From the Brooklyn Dodgers' immortal "Wait 'til Next Year' to the 2004 Boston Red Sox' unforgettable 'Cowboy Up', the team slogan is a storied part of baseball's lore. While those two examples were unofficial, teams have long sought catchy phraseology to help them market their franchises and drive fans to the box office - witness 'Let's Go Mets', for instance. In 2012, 14 franchises dug deep into their creative reserves to try to generate interest. We'll review them so you don't have to.
Of immediate interest, and perhaps obvious note to we East Coast Elitists (represented by the Mets' '50th Anniversary - I mean, come on, Wilpons. You seem distracted), more than half of this year's MLB slogans come from Midwestern teams. Eight of the 14 2012 marketing plays are the brainchildren of Central Division franchises - 4 in each league. As you (as a cynical product of the coastal media) also might guess, nearly all of these 8 flyover country slogans are numbingly trite (say, for example the Cubs' 'It's a Way of Life' or Cincinnati's 'This is Reds Country') , though Detroit's 'Who's Your Tiger'? has the advantage of being both bizarre and vaguely naughty.
We find ourselves nodding in strong approval of Kansas City's 'Our Time' slogan, accompanied as it is by a picture of Mr. Hand from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. (What's that? You don't see Mr. Hand? Well fuck it, then, the Royals' slogan is painfully Polyannaish and improbable. Perhaps they meant Our Town, a fitting homage to blandness.)
Pittsburgh's 'Pride. Passion' Pittsburgh Pirates' is at the same time puzzling and depressing, seeing as we're nearly 20 years removed from a time when pride or passion were relevant for the Buccos. Minnesota's bland 'Twins Territory' rivals only the White Sox' 'Appreciate the Game' for lack of inspirational value, though we're ready to change our verdict on the latter if the Southsiders bring Omar in to throw out a first pitch.
Our disdain for Peter Angelos' Orioles is long-standing and well-documented. Their 'This is Birdland' slogan isn't going to have much impact on that front. Oh, really, Birdland? Well, that changes everything.
I confess to not entirely hating Houston's 'Root. Root. Root.', given its obvious ties to the game's national anthem and the Astros' clear need to get their fans to do just that. Sad, really, what's happened to that franchise, and they have to move to the American League next year. Root. Root. Root Canal, might be better.
Longtime bitter rivals the Dodgers ('An LA Tradition') and Giants ('Together We're Giant') take slightly different, though fitting approaches. Los Angeles appeals to history in a town that famously doesn't have much, staking the Dodgers' claim as the region's sporting centerpiece in a direct challenge to the interlopers from a hour south. (And the Angels really don't fire back, offering 'Angels Baseball'. Guess all those Pujols dollars meant Arte Moreno had to fire a few marketing types.) San Francisco, meanwhile, goes a little bit left of center quirky with their slogan, entirely befitting their home market. We'd like it better if they went the full Gheorghe and adopted 'Together We're My Giant'.
It's not hard to stand out in this field of mostly dreck. That said, our favorite 2012 slogan, by far, is a departure from the norm, a breath of, well, something. It's thrilling in its oddness, refreshing in its conflagration of themes, quixotic in its tilting against big market dominance. It's so very Oakland A's, their 'Green Collar Baseball' slogan. Allegedly in its third season, the (allegedly award-winning) Green Collar Baseball campaign, "highlights the hard work that embodies the young A’s team and illustrates how the organization welcomes an innovative and unconventional approach in order to win." Translation: have you heard of Moneyball? That's us! We're the Moneyball guys! Green Collar, get it?!? We're scrappy and green, not rich and red and blue and pinstriped!
Well played, Joe Morgan.