The Pirates of Lawn Care

(Trim those sails! And that shrubbery!)


Once again, it’s late December in America – the happiest season of all – and we know what that means: Christmas marketing tie-ins, year-end marketing tie-ins, and bowl game marketing tie-ins.

(At this time of year, there’s also a great deal of political shrieking about where people can display a crèche, which is a French word that either means the Nativity manger, a nursery, or a bunch of baby birds. Of course, this is the kind of confusing, evil ambiguity we’ve come to expect from a nation that condones dipping French fries mayonnaise. Or gravy. But I digress.)

To be sure, there’s not much left the collective fiends in Marketing can do to out-prostitute each other during the holiday shopping season. A perfect example is Thanksgiving’s “Black Friday,” a single weekday which Marketing hoodlums have managed to morph into a six-month sales marathon, so that the last Friday in November actually begins in March.

If Pope Gregory had known people would be getting up to tricks like this, he’d have kept his mouth shut, and we’d still be using the Julian calendar.

But it’s college bowl season, too, and every year the stadiums and sponsors get more and more bizarre. Apparently, it’s no longer an option to just have a simple, old-fashioned, injury-loaded Cotton Bowl football game anymore…not since Marketing got involved. Now it’s the Cotton Bowl sponsored by Goodyear hosted at the AT&T Stadium. (For some reason, even though it’s their stadium, AT&T stopped sponsoring the Cotton Bowl this year and Goodyear leapt in. Maybe AT&T forgot where they left their blimp.)

It’s a fickle business, sponsorship. This year, after a four-year romantic relationship with the Rose Bowl, Vizio has decided to sponsor the Fiesta Bowl instead, ruthlessly jilting the Rose Bowl at the sponsorship altar. But the Fiesta Bowl is only available because Tostitos ended their 18-year tryst. Down the road a bit, Capital One is actually pulling its sponsorship from the Capital One Bowl, leaving the poor Capital One Bowl an orphaned event now known simply as Bowl, and no doubt heading for deep therapy.

You can barely throw a pigskin at a map, or at a skinned pig, for that matter, without hitting a dysfunctional bowl / sponsor / stadium liaison. Last year, Phoenix hosted the … wait for it … the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl (BattleFrog is a series of pay-to-play obstacle courses. BattleFrog’s motto: “Battling is Believing.” Because, you know, who doesn’t love a feisty frog?)

Farther east, the city of Shreveport, Louisiana, owns Independence Stadium, home of the Independence Bowl, which is a staggering coincidence. (Back in the 90s, it once called itself the Poulan Weed-Eater Independence Bowl, and it did so with a straight face.)

San Diego hosts the Culligan Holiday Bowl, which means their top attraction is water. At Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, there’s the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, which could mean any number of things. Another set of strange bedfellows is the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl in Nashville, and it’s anybody’s bet who they’ll get for the halftime show. And for pure syllable count, a strong contender is this year’s Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl Hosted at The Howard Schnellenberger Field.

Some of the marketing tie-ins are kind of sad, like a white church choir trying to sing syncopation. For instance, there’s the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (guess where this one’s played), New York City’s Gotham Bowl (take that, Pinstripe Bowl), and the sexiest sponsor ever, the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl (formerly known as the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl).

The Tampa / St. Pete area of Florida’s Gulf Coast seems inordinately attracted to the bowl game / sponsorship mating dance. Since 2008, St. Pete football fans have had to suffer through doomed marriages like the MagicJack Bowl, the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, and the Bitcoin Bowl. But nothing tops this year’s tie-in winner:

Welcome to the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.

Also known online as the “Four Thousand Dollar Lawnmowers For Men With Security Issues Bowl,” the event was at least partially named for Jose Gaspar, a Gulf Coast pirate who became notoriously infamous for not actually existing. But St. Pete loves their bad boy buccaneer heritage, so I’m sure that, somewhere nearby, there’s also a pirate-themed water park, a Gasparilla pharmacy, and a Jose Gaspar Golden Years retirement community. (just a quick golf cart ride from the Gasparilla kosher deli!)

Yes, the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl is an event you will not want to miss. After all, according to the sponsor’s spokesperson: “There are going to be mowers everywhere, all over the place.”

Because, you know…pirates.

By the way…in case you don’t think the Universe has a sense of humor: the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl will be played on artificial turf.

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