The new campaign, which ran throughout the World Series on television and online, is made up of mock newscasts in which players are accused of using a "performance-enhancing substance." That substance, naturally, is the same one that leaves a white mustache after drinking a tall glass of it.
Although baseball's top executives were not amused, they've stopped short of asking the milk moguls to pull the ads.
"There is nothing humorous about steroid abuse," Tim Brosnan, the league's executive vice president for business, said in a statement. "I would think that the California Milk Processor Board and their advertising agency would know better regarding an issue that threatens America's youth."
The league's irritation was amplified by the fact that the ads quickly spread outside California, carried nationally on Yahoo and other Web sites.
It's the first time the California Milk Processor Board, the group behind the long-running series of "Got Milk?" ads, has tackled an issue from the headlines. Typically, the issues alluded to in the series of ads have been limited to dangers like not having enough milk to go with a chocolate chip cookie.
Baseball's ongoing troubles with players' steroid use got the milk people thinking, however. The descriptions of the illegal drugs sounded an awful lot like their own dairy product, they thought.
"It's a good comparison," said CMPB spokeswoman Isela Castillo. "People are using performance enhancements, but this is the natural way."
The ad campaign is scheduled to run for a year.
A typical ad depicts a fictitious ballplayer, who has, according to a newscaster, "tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance that helps rebuild muscles and maintain bone strength." The hitter protests that he never knowingly used "that stuff," a claim dismissed by a teammate.
"Come on, how could you not know what's going in your body?" the teammate says. "It's going somewhere, right? You poured it, it disappeared. It's not rocket science."
The baseball league is in the process of creating a new steroid use policy, but negotiations with the players' union has held up the plan's release longer than both sides had predicted.