After 365 days, we as a species have finally escaped from beneath 2011’s tyrannical yoke.
Not surprisingly, very little news of note emerged during the just-concluded holiday season. But, nonetheless, it is now my duty to get you up to speed. For starters, I am ashamed to admit that the unveiling of a Rookie-level team’s secondary logo somehow escaped my all-seeing eye. The team in question is the Grand Junction Rockies:
As you may recall, Grand Junction’s primary logo was unveiled in November (the team has re-located from Casper, where they were known as the Ghosts). Like the secondary logo, the primary logo is strongly influenced by the parent Colorado club. (And, as more than a few Tweeters/commenters/emailers pointed out to me, it may have been influenced by Pizza Hut as well.)
In any case, both logos were designed by Visual Intent. This marks a rare instance in which a Minor League logo was NOT designed by either Studio Simon or the newly-rechristened Brandiose.
Speaking of rare instances, very few teams offer ticket specials in conjunction with the New Year. But the Fort Myers Miracle have once again done just this, with their annual “Resolution Pack.”
*A $10 gift card for your nutritional needs and supplements from Mother Earth Natural Foods
*4-pack of Box Seat Ticket Vouchers to enjoy the Miracle in 2012
*One FREE week membership to Snap Fitness and a FREE training session
*One FREE Matt Booth Boot Camp Adventure
*One FREE financial planning session with Pasquale Evangelista with Raymond James & Associates
And with the new year comes HOT STOVE SEASON, when teams stoke anticipation for the upcoming season by hosting dinners highlighted by celebrity guests, giveaways, and memorabilia auctions. The Delmarva Shorebirds are putting a unique twist on the format this season, as the club is hosting a “bloggers roundtable.”
Says the team:
In addition to traditional guest speakers, the Shorebirds will host a roundtable conversation about a litany of topics. Guests will have the opportunity to engage the panelists during the roundtable and throughout the night.
“The new format really lends itself to passionate baseball fans that want to talk about the sport with those that cover it on a regular basis,” said general manager Chris Bitters.
If any teams wish to invite
hopelessly obscure superstar blogger Ben’s Biz to a banquet, then shoot me an email and we’ll discuss the specifics of my appearance fee and backstage rider.
Finally, I’d like to offer a hearty congratulations to Scott Carter, the new director of marketing for the Durham Bulls. Carter’s previous Minor League gig was as a VP of marketing for the Fresno Grizzlies, where he implemented trend-setting promotions such as Twilight Night, Tweet-Ups, post-game mascot wrestling, and much more. Looking forward to seeing what he’ll be able to accomplish in Durham, a historic franchise with a strong fan base that competes in an excellent facility.
It was in Durham, in fact, that my current profile picture was taken. I ended up wearing this hat for 43 days straight.
For example, at least once a year the Fort Myers Miracle will attract national media attention by staging satirical sports promotion. Some recent highlights:
2007: Billy Donovan Night (MiLB.com’s “Promotion of the Year”)
And let’s not forget “Mike Tyson Ear Night”, “The World According to Sir Charles”, and “Don’t Be A Bengal, Be A Good Citizen Night.”
And then there was what took place last night — “Rest the Vest,” poking fun at the signature sartorial stylings of scandal-soaked Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel.
The new coach of the Buckeyes presumably will not wear sweater vests on the sidelines; so it’s time to retire them. Fans are encouraged to bring their sweater vest and place it in the retirement bin near the front gate of Hammond Stadium.
The Miracle want everyone to enjoy the “Rest the Vest” Night and even though you might not have a favorite sweater vest, if you have a tattoo then you also benefit.
Some pictures from the evening:
This all leads me to a bigger question — are topical but not necessarily locally-connected promotions worth doing? The Miracle obviously think so — after all, it put them in the national spotlight yet again. Google “Fort Myers Miracle Jim Tressel” and see for yourself.
But I’ve spoken to quite a few Minor League employees who don’t see the point in staging a promotion that lacks a local connection. If it doesn’t energize and engage the hometown fans, then why bother? National attention is all well and good, but not at the expense of alienating or exasperating the fans showing up at the ballpark on a regular basis.
It’s not all so cut and dry, of course, and this is perhaps an issue worth exploring in further depth. But, for now, thrill to the sight of a costumed Bat getting hit with a ball.
As far as I can tell, the ball went into Buddy’s mouth and stayed there. The pitcher and the catcher were wholly unconcerned, however, retrieving a new ball without so much as a second glance.
But you may want to give this photo gallery a second glance, seeing as it features images from the West Michigan Whitecaps’ “Led Zeppelin Night.”
Moving on from a uninspired segue to no segue at all, I recently came across the between-inning innovation that is the Team Trax logo race.I have yet to see one of these in action, but definitely seems like something that could catch on.
Let’s hear it for teamwork!
Two blatantly “attention-getting” Minor League promos were announced yesterday, but only one thus far has gotten any real attention (this blog doesn’t count, attention from me is the equivalent of your mother telling you you’re the most handsome guy at school).
First, the Fort Myers Miracle announced that June 6 would be “Rest the Vest Night,” in honor of recently-ousted Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel. That it was the Miracle who have planned such a thing should come as no surprise. This is, after all, a team that has previously set its sights on Billy Donovan, Tim Tebow, and Craig Sager (among many other easily-satirized sports world luminaries).
Some pertinent details:
The new coach of the Buckeyes presumably will not wear sweater vests on the sidelines; so it’s time to retire them. Fans are encouraged to bring their sweater vest and place it in the retirement bin near the front gate of Hammond Stadium….The Miracle want everyone to enjoy the “Rest the Vest” Night and even though you might not have a favorite sweater vest, if you have a tattoo then you also benefit.
Just by showing a tattoo, Ohio State or non-related, fans will receive a piece of Miracle memorabilia to keep or sell.
And speaking of tattoos, the Brooklyn Cyclones announced what I believe is the Minors’ first “Hangover”-related promotion. It takes place June 22, and fans interested in attending may wish to purchase the “Wolfpack Ticket Plan.” The evening includes the following innovations:
- In-Game Baby Bjorn Olympics – Contestants will be put through an obstacle course while carrying “Carlos” in a baby carrier.
- Memory Games w/Prizes – If fans can “Remember What Happened Last Night” in the Cyclones’ previous game, prizes will be awarded.
- The Tooth Fairy – Kids get a dollar off their ticket for each tooth they are missing.
- Tattoo You! – Temporary face tattoos will be available on the concourse.
- Beard Bash – Best beard contest in honor of Alan (played by Zach Galifanakis).
And still speaking of tattoos, tonight the Clearwater Threshers are holding their second annual “Tattoo Night” promotion. 30 fans will go under the needle (the team is limiting the number after a nearly unmanageable 54 got inked last season) and receive a Threshers tattoo in return for lifetime admission to the ballpark. Like this guy:
That’s all I’ve got that’s tattoo-related (it wasn’t even my intent to write about tattoos when I started this post), but in an attempt to stay alliterative here’s some toast news from Toledo.
As you may be able to discern from the above photo, that’s some Mud Hen logo toast. And it can be enjoyed in the privacy of your own home with the purchase of the following toaster:
Are any other teams selling one of these? I’ve seen them at the Major League level, but not within the Minors.
But for those seeking heartier dining options, I’d suggest checking out the new website postgamespread.com It’s bare-bones in terms of design, but excellent in content: a fully searchable database of dining options in all Minor League markets that includes directions from the ballpark as well as team hotel. I might use it myself during my next road trip — details on that coming soon, I hope.
…And I come to give you more, and I never give you less….Let’s go!
If you “Look At Me Now” you’ll find me in NYC, but at this time tomorrow I’ll be flying the friendly skies, airbound toward the arid. Look for “on location” blog posts, articles, and interviews the rest of this week into next, as I spend time in Tucson, Lancaster, High Desert, Inland Empire, and Lake Elsinore (and maybe more, logistics permitting).
But before all that, a good old-fashioned blog bouillabaisse of relevant Minor League biz-ness news (and, for the record, never have I spelled “bouillabaisse” correctly on the first try).
This week’s “Farm’s Almanac” is on the Minor League response to the Alabama tornadoes, and can be read HERE. Mentioned briefly in the story, and something I’d like to emphasize here, is that the Burlington Bees are raising money for the family of grounds crew intern Cody Wales, whose home was leveled by the tornado.
The team has been raising money at the ballpark, and checks to benefit the Cody Wales Family can be sent to the Bees front office at 2712 Mt. Pleasant Street, P.O. Box 824, Burlington, IA 52601.
It’s Tuesday, meaning a new “Promotion Preview” column is up on MiLB.com. It was an admittedly slow week for promos, and I am heartened by the fact that next week’s column gives me more than twice as much notable stuff to choose from. I once again implore you to keep in touch, with info on upcoming promos as well as recaps of those past. I cannot stress this enough! The current soporific state of my inbox leaves much to be desired.
Highlighted in a previous column was the Richmond Flying Squirrels “High Five World Record Attempt,” in which mascot Nutzy attempted to set a new standard for “most high fives by an individual in an hour.” And indeed he did (though yet to be verified by Guinness), slapping palms with 1620 fans.
Featured in last week’s column — and happening TONIGHT — is the Memphis Redbirds’ 30th Anniversary Salute to Charlie Lea’s No-Hitter (Lea now works as a color commentator for the club). The Redbirds are pulling out all the stops with this one, going so far as to tweak an immensely popular viral video.
An event that should have been included, but was instead egregiously overlooked, was the Durham Bulls’ return to iconic Durham Athletic Park yesterday. This video sums up the evening very well:
The Crazy Hot Dog Vendor wasn’t overlooked, but perhaps should have been. As this video points out, the use of the word “vendor” in his job title is blatantly misleading.
But in the end, Minor League Baseball is more about the overall experience than any specific promotion. The Fort Myers Miracle have put together an ad campaign that emphasizes this point very well. My embedding capabilities are lacking in this case, but they can be viewed HERE. And while you’re at it, check out this local newspaper story about the Miracle Bullpen and its trusty Justin Beiber backpack.
And, yes, the story features a photo of Bruce Pugh heading to the bullpen while wearing the backpack — a triumvirate of BPs, and possibly a foursome if he happened to be heading there after batting practice.
I’m now less than 24 hours from saying goodbye to the East Coast. The next time you’ll hear from me I’ll be writing in an agitated late-night state from some hotel room, binging on Mello Yello and wondering what’s it all for.
I ended yesterday’s post with some Quick Hits. In order to hold the attention of an increasingly ADD-addled populace I’ll continue on that front today.
Let’s start with this video out of Portland, ME, featuring an unusual inter-species friendship that has developed out in the Hadlock Field bullpen.
But those in attendance at yesterday’s Sea Dogs game wouldn’t have been able to witness such a serene display of sunflower consumption. Let’s just say that the visibility wasn’t optimal:
But Minor League rodents come in many forms, as evidenced by the recent debut of the Stockton Ports’ “Rally Rat.” The team explains that this critter, originally a sewer dweller, “found himself under the lights of Banner Island Ballpark, surrounded by the roar of Stockton Ports baseball fans, who were hoping to see their team take the win for the night. In his excitement, the rat scurried onto the field and joined in with the cheering. Little did he know, his presence on the field that night would bring a wave of good luck over the team that would help them defeat their opponents.”
An even more mysterious offense igniter is the Delmarva Shorebirds’ “Rally Banana,” credited with spurring a pair of comebacks in the team’s extra-inning win over Savannah on April 26. The time is ripe for this fruitful fellow, whose bid for mass a-peel includes his own Facebook page.
Chiquita him out:
And, finally, you may have heard that the city of Altoona is temporarily changing its name to “POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, PA” (in conjunction with the release of Morgan Spurlock’s new documentary on corporate product placement). Does this mean that the hometown team will soon become “POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold Curve”?
No, it doesn’t. Declares the team:
[W]e won’t be changing our name at this point because of the obvious logistical issues involved. I don’t even know if we could fit that many letters on to a jersey. We will be participating in [Wednesday]’s City Council proclamation with our main mascot, Steamer, and are pleased that this effort…will benefit the Altoona City Police Department.”
Looks like the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees will be able to retain their “longest team name in the Minor Leagues” title. But for how long?
You know — a pride of lions, a clan of hyenas, a colony of bats, etc. Unfortunately, however, there is no collective noun that describes a group of YouTube videos that are all embedded within the same blog post.
So I’m going to make one up.
Today’s post, then, features a flapdoodle of videos. Enjoy!
Let’s start with this celebrity-filled promo video recently unveiled by the Iowa Cubs, entitled “The I-Cubs Are My Cubs.” None other than the President of The United States makes an appearance!
Update: I-Cubs director of logistics Scott Sailor explains how the team landed Obama’s less-than-unequivocal endorsement:
Obama was the only one we thought to film — and remember, at this time he was a long shot.
We pounced on him in the radio booth after he was on the air for an inning and asked him to say “The I-Cubs Are My Cubs” like everyone else…but he wouldn’t…he’s a Sox fan…but he did compromise and give us the footage we have.
Meanwhile, a fresh triumvirate of mascot-themed videos have been unleashed upon an unsuspecting public.
Moving from Obama to Omaha, it has become apparent that Casey’s offseason life is no longer average. The slugging Storm Chaser was at the Kansas City Royals Fan Fest last weekend in order to take part in the hallowed tradition that is the Mascot Home Run Derby.
Meanwhile, in Akron, Orbit has overcome his malaise and is earnestly preparing himself for next month’s “Tackle the Tower” challenge.
Finally, the Fort Myers Miracle have released the first installment of what may shape up to be an epic serialized mystery. Sparky the Hamster has gone missing!
And — hey! — it’s Gratuitous Video Friday. Or, in this case, Even More Gratuitous Video Friday. I’ll end this blogging week with my new answer to the eternal question “What would be your at-bat walk-up music?”
We’ll all be back on Monday for the punchline of the joke.
I would like to begin 2011 by employing my favorite kind of metaphor — a belabored one. Over the next three months, Minor League Baseball teams will be turning the lever on the jack-in-the-box that is their operation. They will do this, with increasing speed and intensity, until the cadence of the calliope reaches a fever pitch. And then — BAM! — out pops the 2011 season.
From that point forward (assume determined, gravelly tone): It’s On!
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The gears are turning rather slowly right now, but as long as they’re moving I’ve got something to write about.
Let’s start with some news that came out of Trenton this morning, as the ever-reliable Thunder have announced a promotion that has an obsessive, Rainman-like numbers fixation.
The calendar will reach 1/11/11 next week and the Trenton Thunder…have taken the lead in the sports world by recognizing the
number one‘s historical day. The team selected their number one value-driven promotional game on the 2011 schedule and will have an early one-day release for individual tickets to that exclusive game.
On Tuesday, January 11th the Thunder will open up 1,111 tickets for their Friday, April 15th game against the Harrisburg Senators (Washington Nationals). On the 15th, for the advanced ticket price of $11, fans can enjoy free Hot Dogs, Hamburgers and Cheeseburgers throughout the game.
My thoughts, as they often do, turn to music. Songs that should be heard at the ballpark on this special evening include “One” (Metallica gets precedence over U2), “One Is the Loneliest Number” (Nilsson version, please!), and, of course, “What a 1-derful World.”
But the Thunder aren’t the only 1 doing a special 2011-based ticket offer. Down in Fort Myers, the Miracle have their own ideas on how to commemorate time’s inexorable passage.
The Miracle are pleased to present the “Miracle NewYear’s Resolution Pack”.
That’s right, a pack that gets one a free week membership to Fort Myers Fitness, a gift card for your nutritional needs and supplements from Mother Earth Natural Foods,
PLUS a 4-pack of Miracle tickets — all yours for the New Year’s price of $20.11.
It should go without saying, but this stupendous offer is only available through 1/11/11 at 11 a.m. (come on guys, I think you should extend the deadline to 11:11).
Moving on to less numerically-based news, I’d like to focus your attention on a quite-awesome piece of ultra-limited Minor League apparel: The Bowling Green Cave Shrimp Hat, designed by the taste-making impresarios over at Plan B Branding.
As regular readers of this blog know, this iconic sightless crustacean has already been celebrated in a series of reality-bending game day promotions staged by the Bowling Green Hot Rods. May the power of the cave shrimp only continue to grow.
Okay, I believe that’s enough lever-turning for one day. But, please, this blog needs constant fuel or else it will wither and die. Do your part by contacting me through the following channels:
Three such items indeed went unremarked upon (by me) when they were first announced, but today’s post will set everything right with the world. Here, then, is a round-up of that which I neglected.
Generally Speaking — Last month, it was revealed that the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx would henceforth be known as the Jackson Generals.
The new team is a nod to the region’s rich baseball history. Let us journey now to the press release:
According to Kevin McCann, author of “Jackson Diamonds – Professional Baseball in Jackson, “The name Jackson Generals has a rich history of unusual plays and colorful players. Some of the players who’ve spent time on the diamond in Jackson include Shoeless Joe Jackson, Edd Rousch, John McGraw, Ellis Kinder, Casey Stengel, Yogi Berra, Joe Garagiola, Tony Kubek, and many others.”
The team announced the name change immediately following the conclusion of the regular season, an announcement punctuated with some thoughtful nods to the past:
Throwing out the last pitch of the regular season as the Diamond Jaxx was Ms. Jane Des Ormeaux, the 93-year-old fan who doesn’t miss a game. She also is the fan who came up with the name West Tenn Diamond Jaxx. The first pitch as the Jackson Generals was thrown by local businessman Walt Mestan. Mestan, a Chicago native, was one of the leading pitchers for the 1950 and 1951 Jackson Generals.
Miraculous Changes — While not quite as dramatic as a name change, the Fort Myers Miracle will be wearing new uniforms in 2011.
Sez the team: The new uniforms will feature hats that are a lighter shade of navy blue than is currently being worn. The uniforms will also be without pinstripes for the first time since 1993 and feature the current Minnesota Twins logo on the left sleeve.
Addition By Subtraction— On August 31, the West Virginia Power unveiled their new mascot. His name is Chuck, and he replaces the five (!) costumed characters the team had previously employed. No pictures of Chuck seem to exist on the club’s website or Facebook page, but this local newspaper article picks up the slack.
So what else have I missed out on over the last six weeks? Let me know, because my powers of oversight are boundless.
But instead of lamenting this fact, Minor League Baseball teams are having fun with it.
On Thursday, the Hickory Crawdads are staging the “Haynesworth Conditioning Challenge” in honor of the fitness test that Redskins defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth has been unable to pass.
From the press release:
All participants will have to complete the same conditioning test
that Haynesworth has failed multiple times, which is as follows:
1. Twelve consecutive 25-yard dashes (300 total yards) in less than 70 seconds
2. Rest period of 3.5 minutes
3. Twelve more consecutive 25-yard dashes in less than 73 seconds
All participants that successfully complete the challenge in the
allotted time will win two season tickets for the rest of the 2010
season, including all potential playoff games. All participants that
attempt the challenge will receive a free ticket to a future game this
season (excluding Aug. 14). Since Albert’s had multiple shots at it,
any fans that attempt and fail the challenge on Thursday can come back
to L.P. Frans Stadium any time between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. this Friday and
While this promotion is definitely happening, the same can’t be said for the Fort Myers Miracle’s “Brett Favre Night.” The team may or may not stage a tribute to the Vikings QB on Monday, and their maddeningly indecisive and contradictory press release provides no clear insight whatsoever.
But who needs football anyways? Those enamored with the out-of-breath exertions of larger-than-average men got more than their fill in Lakewood last week. As part of the BlueClaws’ “Goonies Night” celebration, Jeff “Chunk” Cohen judged a “Truffle Shuffle” contest:
Think that that guy could pass the Haynesworth Conditioning Challenge?
Craig Sager, “America’s Sideline Reporter”, has developed a well-earned reputation as the loudest, tackiest dresser in all of televised sports journalism:
Sager made many professional pit stops along the way to suit jacket-based national recognition, one of which was Fort Myers, FL (in the 70s, he was a sportscaster for a station with the excellent call letters of WINK).
The esteemed reporter’s Fort Myers connection was all the motivation the hometown Miracle needed to stage a promotion in his honor, as Tuesday was “Dress Like Craig Sager Night” at Hammond Stadium.
Meanwhile, I haven’t seen a pink mic this big since Mr. Golic participated in a breast cancer awareness promotion:
The rock group Korn will be playing a sold-out concert at Sokol
Auditorium on the night of Monday, May 24th. Before the show, the
group’s lead singer, Jonathan Davis, will throw out a ceremonial first
pitch prior to the Omaha Royals 6:35 p.m. game vs. the Colorado Springs
Sky Sox at Rosenblatt Stadium….Monday night’s game is also $1 hot dog night