For years, we've covered Major League Baseball's ridiculous attempts to falsely claim that it has ownership
of different aspects of the sport. It's been on the losing side of court battles, repeatedly, but it just keeps pushing its luck. Earlier this year, we noted that MLB was bullying the Cape Cod League
, which is considered the preeminent league where the best amateur kids get to compete against each other prior to the annual draft. The problem? The Cape Cod League had the temerity to buy uniforms from local providers, and to use (in just a few cases) names similar to major league teams, such as the Chatham A's and the Harwich Mariners. Of course, no one's going to confuse a team of amateur college players with the major league teams, but MLB demanded both a licensing fee and
that the teams be required to buy from a much more expensive uniform supplier approved by MLB.
It appears that this was just the beginning. MLB is doing the same to an even younger
group of kids: Little Leaguers in suburban Chicago
-- where the teams have similar names, but very different logos (further clarifying the lack of connection). I'm sure taking away the names they recognize will really get those kids interested in the sport. This is, as per MLB's standards, incredibly shortsighted. MLB should be doing anything to build up fans -- and one way to do that is to get kids to really identify with major league teams and players -- and that means letting them use real names. I played Little League at that age, and kids are excited to play on teams with names similar to Major League teams. It certainly doesn't take away from MLB in any way.
Of course, now that the Little Leaguers are involved, this story caught the attention of Stephen Colbert, who decided to give his own, unique, spin on the story (if you're in an RSS reader, click through to see the video):
Some great lines from Colbert: "Those kids put trademarked names on their jerseys without paying. You know what we call that in this country? Theft!... You see, they don't want this kind of criminality sullying the good things about baseball. These kids aren't just stealing team names, they're ripping off all kinds of stuff from the majors. Where do these kids get the idea of using a mitt? Or wearing a cup?" He then goes on to take it to the logical extreme, explaining why the press should stop mentioned Major League Baseball altogether to avoid infringing.