The rising cost of baseball broadcasting rights is turning "the narrative of the game … into an adjunct for quickie ads," reports Richard Sandomir in The New York Times (8/18/13). WCBS radio in New York, for instance, pays something like $14 million a year to broadcast Yankees games. Their best chance to profit on their investment is to transform each and every moment into a promotional opportunity. The practice actually dates back “at least a decade," but the number of plugs has grown to a point where 60 or more "drop-ins" per Yankees game is not unheard of.
The first time a Yankee walks, the announcer intones: "Just walk into any of CityMD’s six convenient locations." A law firm sponsors the umpire lineup announcement and the post-game wrap-up is brought to you by … Reynolds Wrap. "Geico has built a major drop-in outpost. It has turned the mundane 15th out of the game into a Pavlovian cue for" the Yankees announcers "to tell listeners that a 15-minute call to Geico can help save 15 percent on their auto insurance. In this ecosystem, a walk is not only as good as a hit; it is a sales opportunity."
Listeners can’t escape the ads, and advertisers cherish "having their names embedded in the action." Peter Buttenweiser of CertaPro Painters says the plugs make people smile. CertaPro gets its drop-in when a pitcher "paints the corner" (baseball parlance for pitching the ball across the edges of the strike zone). However, LA Dodgers announcer Charley Steiner complains that the ads slow the game’s pace. Baseball historian Curt Smith is more blunt, saying that having too many drop-ins telegraphs that the franchise "doesn’t care whether the broadcast is considered quality or not."