Sunday, June 17, 2007


If you've seen any baseball today and noticed all the blue (ribbons, wristbands, umpire shirts, etc.) and wondered what was going on, it's a Father's Day campaign to increase awareness about prostate cancer. It's a very worthwhile cause and I applaud Major League Baseball for getting involved and promoting it as heavily as they do. So I almost feel bad pointing out that I have a slight problem with a certain aspect of it. That being the 'Home Run Challenge', a pledge drive where fans will be able to make monetary donations at for each home run hit during 60 select MLB games ranging from June 6 through June 17, including all games played on Father's Day. The 'Home Run Challenge' has raised more than $27 million since it's inception and that's fantastic. But there's something about it that just doesn't sit well with me. I think it's because it's like attaching a certain amount of random chance, if not outright gambling to what should be a pure fundraising effort. Maybe I'm making something out of nothing but think about it:
  • What do you tell the struggling pitcher who's trying to hang on to his spot on the rotation if he happens to draw the starting assignment for one of these designated games? "Hey kid, you've been giving up a lot of homers lately and we just can't have that. Of course, if it happens today, you'll be helping the ongoing effort to treat and eventually find a cure for prostate cancer. But that won't stop me from sending your ass back to Durham tomorrow morning. Well, good luck out there today!"
  • How does a manager with any kind of social conscience whatsoever call for a sac bunt to move a runner into scoring position late in a tied game? You know how much is donated for sac bunts? Zippo. Does the socially conscientious batter ignore the sign and swing for the fences? Does the manager then dare to fine the conscientous slugger when he grounds into a rally snuffing double play because he's Ben Zobrist and has no business trying to hit heroic home runs under any circumstances, life-saving or otherwise?
  • How is Gary Matthews Jr. supposed to feel after he robs somebody by making one of his spectacular leaping catches at the wall? I guess it's great for the Anaheim Angels; too bad for prostate cancer research. "Daddy, why does Gary Matthews Jr. want you to die?"

Actually, I have less of a problem with the 'Home Run Challenge' than I do with some other fundraising efforts because it's fundamentally about ordinary joe fans pledging what money they can from their own pockets. What really bothers me are certain corporate initiatives, things like Yoplait Yogurt's 'Save Lids to Save Lives' program, which benefits efforts to cure breast cancer. Again, an inarguably worthy cause to be sure and any company that gets involved deserves kudos. But the way this one works is you buy Yoplait brand yogurt with pink foil lids, you save those lids (you'll want to clean them) and then send them back to the people at Yoplait. For every lid they receive back, they donate 10 cents to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, a minimum of $500,000 and "up to" $1.5 million. That's a lot of money and it's fantastic that a company is willing to do that. But if you're willing to donate "up to" a million and a half bucks...well, how about just doing it? Why tie it to the ability of consumers to store little pieces of pink tinfoil and then eventually mail them back to you? You already have the lids there; if you really want them that bad, just keep them and write a check. I promise, we'll still buy your delicious yogurt. It's delicious! I mean, is there really somebody there at the Yoplait home office with a balance sheet keeping a count on the lids that come in? And if so, would that person really nickel and (literally) dime the Susan G. Komen Foundation?

Yoplait: "We collected 14,876,238 lids and so you may expect a donation from us in the amount of exactly $1,487623.80 and not a penny more."

Susan G Komen Foundation: "Hey, that is really great and we sincerely appreciate it, as always. Of course (heh-heh), you know we could find a pretty good use for another $12 thousand if you still..."

Yoplait: "Not a penny more!!"

Geez, I would certainly hope not.

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