It’s promo scheduling unveiling season — or p.s.u.s. for the acronymically inclined — meaning that teams across the land are announcing buzzworthy theme nights at a rapid clip.
But the most literally buzzworthy is that which was announced by the Bowling Green Hot Rods on Wednesday.
— BG Hot Rods (@BGHotRods) February 10, 2016
As a longtime aficionado of whisky, barrels (my Mom’s maiden name is Cooper) and the covert production and distribution of illicit goods, I’m a big fan of the Hot Rods’ “Bootleggers” promo. Especially because there are already visual elements. No one gets excited by text-only promotion announcements, much like no one is excited by reading the words in this blog post that appear between the images.
Images like this. Let there be merch!
— BG Hot Rods (@BGHotRods) February 10, 2016
In short, “Bowling Green Bootleggers” equal bats, beards, buttons, boots, bourbon and barrels. Just watch what you’re doing with your right hand there, Mr. Moonshiner sir.
— BG Hot Rods (@BGHotRods) February 11, 2016
For more on “Bootlegger Night,” let’s go to the lazy blogger’s best friend: The press release! (Why do the work when it’s already been done for you?)
An idea brought on by past and present members of the Bowling Green staff, Bootlegger Night will serve as a tribute to the “Hot Rod” aiding the bootlegging industry over a century ago as a way to outrun law enforcement. This rich bourbon heritage has since become synonymous with Kentucky, with over 35 distilleries present throughout the state.
As fans will be greeted by a special “Mason Jar Giveaway” when they enter the gates, the Hot Rods will wear customized hats and specialty jerseys styled after a bourbon barrel….In addition to the customized apparel, fans will also have the opportunity to pre-order two packages featuring personalized memorabilia from the night.
And here those packages are:
Prior to unveiling this promo yesterday, the Hot Rods tweeted that it would, possibly, be 2016’s best promo.
Time will tell. For now, it’s worth noting that, in their inaugural season of 2009, the Hot Rods won MiLB.com’s “Promo of the Year” for “What Could’ve Been Night.” On that evening — the first “What Could’ve Been Night” in Minor League Baseball history — the team suited up as the Cave Shrimp.
“Cave Shrimp” was one of the finalists in the Hot Rods’ 2008 “Name the Team” contest. Bootleggers was not. So, in effect, Bootleggers never “could’ve been.” But yet, here we are: Bootleggers soon will be, resulting in the first”What Could’ve Been ‘What Could’ve Been’ Night” in Minor League Baseball history.
Life is weird. Minor League Baseball is weird. I’m weird. You’re weird. Drink whisky.
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) February 10, 2016
Toward the end of the season, several teams are staging “Bobblection” promotions in which fans get to choose either an Obama or Romney bobblehead. Supplies are limited, and the evening’s winner is he whose bobblehead supply runs out first. I’ll certainly be covering these exercises in American democracy as they occur, but in the meantime let’s take a look at even more absurd promotion being staged by the Stockton Ports on June 15th.
Yes, fans will have the chance to sit on the face of either Obama or Romney. These items are unique pieces of political pop culture ephemera and should be valued as such, but the premise is admittedly a little confusing. The thinking here is that you would want to sit on the face of the candidate you DON’T support. Hence, the #SitOnMitt hashtag under Obama and the #BunsOnObama tag beneath Romney.
The promotion inspired a spirited discussion on the team’s Facebook page, with many fans arguing that baseball and politics just don’t mix. But one Kevin Rager delivered the most cogent remark: “in all honestly both are butt munchers,” he wrote.
Partisan politics have always been a fact of American life, but recently the Birmingham Barons hearkened back to a much less divisive era. The annual Rickwood Classic was held on Wednesday afternoon (in which the team returns to its old Rickwood Field home), and this year’s theme was WWII-era baseball. Check out the beautiful posters created for the event, which drew a lot of fan interest when I first posted them on Twitter:
And, more and more often, teams are staging promotions to eras that NEVER existed. On June 8th, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals’ “What Could’ve Been Night” will imagine a reality in which the team went by the name of “Thunder Chickens.”
These t-shirts will be available for this day only:
And here are the chicken-scratch hats. One of these should be sent to Axl Rose so that he can update his wardrobe.
I am missing this promotion by one day (I’ll be visiting the Naturals on June 9), but I hope the team sets aside some Thunder Chickens gear for me. It will be a nice complement to my Bowling Green Cave Shrimp t-shirt.
Finally, you may remember my post about the Quad Cities River Bandits photo jerseys, which will feature a collage of cancer survivors. Last week, the Gwinnett Braves announced that they would be doing a photo jersey promotion as well. Their take on it is that it will be a Fan Appreciation Day promo that features — who else? — the fans.
G-Braves fans will have the opportunity to have an image of their face featured on the back of replica jerseys which will be given out to the first 2,000 fans on that night, courtesy of Coolray Heating and Cooling. The images will be embedded as half-inch squares creating a mosaic in the uniform number 12 on the back of the jersey.
Another unique aspect is that fans will not know if they have been selected to be featured on the jersey. Fans will have to “like” the G-Braves post of the Fan Appreciation Night story to be considered to be featured on the giveaway. Approximately 390 faces will be featured, but fans will have to come to the game in order to see if they have won!
Great stuff, right? I’m always writing about great stuff. It’s what I do.
The Bowling Green Hot Rods’ “What Could’ve Been Night” was voted the top promotion in all of Minor League Baseball last season, an honor that thoroughly validated the once-fringe promotional concept of alternate reality celebration.
The Hot Rods’ success has inspired at least four teams to follow suit in 2010: The Quad Cities River Bandits, Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Portland Beavers, and State College Spikes. I eagerly await each and every one of these promotions, but for now we shall focus on the goings-on in State College.
For the Spikes’ just released the details of August 27’s “What If Night”, details that I will now share with you.
Ever wish you could go back in time five years? The State College Spikes
are inviting fans to do just that by turning back the clock to the
franchise’s 2005 “Name the Team Contest” – the one that ultimately led
to “Spikes” being picked as team nickname – and selecting one of the
runner-up choices to have its moment of glory.
To play up the theme of the day, the team will take the field for that
night’s game against the Batavia Muckdogs as either the Anglers, Coalys,
Furnace or Haymakers, and Spikes fans will again have the power to
decide….The winning nickname will be honored with a logo and specially-designed
jerseys, which will be worn by the players during the August 27 game and
then auctioned off to fans in attendance that night.
This contest really brings me back, as a young Benjamin Hill wrote a news article in November of 2005 detailing the selection of “Spikes” as the team’s name. This was in MiLB.com’s first year of operation, and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. In that regard, little has changed.
— But speaking of alternate existences — how bizarre would it be if the universe’s most celebrated Wookie was in actuality a seven-foot tall British thespian prone to making appearances at Minor League ballparks?
That’s the mind-bending reality experienced by Oklahoma City baseball fans last week, as Peter “Chewbacca” Mayhew pressed the flesh and smiled for the flash at Bricktown Ballpark.
Here he is with a young Jedi:
And here he is in the dugout with RedHawks manager Bobby Jones:
No word yet on what Chewbacca would select as his on-bat music, but while we wait for this crucial information please peruse THIS LIST of personalized player intro tunes provided by the Pacific Coast League’s Reno Aces.
In an alternate reality, I am a member of the Reno Aces hoping to make it back to the bigs. Each time I come to the plate, the crowd is regaled with THIS.
I am a big fan of late night TV in general and Conan O’Brien in particular, and as this Tonight Show imbroglio has steamrolled into a bigger and bigger story one thought kept lodging itself into my brain: When is a Minor League team going to offer Conan a job?
This sort of publicity stunt is certainly not without precedent. In recent years the Huntsville Stars courted Roger Clemens, the Augusta GreenJackets went after Brett Favre, and the Toledo Mud Hens set their sights on A-Rod. Granted, Conan is not from the world of sports, but on multiple occasions he has mentioned the tongue-in-cheek job offers he has received. On national TV! Look! If a morning radio show in Fargo, ND could get a mention, then why not a Minor League team?
Well, I am glad to report that the Round Rock Express have come through. In a video posted on their website and Facebook page, the team tries to convince Conan that he would excel at a wide variety of game-day positions. Here’s hoping it catches on.
In other news, the slow but steady release of 2010 promotional schedules has been a most heartening development. The Bowling Green Hot Rods announced theirs yesterday, eager to defend their 2009 MiLB.com Promotion of the Year title. I am happy to report that What Could’ve Been Night will return, and this year’s version includes a Cave Shrimp bobbletail giveaway. Check it out.
Likewise, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs unveiled their promo slate. As has become the club’s habit, the press release features a ridiculous, pun-heavy quote from GM Kurt Landes.
“We’re the IronPigs — and no team exhibits more zeal to make their fans squeal,” he said.
This quote is excellent, and I’d encourage more GMs to talk in such a manner. Am I naive in assuming that all quotes had to have actually been spoken aloud in order to make it into a press release?
I’d also like to mention an excellent contest being staged by the indomitable Brooklyn Cyclones — The “You”niform. Here’s a summary:
“The Brooklyn Cyclones are inviting young fans to participate in a
unique art contest, with the winning jersey design to be worn by the
team as a special, limited-edition YOUniform, and auctioned off after the game to support Camp Brooklyn.”
Finally, how can a week go by without a mention of the Lakewood BlueClaws? Answer, it can’t. Today, the team announced that seven types of hot dogs have been added to the concession menu, each one named after a Hall of Famer.
This leads to a fun comedy-writing exercise: what hot dogs would YOU like to see named after a Hall of Famer, and why?
As regular readers of this blog are well aware, I have devoted a fairly substantial amount of virtual ink to the Bowling Green Hot Rods’ “What Could’ve Been Night” (for all the background info you could ever need, click HERE).
Well, “What Could’ve Been Night” came and went, and all we are left with are the memories. That, and copious documentation of the promotion via the Hot Rods’ YouTube channel. And since I have slowly become adept at posting videos on this blog, I will share many of these creations. That’s just the kind of guy I am. The kind that shares videos.
The idea for the promotion first came about when the front office found themselves pondering “What Could’ve Been” had “Cave Shrimp” emerged victorious in the Name the Team contest. But why stop there? This philosophical exercise was soon expanded to include a wide variety of hypothetical scenarios.
Scenarios such as “What if Brooks and Dunn had chosen different singing partners?”
I would have taken this concept to its most literal extreme, and paired Dunn with a pair of brooks. As in bodies of water. At the very least, their music would always sound “current.”
Moving on to the next concept — What if Roseanne had actually been blessed with a beautiful singing voice?
Moving into an even more absurd realm — What if fainting was a sport?
It’s very easy to engage in “What Could’ve Been” hand-wringing when it comes to the world of sports, and the Hot Rods did not disappoint.
All of the above scenarios may be intriguing, but let us not forget that it was the possibility of being named “Cave Shrimp” that sparked this promotion in the first place. How awesome would it be if there was a team with the logo below? (answer: very)
I would love to see “What Could’ve Been Night” become common around the Minor Leagues — the supply of material is inexhaustible, and each club could expound on themes unique to their particular geographic area. And, most importantly, it would always give me something to blog about. Make it happen, teams. Make it happen.
“Hot Rods” ultimately emerged victorious in a hotly contested fan vote, and that is now the moniker that the club now utilizes. So far, it’s been so good.
But…that hasn’t stopped the dreamers in the club’s front office from wondering “What if?”
What if the fans had instead gravitated toward one of the other choices in the “Name That Team” contest? What if they had had a greater tolerance for outside-the-box thinking, and therefore willing to embrace a far less orthodox option? Specifically, what if the chosen name had been “Cave Shrimp”?
Cave, located near Bowling Green, is home to the endangered Kentucky
Cave Shrimp, a sightless albino shrimp. The blind cave shrimp has been
registered as an endangered species since 1983.“
Apparently, too many fans had reservations when it came to naming their hometown team after a sightless crustacean. History will be the ultimate judge of these anti-shrimp, pro-visibility partisans; to weigh in on the prudence (or lack thereof) of their choice would be premature and needlessly divisive. (My stance on the issue is well documented).
At the very least, the team is giving us all a chance to momentarily revel in a world in which things had turned out differently. August 15 is “What Could’ve Been Night”. From the team’s website:
Remember when someone may have once told you, “If you see a fork in the
road, take it”? What could’ve been had you listened? In Bowling Green
we are going to celebrate “What Could’ve Been” had Cave Shrimp won the
name the team vote. A polarizing name, with people either loving it or
hating it, has inspired the Hot Rods staff to ask you, “What Could’ve
Been?” The first 1,000 fans (13 & up) to the game on August 15 will
get Cave Shrimp t-shirts.
For the record, I wrote a post on January 9 that was remarkably prescient when it comes to the issue of a Cave Shrimp t-shirt giveaway. But enough about me. As part of “What Could’ve Been Night”, the club is soliciting suggestions from fans. More from the Hot Rods’ website:
“What Could’ve Been” if Elvis were still alive? If Columbus didn’t
get on that boat? If baseball had 4 strikes and three balls? If Hot
Rods were Cave Shrimp? Get it? We want to hear from you. This is all in
good natured fun so send us your fun ideas about “What Could’ve Been.”
Send your suggestions to email@example.com
I would suggest that those within my vast cadre of loyal readers take the time to email the team. To get things started, here’s a small list of alternate realities that I would like to see explored:
“What If the early-90s Fox sitcom Get A Life had been a surprise hit, and was now entering its 21st season? What sort of plot arcs would have occurred thus far?”
“How would the Pirates’ fortunes would have changed this decade, had Derek Bell emerged as a Triple Crown contender instead of engaging in “Operation Shutdown“?
“What if Kurt Cobain hadn’t done what he did in 1994, and Nirvana was now entering its third decade as a band?”
“What would have happened if the NHL and NBA had merged into one sport, as it is rumored they considered doing in the late 70s?”
“How much fatter would I be if O’Boises hadn’t been discontinued?” (This query led me to this link. Who knew?)
I’ll cut myself off there. If anyone would like to share their suggestions with me, I’m all ears. Metaphorically speaking, of course.