Archive for the ‘ Dailies ’ Category

About Last Night: Jacksonville Suns, April 18, 2015

This season, when I’m on the road, I’ll be writing a short, on-the-spot blog post about each Minor League ballpark that I visit. Then, upon returning to New York City’s comforting embrace, I will provide the unimpeachable blog coverage that you have come to know and love. So let’s get to it, lest it get to us!

April 18, 2015 — Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville (Bragan Field), home of the Jacksonville Suns (Double-A affiliate of the Florida Marlins)

Opponent: Montgomery Biscuits, 8:47 p.m. ET start time (after a rain delay of one hour and 42 minutes)

Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, from the outside: 

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The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, from within: 

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Culinary Delight: Salt and Vinegar Pork Rinds and Sweet Tea, from third party ballpark vendor Front Porch Kettle Corn:

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Waiting for the Punch-Vine (my nightly attempt at telling an “original” ballpark joke in six seconds):

Does this count as a joke?

At Random: Suns owner Peter “Pedro” Bragan Jr. in his office

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Last Song Played Over the PA: Procol Harum, “A Whiter Shade of Pale”

Next Up: I AM HOME. Click HERE to see all of my 2015 trip itineraries.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

About Last Night: Brevard County Manatees, April 17, 2015

This season, when I’m on the road, I’ll be writing a short, on-the-spot blog post about each Minor League ballpark that I visit. Then, assuming that I return home, I will provide the scintillating blog coverage that you have come to perhaps know and maybe even love. So let’s get to it, lest it get to us!

April 17, 2015 — Space Coast Stadium, home of the Brevard County Manatees (Class A Advanced affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers). The stadium also hosts Washington Nationals Spring Training.

Opponent: Dunedin Blue Jays, 6:30 p.m. start time.

Space Coast Stadium, from the outside:

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Space Coast Stadium, from within: 

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Culinary Delight: No Wake Zone Burger (two burger patties with crispy fried onions, bacon, blue cheese)

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Waiting for the Punch-Vine (my nightly attempt at telling an “original” ballpark joke in six seconds):

I forgot to do one of these tonight. I apologize to my legions of fans. To make it up to you, here’s a Vine featuring one of the best first pitches that I have ever seen.

At Random: Men at work, kids at play. It’s all the same, really.

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Last Song Played Over the PA: Once again, the songs kept on playing long after the last fans had left. Here’s the last one I paid attention to:

Next Up: Jacksonville Suns — TONIGHT! — April 18.

4/19: Mama, I’m Coming Home

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

About Last Night: St. Lucie Mets, April 16, 2015

This season, when I’m on the road, I’ll be writing a short, on-the-spot blog post about each Minor League ballpark that I visit. Then, upon my merciful return home, I will provide the exhilarating blog coverage that you have come to know and, perhaps, even love. So let’s get to it, lest it get to us! 

April 16, 2015 — Tradition Field, home of the St. Lucie Mets (and also the Spring Training home of the New York Mets).

Opponent: Brevard County Manatees, 6:30 p.m. start time.

Tradition Field, from the outside:

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Tradition Field, from within:

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Culinary Delight: Taco in a Helmet! ($6)

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Waiting for the Punch-Vine (my nightly attempt at telling an “original” ballpark joke in six seconds):

At Random: Her name is Grace, and she loves the Mets.

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Last Song Played Over the PA: Taio Cruz, “Dynamite”

Next Up: Brevard County Manatees — TONIGHT — April 17!

4/18: Jacksonville Suns

4/19: HOME SWEET HOME

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

About Last Night: Jackie Robinson Game in Vero Beach, April 15, 2015

This season, when I’m on the road, I’ll be writing a short, on-the-spot blog post about each Minor League ballpark that I visit. Then, upon my possibly  triumphant return home, I will provide the exhilarating blog coverage that you have come to know and, perhaps, even love. So let’s get to it!

April 15, 2015 — Holman Stadium, located within the historic Dodgertown complex (Spring Training home of the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers from 1948 through 2008).

Event: Jackie Robinson Game, between the Brevard County Manatees and St. Lucie Mets. Robinson trained at Dodgertown throughout the bulk of his career, and even hit the first home run at Holman Stadium.

Holman Stadium, from the outside: 

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Holman Stadium, from within: Some 6,000 people were in attendance, a huge crowd by Florida State League standards, no matter what the context.

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Culinary Delight: I skipped my usual food coverage, given that this was a one-time event. But here’s a shot of one of the main food and beverage areas. You can imagine how cramped this became once some 6,000 people were in the ballpark.

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Waiting for the Punch-Vine (my nightly attempt at telling an “original” ballpark joke in six seconds):

At Random: Old signage is the best kind of signage.

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In Conclusion: Thanks, Jackie.

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Next Up: St. Lucie Mets. Tonight! April 16!

4/17: Brevard County Manatees

4/18: Jacksonville Suns

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

About Last Night: Dunedin Blue Jays, April 13, 2015

This season, when I’m on the road, I’ll be writing a short, on-the-spot blog post about each Minor League ballpark that I visit. Then, upon my (assuredly)  triumphant return home, I will provide the full, multifaceted, pun-laden blog coverage that you have have come to know and deeply appreciate. So let’s get to it!  

April 13, 2015 — Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, home of the Dunedin Blue Jays (Class A Advanced affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays).

Opponent: Bradenton Marauders, 6:30 p.m. start time

Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, from the outside: Located in a residential neighborhood, approximately 600 steps away from salt water.

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Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, from within: Intimate!

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Culinary Delight: A sampling of meat off the grill.

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Waiting for the Punch-Vine (my nightly attempt at telling an “original” ballpark joke in six seconds):

At Random: In case anyone forgot what day it was.

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Last Song Played Over the PA: The Jackson Five — “ABC”

Next Up: Jupiter Hammerheads — tonight!

4/15: Jackie Robinson Game at Dodgertown in Vero Beach

4/16: St. Lucie Mets

4/17: Brevard County Manatees

4/18: Jacksonville Suns

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

About Last Night: Tampa Yankees, April 12, 2015

This season, when I’m on the road, I’ll be writing a short, on-the-spot blog post about each Minor League ballpark that I visit. Then, upon my (hopefully)  triumphant return home, I will provide the full, multifaceted, pun-bedecked blog coverage that you have have come to know and tolerate. So let’s get to it!  

April 12, 2015 — Steinbrenner Field, home of the Tampa Yankees (Class A Advanced affiliate of the New York Yankees).

Opponent: Lakeland Tigers, 5 p.m. start time

Steinbrenner Field, from the outside: Fans pass a statue of George Steinbrenner as they make their way to the main entrance. To the left of “The Boss” (your right) is Tampa’s version of Monument Park as well as a September 11 tribute.

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Steinbrenner Field, from the inside: Cavernous would be the word.

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Culinary Delight: The game was preceded by the inaugural “Taste of South Tampa” event, featuring dozens of local food and drink vendors on the concourse. Here’s a close-up of “Cheesy Crab Nachos,” courtesy of Pincher’s Crab Shack.

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Waiting for the Punch-Vine (my nightly attempt at telling an “original” ballpark joke in six seconds):

At Random: Lego Steinbrenner Field!

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Last Song Played Over the PA: Frank Sinatra — “New York, New York” (even though the Yankees lost)

Next Up: Dunedin Blue Jays — tonight! — April 13

4/14: Jupiter Hammerheads

4/15: Jackie Robinson Game at Dodgertown in Vero Beach

4/16: St. Lucie Mets

4/17: Brevard County Manatees

4/18: Jacksonville Suns

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

Charleston RiverDogs 2015: Food Explosion!

An annual tradition here in the land of the Biz Blog — or Bizbloglandia, as some have taken to calling it — is to dedicate a post to the Charleston RiverDogs’ latest food offerings. And for good reason! In recent years, the RiverDogs have graced us with Beer Shakes, the Homewrecker Hot Dog, the Pickle Dog , the Pig on a StickPimento Pickle Burgers, duck and venison sausages and much, much more.

The team’s culinary landscape is overseen by John “Schu” Schumacher, food and beverage director of the Goldklang Group (of which the RiverDogs are a part). Schu, in conjunction with his Charleston compatriots Josh Shea and Jay Weekley, have created the following new concession items for 2015. I’ll let Schu, whose text is magically italicized, take it from here:

Josh, Jay and the crew worked especially hard over the off-season to come up with some incredible new menu items and hopefully some popular jaw-droppers. In no particular order: 

Brisket Ramen Bowl: 

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Ramen noodles sautéed with an orange teriyaki glaze, julienned snow peas, carrot ribbons & green onions. Topped with sliced smoked brisket and a hardboiled egg.

Turkey Wings and Pork Rind Basket

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Two slow smoked 1/2 pound turkey wings with a blackberry sage BBQ sauce served over in-house cooked pork rinds.

We are especially excited about these two items:

Chicken N Waffles: 

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Chicken tenders stacked between a Belgian waffle and drizzled with a smoked honey and Sriracha glaze.

A Knot to Remember: 

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A giant 24 ounce soft pretzel served in a pizza box with marinara, garlic butter and cheese sauce for dipping. 

Meanwhile, for vegetarians with an appetite…

Summer Harvest Salad (feeds 2-3 people):

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An entire hydroponic butter leaf lettuce head stuffed with a buttery quinoa mixture. The mixture includes grape tomatoes, edamame, fresh herbs and carrots. Topped with sprouts, sunflower seeds and a creamy avocado dressing.  All served in a replica baseball helmet.

For dessert:

Shock Top Creamsicle Beer Shake

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Shock Top beer blended with vanilla ice cream, OJ and orange flavored simple syrup.

While pictures are not yet available, Schu would also like to let it be known that these three items will be served as well:

Low Country Taco: Smoked pulled pork, slow cooked collards, and mac n cheese layered into a flour tortilla and topped with a Memphis style BBQ sauce. 

Southern Kimchi Dog: Collard greens, kimchi and sweet piquante peppers tossed in soy sauce and toasted sesame oil. Piled on top of a Hebrew National hot dog and finished with a garlic Sriracha sauce.

Chocolate Covered Pepper Bacon

When it comes to chocolate-covered pepper bacon, it seems that no explanation is necessary.

Thanks, as always, to Schu for providing me — and by extension, you — with another batch of delectable food information and pictures. Schu make the world a better place.

In other news, my first road trip of the season is imminent. If you’ll be at one of the following locations, or have recommendations regarding who I should talk to at the ballpark, or suggestions regarding what I should check out in the general area, or anything else at all, then please get in touch.

April 11: Bradenton Marauders

April 12: Tampa Yankees

April 13: Dunedin Blue Jays

April 14: Jupiter Hammerheads

April 15: Jackie Robinson Game at Dodgertown in Vero Beach

April 16: St. Lucie Mets

April 17: Brevard County Manatees

April 18: Jacksonville Suns

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Planning the Ultimate Minor League Baseball Road Trip: An Exercise in Patience

Yesterday, new Ben’s Biz Blog contributor Ashley Marshall introduced himself via a Pac-Man inspired tour of the Minor League landscape. Today, he really goes the extra mile with this “ultimate” Minor League Road Trip itinerary. Please keep in mind, however, that this “ultimate” itinerary is entirely theoretical. Neither I (Ben’s Biz) or Ashley or anyone else will actually be doing it. For my 2015 road trip itineraries, click HERE

By Ashley Marshall/MiLB.com

Happy Opening Day, baseball fans. From Vancouver to West Palm Beach, San Jose to Winooski, Vt, the Minor Leagues bring baseball to millions of fans in thousands of communities.

Each year, there are 160 Minor League teams playing more than 8,000 games in 42 continental US states and one Canadian province across 14 leagues and six levels from Triple-A down to rookie ball. All this happens in a five-month, 152-day window from Opening Day on April 9 to the regular season finales on Sept. 7.

That had me thinking. With fewer than 10 flights and relying otherwise only on car travel, is it possible to visit all 160 teams in one season? Also, how big does my suitcase need to be to fit five months’ worth of clothes into it?

I’ll try to answer the first question. I’ll leave the second one up to your own imagination. At the end of this article, I’ll also tell you what such a trip might cost. map While seeing every club play one home fixture during 2015 is possible, the logistics of planning such a schedule range somewhere from tricky to excruciatingly frustrating.

But with Ben unveiling his road trip itinerary Friday, I thought now would be as good a time as any to share with you one way such a mammoth, travel-intensive journey could take shape.

Call this whatever you want — a logistical crossword, a thought experiment, a lesson in tedium. But just to be clear, this is a ‘paper only’ experiment. Neither I nor anyone I know is undertaking this trip.

So, a few initial observations: While some states boast a high number of Minor League teams (Florida is home to 14; California, 12; Tennessee and North Carolina, nine each), eight other states and provinces are home to just one club. For those keeping score at home, they’re Vermont, New Hampshire, Missouri, Maine, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Delaware and British Columbia.

There’s no way to tackle these except in isolation in the context of a bigger road trip. The need to schedule at least eight day-night twinbills of two games in two ballparks on one day is the very minimum requirement to make such an ambitious itinerary possible.

But factoring in days off (the Florida State League is off entirely on Mother’s Day, for example; the International and Pacific Coast Leagues are off July 13-15 for the Triple-A All-Star Game) homestands not always coinciding with the days you’re in that part of a state and the fact that the rookie-level and short-season leagues are at opposite ends of the country and only play for around the final 10 weeks of the year, it’s imperative to double up on games almost twice as many times.

These leagues are limited geographically from the northeast (New York-Penn League) and down the coast as far as the Carolinas (Appalachian League) on one side of America, and from the pacific northwest down into Montana and Colorado on the other. To make it at least somewhat cost-effective, I’ll limit airplane travel to 10 times during the season, most likely for cross-country journeys or picking off isolated teams that otherwise wouldn’t fit into a schedule.

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I initially thought you could start in the Midwest around Omaha, head east through the Midwest League and then tackle the International League, Eastern League and South Atlantic League teams as you get to them. At that point, you could head south and west, starting with the New York-Penn League and Appy Leagues and going into Florida to wrap up the Florida State League in two weeks.

Next would be the Texas League and more eastern Pacific Coast League teams, the California League and finally the Northwest and Pioneer Leagues. Two potential problems with that plan.

  • One, the New York-Penn League doesn’t kick off until mid-June, meaning you’d need to hit around 65 teams before starting the NYPL schedule. There’s just not enough teams in the Midwest, International and Eastern Leagues to make that happen
  • Two, the weather is notoriously unpredictable in the spring in the east and Midwest, making rainouts more likely, even if exact postponements could never be foreseen that far in advance.

So instead, here’s how you could make it work. Start on the west coast. Head south and east through Texas, looping up through Florida, up the east coast (by which time the NYPL will be playing), then across the top of the country finishing back in the northwest with the two summer leagues there.

That should give you enough time to head back into California or toward Texas to mop up any teams you missed the first time through. Most of the day-night games have to be in the Florida State League or along the eastern seaboard where multiple teams are within a few hours’ drive of one another.

Even if, for example, Corpus Christi played an 11am game on the same day El Paso had a 7pm start, Texas is just too big to navigate between them to arrive at the second ballpark in time.

About one-third of the way into the planning of this fictitious trip that exists only on paper, I ran into another problem. Biloxi’s new stadium will not be ready until early summer, with the home opener scheduled for June 6. With that obstacle in mind, you can bypass the trio of Biloxi (and neighboring Mobile and Pensacola) for now, planning to return to them later in the year when all three teams are at home. The next time this happens is the third week of July. Biloxi has a homestand from July 15-21, Mobile from 15-19 and Pensacola from July 20-26. That gives you just enough of an overlap to make it possible, allowing you to return north to complete that leg of the trip.

With that in mind, I present to you the following schedule.

Date DH Home Away League Time
9-Apr Sacramento Salt Lake PCL 7:05
10-Apr Fresno Las Vegas PCL 7:05
11-Apr Visalia High Desert Cal 7:00
12-Apr Inland Empre Stockton CAL 2:05
13-Apr
14-Apr Lake Elsinore High Desert CAL 6:00
15-Apr 1 Bakersfield Modesto CAL 11:00
15-Apr 2 Lancaster Stockton CAL 6:30
16-Apr High Desert Lancaster CAL 6:35
17-Apr San Antonio Tulsa TEX 7:05
18-Apr Corpus Christi Springfield TEX 7:05
19-Apr Round Rock Memphis TEX 1:05
20-Apr Arkansas Midland TEX 7:10
21-Apr Mississippi Chattanooga SOU 7:00
22-Apr Jackson Tennessee SOU 7:05
23-Apr Springfield Arkansas TEX 7:05
24-Apr Tulsa Northwest Arkansas TEX 7:05
25-Apr Oklahoma City Omaha PCL 7:05
26-Apr Frisco Corpus Christi TEX 4:05
27-Apr Midland Corpus Chrisit TEX 6:30
28-Apr Memphis Round Rock PCL 7:05
29-Apr Northwest Arkansas Springfield TEX 11:05
30-Apr Brevard County Daytona FSL 6:35
1-May Dunedin Clearwater FSL 6:30
2-May Tampa Lakeland FSL 6:00
3-May 1 Clearwater Dunedin FSL 1:00
3-May 2 Daytona Brevard County FSL 5:35
4-May St. Lucie Palm Beach FSL 6:30
5-May Jupiter Charlotte FSL 6:35
6-May 1 Lakeland Daytona FSL 10:30
6-May 2 Bradenton Fort Myers FSL 6:30
7-May Palm Beach Bradenton FSL 6:35
8-May Charlotte St. Lucie FSL 6:30
9-May Fort Myers Jupiter FSL 6:05
10-May Montgomery Birmingham SOU 2:05
11-May Birmingham Chattanooga SOU 7:05
12-May New Orleans Oklahoma City PCL 7:05
13-May Jacksonville Pensacola SOU 11:05
14-May 1 Gwinnett Syracuse IL 10:35
14-May 2 Augusta Hickory SAL 7:05
15-May Savannah Lexington SAL 7:05
16-May Charleston Greenville SAL 6:05
17-May Charlotte Syracuse IL 2:05
18-May Kannapolis Asheville SAL 7:05
19-May Greenville Lexington SAL 7:05
20-May 1 Rome Charleston SAL 1:00
20-May 2 Chattanooga Montgomery SOU 7:15
21-May Myrtle Beach Frederick CAR 7:05
22-May Norfolk Rochester IL 7:05
23-May Richmond Bowie IL 6:05
24-May Lynchburg Frederick CAR 2:00
25-May 1 Salem Winston-Salem CAR 1:05
25-May 2 Greensboro Hagerstown SAL 7:00
26-May Hickory Delmarva SAL 6:00
27-May 1 Durham Rochester IL 1:05
27-May 2 Carolina Myrtle Beach SAL 7:00
28-May Winston-Salem Lynchburg SAL 7:00
29-May Asheville Augusta SAL 7:05
30-May Tennessee Mobile SOU 7:05
31-May Nashville Las Vegas PCL 2:05
1-Jun Bowling Green Great Lakes MWL 12:05
2-Jun West Virginia Greensboro SAL 7:05
3-Jun 1 Columbus Toledo IL 11:35
3-Jun 2 South Bend Cedar Rapids MWL 7:05
4-Jun West Michigan Quad Cities MWL 7:00
5-Jun Wisconsin Lake County MWL 7:05
6-Jun Beloit Lake County MWL 7:00
7-Jun Iowa Memphis PCL 1:08
8-Jun Omaha Colorado Springs PCL 7:05
9-Jun Toldedo Syracuse IL 7:00
10-Jun Cedar Rapids Great Lakes MWL 6:35
11-Jun Peoria West Michigan MWL 7:00
12-Jun Burlington South Bend MWL 6:30
13-Jun Quad Cities Great Lakes MWL 6:00
14-Jun Fort Wayne Clinton MWL 3:05
15-Jun Indianapolis Durham IL 7:05
16-Jun Louisville Gwinnett IL 7:05
17-Jun 1 Kane County Wisconsin MWL 12:00
17-Jun 2 Clinton Quad Cities MWL 6:30
18-Jun Great Lakes Lake County MWL 7:05
19-Jun Lansing Great Lakes MWL 7:05
20-Jun Akron Erie EL 7:05
21-Jun Lexington Rome SAL 6:05
22-Jun Dayton Lake County MWL 2:00
23-Jun Bluefield Elizabethton APPY 7:05
24-Jun Bristol Greeneville APPY 7:00
25-Jun Johnson City Kingsport APPY 7:00
26-Jun Greeneville Danville APPY 7:00
27-Jun Kingsport Bluefield APPY 7:00
28-Jun Elizabethton Pulaksi APPY 6:00
29-Jun Danville Kingsport APPY 7:00
30-Jun Burlington Bluefield APPY 7:00
1-Jul 1 Princeton Greeneville APPY 11:00
1-Jul 2 Pulaski Johnson City APPY 7:00
2-Jul Biloxi Mississippi SOU 7:10
3-Jul Pensacola Jacksonville SOU 6:30
4-Jul Mobile Pensacola SOU 7:05
5-Jul West Virginia Batavia NYPL 4:05
6-Jul Bowie Erie EL 7:05
7-Jul Wilmington Frederick CAR 6:35
8-Jul Hagerstown Delmarva SAL 7:05
9-Jul 1 Potomac Lynchburg SAL 12:05
9-Jul 2 Aberdeen Staten Island NYPL 7:05
10-Jul Frederick Salem CAR 7:00
11-Jul Harrisburg Erie EL 6:00
12-Jul Altoona Bowie EL 6:00
13-Jul 1 State College Tri-City NYPL 12:00
13-Jul 2 Williamsport Connecticut NYPL 7:05
14-Jul Delmarva Lexington SAL 7:05
15-Jul Staten Island Brooklyn NYPL 7:00
16-Jul Brooklyn Staten Island NYPL 7:00
17-Jul Reading New Britain EL 7:05
18-Jul Connecticut Hudson Valley NYPL 7:05
19-Jul New Hampshire Portland EL 1:35
20-Jul 1 Tri-City Aberdeen NYPL 11:00
20-Jul 2 New Britain Binghamton EL 7:05
21-Jul Lowell Tri-City NYPL 7:05
22-Jul Portland Trenton EL 12:00
23-Jul Vermont Auburn NYPL 7:05
24-Jul Pawtucket Buffalo IL 7:05
25-Jul Hudson Valley State College NYPL 7:05
26-Jul Lakewood Kannapolis SAL 1:05
27-Jul Trenton Portland EL 7:00
28-Jul Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Lehigh Valley IL 7:05
29-Jul Lehigh Valley Scranton/Wilkes-Barre IL 7:05
30-Jul Auburn Aberdeen NYPL 7:05
31-Jul Rochester Syracuse IL 7:05
1-Aug Buffalo Pawtucket IL 7:05
2-Aug Lake County Great Lakes MWL 6:30
3-Aug Mahoning Valley Williamsport NYPL 7:05
4-Aug Batavia State College NYPL 7:05
5-Aug Syracuse Pawtucket IL 7:05
6-Aug Binghamton Bowie EL 6:35
7-Aug Erie Harrisburg EL 7:05
8-Aug
9-Aug
10-Aug Vancouver Everett NWL 7:05
11-Aug Spokane Tri-City NWL 6:30
12-Aug 1 Tacoma Sacramento PCL 11:34
12-Aug 2 Tri-City Boise NWL TBD
13-Aug
14-Aug Great Falls Orem PIO TBD
15-Aug Hillsboro Vancouver NWL 5:30
16-Aug Eugene Everett NWL 5:01
17-Aug Salem Keizer Hillsboro NWL 6:35
18-Aug Everett Spokane NWL 7:05
19-Aug Boise Eugene PIO 7:15
20-Aug Idaho Falls Billings PIO 7:15
21-Aug Salt Lake Iowa PCL 6:35
22-Aug Orem Ogden PIO 7:15
23-Aug Helena Great Falls PIO 1:05
24-Aug Billings Missoula PIO 7:05
25-Aug Missoula Helena PIO 7:05
26-Aug Ogden Idaho Falls PIO TBD
27-Aug Grand Junction Orem PIO TBD
28-Aug Albuquerque Colorado Springs PCL 7:05
29-Aug El Paso Oklahoma City PCL 7:05
30-Aug Modesto Visalia CAL 6:05
31-Aug Las Vegas El Paso PCL 7:05
1-Sep San Jose Modesto CAL 7:00
2-Sep
3-Sep
4-Sep Stockton Modesto CAL 7:10
5-Sep Reno El Paso PCL 7:05
6-Sep Rancho Cucamonga Inland Empire CAL 5:05
7-Sep Colorado Springs New Orleans PCL 1:35

This incorporates 15 dates with two games on the same day, and just six days out of 152 with no games scheduled.

***

Breaking it all down

  • This itinerary logs almost 40,000 miles, including almost 30,000 by road and nearly 10,000 on 10 trips through the air.
  • You’ll spend a little more than 500 hours driving and another 38 hours on an airplane. That’s nearly 24 full days.
  • The shortest leg of the trip is from Staten Island to Brooklyn, just 18 miles.
  • By contrast, the longest leg is going from Erie, Pa., to Vancouver. That’s a 40-hour, 2,600-mile trip by car, reduced to a seven hour, $500 multi-leg flight from Buffalo, Cleveland or Pittsburgh.
  • Other flights include Los Angeles (serving Adelanto) to San Antonio, Texas; Mobile, Alabama to Clarksburg (serving Granville, West Virginia); and Orange County (serving Rancho Cucamonga) to Colorado Springs.
  • Assuming your car gets 33 miles to the gallon and the average cost of a gallon of fuel nationwide is $2.50, you’ll spend around $2,272 on 1250 gallons of gas alone. Figure to spent another $3,000 on air fare.
  • There are 30 Triple-A teams, 30 Double-A teams, 60 Class A teams, 22 short-season teams and 18 rookie-level teams on the schedule. Based on the average prices published by MiLB least year, if you bought one ticket, a soda and a hot dog, a program and paid for car parking at each game, you’d spend $3,280 during the year.
  • The most expensive part of such a ludicrous trip would be hotels. Even at $75 a night, a place to crash after a ballgame would ring up an additional $12,000 over five months.
  • Then factoring in taking five months off work. With the average American making between $27,000 – $28,000, taking such a long period of time off work could lose you around $11,000 in wages.

These calculations don’t even take into account paying for breakfasts, lunches or dinners, doing laundry every week you’re on the road, the possible need to rent a vehicle assuming you don’t have access to one in each city you travel through, and just the general cost of living. Food alone could run upward of $5,000, and that’s only budgeting $30 a day.

So the real cost of this trip? It could very possibly cost you a cool $40,000.

***

How would your schedule look? Which way would you attack such a logistical nightmare? How would you save time, money or both? If you only traveled throughout one league, which one would you pick and why? Feel free to message me on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB or reply in the comments below. And if you have any MiLB travel plans this season, however small or large, I’d love to hear from you. Plan your own road trip here.

ashley.marshall@mlb.com

twitter.com/ashmarshallmlb

Pac-Man’s tour of the Minor Leagues

Hello everyone. The italicized text you are currently reading is courtesy of I, Ben Hill, proprietor of the eponymous “Biz Blog.” Though I have run many “guest posts” on this blog through the years, what you are about to read is something a little bit different. Ashley Marshall, who has been writing for MiLB.com since the 2010 season, has agreed to become a regular contributor to this blog as well as some of my regularly occurring MiLB.com content (such as the long-running “Promo Preview”).  

Therefore, when I am on the road, Ashley can keep you abreast of Minor League Baseball business and promotional happenings that I otherwise might not have had the time or sanity to write about properly. I’m considering this a win-win-win situation: I have a little bit less on my proverbial plate and can produce my “On the Road” material in a timelier fashion. Ashley, a Minor League Baseball renaissance man, gets to write more about an area of the industry that he is interested in. And you, the presumably loyal reader, get more of the material you have come to know and, yes, love. 

So who is Ashley Marshall? No one knows the answer to that question better than Ashley Marshall himself. The floor is now ceded to him, so that he may introduce himself and then, as the title of this post implies, take you on a Pac-Man inspired tour of the Minor League landscape. 

By Ashley Marshall / MiLB.com

profile photo cropHello and welcome to Ash’s Ben’s Biz Blog. My name is Ashley and I’m entering my sixth season as an editorial producer at MiLB.com. You’ll see my name popping up from time to time in this blog as I contribute to the site and help Minor League Baseball’s chronicler of promotions during his road trips.

You’ve probably spotted my byline atop game recaps, prospect primers, league previews and Q&A’s over the past few years. Now you’ll see me pinch-hitting on the top pro Minor League blog on the Internet. Fortunately for Ben’s loyal readers, I share a number of interests with the master of puns himself. We both love viral content, thought-provoking analysis, eye-catching designs and curated information exploring the business side of baseball.

If you follow me on Twitter — and if you don’t, then you really should rectify that right now — you will know that I love anything made from a part of a pig, as well as photography, themed jerseys and all things British. If I could take pictures of a team playing in uniforms depicting the Queen of England eating bacon on a stick, I’d die a happy man. I think a lot of other people would get a kick out of that, too. Lehigh Valley, I’m looking at you.

For my first post, however, I wanted to share something that recently caught my eye, because one Easter egg that didn’t go unnoticed over the weekend was the gem brought to you by Google Maps and Pac-Man.

The concept was simple, the execution flawless. Take existing Google Maps, turn the screen into a playable maze, transform roads and paths into a grid of Pac-dots and guide Namco’s most famous two-dimensional character to glory.

Productivity nationwide took a hit when the browser game went viral. Now it’s about the take another hit. What’s better than helping Pac-Man evade Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde in your neighborhood? How about zig-zagging your way around your favorite Minor League ballparks?

I’ll take you on a virtual tour of Pawtucket, Jupiter, Albuquerque, Great Lakes and Staten Island, while inviting you to find other maps that appeal to your baseball and gaming sensibilities.

1) Guide Pac-Man down S. Bend St, and along Division St. to help him beat the McCoy Stadium level. The running track to the northeast of the stadium presents just one way in and one way out, so make sure you bring a solid gameplan to this Rhode Island task. Red Sox Nation can’t help you here, so you’re all alone at the plate. See Blinky, hit Blinky.

pawtucket red sox map2) Roger Dean Stadium is bordered by back fields to the north, Florida Atlantic University to the south and Abacoa Golf Club to the west. The key to winning this map on Florida’s east coast is successfully navigating the traffic circle joining Central Blvd, Main St and Scripps Way. The Hammerheads may share the ballpark with the Palm Beach Cardinals, but you have this course all to yourself.

jupiter hammerheads map3) Albuquerque’s Isotopes Park sits in the heart of Central New Mexico Community College’s campus. University Blvd SE runs north-south and Avenida Cesar Chavez SE goes east-west, but the intricate combination of adjoining streets make it hard to pass this midterm exam. You’ll be going up and down more often than Joe Girardi in the eighth inning of a one-run game.

albuquerque isotopes map4) Located two hours north of Detroit between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, Dow Diamond is surrounded by roads of every side that dissect Fournie Park and lead to the Tittabawassee River. Fortunately for Loons fans, you get to avoid Rt. 20 and instead stay on Buttles and State Streets. There are no season-ending trips to the DL in this map.

great lakes loons5) Richmond County Bank Ballpark sits at the north-eastern tip of Staten Island, a stone’s throw from the Hudson River and New York Bay. The four enemies start at the corner of Hamilton Ave. and St. Mark’s Place, giving Baby Bombers fans the chance to gobble up the pellets along the waterfront before Inky and Pinky catch you in a rundown.

staten island mapNow you’ve checked out a few of my favorite MiLB mazes, why not spend a couple minutes finding your own team on Google Maps and seeing if you can get the cherries before your three lives run out. Reach out to me on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB or via email and share a screenshot of a map you enjoyed playing.

ashley.marshall@mlb.com

twitter.com/ashmarshallmlb

On the Road: 2015 Edition

Upon learning that a key component of my job involves exploring America through Minor League Baseball, innumerable people have responded with a simple three word phrase:

Living the dream.

The 2015 season marks the sixth in which I will have the honor, privilege and anxiety of living this dream — hitting the road in order to deliver the Minor League Baseball ballpark experience to YOU, the presumably loyal reader. I have visited more than 100 stadiums thus far — some more than once — and,  when 2015 is said and done, that count should be close to 130. There are 159 ballparks in the Minors and, of course, my ultimate goal is to “collect ’em all.”

This image, taken from the indispensable (and new and improved!) MiLB.com “Tickets” page, shows just how vast the Minor League landscape is. This post is dedicated to sharing the portions of it that I plan to travel through in 2015.

(For links to all of my 2014 “On the Road” coverage, click HERE. To see all of my “On the Road” blog posts, click HERE. If you have trouble finding any of my “On the Road” articles and blog posts from seasons past, then please do not hesitate to get in touch.)

CaptureBefore getting to my five 2015 road trip itineraries, a word about my approach to covering the Minor League culinary scene:

As many of you know, I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2012 and had to switch to a gluten-free diet. This makes it hard for me to sample ballpark delicacies with the reckless abandon to which I had been accustomed, but there is a solution: THE DESIGNATED EATER.

At each ballpark I visit, I am looking for a fan (ideally) or local media member who will sample the concessions that I cannot. I will document your eating experiences in words and pictures, so that those reading can still enjoy the comprehensive ballpark food coverage they have come to expect.

If YOU are interested in being a designated eater at one of the ballparks listed in the itineraries below, then get in touch:  benjamin.hill@mlb.comFirst come, first served.

(Note to teams: if you are planning on staging a contest of some sort to find the designated eater, then let me know so that I do not accept someone on my own accord.)

This could be you!

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Garbage Plate in Batavia

 

As always, my time at each location will be limited. But, also as always, I am interested in your recommendations regarding what else there is to do, see and consume in the area. If you have any cultural, culinary or record-store expertise regarding any of the locations listed, then GET IN TOUCH.

I have (or will be) getting in touch with all of the teams included, but if you’re a member of the front office, feel free to jump the gun and reach out to me regarding  lodging, story suggestions, designated-eater leads, etc.

Sorry for burying the lede here, but I wanted to get all of the fine print out of the way first. And now, without further ado, the itineraries!

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Big time celebrity, coming through!

 

TRIP #1: The Sunshine State

April 11: Bradenton Marauders

Designated Eater: Joe Mynaugh

April 12: Tampa Yankees

Designated Eater: Brian Cochrane

April 13: Dunedin Blue Jays

Designated Eater: I know some guys

April 14: Jupiter Hammerheads

Designated Eater: Stephen Goldsmith

April 15: Jackie Robinson Celebration Game at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach (St. Lucie Mets vs. Brevard County Manatees)

April 16: St. Lucie Mets

Designated Eater: Jay Meyer

April 17: Brevard County Manatees

Designated Eater: Enrique Cortes

April 18: Jacksonville Suns

Designated Eater:

Notes: April, in general, is a tough month for Minor League travel. The weather is cold, school is still in session, and none of the short-season leagues are in operation. Florida, though, is a relatively safe bet. Here’s hoping for no game-ruining downpours.

The second annual Jackie Robinson Game will be one of the highlights of this trip, for sure. April 15 marks the 68th anniversary of Robinson’s debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1948, Dodgertown became the first integrated Spring Training site in the south.

Upon the conclusion of this trip, I will have visited every Minor League team in the state of Florida. (My first trip to the Sunshine State occurred in 2012, when I visited Clearwater, Fort Myers, Charlotte, Lakeland, Daytona and Pensacola.)

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TRIP #2: More Midwest Meanderings

May 23: Kane County Cougars

Designated Eaters: Jason Bohn, David Lesser

May 24: Quad Cities River Bandits

Designated Eater: Dean Birkhofer

May 25: Clinton LumberKings

Designated Eater: Amanda Cady

May 26: Peoria Chiefs

Designated Eater: Thomas Doran

May 27: Cedar Rapids Kernels

Designated Eater: Tim Mullin

May 28: Omaha Storm Chasers

Designated Eater: Paul Biler

Notes: After this trip, I will have finally visited every team in the sprawling 16-team Midwest League. Clinton, Peoria and Cedar Rapids had been the last three I needed in this regard. I visited Kane County, Quad Cities and Omaha as part of a season-ending trip in 2010, but much about my operation, and much about those teams, have changed since then. Omaha, for example, changed its name from the “Royals” to the “Storm Chasers” and moved to a new stadium.

 

033Trip #3: Virginias

June 25: Richmond Flying Squirrels

Designated Eater: Stuart Jordan

June 26: Norfolk Tides

Designated Eater: Andrew Lind (taking the “Salute to Pork Challenge“)

June 27: Lynchburg Hillcats

Designated Eater: Judi Muir/David Freier

June 28: Salem Red Sox

Designated Eater: Jennifer Frye

June 29: Potomac Nationals

Designated Eater: Tony Jaeger

June 30: West Virginia Black Bears

Notes: The impetus for this trip was to see the West Virginia Black Bears in their first season of existence. Morgantown, where the team is based, is not particularly close to any of the other cities in this itinerary. But, still, the idea of a “Virginia” trip appealed to me as it is not a state that I have visited before in a Minor League context.

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*  *  *

Bonus!

July 11: Vermont Lake Monsters

Designated Eater: “Weird Al” Yankovic, until I hear otherwise

Note: On July 12th, my cousin and I are seeing a “Weird Al” Yankovic concert in Burlington, Vermont. With that on the calendar already, then why not stop in and see Burlington’s Minor League Baseball team? I attended a Lake Monsters game in 2009, before these road trips were really a “thing.” so I’m glad to be able to visit again and (hopefully) do it up right.

*  *  *

Trip #4: Deep South in the Deep Summer

July 28: New Orleans Zephyrs

Designated Eater: [Name Withheld]

July 29, 30: Biloxi Shuckers

Designated Eater: Cale Merrill

July 31: Mobile BayBears

August 1: Montgomery Biscuits

Designated Eater: Joe Marcus

August 2: Mississippi Braves 

Designated Eater: Steven Ericson

August 3: Jackson Generals

Designated Eater: Bob Sanders (Bob, my email reply to you keeps bouncing back)

August 4: Off (drive to Nashville)

August 5: Nashville Sounds

Designated Eater: Tyler Glaser

This is a big one. The Biloxi Shuckers (formerly the Huntsville Stars) are a new team in a new stadium. However, due to construction delays, this stadium will not be ready until at least June. Fingers crossed that everything will be good to go this late in the season. I’ve already visited Mobile (2010), Jackson (2012) and Nashville (2013), but since the Sounds are playing in a new stadium this season, it became imperative to visit the Music City once again.

066Trip #5: New England Nights

August 29: Connecticut Tigers

Designated Eater: Paul Woodin

August 30: New Britain Rock Cats

Designated Eater: Ryan Drzewianowski

August 31: Lowell Spinners

Designated Eater: Joe Beauregard

September 1: Pawtucket Red Sox

Designated Eater: Brian O’Connell

September 2: New Hampshire Fisher Cats

September 3: “Off”

September 4: Portland Sea Dogs

Designated Eater: Isaac Stephenson

Notes: This is an awkward itinerary. But, similar to how I ended the season in New York State in 2014, I really liked the idea of being in New England as summer begins to give way to fall. The only one of these teams that I have visited previously is the New Britain Rock Cats, but that game on August 30 is significant as it is the last-ever Rock Cats game. In 2016, the team will move to nearby Hartford and begin existence as the “Yard Goats.” Pawtucket should be intriguing as well, as the team is nearing the end of the line at McCoy Stadium (the new ownership group plans to build a new stadium in Providence).

Finally, upon the conclusion of this trip I will have visited all of the teams in the New York-Penn, Eastern and International Leagues.

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So there you have it: my 2015 road trip itineraries. Complaints, critiques, commendations and criticisms always encouraged; feel free to get in touch any time.

And apologies once again to the teams in the Appalachian and Pioneer Leagues. Here’s hoping that I can make 2016 my “Rookie” season on the road, as I very much want to visit both of these circuits in their entirety.

road_trip_ben_reveal

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

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