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On Earth Day, The Greenwashing of Baseball

I have to admit I’m a huge baseball fan. Not a gynormous fan like some of my friends, but I scarcely let a day go by without checking on my (last place in the AL East) Red Sox on-line. If I’m home in Maine, and a Sox game is in progress, the television is usually tuned in. I’ve been that way for about 44 years, ever since Carl Yastrzemski won the Triple Crown in 1967 and I lost a whole bunch of sleep with a Zenith transistor radio tucked under my pillow where my mother couldn’t find it.

If you’re from New England and you’re 50 or older, you probably understand that previous sentence. If you’re under 50, you probably think Yaz is the name of a birth control pill . . . but the rest of us know better.

The love of baseball is primal in the United States, just as the affection for hockey in Canada can seem like fanaticism if you’re not from Canada — which is where I sit as I write this. Having just downloaded a bunch of email at the Calgary airport after a week-long tour to promote pesticide free lawns, an-even-bigger-Red-Sox-fan-than-me friend of mine sent me this link: If you click on it, you’ll find the story is an Earth Day propaganda piece from Major League Baseball detailing all the ways the various clubs are becoming alleged stewards of the planet.

“Speaking of Fenway Park, did you know that more than 800 tons of construction materials generated as part of the right field improvements in 2009 were recycled?” asks the writer, a shill named Mark Newman.

The story contains a whole bunch of good stuff put forth by well-meaning people. But all I can see these days when I look at right field at Fenway Park is the bogus banner draped along the Pesky Pole.


“Scotts Used Here” says the sign that gets camera time whenever a $14 million-dollar-a-year flop of a player named J.D. Drew gathers an opponent’s double to the right-field corner. The Scotts Miracle-Gro company must feel somewhat chagrined that the Red Sox’s $21 million dollar left-handed hitter Carl Crawford, who everyone figured would be peppering balls over the Scotts banner with regularity, is hitting less than his own weight so far this year.

As a fan, I have no doubt Mr. Crawford will come around and, in the process, improve the advertising buy for the most environmentally offensive company in the lawn and garden industry.

“What are we going to do about this?” has been an almost constant question to the SafeLawns email bucket ever since last year when Major League Baseball announced a multi-million dollar deal that made Scotts Miracle Gro the official green wash of the league. Back then, embolded by our ability to get Earth Day to drop its affiliation with ChemLawn (TruGreen), we thought we could make some noise about the salicious partnership between the biggest lawn chemical company and America’s pastime.

We tried, but virtually no one cared. Major League Baseball wouldn’t even return the phone calls of the environmental community.

So today, on Earth Day, we’re left with a conflict that will last at least as long as Major League Baseball needs to find ways to pay players like Drew and Crawford a combined $35 million dollars a year. They’ll continue to greenwash their sport and try to make us believe they have the planet’s best interests in mind — all the while propagating the myth that everyone’s lawns ought to look like Fenway Park.

It makes me wish I was never a fan in the first place.

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

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