Tagged: Offseason Events

Here We Go Again

sunset.jpgHello, readers. I hope you have enjoyed the in-season content I have rained down upon you over the past several months. It was both an honor and a privilege to be the conduit through whom this information was conveyed.

But, the season is now in its death throes. The long, cold offseason awaits, ready to envelop us all in blackness. The blog will soldier on through the upcoming months, focusing on all the interesting things teams are doing as they prepare for the 2009 campaign.

But for now, let me provide you with the following bit of information, which serves as a perfect bridge between the season that has passed and the season that will be:

“The Altoona Curve’s long-planned and well-publicized “Salute to Procrastination Night” hasAltoona_Curve.gif been pushed back to the 2009 season…The Curve will now have seven months to plan the details of a 2009 incarnation of the promotion.”

The Curve’s full press release can be read here. Earlier blog posts regarding this long-delayed promotion can be viewed here and here.

And, Remember: Any and all info regarding Minor League promotions and game operations is always appreciated. Email me at benjamin.hill@mlb.com  

Yesterday's News…Today!

LakeelsinorestormlogoWhile I try to be as timely as possible in providing you, the reader, with the latest Minor League news, it is inevitable that sometimes I fall behind. I am only human, after all, and not some sort of cyborg information disseminator.

With many apologies to those who believe that time is of the essence, I now present a handful of interesting Minor League news items that all emanated from that hazy period of history colloquially known as "last week".

From the "It Was Only A Matter of Time" Department: Swiping a page from the playbook of theBarry_bonds1
Toledo Mud Hens and Huntsville Stars, the Lake Elsinore Storm have extended a contract offer to beleaguered slugger Barry Bonds. Not as a player, mind you, but in the office of Media Relations. The Storm’s offer includes "expanded cubicle space with barcalounger and plasma TV."

"We just think the way he handled the media with such grace over the years that he would be a perfect fit in our media relations department," said Storm GM Chris Jones.

Presumably, Jones said this with a straight face, with no discernible trace of sarcasm or irony. Or, at least that is what I choose to believe.

Moose Loose on the Roof:
I have chronicled a wide variety of off-season promotions this season, but none of them involved a costumed moose serving breakfast to a roof-dwelling elementary school principal. Until now. On Thursday, Rocky Bluewinkle of the Wilmington Blue Rocks ascended a fire ladder in order to deliver a morning meal to Principal Charles Sheppard of Townsend Elementary School. Sheppard slept on the roof the night before because his students had far exceeded their reading quota for the school year. Well, that makes sense.

Actually, it does. Click here.

Turtle Power: This might be my favorite bit of mascot news from the entire offseason. It involves Snappy, the Beloit Snappers‘ inimitable costumed turtle. From the press release:

"Anytime a fan spots Snappy at an event outside of Pohlman Field, he or she will have a chance toSnappy1
win tickets to a Snappers home game this year. Be the first person to run up to Snappy, at the event, and shout ‘Snapper-tastic!’  Snappy will then have no choice but to surrender two tickets to a Snappers home game this season."

My favorite part of this offer is that Snappy has no choice in the matter. Apparently, the word "Snapper-tastic" causes him to lose his free will. The long-debated philosophical question of whether mascots are able to exercise free will in the first place is one we’ll have to put aside for another day, unfortunately. I have more important things to do…

…like vote in the Second Round of Minors Moniker Madness. Make sure that you do the same!

Coming tomorrow: The latest news from today!

Minors Moniker Madness!

Flint_1The NCAA March Madness Basketball Tournament kicked off just about an hour ago, and millions of sports fans are giving it their rapt attention.

In a more perfect world, however, this attention would instead be focused on MiLB.com’s Minors Moniker Madness Tournament. For those who don’t know, Minors Moniker Madness (MMM from here on out) seeks to determine who has the best name in all of Minor League Baseball.

Some background on the tournament can be found here, while analysis of the first round match-ups can be found here, here, here, and here. But, most importantly, one can cast their vote HERE.  The polls were opened on yesterday morning, and first-round voting will continue through Monday.

The tournament is chock full of awesome names, and it goes without saying that opinions will vary. In no particular order, here are my five favorite MMM participants:

— Jetsy ExtranoDusty

— Henry Henry
— Flint Wipke (shown at the top of this post)
— Given Kutz
— Dusty Napoleon (hey, there’s his college photo to the right).

I now call on my legions (read: handful) of readers to do two things for me:

1. Give your own opinions on favorite names in the comments section.
2. Spread the word about MMM! The world needs to know.

Finally, I would like to congratulate myself, as this is Ben’s Biz Blog’s 100th post. Here’s to 450 more.

Ticket Discounts Are More Gratifying When They Are Fleeting and Ultra-Specific

LeprechaunWhen we last checked in with the brave and innovative souls of the Lancaster JetHawks‘ ticket department, they had devised a spectacular leap day sale which, among other things, offered discounted ticket packages for the price of $229.08 (2/29/08…get it?).

Well, this endeavor must have been successful, because the club is once again staging a Holiday-related pricing stunt. This weekend, the "O’JetHawks" are offering the following Irish-themed St. Patrick’s Day deals:

— 15% off a 13-game Dugout Section mini-plan, in recognition of the fact that Irish-rock superstars U2 have released 15 albums.

— 11% off a 13-game Box Section mini-plan, in honor of the 11 Championships won by the NotreIrish
Dame Fighting Irish.

— 16% off a 26-game Dugout Section mini-plan, in honor of the Boston Celtics’ 16 NBA Championships.

— 17% off a Box Section Jet Pack, simply because St. Patrick’s Day is on March 17th.

I commend the JetHawks for their ongoing creativity, and would like to suggest a few more discounts that they could have utilized.

— A 3% discount in honor of the number of albums released by Irish rap legends House of Pain.

— A 29% discount, in recognition of the grams of fat in a 7oz serving of corned beef.

— A 14% discount in honor of the alcohol content of Jamesons’ whiskey.

— A 95% discount, in recognition of the number of "Danny Boy" cover versions listed on Wikipedia.

A part of me is tempted to continue this exercise until I become too exhausted to type, but I’ll save masochistic displays of blogging prowess for another day. It’s almost the weekend, after all. Time to wind it down, folks. Time to wind it down.

However, please feel free to leave any of your St. Patty’s-themed discount suggestions in the comments section. The comments section is always open for business.

Outside of My Jurisdiction

Milb_logo_4The Ben’s Biz Blog sphere of coverage encompasses everything having to do with the operation of affiliated Minor League Baseball clubs.

That is a huge sphere of coverage, let me tell you. I am often overwhelmed by its sheer immensity. 

However, sometimes I come across bits of interesting information that fall outside of my  officially-prescribed territory. Rather than ignoring these non-sanctioned news nuggets, I will now travel out of my admittedly enormous jurisdiction in order to bring them to you. Enjoy, and don’t tell my boss that I’m doing this. He has a low tolerance for loose cannons, ever since watching a late-night showing of Lethal Weapon 4 on TNT.

Urologist a Bunch of Jokers: Via Joe Favorito’s indispensable "Sports Marketing and PR Round-Up" blog, here’s a truly innovative March Madness promotion that will be taking place in Oregon:

"A team of Springfield (Oregon) urologists are running a pre-tournament special on vasectomies,Riverdogs
urging male fans to ‘lower your seed’ for the tournament."

This is, in a word, genius. Minor League Baseball hasn’t had any vasectomy-related promotions since the Charleston RiverDogs cancelled their "Free Vasectomy for Father’s Day" giveaway in 1997. Congratulations to these Northwestern urologists for filling the void.

Speaking of March Madness…Darren Rovell’s Sports Biz Blog is currently staging a single-elimination bracket tournament to determine the best logo in Minor League Baseball. I haveCasperghosts
some serious issues with the first-round match-ups (Casper Ghosts a #16 seed?!? ), but it’s still a fun exercise. And don’t think that we here at MiLB.com are going to be left out when it comes to staging ridiculous bracket-style tournaments. Just wait until Monday…

A Minor League-style Promotion in the Majors: Via the also-indispensable Gameops.com Editor’s Blog comes this Seattle Mariners promotion, which has a distinctly Minor Putz
League spirit:

"The Seattle Mariners will hold ‘J.J. Putz Soul Patch Night’ at their April 12 game. The first 20,000 fans through the gates will receive a ‘stick-on’ version of the tuft of facial hair, called a ‘soul patch, sported by Putz."

Funny, I always thought a soul patch had something to do with shoe repair.

Finally: Via Ballpark Digest, I was tipped to this USA Today article on "All-You-Can-Eat" ballpark seating. Seeing as how the Minors are bursting at the seams with "All-You-Can-Eat" promos, I figured this was a relevant link to provide. Depending on your perspective, these promos are symbolic of either the best or worst that American culture has to offer.

Thanks for reading, everyone. I’ll be back tomorrow, safe and sound, in my usual affiliated Minor League environs. I miss it already.

One Small Step For Fan…

LeapingTomorrow will be far more notable than just a typical run-of-the-mill Friday, for tomorrow is February 29th! Like Presidential elections, the Winter Olympics, and non-disappointing seasons by JD Drew, this occurs just once every four years. Therefore, it should be celebrated.

Approximately 187,000 individuals were born on this special day, including rapper Ja Rule, burlesque performer Tempest Storm, hockey goalie Cam Ward, and comedian Tom Lorenzo. It’s short notice, I know, but these 187,000 folks should strongly consider making a move to Lancaster, California.

On Feb. 29th, the California League’s Lancaster JetHawks are holding the “One Giant Leap for Fankind” leap day tribute, and all individuals with a leap day birthday will receive a free box seat season ticket for the 2008 season!

Now, chances are that you’re just an average Joe or Jane with a boring non-leap day date of birth.Lancaster_jethawks_primary_logo_2_3 Don’t despair, for the JetHawks have smartly expanded tomorrow’s promotion to include everyone, regardless of when you emerged from the womb. From the press release:

“Fans may purchase a Box Section season ticket for the normal price of $350, and “leap” to the Dugout Section for no additional upgrade fee. In addition, fans can purchase two Dugout Box Mini Plan C Ticket Plans for only $229.08, which happens to be the numeric date for Friday (2/29/08).”

Anyone who has experienced the thrill of purchasing goods or services for a price that corresponds to the numeric date of said purchase will tell you that it’s an unforgettable experience. I urge all those who reside in the Lancaster area to take advantage of the opportunity.

Oh, and to Jah, Tempest, Cam, Tom, and the approximately 186,996 other individuals who were born on February 29th: Happy Birthday!

Shot Down Too Soon

SatelliteHello, readership! I am back in NYC, safe and sound, and ready to begin posting again. Many new and noteworthy tidbits emerged from the world of the Minors when I was gone, and now all I have to do is pick one to focus on. Hmm…let me just take a gander at my "Potential Blog Posts" notebook and see what jumps out at me.

[20 minutes later]

Okay, I’m ready to go. At the risk of being redundant, let me focus once again on the always innovative Lowell Spinners, whose most recent offseason fundraising endeavor was ruined by the Pentagon. Doesn’t that always seem to be the case these days?

Let me explain. On February 14th, the Spinners announced a promotion that was inspired by the U.S. spy satellite that was plummeting toward Earth at the time. From the press release:

"There are 194 countries and four oceans where the satellite could land on Earth. There is also the possibility it will never reach earth, or the U.S. could shoot the satellite down. Taking these possibilities into account, there are 200 different options.

The Spinners will raffle off 200 slots at $10 each, and fans can enter as many times as possible untilLowell
200 slots have been filled. On Tuesday, February 26th, the Spinners will randomly assign each entry a country, ocean, the satellite never makes it to Earth, or is shot down.

The winner will receive $1000 and a chance to throw out a first pitch at a Spinners game being recognized as the Falling Satellite Winner."

The remaining $1000 raised was slated to go to Lowell Spinners Charities and the Joanna Weber Charitable Fund.

Unfortunately, the Pentagon foiled the Spinners’ creative fundraising efforts by choosing to shoot down the satellite without warning, well ahead of schedule. The club was then forced to cancel the promotion. Sadly, those in the Department of Defense did not seem to care about the effect their actions would have on the promotional activities of Class A Short Season Minor League Baseball teams.

Seeing as how the DoD received a budget of approximately $439 billion during fiscal year 2007, it would be appropriate that they atone for their itchy trigger fingers by donating $1000 to Lowell Spinners Charities and the Joanna Weber Charitable Fund. That would be the honorable thing to do, and I urge all those within the Pentagon’s labyrinthian corridors who are reading this to please make sure that this indeed happens.

A Moose-See Event

Rocky_1During this particularly jaded and cynical period of American history, it can be hard to get excited about anything. After all, hasn’t it all been done before?

The answer to that is a definitive "NO!", and the crazy goings-on within the world of the Minor Leagues serve as ample proof of this fact. On Sunday morning, for instance, a moose will be jumping into the Atlantic Ocean.

Not just any moose, mind you, but Rocky Bluewinkle, the mascot of the Carolina League’s Wilmington Blue Rocks. And, of course, there’s a darn good reason that Rocky will be submerging himself in frigid salt water: for charity!

Rocky is a participant in the 17th Annual Polar Bear Plunge, which raises money for the Special Olympics. In order to prepare himself for the icy waters, Rocky has been training with veteran plungers and Special Olympics athletes. According to a recent press release, he and his team haveRockyface
been scouting "local lakes, ponds, and even large puddles to get the feel for what the brisk Atlantic Ocean will feel like this Sunday."

Rocky’s Special Olympics fundraising page is located here. His goal is to raise $1000, and he is currently about halfway there. I urge readers of this fine blog to make a donation to Rocky’s fine cause. In fact, I’ll put my money where my mouth is and contribute $25. I’ve never had a chance to sponsor the cold-water swimming exploits of a Moose before, and who knows when an opportunity like that is going to come around again?

The Miracle of Beer

BeerWhile I’m on the topic of the Fort Myers Miracle (see yesterday’s post), I must point out the fact that the club is holding a most awesome event this weekend:

On Saturday, the "4th Annual Ballpark Festival of Beers" will be taking place at venerable Bill Hammond Stadium!

Advertised as "Florida’s Oldest and Largest Beer-Tasting Event" (which unintentionally says volumes about Florida’s lack of beer-tasting events), the Festival of Beers gives fans the opportunity to satiate their thirst by sampling over 40 varieties of the wondrous liquid.

But wait…there’s more! In addition to all the beer, the club is also staging the second annual "Best of Ballpark Wing Competition". Attendees will have the opportunity to sample chicken wings from over 30 local businesses, and then vote for their favorites. Additionally, the first 350 people through the gates receive a free pint glass, and a cigar-rolling demonstration will take place as well.

Admission to the Festival of Beers will cost an eminently reasonable $20, and includes 20 beer
sampling tickets (4 oz. per sample) as well as some free wings. The club’s press release stresses that kids, babies in strollers, and anyone under the age of 21 will not be admitted. So, please, don’t even attempt your usual scheme of dressing up like a baby in order to get free admission. The Miracle are on to you.

Finally, the press release notes that entertainment will be provided by Vintage Vinyl and Utter Chaos. Hammondfrontc0017_1My curiosity piqued, I scoured the internet for more information about these mysterious entities. The former is a self-described "party-rock band", the latter a self-described "high-energy rock and roll band". So aficionados of high-energy party rock (and aren’t we all?) will surely have a good time.

In short, beer + wings + cigars + rock ‘n roll = one of the best off-season Minor League events staged this year. I command everyone within a 75 mile radius of Fort Myers to attend, and report back to me with the details.

Minor League Ice Capades

Lowellspinners3The always-innovative Lowell Spinners will soon be staging a creative and ambitious offseason promotion, and one can only hope that their example encourages other teams to follow suit. The world would be a better place if Minor League Baseball promotions were held year-round, and it would make it easier for me to justify my continued employment at MiLB.com.

On Friday, fans who attend the UMass hockey game between the home team River Hawks and the Boston College Eagles will be treated to "Spinners on Ice". During this special evening, the Spinners’ will transport their usual brand of gameday entertainment to Tsongas Arena. Check out what’ll be going on — in list form, of course:

— The first 500 fans wearing Spinners or Red Sox clothing will receive a Jonathan Papelbon World
Series poster.

— Spinners manager Gary DiSarcina will be on hand to drop the ceremonial first puck. The formerWeddedbliss_1
Anaheim Angels infielder is a Massachusetts native.

— 200 Papelbon bobbleheads will sold at the arena, and Spinners season ticket holders will be given the first opportunity to obtain one. After the first period, they will be available to the masses.

— Spinner mascots Canaligator, Allie-Gator and Millie-Gator will be roaming the stands all evening.

–Breaks in the action will feature dizzy bat races, sumo wrestling, t-shirt tosses, and other Spinners gameday promos.

Wow, I’m exhausted even typing all of this. Thank goodness it’s the offseason, and I can now go take a nap on company time.