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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins

Saturday, February 26, 2005

In Case I Forgot Why I Hate Certain Teams

News item: FleetCenter officials reject Harvard-educated auction winner's choice to rename the building the "Derek Jeter Center" for one day on grounds that the name is "obscene and vulgar."

I couldn't make it up. Well, maybe I could, but I didn't have to.

Here's the story, short and sweet. The FleetCenter's contract for naming rights with Fleet was terminated (I assume this had something to do with Bank of America buying out Fleet). While the arena seeks a long-term deal for a new corporate sponsor, it's been auctioning off single-day naming rights to the building, with the proceeds going to charity.

The winner of the eBay auction for the rights to name the building on March 1 was Kerry Konrad. Konrad is a Harvard grad and a Yankees fan, and apparently has had quite the rivalry with his Bahston-area classmates over the past quarter-century. Not surprisingly, they are Red Sox fans. I think I would rather have a forklift truck land on me after driving off a 10-story building than sit in a room and be subjected to a bunch of Harvard students argue about curses and World Series titles and A-Rod and Babe Ruth. But that is apparently what Konrad and Co. have been doing for the last 25 years.

Konrad bid $2,325 for the one-day naming rights, and to stick it to his old boy Crimson network of Sox-lovers, he chose to rename Boston's main sports arena the Derek Jeter Center. Now, I will concede that this is devious and clever, in a sick and twisted way. This is also exceedingly obnoxious and something wholly unsurprising from a Yankees fan with a few grand to burn. Seriously, is there a better way to make a donation of over $2k more irritating? What happened to anonymous donation? I think if a Cowboys fan (one of the three who haven't evacuated the bandwagon) renamed the Linc "Jimmy Johnson Field," even for an hour, he'd get letterbombs with Philly postmarks.

Not to be outdone by a snotty blueblood with money to spend on spite, the FleetCenter folks fired back, denying Konrad his right (yes, it's a right, he paid lots of money for it) to slap Jeter's name on the building. I checked, the eBay auction makes no mention of any restrictions on what the building can be named. So, ex post facto, the prez and chief exec of the FleetCenter announces that all names have to be "rated G," and the "Derek Jeter Center" is "obscene and vulgar."

Now, what Konrad is doing is obnoxious, spiteful, and detestable, but what the FleetCenter brass is doing seems unethical. They're making rules up after the contest was won. Do you think Konrad would have dropped his cash on this auction if he couldn't name it whatever he wanted? By the way, Konrad also apparently considered names like the "A-Rod Center," "Aaron Boone Center," and "Bucky Dent Center."

The restriction on the name was justified, according to the suits, because "We were afraid of the volume of phone calls bogging down our switchboard, the number of e-mails clogging our portal and the potential graffiti on the side of our building." Okay, so even if these are legit reasons to block the "Derek Jeter Center" name (and I doubt any of these things would really happen), they have nothing to do with obscenity and vulgarity. They're strictly convenience reasons for the powers that be at the FleetCenter.

Somehow, one of Konrad's Red Sox-loving Hahvahd pals was able to supersede Konrad's bid - after the fact, natch - and up the total to $8,600 (for the 86 years the Sox went without a World Series title, which is vomit-inducing). The Sox fan is naming the Center the "Jimmy Fund Center," which is palatable, if only because it finally stops escalating the feud. What if he had named it the "Posada Is A Little Bitch Center?" (Actually, if he had named it that, I'm sure the FleetCenter people would have been fine with that - New Englanders wouldn't be flooding their switchboards; therefore, it's not vulgar in their eyes.)

So, to summarize, an obnoxious plan conceived by a pompous ass was thwarted for a B.S. reason. I hate you, Yankees/Red Sox/Harvard.

By the way, auctions for single-day naming rights are still ongoing for the days of March 2-6. If you have 10 Gs to drop, I really would love to actually name a Boston arena "Lynah East" for a day.


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