October 16, 2014

Free Stuff! 2014-2015 Edition

It's mid-October, so it's about time for the Wizards' promotional schedule to be released for the upcoming season. This is one of the most anticipated milestones leading up to the season for the hardcore, have-no-other-sort-of-life Wizards fan. Just to be clear, in chronological order, the excitement for the current season builds with the NBA schedule release in early August; followed by the start of training camp in late September/early October; followed by the start of preseason games about 10 days later; then delivery of the season ticket package somewhere in there; almost finally the release of the giveaway schedule in mid-October; and finally the season itself starting a couple of days before Halloween.

Search on Google for the Wizards 2014-2015 promotional schedule and you won't find it anywhere on the internet. The Wizards haven't announced the schedule yet on their webpage. But they have printed them on the little fold out schedules that are scattered around Verizon Center and since yesterday was preseason gameday, I managed to pick up one of those to get the scoop in advance of the team officially releasing it on their site. So  actually now I've posted this, maybe you will find it when you search on Google. Read on...

For those of you (and I'm among your number) who look forward to accumulating Wizards swag for your shelves at home, get ready to be disappointed. I'm sorry, there's just no other way to spin it. The number of promotional nights is incredibly small. Like four. Total. Not for any one month. There are eight dates on the schedule but four of these are Kids Day, Singles Night and Military Career Fair which are total ruses. Unless you actually give something away, in my opinion these do not belong on the promotional schedule. No way, no how.

Two years ago, there were six items on the schedule, last year it was five, this year it's four. Four years from now, it's going to be nothing at that rate. I'm not happy about it in the least. The Milwaukee Bucks, who I consider the gold standard of NBA giveaways after my visit to a Bucks-Wizards game last March, have 24 nights where they give stuff away. 24!!! We get four.

But before I provide a (somewhat) exclusive preview of the coming season's loot, let's address the elephant in the room and talk about what's not on the schedule. That's right, spoiler alert, there is not a single bobblehead on the slate. Not one. For the dozen or so people who regularly read this blog, you know I consider the bobblehead to be the primo, a-one, top dog NBA promotional giveaway. Nothing else comes close. I know I'm not alone in this opinion. For the last two years, Wizards fans have had to be satisfied with one gameday bobblehead giveaway per year. This year, we can expect less.

The Bucks (again...the gold standard of NBA giveaways) have four. FOUR!  That's as many bobbleheads as the Wizards have giveaways in total this season. Now I know, you may be saying to yourself that the Bucks need to entice people to their games more than any other team, and you might be right. But the Chicago Bulls have three bobblehead days this season and the Golden State Warriors have two preseason bobblehead giveaways. Preseason! Wow! And I'm talking Andre Iguodala and Stephen Curry, not the 14th and 15th guys on the roster. If the Bulls and Warriors can do this, so can the Wiz. But they are not.

So, with all that said, let's get to the very unexciting (with one very notable exception) 2014-2015 Wizards promotional night preview post. Once again, I offer my expert analysis and long term significance to each item. (with my quick recommendation in parentheses for those of you with attention spans too short to read the whole thing). All for the cost of nothing. Let's go!

Last year's schedule magnet is still on my refrigerator today. My Elvis in gold lame suit magnet is on the other side and not pictured.
Schedule Magnet (Essential)
November 1 vs. Milwaukee
I've said it before and I'm saying it again, I can't live through the fall and winter and early spring without my Wizards schedule magnet on the refrigerator. It's the essential tool for checking when the next game is. We all visit the refrigerator every day, right? Whether it's grabbing some milk, eggs, cold cuts or the very occasional beer, the schedule magnet is always there to orient my day or week to the Wizards calendar. An opening day tradition! Can't miss this giveaway.

Marcin Gortat Action Figure (OMG Seriously! Very Essential)
January 31 vs. Toronto
How awesome is this? I'm still stung by the lack of bobbleheads (in shock even!) but a Marcin Gortat Action Figure??? I've never been more enthusiastic about getting to January 31 than any other year I have lived. This giveaway is perfect for Marcin given his love of Steven Seagal and him driving tanks this summer with the Polish military. I can't wait for the preview of this in late January probably on Dan Steinberg's DC Sports Bog. Two things have to happen here. First, it has to have the mohawk. The mohawk alone will make this thing super authentic. And second, I can't wait to see what it comes with. All action figures come with something, right? A weapon, shield, hat, accessories, whatever. It makes sense that Marcin's action figure would come with a basketball. I'm hoping for a pig, personally.

Team Poster (PASS!)
March 29 vs. Houston
This is at least the third year in a row that the Wizards have handed out a team poster in the last month or so of the year. This is an item I just don't even pick up. It's not even worth the effort to carry it around the arena. Just a poor quality piece of paper with the Wizards team printed on it. It's a kids' thing. Of course, you might make an argument that all of this stuff is kids' stuff. I'm still passing on the poster. Next!

Fan Appreciation Night Water Bottle (Pick it up but likely discard)
April 12 vs. Atlanta
Whether this giveaway stays in my possession after the Wizards pummel the Hawks will depend on a few factors. The appearance, quality and whether the thing looks like it will be useful are some, but the Wizards' overall record and if there's a kid sitting next to me without one might just as easily factor in to my decision to carry this thing back to Metro Center and beyond with me or just leave it under my seat in Section 109. I have news for the Wizards: if they want to really appreciate the fans, they'd hand out bobbleheads at this game. If they need ideas, I have plenty, but I'd start with a Randy Wittman bobble. how amazing would that be?

So that's it! I know…short, right? Like unbelievably I must have missed something on the list short. Sorry, but I didn't miss anything. I'm obviously disappointed in my team here but honestly, this year's lineup is a Wizards cooler shy of being as good as last year. The bar is just so low here. I guess my trip to Milwaukee spoiled me last year. Those guys know how to do it right.

Proof I'm not lying. SMH...

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