Just gonna have to be a different man
- David Bowie
It’s going to be way better, and that’s no crap.
- Scott Hunsicker, General Manager of the Reading…
It’s always about the money.
The research team here in Kram’s Korner has been hard at work on this Reading name issue. Here’s what we’ve learned:
Since the big announcement last week, I haven’t met one person in favor of the Reading Phillies’ name change. Some are agnostic, “Well, what’s the new one?” And, others have gone so far as to cancel their season tickets and/or vow never to return to First Energy in Baseballtown. There are questions, though. Questions that need answers. Here they are:
1. Why would they do this?
2. What’s the new name?
3. What were they thinking?
4. Who’s fault is this?
5. No, seriously, why would they do such a thing?
Theory: They’re doing this to sell more hats and jerseys.
In an interview with republicanherald.com writer Anthony Burkhart, Reading GM Scott Hunsicker says that merchandise sales account for only 5% of overall revenue, and that’s not enough reason to change 46 years of tradition.
As I said in my response to Dan’s post last week, I think this is only partially correct. It’s not about selling more Reading hats and Reading jerseys; it’s about Philadelphia. If you want to buy a Phillies hat or a Phillies jersey, MLB wants you to buy a PHILADELPHIA Phillies jersey. They don’t want you buying a Reading Phillies jersey. Or, you can buy both. It’s always about the money…
I have only circumstantial evidence to back me up, but here in kram’s korner, we believe that an edict was sent out from MLB to its affiliates some time ago which said this (or, something to this effect):
“Look, we want y’all to have your own identity. You’ll do better selling hats and jerseys and if your affiliation changes you can maintain that name. If your identity has a local connection that will help you in your marketing and in connecting with local fans. We won’t put a time limit on it, but we strongly suggest you make this change.”
Many affiliates have changed, including the Clearwater Phillies to Threshers, and our rivals to the north, the SWB soon-to-be Trolley Frogs. I think the PawSox are getting close to phasing out Red Sox in favor of Paw Sox, which everyone calls them anyway. We’ll have to keep an eye on Gwinnette.
So there’s your reason. I can’t prove it, but the pieces are starting to fit together. They say this has been a process 18 months in the making–so they’ve been working on this for a while, until they could find something suitable. They needed to find something with the Philadelphia connection as the Phillies tradition in Reading probably exceeds any pure local connection (like, say, “engineers” or “trainmen” or something).
So what did they come up with?