What Minor League team offers the best ballpark views?
In my now-established role as wandering MiLB ballpark minstrel, I’ve visited 24 of the top 30 ballparks in the current voting. Though I may not have sat in the exact seats or section highlighted in the Best Seat in the House contest, I can speak to the spectacular nature to the ballpark views found in these stadiums. What follows is my personal Top 10, presented alphabetically by stadium name (it’s already hard enough to choose 10, ranking them in a specific order would be too much for my fragile psyche to bear).
As an added bonus, each team name is linked to my corresponding blog post describing my visit:
AutoZone Park (Memphis Redbirds) — A downtown stadium should always have downtown views.
BB&T Ballpark (Charlotte Knights) — The city skyline threatens to swallow the ballpark whole.
Dell Diamond (Round Rock Express) — Okay, so this is a view of those enjoying the views. But it doesn’t get much better than watching a game from an outfield concourse rocking chair.
Modern Woodmen Park (Quad Cities River Bandits) — Centennial Bridge backdrop (the bridge crosses the Mississippi River, connecting Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island, Illinois):
Pensacola Bayfront Stadium (Pensacola Blue Wahoos) — The Pensacola Bay lies beyond right field, and beyond the bay lies the Gulf of Mexico.
PNC Field (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders) — The outfield concourse incorporates the stadium’s natural surroundings very nicely.
Richmond County Bank Ballpark (Staten Island Yankees) — This is not the best representation, as this photo is from a foggy night. But the lower Manhattan skyline is visible from across the water. It is, as always, an awe-inspiring sight.
Southwest University Park (El Paso Chihuahuas) — The Franklin Mountains loom beyond left-center field. (Meanwhile, behind the ballpark, Juarez, Mexico, is clearly visible.)
Victory Field (Indianapolis Indians) — Technically, no one is allowed to sit up here. But the view from the roof is awesome.
Whataburger Field (Corpus Christi Hooks) — Harbor Bridge beckons.
Once again, you can vote in the Best Seat in the House contest HERE. Do you agree with my Top 10 picks? Who are you voting for, and why? Per usual, I’m amenable to having a conversation about this and all Minor League-related matters. Feel free to get in touch anytime.
In all likelihood you haven’t yet digested — or even been aware of the existence of — yesterday’s full-to-bursting bouillabaisse post. But that’s not gonna stop me from delivering yet another heaping hodgepodge of worthwhile Minor League Baseball news, because that’s just the kind of guy I am: the kind of guy who cannot be stopped, or even contained, really. Lil B’s got nothing on me, for I am the #BouillabaissedGod!
The more perceptive among you may have noticed that yesterday’s post, full-to-bursting though it may have been, contained no videos. Today is not like yesterday, because it never is, and therefore today’s post will contain videos. Let’s get to them, starting with a significant bit of publicity for Lake Elsinore’s “World’s Fastest Squirrel.”
For more on the World’s Fastest Squirrel and the surreal world from which he emerged, kindly read my 2012 “Minoring in Business” article.
Another example of Minor League Baseball mascots in big-time roles can be found in “What the Phanatic Say?,” which features an impressive collection of Phillies-affiliated characters.
The above video, a parody of “What Does the Fox Say?”, is not to be confused with other such spoofs. THIS, for example, explains the fundamental tenets of Quakerism.
The Indianapolis Colts may have been eliminated from the playoffs, but that’s not going to stop me from sharing a video that was made before the postseason begun. This Christmas, Indianapolis Indians stalwart Matt Hague offered valuable sliding tutelage to his next door stadium neighbor Andrew Luck. Hilarity, or perhaps something bearing no small resemblance to hilarity, ensued.
If it’s outdated Indianapolis Indians comedic holiday content that you want, then it’s outdated Indianapolis Indians comedic holiday content that I’ve got!
And, let’s be honest here, if something’s funny then it has no expiration date. That’s my excuse for providing yet another piece of comedic holiday video content, this time courtesy of my old pals the Altoona Curve. Get psyched for The Pockster!
The “Pockster” is a parody of Conan O’Brien’s “Rublight” ad, which you absolutely must watch. There is no person who won’t find it funny. Or, if there is, I don’t want to know that person. And if I do know that person, then all ties are renounced effective immediately.
When it comes to Minor League Baseball blogging, I am the greatest of all time. But when it comes to the grapest Minor League entity of all time? That honor now belongs to the Reading Fightin Phils, whose mascot and star player competed against one another in a local grape-stomping competition because of course they did.
I’ve shared a lot of stupid videos with you today, resulting in more wonton absurdity then a surrealist painting of a Chinese restaurant. But I’m going to close this post with a video that is thoughtful, tasteful, personal, and passionate. I like it a lot, this heartfelt musical plea to preserve the former home of the Eugene Emeralds.
The fact that this song was written by one “Scoop McGuire” makes it that much better. Check out savecivicstadium.org for more info.
For those who may have been caught unawares, yesterday marked the start of the 2013 Minor League season. Clearly there is and will be much to talk about — read Promo Preview for an indication of just how much — but today I wanted to focus on the most pressing matter I could possibly think of:
Did the teams who issued weather-related guarantees see their guarantees come to pass? Or were fans left out in the cold?
Let’s start with the Indianapolis Indians, who have long been the preeminent meteorological guarantors of the International League.
Guarantee: 60 degrees
Actual Game Time Temperature: 56 degrees
Result: “Fans Win 60 degree guarantee,” was the headline of a press release the team put out this morning. As a result of this “win” “[A]ll Tribe fans in attendance to the contest have won a free ticket to any 2013 April home game of their choice.”
Team: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders
Guarantee: 60 degrees
Actual Game Time Temperature: 51 degrees
Result: Per Crain: “To back my guarantee, if it is not 60 degrees on April 4, then anyone who comes to Opening Day will get a free Sunday through Thursday ticket any day the rest of the entire 2013 season.”
Enjoy your non-weekend free baseball, RailRiders fans!
Team: Gwinnett Braves
Guarantee: “Temperatures will not dip below 50 Degrees.“
Actual Game Time Temperature: There was no game, as it was rained out.
Result: Mired in uncertainty, as fans on the team’s Facebook page have spent the afternoon parsing the text of the team’s original press release. Some have advanced the argument that since the temperature was below 50 yesterday, then fans should be awarded a ticket voucher in addition to the one that Opening Day ticket holders are already slated to receive as a result of the rainout.
But not so fast! The original press release stipulated that the G-Braves “were prepared to offer free tickets to those in attendance.” As Facebook fan Trey Farr pointed out, “Since they postponed it, no one [was] in attendance on Thursday, April 4.”
I think that the G-Braves should award free tickets to Mr. Farr, simply for having such a razor-sharp legalistic mind.
Team: Peoria Chiefs
Guarantee: 62 degrees
Actual Game Time Temperature: 59 degrees
Result: “All fans with a ticket will receive a free ticket to another Chiefs home game in April or May.”
59 degrees and a free ticket? That’s pretty much win-win! (But, alas, the Chiefs lost.)
So there you have it: there were four Opening Day weather guarantees (that I was aware of), and teams went 0-for-3 with a rainout. Small sample size, yes, but I think the lesson here is that Opening Day weather guarantees are destined to fail.
We haven’t yet hit the ides of March, but nonetheless all eyes in March are firmly gazing into the Opening Day distance. This post highlights just a few of the many, many season-starting initiatives that teams have up their sleeves.
Johnny, Cash: 2013 marks the Fort Wayne TinCaps’ fifth season, and to celebrate they are giving away $5000.
In a press release, the TinCaps explained how this is all going to go down.
As fans enter the ballpark on Thursday, April 11th, each will receive a scratch-off card as part of the qualification process. Certain cards will be designated as instant winners, with those fans receiving a TinCaps game-worn red jersey, which the team will be wearing that night. The TinCaps red jerseys are a part of history, as each player ever to play for the team since 2009 has worn these jerseys.
Once these select fans are determined, the final $5,000 winner will be selected from among the jersey winners. The final selection process will be announced at the game on Opening Night.
But, as with any promotional endeavor worth its salt: THAT IS NOT ALL. The TinCaps are currently staging a scavenger hunt, the weekly winners of which will pre-qualify for the $5,000 prize. Read all about that HERE.
And then there are the Indianapolis Indians, who are offering fans the chance to vote on the Opening Day field design. The choices are Cell Cut, Checkered Cut, Diamond Cut, and the Phillies Cut. They are all very attractive choices, so you can’t really go wrong, but I suppose I’d go with the Cell.
But Opening Day pomp and circumstance goes beyond the parameters of the playing field, of course. The Memphis Redbirds are currently running a contest on Facebook, with the grand prize being a swank VIP limo ride to the ballpark.
Meanwhile, in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, just about everything will new in 2013. Read all about it in my MiLB.com piece! But one aspect of the SWB re-invention I didn’t get around to in the piece is the mascot situation. Two new characters are all set to debut and, of course, they need a name.
For the record, the character on the left is a “nine-foot tall superhero” while on the right is a “furry porcupine.” I’d call the former “108-Inches Man” and the latter “Quill Rogers.”
If I make this sentence long enough, this one that you’re reading now, then I’ll have reached my self-imposed 400 word minimum.
The latest edition of Ben’s Bookshelf appeared on MiLB.com this past Thursday. The featured book this time through is Jesse Goldberg-Strassler’s “The Baseball Thesaurus.” It looks a little something like this:
The Baseball Thesaurus is just what its name implies. To quote my own (stellar) writing, the book is “an alphabetized romp through the baseball lexicon peppered with quirky anecdotes, vintage photos and memorable quotes.”
The Baseball Thesaurus greatly enhances my ability to turn pedestrian baseball sentences into flowery works of national pastime poetry, and for this I am grateful. Using the thesaurus, one can transform a bland remark such as “The pitcher threw a curveball and the batter hit it over the fence” into “The hurlester buggywhipped a snapdragon and the swatsmith manhandled it beyond the rampart.” (Reader comprehension be damned!)
Words, let’s not mince them: I am a nerd who enjoys writing in this antiquated (and, yes, borderline pretentious) sort of way. So last Thursday afternoon I took to Twitter and asked my ragtag band of followers to submit run-of-the-mill baseball sentences so that I could then gussy them up with the Thesaurus. Some highlights:
1. “The Northfield nine posted a picket fence in the middle innings and held on for a 3-2 win.” (submitted by @NatsProspects)
@NatsProspects is kind of messing with me here, by submitting a sentence that is already gussied up! The alliterative “Northfield Nine” can’t really be improved upon, nor can the use of “picket fence” to describe three one-run innings in a row. But, beyond that, I did my best to tweak it up (although the only instance in which I was able to employ The Baseball Thesaurus was with the word “inning”). My version:
“The Northfield nine posted a picket fence in the centermost stanzas, and persevered for a 3-2 triumph.”
2. “The runner tags from second and is thrown out by the right fielder.” (submitted by @LivingInAJar)
In this case, The Baseball Thesaurus equipped me with the tools I needed to go on an alliterative rampage:
“The tenant tags from the second station, but is vanquished at the coffin corner by the rightfield retriever.”
3. “‘fly ball…..caught’ or anything else Harry Doyle broadcast during the amazing 1989/1990 Indians seasons” (submitted by @Spike_RRE)
For those who may have forgotten, Harry Doyle is the name of the Cleveland Indians announcer played by Bob Uecker in the Major League films. You know, this guy:
“Fly ball…caught” can be transformed into “Cloud-scraper…captured”, but why stop there? Here’s another Harry Doyle quote, transformed via the Thesaurus.
“That ball is off his glove and outta here!” becomes “That lemon is off his lobster trap and over the barricade!”
4. “Sharp two-out single up the middle. This will score two.” (submitted by @CJBoerger)
Okay, this’ll be the last one. My transformative attempt:
“Screaming Meemie to the center of the outer garden. This will send two plateward.”
And then there is the great art of photography, each example of which is worth 1000 words. This picture, tweeted on Tuesday afternoon by the fast-acting folks @IndianapolisEMS, is my favorite example in quite some time.
Unforeseen technological adversity has made it so that I can’t post this picture. So, click HERE to see a droopy-eyed bear practicing first aid on a severed torso.
It’s nearly impossible to comprehend, but I am writing this on a Friday and you are reading on a Monday. Whatever sundry delights the weekend had to offer have since passed, including that inimitable annual Sunday delight that is the Super Bowl.
Thus, the consequences of the following bet are now known to the world:
As the lone Massachusetts-based entity in the New-York Penn League (go figure), the Spinners have made the following wager with no less than seven teams:
The bet, vastly superior to the minute wagers made by city mayors, would find each team’s most beloved figure donning enemy colors for a home stand: each team’s mascot would wear the opposing team’s jersey during a homestand.
Now those are some high stakes! I imagine that some mascots would commit hari-kari before succumbing to such an indignity, but that’s just idle seppuku-lation on my part.
After writing that last line, it took a long time for the applause in my head to die down. Now that it has, let’s look at another team that found a way to commemorate the Super Bowl: the Fresno Grizzlies.
But nothing can top the Super Bowl efforts made by host city denizens the Indianapolis Indians, whose Victory Field environs were totally transformed:
Another MiLB.com dispatch of note (note: they’re all of note) emanates from Birmingham, as the Barons have broken ground on their new ballpark.
But that’s not the only big Southern League ballpark news. Pensacola has a new ballpark opening in April — it will house the Blue Wahoos, of course — and this facility has now turned on the lights. Here’s the view:
Meanwhile, in Altoona, the Curve are relying on a different sort of energy. This week the team announced that, as the result of a new naming rights deal, Blair County Ballpark will be known as “Peoples Natural Gas Stadium.”
This news sent Twitter all a-twitter (or at least my Twitter feed), with flatulence jokes a-plenty. But, lest we forget, the Lake Elsinore Storm have already staged the preeminent natural gas-related promotion.
And, finally — who wants to see a new logo? Anybody? Okay, at least that one guy over there does.
So here you go: at last week’s hot stove dinner, the Hickory Crawdads unveiled this anniversary mark.
Guess that’ll do in a pinch.
This post, the 748th in the the history of this blog, will be the last you ever hear from me…
But, of course, I will be back. For if there is someone out there who can resist the siren call of writing about the same subject in perpetuity at levels of increasing stagnation, that person is not I. With that being the case, let’s end the year on a high note….
It’s time for the second edition of the Ben’s Biz Twitter Top Ten! The purpose of such an endeavor is to provide a compendium of the most intriguing @BensBiz tweets and re-tweets of the past week (or three weeks, in this case). The tweets, as they appeared on Twitter, are italicized. Let’s get to it!
10. Please re-frame in the form of a question
Here’s how it went down:
9. You be the judge
8. Just sayin’ is all
Mike Cameron signs w/
@Nationals, but he’s no stranger to the area. Spent ’94 w/Prince William Cannons, where 17 of 116 hits were triples!
If he had maintained that triples rate in his Major League career, he’d currently have amassed 250 (good enough for fourth all time, just two behind Honus Wagner).
7. I really would frame this
6. This was in response to the question of “What MiLB theme nights would you like to see?”
Lehigh Valley IronWarPigs! RT
@andyshal: Black Sabbath night in Allentown! Bill Ward as home plate ump. Ozzy on PA. Concert after the game.
“IronManPigs” would also be acceptable.
5. Another One
Rides Waits For the Bus
Great idea: seats from Indianapolis’ Bush Stadium installed at city bus stops: http://indy.st/selEY9
4. Someone out there needs to stage “Free Eye Pad” night, advertising it heavily on the radio.
3. Use your doppel radar
Well, do you?
2. What does it mean?
1. Effect and Cause
I hope you enjoyed this most recent edition of the @BensBiz Twitter Top 10. I’m almost out of 2011 material, but not quite yet….
For what better way would there be to end the year than with a video of a mascot tackling a Christmas tree?
Actually, there’s one better way. For nothing says “holiday season” like a team-produced “Twas the Night Before Christmas” parody.
And that, as they say, will be that. Thanks for sticking with me throughout a (generally) action-packed 2011, and here’s to an ennui-free 2012!
It’s important to stay grounded, but nonetheless it’s become apparent to me that this blog is over-reliant on terrestrial perspectives. In order to shake things up, then, today’s post will feature some aerial views before returning to Earth.
We’ll start things off in flyover country, as the Indianapolis Indians recently staged a pre-game stunt that was (almost) out of this world. A squadron of Navy “Leap Frogs” parachuted into Victory Field prior to August 16’s ballgame, with Rear Admiral Scott T. Craig throwing out the first pitch. What follows is the video of their practice run that afternoon, giving us a bird’s eye view of the arduous journey from air to ground.
Not quite as high-flying, but airborne nonetheless, are our fine feathered friends the Great Lakes Loons. The team staged their annual “Raining Money” promotion on August 5, in which $2000 in one dollar bills was dropped onto the field from a helicopter. This year, the mad cash scramble was preceded by an excellently-produced short film entitled “The Sleepover,” which segued flawlessly into the promotion itself.
Seeking to retain this elevated position for as long as possible, we now travel to Lakewood, NJ. On August 20 the BlueClaws held their annual blood drive, an event preceded by an awareness-raising stint of roof-living by the appropriately-named “Roofman.”
“Roofman” is also known as “Ryan Ragan,” COO of the Central Jersey Blood Center. He spent five days on the roof prior to the drive, which resulted in a prolonged period of local radio and TV news attention. Here he is, in quieter times.
91 people ended up giving blood at the BlueClaws’ drive; meaning that the Roofman’s efforts were simultaneously not in vain and “in vein.” Life sure can be funny sometymes. And, yes, that was an intentional spelling error in the previous sentence. In the spirit of the blood drive I was attempting to be “typo positive.”
We’ll conclude by focusing on a team whose spacebound aspirations may soon come to an end: the Akron Aeros. This traditionally aerodynamic entity is currently staging an online “re-branding contest,” with voting continuing through September 1.
While the option remains to keep the “Aeros” name, other possibilities include Gum Dippers, RubberDucks, Tire Jacks, and Vulcans. All of these names allude to Akron’s industrial past, primarily its status as a leading producer of rubber.
While I generally like team names that incorporate local history, it is my opinion that the alliterative pizazz of Akron Aeros remains superior to the new contenders. Will the voting public agree? Do you?
For now, things remain up in the air.
What a momentous week — yesterday was Pi Day, today is the Ides of March, Wednesday is National Artichoke Hearts Day and Thursday is St. Patrick’s Day.
Minor League Baseball’s involvement with the first three of these annual milestones is minimal at best, but for St. Patrick’s Day teams are going green in a way that has nothing to do with waterless urinals, concourse recycling bins, and LEED certification.
The Savannah Sand Gnats are offering this St. Patty’s day tee, which makes it clear that insects can be Irish too:
Indianapolis is putting its own spin on the theme, as this green cap celebrates the “Luck O the Indians.”
And speaking of the Aces, the team is currently offering what I believe is the best season-ticket package in all of Minor League Baseball. Full-time students can purchase a general admission pass for $72 — that’s $1 a game!
But even cheaper than $1 a game is free, and in Fort Wayne the TinCaps are currently offering fans a unique way to score complimentary Opening Day ducats.
[T]he TinCaps are looking for eagle-eyed deputies to enforce a new staff dress code. Any fan who catches a full-time TinCaps staffer without a TinCaps logo visible on their person wins two tickets to Opening Day…Staff members must wear a visible TinCaps logo at all times for the entire month leading up to Opening Day, whether or not they are on the job. Anything from a TinCaps fake tattoo sleeve to a lapel pin is sufficient.
For truly committed fans, this shouldn’t be a problem. Just pick a staff member and engage in round-the-clock surveillance. They’re sure to slip up sooner or later.
It’s a quiet Friday here at MiLB.com headquarters, and my thoughts are turning toward the future.
The immediate future, as it were, as on Sunday I’ll be traveling to Orlando in order to attend the annual schmooze-a-thon that is the Baseball Winter Meetings.
As for what I’ll be doing there, to an extent that is still “up in the air.” My overarching goal is to provide coverage that serves as an alternative (or complement) to the usual breathless reporting on trade rumors and free agent signings, looking at the Meetings experience from a variety of Minor League perspectives. At the very least, I’ll make sure to once again document Trade Show lunch options.
So, if you’re in Orlando next week make sure to say hello and give me an update on what you’ve been up to. As usual, I’ll be the guy with the haircut.
Last year’s Meetings were in Indianapolis, which allows me to segue somewhat smoothly into NEW LOGO NEWS.
We are 125 days from the 125th season of professional baseball in Indianapolis, and to celebrate this sesquicentennial the Indians will be displaying the following logo on the outfield wall and sporting it on the uniform:
While new logos have been prevalent this offseason, weekly web-based Minor League comedy series have been on the decline. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are doing their part to reverse this trend, as season two of their highly-acclaimed “Offseason” series debuts next week.
Here’s the tear-jerking teaser video. Get psyched!
Meanwhile, this amusing video from Everett just made it’s way on to my radar. It’s the “Bullpen Olympics”, with events including “spitting, chugging, shooting, and flicking.”
All I’ll say about this is that these guys seem confused when it comes to the specifics of throat anatomy.
And — hey — it’s Gratuitous Video Friday! Here’s a clip of Tony Orlando at the Epcot Center, as soon I’ll be in tony Orlando near the Epcot Center. Close enough, right?