During the 2012 season, the Orem Owlz became the first Minor League team to welcome Larry “Soup Nazi” Thomas to the ballpark for a promotional appearance.
Then, the following season, the Owlz gave away 5000 pairs of team-logo sunglasses as part of a “most people wearing sunglasses at night” world record attempt. (The blue balls were part of a different promotion. Please ignore the blue balls).
These two promotional endeavors, different as they may seem, have one thing in common. This:
108 Stitches is a low-budget baseball comedy, executive produced by Owlz owner Jeff Katofsky and produced and co-written by his son, Jake. A raunchy and ramshackle underdog sports comedy (think Major League or Animal House), 108 Stitches involves the exploits of a fictional Orem-based collegiate baseball team. The players wear the uniforms of the real-life Orem Owlz (Class A Short Season affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels), and the baseball scenes are shot at the so-called “Home of the Owlz,” located on the campus of Utah Valley University.
The above fictional squad is coached by one Scott Deshields (esteemed character actor Bruce Davison); meanwhile, assistant coach Kassem Bosco is played by — wait for it — Larry “Soup Nazi” Thomas. So that’s why he was in Orem in the first place!
The movie also features cameos from Owlz mascots Hootz and Holly, but unfortunately does not reference Holly’s 2012 pregnancy announcement.
Speaking of procreation, Roger Clemens has declared, somewhat incomprehensibly, that “If Animal House, Bull Durham and Major League had a threesome, 108 Stitches would be its kid.” Also, somewhat incomprehensibly, Clemens has a cameo late in the film. Here’s the trailer, which features Clemens, Hootz, Holly, the Soup Nazi, 3D Glasses and, of course, more:
If you’re interested in checking out the film, it it available for streaming via virtually every streaming platform known to man. Click HERE.
If you are desirous of even more Minor League “cinema,” then click HERE to see Lake Elsinore Storm mascot Thunder riding a dirtbike. Or, hey, how about this: Fresno Grizzlies mascot Parker provides the mascot perspective on a hot-button social issue.
Or if lip-syncing front-office members are more your thing, then how about this video courtesy of the Tulsa Drillers?
In the Academy Awards of my mind, which take place biannually for some reason, these are all statuette-worthy efforts.
It is of course not something that I can control, but I’ve received several complaints this offseason regarding the relative paucity of new logo unveilings.
And, indeed, times have been tough (especially when compared to a particularly fertile 2010-11). This year’s crop has been limited to the Daytona Cubs, new franchises in Pensacola and Grand Junction, and two Blue Jays affiliates (Dunedin and Bluefield) who responded to changes made by the parent club. The rest have been anniversary marks, All Star Games logos, and various subtle tweaks.
But if it’s logos you want and logos you demand, I’ll do my best. For example, the Billings Mustangs recently unveiled a logo celebrating 60 seasons of professional baseball.
In honor of the club’s 60th Season, the Mustangs, in association with Studio Simon, have developed a 60th Season commemorative logo, which will be featured on multiple applications and platforms throughout the season. The logo will serve as a sleeve patch for both the home and road jerseys, and it will also be available on team merchandise and souvenirs.
Keep in mind that there have been a few small gaps in Billings’ baseball history, which is probably why the words “Since 1948” don’t appear on the logo. That would be confusing, as would the slogan “Celebrating 60 Mostly Consecutive Years of Baseball Since 1948.”
The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes will be sporting new uniforms in 2012, and it’s easy to find “fault” with them. The logo remains the same, but the team is emphasizing its affiliation with the (relatively) nearby Los Angeles Dodgers.
Arguably the most noticeable change will take place on the numbers in the uniform, as the 2012 uniforms will feature the Quakes’ customary “fault line” running through the middle of each digit, giving it a unique and truly “Quake” look.
An addition to the 2012 uniform will feature a red number on the lower left-half on the front of the jersey, which is also a popular feature of the current Dodgers’ uniform.
Quakes’ jerseys will have sleeves in 2012, a change from the sleeveless style worn in years past. The jersey will no doubt be “Dodgerized”, as the left sleeve will feature the traditional “LA” logo.
Missing from the pants this year will be any piping down the sides, as the new pants will be solid white, also emulating that of the Dodgers’ home pants.
I’ve put my weekly Twitter Round-Up on ice for a bit, as I’m not sure if people were getting/enjoying the concept. But I remain committed to that form of social media, and hope that @BensBiz slow march to 1500 followers transitions into a tidal wave to 10 million. I mean, let’s be honest here, I’m worthy of far more followers than I have.
One new Twitter account that should be of interest to readers of this blog is @milbstaffprblms — a compendium of, you guessed it, Minor League staff problems. A few samples:
the shoes under your desk covered in orange clay and the mildewy smell that accompanies them
I would like to note that I am not the one running this account, despite my (subtle) presence in the @milbstaffprblms avatar.
Update! And, wouldn’t you know it, @broadcastrprobs has now emerged. Follow that one too!
Let’s end the week, as we often do, with a video. This one hails from Tennessee, land of the Smokies, and is to be lauded for its commitment to absurdity. (Another Update! Episode Two of the McGinty and Cunningham series is out, and can be viewed HERE.
Commitment to absurdity: a Ben’s Biz Blog guiding principle since 2007. Thanks for reading.
This post, the 748th in the the history of this blog, will be the last you ever hear from me…
But, of course, I will be back. For if there is someone out there who can resist the siren call of writing about the same subject in perpetuity at levels of increasing stagnation, that person is not I. With that being the case, let’s end the year on a high note….
It’s time for the second edition of the Ben’s Biz Twitter Top Ten! The purpose of such an endeavor is to provide a compendium of the most intriguing @BensBiz tweets and re-tweets of the past week (or three weeks, in this case). The tweets, as they appeared on Twitter, are italicized. Let’s get to it!
10. Please re-frame in the form of a question
Here’s how it went down:
9. You be the judge
8. Just sayin’ is all
Mike Cameron signs w/
@Nationals, but he’s no stranger to the area. Spent ’94 w/Prince William Cannons, where 17 of 116 hits were triples!
If he had maintained that triples rate in his Major League career, he’d currently have amassed 250 (good enough for fourth all time, just two behind Honus Wagner).
7. I really would frame this
6. This was in response to the question of “What MiLB theme nights would you like to see?”
Lehigh Valley IronWarPigs! RT
@andyshal: Black Sabbath night in Allentown! Bill Ward as home plate ump. Ozzy on PA. Concert after the game.
“IronManPigs” would also be acceptable.
5. Another One
Rides Waits For the Bus
Great idea: seats from Indianapolis’ Bush Stadium installed at city bus stops: http://indy.st/selEY9
4. Someone out there needs to stage “Free Eye Pad” night, advertising it heavily on the radio.
3. Use your doppel radar
Well, do you?
2. What does it mean?
1. Effect and Cause
I hope you enjoyed this most recent edition of the @BensBiz Twitter Top 10. I’m almost out of 2011 material, but not quite yet….
For what better way would there be to end the year than with a video of a mascot tackling a Christmas tree?
Actually, there’s one better way. For nothing says “holiday season” like a team-produced “Twas the Night Before Christmas” parody.
And that, as they say, will be that. Thanks for sticking with me throughout a (generally) action-packed 2011, and here’s to an ennui-free 2012!
I have faith that I can do this, that I will get it right on the first attempt. Here it goes:
Success! Having spelled bouillabaisse correctly, there is nothing left to do but dive right into the bouillabaisse equivalent of a blog post — a little bit of this, a little bit of that, liberal amounts of seasoning, and plenty of time spent simmering.
I’m not sure any of this makes sense.
But who cares? There’s no turning back now! Upward and onward to a new logo!
Like Dunedin, Bluefield’s new look was prompted by parent Toronto’s recent identity overhaul. It’s a sharp and simple sartorial approach, befitting the no-frills Appy League atmosphere in which Bluefield resides.
In further logo news, the Omaha Storm Chasers unveiled an alternate mark yesterday.
In other, non-visual news, the Memphis Redbirds recently became the first MiLB team (that I am aware of) to host a so-called “Twinterview.” Last week, team alumnus and current World Champion Daniel Descalso participated in a Twitter-based Q&A with the team’s fans (who submitted questions through the team’s Twitter account, along with the hashtag #twinterview).
My favorite exchange went as follows:
@memphisredbirds: Tell us one thing about you that the fans don’t already know. #Twinterview
@DanielDescalso: Hmmm…my last name literally means “no shoes” in Italian and Spanish.
Congrats to the Redbirds for coming up with a creative way to engage with the fans during the offseason. The next “Twinterview” takes place tomorrow at 2 p.m. CST. John Jay is serving as the question recipient this time around.
You may remember that in October I devoted a post to the Frederick Keys’ “Volt Night”, a book release party/concert/kickball tournament in honor of a new cookbook being released by local culinary heroes the Voltaggio brothers. As opposed to reading my aforementioned blog, those wishing to see what the night was all about should check out this video:
Finally, let’s close out this latest (and therefore greatest) bouillabaisse with a short and sweet team-produced video. The Tulsa Drillers would like you to know that although you can take the bull out of the ring, you can’t take the ring out of the bull.
Or something like that:
Metro Bank Park, home of the Harrisburg Senators, is located on City Island and surrounded by the Susquehanna River.
One of the perpetual perils of such an aquatic location is flooding, and last week the stadium got hit and hit hard. This aerial view is truly breathtaking:
The most unfortunate thing about the flooding was the timing of it all — it occurred in tandem with the Eastern League semi-finals, forcing the Senators and opposing Richmond Flying Squirrels to play the entire series in Richmond (the Senators were promptly swept in three games, scoring three runs total).
Some more images, courtesy of Sens GM Randy Whitaker. The lower the water level, the more recent the shot.
The Senators offices have re-opened and the phone lines restored, but access to the ballpark is still restricted. There is a LOT of cleaning up to do, but the good news is that structural damage is minimal. Metro Bank Park, which underwent a plethora of renovations prior to the 2010 campaign, was built to withstand such aquatic intrusions.
As you may recall from my visit last season, the stadium concourse is ringed with submarine-style doors. That women’s restroom was well-protected!
Since I’ve now got water on the brain, now seems as good a time to check in with your good friends and mine the Everett AquaSox. The team is recently began their weekly offseason “Meet the AquaSox” video series, a great example of simple and engaging offseason content.
Here’s the latest edition, featuring squirrel-emulating Aristocats fan Patrick Brady:
And speaking of the cinema, throughout this past season the Lakewood BlueClaws produced a series of movie-themed “Catch of the Day” game programs. Truly, some of the best graphic design to be found in the Minors.
Could someone please do a movie poster parody entitled “Aguirre, the Wrath of Blog” with my face superimposed over that of Klaus Kinski’s? I’d really appreciate it!
It’s early Friday afternoon as I type this, a time in which my readership is likely to be particularly wary of too many words. Who wants to be burdened with the onerous task of reading when the weekend is so near?
So let’s go to the videos! I’ve come across quite a few over the past several days, and would love nothing more than to share them with you, the world-weary word-wary reader:
The State College Spikes have been innovators in the field of mystery-themed promotions, making GM Jason Dambach’s total lack of deductive reasoning skills all the more surprising.
I love videos like that: set-up, punchline, and done in under a minute. Or done in under 30 seconds, in the case of the Tennessee Smokies. This one features a guy who really knows how to make an impression.
And the brevity continues, this time courtesy of the Charleston RiverDogs. Yesterday, the team released their own version of “Cannibal, the Movie”. This one is not for the faint of heart:
The mascot angst continues in Omaha, where Stormy the would-be Storm Chaser has suffered yet another indignity.
Similar feelings of rejection have recently been felt by Wilmington’s Rocky the Blue Moose, who has had difficulty updating his look:
I’ll close things out with what is only a somewhat gratuitous video. The Baseball Project’s excellent second album was released last week, and I highly recommend picking it up. The combination of accomplished rock n roll chops and literate, passionate baseball writing is truly something to behold. Here’s the band playing on Letterman around the time their first album was released:
You know — a pride of lions, a clan of hyenas, a colony of bats, etc. Unfortunately, however, there is no collective noun that describes a group of YouTube videos that are all embedded within the same blog post.
So I’m going to make one up.
Today’s post, then, features a flapdoodle of videos. Enjoy!
Let’s start with this celebrity-filled promo video recently unveiled by the Iowa Cubs, entitled “The I-Cubs Are My Cubs.” None other than the President of The United States makes an appearance!
Update: I-Cubs director of logistics Scott Sailor explains how the team landed Obama’s less-than-unequivocal endorsement:
Obama was the only one we thought to film — and remember, at this time he was a long shot.
We pounced on him in the radio booth after he was on the air for an inning and asked him to say “The I-Cubs Are My Cubs” like everyone else…but he wouldn’t…he’s a Sox fan…but he did compromise and give us the footage we have.
Meanwhile, a fresh triumvirate of mascot-themed videos have been unleashed upon an unsuspecting public.
Moving from Obama to Omaha, it has become apparent that Casey’s offseason life is no longer average. The slugging Storm Chaser was at the Kansas City Royals Fan Fest last weekend in order to take part in the hallowed tradition that is the Mascot Home Run Derby.
Meanwhile, in Akron, Orbit has overcome his malaise and is earnestly preparing himself for next month’s “Tackle the Tower” challenge.
Finally, the Fort Myers Miracle have released the first installment of what may shape up to be an epic serialized mystery. Sparky the Hamster has gone missing!
And — hey! — it’s Gratuitous Video Friday. Or, in this case, Even More Gratuitous Video Friday. I’ll end this blogging week with my new answer to the eternal question “What would be your at-bat walk-up music?”
We’ll all be back on Monday for the punchline of the joke.
If you thought I was done recapping the 2010 season, then you thought sensibly.
You also thought wrong.
In reviewing the year that was, I came to the realization that my favorite videos of the season had the following three things in common: They featured players, they were short (under two minutes) and they were funny.
No team was better at combining the following three criteria than the Peoria Chiefs, who put out videos featuring boy bands, models, and karaoke superstars. But my personal favorite paid homage to the sweet sounds of Motown.
The Tulsa Drillers were able to provide great insight into the culture of the bullpen, whose denizens are free to focus on matters follicles.
In Everett, meanwhile, the players were more concerned with that which resided above the upper lip.
And since we’re talking about players, I would be remiss if I didn’t include the masterwork of Reading Phillies sluggers Tagg Bozied and Matt Rizzotti.
The Charlotte Stone Crabs also used players to great effect throughout the season, as part of their “This Is Stone Crabs Baseball” ad series. This one, starring Isaias Velazquez, was my favorite.
Velazquez has good reason to be upset, and as this video amply illustrates it is not wise to mess with Minor League Baseball players. Behold, the “aqua-palypse” that took place in Gwinnett County.
Of course, a good Minor League video doesn’t necessarily need to feature the players at all. Lakewood BlueClaws intern “D-Bo” made a name for himself this season with a series of videos designed to highlight upcoming promotions. Here’s a sample, with sight gags a-plenty:
Amazingly, I’ve gotten this far without posting a parody video. Let’s rectify that immediately, by checking out the Binghamton Mets unique take on “Twilight”.
But nothing inspires parody more than early ’90s West Coast gangsta rap, as evidenced by these two works of art.
The above video was produced by the Peoria Chiefs, bringing this post full circle. But before closing this one out, I have just one more thing to announce:
Boy oh boy is it ever.
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.
Last week I posted “Roast Beef Initiation”, a four-and-a-half minute comedy video written by and starring Phillies farmhands Tagg Bozied and Matt Rizzotti. The film illuminates an overlooked aspect of the Reading baseball experience: the unique pressures of being the “Arby’s RBI Guy”.
The premise behind the “Arby’s RBI Guy” is simple — if the #4 hitter in the R-Phils’ line-up knocks in a run, fans in attendance can redeem their ticket stubs for a complimentary Roast Beef Sandwich.
Bozied began the season as the regular “Arby’s RBI Guy”, but after getting hurt he was replaced by Rizzotti. Bozied is currently back in his familiar “RBI Guy” role, as Rizzotti received a call-up to Triple-A Lehigh Valley earlier this month.
But regardless who has been tasked with the “RBI Guy” duties, this is a promotion that has been embraced with great enthusiasm by the Reading faithful — perhaps too much enthusiasm, as it turns out.
On The Motivation For the Film:
Tagg Bozied: In Reading, you have to walk through the fans [in the concourse] to get from the dugout to the locker room. And one day shortly before the All-Star Break, Matt told me this story, like “You’re not going to believe what this fan just told me.”
Matt Rizzotti: This guy comes up to me and says “Thanks for not getting an RBI, now I’m not eating tonight!’ Then he walked away. He was seriously mad!
TB: It really is funny, especially if you know anything about playing in Reading. One time we participated in a kid’s [baseball] clinic, and when we were introduced as the RBI Guys 200 kids immediately started chanting “Roast Beef….Roast Beef.” If you’re part of that culture, you can’t help but embrace it. Both of us did, it changes up the routine from normal everyday life.
MR: It’s funny to think that the whole thing bloomed from a guy telling me how much I sucked….It was just perfect, we took the idea and ran with it.
On the Creative Process
MR: Coming back from the [Eastern League] All-Star Game, we had the whole bus to ourselves. We’re just sitting in the back, and the idea came about that we should make a video. And Tagg was like, “Hold on!” The notepad immediately came out, and we started rattling off ideas. You obviously have to know a bit about Reading to best appreciate things like the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor throwing sandwiches off of my face, or the usher singing the seventh-inning stretch on a two-person bicycle.
TB: We both enjoy movies, and really pay attention to delivery. We wanted it to be funny, and dramatic, and worked real hard on the timing and the body language.
On the Movie’s Most Memorable Scene (aka: “Roast Beef to the Face”)
MR: [Crazy Hot Dog Vendor] Matt Jackson is a really nice guy, so he was hesitant, like, “Dude, I don’t want to throw sandwiches at your face.” We were like “You will get angry, and you will launch roast beef sandwiches off of my face!” That was the only way it was going to look good. It took a few takes because he kept missing, but the first hit really started an onslaught.
TB: I couldn’t stop laughing, it was one of the funniest things I’d ever seen.
MR: Yeah, it’s not every day that you get roast beef sandwiches launched off of your face.
TB: I’m just glad we were able to document this. Playing in the Minor Leagues, you end up doing a lot of stupid stuff to keep entertained, and just have to celebrate it for what it is. This kind of thing, it’s what you do to keep your mind relaxed.
On Their Filmmaking Future
TB: We had a good time doing this, but if we do anything else it might not be as good. Like Karate Kid II.
MR: Or Back to the Future III….Next year, if me and Tagg are on the same team, then maybe we could do one or two more videos. But, I don’t know, it would be tough to beat this one. It just had a…
MR: Yeah, mystique! See, that’s Tagg. He’s always there for me.
And now, an encore presentation of “Roast Beef Initiative,” written, directed, and starring Tagg Bozied and Matt Rizzotti. Andy Kauffman, the Reading Phillies video director, handled production duties.