By the seat of his pants

Former Dragons player Didi Gregorius gets new pants

By Marc Katz

I have seen Peyton Manning endorse pizza, Shaquille O’Neal endorse back pain medication, and several athletes endorse athletic shoes, upscale clothing, and watches, none of which I can afford.

I mean, I can afford the pizza, and the back pain medication.

(I promised myself I wasn’t going to mention Tom Brady or Derek Jeter, but those guys are like an eclipse of the sun. Once you’ve looked, the image is on your retina forever.)

Anyway, I’ve noticed a lot of athletes pitching products lately, not all of them Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Serena Williams, or Roger Federer.

And now I’ve noticed Didi Gregorius.

He’s going to be my favorite pitch man of all time, because he played for… be still, my beating heart… the Dayton Dragons.

He’s also stumping for a company I actually use—Banana Republic. My closet is full of their stuff, almost every piece of it on sale.

I’m not sure any other former Dragons player has ever been included in a national advertising campaign, and, frankly, I was a little surprised when I noticed Gregorius in the ad card that came to my house in the mail.

He’s positioned between Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and C.J. McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers. They’re promoting a “Rapid Movement Chino.”

This is the first time Banana Republic has used athletes in an advertising campaign, a spokesperson said, as the brand is promoting a “style council” with the Cavaliers’ Kevin Love as the “brand ambassador.”

In advertising speak, this is “a specially-selected group of male influencers that embody the Banana Republic lifestyle.”

I’ve been called Mr. Style a few times in my life (none at home), and I must admit, Gregorius looks a lot better in pants than I do. However, the Dragons have had more well-known names they’ve sent to the majors, including Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Todd Frazier, Billy Hamilton, and Zack Cozart, just to name a few.

Sometimes, you don’t have to be a big name to hawk a product. In Gregorius’ situation, he’s becoming a big name as he hawks a product.

It helps he’s with the right management group as well.

On the Excel Sports marketing website, Excel’s clients are Love, Ryan, McCollum, and Gregorius.

Of course. The brand is promoting rapid movement pants, and which athletes are best suited to do that? Quarterbacks, NBA guards, and shortstops. Love’s just big and well known.

Besides, Love isn’t specifically endorsing the pants. That’s just Ryan, McCollum, and Gregorius.

The four athletes are “a specially-selected group of male influencers that will serve as ambassadors and showcase the brand’s versatile, quality and performance-driven menswear collections through a series of campaigns and engaging programs, including personal appearances,” BR’s promotional people wrote.

This Rapid Movement Chino is different from what you’re wearing because it represents “an unparalleled pant offering optimal movement, shape-retention, versatility and polish for the man on-the-go.”

It retails at $98, but if you know anything about Banana Republic, the sales are exceptional and often.

Of course I’m a sucker for this kind of advertising. When Dayton’s Mike Schmidt pitched Lee jeans a while back when he was playing, I, of course, bought Lee jeans. I wore them mostly when I was wearing my Phillies baseball cap.

I’m not a real fan of the Yankees, but now that they have three former Dragons on the roster—infielders Frazier and Ronald Torreyes in addition to Gregorius—I check out their box scores.

Changing pants and going onto the field, Gregorius, one of the many former Dragons shortstops now in the majors, might be playing shortstop for the Reds had they not made the decision to go with Zack Cozart.

Gregorius, from the Netherlands, was a free-agent signing assigned to the Dragons for the 2010 season. Cozart is five years older and played for the Dragons in 2007-08, sharing shortstop in those seasons with Chris Valaika and Frazier.

A second-round draft pick, Cozart has known no other organization than the Reds, while Gregorius has been involved in two three-team trades, first involving the Reds, Diamondbacks, and Indians then the Diamondbacks, Tigers, and Yankees.

In the first of those trades, the Reds obtained center fielder Shin-Soo Choo and lost center fielder Drew Stubbs as well as Gregorius.

In the second trade, the Yankees landed Gregorius.

While he hasn’t yet been an All-Star—Gregorius was in the voting for the last spot on this year’s American League team—he is only 27 and is enjoying a career year with a .309 batting average, 18 homers, and 58 RBIs as of the middle of last week.

Cozart is also enjoying a career year at .313 with 17 homers and 48 RBIs while suffering through a couple of disabled list appearances.

It looks like a wash, although Gregorius is 4 1/2 years younger than Cozart.

So the Reds had a choice between these two players, and chose Cozart, which looks like a wash, even in their salaries. Both are listed as making $5 million-plus this season (and, of course, Gregorius has that added income from Banana Republic).

I’ve got a Yankees hat somewhere around here. Now, I’m going to run out and get a new pair of pants, too.

The views and opinions expressed in On Your Marc are the views and/or opinions of the author and do not reflect the views and/or opinions of the Dayton City Paper or Dayton City Media and are published strictly for entertainment purposes.

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Columbus-born Marc Katz had a 44-year newspaper career, 41 of those years covering sports, 40 of them at the Dayton Daily News. He now blogs at Reach Dayton City Paper sports writer Marc Katz at

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