One of 2011’s most intriguing promotions is planned for TONIGHT — the so-called “Human Home Run” in Lowell, MA. Between games of the doubleheader, human cannonball David Smith, Sr. will be shot out of a cannon behind second base and land over the wall in right field.
This stunt is taking place just one week after a similarly unique (yet completely different) initiative. On June 29, 3014 fans engaged in simultaneous dental flossing, a quixotic endeavor on par with last year’s “Salute to Bubble Wrap.”
While using one long piece of floss would have been hilarious, the Spinners went a far more hygienic route by distributing Glide floss picks. In the middle of the fourth inning, it was synchronized flossin’ time.
The players, upstanding role models that they are, got in the act as well.
Flossing would be an especially apropos activity after witnessing the Memphis Redbirds’ new between-inning competition: The Rendezvous Rib Race.
Participants include BBQ Sauce, Rib, Pulled Pork Sandwich, and Rendezvous Dry Rub Seasoning.
This column is a labor of love (my attempt to be the Jayson Stark of Minor League Baseball, basically), and I’d greatly appreciate if those who enjoy it pass it along to like-minded friends. I’ll close with my favorite nugget of info from this month’s column, an item brought to my attention by uber-alert Lancaster JetHawks broadcaster Jeff Lasky:
The more things change…: The Lancaster JetHawks suffered through their worst inning in franchise history June 29, allowing visiting High Desert to plate 13 runs in the second. This nightmarish frame broke the old franchise record of 12 runs allowed in an inning, which had been achieved by Lake Elsinore on May 20, 2007. Lake Elsinore’s Yordany Ramirez hit for the cycle in that ballgame, completing the feat with a triple in the record-setting 12-run eighth inning. Amazingly, Ramirez also appeared in the June 29 ballgame — as a member of the JetHawks’ pitching staff! Ramirez, in his first full season as a pitcher after nine as an outfielder, tossed two scoreless innings long after the damage had been done.
This kind of stuff is catnip for baseball nerds, right? I sure hope so.
Opening Day in the Minors is here at last, and I think we can all raise a glass to that.
anxiety-reducing celebratory libations can wait until later, for right now there’s business to attend to. For starters, the first “Promotion Preview” column of the season premiered today. Here’s how it looks on the home page of MiLB.com:
As I hope you are aware, “Promotion Preview” is a weekly in-season column that highlights the 10 “best” promotions of the upcoming week. I started writing it in 2006, quite by accident, and it is what has led to this niche that I now call my own. Of course, I implore everyone to get in touch with their best and most creative promotions, so that I may (possibly) include it in the column.
This week includes 3D scoreboards, snowman destruction, DIY bobbleheads, weather-related contests, pigs ON a blanket, and a lot more. Get in touch with what I’ve missed/what you don’t want me to miss.
But with the season starting today, it is even more imperative that once again I draw your attention to “Crooked Numbers.” — a monthly column highlighting the most absurd and unlikely on-field, in-game happenings.
For this I rely greatly on broadcasters and other close observers. Did you see a pitcher notch four strikeouts in consecutive innings? A lumbering catcher hit two triples in a game after not hitting any in his entire career? A journeyman infielder switch teams between games of a doubleheader?
That’s the kind of stuff I’m looking for, the stranger the better but I want it all. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
— And since games are now being played on a nightly basis, it’s worth bringing up a point that I raised on Twitter yesterday. Namely, that teams should have a separate Twitter account for in-game updates and news! This is because there are a lot of fans who are not interested in such minutiae, and will quickly become alienated and agitated by dozens upon dozens of tweets over a short amount of time (I know I am).
This is not just my opinion — I received a lot of feedback on this issue yesterday, with comments ranging from “Even in only 140 characters, you can usually tell it’s different people with different writing styles; there’s no consistency” to “in-game updates become clutter” to simply “with you 100% on that one.”
— I might as well keep this blog’s auto-didacticism feature on for a little while longer. Apologies in advance, but here goes nothing:
I probably spend more time reading Minor League Baseball tweets, Facebook posts, blogs, and press releases than anyone on the planet. Here are a few other recommendations/observations as we begin the 2011 season; sorry if I sound like a jerk.
2. Again for Twitter: Explain what you are linking to, and then link to it with a shortened URL. A tweet consisting simply of a massive URL is unclear, unprofessional and a waste of the precious little space one has on Twitter to communicate.
3. If you are posting on behalf of a team, speak for the entire organization. First-person is confusing and, again, unprofessional (ie TimbuktuTarantulas: I’m hungry good thing our GM buying us pizza 2day!!)
5. Speaking for myself: I’m MUCH more likely to read a press release in which the release is contained in the body of the email itself. Having to open a word document or PDF simply isn’t worth the effort sometimes, especially if its unclear what is contained therein.
6. And use BCC (as opposed to “CC”)! A press release that starts out by displaying 400+ email contacts looks unwieldy and compromises privacy.
The bottom line is that I’m really looking forward to what will transpire this season, and consider it a tremendous privilege to cover such an interesting, creative, and often brazenly ridiculous industry on a daily basis.
Show me what you’ve got!
And today I want to focus on something near and dear to my heart, something that to a large extent fell through the cracks during the 2008 season. And that something is this: Beyond the Box Score.
This monthly in-season column served as a way to chronicle the offbeat, absurd, and quirky incidents that occurred in the Minor Leagues during the previous month. It was essentially Promotion Preview’s on-field equivalent. The two columns, together, represented the duality of the Minor League universe. Here they are: April. May. June. July. August.
Granted, the name “Beyond the Box Score” is overused, and we may change that for ’09. But the column will return. It must return. It is too good not to.
But, here’s the thing. I hate to be a broken record with this, but I need your help. It is impossible for me to notice all the strange things that happen in the Minor Leagues. I am rarely “in the trenches”, unfortunately. Instead, circumstance forces me to take it all in from my idyllic Manhattan observation tower. It is easy for things to get overlooked.
So – broadcasters, media relations directors, GMs, ushers, vendors, fans, etc etc etc — get in touch anytime something unexpected or unique happens on the playing field. Here are 5 examples from last season. There’s plenty more where this came from:
Well, That Was Convenient: On April 8, Lancaster and
Inland Empire played an extra-inning game that was eventually suspended
after 15 frames. During the game, the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles
Dodgers executed a trade involving Lancaster infielder Christian Lara,
who had spent the ballgame on the JetHawks bench. As a result of the
trade, Lara was transferred from Lancaster’s roster to that of Inland
Empire, a Dodgers affiliate. When the contest resumed the following
day, Lara completed it as a member of the 66ers, meaning that he had worn the uniform of both teams during the course of the same game.
Gettin’ It Done on Both Ends: Portland outfielder Jay Johnson did it all in the Sea Dogs’ 17-inning, 8-7 win
over the Connecticut Defenders, on April 16. The 25-year-old pitched
two scoreless innings and then made himself the game’s winning pitcher
by blasting an RBI double off of fellow position-player-turned-pitcher
Simon Klink in the bottom of the 17th.
Well, That’s One Way to Do It: On May 5, Brevard County’s Darren Ford tied a Florida State League record by stealing five bases in a game
against Clearwater. But not only did Ford accomplish this feat in a
losing cause – he didn’t even hit safely in the contest. The
22-year-old speedster reached base on an error in the first inning and
promptly stole second and third. In the third, he then reached on a
fielder’s choice and swiped second. Ford then drew a walk in the sixth
and once again stole second and third to give him five stolen bases on
the evening. With the record in reach, Ford struck out in his final two
at-bats. It then took him 14 games to accumulate another five stolen
You Are About to Enter the Twilight Zone: Games don’t get much
weirder than Springfield’s 7-3, 13-inning win over Tulsa on July 14. In
a perhaps unprecedented occurrence, the winning and losing “pitchers” were both catchers.
The historic contest was the second game of a doubleheader, and both
teams ran out of genuine hurlers as the night wore on. Cardinals
backstop Matt Pagnozzi tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings and earned the
win, while former teammate Brian Esposito threw three shutout frames
for Tulsa before allowing four runs in the 13th — three of which came
as a result of Pagnozzi’s bases-loaded double.
His Middle Name is “Good”: Over 13 relief appearances for the Princeton Devil Rays, Chris Luck went 6-0 with a 2.25 ERA. No other pitcher on the Rays’ staff finished the season with more than three wins.
I’ll be sure to shill for this column several more times before now and Opening Day, because I want it to be the best it can be. Please help in my quest to make this a reality.
So, help me out, people. As I’ve mentioned before, I want this blog to be as interactive as possible. So, get in touch with all manner of news and notes from the Minor Leagues, your opinions, or whatever else you see fit to get in touch with. I know you’re out there — according to the fine folks at statcounter, my page views are higher than they’ve ever been. In the latest MLBlogs rankings, I’m sitting relatively comfortably at #23 on the “Pro Blogs” chart. So come feel the sun. Get in touch.
Now, as mentioned previously, I was a guest on Minor League Baseball Radio this past Wednesday night. It seemed to go well, although the fear of my own voice has kept me from listening. It is currently streaming right here. Give it a listen and let me know what you think (for those in a hurry, my segment begins right about the six-minute mark). Also, you know, I know I said “you know” way too often, you know.
Also, I would like to stress that I am always happy to do this sort of thing, be it a radio show, TV program, podcast, college lecture, town hall meeting, congressional hearing, or anything else. Just send me an email.
“Atmosphere always stands for the elimination of the artist. That is to say, the atmosphere is the artist; and when there is no atmosphere and the artist is yet there, it simply means that the machinery is creaking and the reader hears it.”
Time to oil up the machinery, tone down the volume, and look into some affordable soundproofing options! Your continued support and assistance in these matters is greatly appreciated.