Baseball Throws Sony a Strike

Following on the boffo success of "Spider-Man," the sequel probably needs little marketing buildup to make it a summer blockbuster. In fact, the original "Spider-Man" holds the record for the biggest box-office debut over a three-day weekend. In 2002, the movie took in about $800 million worldwide.

But the clever marketers at Sony (which owns Columbia Pictures, which made the film) decided to pour it on anyway. Treading none too lightly, they worked out a $3.6 million deal with Major League Baseball to feature the Spider-Man web pattern on field bases next month, among other stadium promotions.

Fortunately, more sensible heads prevailed - that this over-the-green-wall commercialization simply went too far in violating the history and tradition of the sport. At the end of last week, baseball officials decided against the idea of turning bases into movie logos.

Not that the plan was scrapped entirely: "Spider-Man 2" promotions will still play on stadium video boards, and the movie's web logo will appear on home plate and the pitching rubber in pregame ceremonies, as well as on the on-deck circle throughout the game.

An April poll by Yankelovich Partners shows 65 percent of Americans already feel "constantly bombarded with too much marketing and advertising," and that both should have more limits and regulations.

In part, baseball officials said they were just trying to reach out to young fans. But such crass commercialization on actual parts of a baseball diamond when ballparks already carry the names of corporate giants, and sponsor banners line the edges of the field?

Now that was truly minor league.

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