Welcome to this, the first Ben’s Biz Blog post since the conclusion of the regular season. Sooner or later, there will be a day of reckoning when I am forced to come to terms with the fact that I have very little to write about.
But since days of reckoning are painful, I will delay such an occurrence for as long as possible by blogging as if games were still going on. And here’s where YOU come in: send me photos/stories/recaps/anecdotes/animated re-enactments/interpretative dance/hieroglyphics/etc etc etc etc from the 2009 season. When it comes to the postponement of the inevitable my desire is steadfast, but I can’t go it alone.
Yesterday I received an email related to the Binghamton Mets nightly Spiedie Race, which I covered in great detail last season (culminating in a post featuring heartbroken children, inexplicable rooftop cameos, and relievers moonlighting as pink gorillas).
(A Spiedie, for those who don’t know, is an upstate Binghamton delicacy. Essentially, it is marinated cubes of chicken or pork served on a roll).
Well, I am pleased to report that the Spiedie insanity continued unabated into 2009. Heading into the final day of the season, Chef, Marinade, and Spiedie were tied at 21 wins apiece. This set up an epic winner-take-all match, which quickly degenerated into a monstrous theater of the absurd. Observe:
So, to recap: Chef is knocked out by Space Ghost, while Marinade is felled by the tag team tandem of Bingo the Bee and “Clubhouse Manager” (a promising new addition to the B-Mets’ mascot universe). This makes Spiedie Sandwich the 2009 champion, prompting the on-field MC to mumble “My glasses are broken” before his mic cuts out.
A few miscellaneous photos of additional 2009 Spiedie Race action. Here’s a close-up of Chef and Spiedie:
Chef tries to cook up a little something, while in the foreground one can detect the presence of a presumably jealous bumblebee:
Heads Together (which was, incidentally, the name of a video store I used to work at in Pittsburgh):
The post is already quite long, so I should draw it to a close in the interest of parceling out my material more effectively. But, like the Spiedie Sandwich, I am on a roll. Therefore, let’s take a look at another recent Binghamton innovation — “Howl at the Moon Night”. Writes B-Mets director of video production Jon Cofer:
“Our original intent was to set a world record, but Guinness declined our request, so instead we just had our fans howl at the moon to earn the second half of our double-grand finale during the fireworks. Either people really like to howl, or they really wanted that double-grand finale, because it got pretty loud.”
Excellent — until now, I had never envisioned Minor League Baseball stadiums as a place to get in touch with bestial urges and primal instincts. The lesson, once again, is that the possibilities, they are endless…
Solution: Take a cue from inspiration-starved writers everywhere, and simply cobble together a piece detailing the things I am thankful for.
So without further ado, here are some things that occurred within the the Ben’s Biz Blog universe over the past year for which I am grateful:
Attending the Winter Meetings in Nashville and the Promotional Seminar in Austin — I may cover an industry that encompasses the entire country, but I nonetheless spend the majority of my professional life cooped up in the dank recesses of MLB Advanced Media headquarters. This is most frustrating.
But my overlords displayed a benevolent streak this year, in that I was permitted to attend both the Baseball Winter Meetings and the Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar. These experiences were invaluable, primarily because they gave me an opportunity to meet so many of the people who work in this great industry. So, if we met in Nashville or Austin over the past year — the pleasure was all mine.
Sweet, Sweet Freedom — By necessity, the articles I write for MiLB.com are straightforward and relatively humorless. But this blog gives me the opportunity to make any joke I want, no matter how unfunny or obscure. And there is a certain joy in being able to frequently drop subtle references to song lyrics and tv show quotes. The likes of Ween, the Frogs, the Fugs, Weird Al and many others were referred to within posts over the past year, and whenever a reader picks up on this sort of thing I am most grateful. At the same time, however, I never want to be alienating or overly reliant on in-jokes. Like so many other things in this life, it’s a fine balance.
Boomer — Boomer was introduced to the world this past March, and quickly became my favorite mascot in the Minors. There are no other costumed characters who pull off the “disshelved woods creature” look so well, and the Williamsport CrossCutters are lucky to have him.
Swag — Sometimes, teams and companies feel compelled to send me samplings of their fine promotional items. Keep it coming! The most aesthetically-pleasing such items (such as a bobblehead doll of the aforementioned Boomer) recieve prime real estate within the cramped and cluttered confines of my workspace.
Mascot Races — Whether it’s Pork Roll vs. Egg vs. Cheese in Lakewood, or Vancouver’s nightly Sushi Race, Mascot races are one of the most entertaining between-innings spectacles around. A special nod goes out to the Binghamton Mets, whose took things to a higher level with their nightly “Spiedie Race.”
The Frequency With Which Teams Sent Me Promo Recaps — As mentioned before, I am rarely present at the Minor League promotions that I write about it. One day, this will change. But, until it does, it is crucial that I am able to supplement my own speculations with actual eyewitness accounts. And last season, this blog became a place for teams to get the word out about successful/crazy/memorable promotions that they held. Thanks to the Stockton Ports, Vero Beach Devil Rays, Lancaster JetHawks, Fresno Grizzlies, Everett AquaSox, Tulsa Drillers, Auburn Doubledays, Jamestown Jammers and the many other teams that got in touch.
Videos — It’s still a struggle, but I finally learned how to post videos on this fine blog. So far, just one of the 200+ total posts have contained video, but it’s a start. After all, the journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.
And, finally, let me conclude this post by highlighting the one thing I am thankful for above all else:
Last month, I did a post on the Binghamton Mets‘ nightly “Spiedie Race”, in which a Spiedie Sandwich, a Chef, and a bottle of Marinade engage in a race across the ballpark in a battle for costumed character supremacy.
A follow-up post soon occurred, in which “Chef” shared a shocking tale of unprovoked mascot violence.
But even more shocking than this was the fact that, going into the last day of the season, Marinade had yet to win a Spiedie Race. As fans poured into NYSEG Stadium for the B-Mets’ last home game on August 24, they were certain that history was going to be made. That, somehow, someway, Marinade was going to find a way to emerge victorious. This young fan, decked out in a pro-Marinade t-shirt, summed up the the mood at the ballpark:
Clearly, there are now more questions than answers regarding this highly unorthodox conclusion to one of the B-Mets’ signature in-game promos. After it all occurred, the disappointment in the stadium was palpable. B-Mets’ director of video production Eric Long reports that “one little boy sobbed to the Marinade afterward, admitting that he had brought
balloons and a trophy to give to the Marinade on what was supposed to finally be
his big day.”
As disappointed as that little boy may have been, hopefully he learned a valuable lesson that day. Namely, that although things don’t always go as planned, hope shall always spring eternal. And when victory finally comes to the Marinade, be it in 2009 or beyond, it shall taste as sweet, spicy, and pungent as the product that he consists of.
Update! The relief pitcher in the pink gorilla suit has been identified. Click here.
Last Thursday, I provided the world with an in-depth post on the B-Mets‘ nightly Spiedie Race. Toward the end of this mighty display of my journalistic prowess, I included the following photo, and asked readers to provide a caption:
My vast cadre of loyal readers once again kept a rigid adherence to the “never, ever comment” school of blog readership. But that is of no matter. Because I received something better than a caption. I received a first-hand account from an individual who was a direct participant in the above chaos. Take it away, Mr. Santino R. Thomas:
You asked for a caption for one of your spiedie race pictures so I’ll tell you
what went on in that picture. First, however, I will tell you that I am a
B-Mets intern and, yes, I am the chef! It was mascot mania night at the
ballpark and we asked all of our visiting mascots to join in the spiedie race
fun…A mascot at the end of the line tripped and started a domino-effect of
mascots tumbling to the outfield grass. This ultimately ended with a pile-up of
mascots on top of the poor marinade, but not before “Tux” the
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Penguins mascot took a flying leap at the marinade,
knocking the bottle to the ground.
So, there you have it folks. For those who may be curious, here is a photo of the aforementioned “Tux” (leave it to a hockey mascot to take things too far):
If anyone has any stories regarding Tux’s volatile behavior, or if anyone would like to defend his despicable act of marinade-tackling, then please get in touch.
Without a doubt, the most well-known and beloved food delicacy that Binghamton has to offer is the “spiedie” — tender meat cubes that are marinated for days in a special sauce and then grilled. Even writing about them makes me hungry.
Naturally, the Binghamton Mets serve this regional specialty at their concession stands, but they’ve taken things a step further than that. Introducing the Spiedie Mascot Race:
Eric Long, the B-Mets director of video production, reports:
“The race is sponsored by a local company that produces the marinade and features
a giant spiedie sandwich, a marinade bottle, and a chef character who is part of
the company’s logo. This year Marinade has yet to win a race, much to the
chagrin of many of our fans. It’s by far our most popular on-field promo with
the fans, players, and even the umpires. Last homestand the ump crew wanted to
intervene to help the Marinade win his first race. A few weeks ago a
Connecticut relief pitcher ran as Sandwich.“
Additionally, the B-Mets have become adept at incorporating stand-alone theme night promotions into the nightly race. As the following photos illustrate, a veritable who’s who of pop-culture powerhouses have joined in on the action.
Not even the Wicked Witch or the Cowardly Lion can contain Sandwich:
“Spiedie the Chicken” was a new mascot that was an instant hit at the
ballpark. As a tie-in to one of the ValleyCats concession items, Lupos
Chicken Spiedies Sandwiches, this character is a bright yellow, six
foot chicken that speeds around the warning track on a classic Vespa
scooter, tossing Chicken Spiedies Sandwiches into the crowd.”
As always, please get in touch should you have info on mascot races, regional delicacies, or anything at all.