Oct 02, 2008, 07:11AM

Pricks, Sticks and (Base)Balls

The MLB playoffs are chock full of badly planned game times and penis-oriented commercials.

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The first round of MLB playoffs is always a round-robin of confusion, with three games often played on the same day, at different times, consequently leaving some fans of contending teams unable to watch the action. Commissioner Bud Selig and his minions, in conjunction with TBS—which has the rights to all the divisional contests—make decisions based on the size of television markets, which is a reasonable business decision, but it still pisses off a lot of people who’ve followed their preferred clubs for 162 games, only to get shut out in the post-season. For example, how many Phillies and Brewers diehards were able to watch the afternoon game yesterday when the Phils’ Cole Hamels dominated Milwaukee’s squad? Bring back the transistor radio!

Closer to home, I was cheesed off that the Red Sox-Angels opener, in Anaheim, started at 10 last night, about a half hour after my son, a Sox enthusiast who wore a Jon Lester t-shirt yesterday, went to bed, exhausted from football practice and his Latin homework. It didn’t please me either, since I don’t like to stay up past one a.m., which I did, only because the Sox took the game 4-1 (thanks to Lester and Manny Ramirez replacement Jason Bay). This is a constant complaint about MLB’s post-season, so no need to elaborate any further.

Instead, what I found fascinating was the array of commercials that ran in between innings on TBS, the bargain-basement cable station that I never watch except at this time of year. In the early innings, there was the usual fare: Budweiser, Miller High Life, Taco Bell, the incredibly unfunny Frank Caliendo (whose impersonation of Bill Clinton is worse than his shopworn George Bush routine) and, strangely enough, constant ads for E-Trade, as if many Americans are doing a lot of day-trading these days.

After midnight, as I was growing weary, TBS switched over to the sleaze. Yes, the “Viva Viagra” ads are shown in prime time, but at one point, right after that spot aired, those still awake on the East Coast were introduced (at least I was) to the wonders of Extenze, a snake-oil penis “enhancement” tablet. I don’t watch television after hours in general, so this was a new one to me, although I suppose insomniacs are familiar with this baloney. Don’t get the wrong idea: I’m in favor of advertising and even get a laugh out of the occasional spot, although I usually glaze over at the come-ons and read or clean up the kitchen until the game comes back on. I’m rather open-minded, but this kind of garbage really seems out of sync with Selig’s professed desire to promote baseball as the All-American sport that no longer tolerates steroids or pitchers brushing back batters. Recently, I wrote about the proliferation of in-game sponsors, and wondered why Rafael Palmeiro would (seemingly) embarrass himself by shilling for Viagra even if the cash payoff was significant.

Who knows, maybe a star player—the thuggish James Shields of the Tampa Bay Rays would be a fitting candidate—will soon accept a hefty check and become the spokesman for Extenze.

  • The bigger question is, other than children's programming, where can one NOT see these adds? I've seen them on internet sights, and no too you perverts out there, I'm not talking porn sights, I'm talking MSM. I get these as junk email, and I hear them on the classic rock radio station I listen too. Perhaps these ads are "All-American". Yes, a cynical view, but one I would like too see feedback on this.

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  • As a casual baseball fan, I find it really irritating when certain games are blacked out seemingly arbitrarily. Why can't they just broadcast every game? They certainly have enough money and cable channels.

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  • There's no doubt that the content of the ads is brutal but it's the elevated volume of all of the ads that really annoys me. I've reached the point where I mash the mute button as soon as they go to commercial.

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  • @Landlord: Sure, advertising is All-American, but it does seem kind of gutter-like for TBS to air these ads during a baseball game. A re-run of Law & Order CVU, sure, but baseball? Obviously, all innocence is gone from the game, but still... would you expect penis enlargement ads during the Olympics?

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  • Let's raise our hands and see how many prudes there are among baseball fans. I thought so: almost none. Look, a station like TBS, when running a late night game, has to fill its advertising space, and if they run ridiculous dick-growing ads, so what. As The Landlord said, who hasn't seen a million of these in spam folders and magazines and now, increasingly, desperate newspapers. Baseball isn't sacrosanct; and as for "the children" who are so piously invoked, they've seen it all, too.

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  • Ponder this my children: cigarette ads have been banned for some time. Beer ads are not. Ads for wee-wee pills are distasteful to me but maybe the pills have not been proved to be harmful. How far down can we go?

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  • Probably further down. Ads for hookers after midnight for TBS games? Wouldn't surprise me next season if "regular" ad revenues aren't there.

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  • Noscull raises a good question. Alcohol has destroyed many lives, and torn families apart, and yet beer commercials are abundant. Prohibition didn't work, but isn't there a double-standard by not allowing cigarette ads while letting beer companies advertise?

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