Of all the half-hearted crap fans of professional sports teams are expected to swallow with a smile, the "open letter to the fans" from the departed star is easily the cheesiest.
Everyone from Rocco to Roy Halladay to Lebron James pens a solemn and heartfelt ode to the city in which they drew their paychecks. A great way to satiate the braying masses and distract yourself from the grueling process of deciding between "tile mosaic of own face" or "indoor komodo dragon habitat" for your new stately manor.
The full page ad in the local rag is a great bit of charity: it forces your P.R. team to earn their checks and it represents the first new ad sales in months for the Palookaville Times. Fans seem to like it because it makes it seem like they're rooting for an actual breathing human, not a cyborg trained to play baseball.
Unfortunately, the gesture has become very mechanical indeed. A rote branding exercise aimed at keeping old fans while showing humility to the potential new ones. All in all, completely unnecessary.
That hasn't stopped the good people of SB Nation Rays blog DRaysBay from starting a fund to take out their own ad, thanking outgoing outfielder Carl Crawford for his contribution to the team and community as a whole.
Somehow, blowing even more smoke up the asses of guys who have smoke blown up their asses every day of their lives seems excessive. Putting a full page ad in a local paper thanking a professional athlete for playing baseball? I'm not sure if my feelings are mixed or just turned off.
He's only a baseball player. You thank him by showing up to watch games (Rays attendance joke goes here) and supporting the team with a online shrine. Does Carl Crawford really need to be thanked again?
Maybe, just maybe, if you squint your eyes just cynically enough, this looks like it might be more about DRaysBay than Carl Crawford. I find it hard to believe that anyone is this maudlin, this sentimental about a baseball player after 9 years.
I've written some pretty sappy things about Roy Halladay. I make an effort to celebrate his successes no matter the color of his laundry. But at no point did I feel the need to match his adspace with my own. I appreciate Roy Halladay's ability to play baseball at a very high level and wasn't about to let his move to the Phillies interfere with that appreciation.
This seems a little too self-aggrandizing and a lot like misplaced generosity. Take out an ad to thank someone who deserves praise and recognition, not someone on the cusp of signing a seven-figure contract because he's good at catching flyballs.