Major League Baseball (MLB) offers a wide array of game used, autographed, or other various baseball memorabilia up for auction. Think of it as a baseball themed eBay, with the primary difference being that the money goes to charity. Seems like a pretty good system, right? At the end of the day business is business. Eyes on content, money going towards MLB and MLB partners, etc, all make the league work. I get it, can’t fault the hustle game. However, their most recent auction had me like that confused emoji face.
Again if you were living under a rocking during Memorial Day Weekend, here’s the brief recap. Bryce Harper and Hunter Strickland got into a fight, that eventually lead to both players getting ejected, Michael Morse on the DL after getting trucked by his own teammate, and about 1200 memes about how Bryce can’t throw a helmet. From that point, the MLB deemed that suspensions were necessary to both Harper and Strickland. And while Harper’s 3-games were arguably more severe than Strickland’s 6-games, that is a conversation for a different time. Bottom line is that the League acted swiftly as it would appear that they do not condone violence or actions of that nature, makes sense.
However, that fight had everyone talking about baseball for that whole week after, but not for the reasons the league would hope for… or so one would’ve thought? Coupled with producing content after content after content, its obvious that the league had no problems with “publicizing” the fight that they supposedly do not condone. I guess it’s news, so okay keep running it, whatever. But this?
It’s not a new idea to auction Memorial Day gear. MLB does it every year. However, marketing Hunter Strickland’s jersey as the jersey he work “after fighting with Bryce Harper”? A bit hypocritical don’t you think? You don’t condone a fight, but are willing to build business from it through content and traffic and are even willing to try and profit from it. Click bait works though, because the bidding was up to $1500 before the controversial jersey auction was pulled. (See click bait can also be negative because the minute that auction caught fire on twitter, it was pulled to shortly be relisted without said questionable description.)
This auction immediately made me think of the NCAA. NCAA frowns upon their students making money for their talent and name, but the NCAA gets a pretty penny from selling it or the likeness of their athletes. Seems ridiculous, right? About as ridiculous as suspending your players for a fight that looks bad on the league, but using that same fight to help gain momentum for the league.
Interestingly enough, once the item was relisted without the original description, the item garnered zero bids and zero money for charity. So, if this has taught us anything, fighting in the MLB is bad, producing content related to fighting in the MLB is good, and selling a jersey marketed as the jersey worn in the fight, is bad. Well now we know.. I think.