Major league baseball thrives on giveaways; bobble-head day, bat day, ball day, Snuggie day. But vuvuzelas? These plastic one-note horns are the scourge of the World Cup for the incessant blare that fans create with them. The Florida Marlins' decision to give away free vuvuzelas to the first 15,000 customers through the gates on June 19 could rank up there with the worst giveaways. Ever.
And the bar for bad promotions is pretty high. In 1979, the Chicago White Sox fomented a riot on Disco Demolition Night, when, between games of a sold-out double-header, a local disco-hating DJ was to blow up disco records fans had exchanged for $0.98 tickets. After a crate full of records was blown up in the outfield (creating a crater and a small fire), fans rushed the field and chaos reigned. Police in riot gear were eventually required to clear the field.
In 1974, the Cleveland Indians actually had to forfeit a game when Dime Beer Night got out of hand (duh!). Within a couple of innings, some fans were shedding their clothes to flash the crowd and run the bases. As the game progressed, the catcalls became more violent and fans began to toss items onto the field. The umpire eventually called the game, fearing for the player's safety, a forfeit in favor of the visiting Texas Rangers.
Both teams in the Florida Marlins-Tampa Bay Rays game at Sun Life Stadium found the vuvuzelas annoying. While the Marlins have given away noisy cow bells in the past (and plan to do so again on July 17), the players found the incessant drone of the vuvuzela far more distracting. Marlins manager Joe Maddon termed the giveaway "ridiculous," and told the Miami Herald that, on an annoyance scale of 1 to 10, the vuvuzela was a 10.
On a dire note for vuvuzela haters, the Marlins president told the Herald that the promotion "absolutely worked" to drive more attendance. I'd hoped that, in sports where something actually happens more often than 10 seconds in each 90 minutes, added aural stimulation wouldn't be welcome. But I'm fearful that in baseball, the "We'll try anything to draw fans" sport, the horn may horn its way in too.
For more about the vuvuzela, check out Ron Dicker's post as he tries one out on the streets of New York City.
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