Vendor sells "Free Manny" tee-shirts
outside Dodger Stadium before the
Dodgers lost to the San Francisco
Giants, 3-1, on Friday night.
(Danny Moloshok/Associated Press)
The Los Angeles Dodgers have marketed nearly everything around Manny Ramirez in the 10 months he’s been in Dodger Blue. But, with his 50 game suspension this past week, the question was whether that marketing campaign would be shelved entirely, as the club worked to distance themselves from Ramirez.
While the Mannywood section of Dodger Stadium will be renamed 90090 while he is serving the suspension (the number is in reference to the new zip code that serves just Dodger Stadium), according to the New York Times, the Dodgers are, for the most part, standing pat, going the supply and demand route. The club will continue to sell all manner of Ramirez marketing elements, from selling merchandise such as signature dreadlock wigs, to jerseys bearing 99 and his name, to billboards around the Los Angeles area that have gone up just after his 2-year, $45 million contract that read “Manny’s Back”. As reported by the New York Times:
The Dodgers sold 30,000 tickets the day after Ramirez arrived from Boston in a trade, the highest 24-hour period in franchise history. At Dodger Stadium this year, they have sold 850 of his jerseys and 5,000 Ramirez T-shirts, the team said.
“We’ll continue to sell Manny product,” [Dodgers president, Dennis] Mannion said. “It will be a supply-and-demand situation.”
No one canceled season tickets after the suspension was announced, he said. About a dozen of the 3,100 people with future seats in Mannywood asked for a refund, according to the team, and no corporate sponsors backed out of agreements.
In a further sign that Ramirez’ personality might transcend the stigma that other players caught in baseball’s drug policy have endured (at least at Dodger Stadium), fans wearing “99” jerseys seems to outnumber all other player jerseys combined at the first game after the start of the suspension, fans chanted “Manny” throughout much of the game from the upperdeck, a banner in support of Ramirez was unfurled in the seventh inning, and at least one fan was reported to be wearing a “Free Manny” tee-shirt in support of Ramirez.
While the Dodgers made it clear they support MLB’s drug policy, they also understand what Ramirez does to help the Dodgers win and how he makes cash registers ring.
“You’re thrilled to have a Manny Ramirez,” said Charles Steinberg, the team’s executive vice president who oversees a wide range of the marketing. “And we’re still thrilled to have a Manny Ramirez.”
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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