Sunday, July 06, 2008
What Does This Say About MLB's "Charity" Contribution?
It turns out that it was just as well, because the hats were going for $35 (I assume they are the same price as the Mariners caps of the same provenance). But, they say, it's for a good cause: some fraction of that overpriced cap is going to charity, Welcome Back Veterans. The only problem, as U.S.S. Mariner relays, is that MLB can't be bothered to tell us just how much money will be going to that cause. Paul Lukas of Uniwatch went to the press conference announcing these babies, and boy did he get an earful:
And there you have it.
All the materials related to this promotion say that “a portion of the proceeds” from the cap sales will go to the charity program [look at the last bullet point here, for example]. Can you tell us what percentage that portion is?
The reason I ask is that some fans — including many who have already expressed their opinions to me as news of this initiative leaked out over the weekend — may view this program as just another merchandising program to move product and generate revenue. So what portion of the cap proceeds will go to the charity? And if it’s not 100%, why not?
And man, you could practically hear them crossing my name off their Christmas card lists. MLB PR czar Rich Levin glared at me like I’d just hocked a loogie in his cappuccino or something. “The answer is that that hasn’t been determined yet,” he growled. “But this is a charity initiative — it isn’t about generating revenue.”
“I’m not suggesting otherwise,” I responded. “But there’s a certain level of cynicism out there among some fans, so I was giving you a chance to clarify…”
“We reject that,” he snapped. “We reject the cynicism.”
And that, my friends, was the end of that. No more questions, cue the photographers for glad-handing pics. Afterward, two gentlemen who were involved with the vets’ program (i.e., not MLB employees) approached me and said, “I thought it was a very good question, and I don’t think you got much of an answer.”
LAT grouped charities by category and ranked the efficiency of their fundraising efforts, based on % that went to charity. Sadly, "missing children" and "veterans" were the two least-efficient categories, with %-donated-to-charity figures lower than 20%.
This makes me think MLB's cap thing is filling its own coffers, not the vets'.