Baseball Team Gets Ripped for Poor Taste, Treating Fans Like Morons

By Jason Menard

Yesterday was supposed to be a day of excitement for London baseball fans. Unfortunately, a combination of spectacularly poor judgement and an unwillingness to be honest about a mistake has turned what should have been the easiest home run in franchise history into a potentially franchise-threatening stumble out of the batter’s box for the London Rippers.

Reaction was swift and almost universally negative towards the Rippers’ name and logo. The obvious reference to Jack the Ripper is in poor taste; the fact that it was announced on a day where many were openly showing their support of ending violence against women is deplorable. But the continued denial of any “Jack the Ripper” tie is absolutely insulting.

And, of course, the group that sees political correctness in every concern has already made themselves heard. This is compounded by the media’s lazy reporting bringing their go-to comment, London Abused Women’s Centre director Megan Walker, into the fray. She’s a polarizing figure in the community – and some, sadly but understandably — will automatically dismiss issues that are tied to her.

Listen, 99.99999% of the time, I’m all with the “lighten up and laugh” movement. But come on, if the team just came out and said, “We’ve based our mascot and team name on Jack the Ripper” I’d have more respect for them. We can all deal with that. But don’t treat us like morons and say, “He’s not Jack the Ripper… he’s Diamond Jack the Ripper!” like a cutesy name will make it better. And don’t add an old English-style top hat, the “lurking in the park” mess of an ad campaign, and try to pass it off as anything else.

Before you go all hog-crazy and jump off the deep end here – which is the norm in discussions like this, unfortunately – no one is saying that going to a baseball game or supporting a baseball team makes you a supporter of killing women. But you would think marketing departments would know better?

And for those who think this is much ado about nothing, how would you feel about watching a team called the London Gas Chambers? They could even have a cute mascot with a little Charlie Chaplin moustache. I’ll even invent the back story: Dolph (the mascot’s name, of course) is a kid who used to do science projects in gas chambers (not eugenics, of course, just… experiments. Then, one day, it all blew up and gave him incredible baseball skills!”

Is that OK? Closer to home, what if we so obviously tied a team to Paul Bernardo? Serial killer of women, horrible crimes? Would that be acceptable if we made up a cutesy back story? How about Chucky “Cheese” Manson? Jojo, the Psychic Zodiac Killer? Are they any better than Diamond Jack the Ripper?

No, it’s not the end of the world, but the London Rippers name is a spectacularly bad idea.

And it’s just being made worse by the fact that, to date, no one’s come out and apologized for this travesty. We’re a forgiving society; just come out and say, “You know, we made a mistake. We didn’t realize how negatively this image and campaign would be perceived in the community and we want to make this a team that all Londoners can embrace and support.”

Then come up with a new team name (maybe open it up to the public. But whatever you do, don’t hire that same agency – whomever they are), fork over a sizeable donation to the women’s charity of your choice, and move on with life. Instead, this denial and misdirection is leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

Why not pick a name that has some significance to the city of London, Ontario– not England? Why not be clever like the old London Werewolves were (think the Warren Zevon song)? Do something positive with the opportunity that’s here.

It’s been proven over and over that not all publicity is good publicity. If not handled well, this could put the team in a serious 0-2 hole right from the start. And, so far, all the team has shown its ability to swing and miss.

To win back the fans and the general public, the team needs to rip one out of the ballpark – and that starts with ditching the Rippers’ name.

6 thoughts on “Baseball Team Gets Ripped for Poor Taste, Treating Fans Like Morons

  1. Bob Smith

    Good analysis, although I would disagree with the “lazy reporting” comment. Whether Ms. Walker is a polarizing figure isn’t the issue. She IS the Executive Director of the London Abused Women’s Centre, and seeking her opinion, especially on the day when the “Shine the Light on Woman Abuse” campaign was front and centre in London, is absolutely warranted. You neglect to mention that the same article also quoted Allison Graham regarding the marketing wisdom of the name, a statement from the Mayor of the City which owns the park, and the team’s General Manager, David Martin, It was a balanced piece of journalism. That aside, your main take on the controversy, namely the disingenuous comments from the team about the non-connection to Jack the Ripper, is bang on.

    1. Jay Menard Post author

      My issue with the Walker situation is that the local media uses her as the de facto voice of women mainly because they know she’ll draw controversy. There has to be other people qualified in this city to speak on behalf of women. There’s an entire women’s studies department at Western. Unfortunately, Walker’s aggressive stance on various issues has turned off a number of people automatically, regardless of the quality or veracity of her statements!

  2. Megan Walker

    Assertive women with strong opinions are often accused of “turning off” some. The same is never said about assertive men. How disappointing that still in 2011, assertive women are called “aggressive” while men are called “strong and assertive.”
    I have invited you to meet me and learn about the London Abused Women’s Centre but you have never accepted. Yet, you are always quick to criticize and judge me. That’s probably as lazy as it gets.
    The media often goes to the University and other community representatives for comment when appropriate. However, the London Abused Women’s Centre does have an international reputation as being an expert in a number of areas relating to violence and abuse against women.
    You seem rather focused on me and without ever having met me do tend to personalize your comments rather than focus on the issues.
    It’s quite amusing really.

    1. Jay Menard Post author

      Megan, I don’t want to get in a pissing contest here, but I’d hesitate to call my comments lazy. I have met you, in fact, on three occasions personally. Secondly, on the last interaction you had regarding my post on the Kid Rock issue, you took me to task on a post that you then admitted you never read. I would wonder how you would classify that behaviour. Thirdly, out of 450 posts I’ve commented on you twice — I wouldn’t say that’s a focus. I am fully supportive of strong women: I’m married to one, raised by one, and am raising one. I work with all women and my direct supervisor and country manager are two women for whom I have the utmost of respect. I would suggest I know far more about you than you do to me. My comments are never personal: as I’ve said repeatedly, as you would know if you’ve read my stuff, is that you never attack the person, rather you comment on the idea. Sadly, there are those who automatically form an opinion on the issue based on your track record. As I said in the post, that’s not necessarily right, rather it just is. It sounds like you didn’t read what I said, nor did you see that I’m fully opposed to the name. But I also know that I’m talking to air and none of this will make a difference in your opinion. I just wish you would be as quick to follow your research mandate as your are to cast aspersions.

  3. Megan Walker

    I do know you are opposed to the name and think that point could have been made very effectively without mentioning me. I did read your blog on Kid Rock. It was sent to me to read as I advised just as this blog was sent to me. Again, in that column you referenced only me when many others opposed the recruitment of “girls” including Louise Pitre, Executive Director of the Sexual Assault Centre London who spoke against it in the media. Why was she not mentioned? Were you aware that two weeks after he appeared in London he complained that the “girls” being chosen for his shows weren’t good enough?
    As for Slutwalk, again I wasn’t the only voice in London or globally to oppose Slutwalk. In fact, international feminists are still blogging about about its failures to address the issues women face. Yet, you focused exclusively on me. Same for the sex show. Numerous community leaders were opposed not because of the sex show, but because it was sponsored by the porn industry, a point I stated repeatedly which you failed to provide.
    I know that when you are in a leadership position and speak out, you are open to criticism. As an agency, we face backlash everyday. However, we also benefit from tremendous community support. Most importantly, the more than 700 women we help each year know where we stand on the issues and know they can trust us to advocate for them as they and their children attempt to live their lives free from violence and abuse.
    I don’t recall ever meeting you but again extend an invitation to you so you can learn about LAWC and its mandate to take personal, social and political action to end violence and abuse against women. I believe if you understood why we take the stands we take, you would be supportive of our efforts.
    Thanks for your response.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s