Regular readers of this blog might recall that, in years past, I supplemented my “On the Road” ballpark material with “Return to the Road” posts detailing that which I was able to experience outside of the ballpark. I always enjoyed doing this, but as my operation has expanded (in scope, if not in scale) I have found it increasingly difficult to incorporate “non-ballpark” activity into my schedule.
That said, I do my best, and figured that these early months of 2016 represented a good opportunity to go back and revisit my 2015 trips. Yes, let’s Return to the Road! This post will focus on my trip to Florida, which took place from April 11 to the 19th.
Despite the relatively short drives from ballpark to ballpark on this trip, I didn’t have the time to explore many of the towns themselves. I didn’t even set foot on a beach, outside of the night I sleepwalked onto one while wearing an ankle-length gown and nightcap. But what I’ve got is something, and something is always better than nothing.
It all started in the town of Pinellas Park, Florida, where I set up shop prior to visiting the nearby Bradenton Marauders. As you can see, this is an American town like no other, one in which Mr. Pool uses supplementary signage to clarify that he does, indeed, sell pools.
Being gluten-free on the road is tough. Since my celiac disease diagnosis, I always pack an extra bag of road snacks to insure that I’ll have an option. But best of all is finding something that meets my needs and tastes great. Often, that something is Vietnamese. When I saw this sign, I was like “Pho Quyen, awesome!”
The objective on this day was to get to Steinbrenner Field, home of the Tampa Yankees, in time for a pregame local food fest on the concourse. Time was of the essence, but nonetheless I was able to make a pit stop at a record store.
This is Mojo Books and Records in Tampa. It opened in 2007, during a period when most stores of this nature were shutting down or in their death throes. Mojo is packed to the gills with new and used books, LPs and CDs, and a coffee shop is located on the premises as well. My lone photo does not do it justice.
Unfortunately I cannot locate the pocket notebook in which I wrote down what I purchased, but I know it included the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s “Freedom Tower — No Wave Dance Party” as well as a day-by-day diary “written” by Pete Rose as he chronicled his record-breaking 1985 season.
That evening, as I was driving from somewhere to somewhere, I discovered that Wawa (cultishly beloved in eastern Pennsylvania) exists in Florida as well. They even stocked Herr’s and Tastykake.
I spent the evening with the Dunedin Blue Jays, but prior to that I spent a nice chunk of the afternoon in St. Petersburg. I was impressed with the downtown area, Central Avenue, to be specific, which was vibrant and tree-lined. The State Theatre is located on the left hand side of the below photo, a venue that hosts a diverse array of concerts (although, looking at the current listings, none that I would pay to go see. Except maybe Bubba Sparxxx).
Daddy Kool Records is located next door to Local 299. I went inside, and took my standard issue poor-quality photo.
I enjoyed wandering through Daddy Kool’s but nothing was really jumping out of the stacks at me. I debated buying a record by Midnight, a Cleveland metal band, but it was, like, $30 bucks. I have a hard time understanding why records are that expensive. In lieu of that, I picked up Mudhoney’s “Live at Third Man Records” LP (marking the second day in a row I bought a new record by a band I’ve been a fan of for two decades. Old habits die hard).
I did not visit the Stoner Organization, as I am in no need of a health benefits specialist.
My main objective in St. Petersburg, however, was to visit Minor League Baseball headquarters. I’ll write about that in the next post.
This season, my “On the Road” blog posts from each ballpark I visit will be split up into several installments. To see all of my posts from this visit to the Dunedin Blue Jays (this is Part One) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my April 2015 Florida trip, click HERE. To see all of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.
The Dunedin Blue Jays are the lowest-attended team in full-season Minor League Baseball’s lowest-attended league. I attended a game there on a Monday — Minor League Baseball’s lowest-attended day.
Therefore, I was really psyched to be there!
I was psyched to attend this game because I truly love these sort of environments, as teams operating on the margins of the industry are prone to be more creative with their promotions and, in general, a loose anything-goes sort of vibe prevails. Sparsely attended games within older stadiums in smaller markets are, strangely enough, when the ballpark atmosphere seems most alive to me. Eccentric characters are easier to find; connections are easier to make.
So, yeah: While it’s always great to visit shiny new ballparks with all the amenities — your Charlottes, your Nashvilles, your El Pasos — it is perhaps even greater to spend time in the lesser-known locales as well. I don’t just feel obligated to visit the likes of Bakersfield, Kannapolis, Beloit and Dunedin. I genuinely want to.
As for the D-Jays’ home Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, built in 1990, you have no excuse not to visit. Last season, the team became the first in Minor League Baseball to offer the Universal Rain Check (an initiative first advocated for within this blog).
I wrote an article about the Universal Rain Check for MiLB.com; below please find a relevant excerpt:
Baseball history was made in Dunedin, Florida on July 19, 2014, as the first Universal Rain Check was redeemed.
A “Universal Rain Check” might initially sound like a strange concept, but it is just what its name implies: Fans may redeem a ticket from any rained-out Minor League Baseball game for a game at the Dunedin Blue Jays’ home of Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Whether that ticket is from the Vancouver Canadians (located some 3,200 miles away) or the nearby Clearwater Threshers, the fan in possession of it is assured of complimentary admission.
The Universal Rain Check is the brainchild of D-Jays director of marketing and social media Nate Kurant, who was inspired to implement the program after going on a Minor League road trip with a friend.
“In 2013, we went from Charleston to Savannah to Jacksonville; we went north and then came back south,” said Kurant. “And every day there was about a 70 percent chance of rain. And like most traveling Minor League fans — if it rains and that’s your day in the city, that’s it. I came back, and the idea met opportunity here in Dunedin. We have a few seats available.”
Okay, maybe not this many seats available, but let’s just say that sellouts are few and far between.
Still confused by how the Universal Rain Check works? Don’t dismay — I, along with D-Jays director of marketing and social media Nate Kurant, filmed a dramatic re-enactment. (You might have to turn the volume up a little bit, as my voice didn’t project all that well through the plexi-glass.)
Bibliophiles visiting the Dunedin Blue Jays should make sure to strike up conversation with box office employee Jack Whitaker, who is an English major. When not selling tickets, he’s reading books such as Foucault’s Discipline and Punish.
I wish that I had had more time to explore the town of Dunedin, as by all accounts it is a very picturesque location. But that was my Foucault, as I had had to rush to the ballpark after visiting Minor League Baseball headquarters in St. Petersburg earlier in the afternoon. That visit, among other things, produced this brilliant Vine video filmed under the patient direction of Minor League Baseball director of communications Jeff Lantz
Modeling every new Minor League Baseball hat, with seconds to spare. https://t.co/Mtmdh0L7Eh
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) April 13, 2015
Anyhow, my “exploration” of the area surrounding Florida Auto Exchange Stadium was limited to taking a picture of the VFW across the street.
This is indicative of the of the extent to which the stadium is sandwiched within a quiet, almost entirely residential area. An elementary school is located beyond the left field fence, while a library can be found beyond right.
And just beyond these trees, approximately 600 feet from the stadium, lies a saltwater beach. (Or at least that’s what I was told.)
Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, which I prefer to refer to as Sunshine State Car Swap Field, is also the Spring Training home of the Toronto Blue Jays. (“Last month this place was crawling with Canadians,” Kurant told me). Signifiers of this recurring March residency can be found everywhere.
My free reign continued throughout the evening, and a most enjoyable evening it was. Stay tuned for part two of this Dunedin Blue Jays saga, in which I throw out a stellar first pitch, witness a kid insult his grandfather, fail at making a deal and much, much more.
This season, my “On the Road” blog posts from each ballpark I visit will be split up into several installments. To see all of my posts from this visit to the Dunedin Blue Jays (this is Part Two) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my April 2015 Florida trip, click HERE. To see all of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.
As mentioned in Part One of this ongoing saga, I had the good fortune of visiting the Dunedin Blue Jays on “Ben Hill Night.”
And when it’s Ben Hill Night, you can bet your top, middle and bottom dollar on the fact that Ben Hill will throw out a first pitch. I’d say that this was one of my better efforts, but I always put in a good effort. It’s just the results that tend to differ.
It’s pretty much impossible to see, but I’d like to note that the scoreboard announced my presence with the graphic “Huge Celebrity Ben Hill.” It’s either that or “manic calamity,” which might be more accurate.
After my first pitch came the National Anthem. Note, in this photo, the D-Jays’ version of the CN Tower located just past the third base line. They don’t call Dunedin “Lil Toronto” for nothing.
It’s a long road from Lil Toronto to Big Toronto, but some hardy souls have made it. Many others have perished, as if they were unwilling Cormac McCarthy protagonists.
For reasons I can’t quite recall, my own road soon led to the team’s promo room.
“I’ve been here for four years, and I don’t think I’ve seen any of this stuff used,” said D-Jays director of marketing and social media Nate Kurant. “Maybe we shot the rubber chicken at something long ago.”
I also had the privilege of trying on a pair of “drunk goggles,” which make everything appear blurred and distorted. (Wearing them is akin to the sensation produced by watching Fox News.) These goggles, in conjunction with a dizzy bat race, would be lethal. It makes me sick just thinking about it.
Maybe they sell team logo drunk goggles in the team store? I neglected to check, although I appreciated the thoughtful placement of a full-length dressing mirror from afar. Also, I hope that whoever left their beer outside remembered to pick it up on the way out. Or maybe they were Dundrinkin?
There was a somnambulant aura throughout the ballpark on this evening. Maybe the denizens of Lil Toronto were at home watching the Blue Jays home opener? (As shown on the TV above the concession stand.)
Or maybe we don’t look need to look any further than the fact that it was a weekday game. The worst kind of weekday game, in fact.
It was a sleepy atmosphere, but an exceedingly pleasant one. Fun Fact! The fans depicted in this photo are none other than Florida State League president Ken Carson and his wife, Lillian. The Carsons are based in Dunedin — he was the Blue Jays’ director of Florida operations from 1986 through 2006 — but we ended up crossing paths again in both Vero Beach and St. Lucie as they did their own league tour.
For some reason I decided to film a between-inning trivia contest emceed by Nate. I’m glad that I did because this kid, he has issues with his grandfather’s living habits. I also like that DJ just happens to be in the background, posing for pictures, just winging it.
That wasn’t the end of the between-inning hijinks, as Nate asked me to be a contestant in a “Let’s Make A Deal” competition behind the dugout. But who would I compete against? He soon decided to ask this young woman, who was sitting by herself behind home plate.
Success! (They had just high-fived, she wasn’t shooing him away.)
While we were waiting for our moment in the spotlight, a foul ball was hit behind us and then bounced down to the aisle. No one — literally, no one — made a move for it so I reluctantly got up and grabbed it. (I mean, usually I’d be all about getting a ball, but in when I’m in Ben’s Biz mode it seems kind of tacky).
Meanwhile, my soon-to-be-opponent was probably counting down the seconds until she could return to her baseball-watching solitude. Her name was Ashley; a California resident in town to visit a friend.
Finally, it was showtime. Ashley was presented with a strip of 10 Florida lottery tickets and given the option: Did she want to keep them, or opt to choose a mystery prize from one of three bags?
Since some dude was yelling “Two!” really loudly, I figured that would be the best choice. That dude — and by extension, me — was wrong. In said bag was this:
Bag on head, I walked off dejectedly (man, I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve written that sentence).
But wait! I was soon handed a consolation strip of five lotto tickets, which quickly made me into something in life that I’ve always aspired to be: A winner. A gosh danged winner.
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) April 20, 2015
UPDATE! Yeah, I got that paper:
Anyhow, there was now nothing left to do but soak in a little bit more of that soothing “Monday night in Lil Toronto” atmosphere.
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) April 14, 2015
“I don’t know what I’m doing,” says Nate. “I’m unprepared.”
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) April 14, 2015
I passed the time by writing down snippets of overheard dialogue, including but not limited to:
“I met a woman last night. She hated birds and she hated black toilets.”
“Human faces should be faces and they should not be morphed.”
Unfortunately, Salute to Human Faces Night is not part of the team’s promo schedule. I checked:
And, hey — look! Number 11 is at bat with a 1-1 count and one out. SCOREBOARD YAHTZEE
Finally, I conducted an interview with 10 year old “ball rat” Dylan Snyder, a regular presence at the ballpark who has become quite skilled at snagging the leather spheroid.
In this exclusive audio segment, Dylan discusses his policy as regards giving his baseballs to other fans. It’s hilarious. LISTEN:
That’ll do it from Dunedin, at least until part three of this series appears shortly. And, yes, before anyone complains, I know that Dunedin is not actually referred to as “Lil Toronto.” Thanks for reading this far, and apologies for not taking the time to visit the nearby Wal-Mart where Daniel Norris used to camp out in his RV. Such an effort would no doubt have landed me my first Pulitzer, but I opted for dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings instead. I usually do.
This season, my “On the Road” blog posts from each ballpark I visit will be split up into several installments. To see all of my posts from this visit to the Dunedin Blue Jays (this is Part Three) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my April 2015 Florida trip, click HERE. To see all of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but Florida State League concession menus generally don’t go too far beyond “the basics.” This was certainly the case in Dunedin, especially since I attended on a sleepy Monday. (See the first part of my Dunedin report HERE and part two HERE.)
But, nonetheless, I had a designated eater to appease. (You know, the individual who consumes the ballpark food that my gluten-free diet prohibits.)
This guy, specifically. In a designated eating first, he even brought along his own bodyguard.
The scowling individual stuffing a hot dog down his gullet is Mike Lortz, a self-described “Minor League Baseball aficionado” who was a key contributor to the now-defunct Bus Leagues Baseball website. He also provides deep analysis of the Tampa Bay Baseball market via his accurately-named Tampa Bay Baseball Market blog. He’s also an “occasional stand-up comic” and a “current business student at the University of South Florida.”
The scowling individual standing behind Lortz is Jeff Perro, a former Minor League Baseball clubhouse attendant who can be found on Twitter via the accurately-named handle of @MiLBClubbie.
D-Jays assistant general manager Mike Liberatore, taking control of a potentially volatile situation, presented Mike with a selection of grilled meats.
Seen above, from left to right, is a brat, Polish sausage and hot dog. Directly above that triumvirate, please find a cheeseburger.
Mike was psyched to get underway. This fervor and dedication is common among designated eaters, who often approach their duties as if it was the defining moment of their lives.
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) April 13, 2015
Now that the moment had arrived, Mike found it impossible to contain himself:
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) April 13, 2015
After giving him an hour or two to collect his thoughts, Mike shared some of his opinions.
“It was an average ballpark cheeseburger. I threw a little ketchup on it. I figure you’re here, you want to know the details.”
“The brat had a little bit of spice to it. It was well cooked, and so were the peppers and onions.”
“The Polish sausage is really very juicy. I sound like a third grader here. You can take the ‘really’ off. But, this meal is bringing me back to my adolescence.”
“The hot dog is like the burger, typical ballpark fare. But it’s a thick frankfurter. Not chintzy.”
“It’s all good, man. I got food. Beer, food and baseball, who could ask for anything more?”
And with that, I left Mike to enjoy the rest of his meal in peace.
Mike, meanwhile, has since provided his own designated eater perspective. He, at the least, is a self-aware beast:
There was only way to slow down the beast, the people decided. They had to sedate it with food. They clamored to their kitchens, grilling as much meat as they could. They killed cows, chickens, and hot dogs and threw their meat on the grill. Then they garnished the servings with bread and peppers and onions. Everything a beast likes to eat.
They placed their pile of food in front of the monster. With a voracious appetite, the monster gorged on the offerings.
The beast was eventually satiated, the concession stands finally shut down for the evening. This represented my time to shine:
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) April 14, 2015
Bam! Nailed it! And the best thing about that joke was how original it was. No one had made it before; it is mine and mine alone.
Anyhow, that’ll do it for this rollicking trilogy of Dunedin Blue Jays blog posts. I had a great time at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium — low attendance and minimal amenities notwithstanding, it is one of my favorite places to see a game in the Florida State League.
This season, when I’m on the road, I’ll be writing a short, on-the-spot blog post about each Minor League ballpark that I visit. Then, upon my (assuredly) triumphant return home, I will provide the full, multifaceted, pun-laden blog coverage that you have have come to know and deeply appreciate. So let’s get to it!
April 13, 2015 — Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, home of the Dunedin Blue Jays (Class A Advanced affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays).
Opponent: Bradenton Marauders, 6:30 p.m. start time
Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, from the outside: Located in a residential neighborhood, approximately 600 steps away from salt water.
Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, from within: Intimate!
Culinary Delight: A sampling of meat off the grill.
Waiting for the Punch-Vine (my nightly attempt at telling an “original” ballpark joke in six seconds):
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) April 14, 2015
At Random: In case anyone forgot what day it was.
Last Song Played Over the PA: The Jackson Five — “ABC”
Next Up: Jupiter Hammerheads — tonight!
4/15: Jackie Robinson Game at Dodgertown in Vero Beach
4/16: St. Lucie Mets
4/17: Brevard County Manatees
4/18: Jacksonville Suns
Earlier this month I posted a, uh, post that included one item of recent vintage and one left over from the 2014 season. This endeavor received a rapturous response, as most of my endeavors do, so once again I’m going to utilize this format. We’ll start with something new. It’s more of an update, really, regarding the New Hampshire Fisher Cats’ “Fan Photo Contest.” The team’s pitch was as follows:
Want to see your photo on a Season Ticket? Post your favorite Fisher Cats-themed photo on our Facebook page, and it could be featured on a 2015 Season Ticket.
Well, the results are in. Fisher Cat fans such as these will be showcased on season tickets in 2015:
Joseph from Barnstead, who is ready to catch the first pitch:
A triumphant Maureen from Manchester
Ian from Manchester honors America
And so on and so forth. To see all of the winners, go to the Fisher Cats’ Facebook page. I had never seen such a thing done before in the world of Minor League Baseball — correct me if I have overlooked a similar endeavor — and think that it’s a great idea.
Speaking of great ideas…
The Dunedin Blue Jays are located one rung below the Fisher Cats on the Toronto Blue Jays’ organizational ladder. And, this past July, they made baseball history. Therefore, if you care about baseball, history and the intersection of the two, then you will be fascinated by this. I guarantee it:
DUNEDIN, FL –This past Saturday, July 19th, 2014, was a historic day for baseball, as a baseball “first” took place at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin, Florida. The Dunedin Blue Jays defeated the Jupiter Hammerheads 12-7 in front of an announced crowd of 1,098. But the story actually begins almost two weeks earlier and about 58 miles to the east.
On Sunday, July 6th, the Lakeland Flying Tigers were set to host the Daytona Cubs. The Flying Tigers were looking to bounce back after losing the night before at Joker Marchant Stadium. On this Sunday, though, the Flying Tigers weren’t able to get back on the winning side of things.
Because on Sunday, July 6th, in Lakeland, Florida, it rained.
A ticket from that Cubs/Flying Tigers game was redeemed at the box office here in Dunedin, marking the first time in baseball that a fan has made use of the “Universal Rain Check” policy. This policy was created at the beginning of the 2014 season by the Dunedin Blue Jays, and they are the first and only team in Minor League Baseball to offer this unique rainout program.
The program is set up so that fans from all over Minor League Baseball are able to use a rain check from any MiLB game for admission to a D-Jays game. While the promotion is open to teams from all across the minors, as expected, the first redemption came from a fellow Florida State League game.
“I think it’s awesome that someone made use of it,” said Nate Kurant, the D-Jays director of marketing and social media. “I’m grateful that our GM, Shelby Nelson, allowed us to try something unique and I’m glad that it paid off for at least one fan. Hopefully it gains a little more momentum and more fans take advantage of it, especially here in the FSL.”
Longtime Ben’s Biz Blog readers, of which there are several, will recall that the Universal Rain Check idea can at least partially be attributed to reader Peter Golkin. In 2012, Golkin wrote a guest post in which he advocated for the implementation of the Universal Rain Check throughout Minor League Baseball. This post inspired one of the most robust comments section that this blog has ever seen, an occurrence that always does my heart good.
Yesterday was Opening Day, except when it wasn’t.
As is common at this time of year, there were a range of weather woes across the Minor League landscape. Seven of the 58 scheduled games were rained out, with the most dramatic example coming courtesy of the Frisco RoughRiders.
That will make you want to leave early.. Storm rolling through during the Frisco RoughRiders ballgame.. pic.twitter.com/unWADMJt1W
— FOX 4 NEWS (@FOX4) April 4, 2014
Today isn’t looking much better. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, who played in frigid conditions on Thursdays, have already announced a postponement. In Toledo, meanwhile, the visiting Louisville Bats are worried about the viability of their game against the Mud Hens…
— Louisville Bats (@LouisvilleBats) April 4, 2014
And — WHOA! — things are looking severe out by Sevierville. Click on THIS and then come back to me. I’ll be waiting….
Okay, cool, thanks for re-joining me. All of this meteorological mayhem got me thinking about a guest post that ran on this blog last year, in which Pete Golkin advocated for the creation of an industry-wide Universal Rain Check. The idea is simple: when a game gets rained out, the team in question issues a rain check that can be redeemed at any Minor League ballpark. Wrote Golkin at the time:
Remember, we’re talking about Minor League Baseball tickets. They’re not supposed to break the bank or become scarce–which is why you’ll never see a scalper in the parking lots at Danville, Greensboro or Richmond.
To work out the details, I suggest calling in the same accountants who said my old sliced cheese wrapper meant two-for-one admission anywhere on a Tuesday. And if I have to prove I’m an out-of-towner to get a rain check with “range,” I’ll gladly show a driver’s license. Simple stuff.
So on behalf of baseball pilgrims everywhere—at least the ones not bound for Fenway in an SUV limo–give the Universal Rain Check a shot, MiLB. It can only mean more fans up and down the road.
That post was met with one of the most robust comment sections in Ben’s Biz Blog history. But, alas, it was met with silence from those in a position to actually implement the program.
On Tuesday, the Dunedin Blue Jays issued a press release, and the press release contained the following information:
The Dunedin Blue Jays…are proud to announce the Raincheck Baseball Initiative (R.B.I.) program for the 2014 Florida State League season.
This unique program will allow fans to redeem a ticket from any rained out game from another team in Minor League Baseball for a Dunedin Blue Jays game….The R.B.I. program is believed to be the first of its kind in professional baseball.
“Basically, it’s a universal rain check,” said Nate Kurant, the new Director of Marketing and Social Media for the D-Jays. “A friend and I did a baseball road trip across the Southeast last season and each day had at least a 70% chance of rain. If any of those days had been rained out, we never would have made use of a rain check.”
“I know a lot of people love Minor League Baseball and take trips throughout the season to visit different parks. Essentially, I wanted to develop something that would meet a need for MiLB fans and help set us apart in Dunedin,” said Kurant. “It’s a beautiful city and hopefully this will give baseball fans more incentive to visit us throughout the year.”
Fair-weather fans that present a ticket from a different MiLB team’s rained out game not only will receive admission to a D-Jays game, but also take home a “Rainy Day Blue Jays” pack including a Blue Jays rain poncho. They will also have the option to participate in one of the numerous in-game promotions.
“It’s a nationwide, international MiLB promotion that is open to everyone from our fellow Jays affiliate in Vancouver all the way to our Florida State League friends in Palm Beach County.”
One team down, 159 to go. Do YOU think the universal raincheck is a good/viable idea? Would you take advantage of such a program? Are you tired of me asking obscure questions, as you would rather see a picture of a giant hamburger?
Okay, fine, here you go:
— Omaha Storm Chasers (@OMAStormChasers) April 2, 2014
Opening Day is upon us! Long-time readers of this blog know that my sentiments regarding a new baseball season can be summed up in four words.
I’ve got plenty to share with you over the coming weeks — a couple of “Return to the Road” posts, a couple of “Why I Love…” guest posts, and, of course, the reveal of my 2014 road trip itinerary (I’m going on four trips in 2014, with the first one kicking off HERE on April 28).
But it’s Opening Day! What better way to start the season than with a good old fashioned full-to-bursting bouillabaisse post? Doesn’t the mere thought of that make you want to dance?
In Lansing, meanwhile, the Lugnuts are asking “Guess What Day It Is?” They do not mean Opening Day, however.
The Lugnuts, in their own words:
Every Wednesday home game at Cooley Law School Stadium is Hump Day, with half-off drinks from 7 to 8 p.m. and a special appearance from Humphrey, a live camel!
Humphrey’s night will begin by delivering the first pitch baseballs out to the field. Afterward, he’ll saunter over to the west gate for pictures and petting. Lugnuts fans will also have the opportunity to win a camel-ride.
Other activities include a Hump Day t-shirt toss and a special “On the Hump” trivia segment featuring Lugs pitchers.
Limited-edition Lugnuts Hump Day merchandise is currently available at the Nuts and Bolts store.
I just hope that Humphrey the camel toes the line when he’s on the field. Any untoward protrusions could be embarrassing.
Prior to first pitch deliveries, be they camel-related or otherwise, the playing field will be bustling with batting practice activity. When such activity concludes, time is of the essence. Think any Minor League teams will be able to operate at a greater speed than that displayed by the University of Tennessee?
But, of course, there are going to be times when no games are going on and the playing field is entirely deserted. During these occasions, unwanted nocturnal guests may see fit to make a visit. But not in Fort Wayne, who have a coyote on the case.
— Fort Wayne TinCaps (@TinCaps) March 11, 2014
Another way to ward of unwanted guests: continuous on-field aerial surveillance!
Ballpark opponents aren’t necessarily unwanted guests, as their presence is a necessary component of the competitive experience. Last season I wrote about the Harrisburg Senators, who allow male fans to express their disdain for the visiting team via the time-honored act of urinating on the logo. I happy to report that, in 2014, the Senators have combined all of their Eastern League opponents, putting them all on blast via one urinal cake.
Pee on them all indiscriminately!
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) April 1, 2014
As we embark on yet another Minor League Baseball season, please remember: I remain the greatest of all time.
The previous post to have been published right here on this little slice of the internet that I call my professional home featured a bevy of ostensibly quality videos from the 2013 campaign.
[cue sound of a needle scratching across a record]
What a needlessly convoluted sentence that was! What I meant to say is: let’s start this post with some more videos.
Specifically, I’d like to highlight this A+ effort out of Daytona. The weather in that city can be quite intense, to say the least, turning tarp pulls into a harrowing battle with the elements. This preview is rated MM for “meteorological mayhem:”
The intro to the above video shows clips of several notable “tarpocalypse” videos from seasons past (at least one of which was featured on this blog). Well, this one outta Ogden can now be added to the ranks:
Oh. but calamity can befall ballpark denizens in a multitude of ways. This season Lansing Lugnuts broadcaster Jesse Goldberg-Strassler emerged as the nation’s pre-eminent chronicler of press box laptop foul ball casualties. To wit:
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) August 2, 2013
Let’s take a closer look. First up is L. Tyler Murray of the Dunedin Blue Jays.
— L. Tyler Murray (@LTylerMurray) August 2, 2013
Next, we have a MUST-READ ACCOUNT of foul ball laptop terror (complete with an absolutely uncanny audio clip), courtesy of Winston-Salem’s Brian Boesch.
For the record, Winston-Salem’s aforementioned “The Dash Board Blog” is easily among the best team blogs in all of Minor League Baseball. Broadcasters looking to raise their writing game would do well to scroll through its ample archives.
And then there’s Goldberg-Strassler’s 2013 broadcast partner, the inimitable and on-the-rise Slavko Bekovic.
— Slavko Bekovic (@SBekovic) May 11, 2013
And wait, what’s this? Yet another example of foul ball lap top destruction? Yes, it’s true, and this one is live and direct from Great Lakes.
— Great Lakes Loons (@greatlakesloons) August 31, 2013
Speaking of Mr. Goldberg-Strassler, during the season he anchored a weekly podcast called “Around the Nest.” In this podcast he talked to every broadcaster within the Blue Jays farm system (himself and Bekovic included), so that they could share their expertise regarding that particular team. The end result was a thorough farm system overview, all in the course of a single broadcast.
A replicable idea, no?
This has been Ben’s Biz Blog post #992. Ben’s Biz over and out.
Well, the moment you’d (presumably) all been waiting for has arrived:
I must admit that I find it amusing that the Wahoo has a hook in his mouth. Wouldn’t that imply that death is imminent, despite the determined demeanor?
No! According to the press release, this “tenacious” Blue Wahoo is shown “breaking away from a fisherman’s line.” He has lived to scowl another day.
The cap logo features “a Blue Wahoo circling a baseball bat forming the shape of a ‘P’ for Pensacola.”
The logo’s color scheme is described thusly Neon Red, Gulf Coast Royal, Blue Angel Navy, and Tin Roof Tin make up the club’s official colors, celebrating the textures and colors of the Emerald Coast. The Blue Wahoos are the first sports team to adopt Neon Red, a tribute to the neon signs that illuminate Pensacola’s beachfront establishments.
It seems that quite a few people aren’t buying this “neon red” terminology, however, at least if Facebook and Twitter rumblings are to be believed. Why not call it “Pensacola Pink”?
The team says that “many” alternate logos will be unveiled in the coming months, but at the moment the only one available features the aforementioned hook (presumably after it has broken away from the tenacious Blue Wahoo).
The logo was designed by
Plan B Branding Brandiose, that recently re-branded branding company. These guys have to have one of the most bizarre-sounding client lists in all of professional sports: Blue Wahoos, Storm Chasers, IronPigs, Flying Tigers, BayBears, etc. Clearly, Minor League Baseball is a world all of its own.
And apologies for the extreme tonal shift, but obviously the big story in the world of baseball today is the stabbing death of Mariners outfielder Greg Halman. I’m currently working on a story that will feature the thoughts and recollections of those who knew him in the Minors. If you have something you’d like to share then please get in touch ASAP.