The wife called Wednesday morning, and that's not usually a good thing because, well, I'm a husband, and you know how we are.
Thankfully, she wasn't interested in discussing my many faults. Although I still don't understand why her sweaters can't be washed on hot.
Anyway, she wanted to talk sports.
“Is it true baseball is going to put Spider-Man logos on the bases?” she asked.
It's true, I said. Ads from the movie “Spider-Man 2” will be placed atop bases in 15 stadiums from June 11-13 to help promote the film, which opens June 30.
“That's so crass,” the wife replied. “It's just another reason I don't like pro sports.”
I had to laugh. (After she got off the phone, of course. A wife's outrage is like the IRS. You don't mess with it). Why is anyone shocked that what was once considered sacred ground is now open for business?
The sports world has become a giant billboard. Ten jockeys in Sunday's Kentucky Derby wore sponsors' patches on their uniforms. Players from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and New York Yankees were adorned with patches promoting Ricoh, the office supply company, during their season-opening series in Tokyo. A NASCAR driver can't go one minute without mentioning the DuPont-Home Depot-Viagra No. 93 car.
Locally, there's the Nextel Direct Call to the Bullpen, the Shamrock Farms Farm Report and the granddaddy of them all, What a Shot, Whataburger!
Every inch of ground, every moment of a broadcast is advertising space, so the only surprise is that baseball didn't touch 'em all sooner.
As one might expect, news of the Spider-Man logos was decried by baseball's guardians.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave!
“I guess it's inevitable but it's sad,” former commissioner Fay Vincent told The Associated Press. ‘‘I’m old-fashioned. I’m a romanticist. I think the bases should be protected from this.’’
Presidential candidate Ralph Nader — the Pat Paulsen of this generation — said the sponsorship barrage has “gotten beyond grotesque. The fans have to revolt here.”
Plumbing for votes there, Ralphie?
Just wondering: Why is advertising on bases or uniforms so abhorrent when outfield walls in stadiums are festooned with ads?
That, too, was once a violation of all that was good and pure about baseball, but we got used to it. Like we got used to Qualcomm Stadium and Wells Fargo Arena. We'll get used to this, too.
Look, I'm not overjoyed that sports continues to prostitute itself for the sake of the almighty dollar. But let's not be naive. That ship already has sailed around the world.
The sponsorship craze began in 1926, when Weeghman Field was renamed Wrigley Field in honor of William Wrigley Jr., owner of the Cubs and the Wrigley Gum Company.
Chicago's been stuck on the bottom of baseball's shoe ever since.
Major League Baseball will receive approximately $3.6 million from Marvel Studios and Columbia Pictures for pushing Spider-Man. The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox reportedly will receive more than $100,000 apiece, while the 13 other teams hosting games that June weekend will get about $50,000.
“I don't like it at all,” said Diamondbacks broadcaster Joe Garagiola Sr., “but who am I to tell somebody not to take the money? If I was an owner I'd do it because I have to pay the guys' salaries. I just think it's too bad it's so money driven.”
Baseball officials stuck in Spider-Man's web tried to spin their own way out
“This is not a step toward wallpapering the ballpark,” Bob DuPuy, Major League Baseball's president and chief operating officer, told ESPN.com.
Sure it is.
The for sale sign is up.
And it's not coming down.