At the end of every professional sports season, there are leftovers. Just as there is no trophy for second place, there are no souvenir T-shirts for the team that comes up short. Sports Illustrated will not be hawking the also-ran's DVD, yearbook and locker room T-shirt package. Crews have to hurry into the losing team's locker room to take down the tarps protecting everything from the champagne shower that will never come. I suppose they could just move that champagne across the hall, but those T-shirts. Where do they go?
The good news is: Not in the incinerator. It's a good thing that one city's disappointment can be turned into something good. The international humanitarian aid group World Vision collects the unwanted items over the days following the game at their distribution center in Pittsburgh, then ships it overseas to people living in disaster areas and impoverished nations. After losing Super Bowl XLIII in 2009, Arizona Cardinals gear was sent to children and families living in extreme poverty in El Salvador. In 2010, after the New Orleans Saints defeated Indianapolis, the Colts gear printed up for Super Bowl XLIV was sent to earthquake-ravaged Haiti. World Vision also works with the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball, along with several NCAA conferences and championships. Waste not, want not. And maybe those professional sports teams are opening up potential new markets in foreign lands.
One place they're not sending those shirts is Cuba. Not necessarily because the United States has a trade embargo with our neighbors to the south. And it's probably not just because they're only ninety miles away from a state that is full of professional sports: Florida. It might have made sense for the Oakland Athletics to send their most recent souvenir giveaway shirts to the Republic of Cuba, since that is from whence Yoenis Cespedes hails. When the A's traded their home-run derby winner to the Boston Red Sox last week, they did it just a couple days before the team had planned to honor their all-star by giving away ten thousand shirts with his likeness and nickname printed in gold and green. In the end, Oakland fans were the recipients of this odd bit of memorabilia. If you're keeping score at home, by the way, at least they spelled his name right.