How 'Get it out of the ocean' stoked a rivalry -- and L.A.'s T-shirt business

ByAlden Gonzalez ESPN logo
Thursday, June 20, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- The BreakingT Slack channel is usually quiet on Sundays, even during baseball season. But that changed on June 9. Its director of marketing, Dominic Bonvissuto, an avid fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers, watched Max Muncy homer off Madison Bumgarner and get into a heated back-and-forth with the San Francisco Giants' longtime ace as he circled the bases. Bonvissuto posted a link of the exchange to the Slack channel and added a request.

"Let's monitor this."

The owner of RotoWear, Kenneth Cashman, has Muncy on his fantasy team and found out about the home run instantly, expressing a similar impulse.

RotoWear, like BreakingT, is a small company with only a handful of full-time employees. They both specialize in quickly producing T-shirts that convey memorable events and themes around sports, largely related to Major League Baseball. Bonvissuto and Cashman know T-shirt fodder when they see it. The Muncy-Bumgarner tiff certainly qualified, but it needed a hook.

And then, more than two hours after his prodigious home run at AT&T Park, Muncy elaborated on the discussion during an on-field interview with SportsNet LA.

"I hit the ball and then he yelled at me," Muncy told Alanna Rizzo. "He said, 'Don't watch the ball. You run.' And I just responded back, 'If you don't want me to watch the ball, you can go get it out of the ocean.'"

There it was: "Go get it out of the ocean."

"That's when we knew it was going to be a shirt," Bonvissuto said. "As soon as we saw the quote, we had the tag."

"It was probably one of the greatest quotes I've ever heard," Cashman said. "As soon as I heard it, I had the idea."

And because of that, Muncy now has his two favorite T-shirts. One, from RotoWear, has a squiggly line below the phrase to depict a body of water and shows a baseball sailing through it. The other, from BreakingT, placed the comment next to a likeness of Muncy's backswing. Throughout this homestand, Muncy has basically alternated between the two of them each day, putting one on as soon as he reaches his locker.

"I didn't want it to become a huge thing because it's not my personality, but at the same time, it was kind of a cool thing," he said, looking down and tugging at one of the shirts on Wednesday afternoon. "On top of that, it's a comfy T-shirt. Seriously. It's more comfortable than a lot of the shirts we get to wear in there."

Muncy retreated to the clubhouse after his comments and found an avalanche of messages from family and friends. He checked social media and realized that he had become a viral sensation. Later that Sunday night, his wife saw the RotoWear shirt on Instagram and, at Muncy's request, asked if it could ship some to L.A. BreakingT -- which, unlike RotoWear, has a license from the MLB Players Association -- had its shirt up for sale by noon on Monday. The next morning, the company folded a dozen shirts into a cardboard box and sent them to the Dodgers' clubhouse unannounced.

At 1:15 p.m. on Friday, Muncy sent BreakingT a direct message to thank the company.

Three hours later, at the behest of teammates, he and second baseman Enrique Hernandez took the field for batting practice wearing the shirts, igniting surges in sales and persistent chatter on social media. The shirts might make another on-field appearance on Thursday, 11 days after the confrontation, before the presumed rematch between Muncy and Bumgarner.

"I might break it out again," Muncy said behind a wry smile. "It's more my personality to not do that, but we'll see what happens."

Bumgarner has a history of taking exception to on-field celebration, most of his anger directed at former Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig. But he appeared self-deprecating in the aftermath of his exchange with Muncy, saying, "The more I think about it, just let the kids play. That's what everybody is saying. But -- I can't."

Muncy is as mild-mannered and reserved as they come, but he is clearly having fun with this.

"You have to," he said. "Everyone keeps wanting to bring up the situation. I don't know if he's said anything about it, but I believe we're both on the same page that it was just one of those things that it's the heat of the moment, two guys competing, and that's all there was to it.

"From what I understood, he kind of laughed at the comment. It was nothing personal; it was nothing against him. He's one of the toughest pitchers out there. It's one of those things that happened and it's over with, and you kind of have fun with the moment. If you can't do that, then you're going to drive yourself into a hole."

Muncy didn't establish himself in the major leagues until he was 27 years old. He was jobless in the spring of 2017, then suddenly became one of the game's fiercest hitters through the summer of 2018. He'll enter his rematch against Bumgarner with a .307/.407/.600 slash line since the start of May, further validating himself as a legitimate slugger. His words suddenly carry weight, enough to be emblazoned on T-shirts.

RotoWear and BreakingT both say their "Go get it out of the ocean" shirts rank within their top five direct-to-consumer sellers this year and No. 1 among any Dodgers-related apparel the companies have ever produced. They were sprinkled throughout Dodger Stadium all week and will be out in full force for Thursday's series finale, which, given the approaching trade deadline, could mark Bumgarner's last L.A. start in a Giants uniform.

As soon as he made the comment on camera, Muncy figured it would blow up.

"It was one of those things where in the back of my head I thought this might be a problem, it might get big," he said. "But you gotta have fun with it."