While the Nationals have had some lousy postseason luck these last few seasons, they have been the best at something consistently. Stadium promotions. We can all agree that the Jayson Werth garden gnome was the epitome of 2014 baseball promotions, and sure set the standard high for the rest of the league.
That’s why I was not at all surprised when I looked at the Los Angeles Dodgers’ preliminary promotional schedule for next season. Listed for Monday, May 25 against Atlanta is a “Garden Gnome.” Right now, it’s unspecified as to who or what the gnome will actually resemble, but due to the extreme publicity that the Nationals received last season, it’s sure to garner a crowd.
Other teams around the country will likely conduct similar promotions until such items don’t draw sell-out crowds. But to me, no other garden gnome at this point will carry quite the same lovable significance as Werth’s. See, it all started as an accident when a fan photoshopped Werth’s bearded visage onto a garden gnome. From there, fans took a liking and the Nationals pursued it to please their faithful. And it could not have gone better for anyone involved–except, that is, the 25,001st fan.
Regardless of whether or not it’s “original” from this point forward, a garden gnome of any bearded player would probably do the trick. In the Dodgers’ case, Brian Wilson may be a safe bet as the subject. And the Red Sox could honestly fashion a gnome out of any number of members of their 2013 World Series team.
As for bobbleheads, however, the Nationals do those better than any other team as well. League-wide, clubs give away plasticy, unimaginative, and detail-less figurines that please children for several minutes and then serve as decent office paperweights. The Nats not only design detailed dolls that eerily resemble their players, but they also position the players to incite meaningful memories. For instance, Michael Morse’s bobblehead in 2012 featured his little on-deck practice swing in which he raised his left knee as he brought his hands forward. And Denard Span’s this year depicted a mesmerizing catch he made against the outfield wall.
Thank you to PNC Bank, who generally sponsors the bobbleheads. I’ll have to get myself to some more promotional days in DC next summer.
For now, the Dodgers may be copy cats, but they’re making a smart and potentially very exciting business move. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.
UPDATE: The New York Mets have released their 2015 promotional schedule and are returning thegarden gnome favor to the Nationals. On Saturday, May 2, the Mets will hand out 15,000 Jacob deGrom garden gnomes. The 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom is relatively clean-shaven but sports lacrosse-style flow in the back. This may be a reverse-hair-garden-gnome if you will. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can be in New York on May 2.
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