All of Major League Baseball will be decorated in pink on Sunday, Mother's Day, to support the fight against breast cancer and raise money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Part of this special day the last few seasons has been the use of pink bats by some players around the league, with all the special pink items being later auctioned off and the proceeds donated to Komen for the Cure. It's an extremely generous gesture on the part of MLB, and it has come to mean a lot, understandably, to the players who have family members or friends that have been diagnosed with, or recovered from, breast cancer.
The genuine nature of generous gesture was called into question yesterday when Minnesota Twins player Trevor Plouffe and Baltimore Orioles player Nick Markakis, whose mothers are breast cancer survivors, received a shipment of bats from bat maker MaxBats with pink logos for them to use on Sunday. The players have been informed not to use their pink bats because Louisville Slugger has an exclusive partnership with MLB for the rights to make pink bats with their name on the label.
Louisville Slugger is said to have made a very generous donation to Komen for the Cure in order to obtain the exclusive rights to making pink bats with their logo on them for Mother's Day. Other companies may create pink bats for usage on Mother's Day, but they are not allowed to place their logo anywhere on the bat; which is something that, predictably, most companies are not very willing to comply with. The bats that Plouffe and Markakis want to use are not pink, but standard bat color; the MaxBat logo on them is pink, which puts them in violation of the rules.
Could MaxBat put the goal of charitable donation to a good cause before the goal of profit for one day and make a bat for the players without their logo? Sure, I doubt it would kill them. The point is that they really shouldn't have to. If the day is truly about raising money for Komen for the Cure, then why is MLB refusing to put pink bats in as many hands as they can? And why can't Louisville Slugger do the reasonable thing that would help further the cause they seem to be passionate enough about to spend extra money on every season? At some point, making it more about your exclusive rights than raising more funds and awareness for breast cancer takes away from the good feelings that monetary donation to a charity should come with.
Other bat makers could back down, but so could Louisville Slugger. With this dust up over not allowing two players that have been touched by breast cancer to use a bat with a pink label on it to honor their mothers, the day starts to become more about what Louisville Slugger is doing wrong than the fact that players around the league are trying to do their part to raise awareness and hopefully inspire more people to open their pocketbooks for a good cause.
Business is business, and we all understand that. The pursuit of the biggest payday will always reign supreme, and if you can be the only one to make profit off something -- well, you take it. The problem here is that corporate greed is becoming the headline instead of all the good that will inevitably come from the event. If a handful of players want to use a pink bat that isn't made by Louisville Slugger on one day a year for an extremely good cause, why shouldn't that be allowed to happen? Pink bats are supposed to be a symbol of the good work MLB is doing in its partnership with Komen for the Cure; Louisville Slugger and MLB itself shouldn't be trying to overshadow that in favor of their bottom lines.
They can both prove their gesture as heartfelt by letting anyone use a pink bat who wishes to; then their motive in the whole thing won't have to be drawn into question as being more about partnerships and dollar signs than what the use of pink bats signifies: continued work toward the end of a disease that has already taken too many mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends away.
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