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Grave matters

New line of caskets arrives at dark time for MLB

Posted: Tuesday January 8, 2008 2:48PM; Updated: Friday January 11, 2008 11:16AM
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The ultimate luxury box for the die-hard fan, and the parking fee is about what you pay on game day at Fenway Park.
The ultimate luxury box for the die-hard fan, and the parking fee is about what you pay on game day at Fenway Park.
Courtesy of Eternal Image
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Every so often, events and a product converge with almost mystical perfection. Latest case in point: Just in time for spring training, Eternal Image of Farmington Hills, Mich., will introduce its line of officially licensed Major League caskets. Carrying a suggested price tag of $4,499, they follow the company's popular line of urns bearing team logos and colors.

I ask you, with all the reputations, careers and achievements being buried by performance enhancement controversy, criminal charges and congressional inquiries, has a product ever been more fittingly symbolic of its time?

The death of innocence -- if there ever was such a thing -- aside, this space noted two weeks ago that we can't turn away from sports no matter how unpalatable they become. No surprise then that Nick Popravsky, Eternal Image's VP of Sales and Marketing, says his company is not concerned that baseball's ongoing steroid mess and public undressing of its biggest stars will put a bucky dent in the demand for their products.

"I'm a [Detroit] Lions fan, and I know all about complaint," Popravsky says. "We haven't seen anything even close to that level of complaint about baseball."

Die-hard fans are, after all, die-hard fans. According to Popravsky, the Yankees remain the most oft-requested team scheme even in the wake, so to speak, of the Red Sox' second World Series Championship since 2004. Naturally, the Cubs are No. 3 as their partisans have developed a more than passing familiarity with the interment of their dreams.

At present, 13 MLB team caskets will be on sale by March, with the rest coming down the line by the end of the year. Popravsky says that because there is usually more demand for big-market teams with rich traditions, the St. Louis Cardinals casket will be available before, say, the Arizona Diamondbacks or Tampa Bay Rays model, although I would imagine that the aging populations in those locales are a potentially robust market. Then again, it takes a very patient and optimistic soul to spend forever in a Rays box. But hope springs eternal, as they say. Eternal Image also markets retro caskets featuring the long-departed Brooklyn Dodgers and other fondly-remembered franchises of yore.

Just on the off-chance that your Uncle Dub really did renounce our National Pastime in all its juiced glory before he left for the Great Gig in the Sky, Eternal Image will be making college team colors availabile this year and is hoping to negotiate similar rights deals with the NFL, NHL, and NASCAR. And there's always their Star Trek, Precious Moments, Vatican Library or American Kennel Club lines.

Your turn

Some recent feedback off recent literary exercises....

Re: The new Yankee Stadium parking flap:

I think you should call it "The House That Greed Built" We (protestors) all knew the costs would rise, and said so. The stadium is a massive boondoggle. Kids who played in the park are the big losers. Corporate gain is the big winner. The Yankees are a (greedy) corporation more than a sports team. No one cared about the Bronxites who'd lose. Now the fans will have to pay for their indifference.
-- Catherine Cotter, Bronx, N.Y.

It likely won't cheer Ms. Cotter or those of similar opinion that The New York Times reported this week that promised finnancial benefits to the community have been slow in coming and appear lost in a cloud of bureaucracy.

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