The Ceremonial First Sales Pitch

March 13, 2006

I feel sorry forcertain people. Leon Spinks's orthodontist. Bode Miller's agent. Anybody in aham-eating contest with James Gandolfini.

But nobody has itworse than the poor souls in marketing for some major league baseballteams.

Thanks to ownerswith the financial acumen of Mike Tyson, baseball has no salary cap, whichmeans only about 10 teams out of 30 have a chance to win a championship. Theyknow it. We know it. Tibetan monks know it.

So the marketingguys have to come up with a slogan that will lure fans to the park withoutflat-out deceiving them. I mean, it's not like the Kansas City Royals can putup billboards that read FOLLOW US TO THE WORLD SERIES!

In the world ofadvertising, this is considered a very tough sell. Like pitching Asian chickensor fur sinks or vacation time-shares in Kabul.

Still, theycontinue to amaze with their ability to find something good about their teams.Take a look at this year's batch of marketing slogans.

AMERICANLEAGUE

TAMPA BAY DEVILRAYS--Coming Soon! Major League Baseball!

DETROITTIGERS--We Guarantee We'll Get More Wins Than the Lions!

BALTIMOREORIOLES--Steroid-free Since February!

KANSAS CITYROYALS--Usually Not Mathematically Eliminated from the Playoffs until May!

CLEVELANDINDIANS--This Is Our Year (and If Not This Year Certainly Three Years from Now!Or the Year after That!)!

NEW YORKYANKEES--Home of the Most Generous, Wonderful, Caring, Dynamic--Did We MentionHandsome?--Team Owner in America.

TORONTO BLUEJAYS--Not Just Voyeuristic Sex Anymore!

MINNESOTATWINS--We Have Absolutely No Chance, but We'll Almost Certainly Kick theRoyals' Ass!

LOS ANGELESANGELS of Anaheim, Bakersfield, Barstow, Fullerton, San Diego, Tijuana--Proudto Be Your Hometown Team!

SEATTLEMARINERS--O.K., So We'll Continue to Suck, But at Least You Won't Get Wet!

TEXAS RANGERS--IfYou Can Throw the Ball over the Plate, We'll Sign You Up!

NATIONALLEAGUE

ATLANTABRAVES--Your One-stop Bridesmaid Center!

FLORIDAMARLINS--Root for the Uniforms That Won Two World Series!

NEW YORKMETS--Come Sit in Anna Benson's Butt Heat!

PHILADELPHIAPHILLIES--Now Embarking on Our 75th Five-Year Rebuilding Plan!

MILWAUKEEBREWERS--Steadfastly Refusing to Participate in That WholeBuying-Spoiled-Superstars-Just-to-Win Thing!

CHICAGOCUBS--Ironically Hip Since 1908!

CINCINNATIREDS--Bet on Us!

PITTSBURGHPIRATES--Ben Roethlisberger Once Watched a Few Innings Here!

ST. LOUISCARDINALS--The Best Team in Baseball, at Least Until Early in September!

ARIZONADIAMONDBACKS--Once Again Featuring Exciting Between-inning Highlights of Our2001 World Championship Season!

COLORADOROCKIES--True, We Will Lose Like the French Army, But at This Altitude the BeerGoes to Your Brain Really Fast!

WASHINGTONNATIONALS--A Dick Cheney Shotgun-Free Zone!

If you have acomment for Rick Reilly, send it to reilly@siletters.com.

RIFFS of REILLY

Exclusively on Verizon Wireless V CAST and SI.com.

Only about 10 teams have a chance to win a title, butmarketing guys still have to lure fans to the ballpark.

PHOTOPETER READ MILLER

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