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.
But that’s the real issue here: we’re dealing with the end times.
A handful of teams are currently immersed in the playoffs, but that’s just a postponement of the inevitable. The offseason — that endless abyss! that unfathomable void! — has opened up its voracious maw and will soon consume us all.
But not yet. I’ve got plenty of in-season content left over, carefully pickled and preserved, and I intend to dole it out sparingly.
Since we’re on the topic of “the end times”, check out the so-called “Aqua-palypse” that recently befell Gwinnett County’s Coolray Field. This was the culmination of a season-long bullpen vs. promo crew battle, and none were spared:
And then there’s this, a kilt-wearing skipper:
That’s Mark Haley of the South Bend Silver Hawks, participating in the Ronald McDonald House “Men in Kilts” fundraiser. He wore the outfit during August 27’s ballgame in order to raise money and awareness; further info can be found at meninkilts.org (don’t make the same mistake I did and type in meninkilts.com. This will lead you to a Vancouver-based window and gutter cleaning service).
I’ll leave you with photos of two unique late-season giveaway items. The St. Lucie Mets gave away a custom Banana Phone (inspired by the Raffi song of the same name, an unlikely ballpark standard at St. Lucie’s Digital Domain Park):
In Bowling Green, the iconic “What Could’ve Been” Cave Shrimp made a triumphant return in 2010. This time as a stoic figurine:
We live in the age of the mash-up, and if this thoroughly 21st-century concept ever makes its way to the Minor Leagues then I would like to make the following suggestion:
Cave Shrimp Banana Phone Giveaway.
That thing could blow some minds, and if some graphic-design wiz out there could send me a conceptual drawing I’d really appreciate it.
For reasons too convoluted to explain, today’s blog post is being crafted from the lobby of a Marriott in Philadelphia. I just paid $12.95 for internet access, but the smooth jazz blaring from the ceiling mounted speakers is complimentary.
I didn’t utilize the above headline simply because it rhymed, because as a recent comment on this post points out it doesn’t rhyme (unless you want to pronounced “it” as “et”, as I often do).
No, I really was in Gwinnett in order to win it. “It”, in this case, being the “Termites In Your Pants” between-inning contest. This exhibition of bug-catching skill takes place nightly at Coolray Field, and on Saturday I was the chosen contestant.
Before playing, the amicable on-field MC explained the rules.
In a nutshell, I had to put on a pair of oversized pants and then catch stuffed termites in said pants. These termites were launched into the air via a slingshot wielded by a member of the team’s promotional staff. I was going to be given five opportunities, and had to catch at least three to win.
You’ve been a great audience. Good night!
I kid, of course. For all we are saying good night to right now are my innate narcissistic tendencies. I’ve got plenty more to include on Gwinnett’s Coolray Field — a truly beautiful facility that offers beaucoup amenities and plenty of room in which to move.
It is also offers one of the best sandwiches you’ll find anywhere: the Knucksie (named in honor of Atlanta Braves knuckleballer Phil Neikro). It was created by executive chef Blake Stembridge, who is “Pro Chef II Certified”. I don’t know what that means, exactly, but I believe this fact illustrates the G-Braves’ proclivity for transcending expectations. Yes, I know I’m a sycophant by nature, but Coolray Field is really and truly an outstanding Minor League Baseball experience.
So anyway, the Knucksie: “House smoked pulled BBQ pork piled high with pickle chips, caramelized onions, two kinds of BBQ sauce, and coleslaw, and served on a toasted corn muffin.”
I got one:
One of the coolest things about the Home Plate Club is that it includes a window that directly looks into the batting cages. When I walked by, Freddie Freeman and Jordan Schafer were getting some work in.
Moving on, we checked out the home clubhouse and weight room:
Traveling upstairs, this area gives those watching the game from a suite the chance to eat, drink, and commingle:
The Best Seats in the House:
The production room featured some state-of-the-art equipment, which this photograph largely fails to convey. I do my best:
Those who work in Minor League Baseball are used to cramped working conditions, making the G-Braves’ digs capable of inducing considerable pangs of jealousy. Check out the break room and conference room:
Let’s move on to the out of doors, where the visitor’s bullpen featured a most colorful target:
There turned out to be an excellent crowd for Saturday’s game:
They watched the visiting Scranton-Wilkes/Barre Yankees edge the Braves by a score of 2-1.
Those in the crowded berm area didn’t seem to be paying too much attention to the game anyway, lounging on blankets while the kids played in the truly hallucinogenic inflatables:
Coolray really is a beautiful park. I was as smitten as a kitten in a mitten sitting with Donner and Blitzen on Thanksgiving.
And when sentences like that pour out of me unprovoked, I know it’s time to call it a night. After playing a little post-game “Launch-A-Ball”, of course:
Time to get a little sleep before hopping into the rented Mercedes with Texas plates and driving to Greenville.
See you there!
I sure do love living New York City, but it is nonetheless crucial that I periodically leave my domestic lair in order to report live and direct from the ballpark. Only two of Minor League Baseball’s 160 teams play in the Big Apple, meaning that there are 158 cities perpetually on my list of places to visit.
Could there possibly be a better way to get psyched for the season than by watching a commercial produced by a Double-A team that features a fast-talking, alliteratively-named pitchman?
The answer, my friends, is yes. But I’m going to lead with this anyway:
I’m not sure I like the thought of getting rained on by 22-ounce sodas and “cheeseburgers without cheese”, but I nonetheless must give this commercial an enthusiastic thumbs-up (although THIS remains my favorite food-related Eastern League ad). Two days of free ballpark food really is a tremendous deal, and Bobby conveys his message with a zeal bordering on the messianic.
The BlueClaws are auctioning off the opportunity to raise the 2009 South Atlantic League championship flag prior to April 16’s game at FirstEnergy Park. Bidding starts at $200, with proceeds benefiting the team’s charitable foundation. This is an excellent idea, though I’d like to see Phillies organizational stalwart (and current BlueClaws hitting coach) Greg Legg do the honors.
Another good idea worth pointing out as we steamroll toward Opening Day comes from down south, as the Gwinnett Braves are asking fans to “change their Facebook, Twitter and MySpace profile pictures to shots
of their favorite G-Braves memories. From shots at Coolray Field to
pictures with Chopper in the community, the team wants fans to show
their G-Braves pride.”
Many of these photos will be utilized as part of an Opening Night slideshow, a multi-media presentation which, in my own mind, will be set to Billy Joel’s “The Time to Remember”. Either that or the Chicken Dance.
It is now time for this post to conclude, and with it the month of March. Opening Day is now so close I can smell it, an aroma best described as a mix of domestic beer and magnetic schedule paint fumes.
In keeping with yesterday’s theme of taking a closer look at just-released promotional schedules, I would like to bring the Charleston RiverDogs to your attention.
The always irreverent South Atlantic League ballclub released their 2010 promo schedule yestereday, and it is filled with many dates worth circling. Or at least potentially worth circling. You see, the RiverDogs are masters of the mysterious, and many of their theme nights sound less like baseball promotions and more like an unpublished Daniel Pinkwater novel. For instance: “What Do You Put On Your Grits?”, “The Holy City Breaks Wind”, and “It’s Raining Relish.” And let’s not forget such potential classics as “MacGruber Does Your Taxes”, “There is no ‘I’ in A-Team”, and “Aaron Radatz Predicts the Final Score.”
And then there’s July 17’s “Lady Liberty Statue Giveaway“, in which fans will receive a mini-replica of Charleston’s proposed “male Statue of Liberty.” The team is having fans vote on which man’s face they would like to see on the giveaway statue, with the choices being Steven Colbert, Andy Dick, Chris Rock, and mascot Charlie T. RiverDog.
I am not making any of this up, and would like to note for the record that Andy Dick on the Statue of Liberty would mark a new low for American civilization. Even lower than THIS. Actually, I take that back. I love Pat Boone’s metal album and would suggest that team’s play it at the stadium. Put THIS on when the opposing team’s closer takes the mound.
— To move on to music of a more durable quality, I’d suggest everyone take a listen to the new Baseball Project track. I’ve written about the Baseball Project before, and had the opportunity to see them in New Orleans while attending the Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar. They will worth keeping an eye on in 2010 and beyond.
— Don’t let all this talk of music make you think I am forgetting videos. Far from it. First I would like to share the Bowie Baysox’s new video podcast, which begins with a flurry of Eastern League puns that I found to be delightful:
And here, the Gwinnett Braves show that they’re ready for the season. Perhaps a bit prematurely:
I have fulfilled today’s blogging requirements, and as such may now retire to my country estate for an evening of Port and Sports. It’s what I do every Wednesday, and tonight’s agenda includes women’s volleyball and a bottle of Presidential 20-year Tawny.
So, my original plan for today was to feature all of the head shots that were submitted to me over the past two weeks. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, click HERE.
But here’s the thing: I’m going to be on vacation all next week, and I have more pressing stuff to write about. So the head shots can wait. In fact, keep sending ’em. In the meantime, here is enough random info to hold you over until my
demoralizing triumphant return on March 1.
In the interest of not prioritizing one item of information above the other, the following collection of newsworthy items is presented in reverse alphabetical order.
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers — If there’s one thing that everyone can agree on, it’s ice cream. But if there’s one thing everyone can’t agree on, it’s what ice cream should be named. The Timber Rattlers will be serving a new flavor at the ballpark next season, described as “a mixture of caramel, peanuts, and chocolate”, and they are asking YOU to name it. Well, not YOU specifically. They are asking YOU as well as every other person who uses the internet. Vote HERE.
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The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) is giving away The Emerald Guide to Baseball 2010 to the world baseball community. Developed in the spirit of the classic guides published by the Sporting News, Spalding, and Reach, The Emerald Guide
includes all pitching, hitting, and fielding statistics for every
player active in the major and minor leagues during 2009. Other
features include team histories, up-to-date team contact information
and schedules, an extensive Year in Review essay, team day-by-day game
logs, All-Star Game box score and play-by play, post-season box scores
and play-by-play, transactions, debuts, first-year player draft, and
major and minor league necrology.
Yes, that’s right — FREE. Download it HERE, and tell your friends.
Peoria Chiefs — Dudes are gonna like this. On March 27 and April 1, the Chiefs will host fantasy baseball drafts at O’Brien Field. Here’s the deal:
For just $35 per person, your league will get private use of one our
luxury suites, an all-you-can-eat buffet, draft beer, wireless internet
access and a ticket to the Chiefs May 27 game against the Cedar Rapids
The press release does not mention the greatest benefit of such an offer, which is that it enables men to escape from their curler-wearing, rolling pin-carrying wives. Yes, my knowledge of marriage is limited solely to Andy Capp cartoons.
Omaha Royals — The 2009-10 logo unveiling season is rapidly fading into a sepia-tinged memory, but before it goes gently into that good night I have this to report: The Omaha Royals have unveiled a patch which commemorates their final season at venerable Rosenblatt Stadium (full disclosure: I use the word “venerable” whenever I want to refer euphemistically to something that is old).
Northwest Arkansas Naturals — Remember all the way back in May when I wrote about how the reality show “18 Kids and Counting” would be visiting a Northwest Arkansas Naturals game? That’s okay, I don’t either.
Regardless, video of the episode is now available, and the Naturals must be very pleased with how they are portrayed. The mammoth Duggar family genuinely seemed to have a good time, and there were highlights aplenty (including the most chaotic first pitch since THIS). But my favorite moment occurred when one young Duggar said the following to mascot Strike:
“Take off your head, and let me see your smaller head.”
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Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs — You mean to tell me that the team is now offering free downloadable ring tones? Why yes. Yes I do.
Lexington Legends — Another fantasy fulfilled: a video of a video featuring a mustachioed mascot doing “the John Wall Dance.”
Iowa Cubs — The I-Cubs are now offering a “Promotion Pass” to season ticket holders, entitling them to every giveaway item on the 2010 schedule. Those who purchase said pass will never again be thwarted by age restrictions and limited quantities, those twin demons of the season ticket holder existence.
Gwinnett Braves — As you may have heard, the G-Braves announced Wednesday that Gwinnett Stadium will henceforth be known as Coolray Field. I am allegedly a business reporter, but my most pressing concern has nothing to do with the conditions of the team’s agreement with the excellently-named heating and cooling company. All I want to know is how Chopper the mascot spent his time leading up to the announcement. And thanks to this, I do:
Durham Bulls — All active duty military personnel receive FREE admission to every 2010 Bulls game.
That’s the sort of deal that speaks for itself.
As for me, I’m done speaking for myself. I’ll be off the internet until next month, but in the interim feel free to bombard my inbox with messages regarding matters consequential and otherwise. And, just like Tupac, new material will continue to emerge even in my absence. Four of my articles will appear on MiLB.com next week, so please remain vigilant.
Update — Here are five more worthy inclusions, once again listed in reverse alphabetical order. Why not, right? It’s not like I have anything better to do on a Friday night in NYC. This town is boring. But these towns are not:
Syracuse Chiefs — Hey hey, my my. Logo news will never die. The Chiefs have unveiled a new home uniform for 2010:
Read all about it HERE.
Gwinnett Braves (again): Maybe it’s the presence of new GM North Johnson, or maybe it’s because the team has some confidence after successfully navigating its 2009 inaugural season, or maybe it’s a combination of the two. Either way, things are getting downright goofy down there in Gwinnett County. Goofy and paranoid, in this case, which is generally a very entertaining combination.
A zebra got loose in downtown Atlanta, see, and that can apparently only mean one thing: said Zebra was attempting to travel to a nearby Triple-A team in order to steal the job of a groundhog mascot. I’ll let the team explain things from here on in. CLICK THIS.
Daytona Cubs — In what just might be the most impressive feat of endurance ever accomplished by a Minor League gm, Daytona’s Brady Ballard ran over 40(!) miles during the course of a one-man, 12-hour charity run. More information can be found HERE, and a local news report on Ballard’s run can be seen HERE.
Charleston RiverDogs — Well, here’s something you don’t see any day: bidding for the opportunity to appear in an advertisement for a Minor League Baseball team.
I like the thinking here. Why pay someone to star in a commercial when there are people out there who will pay you? Along those lines, please send me $175 if you would like to see your writing featured on Ben’s Biz Blog.
Altoona Curve — The Curve were among many teams to be buried in snow earlier this month, and they decided to use that as the motivation for a ticket deal. In order to promote said deal, they made a video that is fast-paced, funny, and more than a bit ridiculous:
I much prefer this alternate ending, in which a gruesome and unprovoked mascot attack is juxtaposed with the Benny Hill theme song:
And speaking of Benny Hill — that’s me! And I’m out of here!
For real this time.
I stand before you today in order to deliver Minor League mascot Valentine’s Day photos.
The public has demanded them, and I am certainly not one to ignore the pleas of the populace. Therefore, that is precisely what this post shall be dedicated to. But first, a quick request…
Inspired by the copious snow that has been deposited all over the country as of late, I have decided to do a story on extreme weather and the groundskeeping challenges it presents. In addition to teams that have recently been hit with snow, I’d be interested in speaking with anyone who has had to deal with drought, flooding, hurricanes, and, of course, locust plagues. I’ll most likely have to contact teams individually today and tomorrow, but that’s a hit-or-miss proposition. Consider this post an invitation to get in touch — firstname.lastname@example.org
Okay, we now return to regularly-scheduled programming: Minor League mascot Valentine’s Day photos.
Because, as you surely know, there was a lot going on. And how can I lead off with anyone but Boomer, who is surely the suavest mascot in Minor Leage Baseball? Here, Boomer spreads some joy to the youth of Williamsport:
Boomer’s not the only mascot named Boomer. There’s also Boomer of the Trenton Thunder, who is not at all terrifying, not the least little bit:
In Lowell, the Spinners sent out a star-studded caravan to a local elementary school, where Valentine’s Day cards were made. These cards were then delivered to a VA hospital (apparently, Canaligator and crew got hungry along the way):
Buster “rose” to the occasion in Lakewood:
But how could I close anywhere other than in Reading? As usual, Screwball did his thing:
Now if that wasn’t romantic, then I don’t know what is. I mean, seriously, I don’t. Can anyone help me out here?
I have written many times in the past about Lehigh Valley’s propensity for pig puns, but they really outdid themselves with a press release put out on Friday.
In this missive, the team heaps praise upon a Washington man who saved a pig by giving it “mouth-to-snout” resuscitation:
In hearing a hoof-warming story of a man saving a pig through CPR in La
Center, Wash., IronPigs mascots FeRROUS and FeFe wanted to publicly
honor and award human hero Jeff Olson.
For his saving the life of “Pig Pig” though mouth-to-snout
resuscitation, the pair will be sending a care package to Olson —
which consists of an IronPigs sweatshirt, a bottle of Listerine and
tube of ChapStick – along with an offer for free IronPigs tickets for
he and his wife any time they are in the Lehigh Valley.
But here’s where it really gets good:
In a written statement, FeRROUS had the following words for Olson: “On
behalf of FeFe and all pigs in the Lehigh Valley, I would like to
porksonally say ‘thank you’ to Mr. Olson for going above and beyond the
Call of Suey. By risking life, limb and a lifetime of bad breath,
little Pig Pig will one day be able to go to the market.”
The appearance of “porksonally” and “Call of Suey” in the span of one sentence is a tremendous gift, the sort of thing that gives me the strength to carry on for another day.
Even if the day in question is exactly like the one that preceded it — Groundhog Day, if you will. And I assume you will, because that’s what today is — Groundhog Day, if you will. And I assume you will, because that’s what today is — Groundhog Day.
To sum it up: Groundhog Day is today!
The world-famous Punxutawney Phil saw his shadow, supposedly condemning the nation to six more weeks of winter. But those within the world of Minor League Baseball should instead heed the prognositications of Gwinnett County’s General Beauregard Lee, who failed to spot his shadow. General Lee has far greater baseball credentials, as he served as the inspiration for Gwinnett Braves mascot Chopper (the world’s most seductive groundhog, as you may recall).
Next up on the holiday calendar is Valentine’s Day, which I have already covered extensively. However, there is PLENTY more where that came from — prepare thyself.