Play Ball! Adages Gets a Peek at the Chicago Softball Scene

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April showers have delivered the promise of May flowers and, along with that, another rite of spring -- corporate softball season. Deep in America's heartland, they're dusting off the old cleats and beaten-up gloves, preparing for another season of scabbed knees, bruised egos, dropped balls and sticking that one copywriter who was home-schooled way back in right field. It's also time for some agency athletes to get so worked up by the competition that they lose their better judgment.
Betsy Brown and Karen Seamen make nice.
Betsy Brown and Karen Seamen make nice. Credit: Tyler Curtis

Our own Jeremy Mullman has been heading out to the ballparks in Chicago and spotted a few instances of softball-inspired wackiness.

For example, Adages suspects Cramer-Krasselt Milwaukee General Manager Betsy Brown -- more than seven months pregnant -- may regret the stomping, profanity-laced tirade she unleashed after the rival Chicago office cut Milwaukee's lead. Not because the outburst wasn't appropriate, but on the off chance her unborn child heard any of it.

Ultimately, though, Betsy won out, and Chicago office General Manager Karen Seamen had to cook the entire Milwaukee office Chicago-style hot dogs because her office lost the game, despite home-field advantage and the absurd 16-inch ball used in Chicago softball but nowhere else.

And what were all those Chicago C-Kers -- the folks who make Corona's ads -- thinking drinking Budweiser on the bench and in the bleachers? (A C-K spokeswoman explained that a Chicago Park District ordinance forbids glass bottles, and Corona is hard to find in cans.)

A week later, the DraftFCB team committed a similar goof without so good an excuse, lugging to the field a cooler of Miller Lite, which might raise a few eyebrows at DraftFCB client Coors Brewing Co. Of course, Coors is a longtime FCB client, and this squad, known internally as DRAFTfcb, consists almost entirely of former Draft Worldwide employees. The bulk of the FCBers play on the team known internally as draftFCB. Merging the two squads has apparently proved tough because the proximity of the two agencies -- based only blocks apart on opposite sides of the city's Magnificent Mile -- led to a somewhat fierce rivalry between the teams back in the pre-merger days. (Never mind the grizzled FCB vet, who doesn't play softball, who still refers to the Draft's direct marketers as "the envelope lickers.")

We were nonetheless impressed with the Draft team, which triumphed easily, beating JWT Chicago, which nearly forfeited for not having enough players present at game time -- an ominous development considering it fell less than a week after the agency announced plans to lay off 25% of its staff.

Not only did Draft have a snazzy, printed lineup card, it also brought an audio crew that played snippets of theme music selected in advance by each hitter. But did they really have to pick "Wingman," a Bud Light anthem concocted by DDB Chicago, as one of the songs?

Have an open-source cola and a smile

If there's anything more American than softball, it's soda (Adages doesn't like apple pie ... puts us in mind of a tub full of slugs). And if there's anything more American than soda, it's a bunch of open-source geeks getting together to try to one-up Coca-Cola! OK, so maybe that's stretching it a bit. But in our web travels last week, we came across a post from BoingBoing.net's Cory Doctorow in which he points to the recipe for Open Cola, the open-source cola. Cory helped start the company, and the recipe was developed by Amanda Foubister. Says Cory: "It tastes excellent, but it also highlighted for me just how much sugar there is in this stuff." Well, yeah! That's why it tastes good. Of course the great thing about open-source code is that you, the lowly consumer, can tweak it as you see fit, perhaps jacking up the caffeine and sugar levels even higher. We suppose you could try that with a can of Coke, but it doesn't sound half as much fun. Check out the recipe at WikiHow.com/Make-OpenCola.

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Contributing: Jeremy Mullman
Have a game of catch with kwheaton@adage.com
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