Ralph Nader — whose slide from visionary to curmudgeon happened rather quickly — sent a letter to the New York Yankees complaining about the high level of advertising in team broadcasts.
Nader and his charmingly misnamed League of Fans — on the verge of a Subway Series, no less — sent a letter to Randy Levine and Brian Cashman complaining about 22 ads running during the pregame and play-by-play calling during the June 1 Yankees-Tigers match. Their argument: the ads are obtrusive and have no place, as they disrupt a broadcast and cheapen the experience. From The New York Times:
“Have you no boundaries or sense of restraint?” Nader wrote, in his position as the founder of the sports advocacy group League of Fans. “Have you no mercy on your play-calling broadcasters?”
Nader recalled growing up in Connecticut listening to Mel Allen call Yankee games “when the commercials were reserved for the commercial breaks—between half-innings.” Now, he said, the between-the-batter and between-the-pitch ads “have become a significant part of the broadcast.”
Those of us with slightly better memories (or better Google skills, anyway) will also remember that the late, great Allen — as did every broadcaster in the era — inserted promotional language into the game on behalf of a sponsor. When a Yankee homered, it wasn’t just a homer: it was a “Ballantine Blast” (named for sponsor Ballantine Ale) or a “White Owl Wallop” (named for the cigar line). When the legendary Red Barber referenced a homer, it was an “Old Goldie” homer — a reference to Old Gold cigarettes. To argue that ads were reserved for between-innings slots in the old days is just plain silly.
So let’s just take this silliness for what it is: a desperate plea for attention.
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