It was my not my intent for the blog to take such a lengthy midweek hiatus, but the fact of the matter is I had very little material to work with. So I took a deep breath, stepped away from the WordPress dashboard, and waited for my falderal reserve to naturally replenish itself.
Let’s start with a recap of a mission kinda-sorta accomplished, as earlier this week Richmond Flying Squirrels mascot Nutzy took a trip to St. Louis in order to capitalize on the Rally Squirrel mania that has overtaken that Cards-crazed city. Nutzy’s obligations are many, however, so his trip to the Show Me State was necessarily brief. Although he is already imbued with the power to fly, he took an airplane to St. Louis on Wednesday…
just in time for a Game 6 rainout.
What a bummer. But gliding rodents have a natural predilection for optimism, so Nutzy made the best of a bad situation. He posed with fans outside of shuttered Busch Stadium before checking out the sights of St. Louis.
Despite the somewhat anti-climactic nature of Nutzy’s journey, the sheer ridiculousness of a Virginia-based mascot of a San Francisco affiliate visiting Missouri in order to capitalize on mania surrounding the alleged rallying powers of his species generated some national attention. Most notably, the New York Times Bats Blog filed a dispatch in which Nutzy was described as an “eugenically designed über Eichhörnchen.”
Now let’s break that down: Nutzy sounds a bit like “Nazi,” Nazis were German, “eichhornchen” is German for squirrel, and eugenics as a social policy fell into (hopefully permanent) disfavor after taken to extremes by the Nazis. Subtle, perhaps, but this is one of the most nefarious disses ever levied against a mascot! The Richmond Flying Squirrels should boycott the paper of record until they receive a full apology for this sinister insinuation!
But I suspect that Nutzy will find other ways to occupy his time, as waging quixotic campaigns against the Gray Lady just doesn’t seem like his kind of thing. This is, after all, an individual who just last week rappelled down a building.
Rappelling down a building is something I have yet to attempt, but despite the lack of blog content I’ve still been fairly busy this week on MiLB.com “MiLBY Award” content as well as this feature that ran today on the Omaha Storm Chasers and their 2011 season. Give it a read; I chose to focus on the Storm Chasers because their recent transitions help to illuminate core Minor League Baseball operating principles that are often misunderstood.
Apropos of nothing, I’ll close this post with a video that I somehow missed the first time around. It’s of Boss and Moko Moanaroa and their father Joe performing a Maori war dance during a rain delay in Lowell. It’s the endless availability of things like this that make Minor League Baseball such a fun world to be immersed in.
Thank you for indulging this Minor League missive in the midst of such historic times for MLB. Enjoy Game 7 and the weekend in general, and I’ll be back on Monday with some Halloween-based content. If you’ve got something for me, then now’s the time to send some falderal for my reserve.
Despite the season’s increasing imminence, last week was an extremely slow one in the world of Minor League news. But such periods of lethargy are to be expected, and flush times will be here soon enough.
Lately, the greatest boom time harbingers have come courtesy of the Richmond Flying Squirrels. Here, in an image akin to a wolf introducing a lamb, Nutzy the Squirrel helps to unveil new mascot Zinger the Acorn:
Zinger isn’t the only new character in the Flying Squirrels pantheon, for the team is also currently staging a “Pig Pickin'” contest:
The team issued the following declaration:
The Flying Squirrels have announced a Pig Pickin’ Contest where fans are encouraged to vote for one of four piglets to become the team’s new Rally Pig. Voting begins today and will run through Thursday, March 3rd, on the Richmond Times-Dispatch website…The winning piglet will be unveiled at the Flying Squirrels’ Fan Fest on Saturday, March 5th.
And as for that FanFest? It’s a two-day extravaganza:
The evening includes a “Ballpark Bonfire” complete with live music and subsequent on-field sleepover. The fans who do spend the night will have first crack at buying tickets the next morning, and additional festivities that a.m. include the unveiling of the aforementioned “Rally Pig” as well as an “Extreme Eating Contest” (I greatly hope those two events are not related).
Todd “Parney” Parnell, seen above dressed like a cow (for reasons known only to him), is a veteran of staging such extravaganzas thanks to his time spent as general manager of the Altoona Curve. That organization is humming along nicely in his absence, however, and on Monday they unveiled their 2011 giveaway calendar.
The highlight would have to be the “Rudy Owens Perm Hat”, in honor of the wonderfully-coiffed southpaw who suited up for the team last season.
Perhaps even more strangely, the team is staging a series of Tom Cruise-related giveaways as part of their “Summer Cruise Series.”
The four giveaway nights will be themed with some of Cruise’s most electrifying and Oscar-worthy work as an actor and will begin onThursday, June 16 vs. New Britain with an Aviator Sunglasses Giveaway presented by Bud Light….The three other Cruise nights will be the Thursday, July 7 Tighty Whitey Giveaway…the Thursday, July 21 Shot Glass Giveaway…and a Thursday, August 4 Foam Football Giveaway.
Fans who collect all four giveaway items can bring them to September 4’s contest, in order to be entered into a drawing to win a cruise. Curve GM Rob Egan attempts to make sense of it all via the following quote:
We came up with the idea for the Summer Cruise series while pulling tarp last season, about as far away from Hollywood or the Caribbean as you can get,” said Egan. “We think it will be a lot of fun for our adult fans to remember some of Mr. Cruise’s earlier films with some different giveaways – plus have a chance to win a cruise.”
Hey, if that explanation is good enough for you then it’s good enough for me. But to return to the extremely important issue of “camping out at the ballpark” — in Inland Empire, even Bernie the mascot isn’t guaranteed admittance to 2011’s slate of games.
The greatest hit in Black Sheep’s catalog has been on my mind lately, because it seems that everywhere I turn a Minor League team is saying “The Choice Is Yours.”
Want some examples? I’ve got three of ’em, allowing me to gratuitously use the word “triumvirate.” First up are PA’s premier iron-toed ungulates, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
The team is asking fans to choose 2011’s “Pig Out Menu Item.” The options are as follows:
- The “Three Little Pigs” Sandwich – Feast on this: Three different types of meat featuring four strips of
mouth-watering bacon, over two inches of thick ham and four ounces of succulent pulled pork. A rich barbeque sauce compliments the meat that is served on a fresh Kaiser bun.
- Diggity Dog – The hot dog has been reinvented with Black Angus beef, two slices of hot-off-the-grill bacon and melted American cheese on a hearty steak roll. Savor the taste with ultimate array of toppings including fried onion straws and barbeque sauce.
- Double Blast Burger – Imagine the double cheese-burger flipped on its head! Two, half-pound beef patties, two slices of American cheese, French fries and coleslaw on a fresh Kaiser bun.
- Loaded Fries – French fries crammed with cheese, pulled pork barbeque, chopped bacon, sour cream, chopped tomato and heart-pounding spicy jalapeno peppers. Don’t forget to grab some napkins!
Fans can vote on the team’s website, with the winner announced on Valentine’s Day. And since I’m on the topic of the IronPigs, I’d like to note that each individual staff profile on the team’s website contains a smiling or winking animation of said individual. As an example, here’s general manager Kurt Landes:
It’s hard to move on from that, but move on we must. For in Richmond, the Flying Squirrels are asking fans to “Name the Nut.” The team is adding a “fun-loving” acorn mascot to its roster of ballpark characters, and this festive hard-shelled fruit will go by one of the following five designations:
I highly question the wisdom of pairing a squirrel and acorn mascot together. Isn’t that the equivalent of teaming up a wolf with a lamb? A raccoon with a fetid dumpster? A humpback whale with its own fat reserves?
But these are questions for another day. Information of a more pressing nature has just emerged from a team which incorporates a triumvirate of states into its name, as the Delmarva Shorebirds have released their promo schedule into the vastness of the internet:
The first-ever Manny Machado bobblehead will probably get the most attention, but in keeping with my already-established “The Choice Is Yours Theme” I’d like to highlight September 2’s “NFL Night” giveaway:
The Shorebirds will let the first 1,000 fans choose between a Shorebirds hat in Redskins, Ravens or Eagles colors. Fans are encouraged to choose the colored hat of their favorite team.
I like the Shorebird’s creativity on this one, but perhaps a more relevant NFL-themed promo would simply be to lock the players out of the stadium?
Did I just write “slight possibility?” I meant “absolute guarantee.”
For instance, did you know that that Fort Wayne’ Tincaps will be hosting a four-game Pacific Coast League series? Earlier this week, the Tincaps and parent club the San Diego Padres announced that the Padres’ Triple-A Tucson affiliate will play the Las Vegas 51s at Parkview Field from July 14-17.
This rare, if not unprecedented arrangement, came about because the Padres are in the process of buying the Triple-A club (formerly the Portland Beavers). Their long-term intent is to move them to nearby Escondido, CA, but until the specifics of that are straightened out the team will play in Tucson.
Except, of course, when they are playing a four-game series in Fort Wayne. Maybe some press release quotes can help ease the confusion you may now be experiencing:
“Our fans can get a taste of Triple-A baseball right here at Parkview Field,” TinCaps President Mike Nutter said. “These players are on the cusp of the Major Leagues and several have already reached that level. The opportunity to bring these games to Fort Wayne is a testament to our great relationship with the Padres and their appreciation for all of the support from the team and fans here. It is also another example of the incredible things we can do at Parkview Field.”
Regardless of the admittedly confusing circumstances that led to this arrangement, the bottom line is that this is great for the Tincaps. It gives them the opportunity to showcase a higher level of baseball at Parkview Field, featuring players who very well may have previously logged time in Fort Wayne in 2009 and/or ’10.
Such an opportunity is worth the logistical hassles, an issue I’ll explore at a later date. For now, satiate your desire for more info by clicking THIS LINK.
In other, more rodent-based news, the Richmond Flying Squirrels have announced “two comic-themed images of Nutzy which will be featured across all of the club’s marketing and branding for the 2011 season.”
That is a seriously determined squirrel, one clearly able to overcome enemies such as greased bird feeders and bb gun-toting teens.
And as for myself, I’m about to overcome the enemy known as “the five-day work week.” Have a great Thanksgiving, and please know that I am truly grateful for everyone who reads this blog.
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.
As part of my increasingly desperate attempts to provide content from when Minor League Baseball was still being played on a daily basis across the country, please enjoy this triumvirate of pictures from the Modesto Nuts’ “Star Wars Night”.
And I’ll be honest here: the last time I featured a “Star Wars Night” on this blog I ended up with about 4.2 billion hits. Plenty of people were kind enough to link to it, often with remarks like “check out these hilarious pictures!”
That’s something I’ve learned over the years — pictures are key. Writing, not so much. That’s why I would never waste upwards of one hour each day agonizing over pun construction. Of course not. That would be stupid.
But what certainly isn’t stupid is a giant inflatable mascot created in honor of a former team president. Behold inflatable Chuck Domino, unveiled during the Reading Phillies’ Hall of Fame Night on August 31:
But the Reading Phillies, like almost everyone else, have moved on to offseason concerns. The team is currently providing a series of video progress reports as FirstEnergy Stadium undergoes a $10 million renovation project. Here’s Chapter 1:
Domino, meanwhile, is now Chief Executive Manager of the Richmond Flying Squirrels. Today, the Squirrels announced that Nutzy the mascot plans to rappel down a 25-story building next month.
For charity, of course. Sez Nutzy:
Help send me Over the Edge and for Special Olympics Virginia. That’s right…I’m hoping to rappel off a 25-story building in downtown Richmond this October! In order to take on this challenge and join other fearless Special Olympics fans on the roof, I must first reach my fundraising goal. With your help I’ll be dangling from 400 feet up in no time!
The thought occurs to me that Nutzy should be kept far away from Modesto, as he would probably attempt to store that team’s pair of anthropomorphic Nut mascots within the confines of his cheeks.
But such abstract concerns can wait — the playoffs are still going on! Get pumped, Northwest Arkansas fans. Get pumped.
No matter how where you are in your particular baseball journey — postseason, offseason, or otherwise — I thank you for your continued patronage of this blog. You keep looking at the pictures, and I’ll keep writing. It’s a nice little symbiotic relationship we have going here.