Padres put profits over product with MLB’s first-ever patch sponsorship

Jul 16, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; A detailed view of the uniform patch worn by San Diego Padres right fielder Wil Myers (5) during the game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 16, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; A detailed view of the uniform patch worn by San Diego Padres right fielder Wil Myers (5) during the game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports /
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Padres team up with Motorola for first MLB jersey patch sponsorship deal

The San Diego Padres are officially the first team in Major League Baseball to announce a jersey patch sponsorship for the 2023 season.

Up the coast, their NL West rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, are working with an agency to find new sponsorship opportunities, including jersey patches of their own.

But in San Diego, the first brand to be repped on an MLB jersey – drumroll please – is Motorola. Anyone else have an overwhelming urge to find their old Razr flip phone?

This new revenue stream has been a long time coming, as MLB will do anything and everything to make more money. They announced new streaming deals with Apple TV and NBC’s Peacock platform earlier in the spring, and the NBA and Nascar are years into having embellishments on their uniforms.

Call me old-fashioned, but I love the clean, classic look of a jersey and the fact that the team name and player’s number (and name, depending) stand alone. The only exception should be to honor someone special to the organization or league, as the Red Sox are doing for beloved broadcaster Jerry Remy, who passed away during the offseason. Placing sponsorship patches next to (or in place of) those with actual meaning cheapens the latter while increasing the profits of the club.

According to Forbes, there are rules in place to make sure the players don’t take the field looking like walking billboards. Any design must be approved by MLB and the Players’ Association, the patches can be no bigger than 4×4 inches, must remain consistent for a minimum of one year, and only on the sleeve of the uniform or helmet. MLB’s newest money-maker also excludes alcohol and gambling sponsorships; ironic, given how many alcohol and sports betting companies partner with the league and individual teams.

Bare minimum, at least the Padres are one of the teams that actually spends money constructing their roster. Teams like the Orioles, A’s, and Pirates shouldn’t be allowed to add jersey patches or any other form of new partnerships until they increase their payrolls and make even a half-hearted attempt to build a competitive team.

But while the league and teams increase their profits by adding new revenue streams every year, I ask what they’re doing to grow the game itself. Cable tv and one streaming platform have burgeoned into so many that it’s hard to remember where you can find that day’s game, so it’s hard to see these patches stopping once they start. In the meantime, minor leaguers need living wages, and fans are being priced out of the ballparks and blacked out from games states away. The game itself is drowning under increasingly large waves of profits.

I wouldn’t say no to a Razr resurgence, though.

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