• Rickt: I am the biggest Cal Jr fan around but one of my good friends played minor l...

Today the New York Times reports on a new column in the Philadelphia Inquirer that is sponsored by Citizens Bank.

From the Times:

PHILADELPHIA — Starting next week, The Philadelphia Inquirer will run a new column called PhillyInc., written by Inquirer reporters and editors, on the first page of its business section.

What is unusual is that the column will be sponsored by a local advertiser, Citizens Bank. It will carry the bank’s logo and be outlined in the bank’s distinctive green ink. The bank will also run ads across the bottom of the page and in an upper corner.

The people paper, indeed.

What does this have to do with baseball, you ask? Nothing (although Citizens Bank also sponsors the Phillies’ stadium, Citizens Bank Park). But the New York Times story did  inspire me to visit Philly.com, where I found a story about Chase Utley, who apparently has given a fan “1,000 reasons to like him more.”

From Philly.com:

Tim Cairy has been a Phillies fan forever. Chase Utley’s homer in the sixth inning of Saturday’s game at Cincinnati extends that to forever and a day.

Utley’s blast made Cairy the latest $1,000 winner in the Daily News Home Run Payoff contest.

“Get outta here, that’s great!” he said when contacted. “He’s on my fantasy team!”

Philly.com is a website shared by both the Philadelphia Inquirer and its tabloid-style competitor, the Philadelphia Daily News. The above article appeared in the Daily News. I use the word “article” very, very loosely. Because it’s clear that the story was just advertising not so cleverly disguised.

The Daily News story explains the rules of their contest: The Daily News pays $1,000 for a home run hit in the Payoff inning and $10,000 for a grand slam. Contestants whose batter fails to hit a home run receive a gift pack, which includes a variety of Phillies-related items. Then the story lists contest winners so far.

Serious journalism, that.

At least the Philadelphia Inquirer’s “Philly Inc.” column is transparent about its corporate connections. This Daily News  “Home Run Payoff” crap pretends to be news, but is clearly not. I’m guessing that Daily News reporter Jennifer Barkowitz, who wrote the “Payoff” piece, had to swallow hard when she was handed the assignment.

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