I’m not referring to the fact that my beloved New York Mets have somehow managed to overcome an 11-game winning streak to sink almost to the .500 mark. I’m not even talking about Major League Baseball here.
No, for this story, I’d like to take you to Orem, Utah, home of the Minor League Orem Owlz.
Now, Minor League teams are known for running some weird promotional stunts to create fun family outings at the ballpark. Like 5¢ beer night, for instance. That was the Lake County Captains. The Mahoning Valley Scrappers had a free liposuction drawing, which actually coincided with All-You-Can-Eat Night. The Brooklyn Cyclones held “Bellies and Baseball: A Salute to Pregnancy Night,” wherein pregnant women threw out the first pitch and were allowed to run the bases, and if someone gave birth in the ballpark, she’d get free season tickets for life so she could bring the kid to the games and say things like, “And you should have seen the placenta all over second base!”
The Orem Owlz, however, wanted to go in a different direction.
Before I tell you what they planned, I should mention that many teams, even big league teams, and also the Mets, hold nights to honor particular groups, like Hispanic Heritage Night, or Military Mondays, or Negro League Night. These are occasions on which the teams wear special uniforms, with really ugly camouflage designs (and shouldn’t it be green camouflage, anyway?), or reproductions of the colorful garb of the old Negro Leagues, or jerseys that say “Los Mets” because evidently there is no Spanish word for “Mets,” unless you want to use “perdedores.”*
It was along these lines that the Orem Owlz scheduled their promotion. However, for some reason, their plans were met with outrage from the community and, once it went viral, from the rest of the country.
The Owlz, perhaps not using the wizdom of their namesakes, planned to hold a Caucasian Heritage Night.
A typical response was this one, from Jeanetta Williams, president of the NAACP Salt Lake City branch: “It’s race baiting and I think that they need to be very, very careful. It’s a dangerous game that they’re playing.” The promotion may have received a better response from Rachel Dolezal, the former president of the NAACP Spokane, branch. Or maybe not.
In fairness, the team intended to do the whole thing tongue-in-cheek. They were going to celebrate the evening with “Wonder Bread on burgers with mayonnaise, clips from shows like Friends and Seinfeld, and trying to solve the vertical leaping challenge.”
As a member of the Caucasian-American community, I find this offensive. Unlike other races where everyone is the same, we Caucasians do not enjoy being pigeon-holed into Wonder Bread-eating, Seinfeld-loving, gravity-laden stereotypes. I don’t even like Wonder Bread.
The team’s website posted this invitation: “Irish, Italian, Scandinavian, German…. or even Utahn! Whatever your background, celebrate it at the Home of the Owlz!”
As a Jewish Caucasian-American, I think this is a shocking statement. People from Utah are called Utahns? I never thought about that before. I mean, it looks strange seeing it in print, but, really, what else could they be called? Utasians? Utanese? U-eys? Uhauls?
However, the team still has many other promotional nights on the schedule, including Homemaking Night (giveaway: “I like Ike” buttons), Back Hair Night, and Cosplay/LARPing Night, the last of which may also be of interest to Rachel Dolezal, the former president of the NAACP Spokane branch.
See you soon.
*But ownership would probably frown upon calling the team “The Losers.”