About three years ago, I was nearly arrested during a Sunday game at Miller Park. My crime: agreeing to pick up a second Ryan Braun bobblehead for my friend who couldn’t make it. Apparently, there was some sort of rule against that kind of thing. And while I ultimately made nice with the gentleman from event services who called the police over (now we greet each other every game), it also shows the kinds of problems inherent with team giveaways. People who don’t get the (insert promotional item here; bobbleheads, t-shirts, or, in today’s case, Bernie Brewer lawn gnomes) want one, and people who do have one want more.
And I admit it; I really like the bobbleheads the Brewers give away. Before 2007, I couldn’t give a rip, but that year they gave out what seemed like 30 bobbles. Virtually every game you attended, you got a ceramic mass that vaguely resembled a player from 30 years ago (the official reason for the promotion was the Brewers’ silver anniversary of their 1982 World Series loss to the Cardinals). And I attended a lot of games, so naturally I collected quite a few of these things. And they just kept giving them out in subsequent years, and my collection grew. Now, our group makes it a point to include the bobblehead games in our 20-game pack each year (well, all but those damn sausages).
But here’s the thing; if you’ve ever been to a bobblehead game at Miller Park, you’ll no doubt see some shell of a human walking around with a garbage bag full of them. And if you manage to avoid that human tragedy, you’ll no doubt encounter another in what I like to call the “bobblehead gypsies,” who make their living buying bobbleheads outside the stadium for $3 and reselling them to poor schmucks on eBay for $15.
If you want an example of how perverse this has all gotten, look no further. At this eBay page, you can pre-order your Craig Counsell bobblehead (more than 10 available), which will be given away in AUGUST, for the low price of $13.95 plus $6.95 shipping.
Today, though, we sunk to a new low.
1,400 140 lucky fans received Bernie Brewer lawn ornaments placed in parks around the state as part of a promotional giveaway sponsored by the Brewers. Oh, sure, there were ultimately 1,400 gnomes placed, but as you can see from the picture below, and a simple eBay search, very few of them made it into the hands of real fans.
Yep, that’s a trunk full of Bernies. Nice work, Milwaukee. If you want more on the hoarding here are some headlines and links:
1,400 Bernie statutes gone in minutes
Awful humanity ruins Brewers promotion
Brewers promo marred by statue stakeouts, hoarding
Spoilsports ruin the fun for Brewers’ ‘Where’s Bernie’ promotion
The day Bernie Brewer died: Picking up the pieces after ‘Gnomegate’
Bernie Brewer promotion turns ugly as fans get greedy
And if you still want more, how about this gem: twitter user @gocubsgogo (clearly a Brewer fan), who was apparently out and collecting at 2 a.m. (the contest started at 5) says that, at a sale price of $50, he will make over $1500 off free lawn gnomes. You can do the math. And if you didn’t get one because of his overindulgence? Well, “Got to love all the losers whining because they were too lazy to get up early.”
All of this for goddamn lawn gnomes.
So, I’m making the call. Just stop. No more bobbleheads, no more lawn ornaments, no more anything. Stop the fan giveaways. The Brewers have a respectable team for the next few years that can sell itself. As a city, we’re obviously not capable of elevating ourselves above Neanderthal when it comes to free stuff.
Believe it or not, people will come and see a good major league team without these trinkets. And the experience will be enhanced for those of us there to see the main attraction: the team on the field.