2016 marks the 25th and final season in which Binghamton’s Double-A franchise will be known as the “Mets.” What they will be known as going forward … well, that’s still unclear. But it will be one of these six choices, unveiled yesterday as part of a “Name the Team Contest.” The team will be accepting votes through June 1, because, as everyone knows, Minor League team name contests always rely on the will of the people.
Here are the choices; the italicized descriptions are provided by the team:
Bullheads — A local inhabitant of the Susquehanna River, a Bullhead is a bullhead catfish. The bullhead displays a tough and resilient character such as the Binghamton community.
Gobblers — A symbol of the rich hunting culture of the area, the “Binghamton Gobblers” honors the outdoorsman lifestyle and turkeys who call Binghamton home.
Rocking Horses — The “Binghamton Rocking Horses” celebrates the Triple Cities’ rich history as the “Carousel Capital of the World.”
Rumble Ponies — A tribute to the Triple Cities’ carousel heritage, the “Binghamton Rumble Ponies” is a herd of fierce horses that no carousel center pole can contain.
Stud Muffins — While tipping a cap to the players on the field, the “Stud Muffins” celebrates the collection of carousel horses belonging to Binghamtonians.
Timber Jockeys — Combining the fun of Minor League Baseball with the rich carousel history of the Triple Cities, the “Binghamton Timber Jockeys” pays homage to everyone that rides the carousels.
— Steve Popoloski (@SteveAtTheBMets) May 17, 2016
A fairly ridiculous half-dozen choices, to be sure, but this is the year 2016 and if you’ve been following Minor League Baseball at all over the past decade, then this shouldn’t be much of a surprise. In a world that already includes Yard Goats, Chihuahuas, RubberDucks, IronPigs and Blue Wahoos, then why not add “Stud Muffins” to the mix?
Though spiedies were somehow completely neglected, all six of the choices have some tie-in to Binghamton. Bullheads and Gobblers and regional fish and fowl references, respectively, while the remaining four pay homage to Binghamton’s status as the “Carousel Capital of the World.” Did you now that, between 1919 and 1934, a benevolent businessman by the name of George F. Johnson donated six carousels to Binghamton’s local parks? The city of Binghamton website reports that “these magnificent machines still spin from Memorial Day to Labor Day at no charge or for an admission of ‘one piece of litter.'”
I am now disappointed that “Binghamton Garbage Riders” did not make the final cut. Refuse to lose!
Binghamton’s imminent rebrand comes during the team’s first season under a new ownership group, Evans Street Baseball. The franchise, perennially last in the league in attendance, had been the subject of various relocation rumors over the past decade (most recently as part of an elaborate plan that would have seen the B-Mets purchased by Main Street Baseball and relocated to Wilmington, Delaware, with Wilmington’s current Carolina League team moving to Kinston, North Carolina).
But as the “Name the Team” contest illustrates, baseball in Binghamton will be back for many a merry go-round as the team carou-sells its new identity to the masses. That’s my spin, at least, provided for your amusement. Now it’s time for the team to gauge fan reaction by taking a gallop pole. I could make more jokes — the neigh-sayers are already telling me to stop — but for now I’ll just let it ride. I’ve saddled you with too many already and now my voice is horse.
I’m flying to Appleton, WI (home of the Timber Rattlers) tomorrow morning, thus beginning another Minor League Baseball road trip. Therefore, this blog will be entirely given over to “On the Road” content for the next several weeks.
But before succumbing to this inevitability, I’d like to inform you of the “Kitty Growl Awesomeness” that is currently overtaking the New Britain Rock Cats.
During scoring plays we typically play our run scoring music of Zombie Nation and have had cat growls over top of it. Recently we’ve spiced it up with this video that accompanies our growls.
We’ve dubbed the character as ‘Tom Cat’ and the video ‘Kitty Growl Awesomeness.’
Let me know what you think about it.
My reply was, in essence, “I think it’s awesome.” This encouraged Milligan to get in touch with more info as well as links to two more Tom Cat appearances. He writes:
The first time we broke this out, the Rock Cats erupted for 10 runs and 16 total for that game. Fans are taking to it well — the sales of the hat Tomcat wears are up and we’ve been getting some fans joining him for the Kitty Growly Awesomeness in the stands.
Junior PA announcers get in on the act:
Milligan, understanding that one should utilize the Rule of Threes whenever possible, got in touch one more time:
I wanted to pass along two more things from the legend that is Kitty Growly Awesomeness.
The first is a picture of Rock Cats IF James Beresford breaking out the Awesomeness to greet a recently scored Rock Cat:
The second is this:
There’s little doubt in my mind that the legend of Kitty Growly Awesomeness will continue to grow. Just remember: you heard it here first!
I’ve got a little more room and a little more time, so how ’bout another bit of randomness? Last month the Binghamton Mets staged “Budget Cut Night,” in which all of the night’s entertainment was done on the cheap. In lieu of the nightly mascot race (featuring local delicacy Spiedie, Chef, and Marinade) the team ran this on the videoboard instead:
You still want more? Jeez, you guys are insatiable! How about this video, which aired as part of the West Michigan Whitecaps recent “Hipster Night” promo:
I am nothing if not a ready hipster (I live in North Brooklyn, where I play pinball and obsess over the intricacies of Bish Bosch), so I hope the Whitecaps are ready for me on June 27. See ya soon, Midwest League!
I apologize for last week’s blog hiatus, and can only hope that absence did indeed make the heart grow fonder (as opposed to withered and discolored). My brief time spent abroad was a truly memorable and meaningful experience, and one I hope to blog about when time allows. Among (many) highlights, I made my French television debut!
But now it’s time to get back into the proverbial swing of things, via an even more proverbial headfirst dive into the frigid deep end of Minor League Baseball’s Olympic-sized swimming pool. The primary issue that we’re all dealing with right now is that the season is, in fact, over (save for the waning days of the playoffs, of course).
And when something ends, the natural instinct is to take a look back on what has transpired. This translates to season
postmortem highlight videos aplenty, in locales as diverse as Fresno, Brooklyn, and Tucson. But I’ll feature this one from the Binghamton Mets, who summarized not just the season but their entire franchise history in the span of 60 seconds.
But for a truly unique season wrap-up, let me direct you to this missive from the Tr-City Valleycats: Mayor’s Race Analytics. This post should do for regionally-specific mascot race analysis what Moneyball did for oversimplified and premature obituaries on the occupation of professional baseball scout.
In recent years, sabermetrics have revolutionized the study of baseball and other sports. Many other fields have also been influenced by statistical analysis, including politics and elections, to name a couple. But somehow, one very important area has been overlooked by the emerging field of analytics: politicians racing at sporting events.
Click the above link for more. And, for the record, I’ll always publicize blog entries that include apropos references to the 1876 Presidential election. Keep that in mind when emailing me.
But no matter how one parses the numbers, one fact about the Minor League life is universal: You’ve got to keep entertaining until the end. Nowhere was this more clear than in Gwinnett County, as the G-Braves kept things moving even in the midst of what turned out to be a season-ending rain delay.
And what is it about the Gwinnett Braves and end-of-season waterworks? It was just last season, after all, that loyal readers of this blog were thrilling to THIS.
The G-Braves finished just out of postseason contention, robbing them of the chance to participate in that most time-honored of playoff rituals: Politician Bets!
The Eastern League Finals are currently taking place, with the Richmond Flying Squirrels and New Hampshire Fisher Cats in a 1-1 series tie. And so much is on the line! Take it away, press release!
RICHMOND, VA – Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and New Hampshire Governor John Lynch have agreed to a friendly wager on the Richmond Flying Squirrels vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats Eastern League Championship Series. Governor Lynch has wagered that if Richmond wins, he will send Governor McDonnell a gallon of pure New Hampshire maple syrup. Should New Hampshire win, Governor McDonnell will send Governor Lynch a gift basket of Virginia Diner specialty peanuts, the official peanut of the Flying Squirrels.
But even enemies must sometimes put aside their differences and work together, as evidenced by this hilarious photo sent to me by an embedded Northwest League contact.
Yes, that would be an in-game ensemble of Boise Hawks jersey and Spokane Indians helmet. Apparently the Hawks flat-out “forgot” where their helmets were just prior to a late August ballgame. A search ensued, and in the meantime the hapless Boise batters were forced to go to the plate wearing the cranium-protecting duds of their avowed adversaries.
(And, pleasing only myself, I just included the phrase “In the Meantime” in a bit about helmets.)
I’ve got so much more to share, and of course I’ll be doing just that in the coming weeks/months/years/eternal re-incarnated existences. But for now I’ll close with this, which I wish I had known about in time to include in my final “Promotion Preview” column of the season.
2011’s first, best, and only transvestite bobblehead:
If you thought I was done recapping the 2010 season, then you thought sensibly.
You also thought wrong.
In reviewing the year that was, I came to the realization that my favorite videos of the season had the following three things in common: They featured players, they were short (under two minutes) and they were funny.
No team was better at combining the following three criteria than the Peoria Chiefs, who put out videos featuring boy bands, models, and karaoke superstars. But my personal favorite paid homage to the sweet sounds of Motown.
The Tulsa Drillers were able to provide great insight into the culture of the bullpen, whose denizens are free to focus on matters follicles.
In Everett, meanwhile, the players were more concerned with that which resided above the upper lip.
And since we’re talking about players, I would be remiss if I didn’t include the masterwork of Reading Phillies sluggers Tagg Bozied and Matt Rizzotti.
The Charlotte Stone Crabs also used players to great effect throughout the season, as part of their “This Is Stone Crabs Baseball” ad series. This one, starring Isaias Velazquez, was my favorite.
Velazquez has good reason to be upset, and as this video amply illustrates it is not wise to mess with Minor League Baseball players. Behold, the “aqua-palypse” that took place in Gwinnett County.
Of course, a good Minor League video doesn’t necessarily need to feature the players at all. Lakewood BlueClaws intern “D-Bo” made a name for himself this season with a series of videos designed to highlight upcoming promotions. Here’s a sample, with sight gags a-plenty:
Amazingly, I’ve gotten this far without posting a parody video. Let’s rectify that immediately, by checking out the Binghamton Mets unique take on “Twilight”.
But nothing inspires parody more than early ’90s West Coast gangsta rap, as evidenced by these two works of art.
The above video was produced by the Peoria Chiefs, bringing this post full circle. But before closing this one out, I have just one more thing to announce:
Boy oh boy is it ever.
Because there’s always something, isn’t there?
Before getting weighed down by the contemplation of such abstract notions, I wanted to share some odds, ends, bits, pieces, and nuggets that I have accumulated in recent days. Oh, there’s some ephemera in here too. Can’t forget the ephemera.
Let’s start off with something visually striking.
The above item, designed by the bobble visionaries at Coyote Promotions, is being given away by the Brooklyn Cyclones on August 2. As you may have noticed, it is upside down. Therefore, it is Ike’s legs that bobble while his head remains stationary.
This object is also unique in that it commemorates a player’s Major League feat (Ike’s dazzling trifecta of foul territory catches) while said player is in a Minor League uniform (the Cyclones, whom Ike played for in 2008). The Cyclones are literally re-writing history, then, putting the events of 2010 within a 2008 context. This bit of space-time continuum trickery results in cognitive disconnect, a common ailment in the world of Minor League Baseball promotions.
For instance, the Binghamton Mets are staging a “Big Lebowski” promo next week. But playing the role of Jesus Quintana is none other than Bingo the Bee.
Deal with it:
Meanwhile, in Lake County, the Captains held their annual star-studded “Cleveland Sports History Night.” As this video shows, the team was actually able to find a sponsor for a re-enactment of one of the worst moments in the city’s long and sad sports history.
I was going to expound further about the above video, but my Google image search for “Art Modell” also turned up naked “art models” and I fear that I will soon be fired as a result of this inadvertent breach of internet usage policy.
Let’s quickly proceed to Trenton then, as last night the Thunder staged “Irish Heritage Night” AND a “Mustache Bash.”
The mustache side:
Incidentally, may I please suggest that teams staging a Mustache promotion utilize THIS SONG?
And, please, don’t forget that an epic milestone will be occurring TONIGHT on the West Coast: the 40,000th game in California League history. As for which game will receive the honor, that’s yet to be determined. Five games will be running concurrently this evening, and it all depends on the finishing times.
But it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. There’s no better proof of that saying than active Minor League home run leader Mike Hessman, who received a call-up yesterday to the New York Mets. The 32-year-old had hit 18 home runs this season to run up his Minor League total to 329; he certainly has nothing left to prove in the International League.
And I, meanwhile, have nothing left to write.
The “Southern Swing” yielded plenty of blog content, but one unfortunate side effect of the traveling life is not being able to keep up with the overall Minor League scene at the level to which you’ve been accustomed.
So consider this entry an attempt to get partially up to speed. Playing “ketchup”, if you will.
Let’s begin with what is undoubtedly baseball’s biggest story at the moment, a young Washington Nationals pitching phenom who goes by the name of Stephen Strasburg. The Nationals’ gain is the Minors’ loss, as Strasburg’s starts resulted in sell-out crowds no matter where he took the mound. A pair of artifacts from one such start is now available on the MiLB auction site — an autographed camo hat and autographed camo jersey from May 22’s “Armed Forces Celebration” in Syracuse. With four days left in the auction, the former is going for $326 and the latter for $755.01.
A more affordable (read “free”) piece of Strasburg memorabilia was given away at Blair County Ballpark yesterday — a poster commemorating his first professional start (which took place at Altoona’s Blair County Ballpark as a member of the visiting Harrisburg Senators). This highly collectible item sparked a debate on the Curve’s Facebook page, as some fans took issue with a giveaway honoring a member of the opposing team. I’d be curious to hear opinions on this — did the circumstances warrant such a giveaway, or is it always “wrong” to commemorate the “enemy”?
Of course, I have more to talk about than Mr. Strasburg. Plenty of chattering craniums are already engaged at this task, and it is generally my goal to be zigging while the others are zagging and to then zag in reaction to the zig.
So how about a couple of videos?
Readers may remember that I wrote up the Richmond Flying Squirrels’ “Tribute to the Marshmallow” in a recent edition of “Promotion Preview.” One of the between-inning contests was the “S’More Relay”, which is to be commended for its creativity and commitment to the theme:
Another example of above-and-beyond promo commitment can be found in Binghamton, as the Mets put together a video promoting their upcoming “Twilight Night.” Never has the line “You have baseball bat antlers” been uttered with more sincerity:
Moving from antlered mammals to poisonous reptiles, I’d like to note that on Monday the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will be giving away a figurine featuring mascot Fang driving a NAPA race car.
Sorry to be a broken record when it comes to Fang and his unorthodox snake anatomy, but I just can’t get over it. Putting aside the feasibility of a reptile being granted a driver’s license, how is it possible that a snake possess both hands and feet and can use them with enough dexterity to both steer a wheel and operate pedals?
I’ll have more “ketchup” material tomorrow, unless someone out there provides me with some totally must-see, can’t-wait blog items.
Welcome to this, the first Ben’s Biz Blog post since the conclusion of the regular season. Sooner or later, there will be a day of reckoning when I am forced to come to terms with the fact that I have very little to write about.
But since days of reckoning are painful, I will delay such an occurrence for as long as possible by blogging as if games were still going on. And here’s where YOU come in: send me photos/stories/recaps/anecdotes/animated re-enactments/interpretative dance/hieroglyphics/etc etc etc etc from the 2009 season. When it comes to the postponement of the inevitable my desire is steadfast, but I can’t go it alone.
Yesterday I received an email related to the Binghamton Mets nightly Spiedie Race, which I covered in great detail last season (culminating in a post featuring heartbroken children, inexplicable rooftop cameos, and relievers moonlighting as pink gorillas).
(A Spiedie, for those who don’t know, is an upstate Binghamton delicacy. Essentially, it is marinated cubes of chicken or pork served on a roll).
Well, I am pleased to report that the Spiedie insanity continued unabated into 2009. Heading into the final day of the season, Chef, Marinade, and Spiedie were tied at 21 wins apiece. This set up an epic winner-take-all match, which quickly degenerated into a monstrous theater of the absurd. Observe:
So, to recap: Chef is knocked out by Space Ghost, while Marinade is felled by the tag team tandem of Bingo the Bee and “Clubhouse Manager” (a promising new addition to the B-Mets’ mascot universe). This makes Spiedie Sandwich the 2009 champion, prompting the on-field MC to mumble “My glasses are broken” before his mic cuts out.
A few miscellaneous photos of additional 2009 Spiedie Race action. Here’s a close-up of Chef and Spiedie:
Chef tries to cook up a little something, while in the foreground one can detect the presence of a presumably jealous bumblebee:
Heads Together (which was, incidentally, the name of a video store I used to work at in Pittsburgh):
The post is already quite long, so I should draw it to a close in the interest of parceling out my material more effectively. But, like the Spiedie Sandwich, I am on a roll. Therefore, let’s take a look at another recent Binghamton innovation — “Howl at the Moon Night”. Writes B-Mets director of video production Jon Cofer:
“Our original intent was to set a world record, but Guinness declined our request, so instead we just had our fans howl at the moon to earn the second half of our double-grand finale during the fireworks. Either people really like to howl, or they really wanted that double-grand finale, because it got pretty loud.”
Excellent — until now, I had never envisioned Minor League Baseball stadiums as a place to get in touch with bestial urges and primal instincts. The lesson, once again, is that the possibilities, they are endless…
I may or may not be able to compose a post with more substance later in the day. But content is content is content, so for now please enjoy this video. The payoff occurs at about the 40-second mark.
The Pain of Others: Providing Joy and Amusement to the Human Race Since the Dawn of the Species.
(Thanks to Eric Long for the heads-up on this).
Last month, I did a post on the Binghamton Mets‘ nightly “Spiedie Race”, in which a Spiedie Sandwich, a Chef, and a bottle of Marinade engage in a race across the ballpark in a battle for costumed character supremacy.
A follow-up post soon occurred, in which “Chef” shared a shocking tale of unprovoked mascot violence.
But even more shocking than this was the fact that, going into the last day of the season, Marinade had yet to win a Spiedie Race. As fans poured into NYSEG Stadium for the B-Mets’ last home game on August 24, they were certain that history was going to be made. That, somehow, someway, Marinade was going to find a way to emerge victorious. This young fan, decked out in a pro-Marinade t-shirt, summed up the the mood at the ballpark:
Clearly, there are now more questions than answers regarding this highly unorthodox conclusion to one of the B-Mets’ signature in-game promos. After it all occurred, the disappointment in the stadium was palpable. B-Mets’ director of video production Eric Long reports that “one little boy sobbed to the Marinade afterward, admitting that he had brought
balloons and a trophy to give to the Marinade on what was supposed to finally be
his big day.”
As disappointed as that little boy may have been, hopefully he learned a valuable lesson that day. Namely, that although things don’t always go as planned, hope shall always spring eternal. And when victory finally comes to the Marinade, be it in 2009 or beyond, it shall taste as sweet, spicy, and pungent as the product that he consists of.
Update! The relief pitcher in the pink gorilla suit has been identified. Click here.
Last Thursday, I provided the world with an in-depth post on the B-Mets‘ nightly Spiedie Race. Toward the end of this mighty display of my journalistic prowess, I included the following photo, and asked readers to provide a caption:
My vast cadre of loyal readers once again kept a rigid adherence to the “never, ever comment” school of blog readership. But that is of no matter. Because I received something better than a caption. I received a first-hand account from an individual who was a direct participant in the above chaos. Take it away, Mr. Santino R. Thomas:
You asked for a caption for one of your spiedie race pictures so I’ll tell you
what went on in that picture. First, however, I will tell you that I am a
B-Mets intern and, yes, I am the chef! It was mascot mania night at the
ballpark and we asked all of our visiting mascots to join in the spiedie race
fun…A mascot at the end of the line tripped and started a domino-effect of
mascots tumbling to the outfield grass. This ultimately ended with a pile-up of
mascots on top of the poor marinade, but not before “Tux” the
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Penguins mascot took a flying leap at the marinade,
knocking the bottle to the ground.
So, there you have it folks. For those who may be curious, here is a photo of the aforementioned “Tux” (leave it to a hockey mascot to take things too far):
If anyone has any stories regarding Tux’s volatile behavior, or if anyone would like to defend his despicable act of marinade-tackling, then please get in touch.