As I have often mentioned, the offseason content on this blog can be characterized as an ongoing battle between the old and the new. The urge to share new Minor League initiatives and ideas must do constant battle with the desire to give belated coverage to that which I didn’t get around to writing about during the season itself.
But why must this dynamic always be framed in oppositional terms? Today’s post represents an attempt at reconciliation, so that the old and the new may transcend temporal concerns in favor of taking up residence within the eternal now. It’s a perfectly logical approach.
Like it or not, Valentine’s Day is less than a month away. The Bowie Baysox, like many teams, are offering a variety of romantic ticket packages in honor of this occasion. But, unlike many teams, they are also offering a vitriolic “Love Bites” anti-Valentine’s Day package featuring secondary mascot Rocko.
Per the team:
The Rocko’s Love Bites Pack is $55 and perfect for the downtrodden on what can be a quite depressing holiday. This lonely hearts package includes four SINGLE game General Admission Baysox tickets to enjoy by yourself, a Baysox Foam Claw signifying your ripped out heart, a Black Baysox Mini-Bat to fend off any nearby happy couples, six black balloons to denote your singular unromantic status, and a pint of ice cream with a special Baysox bowl to help alleviate your sorrows.
But that’s not all, for Rocko will also help those in unhappy relationships hit the killswitch.
Fans can have the frustrated fish do the dirty work for them and deliver his Love Bites Pack within 25 miles of the stadium to help you part ways with a significant other.
If anyone takes Rocko up on this offer, then I have but one request: Make sure you get it on video.
Remember back in June when the Potomac Nationals hosted a “Beard-A-Palooza” weekend in honor of Jayson Werth?
Well, I have obtained photos of the festivities (by “obtained” I mean the team sent me some). Here, a pair of front office staffers engage in a beard-tasting competition.
This old and new coexistence experiment seems to have gone pretty well. I think I’ll do it again in the near future. In the meantime, make sure to check out the new edition of “Ben’s Bookshelf” over on MiLB.com. It features three highly-recommended Minor League Baseball-themed books:
Starting any piece of writing with the formal definition of what will then be discussed is as hackneyed as it gets. But when has an aversion to the hackneyed ever stopped me before?
Hashtag (noun) — The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.
While this may be old news to the more social media-adept among us, I included the above definition (taken from the Twitter Help Center) as a way to bring everyone up to speed regarding a technique that I’ve been using more and more as a means to gather news and opinions from the disparate corners of the MiLB universe.
For instance, I established the #MinorLeagueFrontOffice cliche hashtag as a means to collect said cliches, and the result was the “Minor League Front Office Cliche” compendium that you may have read (and may have even enjoyed) last week.
And while I did not originate the #mascotlove hashtag, I suggested to teams that they use it within all of their Valentine’s Day tweets chronicling the amorous travels of their gift-delivering mascots. Searching through tweets with the #mascotlove tag, one can find images such as the following:
And on and on the #mascotlove went, but at this point I think you get the general idea.
Meanwhile, the Harlem Shake has been a gargantuan internet trend over the past week. While its power is now waning, mercifully, the #HarlemShake hashtag provides a seemingly infinite list of individuals and institutions who did their own version.
This includes Minor League teams, of course, with the State College Spikes the first out of the gate. The Connecticut Tigers soon followed suit, and other teams to post their own versions include the Columbus Clippers, Vancouver Canadians, Lake Elsinore Storm, Tulsa Drillers, Buffalo Bisons, Round Rock Express, Delmarva Shorebirds, Charlotte Stone Crabs, Gwinnett Braves, Corpus Christi Hooks, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Lexington Legends, Bowie Baysox and Frederick Keys.
As for a favorite? Choosing one is a near impossible task. But I’ll go with the Connecticut Tigers, due to their creative use of outdoor environs. Also, the “roar” at the end of the song is very fitting given the team name.
[10 minutes later]
I can’t seem to post this. So watch it HERE.
And as for a video I actually CAN post, how about Round Rock’s bobble-centric version?
If the demand exists, I will follow up this post with a compendium of all MiLB Harlem Shake videos. It won’t be one of the prouder moments of my life.
Finally, there’s this: inspired by the Brooklyn Cyclones’ freewheeling “Ask Me Anything” blog posts, I have instituted an #askbensbizanything hashtag. As the name would imply, feel free to ask me anything (the weirder, the better) but please keep in mind that this is a family publication. Thus far the questions have trickled in at a glacial pace, but when have I ever let a profound disinterest on the part of the reading public ever get in the way of anything?
I look forward to your continued queries, however few and far between they may be.
The most pressing thing that needs to be conveyed at this moment in space and time, from a blogging perspective, is this: next week there will be no new blog posts. This is because I’m taking a a week-long respite from Minor League Baseball, in the form of a vacation.
When I return, it will be nearly March. And if it’s nearly March it’ll nearly be baseball season. Therefore, it’ll be time for me to make some plans — where to go, who to see, and how to best cover this multifarious entity known as Minor League Baseball.
Suggestions welcome, and appreciated! Unique content is key, so please get in touch with any knowledge you may have about any particular corner of this Minor League universe.
I look forward to your reply. But, in the meantime, here’s a nice-sized portion of that typical Biz Blog content you’ve come to know and tolerate.
As I’ve mentioned before, we’re in the midst of “promotion unveiling season.” One of the more interesting ones to come down the pike this week comes courtesy of the Memphis Redbirds, who have put an interesting spin on the increasingly prevalent “social media” sub-genre.
Reports the team:
The first 500 fans through the gates that use Twitter can write down their Twitter username, allowing the Redbirds to follow them. Prior to the game, a Twinterview will be held with one of the Memphis Redbirds players. Twitter handles from each player will also be included on their headshots on the Redbirds’ new video board.
Fans will be encouraged to take a photo from where they sit at the ballpark and share it on Facebook. Adding their seat location to the picture caption will give them a chance to win a social media themed prize during the game. One fan will also receive a prize pack that includes a bird watching book, a team-signed hashtag and a box of figurines containing 140 characters.
Not surprisingly, my favorite aspect of this promo is the “prize pack.” I look forward to seeing what a “team-signed hashtag” looks like, and, especially, what sort of figurine characters end up in the box.
My last post had a Valentine’s Day emphasis, but now that particular holiday is firmly in the rear-view mirror. Or, is it? In honor of the Red Sox’s new manager, the Lowell Spinners are hosting their own “Valentine’s Day” on July 14.
Ya gotta love it:
The first 1,000 fans through the gates will receive a pink Bobby Valentine’s Day Spinners’ baseball. Fans who do not receive a baseball will be rewarded with Valentine’s candies and cards so no fan is left lonely on Bobby Valentine’s Day.
The concourse will feature a Valentine’s card swap area, with Valentine’s available for younger fans to give to each other, leave for their favorite Spinners players or, of course, leave for Bobby Valentine. The area will also have an abundance of Valentine’s Day favorites, including Hershey’s Kisses and NECCO Hearts.
Outside of Valentine’s Day, the Spinners will also salute Bobby Valentine by exploring some of their favorite Bobby V-isms. The concession stand will feature wrap sandwiches, in honor of their inventor, and the team will celebrate Bobby’s fabulous ballroom dancing moves, with a between innings dancing contest.
As I mentioned on Twitter earlier this week, a component that needs to be added to this stellar promo is a mustache giveaway. And all fans in disguise should get in free!
A reasonable question to ask at this juncture is “who cares about any of this stuff? The world is ending!” The Frederick Keys understand such apocalyptic angst, and are therefore staging “Six Months Until the End of the World Night” on June 21.
“We will be paying tribute to what is supposed to be the end of life on earth with our six months til the end of the world celebration. Enjoy survival of the fittest events, last meal eating contests, zombie interns and more!” reported the team. “Oh, and there will be Keys baseball too.”
If the above didn’t satiate your appetite for apocalyptic images, then perhaps this will.
Yep, that’s Visalia Rawhide mascot Tipper with his ol’ buddy Newt Gingrich at Tuesday’s World Ag Expo.
“Newt Gingrich” sounds like a good name for a Zooperstars character. This beloved troupe of pun-obsessed inflatables are visiting Charlotte on May 26, with five of the characters confirmed. The team has launched a fan poll to determine the final two characters, with the choices as follows:
- Manatee Ramirez
- Yao Flamingo
- Jeff Gordog
- Centipete Rose
- Mackerel Jordan
- Nolan Rhino
The triumvirate of above characters look like they could be gatekeepers to the afterlife, but fortunately we won’t have to deal with such matters for another six months. In the meantime, all you need is Like!
The New Hampshire Fisher Cats are aiming for 10,000 new Facebook fans this month, and will donate $5000 to New Horizons soup kitchen and homeless if this goal is met. So CLICK HERE and like away!
And you know what? That’s going to do it for me. I’ll be back on the blog come 2/27, but in the meantime please meditate on what you like about this blog, what you don’t, and what you’d like to see from it in the future. I’d love to hear it.
We are born alone, and die alone. And often, as the case may be, we spend Valentine’s Day alone. Fortunately, at least two Minor League teams expanded their traditional Valentine’s Day offers to include those unencumbered by an actual relationship.
The Charleston RiverDogs’ “Lonely Hearts Package” is a mere $18, and includes an upper reserve ticket, frozen dinner, and pint of ice cream. It will be delivered by this sympathetic soul.
Or, perhaps a flying groundhog would be more to your liking? If so, then get thee to Gwinnett, interested singles:
The G-Braves’ identically-named “Lonely Hearts” package includes a ticket to May 14’s “Singles Mingle” night, as well “as vouchers for a box of Nestlé Drumstick® Ice-cream courtesy of Edy’s and a frozen TV Dinner.”
I wondered what kind of “reception” these TV dinner offers had been getting, and if teams had been dealing in the “volume” expected. In response to a Twitter inquiry, the RiverDogs reported that There were a decent amount of Lonely Hearts. @ThePigglyWiggly got a lot of business in the Hungry Man frozen dinner area from us.
As for what “decent” entails, I have no idea. I’m going to guess somewhere between eight and 4,400.
In keeping with the contrarian Valentine’s Day theme, let’s now move on to the world of logos. This is, after all, a word that in Jungian psychology means “the principal of reason and judgement.” Not very love-like at all!
Today’s logo of choice comes courtesy of the Lake County Captains. But perhaps the club should change it’s name to the “CapTens”:
If you think anniversary logos are for the birds, that’s cool. But you know who else should be for the ‘Birds? You. Here’s why:
The Delmarva Shorebirds, class “A” affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, are excited to announce the launch of a brand new campaign leading up to the home opener on April 12 designed to raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters. The Shorebirds will donate one dollar per new Facebook ‘Like’ from now through April 11 to Big Brothers Big Sisters.
The goal of the initiative is to donate a maximum of $1,400 to Big Brothers Big Sisters by growing the Shorebirds Facebook fan page to over 10,000 likes.
So go ahead and give ’em a like. Right HERE.
And speaking (again) of being for the birds, how about this visual out of Des Moines? The Iowa Cubs sure know how to play to their audience:
Also playing to their audience: the Fort Wayne TinCaps. The team launched it’s “All About You” sweepstakes last week, and it’s chock-a-block with great prizes. But one prize, in particular, towers above the rest.
Yes, a life-size bobblehead! Forget mummification, taxidermy, cryogenics and afterlife-based belief systems. Grotesquely-sized ceramic statues featuring crazily disproportionate bodily dimensions are how one achieves true immortality.
This has been post #768 of the greatest Minor League Baseball blog of all time.
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.”
Got a lot on the docket today, starting with an intriguing ticket offer from the Timber Rattlers of Appleton, Wisconsin: The team is offering complimentary ducats to the 400 “displaced Super Bowl attendees” who bought tickets to the game but were unable to watch due to a seating snafu.
The “Super Second Chance” offer is really only applicable to 399 fans, as Timber Rattlers box office manager Ryan Moede was among the “displaced.”
Hopefully the aggrieved individuals in question take advantage of the offer, as it could be the first step toward overcoming the unimaginable trauma they were forced to endure.
But those lucky enough to actually have seats at sporting events now have incentive to tell the world. At least if said seats are located within Waterfront Park in Trenton.
The Trenton Thunder announced their “Tweet Your Seat” promotion yesterday, an initiative that comes equipped with its own URL (tweetyourseat.net). On game days, fans can “Tweet Their Seats” for a chance to win a gift card to the nearby Nassau Inn. Declares the organization:
Include your seat location, tag BOTH the Trenton Thunder and Nassau Inn in your tweet or status update and use the hashtag”#TweetYourSeat”.
We’ll pick one winner and deliver the gift card to their seat during the game! We’ll also post the winner’s name and/or twitter handle on this page….The contest opens at 10am on every game day and runs right up until the first pitch of the game.
This is the first time I’ve seen such a promo in the Minors, but I highly doubt it will be the last. It can easily be adapted to any market, and should help teams build social media followings for both themselves and the sponsor.
Moving from hi-tech to low, details regarding the 16th Annual Rickwood Classic were announced yesterday. The host Birmingham Barons will take on the Chattanooga Lookouts, with both teams wearing 1961-era uniforms. Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry will be the VIP Guest of Honor.
As you’ll no doubt recall, Rickwood Field is the oldest stadium in all of professional baseball. Last year, the Classic was named the top promotion in all of Minor League Baseball.
I’m not sure what the weather’s like in Alabama right now, but in Northwest Arkansas things have been unprecedentedly frigid. Check out Arvest Ballpark, home of the Naturals:
“No doubt about it,” writes Naturals marketing and public relations manager Frank Novak. “I think the people of Northwest Arkansas are ready for some baseball.”
Yesterday, the people of Earth were ready for love, and Minor League mascots across the land helped to deliver some. This picture shows Bernie of the Inland Empire 66ers with some new friends he made.
Over the past several weeks, I have methodically taken note of all the teams who are planning some sort of Valentine’s Day promotion. My current tally now stands at 33, and I am sure there are some that I am missing.
But, you know what? I’ve written about this kind of thing before, in multiple MiLB.com feature stories (HERE and HERE) and blog posts (HERE and HERE). So at this juncture, I’m just going to make a simple request:
Send me funny photos and videos from your Valentine endeavors, and I will compile a (hopefully) hilarious blog post with the best of what I receive. In the meantime, here’s a video featuring a diaper-wearing mascot playing front office Cupid.
It’s otherwise a pretty slow day here in Minor League Baseball-land, but we’ll get by. We always do.
I do, however, want to highlight an event going on tonight: Minor League Baseball on Ice!
The NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning will be hosting “Minor League Baseball Night” at the St. Pete Times Forum on Friday. Not much to it, really — a bevy of Florida State League teams will have info booths set up on the concourse, attempting to educate fans on the wonders of Minor League Baseball.
And, according to the Brevard County Manatees website, anyone who visits the team’s booth and utters the words “Fear the Sea Cow!” will receive a special gift.
In my mind, simply having a legitimate reason to say “Fear the Sea Cow” to a total stranger is a gift in and of itself.
Meanwhile, much of the country is still dealing with the after-effects of last week’s blizzard. Instead of stressing out about the situation, the Cedar Rapids have taken a “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach.
And since it’s Friday, I’ll close with a video even more gratuitous. Check out who can now add “Children’s Book Author” to his resume:
Last week I made the observation that the Tucson Padres’ new logo would be the last unveiled this offseason.
What I meant to say was that it would be the last primary logo unveiled this offseason. Because, of course, new logos cannot and will not be stopped. Not now and not ever. The latest to be unleashed upon an unsuspecting public is this:
And — what’s this? — the logo is NOT I repeat NOT the work of either Studio Simon or Plan B Branding. According to the press release: The logo was designed by Francis Santiquilani of FS Design. Santiquilani also designed the new River Bandits logos in 2007.
While I recover from this shocking news (a logo not designed by Plan B or Studio Simon? Is this even possible?), let me divert your attention with my new favorite photo in the always-entertaining category of “Bobblehead Honoree Posing With His Or Her Bobblehead.”
Let’s hear it for pitcher Mike Zagurski and the Lakewood BlueClaws!
But I digress…
February is nearly upon us, and you know what that means — Valentine’s Day! I’ll do a comprehensive post on Minor League V-Day initiatives in the near future, but for now I’d just like to share the most romantic desktop wallpaper ever created.
If that won’t put your special someone in the mood then I’m afraid nothing will.
I stand before you today in order to deliver Minor League mascot Valentine’s Day photos.
The public has demanded them, and I am certainly not one to ignore the pleas of the populace. Therefore, that is precisely what this post shall be dedicated to. But first, a quick request…
Inspired by the copious snow that has been deposited all over the country as of late, I have decided to do a story on extreme weather and the groundskeeping challenges it presents. In addition to teams that have recently been hit with snow, I’d be interested in speaking with anyone who has had to deal with drought, flooding, hurricanes, and, of course, locust plagues. I’ll most likely have to contact teams individually today and tomorrow, but that’s a hit-or-miss proposition. Consider this post an invitation to get in touch — firstname.lastname@example.org
Okay, we now return to regularly-scheduled programming: Minor League mascot Valentine’s Day photos.
Because, as you surely know, there was a lot going on. And how can I lead off with anyone but Boomer, who is surely the suavest mascot in Minor Leage Baseball? Here, Boomer spreads some joy to the youth of Williamsport:
Boomer’s not the only mascot named Boomer. There’s also Boomer of the Trenton Thunder, who is not at all terrifying, not the least little bit:
In Lowell, the Spinners sent out a star-studded caravan to a local elementary school, where Valentine’s Day cards were made. These cards were then delivered to a VA hospital (apparently, Canaligator and crew got hungry along the way):
Buster “rose” to the occasion in Lakewood:
But how could I close anywhere other than in Reading? As usual, Screwball did his thing:
Now if that wasn’t romantic, then I don’t know what is. I mean, seriously, I don’t. Can anyone help me out here?
The latest edition of my “Promotion Preview” column appeared today, and it will have all the Minor League Valentine’s Day information you could ever hope to see in one place. Consider it my definitive take on the subject, so that we may then move on to bigger and better things.
But before bidding adieu to my V-Day coverage, I must share some videos. First there are the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, who recently bid adieu to GM North Johnson in a staggeringly tuneless fashion. Hot on the heels of that masterpiece, they have released this precious jewel of a video:
To reiterate: Leave the ostrich at home, don’t throw the roses, roses don’t need condiments, and foil wrap is for hot dogs. l learned all four of those lessons the hard way, and very much wish that the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor had been around when I was an impressionable youth.