With terms like “disaster” and “catastrophe” being thrown around the Gulf of Mexico these days, it’s pretty difficult to ignore the severity of BP’s public image collapse as millions of gallons of oil continue to pollute the ocean and devastate state economies. Thankfully, we have professional sports such as baseball to distract us from this environmental chaos. That is, until the Cubs and White Sox debut the Crosstown Cup today as Major League Baseball’s first official intercity trophy… because it’s sponsored by BP.
Both franchises and the troubled oil company signed the deal on April 26, less than one week after the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. BP, however, has scaled back the celebratory nature of today’s inaugural game in the six-game series between the North and South side rivals. The trophy will be displayed prior to first pitch today, but other than that there will be little flair. In fact, it will be much like the game itself.
Walk on eggshells, Chicago Sun-Times:
“We’re trying to stand behind our sponsor, but at the same time be respectful of what’s happening off the ballfield,” Cubs spokesman Kevin Saghy said. A BP spokesman did not return a call seeking comment, but representatives from both the Cubs and Sox said it was their understanding that BP’s planned promotion of the newly minted cup — a three-foot trophy of brass with a sterling silver overlay that took local jeweler Howard Kaplan three months to create — has been scaled way back in the wake of the oil rig explosion.
Fans have been sounding off on their discontent with the involvement of BP in this normally pleasant time for both teams, according to WGN TV in Chicago. “We switched to Shell when we saw the glimpses of those animals,” said White Sox fan Brian Juarez, adding, “Leave Chicago alone BP, plug your hole and leave Chicago alone.” Coincidentally, that marks the first time a White Sox fan has said “plug your hole” about something other than Ozzie Guillen.
Marketing representatives claim that BP would do greater damage to its image by bailing on the event completely, and that the company can actually use its presence in professional sports to boost its image once it has managed to stop the leak in the Gulf. In the meantime, BP continues to ignore Cubs GM Jim Hendry’s offer to use Aramis Ramirez’s contract to plug the broken pipe.
UPDATE: Now with a fun video to distract us from the pain of environmental demise.