Here’s a slightly less dangerous precedent

Amtrak’s “frequent flyer” program, Guest Rewards, occasionally sends “special offers” to a subset of its members. Hmm, I wonder why they would have picked me to receive this one: “Baseball City Bonus — Enjoy America’s favorite pastime and earn 100 bonus points when you follow your team to any of the following destinations: Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, St. Louis, Kansas City, Arlington, Denver, Milwaukee, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Miami, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Detroit.” Now, Arlington isn’t an Amtrak station (Dallas and Fort Worth are), and the Northeast Corridor stations are missing from this list, as is the Tampa Bay area (Amtrak train station in Tampa, connecting buses stop in St. Petersburg), but perhaps Amtrak doesn’t think the Tampa Bay area should count as having a baseball team. Toronto’s also missing, and it is served by Amtrak, but special rules probably apply because it’s in a foreign country. For that matter, Oakland isn’t listed, but “San Francisco” presumably covers any Amtrak stop in the other Bay Area, and Phoenix isn’t listed, but the Amtrak stop that’s ostensibly for Phoenix is really in Maricopa, Arizona, which is a long, long way away in the middle of the desert somewhere.

Now, it’s not like they’re checking to see if you’re actually following your team, so if I were really desperate to get those 100 bonus points, now that I live in beautiful Van Nuys, I’d book a trip from Van Nuys to Los Angeles ($9.50 each way for regular coach, $18.50 each way for Business Class). But maybe I’ll think about a trip to San Diego for a Sunday afternoon Padres game at some point in the next couple of months.

Here’s a dangerous precedent

Behind the baseball box scores in today’s Los Angeles Times, there was the outline of a bat — I mean the mammal, not the baseball implement. In particular, it was a certain trademarked bat shape that I guess is supposed to remind us of a movie that opened today (no, not “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” which has been open for a couple weeks now). Actually, there was a separate ad for that movie at the bottom of the page, if you missed the point. There was also a little disclaimer: “The shadowed image is an advertisement.”

Are we to assume that the L.A. Times sees the baseball box scores as so unimportant that they’re eligible to have advertising sold within them, or would they be willing to give the same treatment to any editorial matter for the right price? Perhaps I’ll see if they’ll accept advertising for within “Mallard Fillmore,” which could only improve that particular comic strip.