I have already thoroughly documented my own Winter Meetings experience, and played a role in documenting the experiences of quite a few others. But as our old friend Ron Popeil was so fond of saying: “But wait — there’s more!”
On both December 2 and December 3 the touring performance crew known as Fur Circus made goodwill appearances at the Nashville Ronald McDonald House and Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital (prior to setting up shop as Trade Show exhibitors). This was a win-win mix of altruism and self-promotion — Fur Circus, relative newcomers on the MiLB touring circuit, were able to spread some good cheer while also spreading the word about themselves.
Fur Circus put out a press release prior to their visit, and later wrapped it up with this:
But, of course, all of that happened in the long-ago year of 2012. Here in 2013, we have new things to occupy our time — like New Year’s-themed ticket packs! The Miracle have been doing this for a couple of years now, and I’m always surprised that it hasn’t inspired other teams to do something similar.
Speaking of ticket packs, you may remember that the Durham Bulls are offering the creatively conceived and executed “Wil He or Won’t He” package. Per the squadron:
The Durham Bulls have unveiled a new ticket package in response to the blockbuster trade which sent Minor League Player of the Year Wil Myers and other Kansas City Royals prospects to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for former Bulls pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis. The “Wil He, Won’t He?” Pack consists of three big Bulls games, including Opening Day on April 8th and July 4th, and an added incentive for fans should Myers skip Durham and make the Major League roster out of Spring Training. If he does not start the season with the Bulls, ticket package buyers will receive an additional game for free.
Well, now said package has been endorsed by Mr. Myers himself!
Finally, in the all-important category of “Minor League team page staff bios,” both the State College Spikes and Lake County Captains have modeled theirs after retro baseball card designs. An example of each:
Oh, and speaking of retro baseball cards — last year around this time I put together a series of “then and now” blog posts detailing those featured in the classic 1987 Topps set who are currently coaching in the Minor Leagues. Why don’t you give it another look? It was a lot of fun to put together and got a great response, but Lord knows it’s too much work for me to re-do each year. I’m only one man.
In yesterday’s post I focused on the Winter Meetings Trade Show, and in today’s article on MiLB.com I spent some time discussing the Job Fair (among other things).
So, in keeping with a style that has come to characterize the fragmented nature of 21st-century discourse, now it’s time for a mash-up! What follows is a post on people who were looking for jobs at the Trade Show.
First and foremost, yesterday I landed an exclusive interview with YouTube sensation Domingo Ayala. He is the self-proclaimed “#1 Free Agent” of the Winter Meetings.
“Multi-year deal is big for me, so maybe 20-25 years and a couple hundred million,” said Ayala. “There’s about 30 teams discussing with me right now.”
Ayala’s stint with the Eugene Emeralds was voted this year’s “Best Celebrity Appearance” on MiLB.com, and Ayala said he’d be amenable to another stop in the Minors to “maybe teach the young guys how to play.”
Baseball superstars of a different sort could be found manning Booth 1101. The vaunted Skillville Group could be found there, whose roster of touring performers includes the Zooperstars, Birdzerk, Myron Noodleman and Breakin’ B-Boy McCoy.
The tough economy has resulted in less sponsorship dollars for Minor League teams, which has led to a decrease in touring performers on the schedule. But Skillville impresario (and lead Zooperstar) Dominic Latkovski nonetheless expressed confidence.
“The fans want something above what they’re used to seeing, a national act they don’t see every game and we offer that” he said. “We have a good reputation and always deliver, and feel like we’re the best bet out there.”
Meanwhile, at booth 1404, a new touring act was trying its best to make its presence known: The Fur Circus. Here are three of the primary performers, with an idiotic blogger thrown in for good measure.
I liked the concept behind Fur Circus, and am looking forward to seeing their show. It was described to me as a “circus gone wrong” as well as a “cross between the Three Stooges and Shrek,” in which a hapless ringmaster increasingly loses control of his subjects throughout course of five in-game acts.
The Fur Circus crew is aware of how difficult it can be to break into the game, and part of their pitch is the extent to which they’ll go above and beyond standard touring act obligations via pre-game media appearances and commitment to fan engagement.
“Pre-game, we’ll let everyone know that the circus is in town,” said Jeremy Legg, one of six performers in the Fur Circus posse. “And post-game, we’ll be there posing for pictures until the last fan leaves.”
An even scrappier post-game touring entity was “The Utility Man” aka Ben Youngerman. This former Trenton Thunder employee didn’t have a booth to his name, instead opting to traverse the corridors in search of a receptive audience.
While with the Thunder, Youngerman developed “about a dozen go-to characters,” including the “wacky food vendor” as well as R & B sensation “Benyonce“. He also stresses that he can develop new characters as needed for theme nights and other special events, and specializes in both on-field skits as well as one-on-one fan interaction. Hence, the “Utility Man” moniker.
Youngerman’s operation is a lean one, and as such he says “his price is cheaper” than other touring acts. Whether this results in a plethora of ballpark bookings remains to be seen, but so far his approach has been a good one.
“You’ve just got to throw yourself into the fire,” he said.
That’s a good way to sum up the attitudes of so many here in Dallas, be they job seekers, Trade Show vendors or members of the media. Therefore, I declare this to be the official song of the 2011 Winter Meetings. All hail a true rock legend.