It evolved way before my time, but I imagine Valentine's Day used to be a pleasant little holiday celebrating love. Then somebody in the advertising world decided you had to buy expensive gifts and flowers and everything else.
Likewise, when Major League Baseball players started using pink bats on Mother's Day in 2006, it was a cool little homage to mothers and a nod to breast cancer awareness. But like everything else, it seems, it gets spoiled when it becomes marketing. And now it's totally tarnished.
Nick Markakis of the Baltimore Orioles and Trevor Plouffe of the Minnesota Twins both have mothers who survived breast cancer. They also use bats that are not made by Louisville Slugger. And the bats made for them by MaxBats are black with pink logos. And MLB has decided that those bats are not allowed on breast cancer awareness day, because Louisvlle Slugger makes the pink bats. (Apparently, players are allowed to use plain pink bats by other manufacturers without any logos, provided the players then make a donation themselves to the Susan G. Komen Fund for the Cure. That's a marketing deal that Louisville Slugger made with MLB.)
So that puts Markakis and Plouffe in a tough spot. And players are practically manic about their bats -- they have to feel just right and familiar. It's hard enough to hit a 95 mph fastball, right? So do they use a bat they're not comfortable with in order to celebrate their mothers? Or do they just use their regular bats? And isn't it awful that it's come to this?
As Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports writes: Since when is breast cancer awareness for sale?
"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."
This story is gaining traction nationwide, a black eye on pink bat day. If Louisville Slugger doesn't let Markakis, Plouffe and others use another bat, they don't look so charitable anymore. And MLB looks stupid as well for agreeing to brand exclusivity for a charity program.
It's a great cause and great that they raise so much money for the Komen Foundation. But then the marketing people get involved, and it all gets tainted.