July 10 — Lakewood BlueClaws
July 11 — Reading Phillies
July 12 — Williamsport Crosscutters
July 13 — State College Spikes
July 14 — Triple-A All-Star Game @ Coca-Cola Park (home of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs)
July 15-17 — Attending Keystone Mascot Camp, culminating in performance at Harrisburg Senators game
Juy 18 — Harrisburg Senators (sans mascot costume)
As always, feel free to get in touch with travel recommendations as well as suggestions as to what I should call this trip. The Keystone Krawl? Pennsylvania Perambulations? Northeastern Navigations? I got nothin.’
But it’s not about me, or what I’m doing. At least it shouldn’t be. With that in mind, here’s a formidable array of content that has nothing to do with yours truly.
— The Tennessee Smokies are one of many teams to have staged a Michael Jackson tribute night this season, but theirs stood out for one simple reason: Zombie Dancers!
This is certainly the most painstaking “Thriller” recreation to take place in the Minors this season:
The club hosted the final event of the Liberty Strongman Challenge: The Atlas Stones
And then there was this:
The Hudson Valley Renegades recently held a “Jim Joyce Redemption” promotion, featuring plenty of fake mustaches, “Whack An Umpire” games (as opposed to the usual “Whack an Intern”), Umpire Impersonation Contests, and Umpire bloopers and arguments displayed on the videoboard.
Portrait of the Umpire As A Young Man:
The Lowell Spinners recently welcomed a most intriguing between-inning performer: Al Milar the Human Knot. This flexible Australian is like a cross between Rubberboy and Mad Chad.
Spinners director of media relations Jon Boswell reports that the Human Knot is highly entertaining and very affordable. Give Jon a call if you want more info. Twice I tried to embed THIS VIDEO of the Human Knot in this post, and twice it disappeared. I’m giving up.
But not before mentioning that THIS is occurring in Little Rock, as I type this. I wish I was there.
The popularity of competitive eating over the past several years has certainly impacted the Minor League promotional landscape. The likes of Joey Chestnut and Kobayashi have become bona fide celebrities, and many teams have capitalized on this trend by staging contests featuring hot dogs and other such All-American foodstuffs.
But no team can match the Williamsport Crosscutters’ annual “Belly Buster:, an eating contest of truly epic proportions. The promo is the brainchild of Crosscutters’ marketing guru Gabe Sinicropi, who last year went so far as to deliver a presentation on the “Belly Buster” at the annual Minor League Baseball promotional seminar.
Courtesy of Sinicropi, here are some of the more pertinent rules:
Contestants have to consume designated amounts
of food during each inning. (starting in the 2nd inning)
If the contestant cannot finish the food in a
full inning, then the contestant is eliminated from the contest.
Food can be eaten starting with the announcement
of the first batter of the inning. Contestants must stop eating when the 3rd out is recorded in the bottom
of the inning.
Contestants are not allowed to take bathroom
breaks or leave the contest area for any purpose. If they do, they will be disqualified.
The last person left will win a VIP Trip for 2
to the NYPL All-Star Game & 50 Burger King ******** (ed note: for some reason, MLBlogs censors the name of Burger King’s most popular menu item). All other contestants
will receive parting gifts.
And here is the list of food that was consumed, one item per inning: Two hot dogs, bag of Andy Capp Hot Fries, jar of applesauce, two jars of baby food, jar of maraschino
cherries, three tacos, and a sleeve of Saltines.
As for how it went down, Sinicropi provided the following recap:
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almost had to go to overtime, but Scott
McPeek was our winner. There were three contestants left in the final round..which is usually one sleeve of saltines. I
figured they ALL might finish it so I upped it to two sleeves. As I hoped
for nobody finished them both, so we could easily measure who ate the
most. Scott beat the 2nd place contestant by four crackers to win the VIP trip to the NYPL All-Star Game.
Now, at this point I feel that I know my reading public fairly well. And therefore, I know that pictures must be provided. Of the following image, Sinicropi wrote “Why did this guy enter? He could not even eat the two hot dogs provided in round one.”
I love this guy:
Here, a tank-top wearing contestant oh-so-daintily eats his jar of baby food, like this is the sort of thing he does every day. Note the slightly-less-composed facial expression of the gentleman on the far left:
Here, I imagine that Mr. Green Shirt is contemplating the absurdity of his existence:
The eventual champion digs in to a jar of cherries:
When all was said and done, the immortal Mr. McPeek was awarded the coveted Pink Pig:
So there you have it, folks — the “Belly Buster” is certainly one of the Minor League’s most entertaining food-related promos. Sure, it’s a bit off-center (much like the text in this post) but keep in mind that these are the front office masterminds who put it together (Sinicropi is on the far left, while that gentleman on the far right might end up getting sued by the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor):
I’m running out of creative ways to solicit emails from you, the reader. Just email me, okay? It can be about anything at all.
But, as I have mentioned many times before, I always seek to do things in threes. It is simply the proper way to operate. And the final piece of the puzzle is this:
“All-You-Can-Eat-Nights” have become commonplace around the Minor Leagues in recent years, and one could certainly argue that these promotions are gluttonous in their own right. But “All-You-Can-Eat-Nights” are usually limited to a special section of the ballpark, and often involve a restricted menu.
“Gluttony Night” is something else entirely. Tell ’em, press release:
For just $12.00 fans can eat as much as they
want from the time the gates open at 5:30 PM until the 7th Inning
Stretch. Hot dogs, French fries, pizza, funnel cake, ice cream and
fountain drinks are all included in a Gluttony Night ticket.
“Who knows if we’ll ever be able to do this
again,” a somewhat nervous Scott Hunsicker, R-Phils General Manager,
said. “I’m trying to encourage my family and friends to attend this
game. Just in case I get fired over this promotion, I don’t want them to
miss my last game.”
Rob Hackash, the R-Phils’ media relations director, said that “Gluttony Night” was an idea that the team had been kicking around for quite some time now.
“We’re just going to turn people lose; we really don’t know what to expect,” he said. “It could be mayhem, but we feel that are concession stands are well equipped, as is our staff.”
While fans are not limited to how much they can eat, a key provision is this: one item at a time, per person. This will both keep the lines moving and insure against those whose eyes are bigger than their stomachs.
“One person cannot get in line and ask for 100 hot dogs, but they can get in line as much as they want, and eat as much as they want,” said Hackash.
When it comes to documenting the history of their 42-year-old franchise, the R-Phils front office staff is nothing if not thorough. The current record for hot dogs consumed in one game is 4,278, but that number could very well be eclipsed on “Gluttony Night.”
“We think that record is going down — as long as the fans don’t fill up on pizza, funnel cake, and french fries,” said Hackash.
‘Gluttony Night’ will most certainly be a taxing night for all ballpark employees, but no one will have to work harder than Andy Bortz, the team’s director of stadium concessions. Unfortunately, however, this key figure has so far been unwilling to discuss the issue publicly. Again, from the press release:
When asked about Gluttony Night, Andy Bortz
, Director of Stadium Concessions, offered a series of grunts and groans that
we’ll take to mean “no comment”.