It started almost as soon as it looked like Pablo Sandoval was going to be leaving San Francisco. The kidding began. “I bet the Sox are drooling over being able to sell Panda hats.” “I bet Tom Werner is already grabbing stock footage of pandas for all his new TV shows!”
Of course, it showed up tenfold once they signed him. “That’s a big contract…hope they sell lots of hats.” It was a lot of fun. And, of course, the Sox did quite a bit of that. There was a panda (Or, at least I think it was a panda…might have been a lemur) at Pablo’s introductory press conference. His player tees can be found with “Panda” on the back. And, I think I’ve even seen a panda hat or two showing up at Fenway.
But, the more Pablo has struggled, the more people have been commenting that they can’t believe they signed this slug just to sell hats.
Saying it like they believe that’s what happened.
That the Red Sox signed a guy to a five year deal to sell a few thousand hats.
Don’t they see how ridiculous that is?
First of all, Tom Werner isn’t a complete moron. He didn’t make all his money and win all his awards because he was stupid. Even he knows that a show or marketing campaign based on a bad player won’t sell, even if he’s cute and cuddly.
The rest of the Sox know that too. They know that even with Pablo on the team, the most marketable players on the Sox are still Ortiz and Pedroia. They’re still the best ones to build a television show around. Ortiz’s player tees have “Papi” on the back. Heck, you can even get them with “Mookie” on the back. Besides, if the Sox wanted a readymade line of merchandise, there are plenty of cheaper players with fun nicknames. People think the Sox chose Pablo over Josh Donaldson because he was Panda. But, Donaldson goes by “BringerofRain” on twitter. You don’t think the Sox could come up with a way to sell some t-shirts based on that nickname? After all, this is the same organization that built a whole line of shirts and hats and everything else based on beards. Beards, for crying out loud.
So, why would they see the need to weaken the team in order to lock themselves into a fun name?
A fun name they can’t even trademark.
I promise you, they’re not that stupid.