The combined caloric content of the food items that I have posted on this blog would add up to a truly colossal total, enough to send even the hardiest of individuals into eternal slumber. I have no plans to stop posting this sort of material (as the recent “Inside-Out Burger” update should make clear), but sometimes I feel slight pangs of regret for contributing to the downfall of mankind in such blatant fashion.
As an antidote, take a look at this recent concession addition to Buffalo’s Coca-Cola Field: The Healthy Zone
As the corporate insignia on the sign makes clear, “The Healthy Zone” was created in conjunction with BlueCross BlueShield as part of the company’s “Healthy Changes Everything” initiative. Gretchen Fierle, vice president and chief communications officer of BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, reports that “the goal is to help people take small steps to living healthier lives – from the activities they do to the food they eat, [BlueCross BlueShield] is creating and bringing healthier options to the community.”
The stand was created out of a desire to provide a one-stop shop for healthy cuisine (as opposed to options scattered throughout the ballpark), and the menu includes:
- Turkey and veggie burgers with lettuce, tomato and either garlic or roasted red pepper hummus on a whole grain roll
- Chicken sausage with spinach and feta on a hot dog roll
- Yogurt fruit parfait
- A selection of bottle water, diet soda and light beer
The Bisons are certainly not the only team to have instituted such an endeavor (as this 2009 piece of mine would illustrate), but it’s certainly one of the more ambitious. Feel free to get in touch with other examples, or to provide a counterpoint to this counterpoint by updating me on your plans to create a hot dog placed inside of six donuts and then deep fried and slathered with caramel icing and black cherry Gummi worms.
It takes all kinds.
It all feels a bit distant now, but TOMORROW I will depart on my first road trip of the season. It all starts with this Clearwater Threshers game:
There’s plenty more where that came from, as the Threshers consistently produce some of the best commercials in MiLB:
Look for the first blog posts and articles from the trip to appear early next week, and they’ll no doubt continue well into the next. In the meantime, keep getting in touch with all manner of interesting MiLB news. Too much is never enough, except for when it always is. Along those lines, here, once again, is my road trip itinerary:
April 27: Clearwater Threshers
April 28: Fort Myers Miracle
April 29: Charlotte Stone Crabs
April 30: Lakeland Flying Tigers
May 1: Daytona Cubs
May 2: travel (but hopefully I can take in the 10:30 a.m. D-Cubs game in “fan” mode)
May 3-4: Pensacola Blue Wahoos
Finally, I’d like to give a sincere thank you to everyone who supports what it is I do. I hope that that gratitude is apparent in everything I write, but it doesn’t hurt to say it once in a while.
Before the 2011 season began, I solicited suggestions regarding where I should travel this season. And one answer that I heard time and time again (via blog comments, Twitter, Facebook, and email) was “the Carolinas.”
This area is, simply put, a hotbed of Minor League Baseball.
Fueled by this feedback, I cobbled together the best itinerary I could muster given the vagaries of schedule, budget, and time constraints. And that itinerary is this:
7/20: Charleston RiverDogs
7/21: Myrtle Beach Pelicans
7/22: Kinston Indians
7/23: Durham Bulls
7/24: Burlington Royals
7/25: Danville Braves (okay, not technically the “Carolinas”)
7/26: Winston-Salem Dash
As usual, I will be doing my absolute best to chronicle the experience through MiLB.com stories, blog posts, Flipcam interviews, photo galleries, and highly aestheticized daguerreotypes. And, as usual, I will do my best to ward off anxiety attacks through the power of positive thinking.
And now comes the part of the post in which I earnestly implore you to GET IN TOUCH! Recommendations and information related to the ballparks and surrounding areas are much appreciated, and while time is always limited I do my absolute best to follow up on all the information I receive. There is some flexibility in regard to what I can write about, and your local knowledge often leads to unique content I wouldn’t be able to provide on my own.
But before I get too wrapped up in the future, let me return to the past with some ODDS and ENDS from my recent Ohio-Indiana road trip. I am happy to report that I was able to squeeze in a visit to Toledo’s world-famous Tony Packo’s — Hungarian purveyors of hot dogs, chili, and pickles.
There’s no wait staff at this joint, you just walk in and give your order to the uber-efficient and boisterous folks behind the counter.
I ordered a hot dog with Packo’s famous chili, paprika dumplings, and a side of “Pickles and Peppers.” That turned out to be a bit redundant, considering the generous amount of pickles that came with the hot dog.
While eating, I contemplated the rows and rows of signed and laminated hot dog buns on display. A sampling:
My next stop was Fort Wayne, and upon leaving that fine city I decided to pay a visit to the grave of Johnny Appleseed. But when I arrived at Johnny Appleseed Park, I found that it was a massive hiking, biking, and camping area comprising a very large amount of land. It was raining, no one was around, and no signs for the grave were in sight.
So I gave up on my mission, but the consolation prize was this photo of a road sign honoring former Fort Wayne mayor Harry Baals.
In summation: I tried to find Johnny Appleseed’s grave, but all I got was a photograph of this lousy street sign.
Sadly, the only other non-baseball excursion I was able to fit in came at the end of the trip. En route to Akron I stopped at Ravenna, OH, the town where I lived from birth through (nearly) age 2. When I got there, I was pleased to discover the town was in the midst of a classic car show and all-around civic celebration.
Upon returning to NYC’s comforting embrace, I took stock of my latest round of road trip swag.
Meanwhile, I just keep on getting things in the mail. Like this Bob Feller “Van Meter” bobblehead from the Iowa Cubs.
And the awesome Stockton Ports’ Jeremy Barfield “Rocket Arm” and Dallas Braden “Bobble Belly” combo.
For whatever reason, the Jeremy Barfield “Rocket Arm” has it in for the Dallas Braden “Bobble Belly.” As I looked on with horror, Barfield advanced on Braden and then fired a rocket shot right at his belly.
The moral of the story is don’t mess with Jeremy Barfield “Rocket Arm.” He will destroy you.
Last month’s trip out west was both thoroughly rewarding and exhausting in equal measure. The requisite period of NYC-based convalescence has since passed, and I am pleased as punch to announce 2011’s latest and therefore greatest on-location enterprise.
This Buckeye State-centric itinerary also includes a brief foray into Eastern Indiana, giving me a chance to visit teams that, through the years, have provided me with a wealth of material.This will mark the first time I’ve visited any of the following franchises:
June 13 — Toledo Mud Hens
June 14 — Fort Wayne Tincaps
June 15 — TBD (perhaps I can make an emotional pilgrimage to my Ravenna, OH birthplace)
June 16 — Lake County Captains
June 17 — Mahoning Valley Scrappers (New York-Penn League Opening Day)
June 18 — Akron Aeros
As usual, I’ll be a largely improvisational one-man operation, armed with little more than a Flip Cam, camera, laptop, and a dream. Your input remains very important to me, so please get in touch if recommendations related to the ballpark experience and surrounding areas. Sometimes the demands of the road are such that I can’t explore to the extent that I’d like, but kindly emails, blog comments, and Tweets have helped immensely on previous excursions.
Now usually comes the part of the post where I make a borderline nonsensical segue into a random array of pertinent news and notes. But I’ve got very little to share at the moment. Where are my informants? I need content!
In the absence of content, I am forced to create my own. So here are five Minor League promotions that I’d like to see:
Spibute to the Troonerism — Nine innings of tongue-tied malapropisms and tangled syntax in honor of Reverend William Archibald Spooner and the verbal error named after him (Spoonerisms). A night of Rome Huns and Pild Witches highlighted by a spirited rendition of “Bake Me Out to the Tallgame.”
Howard the Duck Night — 25 years have passed since this all-time cinematic classic was released. Featuring outer space avian-themed player headshots, Quack Fu mascot battles, and “duck and cover” team logo blanket giveaway.
Weird Al-Pacolypse Night — A theme night in honor of the master parodist’s latest album (dropping June 21) as well as recent prognostications that the world is going to end.
Salute to Passed Balls — Simultaneously honoring catcher miscues and individuals with the last name of “Ball” who have shuffled off this mortal coil.
Give the Blogger Something to Write About Night — Because this is what you get otherwise.
Motivated by wanderlust and an unbeatable rental car deal, I’ll be checking out the new-for-2011 Tucson Padres before moving on to a quartet of California League teams. The itinerary:
May 11-12: Tucson Padres
May 13: Writing/Travel Day (although who knows? Maybe I’ll be able to get to a ballpark by nightfall).
May 15: High Desert Mavericks
May 16: Inland Empire 66ers
May 17: Lake Elsinore Storm
I’m psyched to be making my first California sojourn as a so-called professional, and to once again get behind the wheel of a car after yet another prolonged stint of NYC public transit emasculation. Now comes the part of the post where I earnestly implore YOU to please get in touch with suggestions as to who to talk to, where to visit, what foods to try, etc. I of course have some ideas of what to write about, but as usual much is to be determined. Your feedback is much appreciated.
In particular, let me know if you have any interesting California League stories/memories. It seems like surreal things happen out there on a regular basis.
And driving a car again will no doubt lead to profound sticker shock at the pumps, something I mercifully don’t have to deal with on a daily basis here in NYC. But two teams are doing their part to ease the burden: the State College Spikes and Charlotte Stone Crabs. From the former:
From May 9th through May 20th, the Spikes will provide fans a chance to save at the pump when they take advantage of any one of seven ticket offerings. Highlighting the “Spikes Fuel Perks” ticket promotion, any fan that purchases new season tickets will earn a $100 gas card per seat bought!
Throughout the Stone Crabs season, fans will have the opportunity to purchase two reserved seats to any Stone Crabs game, along with two hot dogs, and two sodas for only $26. In addition to the ticket package, fans will receive a complimentary $5 gas card from RaceTrac convenience stores, while supplies last.
In completely unrelated news, I received the following email yesterday from Lowell Spinners groundskeeper Jeff Paolino:
I am reaching out to you to see if there is any way to find out if there are any other Military members who are currently Active or Reserve other than myself working in Minor League Baseball? Reason being, I would like to get a group initiative together throughout MILB as representatives of both baseball and the Military.
This seems like a worthwhile endeavor, but I was unable to assist. So if you fit the above criteria (or know someone who does) then contact Jeff at email@example.com And spread the word!
Enjoy your weekend! For the next two days, it’ll be all we’ve got!
To the itinerary!
9/2 — Omaha Royals (their last-ever game in Rosenblatt Stadium!)
9/3 — Iowa Cubs
9/4 — Burlington Bees
9/5 — Quad Cities River Bandits
9/6 — Kane County Cougars
Feel free to get in touch with any content suggestions or inside tips regarding the teams/cities in question. And if you’ll be at any of these games, please say hello. As always, I’ll be the guy in the shirt.
And not only will tomorrow be the Omaha Royals’ last game at Rosenblatt Stadium — it may be their last home game as the “Omaha Royals.” In conjunction with their 2011 move to nearby Sarpy County, the organization is currently staging a “Name the Team” contest. Over 400 names have been suggested thus far, let’s go to the press release:
Names relating to the weather and to the military have been leading the way so far. Some of those suggestions include Storm, Hail, Heat, Blizzard, Twisters, Bombers and Commanders. Some fans have just tweaked the name to vary slightly from Royals, suggesting Monarchs and Kings. Other fans, no doubt sad to see the demise of Rosenblatt Stadium following the 2010 season, have submitted the team name Blatts for
I would like to suggest a return to the moniker employed by the city’s long-defunct Western Association franchise: the Omahogs.
And while I am excited to be visiting the Iowa Cubs on September 3, I’m disappointed that I will not be in attendance for September 5’s giveaway: the Player to Be Named Later Bobblehead.
Finally, one of the sport’s most unsung characters gets his due:
A parody video in which a G-Funk classic is repurposed as a celebration of a California League baseball team. It’s Bo’z N Da Hood with “Nothin But A Storm Thang”:
The lyrics to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” are incorporated into one of the verses in the above video, but for a truly unique interpretation check out this adorable dispatch from Lansing.
It’s a good thing that Ryan was in Lansing and not West Michigan, because he would probably have been terrified by first pitch honoree Ronald McDonald:
(photo credit: Emily Jones)
Sweet dreams! I’ll be sending out dispatches from the Midwest as soon as I can.
While I semi-regularly attend these facilities as a fan, I wanted to give them the “On the Road” treatment that I have been able to lavish upon a dozen ballparks thus far this season (with more to come!)
But you know what they say about plans, even those of the best-laid variety: They often go awry. For I went to MCU Park on Tuesday, only to discover that the evening’s game had been rained out. Even more frustratingly, Staten Island played that evening. The situation then reversed itself on Wednesday, with the game on in Brooklyn and canceled in SI (still feeling wary, I stayed in the office and watched Jeopardy! on mute).
So all that I have at this juncture is pictures of a rainy night with no baseball in Coney Island. What follows is my attempt to make some sweet, sweet, lemonade.
One can take the subway to MCU Park, on the D, N, F, or Q lines. Coney Island is the last stop, at which point I was all by my lonesome. I should have taken this as a sign that it wasn’t going to be a good night for baseball:
Upon exiting the station, one is greeted with one of the most iconic sights in New York: The original Nathan’s Hot Dogs:
The stadium light towers are visible in the above picture, ringed with florescent circles. Here’s a somewhat closer look:
To get there, one must resist the lure of equally florescent confections:
“Something is wrong here!,” I muttered into a walkie-talkie that was in fact just my clenched fist. But doggedly I soldiered on.
In front of the ticket window was a queue of fans. Utilizing the fine reportorial skill of “eavesdropping”, I learned that the game had in fact been canceled. These individuals were exchanging their ducats, hoping to come again on a less precipitous evening:
The front entrance, filled with aimlessly wandering fans attempting to salvage their evening plans:
This woman was sporting the t-shirt given away as part of the team’s “Jersey? Sure!” extravaganza. She looks to be explaining the concept of a rainout to that dog, who was no doubt dismayed that he would not be able to participate in that evening’s scheduled “Bark in the Park” festivities:
Brooklyn baseball legends Pee-Wee and Jackie, their countenances unchanged despite the foul weather:
Also immortalized are those who made the ultimate sacrifice on 9/11:
A bit further down, one could find the team bus of the visiting Hudson Valley Renegades. The rainout afforded an early exit from Brooklyn, and the players were piling in with pizza in hand:
The “back” of the stadium (ie, the outfield) juts up against the Coney boardwalk. Here’s the view through a hole in a locked fence (who else provides this kind of access?):
I kept havi
ng to remind myself it was still August, as Coney Island on this particular evening had a thoroughly autumnal vibe, melancholy and somnambulant.
The Parachute Jump ride, which hasn’t been in operation since 1968:
Tumbleweed not pictured:
The only areas that seemed to possess any life at all were the business located alongside the stadium:
And, of course, Nathan’s.
All told, I actually enjoyed my unsuccessful trip to MCU Park. Visiting Coney Island is always memorable, no matter what the circumstances, and the long subway rides provide plenty of time to read (the theological musings of C.S. Lewis, in this particular case).
So, yeah, I’ll be back.
It just might be a while:
July 10 — Lakewood BlueClaws
July 11 — Reading Phillies
July 12 — Williamsport Crosscutters
July 13 — State College Spikes
July 14 — Triple-A All-Star Game @ Coca-Cola Park (home of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs)
July 15-17 — Attending Keystone Mascot Camp, culminating in performance at Harrisburg Senators game
Juy 18 — Harrisburg Senators (sans mascot costume)
As always, feel free to get in touch with travel recommendations as well as suggestions as to what I should call this trip. The Keystone Krawl? Pennsylvania Perambulations? Northeastern Navigations? I got nothin.’
But it’s not about me, or what I’m doing. At least it shouldn’t be. With that in mind, here’s a formidable array of content that has nothing to do with yours truly.
— The Tennessee Smokies are one of many teams to have staged a Michael Jackson tribute night this season, but theirs stood out for one simple reason: Zombie Dancers!
This is certainly the most painstaking “Thriller” recreation to take place in the Minors this season:
The club hosted the final event of the Liberty Strongman Challenge: The Atlas Stones
And then there was this:
The Hudson Valley Renegades recently held a “Jim Joyce Redemption” promotion, featuring plenty of fake mustaches, “Whack An Umpire” games (as opposed to the usual “Whack an Intern”), Umpire Impersonation Contests, and Umpire bloopers and arguments displayed on the videoboard.
Portrait of the Umpire As A Young Man:
The Lowell Spinners recently welcomed a most intriguing between-inning performer: Al Milar the Human Knot. This flexible Australian is like a cross between Rubberboy and Mad Chad.
Spinners director of media relations Jon Boswell reports that the Human Knot is highly entertaining and very affordable. Give Jon a call if you want more info. Twice I tried to embed THIS VIDEO of the Human Knot in this post, and twice it disappeared. I’m giving up.
But not before mentioning that THIS is occurring in Little Rock, as I type this. I wish I was there.
Welcome to the final installment of my 2010 “Southern Swing”. Being on the road was a most gratifying experience, and I hope to do it again as soon as possible. If you enjoyed the content that I provided, then please make this sentiment known within the all-important court of public opinion.
After visiting the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum on Sunday, I sauntered across the street to Fluor Field (no one walks in South Carolina — they saunter). This facility, built in 2006, boasts an all-brick exterior that fits well with the rest of the neighborhood (before going any further, let me note that a complementary Greenville article can be found HERE).
I’d like to back up my above claim by showing pictures from “the rest of the neighborhood”, an area that serves as a link to Greenville’s textile mill past. Here’s one of the many churches that dot the area:
I don’t know about you, but I could certainly use some brain tonic about now:
The industrial past is also illuminated by the (still-active) train tracks that run outside of the building.
But once stepping inside, thoughts of Fenway take over:
The building beyond the left field wall offers rooftop seating, and the condominium portion of the structure (on the right) offers porches that look out onto the field.
The 500 Club party area in right field:
Drive general manager Mike deMaine provided me with a behind-the-scenes look at the facility.
The home clubhouse:
Smaller visitor digs:
The high-tech production room, where masterpieces such as THIS are churned out on a regular basis.
Upper Deck Party Area:
And, finally, the Dugout Suite. deMain wanted to make clear that the Drive were the first team to feature such a thing, contrary to the claims of the Visalia Rawhide (“We’re first and best”, he said). I am happy to provoke a Dugout Suite war of words, so if Visalia or any neglected third parties would like to respond then I’m all ears.
The suite in question is available for group rentals, and features a private food and beverage area as well as a lounge with views of the Drive’s hitting cage.
As the pictures above would indicate, I didn’t actually see a game at Fluor Field. Sunday’s matinee contest began at 4, and my flight from the Greenville/Spartanburg airport was scheduled to leave at 5:30.
So, after my stadium tour, I climbed into my rented Mercedes-Benz with Texas plates for what would be the last time and proceeded to the airport (stopping on the way for a pouch of microwavable boiled peanuts).
While I wouldn’t call the Southern Swing “fun” (the schedule was fairly relentless and I am far too prone to bouts of anxiety), it was deeply rewarding and I am very glad I got the chance to do it. Thanks for reading, and here’s to many more Minor League road trips!
Apologies for my lack of a post yesterday, as I was caught up in Hall of Fame-related matters. Specifically, I attended Andre Dawson’s press conference at the Waldorf-Astoria Ballroom (a step down from MiLB.com’s swanky offices, but adequate for the purpose).
My mission was to ask Andre a question about his Minor League career, so that I could then base an article around his answer (journalism at its finest!). I succeeded in this quest, but just barely, as mine was the last question granted. It was a very anxiety-inducing experience.
So what sort of masterwork resulted from my Herculean efforts?
But enough about me. It is worth noting that Dawson’s election adds a beatific glow to the 2010 promotional schedules of both the Lakewood Blueclaws and Vancouver Canadians. “The Hawk” is scheduled to swoop into both of these team’s ballparks, gripping a pen in his talons so that he may sign autographs for his assembled
Dawson at the BlueClaws game has a backstory of sorts, as the club has made an effort in recent years to bring on-the-cusp HOF candidates to FirstEnergy Park. This came about after the team hosted Goose Gossage and Jim Rice, both of whom were subsequently elected to the Hall of Fame. More about all of this can be found HERE.
And this gives me that most dangerous of notions: an idea.
May I suggest that teams stage a series of autograph signings entitled “You Will Not Be Forgotten”? The guests of honor would be those who fell off the Hall of Fame ballot in their first year of eligbility (this year, that illustrious group consists of Andres Galarraga, Robin Ventura, Eliis Burks, Eric Karros, Kevin Appier, Pat Hentgen, David Segui, Mike Jackson, Ray Lankford, Shaun Reynolds, and Todd Zeile).
Any takers? No? Well, at the very least let this blog post serve as proof that such an idea was once documented in writing before being consumed by the eternal void.
And speaking of the eternal void, I am happy to report that MiLB.com’s fledgling series of “Roadtrip” articles has avoided such an ignominious fate. There has been a good response to these thus far, and I would encourage any teams that are interested in being featured to send me an email (any and all fan suggestions are welcome as well).
The most recent edition of the column, featuring four teams in southern California, can be found HERE.
And this concludes the first blogging week of 2010. Here’s to 49.5 more.
Sometimes I put a cassette entitled “Monster Breakbeats” into my walkman, hit play, crank up the volume, and then start chanting — “There ain’t no content like supplemental content cuz supplemental content don’t stop!”
I’m doing that right now, actually, because I’ve got some supplemental content for all y’all — it is in relation to today’s MiLB.com story on the Fresno Grizzlies’ “As Seen On TV Night” promotion.
So, go ahead and read the article. I’ll be right here waiting for you to come back.
Okay, great, nice to see you again. You’re looking well today. So, as mentioned in the article, this promotion paid homage to infomercial products and pitchmen in a wide variety of ways. First and foremost, there was the evening’s giveaway item — a Grizzlies’ logo Shammy Cloth. Here it is “in action” —
Of course, the player headshots all adhered to the evening’s theme. Behold John Bowker:
And Matt “Chia” Wilhite:
Snuggie, absorb water into a Shammy Cloth, drain the cloth into a cup
on top of their partner’s head and then tumble over and yell, “I’ve
fallen and I can’t get up!” into a microphone.
Make sense? No? Just watch:
I’m afraid that supplemental content has now come to a close. I just hit stop on my walkman and everything.
In other news, I’ve got a nice little Minor League road trip planned for this weekend. Here’s the agenda…if YOU are going to be at any of these games please say hello. I’ll be the guy in the shirt.
Saturday Afternoon: Trenton Thunder doubleheader
Saturday Evening: Lehigh Valley IronPigs
Sunday Afternoon: Philadelphia Phillies
Monday Morning: Reading Phillies (9:30 am start time)
Monday Evening: Lakewood BlueClaws doubleheader
For those keeping track at home, that seven games at five stadiums spanning four levels of play over three days. Why not, right?
Finally, check out this story on host families over at MiLB.com. It has gotten a surprisingly robust response thus far.