PUBLICIST: MLB's error in 'Spider-Man 2' logo flap turns into home run for Sony

Swing and a miss. Major League Baseball last week committed its biggest PR blunder since the 2002 All-Star Game. Commissioner Bud Selig's squelching of an already announced marketing deal with Sony Pictures may have saved his neck from a lynch mob of outraged baseball purists. But the about-face and ensuing media mockery put both MLB and the commissioner in an overly familiar awkward position.

Swing and a miss. Major League Baseball last week committed its biggest PR blunder since the 2002 All-Star Game. Commissioner Bud Selig's squelching of an already announced marketing deal with Sony Pictures may have saved his neck from a lynch mob of outraged baseball purists. But the about-face and ensuing media mockery put both MLB and the commissioner in an overly familiar awkward position.

Baseball players steal bases. Maybe Selig was afraid they'd start stealing them as souvenirs. After all, who wouldn't want a genuine MLB base adorned with a Spider-Man 2 logo? It'd look great in the kids' room. But Selig likely struck down the deal because of the howls of protest over Hollywood's attempted sledgehammer blow upside da' head of baseball's crumbling bastion of virtue, which, due to enhancement-drug scandals, higher ticket prices, and arrogant personalities, has become more tarnished than Paris Hilton's. So what was all the fuss about? Under the proposal, a small Spider-Man 2 logo was to be placed on bases and on-deck circles of 15 stadiums during the June 11-13 interleague games. We're talking "Spidey," not Debbie Does Duluth. But just as a simple lead-off walk can portend a big inning, a simple base logo could potentially become a slippery slope. Selig probably began having nightmares of players resembling NASCAR drivers, with insignias and decals all over their uniforms. Once you let the genie out of the bullpen, it's difficult to get her back in the clubhouse. Imagine the bases and field being auctioned off contractually each year to corporate sponsors. And broadcasters being obliged to announce games accordingly: "Jason Giambi lines a single to Wal-Mart right field, advancing Bernie Williams over to Budweiser second base, and Derek Jeter to Nabisco third." It's not that far-fetched. Who would have imagined 30 years ago stadiums having corporate monikers? The incident may have been a PR error for MLB, but it's a winner for Sony. The controversy did more to boost early awareness of Spider-Man 2 than anything they could have dreamt up. Or did they dream it up? This is the studio that allowed producers Jon Peters and Peter Guber to bilk it to the tune of about $500 million. They've gotten smarter since then. But probably not that smart. In baseball jargon, they're likely the lucky recipients of being hit by a pitch. Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer

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