Last weekend the New York Times ran a really interesting article about Yankees Sod, a new product that's pretty much just what it sounds like: grass that's been licensed by the Bronx Bombers for sale to fans. The turf actually has a legitimate claim to being just like what's growing in the new Yankee Stadium; it comes from the same 80-acre plot as the grass that was recently installed in the House that Jeter Built. Now if you go to a New York-area Home Depot, you can pick up swatches of the very grass for around $7.50 for a five-square-foot patch.
To most casual fans, this idea seems patently absurd. By the strange logic of Major League Baseball product licensing, though, there's nothing odd about it. In fact, it might not even be the most ludicrous or unnecessary thing an MLB team has licensed. Here are a few other currently available products that at least give Yankees Sod a run for its money in the ridiculousness department.
1. Wincraft Chicago Cubs 5 Quart Galvanized Pail
At some point in his career, every dairy owner runs into the same problem: his cows just don't know what MLB team to cheer for. This galvanized milk bucket quickly answers the question for any confused bovines. Well worth the $15.99 asking price.
Still not convinced? Check out this sales pitch from MLB.com: "They have a waterproof sealed bottom and are great for holding ice, water, dirt, or anything else you would like to carry or hold in these great decorative pail." I'm willing to overlook the singular/plural confusion here, but really, MLB? That's your selling point for a bucket? That it won't leak and you can put stuff in it? Why not just cut to the chase? "This is a bucket. It's just like every other bucket you've ever seen, but with a Cubs logo on the side and more expensive."
2. Fleer New York Mets B2 Stealth Bomber
You want your kid to play with sports toys, but he loves military ones. What to do? In years past, you probably would have had to send him to live with his grandparents, but now there's room for a compromise! For just $25, you can purchase a die-cast stealth bomber replica covered with Mets logos. There's apparently no underlying logic that ties the team and the plane together, so this novelty is just a sublime bit of licensing absurdity. Really, if Mets fans want to talk about something quiet, fast, and awesomely destructive, they can just recall the team's 2008 bullpen.
3. Baltimore Orioles Father's Day Mr. Potato Head
Father's Day gifts are tough. Most dads are difficult to shop for, and once you buy the gift, you always worry you've picked out the wrong thing. Remove all of that uncertainty by buying Dad something he definitely won't like. Say, a Mr. Potato Head decked out in Baltimore Orioles gear.
Plunk down $25 and you can get not only your favorite baseball-playing tuber, but also a set of Topps baseball cards of the 2008 Orioles team. This way, your dad will never forget that magical 68-93 season.
4. Caskets and Crematory Urns
Has a lifetime of being a Pirates fan not been quite enough for you? Now you can take your frustration into the afterlife with a series of MLB-licensed funerary products from Eternal Image, Inc. Since early 2007, the company has been selling MLB-themed urns, and towards the end of 2008, it introduced its first run of MLB caskets. They sold out within a week. The urns, which have an MSRP of $799, come with a baseball as part of the display, although the product's website notes that the family can replace the ball with one from their collection. Just don't take the ball down and play with it; that's a one-way ticket to a haunting.
5. Garden Gnomes
Wish your garden could show a little more team spirit? Forever Collectibles makes a line of lawn gnomes whose hats feature MLB logos. At this point, fans of certain downtrodden teams will take any luck they can get, so enlisting magical creatures like gnomes might not be a bad idea. (Note to Padres fans: No, you don't already have a gnome. That's David Eckstein, and he's playing second base for the team this season.)
6. ProMark Arizona Diamondbacks Level and Hammer
When Brandon Webb does home improvement projects, do you think he uses just any old tools? Of course not. If he's got any team loyalty, he picks up his special 10-inch Diamondbacks level and matching hammer before he even starts working. For around $40, you can outfit your own toolbox with the same gear. The grips even look like baseballs. And if that's not enough, the hammer description offers more poetry from MLB.com. "The comfortable molded rubber grip is designed to fit the sport." What sport, baseball or competitive hammering?
7. Team Sports America Cleveland Indians Forest Face
You know what's terrible? Forests. You can blab all you want about the natural beauty of trees and how nothing could possibly improve on their magnificence, but we all know that's bunk. Every tree would be significantly improved if it had a human face and a Cleveland Indians cap on its trunk. Then it would look like people!
Consider this problem solved. MLB.com will sell you a "forest face" that will allow you to put a mouth, a nose, a pair of eyes, and a team cap on a tree's trunk. MLB.com does not, however, explain to you why you want to enter into this endeavor in the first place.