Thursday, December 11, 2014

New York's Staten Island Yankees Make an Appearance in a Shanghai Ad

At the Metro City shopping mall in Shanghai I saw an advertisement for MLB (Major League Baseball) clothing. This didn't surprise me, especially since I had recently seen a MLB store in another Shanghai mall. The advertisement highlighted the Yankees. This also didn't surprise me. I have lately noticed more people in China wearing clothing with the New York Yankees "NY" logo.

But one part of the advertisement did surprise me. Below the familiar New York Yankees logos were the words "Yankees — Staten Island".

advertisement in Shanghai for MLB clothing with the New York Yankees logo above a logo for the Staten Island Yankees

Staten Island is one of New York City's five boroughs, but the New York Yankees have a storied history in another borough, The Bronx. A baseball team might move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, but a move from The Bronx to Staten Island was hard to imagine.

Indeed, the New York Yankees remain in The Bronx. However, Staten Island is home to a minor league baseball team — the Staten Island Yankees. Nicknamed the "Baby Bombers", they are an affiliate of the New York Yankees. They don't use the "NY" logo and instead have their own cap logo.

The Staten Island Yankees cap logo (source)

Given the New York Yankees enjoy far greater recognition and the clothes in the advertisement had the "NY" logo, it seems likely that the Staten Island Yankees reference was simply a case of confused identities and may fit into the category "a little bit of knowledge can be dangerous".

Or not so dangerous . . .

Like other similar apparent mistakes I have seen in China, it may not have much effect locally. In other Chinese cities, such as Hengyang in Hunan province, I have spoken with people wearing clothes with the "NY" logo. Often, they said they didn't even know it represented an American baseball team, let alone a team in The Bronx. So the Staten Island reference in this case may not impact many people's perceptions or purchases. More interesting to me than a measure of American baseball knowledge in China, the mistake could be another hint that a seemingly seemingly obvious explanation, interest in the New York Yankees baseball team, does not best account for increasing numbers of people in China wearing Yankees-themed clothing. This touches on some bigger issues which I will return to in the future.

But who knows, perhaps I got part of this wrong, and the Staten Island Yankees have a significant number of fans in Shanghai. Stranger things have happened. Just ask people in New York. In that case, the Baby Bombers sending Scooter the "Holy Cow" to China as a sports ambassador might be a "better-than-dandy" idea.

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