a 25 man active roster on each team, coaches (usually 8) and all on field personnel (umpires and such) to sport a brand new jersey with number "42" on the back in honor of Robinson. Then the fundraising part which goes back to the Jackie Robinson Foundation..each team will autograph one jersey and auction it off for the Foundation. What that leaves is only 30 millionaire men (sorry for stereotyping) to purchase a jersey. We are basically looking at a contribution from MLB of $108,990 (33 jerseys multiplied by a base cost of $110 per jersey multiplied by 30 teams)..or of course $3,630 from each team. Couple things here..we all know MLB jerseys with the stitching cost well over $110, but I low balled to prove a point and because I couldn't get help on the actual figure. We also know that Bud Selig is crap at his job. He can't get his shit together and right here, he had a chance to mandate something a little more from his clubs. Why not sew the number 42 onto an already existing jersey and using that $108,990 to go directly to the Foundation on behalf of MLB? (This would also contribute to their wildly unsuccessful Green campaign that hasn't seem to have lifted off the ground yet.) Why not use that same money for another campaign that is a little more connected with today's times like professional athletes that take performance enhancing drugs and being poor role models for kids everywhere? That would actually show Selig using his brain and being proactive rather than reactive with all his mishaps. Take all these drug cases in the media and turn them around so kids can still look to the field for role models.
Also Mr. Selig, why not make this a little more creative and worth the cause if you are in fact going to spend over $100k on this day? By selling only 30 jerseys you're leaving out thousands of other fans that want to help and get in on the glory. What about the high school that wanted the students and parents to pitch in and buy it for their gym to remind all students of what #42 stands for. You can't honestly think that since Robinson's first day on the field that racism in sports has disappeared? That no one has suffered for the color of their skin since Jackie Robinson came into the picture? Selig's plan also left out folks with meager wallets but big hearts from playing a role in this opportunity. Or what about encouraging fans to create shirts that show the impact Robinson had on their lives. Or hell, why not use a portion of ticket sales or even concession sales from that day of "Honoring Jackie Robinson" back to the foundation? There were so many options here and I feel Bud Selig again chose the wrong. I'm well aware MLB is donating a few thousand dollars in scholarships, but make it bigger than that, as the potential promises. I feel this whole charade robbed Jackie Robinson, his family, and all his true fans of what he deserved on April 15. MLB took it too far beyond what the day was really about. Don't do this because you have to, do it because you want to. And think of new ways to do stuff.