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Why are the Yankees so obsessed with terrible merchandise?

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images

If you’ve been paying attention over the last few seasons, the Yankees have released an endless parade of event-themed merchandise mostly centered around a player’s on-field accomplishments. These players are often celebrated for various reasons, but the one connecting theme is that the memorabilia is always terrible. T-shirts and hats with weird pictures, ugly design, and silly slogans make up this group of cheaply-made junk, and people still buy the stuff, even at $40 a pop.

The Joba Rules T-Shirt

Before I start making fun of all the shirts you have undoubtedly bought over the last few years, I wanted to share the ugly truth about what once existed in the bottom of my dresser draw for nearly 10 years. The Joba Rules were used to restrict Joba Chamberlain’s usage during his rookie season, but the shirt was meant to imply that Joba Rules. Get it?

My stupid teenage self thought I was re-appropriating the term, but I had no idea of the pain and embarrassment this shirt would give me just a few years later as Joba’s career went south. It was finally to the point where I refused to wear it anymore and banished it out of my rotating wardrobe until I threw it away with my other outdated shirseys in The Great Cleaning of summer 2015. RIP Joba and your rules.

The Derek Jeter 3,000th Hit T-Shirt

Jump a few years ahead and here we have the commemorative Derek Jeter 3,000th hit shirt. It’s pretty much a poster on top of a shirt. I honestly don’t know if you were even meant to wear it or just stick it on your wall with pushpins. It also literally says “I witnessed history,” like, those are words that were actually put on the shirt. That’s the most on the nose statement they could put there, other than “I was there.” It’s the sports version of “I went to _______ and all I got was this t-shirt,” which would have probably been an upgrade.

The Ichiro Suzuki 4,000 Hits T-Shirt

Remember when the Yankees signed Ichiro Suzuki to a two-year deal because they wanted to get in on that sweet, sweet marketing money centered around his 3,000th hit? That didn’t work out, but at least they got something out of it, which is likely where the idea for this Ichiro 4,000 hits shirt came from. They had to make some money off him!

Unfortunately, I do not understand this graphic. First of all, that is not where Japan is on a map. Also, “Professional Career Milestone” doesn’t really sound like anything. Ichiro is obviously awesome, even if he was pretty bad with the Yankees, but this shirt design is not.

The Mariano Rivera Final Regular Season Home Game T-Shirt

Later that year we had to endure the Hug of a Thousand Feels as Mariano Rivera made his last career appearance ever. Of course, the Yankees merchandizing team wanted to get in on the action, but they probably made these shirts a little too far in advance to even really be that accurate.

The shirt says “Final Regular Season Home Game,” which is correct, but he also didn’t play in a game after this. If you remember, the Yankees finished out the season in Houston, but Mo decided not to play in that series because he didn’t want to ruin his final moment at Yankee Stadium. You can totally tell these shirts were made right after he announced his retirement in spring training because the Yankees actually thought they would male the playoffs then. It should have said “Final Game,” but they wanted to play it safe.

The Derek Jeter Last Game At Yankee Stadium T-Shirt

Derek Jeter died in 2014 and it was very sad. While this shirt might be the least heinous one here, it still maintained the same theme that Jeter wasn’t just retiring, but was actually dying. This would probably make a nice poster, but I’m not exactly sure what LEGEND adds to this picture that couldn’t have already been said by the picture itself. The “Last Game At Yankee Stadium” bit also severely limits its relevance because this could have stood for so much more than one game. That picture is definitely not from that day.

The No Runs DMC T-Shirt and Hat

And now we come full circle with merchandise based on bullpen usage terms. A clever nickname (which the Yankees apparently stole from someone off Twitter) was pulled out and stretched for all the money it was worth. There’s nothing really wrong with any of this, except for the fact that none of it is even a little original. Both the shirts and the hat have design elements ripped right from actual Run DMC merchandise. Maybe it would have been a nice little parody if it wasn’t for the fact that every bit of this was a shameless grab at $40 per shirt.

Who might have bought this stuff you ask? How about an actual real life bank robber. I’m not even kidding:

The Alex Rodriguez Final Game T-Shirt

The Yankees booted Alex Rodriguez out the door a few weeks ago, but not before they could make a quick buck off him. Given only a week to work with before the game, the design team wasn’t able to get much done. They likely had this graphic pre-made because they probably planned a big farewell tour next year, but at this point they couldn’t even be bothered to put the year, date, or anything to really make this feel like a momentous occasion. The design looks incredibly generic and just a little depressing.

Obviously, the Yankees don’t really care about the merchandise they put out, but they do care about cash dollars. If they didn’t make money off these things they wouldn’t keep selling them. You better believe there will be a Mark Teixeira Final Day Game in September T-Shirt and, if people keep saying it, something that says The Sanchize before too long. Gary Sanchez’s debut has been far too good to not make money off of it.

It’s not that I have a problem with them selling goodbye shirts or hats with nicknames, I just wish they put some actual care into the designs to make them look like something you would actually want to wear in front of company.