Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

MLB’s Refusal to Allow Competitor Pink Bats for Mother’s Day, Breast Cancer Awareness is Shameful

with 4 comments

Folks, regardless of how poor my health is right now, there are some things that make me sit up and take notice.

Take this article from Yahoo Sports’ columnist Jeff Passan, which discusses major league baseball’s stalwart refusal to allow any pink bats with logos on them unless they’ve been acquired from Louisville Slugger itself, which has paid MLB a premium to be the only bat company allowed to put logos on them.

Mind you, the pink bats are to show support for breast cancer awareness, and are to be used this coming Sunday — Mother’s Day.  Players started using pink bats back in 2006 to show their support for their mothers, wives, sisters, etc., who’ve had breast cancer.  And while these bats back in 2006 were made by Louisville Slugger, there was nothing initially in the rules that said players couldn’t use bats made by other makers — which makes perfect sense.

Because this wasn’t supposed to be about the bats.  It’s supposed to be about breast cancer awareness.

As Passan says (from the above-mentioned article):

Raising money for charity is often a painful process, and if a company like Louisville is willing to donate money – more than $500,000 since the inception of the program, it claimed on its Twitter feed – that is a great victory. At the same time, Louisville’s insistence on including the no-label clause for its competitors does more harm to the point of the day – increasing awareness – than its donation does good. The money is simply not worth the aggravation for any of the parties involved, particularly Louisville, which used its Twitter account to spin corporate gobbledygook about all the good it has done.

From a business sense, of course Louisville doesn’t want its competitors putting labeled pink bats in stores and claiming they’re just like the ones major leaguers swung. Then again, for such good friends of cancer research, Louisville seems far more concerned with ensuring a monopoly on that market than painting the batter’s box pink with every bat possible, manufacturer and label be damned.

The main reason this issue has come to a head a day before Mother’s Day (and the usage of the pink breast cancer awareness bats) is because Max Bat sent some pink bats to Minnesota Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe and Baltimore Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis (among others).  And when Plouffe found out he wouldn’t be allowed to use his pink breast cancer awareness bat because it has the Max Bat logo prominently displayed (in pink), he quite rightfully got upset and said something on Twitter that he later deleted.  (Mind you, Plouffe was not rude; he was just being honest, and Passan’s article has the screen captures to prove it.)

Look.  This may seem like an extremely obvious thing to say, but here goes: These special pink bats are for breast cancer awareness.  So why should anyone care about what specific company makes them?

Isn’t the fact that Plouffe and Markakis want to honor their mothers, both of whom are breast cancer survivors, by using pink bats in a baseball game far more important than whether or not Max Bat makes their bats?

There is no excuse for MLB to allow corporate greed to rear its ugly head on a day that’s supposed to be about breast cancer awareness.

Which is why as a concerned baseball fan, and as the granddaughter of a breast cancer survivor, I call upon MLB to allow any and all of its players to use whatever regulation pink bats they have — whether they’re Louisville Sluggers or not, whether Louisville Slugger paid for the “exclusive use” of the LS pink bats or not, and whether they have logos prominently displayed or not — in order to support the cause of breast cancer awareness.

Because refusing to do so is not just cowardly.  It’s downright shameful.

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4 Responses

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  1. Why is it shameful? I’m all for cancer awareness moreso than the next person (every relative that’s ever died has died of one form or another. Seriously), but if its their rule, its their rule. Why not focus that energy on asking Louisville Slugger to make them for next year?

    Mandi M. Lynch, author

    May 20, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Mandi. I appreciate that.

      Anyway, here’s the problem with everyone obtaining a Louisville Slugger pink bat for Mother’s Day. Most batters are very partial to their bats — the manufacture varies more widely than is readily apparent. So a guy who usually uses, say, Sam Bats (Ryan Braun’s brand), wants to use a Sam Bat for Mother’s Day also — and if he wants to use a pink Sam Bat, he has to go through a lot of heartache to get it, including making sure there are no labels on the bat showing it’s a Sam Bat. (This is to avoid competing with Louisville Slugger, which is OK every other day of the year.)

      Now, there are other ways to show your solidarity with the fight against breast cancer than by using a pink bat (wrist guards were pink that day, and baseballs had pink stitching as well, and those weren’t the only pink things guys were able to use who didn’t have pre-approved pink bats). But these two guys I pointed out, Markakis and Plouffe, both have mothers who are breast cancer survivors. They thought the bats they’d ordered would be OK because they weren’t pink — they had pink labels, instead — and then MLB said that wasn’t any good, either. (They weren’t using Sam Bats; they instead were using Max Bats. The Max Bat logo is very large and usually it’s in orange, and MLB doesn’t object to it any other day of the year. So it was really odd that they’d object to a pink logo on a regular bat IMO.)

      Now, was Max Bat pushing the envelope sending these bats to the two guys in question? Probably. But the guys didn’t know that. And they found it out two days before they were to take the field, which is why I said it was shameful. I stand by that, because these 11th hour “Thou Shalt Nots” are ridiculous when it comes to guys who haven’t had a mother, sister or other loved one struck by breast or ovarian cancer — but these guys, who have, really shouldn’t have been persecuted by MLB.

      (Next year, my hope is that MLB will relax the standards. But if they don’t, these guys can try to find a pre-approved pink bat, hopefully with better luck than they had this year.)

      Barb Caffrey

      May 20, 2013 at 4:49 pm

      • Hmm. Not allowing bats that have been used before is a bit skeevy. I’ll give you that.

        Mandi M. Lynch, author

        May 20, 2013 at 8:10 pm

      • That’s the main reason why Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports felt this was ridiculous, I think. (Well, that and the whole idea of having one and only one corporate interest supporting breast cancer research . . . why can’t a whole lot of ’em contribute if they want? Wetzel didn’t get a really good answer as to that, either.)

        Barb Caffrey

        May 20, 2013 at 11:58 pm


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