Tagged: Lexington Legends
Opening Day 2016: Biz Blog Bouillabaisse
Oh, boy. The inexorable passage of time has once again brought us face to face with a new Minor League Baseball season. I, for one, am psyched. I, for two, have also been remiss in updating this blog over the past week or so. I have various excuses for this, of varying degrees of legitimacy, but who cares? The drought is over. New content — the lifeblood of the internet, the lifeblood of my existence — begins now.
As the title makes clear, this post will be a full-to-bursting bouillabaisse of delectable Minor League morsels. I’d like to start by noting that, over on MiLB.com, my first “Promo Watch” column of the 2016 season is now live. “Promo Watch” is a tweak on the old “Promo Preview” format, encompassing not just the traditional previews but also reviews and larger promo trend analysis. In today’s column, I highlighted a few 2016 promos that I am looking forward to. They involve previous planet Pluto, President James Garfield and pork roll.
I’d like to think I’m writing the most consistently (and justifiably) weird stuff in the entire sports journalism ecosystem. But of a less weird variety is this Opening Day Guide, co-written with my colleague Sam “No, I’m not related to Lenny” Dykstra. Read and learn.
Everybody loves dogs, so everybody will love this: Former Greensboro Grasshoppers bat dog Miss Babe Ruth has accepted a new position with the team.
After retiring as bat dog, @GSOHoppers Miss Babe Ruth named special asst to team prez. Will greet fans B4 games. pic.twitter.com/M6KFhx7sld
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) April 6, 2016
In this capacity, Miss Babe Ruth (how is she not named “Babe Ruff”?) will “greet fans in the concourse during games and also advertise her new association” with a flea and tick prevention product named BRAVECTO.
Last season, the Round Rock Express gave away an awesome Willie Nelson bobblehead. This year’s country music honoree is Mr. George Strait.
Remember at the Winter Meetings when I wrote about the complex issues surrounding drone usage at Minor League Baseball games? Well, that’s because, like it or not, drones are here to stay (and not just in the broadcast booth). This season, the Reading Fightin Phils are using them in an official context. This is the “Drone Cam.”
During the offseason, the Lexington Legends partnered with a local school on “Stache Tank.” This “Shark Tank”-inspired competition asked students, working in teams as part of an economics unit, to pitch a promotional giveaway item as well as a ballpark improvement. Winning student presentations include a slap bracelet giveaway and the construction of a rock climbing wall in right field. Pretty cool idea.
The Durham Bulls have announced that, on June 9, they will wear “the first Bulls uniform created by a company outside of the sports industry.” It was designed by Durham-based RUNAWAY, which is weird because it seems their focus would be all-caps.
The jerseys are modeled after the flag of Durham, with “DURM” in the center. DURM is a “term coined by RUNAWAY as an ode to the city’s hard-nosed history.” If you’ve got a hard nose then you should probably go see the durmatologist.
In my previous blog bouillabaisse I mentioned that the Sacramento River Cats had installed 472 solar panels and five SMA inverters at their home of Raley Field. The team’s environmentally-friendly endeavors continue apace, with last week’s announcement of “River Cats Road Relief.“ This three-pronged initiative includes a carpool program, which enables cars with four or more passengers to receive free parking.
Driving solo is SO last decade. Proud to unveil #RiverCatsRoadRelief! #ClawsUp#Sustainablehttps://t.co/Cf6ezNxeydpic.twitter.com/MfRG7xipyk
— River Cats (@RiverCats) April 6, 2016
New Jersey’s pro baseball scene has gone through some hard times, as three indy clubs have ceased operation. But their pain is the Trenton Thunder’s gain. On Wednesday, the team announced announced that Camden Riversharks, Newark Bears and Atlantic City Surf gear can be exchanged for a free ticket, food voucher and team store discount.
Trade in your @Riversharks gear for tickets, food, and 20% off at the company store!
— Trenton Thunder (@TrentonThunder) April 6, 2016
The Tri-City ValleyCats don’t start their season until June, but they’re still making good use of their time. On April 14, the team is staging its annual “4 in 24” initiative, in which four local youth fields are renovated within a 24-hour span. This is a great idea.
I began with dogs, so I’ll end with dogs: The Inland Empire 66ers have installed Minor League Baseball’s first-ever permanent dog park.
Here’s to the 2016 season! I promise I’ll be announcing my road trip schedules shortly.
Happy @MiLB Opening Day. I got this sweet hat when I visited Minor League Baseball HQ in St. Pete last season. pic.twitter.com/75f5RsGuWI
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) April 7, 2016
Shaking Off the Rust
Happy New Year! I started this blog in 2007, which means that 2016 is the 10th year in which it has existed. And yet, this blog will not turn 10 years old for another 20 months. This is a real headscratcher, perhaps the blog anniversary equivalent of the Monty Hall Problem.
Or perhaps not. Perhaps, as usual, I simply have no idea of what it is I speak. Perhaps I should move on to an issue of greater substance. Or at least an issue of some substance. I’ll take what I can get. So let’s proceed with the first bouillabaisse blog post of 2016. (This year, I am now 1-for-1 when it comes to spelling bouillabaisse correctly on the first attempt. It’s all downhill from here.)
Yes, it’s 2016. But let’s begin with my favorite team-produced video of 2015, which comes courtesy of the Norfolk Tides.
The Tides, as you’ll recall, unveiled a new set of logos on December 2. These new logos, like almost all new logos, were immediately excoriated by the team’s fan base via the usual social media channels. The Tides, taking a page from the Jimmy Kimmel playbook, took a “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach:
And, just out of curiosity, what do you think? Are these logos worthy of excoriation? I, for one, think that the sea horse is pregnant with possibility.
Moving on from excoriation to exfoliation: Dr Zizmor, a legend of New York City subway advertising, has announced his retirement. I think a “Salute to Dr. Zizmor” promo within the NYC market would be great, but maybe that’s simply because it’s the first week back from the holidays and my brain is not yet up to fully-functioning status. It might never get there.
I’ve got no Segway, which is one of the reasons I ride the subway. So let’s get this one hover with and rock and roll on to the next item.
You may recall that, during last month’s Winter Meetings Trade Show, OT Sports was hawking KISS theme jerseys.
KISS theme jerseys will inevitably lead to larger KISS theme promos, and there is a precedent for that sort of thing. Teams thinking of jumping on the 2016 KISS bandwagon can pick up pointers from the Prince William Cannons (1998) and Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (1999); both of these promos were overseen by Pat Filippone (currently president of the Seventh Inning Stretch ownership group). Click on the above links and learn, while coming to terms with the fact that I am unable to close this bit with a good KISS reference. I gave it my Beth, though.
Given their innate desire to never alienate the fan base, Minor League teams are loathe to dive into the murky waters of politics. But Lowell Spinners’ mascot Canaligator already lives in murky waters, so he’s gone ahead and launched a presidential campaign.
Canaligator announced his presidential intent following a Donald Trump rally held at Lowell’s Tsongas Center (yes, a Donald Trump rally was staged at a venue named after a lifelong Democrat). The press release contains this immortal quote:
“Look, I’m just a blue-collar gator who believes in staying in touch with his roots. Lowell is my home. These are the canals I swam in as a hatchling. LeLacheur Park is where I fell in love with baseball. What’s more American than an alligator running for president out of a baseball stadium?”
Canaligator has long had his own Twitter account, but today he began a separate account solely devoted to his political aspirations. Groundbreaking.
Canaligator has not aligned himself as a member of a specific party. Why is he hiding his long-standing Green Party roots?
Get it? Because he’s green.
From the “I’ve never seen anything quite like this before” department comes this news from the Trenton Thunder:
John Fierko, a member of the Trenton Thunder front office during their inaugural 1994 season, has returned to the team as its VP of ticket sales. From the press release:
Fierko was a member of the Thunder front office staff in 1994 when the franchise began operation. Fierko spent four years with the Thunder as Director of Ticket Sales before embarking on a career that saw him spend time with the Philadelphia 76ers, the ECHL, the Trenton Devils, the Lakewood BlueClaws and Comcast Sports Net Philadelphia.
Fierko’s first stint with the Thunder began so long ago, a baby born at that time can now legally drink. Those long-ago babies can not yet rent a car, however. That milestone will not occur until 2019.
I’ll close with an item out of Lexington that is, in a word, great: On Friday, the Legends are inviting six groups of local fifth grade students to the ballpark, where they will compete in a Shark Tank-style competition to develop a 2016 promo item. More info from my best friend, the press release:
After making a visit to the ballpark last fall, students from three classes, working in teams as part of an economics unit, were asked to generate ideas for a Legends giveaway. Students conducted research, designed products, and then created and conducted surveys of other students, faculty and administrators to get their reactions.
Here’s a picture of some of the kids in brainstorming mode, aided and abetted by Ty Cobb (yes, Ty Cobb).
Stay tuned to see what these kids come up with. And, other teams: Steal this idea.
On the Road: A Legendary Night in Lexington
When one thinks of Lexington, Kentucky, and its surrounding environs, two things that quickly come to mind are bourbon…
Baseball, perhaps not so much.
But professional baseball in Lexington is very much a thing. Welcome to Whitaker Bank Ballpark, home of the South Atlantic League’s Lexington Legends (Class A Affiliate of the Kansas City Royals). The ballpark opened in 2001, marking the return of professional baseball to Lexington after a 47-year absence.
In addition to the three murals seen above, one can find this giant ball outside of the ballpark. Reading the messages left me in stitches.
I visited Lexington on July 23, and July 23 was no ordinary evening. It was “Star Wars Night.”
(Note: this woman would not stop fiddling with Darth’s midsection. Finally I just gave up and took the picture.)
“Star Wars Night” has become a bona fide phenomenon in the world of Minor League Baseball promotions, and many teams consider it to be one of the cornerstones of the promotional schedule. The Legends’ iteration was a decidedly low-key affair, however.
“Tonight is the first time we’ve done it in several years,” said Sarah Bosso, Legends director of community relations. “We’re just getting our feet wet, doing it on a Wednesday and testing it out.”
Here, mustachioed mascot Big L displays his rather tepid light saber technique.
Out on the concourse, the atmosphere was decidedly more sedate.
Following standard (but by no means mandatory) Ben’s Biz Blog operating procedure, I took to the field in order to throw out a ceremonial first pitch. While there, I got my picture taken with my good friend Darth Vader.
Soon after this photo was taken, Darth overheard Bosso and myself talking about the Legends’ concession options.
“Did you say ‘Hot Brown Dog?'” asked Darth, intrigued by a local culinary specialty. “Where can I get that? Can you maybe put it through a blender?”
There were three individuals throwing out a first pitch: Judge John Schrader (Fayette Family Court), myself, and Darth Vader. I later mentioned to the judge that it was funny that Schrader and Vader were both throwing out a first pitch. He responded with a blank stare.
Here’s Judge Schrader. Or, as I now call him, the Mirthless Magistrate.
I was in fine form on this particular evening, if I do say so myself.
Finally, we have Darth, flanked by stormtroopers.
Darth didn’t have a very good arm.
Darth Vader first pitch Lexington Legends For the record, mine was faster. https://t.co/y8QUZZ1myV
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) August 20, 2014
I’ve thrown dozens of first pitches through the years; perhaps I should begin taking note of each team’s first pitch procedure?
The Legends did two things that I had never seen before: the balls used were from the batting cages (and therefore scuffed up and dirty), and the speed of the pitch was displayed and announced to the crowd. For the record, Darth and the Mirthless Magistrate both clocked in at 38 miles an hour. I, meanwhile, threw a blistering 47.
How’s ’bout a buncha random ballpark photographs, provided by a writer with rudimentary photography skills? That writer would be me, and these would be the photos:
The placement of the bullpens provide plenty of opportunity for fan interaction.
The Jim Beam distillery is located just outside of Lexington. Maybe the team could get Jim Beam to be the official sponsor of these massive concourse beams?
A pair of Star Wars aficionados ponder their options.
As you may be aware, the Legends re-branded themselves in a mustache-centric fashion prior to the 2013 season. Therefore, plenty of mustache-centric gear can be obtained at the Legends Locker.
Inside this humble space, things get pretty strange on the t-shirt front.
Viewing these images may cause you to feel like you’re in a dream.
But this? This is no dream. This is real: a piece of officially licensed Minor League Baseball apparel that explicitly references the time-honored act of mustache riding.
After this exhilarating foray into the wilds of the team store, I journeyed to the stadium’s second level. This picture, as inelegant as it may be, portrays the area immediately surrounding Whitaker Bank Ballpark. A downtown facility, this isn’t.
While visiting the press box, I was pleased to see my visage beaming back at me from the videoboard. Move over, Darth! I am the evening’s true guest of honor.
This little joystick-like contraption has a special purpose.
Flipping the switch causes flames to shoot out of the Candleberries situated atop the scoreboard. (Now that’s a sentence that I’ve definitely never written before.) This photo is unfortunately flameless.
A man named Ty Cobb gave me the opportunity to flick the switch that shoots off the flames. This is Ty Cobb.
Ty Cobb serves as the Legends creative marketing director and PA announcer, and I wrote a story about him that can be found HERE. During my time in the press box with Mr. Cobb, he reminded the crowd that if the Legends get 10 hits then they can redeem their ticket stubs for a free order of fried pickles at Hooters.
This dude, I bet that he likes fried pickles at Hooters.
But Mr. Ball Head (not sure if that’s his real name) wasn’t the only interesting character wandering around on the concourse. I also ran into this guy.
The above individual is Ryan Ferry, who had agreed to be my designated eater for the evening (you know, the individual recruited to eat the ballpark food that my gluten-free diet prohibits). Ryan, a Lexington native who says that he can see the Whitaker Bank Ballpark scoreboard from his backyard, was nine years old when the Legends played their first season. He used to be a batboy, and now occasionally mans the speed pitch booth as a game day employee. Among other claims to fame, he was waiting in line for kettle corn when Bryce Harper hit his first professional home run.
“I consider myself a fixture here,” said Ryan, a sports management major at Eastern Kentucky University.
He also collects hats and shoes. Check out these size 15 specimens.
What you see above is the Hot Brown Dog, which Darth Vader wished to be pulverized so that it could be poured through the holes in his mask. The Hot Brown Dog is a ballpark variation of a Hot Brown sandwich, a Kentucky specialty described by Wikipedia thusly:
The Hot Brown is an open-faced sandwich of turkey and bacon, covered in Mornay sauce and baked or broiled until the bread is crisp and the sauce begins to brown.
Of course, the Hot Brown Dog substitutes a hot dog for the turkey. As a Pennsylvania native, it reminded me of a hot dog version of cream chipped beef on toast.
Hot Brown, goin’ down.
“The saltiness is what sticks out, and the bacon also sticks out because it’s the king of all meats,” said Ryan. “It definitely lives up to the hot name, at least in temperature. The sauce is like gravy, and a little sweeter than I expected it to be. I hope that nobody from Kentucky comments on this, calling me out for not eating Hot Browns all that much.”
Next, Ferry suggested that he sample a deep-fried peanut butter and jelly donut called the “PBJD.” When we ordered it, the woman manning the concession counter gave us an annoyed stare, sighed, and said “Are you kidding me?”
Apparently, PBJDs are not ordered very often.
“It’s totally slept on,” said Ferry. “They really need to market it more.”
Indeed, the only mention of the PBJD that I could find was on this concession sign. Just four little letters; no picture, no explanation.
Here it is, in all of its obscure glory.
Ryan savors the moment:
“They take the donut, cut it, and put on the PB&J,” said Ryan. “It’s doughy, but has a little bit of a crisp to it.”
And with that, Ryan’s work was done. We now return to the ball field. Notice the “stables” group area in the background.
I would like to point out that this guy had a June bug on the back of his neck. I was told that they were all over the place this time of year. June, July, same difference.
Next on my agenda was to compete against children in a between-inning game of “musical donkeys.” These three children, specifically:
No video documentation exists of this effort, a sadly recurring theme of this trip. Here, I lurk around like a neanderthal while waiting for the music to stop.
I made it through the first round, but was eliminated in the second. Ben’s Biz out.
Another night, another career highlight, and veteran on-field emcee Mykraphone Mike was there to narrate it all. Yes, it’s spelled “mykraphone.”
Things were beginning to wind down on this sleepy Star Wars night.
Ty Cobb, on the PA, was adhering to the night’s theme by telling Star Wars jokes to the crowd.
“What do you call a potato that has gone to the dark side?” Cobb asked the crowd.
The crowd did not seem eager for an answer, but Cobb persisted.
The Legends ended up losing the game to the Charleston RiverDogs, by a score of 6-4. But that’s okay. It’s a long season, full of ups and downs; you’ve just got to keep on grinding.
In other words: keep a stiff upper lip.
Meanwhile, I’m on the road again! Here’s the itinerary (an asterisk next to the name means that a designated eater is still needed at that location). Get in touch.
August 22 — Batavia Muckdogs
August 23 — Rochester Red Wings
August 24 — Jamestown Jammers*
August 25 — Erie SeaWolves*
August 26 — Buffalo Bisons
August 27 — Syracuse Chiefs
August 28 — Auburn Doubledays*
August 29 — Tri-City ValleyCats
August 30 — Hudson Valley Renegades
August 31 — Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders
Market Saturation and Wireless Communication
Among this year’s crop of new Minor League logos, surely the most striking was the Lexington Legends’ away cap. It features a mustache, and nothing else. Or, if you prefer images to words, it features this:
By adopting such a look, the Legends were clearly aiming to make an impact outside of their market. Ty Cobb, the team’s graphic designer, acknowledged as much when I spoke with him at the time of the logo’s unveiling.
“Minor League Baseball is all about the ‘wow’ factor, and we wanted to go beyond the normal stuff you’d see at the ballpark,” said Cobb, whose name is totally unremarkable. “And we wanted to be the team to do this first, to have a mustache on a hat. Our mascot, he actually has a mustache, so we’re not just hopping on a fad. … We’re going to be easily recognizable when on the road. Fans can just look at the mustache.”
As the Legends hoped, many fans have done more than just look at the mustache. They’ve gone out and bought it. As of today, the team has sold the hat in 45 out of 50 states en route to their goal of “mustache domination.” Or, if you prefer images to words:
For the most part, this is a simple matter of demographics as Alaska, Montana, Maine and Vermont are among the ten least-populated states. But Arkansas? What’s up with that? Nearly three million people live there — including those who are fans of fellow Royals affiliates the Northwest Arkansas Naturals — and yet none have sprung for a hat.
(Perhaps because headwear would only sully their beauty? As I learned last season, Arkansans are nothing if not beautiful. Just scroll through this blog post for proof!)
All of this begs the question — has any team ever sold a particular piece of headwear in all 50 states? Or will the Legends be the first?
Once again it is I, cold and alone, who asks the questions that no one else dares to.
Moving on to other matters, let this be your thrice-monthly reminder that my Promo Preview column runs every Tuesday on MiLB.com. Click HERE to read the latest edition, which is virtually hot off of the virtual presses.
Included within this week’s column is a write-up on Thursday’s “Manager Cell Phone Night” in Omaha, which pays tribute to emerging dugout-to-bullpen communication technologies. Since the column went to (virtual) press, promotions manager Ben Hemmen (the second-best Ben H. working in Minor League Baseball, after
yours truly New York-Penn League president Ben Hayes), sent the following supplemental information. I, for one, love it:
— In honor of all Major League Baseball “Calls to the Bullpen” happening on cell phones this season, the Omaha Storm Chasers are offering anyone who brings in a rotary phone or old cell phone for donation a “buy one box seat, get one box seat for FREE” ticket special.
— All “Calls to the Bullpen” will come with a special surprise from Jirsch [Manager Mike Jirschele]. We will also unveil never before heard or seen manager to manager phone calls, voicemails and texts on the videoboard.
And since you can do everything on a cell phone these days, other exciting offers, deals, competitions, and games will take place at Thursday’s game:
— There will be a Facebook challenge that night for a FREE night at a future game in the Safeco Insurance/ Manager Mike Jirschele Dugout suite.
— If you e-mail the Team Store at the game that night (firstname.lastname@example.org), you will receive a coupon for a special offer.
— A few lucky fans who use twitter on Thirsty Thursday and hashtag #BudLight or #Pepsi to @omastormchasers at the right time will have enjoy a beverage on the house.
— The person who posts the best picture of Manager Mike Jirschele to Instagram will win an autographed Mike Jirschele cell phone.
I was going to end this post with a picture of Mr. Jirschele, but in my quest to find a photo of him I inadvertently stumbled upon this shot of Alice Cooper and Mike Moustakas. Love it to death:
Turn the Page, Part 2
As you may recall, the last post on this blog was a bountiful bouillabaisse of ripped-straight-from-the-notebook Minor League news items. Well, that’s what this post is gonna be dedicated to as well.
But before we get started with that, please click THIS LINK to read this MiLB.com article detailing my Top 10 favorite Minor League stadiums. Feedback is appreciated and encouraged, and views both complementary and dissenting will be included in a future blog post.
And now, to the notebook!
I’ve never been a Jay Leno fan, but nonetheless there’s always been one thing I’ve loved about his show and that’s the weekly “Headlines” segment. And wouldn’t you know it? Last month, none other than the Lehigh Valley IronPigs made an appearance thanks to this newspaper ad:
Watch it HERE, the IronPigs reference is around the 2:30 mark.
I haven’t yet compiled my 2013 Minor League promotions spreadsheet (yes, compiling such a spreadsheet is an annual offseason task), but one giveaway item that has already caught my eye — and you know how painful that can be — comes courtesy of the Lake County Captains:
On Saturday, July 6, a Skipper Rock-N-Bobble doll featuring the Captains mascot paying tribute to Randy Newman, an inductee in this year’s class of Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame musicians, will be given to the first 1,500 fans compliments of Sysco. This year’s doll will also feature a sound clip from Randy Newman’s Burn On, which is synonymous with the Major League movie.
Yes! A Randy Newman-themed giveaway. And one featuring a song from “Sail Away,” arguably his best-ever album (it’s certainly my favorite). Here’s hoping Randy Newman promos spread through the Minors like a fire on the Cuyahoga. How about “Salute to American Foreign Policy Night”?
It’s pretty much indisputable that the Lexington Legends possess the best team van in Minor League Baseball. Great slogan, horrible pick-up line:
Remember a few weeks back when I wrote about the Hickory Crawdads’ “Day in the Minors” fan package? This post prompted an email response from New Hampshire Fisher Cats’ media relations manager/broadcaster Tom Gauthier, who wrote:
While we don’t have a program like [the Crawdads], we do offer a program for young kids to experience a day in the life. We work with Citizens Bank (sponsor love) to open up a handful of jobs for kids ages 6-16. They shadow with us for an afternoon and then through the game itself.
To read more about the Fisher Cats’ “Kids Run the Show” promo, click HERE.
Meanwhile, I’m more than happy to have kids shadow me for a day. As a veteran blogger, I will teach them how to show up to the office late and disheveled, overpay for lunch in lieu of bringing your own, and write jokes on Twitter instead of doing meaningful work.
You may remember my piece last season on the art of scorekeeping. In this piece one of the fans profiled was the pseudonym-ed “Stevo,” and I will now take the opportunity to direct you to his blog “The Baseball Enthusiast.” Stevo has just begun a series of posts entitled “For Those Keeping Score at Home,” featuring “intermediate to advanced” tricks of the trade.
I have a feeling that many readers of this blog will enjoy picking up what he’s putting down.
I’m pretty sure that the Reading Fightin’ Phils are the first team to give away their stadium, even if it is only for a day. Read all about it HERE. Or just look at this visual and wonder.
I know that snow-covered ballpark photos are so two weeks ago, but here’s a good one courtesy of the New Britain Rock Cats. So soothing!
In what I believe is a Minor League anomaly, the hair of Wilmington Blue Rocks mascot Rocky is real and actually grows. And once it grows long enough, he’s going to donate to Locks of Love. Click HERE to see his ‘do.
Proving that just about anything can be capitalized on by Minor League Baseball teams, the Mobile BayBears recently opened their arms to distressed travelers after the beleaguered Carnival Triumph finally limped into Mobile.
Sez the team:
The Mobile BayBears would like to give all passengers aboard the Carnival Triumph cruise ship the opportunity to visit the Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum for free on Thursday and Friday February 14th and 15th.
“We understand travelers have been through a lot in the past few days,” said team spokesman Craig Durham. “In an effort to make their time in Mobile as enjoyable as possible we encourage them to come see one of baseball’s most unique museums and pay tribute to Mobile legend Hank Aaron.”
The museum will be open from 9-5 on Thursday and Friday, and all non-Carnival passengers will be able to visit the museum for the standard price of $5.
NYC still has a long ways to go when it comes to fully recovering from Superstorm Sandy, and the Brooklyn Cyclones are doing their part via their “Meaningful Mondays” initiative. $3 from every ticket sold to every Monday game will go toward a local charity — read about it HERE.
Speaking of meaningful, I’d recommend that you read these most insightful observations from former Durham Bulls staffer Matt DeMargel regarding why employers should look at Minor League Baseball experience in a positive light.
And now I have reached the end of this notebook page and, therefore, the end of this post. I’ll conclude by sharing this Augusta GreenJackets staff bio. The legend of Dumpster the Stadium Cat continues to grow!
Who is CatDog?
The Harlem Shake: A Minor Overview
Introductory paragraphs within this blog forum can sometimes be needlessly circuitous, steeped as they are in obscure references and acute self-consciousness. But not today. Today, we cut to the chase:
What follows is a comprehensive round-up of Harlem Shake videos produced by Minor League teams.
Yes, you’re probably sick of the Harlem Shake at this point. I am too. But let’s take the long view, as historians with an interest in baseball history, viral fads and the intersection of the two will no doubt delight in stumbling upon this post at some at some unknown moment in the distant future. I am doing this for you, future historians! I always am. For it is you who will ensure my legacy.
Plus, you’ve gotta admit — Minor League teams, with their easy access to supply closets full of banana suits and inflatable ponies, make better Harlem Shake videos than most. So here we go! In no particular order, here are two dozen Harlem Shake videos produced by professional baseball teams in possession of a formal affiliation with a Major League club.
Frederick Keys — Apparently a big-headed reincarnation of Francis Scott Key regularly sits in on front office meetings:
Columbus Clippers — Warning! Includes bear-on-frankfurter violence that may be unsettling to younger viewers:
Bowie Baysox — A toothbrush can’t dance? I bristle at such a notion:
Lexington Legends — Mister would you please stop punching that pony? WATCH ON FACEBOOK.
Vancouver Canadians — As if any proof was needed that this was an international phenomenon:
Fort Wayne Tincaps — A solitary pothead gives way to a banana who loves the queen of hearts.
Lake Elsinore Storm — Yes that is an upside-down squirrel hanging from the dugout, and yes he is happy to see you:
Corpus Christi Hooks — Can’t a man bike through the office in peace? WATCH ON MILB.COM
Tulsa Drillers — Hey, no dogs in the swimming pool!
Gwinnett Braves — Team store? More like surreal fever dream store!
New Hampshire Fisher Cats — Fungo and friends “rose” to the occasion:
Lehigh Valley IronPigs — Give peas a chance. WATCH ON MILB.COM
Buffalo Bisons — Vest-wearing gentleman on the right is my favorite individual to appear in any Harlem Shake video:
Charlotte Stone Crabs — What’s to stop the Incredible Hulk from wearing a sombrero?
Fresno Grizzlies — Forget this faddish viral bastardization. Parker knows how to do the REAL Harlem Shake. WATCH ON VINE.
Louisville Bats — This takes place in multiple dimensions simultaneously. It will blow your mind.
Bowling Green Hot Rods — I guess you could say that Axle rose to the occasion.
Delmarva Shorebirds — The Shake so nice they did it twice.
Springfield Cardinals — You know what? This is probably the best one out of all of ’em.
Round Rock Express — All bobblehead version!
Connecticut Tigers — Shout it from the rooftop!
And, finally, there are the State College Spikes. The first Minor League team to post a Harlem Shake video, and the last to be featured in this post:
Two latecomers have entered the fray!
Orem Owlz — Holly, the Owlz pregnant mascot, wisely sat this one out.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans — Fans of multi-colored crustacean triumvirates rejoice!
And that’s all she wrote, folks. “She” being me, of course. I am a man. A 34-year-old man. A man who is perhaps too old to be providing you with diversions such as the above. But yet I do, and yet I did.
Do not forsake me, future historians! I do not want to believe that this has all been in vain.
Looking for a Pizza the Action
This past September, I wrote an article on the Lake Elsinore Storm’s sizable fleet of surreal costumed characters and what they add to the ballpark experience. Here are the first two paragraphs of that article, in the hope that it may jog your memory regarding what it is I’m talking about:
A gorilla being pummeled with foam noodles before escaping over a 12-foot fence. … A 6-foot chicken racing across a vast expanse of grass alongside an equally oversized squirrel. … A pink rabbit emerging from a secret door, gyrating furiously before disappearing from whence he came. … A cup of ice cream dancing joyously alongside a banana, whose presence greatly excites the aforementioned gorilla.
The above may sound like the disconnected fragments of a particularly surreal fever dream — and they very well could be. But “particularly surreal fever dream” also might be the best way to describe the between-innings entertainment at a Lake Elsinore Storm game, which includes all of the eccentric characters mentioned above and many, many more.
If YOU want in on that action, NOW is the time to act. Last week, the Storm announced that they’re “looking for local talent to join our crazy cast of on-field characters this season.”
Per the team:
Do you have what it takes to join the likes of the Fastest Squirrel in the World and Grounds Crew Gorilla? Create a 30-second video of you as a character of your choice. Upload it to YouTube and send the link to email@example.com. We’re looking to be wowed, so aim for our faces.
That “aim for our faces” remark is a reference to the team’s Rally Cop character, who was known for throwing his “softee balls to your face.” (Those are the team’s words, not mine). The team’s plea for performers is motivated at least in part by the sad fact that the Rally Cop is no longer. Storm staffer Robbie Gillett, the Rally Cop’s alter-ego, is no longer with the team.
So long, Rally Cop — we hardly knew ye!
The Storm aren’t the only team searching for new blood these days. The Lexington Legends currently have an opening in their front office, and one of the candidates has found a creative way to plead his case.
This bit of pizza-based advocacy made a strong impression with the Legends staff, with broadcaster Keith Elkins marveling that it’s “the first edible application that we’ve received.” Ty Cobb, the Legends’ director of creative services, wrote that Dan “will certainly receive full consideration” when it comes to which candidates the team decides to interview. My guess is that Dan has made himself the front-runner in the team’s employment sweepstakes, but who knows? Maybe another candidate will soon utilize a dessert-based medium as a means of self-promotion — that would really be the icing on the cake!
Going out on a high note since 2007,
Back in Business
Monday marked the first work day in which MiLB.com headquarters (located in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood) was back up and running after the superstorm, and it took me not having access to this place to realize just how much I missed it.
All of my friends are okay.
As someone who resides in a neighborhood that was marginally affected, I’m only just beginning to process the extent to which Sandy truly devastated the region in which I live and work. I was very fortunate in that I never lost power through it all, and with this being the case I channeled some of my storm anxiety into writing for MiLB.com and this blog as if nothing was wrong. I didn’t know what else to do. (For those interested in how Minor League teams were affected by Sandy, check out this short news piece). I’ll save my musings on storm life lessons and how this can and should spur me to become a more active and engaged member of my community for another day. For now, though, let’s engage in a little bit of good ol’ fashion offseason bouillabaissin.’
In case you didn’t read my MiLB.com dispatches, two teams have recently unveiled a new set of logos.
The Lexington Legends got quite a bit of play for their new look. Not only did mascot Big L unveil the new look after rappelling down the side of a building, but the team’s new road cap features a mustache and nothing else. Crank up Sparks!
The new Legends’ universe:
And then there were the Erie SeaWolves, who kept on keeping on with their canine pirate theme despite Erie’s distinct lack of mammalian buccaneer quadrupeds.
I couldn’t help but notice that the eyepatch is now on the right eye, when it used to be on the left. What does it all mean?!
So, yeah. Logos. Next up on the unveiling front are the Hudson Valley Renegades on November 13th and then, one day later, the Reading Phillies. That latter case should be very interesting, as the R-Phils are changing their name and let’s just say the community isn’t reacting positively to that news in the early-going.
Speaking of the Reading Phillies, their former media relations director Tommy Viola is now with the Charlotte Knights. And last month in Charlotte love was in the air. Ballpark wedding!
But sometimes, one needs to destroy before they can grow. Just a few days later, Knights mascot Homer visited the construction site of the Knights’ new ballpark in order to help out with the construction.
Finally, some dragon-with-a-hammer content on this blog! I knew it would happen one of these days.
Twelve Months of Mystery
From 2001 through 2010, the Lexington Legends’ home confines were known as Applebee’s Park. But that naming rights deal expired at the conclusion of the 2010 campaign, leaving the facility without a proper moniker.
Rather than shy away from the uncertainty, the Legends are basking in it. The team’s 2011 calendar — sent to sponsors, clients, and season ticket holders — is destined to become a cult classic collector’s item for those dedicated to the accumulation of the absurd.
As part of a teaser campaign to build up awareness of the new stadium name, the calendar features ballpark shots in which the old “Applebees” logo has been removed (hence the ghostly silhouette in the upper right hand portion of the cover photo seen above).
And it gets a whole lot better (or worse, depending on your perspective). A sampling of monthly selections:
Yes…it is a photo of a logo-less trash can sitting forlornly on the concourse. If that isn’t an immediate connotation of affordable family-friendly fun then I don’t know what is.
I mean, really, I don’t.
But all this uncertainty will come to a close tomorrow evening, when the Legends reveal their stadium name for 2011 and beyond. Shortly after this announcement, the team will distribute stickers featuring the new ballpark name and logo so that proactive calendar owners may fill in the blanks themselves.
I’m going to leave mine just the way it is, however, so that I can always remember that brief moment in space and time when Lexington proved themselves to be Legends of ambiguity.
And by “updating” I mostly mean “deleting”, since many of the blogs listed had unceremoniously fallen by the wayside like so much virtual detritus. Therefore, I am in search of new additions — if there are any Minor League or sports biz blogs you’d like to see listed, then by all means get in touch.
And speaking of “offseason” tasks, Friday’s MiLB.com story on offseason work in Minor League Baseball has gotten a robust response thus far. I appreciate this. Along those lines, the Delmarva Shorebirds are currently running a weekly staff profile series that provides insight into the specific tasks associated with various Minor League jobs. Check it out HERE.
And the Lexington Legends made it known that they are currently producing a bi-weekly video series entitled “What the ‘L’ We Do in the Offseason”. I’ll go ahead and post episode one here, a decision that may or may not have been influenced by the Legends’ prominent use of the Benny Hill theme song.
To move on to a bit of breaking news — it appears that the trio of Connecticut Tigers scarecrows that went missing last week (detailed in Friday’s post) have been returned. The team issued a press release today that reads, in part:
The mystery of the stolen scarecrows taken from the Leffingwell House Museum display last Thursday has been solved; partially. The three missing uniforms numbered 57, 58, and 59 have been returned along with two out of the three pairs of uniform pants. The uniforms were found in a pile outside the Dodd Stadium gates during clean-up of the 1st Annual Connecticut Tigers Octoberfest.
And what of the scarecrows themselves? Are they now naked? Clearly, this incident is far from over.
Much closer to “over” are the fundraising attempts of Richmond Flying Squirrels mascot Nutzy. As you may recall, the fearless rodent is hoping to rappel down the side of a building on behalf of the Special Olympics. But he needs help — with less than a week to go, he is still over $500 short of his $1000 goal. Click HERE to donate.
Hope you’re having a “rappel” of a time this offseason, doing whatever it is you’ve been doing.