“It’s a seven-figure miss,” Brandon Steiner said in a telephone interview. “Now I really have to start working for a living.”
Steiner says the New Rochelle, New York-based company sells more memorabilia associated with the Yankees and Boston Red Sox than any other Major League Baseball teams. Boston missed the postseason after surrendering a nine-game September lead to the Tampa Bay Rays.
As for New York, the 27-time World Series champions left 11 men on base in last night’s decisive Game 5, which Detroit won, 3-2, at Yankee Stadium. The Tigers advance to the American League Championship Series against the Texas Rangers, a matchup that presents significant challenges for Steiner, he said.
Rangers fans have never responded to the collectibles market, Steiner said, and the economic woes of Detroit might keep fans from spending money on commemorative items for the Tigers, even if they win their first World Series since 1984.
On the other hand, had the Yankees, who had the best record in the American League during the regular season, won the World Series, Steiner’s company would have been afforded a number of collectible opportunities.
Usually there’s a team-oriented project, Steiner said. There are also items generated for players who had a starring role in the postseason.
While Alex Rodriguez struck out to end the game, it wasn’t the out that Steiner anguished over most.
That one came in the eighth inning when the Yankees were trailing 3-2 and had a man on base. Derek Jeter hit a long fly ball to right field that prompted his teammates to come to the top of the dugout steps and lean over the railing to see what might be a home run. Instead, it was caught on the warning track.
Not only would a home run have given the Yankees the lead, and maybe the series, but a superstar player generating a memorable moment is an easy sell, Steiner said.
“If Jeter hits that home run, you can’t even imagine what that would’ve meant to us,” Steiner said.
Thanks to Jeter and closer Mariano Rivera, Steiner still is having a good season selling Yankees gear.
Jeter generated one of those sellable signature moments during the regular season when in July he hit a home run off of Tampa Bay’s David Price to become the first player to reach 3,000 hits as a member of the Yankees.
Rivera last month collected his 602nd career save, breaking Trevor Hoffman’s record.
“There’s always a carryover with the great moments,” Steiner said.
Even though the Yankees lost, Steiner isn’t ready to declare the postseason a flop. It remains to be seen which team from the National League will reach the World Series. Still alive are Arizona, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and St. Louis. The Diamondbacks will face the Brewers and the Cardinals will play the Phillies in the decisive fifth games of their series tonight.
From a sales perspective, Steiner is rooting for the Phillies and Brewers, whose fervent fan bases might buy a significant amount of merchandise.
“Philadelphia would be OK and Milwaukee might be a surprise,” Steiner said. “That said, it sure would’ve been nice if Jeter’s ball had cleared the fence.”
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