With all the talk of what hats the Mets donned (or didn’t) Monday night, I figured I might relay an overdue bit of happiness I had locally on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 (I live in Brazil).
I’ve lived in São Paulo now for 14 months. I’m sorry if it’s sounds like I’m talking about a baby, but I thought this post could stand to be precise. In this time since I’ve relocated here, I’ve seen Yankees gear daily, and Red Sox and Dodgers gear about weekly. Jeez, I’ve even seen a guy in an Astros cap once. But it took exactly 421 days of living in the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest city to spot a stranger in public wearing a Mets t-shirt.
Look, if the team’s not winning, the least they can do is sell the brand internationally.
I mean, I’ve also seen at least two people here in Tennessee Titans jerseys. Do you remember the last time they won the Super Bowl?*
As you may know, soccer is king in Brazil, (with Formula One racing coming up second in popularity), but ESPN Brazil carrying Sunday Night and Monday Night Baseball is helping introduce or at least satisfy the small segment of the country who doesn’t feel like watching MLB.TV on their laptops. In all likelihood, those living here who care to watch baseball are either transplanted natives like me, or part of the well-educated, moneyed class who spent a few years working or going to school in the U.S. Anyway, those who aren’t just copycatting the Jay-Z requisite hip-hop guise of the Yankee cap have some interest in what they’re wearing and what that fashion choice represents (the actual team, American culture, rap, etc.). So why aren’t the Mets marketed better? Who doesn’t want a piece of the (sad, botched, downward-bound) pie?
I know that selling the sport to foreigners who weren’t raised on it is a tough sell that no WBC is ever going to fix. Three cases:
1.) When I brought my Brazilian brother-in-law to Citi Field in 2009, it was pretty difficult to explain the mayhem unfolding in front of him. Especially when Tim Redding was on the mound, there was a fielding error during one of the first at bats, and the Marlins had scored a pair of runs before we found our seats. It was much easier to just lead him back downstairs to the Beers of the World stand.
2.) A Brazilian friend of mine went to visit his sister in Toronto. Through some unlikely series of seemingly unrelated events that I can’t reveal in public, he wound up at a Blue Jays game. He couldn’t remember who they played. When I asked him what he thought, he smiled and said, “I didn’t like it. I didn’t know what was going on. And it was really slow.” Okay, fine. I could buy that.
3.) At dinner a few weeks ago with model/actress/singer Luisa Moraes (no, I’m not kidding), she was explaining how she just returned from a few months living in Brooklyn. When my wife mentioned I contribute to this blog (see, I’m really not kidding), she said, “Oh! I went to a Mets game. They play in Jersey, right?” The identity of the team just doesn’t take. Could be because she’s one of the chicks riding in the backseat with Jay-Z and Kanye in their “Otis” video. Look, she might be nearly naked, but she’s not stupid.
Whatever the cause for Flushing’s lack of global success, you can bet there are thousands of people in my very populated city who also don’t necessary like baseball, don’t know what’s going on, don’t care it’s slow, and don’t even remember where the team actually plays, because airline luggage maximums or import taxes aside, they still want that shiny Boston jacket, dammit. So tell me again why the international market isn’t clamoring for their very own Pelfrey jerseys? (Don’t answer that.)
I know, I’ve asked too many questions and offered too few answers in this rambling invective. It’s either the cough syrup or the Washington Nationals …. but the long and the short of it is this: yesterday, by the Burger King in the mall food court, there was a slightly overweight gentleman in his forties, waiting with his wee daughter for his wife to bring over the family’s meal. The dude was grumpy, out of shape, unshaven and noticeably irritated. He was a winner. He was in a Mets T-shirt.
It was a generic MLB-produced one with the orange NY logo in a home plate shape design. I would have congratulated him, but between my crappy Portuguese and the look on his face I figured it best to make a mental note and walk away. Maybe I didn’t want to find out he had no idea who the Mets were, and that someone gave it to him as a gift, grabbing the first thing he or she saw on an outbound flight out of JFK. Maybe I should have photographed him and sent a copy to Joe Torre to let him know it appeared to be official MLB merchandise so no henchmen need be deployed off the coast of Santos. Maybe he would have punched me in the face. The guy in the Mets shirt or Joe Torre. Or both. Lord knows they wouldn’t be the first.
Oh, and not that anyone asked, but yeah–the shirt was black.
*(1960 and 1961 if you count the AFL Championship finals, but those aren’t Super Bowls so they don’t count. Is this a baseball blog?)
About the Author
CM Gorey is a writer and musician from New York who lives in São Paulo, Brazil. A contributing writer for Time Out São Paulo magazine and online arts magazine Thalo, he is also a composer of TV and film soundtracks, and performer with the electro outfit White Light Lametta. Suffering from a distance, he watches slowly generated, pixelated Mets games on an old netbook. After careful consideration, he has to admit that the return to the classic uniforms was a smart choice, regardless of his penchant for black uniforms.