As we all know, Minor League Baseball employees have no control over the product on the field (that aspect of the operation is strictly the domain of the parent club). Ironic, then, that one of the most surefire ways for a Minor League club to receive some free publicity is to make a completely ludicrous offer for a high-profile athlete.
You know, like A-Rod to the Mud Hens.
There is nothing to lose, and fleeting media attention to gain! The latest (and therefore greatest) example of this phenomenon came courtesy of veteran buzz-creators the Lake Elsinore Storm. The Storm already have a Tim Tebow promotion on their 2012 calendar, and now they want Tebow himself.
We know that Tim was the cause for late-game comebacks in Denver and we have our own leader of rallies, the Rally Cop. We would like to offer the Broncos the Rally Cop as well as the Grounds Crew Gorilla, winner of an MiLB Golden Bobble head last season, in exchange for Tebow,” said Jones.
The Storm will also be willing to rename the stadium Elway Stadium if the Broncos are willing to accept the offer.
All of this was a theoretical exercise to begin with, of course, and made even more moot (mooter?) by yesterday’s trade that brought Tebow to the New York Jets. But, for unnecessary detail’s sake, let’s take a look at the two individuals deemed expendable by the Storm. You may have come across them before on this blog.
Grounds Crew Gorilla
The above characters — and, by extension, the Storm — received a bevy of nationwide publicity as a result of this latest-round of press release hi-jinx. Most notably, SportsCenter gave it some play. While video has proven elusive, the Storm provided the following recap:
[SportsCenter] called the Rally Cop a “gem of a guy” as well as an “Eric Estrada lookalike who trots around the field and screams,” while classifying the Grounds Crew Gorilla as “the team’s other resident weirdo.” 🙂 And as for SportsCenter’s take on our trade proposal, they think our offer is the best out there for the Broncos. Thanks, guys. And spread the word: #TebowToTheStorm.
These sort of promotions always lead back to the same question, however: Is it worth it? Do frivolous internet-based pop culture stunts generate the sort of attention that leads to increased revenue? Do the fans that matter (ie the ones buying tickets) even care?
I’m spoken to industry folk on both sides of the issue, and, really, there is no wrong answer. It all depends on organizational philosophy as well as the sensibilities of the market in question. My take could be summed up in three words: Go for it. All it took for the Storm to land in the spotlight was a clever press release and a photoshopped image of a buzz-generating quarterback.
Even if not much was gained, there was, quite literally, nothing to lose.
This time around, the “again” that is “happening” are two staples of the Minor League Baseball winter time news cycle: Valentine’s Day mascot delivery and snow-covered field photos.
My days of exhaustively documenting all mascot delivery offers throughout the Minors have long since passed, as I need to maintain a facade of professional growth and momentum. Nonetheless, it remains my duty to note some of the more intriguing developments in the field. For instance, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs remain the only team that offers “Pork-o-Grams” to their fan base.
Two Pork-O-Grams packages are offered, but I would opt for “Package B” as it includes both a dozen roses and a pair of pig noses. Also, I can’t help but wonder if Diggity (pictured above) is related to the self-cannibalizing fellow who has long served as the logo for Lehigh Valley-based Yocco’s Hot Dogs.
Meanwhile, I’ve got to give the proverbial head nod to the Trenton Thunder. So far as I can discern, they are the first club to include a charitable component along with their mascot Valentine’s Day delivery package.
The $150 package includes a dozen roses, a night in a luxury suite, and “as an added “heartfelt” bonus, a 25 ticket donation will be made in your name to the Trenton Thunder Charities Tickets For Kids Program.”
And now we must move on the snow-covered field photo, an enduring staple of the Minor League Baseball offseason experience. These pictures of vast white expanse are meant to convey a sense of longing, for what has been and, yes, what will be.
The current kings of this subgenre are the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, with announcer/media relations man Chris Mehring leading the charge. Last week, as Appleton WI was blanketed by snow, his Rattler Radio blog was updated by the hour with new snow-covered pics. Here’s a 4 p.m. specimen.
If there’s snow on the ground you can’t play ball, so alternate forms of recreation are needed. Fort Wayne TinCaps mascot Johnny overcame his feelings of cold-infused melancholy by dusting off the ol’ American Flyer.
And speaking of melancholy, this is certainly the feeling pervading the city of Denver after the Broncos lost to the Patriots this past weekend. The loss also scuttled the JetHawks’ planned “Tebow Tuesday” promotion, detailed in Friday’s post. That’s a disappointing turn of events, to be sure, but at least it’s the first Tebow promotion to NOT result in a cease-and-desist letter.
And that’s going to be it for today — stay tuned tomorrow for the eagerly anticipated (?) third installment of “A Quarter Century After the Cardboard.”
Me: Today I have a really big news item to share with all of you.
You: Well, how big is it?
Me: 3600 feet.
You: [Blinks incomprehendingly]
Look, I don’t know why you’re confused. I really do have a 3600-foot news story to share.
The above is a rendering of the scoreboard that, in March, is scheduled to be installed at AutoZone Park in Memphis. Per the team:
The scoreboard will be the largest HD board in minor league baseball at 3600 square feet (60’ X 60’). The current largest belongs to the Buffalo Bison, standing 80’ x 33’ (2640 square feet). The Redbirds video board also beats several of the NFL team boards installed by Daktronics. The board is made up of 1,440,000 pixels and weighs over 20 tons.
Indeed, it was just last season that the Bisons’ laid claim to the oft-contentious title of “biggest scoreboard in Minor League Baseball,” but it now appears that the Redbirds are wresting it from them. But for how long? There’s always someone out there lurking, just waiting for that opportunity to claim the throne. For now, however, pixellated supremacy belongs to Memphis.
Let’s move on from big news to old news. In fact, this is some of the oldest news I’ve ever had the pleasure of reporting. Regular readers of this blog are well aware that each of the past two Minor League seasons have included a centenarian first pitch.
In 2010, 102-year-old Chris Nocera fired a strike for the Round Rock Express.
Then, last season, 109-year-old Violet Smith threw one down the middle prior to a Great Lakes Loons game.
But 2012 will usher in a new age of elderly first pitches: that of the supercentenarian!
On March 31, Shelby Harris of Rock Island, IL will turn 111 years old. Five days later, he’ll throw out the first pitch at the Quad Cities River Bandits home opener! Harris is the oldest man in America, and it’s fantastic that the River Bandits have extended the invite and that he’s in good enough shape to do it.
—And now let’s move on to news from the department of “It was bound to happen eventually.”
The Lancaster JetHawks, a Houston Astros affiliate in the state of California, have put together a promotion inspired by the exploits of a Colorado quarterback who first made a name for himself in Florida.
After last weekend’s thrilling overtime victory against the heavily favored Pittsburgh Steelers, [JetHawks mascot] KaBoom has convinced the JetHawks Front Office to put together a special “Tebow Tuesday” Promotion that gives JetHawks fans the opportunity to buy 15 tickets for only $15.
The Tebow Tuesday Promotion will activate if the Denver Broncos can pull off another upset this weekend against the New England Patriots. The package will only be available next Tuesday, January 17, and includes 15 undated ticket vouchers for any JetHawks home game in April. In addition, any fan who wears their Tim Tebow Jersey to the Tuesday, April 17, game against the High Desert Mavericks will have the opportunity to throw out a ceremonial first pitch and take a picture “Tebowing” with KaBoom on the field prior to the game.
And now, apropos of nothing, let’s end with a photo. This shot depicts one of the perks of being a mascot: being on the receiving end of sensuous acts initiated by Miss America contestants.
Silver Swoop of South Bend is one lucky bird:
On Wednesday, the Fort Myers Miracle will be staging “What Would Tim Tebow Do?” Night. From here on out, I’m going to let the press release do the talking. Here are some relevant highlights:
The night celebrates Tebow’s heavenly presence and his ability to do anything short of leaping tall buildings in a single bound. Any fans wearing their college gear will have a chance to win tickets to see Tebow and the Gators on October 17th against Arkansas.
The ceremonial first pitch will be truly Tim Tebow style with a jump pass toss to the catcher. Tennessee or LSU fans may want to turn away in fear of ugly flashbacks.
Miracle manager Jeff Smith will make a majority of his decisions with the thought process, “What Would Tim Tebow Do?”
Kudos to the Miracle for ending the season on such an irreverent note. This is a club that has in previous years staged the likes of “Billy Donovan Night” and “Mike Tyson Ear Night”, so its great to see them returning to similar territory (for many more Miracle innovations, click HERE).
I’ll be back tomorrow with content of a more original nature. It is currently my goal to gather as much material as possible, so that I can provide original content up until apocalypse 2012. So, please, get in touch while there’s still time.