Dodgers Hit a Home Run with Free Tickets for Service Members, Vets

Dodgers Hit a Home Run with Free Tickets for Service Members, Vets
Dodgers Hit a Home Run with Free Tickets for Service Members, Vets

Major League Baseball's lineup of freebies often includes the wacky or the worthless, but one team got it just right this week. The Los Angeles Dodgers announced in the wake of Osama Bin Laden's killing that all members of the U.S. military -- active or retired -- can receive two free tickets to all Dodger home games for the rest of May. All they have to do is bring their military ID to the stadium box office.

It's a nice gesture for a team that might not meet its payroll this month and is certain to be insolvent by July, according to The Wall Street Journal. Other clubs such as the Washington Nationals and San Diego Padres have already staged free-ticket single nights for the members of our armed forces. "We have a lot of teams jumping behind the flag," Maury Brown, founder and president of the Biz of Baseball, told DailyFinance.

The Dodgers' timing sure was better than that of the Tampa Bay Rays, who had a Manny Ramirez bobble-head giveaway planned for May 29. Ramirez, a certified steroid user, failed an illegal-substance test for the third time early this spring. The 39-year-old slugger retired in April instead of serving a 100-game suspension. The Rays had the good taste to replace the bobble-head with a Super Sam superhero cape honoring hustling outfielder Sam Fuld.

Here are a few other giveaways actually worth something:

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• The Rays score with apost-game concert lineup that includes the once-huge Goo Goo Dolls on Aug. 6, Miranda Cosgrove of iCarly on Sept. 3, and country's Miranda Lambert on Sept. 24. Even the little ones can get in on the act. Get 'em sugared up on Cracker Jacks during the game to watch the Wiggles afterward on July 3.

• When I was a kid, Bat Day was the day. But given the price of lumber and obvious safety concerns, Bat Days have mostly gone the way of two-for-the-price-of-one doubleheaders. The Oakland A's are a welcome holdout in this regard: They'll give away bats to young fans on May 14. Recipients will have to ignore that the bats bear the signature of Mark Ellis, a second baseman who was hitting a dreadful .181 as of this writing. Still, the bats are a solid value: Louisville Sluggers for kids cost around $30.

• The Cincinnati Reds' Military Style Cap promotion on June 4 gets the good-timing award. Cap giveaways have multiplied like players swearing off Stanozolol, but this one stands out.

• The Cleveland Indians will hit a nostalgic gusher on July 4 by handing out bronze statuettes of Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller, who died in December at age 92. The models are replicas of the Feller statue outside Progressive Park. Combined with fireworks and the Yankees as an opponent, that's a perfect game before a pitch is thrown.

None of those giveaways compares in monetary value to the Dodgers' promotion. As of May 4, the team had 13 more home dates to give away tickets to our fighting men and women.

While the Dodgers' offer may have been made out of the goodness of the team's red, white and blue heart, the organization is also sorely in need of a PR grand slam, Biz of Baseball's Brown pointed out. The storied franchise has been gutted by lavish spending and a messy divorce between owner Frank McCourt and his wife, Jamie. MLB had already seized control of the team's operations, attendance is dipping, and to add to the drama, on opening day, thugs outside Dodger Stadium beat a visiting Giants fan so badly that he remains in a medically induced coma.

But no matter what the motivation for the Dodgers' offer, the people who serve our country win.