Archive for the ‘ Minor League Baseball ’ Category

The Armidale Outlaws Take the Field

Two months ago, I wrote a post about the Armidale Outlaws. For those who may not remember (or never read it in the first place), the Outlaws are a fledgling amateur team in Australia’s Tamworth Winter League. Their inaugural season is now underway.

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My post on the Outlaws came about after team founder Mick Alldis wrote me an email that read, in part:

People are passionate about baseball here. So much so that we’ve been able to secure some land from the local University, and they are happy for us to build our diamond on it. Our own little Field of Dreams might bring a homegrown Jackie Robinson, Derek Jeter or Mike Trout all the way to the USA. … We live in a country dominated by cricket and Australian Rules Football (AFL) and are desperate to think of innovative ways  to raise the revenue to build this field. We had an idea. How many people have wanted to co-own a baseball team? For $100 AUS (about $70 US) we’ll send you an Armidale Outlaws cap (Richardson Cap Flexifit design made in the USA) and a Certificate of Ownership.

This fundraising effort was a major success, and readers of this blog are a big reason why. After the post appeared, the Outlaws GoFundMe page was flooded with donations from American baseball fans who found the idea of being named an honorary team co-owner to be a deeply appealing prospect. The Outlaws quickly surpassed their initial fundraising goal of $5000; as of this writing they have amassed $7230.

I never donated to the page myself (I spend my excess funds on pinball and physical media), but an appreciative Mick Alldis sent me an Outlaws care package in recognition of my role in bringing the Outlaws to the attention of stateside fans. I am happy to report that I, too, am an honorary co-owner!

IMG_0294Here’s a closer look at the certificate of ownership, which now proudly hangs in my cubicle spacious and well-appointed office.

IMG_0299In addition to the hat, jersey and certificate, Mick also wrote me a letter. It reads, in part:

We are at present in line to get a $10,000 grant from our local bank for securing the most-ever votes for our community idea. … You can follow that (and vote) on www.heartofourcommunity.com.au

By the time you get this package we will most likely ready to dig out our base paths and construct our mound — this is a key step in establishing ourselves a “home” here in Armidale — which is about a 75-minute drive to where we’ll play the majority of our games in Tamworth. 

Keep an eye out for May 14 — we hope (fingers crossed) that we can live stream a game that day — our first-ever home game in Armidale and a very significant step for us as a club. We hope you can join us online and feel the love as a co-owner and gracious supporter when we needed you most! 

We have amazingly got enough players for three full teams — a A grade and two B grade teams. We will now make up around 30 percent of the total players in the whole Tamworth competition. Talk about making a statement in our first season! 

Mick also noted that the #16 on my Outlaws jerseys was in recognition of the 2016 inaugural season. 
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Finally, Mick included a map of Armidale, in case I ever make it out that way.

IMG_0305I’m thinking that myself and my fellow U.S.-based Outlaw co-owners need to take a field trip to Armidale. Who wants to start a GoFundMe page?

To view a news report on the Outlaws’ debut ballgame, click HERE. These guys are very easy to root for.

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Minor League Baseball News Explosion!

The month began with a slew of attention-grabbing promotional announcements, but recently things have been pretty slow here in the world of Minor League Baseball. I call it the calm before the storm. Pretty good expression, right? Feel free to use it.

Therefore, now is a good time for a good ol’ fashioned bouillabaisse blog post (and, yes, for those keeping score at home, I always spell bouillabaisse correctly on the first try). If, for some reason, you need to use a restraining device while using your computer, then now would be a good time to buckle up. A bubbling stew of delectable Minor League morsels and mixed metaphors await you.

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For the second year in a row, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats are featuring fans on their season tickets. Pretty cool, right?

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Note, also, that the Fisher Cats (who for a short but glorious period of time were known as “The Primaries”) have unveiled their “Bipartisan” Opening Day jerseys. Fans get to vote on the accompanying hat. Pretty cool, right?

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Speaking of politics, eminently qualified presidential candidate Donald Trump recently issued a “53 degrees or free” guarantee on behalf of the Syracuse Chiefs. Take that, Rochester. Until this video was released, I hadn’t realized just how much Trump looks like Chiefs general manager Jason Smorol. Pretty cool, right?

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David Kronheim, aka “The Number Tamer”, has released his 2015 Minor League Baseball Attendance Analysis. It doesn’t get any more thorough than this (for more on the Number Tamer, read THIS ARTICLE and/or THIS GUEST BLOG POST). Pretty cool, right?

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As I think I’ve mentioned before, the California League has a 75th anniversary logo

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I bring this up because every team in the league has its own specific logo, courtesy Brandiose. Pretty cool, right?

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The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are one of many teams that host Scout Night ballpark sleepovers. They are the only team (so far as I know), to issue scouts their own team-logo badges. Pretty cool, right?

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Update: Fort Wayne TinCaps creative director Tony DesPlaines has creatively directed my attention to the fact that his club has been doing this for years.

TinCaps Scout Patches

Update to the Update: The Vermont Lake Monsters have been doing this for years as well.

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Update to the Update to the Update: 

Update to the Update to the Update to the Update: 

Update to the Update to the Update to the Update to the Update: 

Return to the Road: Nashville Sights Before Nashville Sounds

Yesterday’s post detailed my visit to Nashville’s Third Man Records. Upon the conclusion of this late morning jaunt, Tyler and I swung by Gabby’s Burgers for lunch. (Tyler, as you may recall, is a Nashville local who, among other life accomplishments, served as my designated eater at that evening’s Sounds game.)

I was familiar with Gabby’s Burgers, having already visited there (thanks to a reader tip) during my 2013 visit to Nashville. I was happy to be back.

IMG_0180I must have taken the above picture after leaving Gabby’s, as when we got there there was a line out the door. It’s an unassuming place — get your place in line, place your order, find a place to sit, wait for your number to be called, retrieve foodstuffs, consume.  IMG_0176Regarding the “Answers to Common Questions” on the wall above the grill, my favorite is the second from the right:

NO

We don’t serve beer. 

I just don’t want to deal with the headaches.

Being gluten-free (I have celiac disease, remember?), it can be tough to get a good burger on the road. But at Gabby’s, you simply have to order it jazz-style. Nothing quite connotes the improvisatory, exploratory nature of jazz quite like meat wrapped in a lettuce bun.

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Anyhow, these burgers (and fries) are great — greasy (but not too greasy), salty, well-seasoned, decently-proportioned and all-in-all satisfying. If you’re in Nashville I’d highly recommend a trip to Gabby’s, which sits in the shadow of the Sounds former Greer Stadium home.

After lunch, I parted ways with Tyler and poked around downtown Nashville for a bit. IMG_0181The Bridgestone Arena, home of the Predators, has a separate entrance for a what I assume is a sizable portion of the fan base.

IMG_0182Here’s the arena, in full part:

IMG_0183My wanderings soon brought me to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

IMG_0184My take:

I would have loved to spend a few hours at the CMOF (that’s what people call it, right?), but the time I had available didn’t justify the required expenditure. It would have been great to learn about Taylor Swift at the Taylor Swift Education Center, for instance.

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No caption, just a Blank Space

Basically, I just wandered around the Country Music Hall of Fame lobby. Or, as I like to call it, a spacious atrium.

IMG_0189Hatch Show Print, an iconic Nashville print shop, is located on the premises. Vintage baseball advertisements were among the many things for sale.

IMG_0187For lack of a better term, they were also selling hipster Bibles.

IMG_0186I ended up buying these two classic CDs at the CMOF gift shop.

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The clerk told me that he used to play Rubber Room at closing time as a way to clear people out of the store. To each his own, I guess. I’d never leave when this is playing.

Back outside, I admired statues.

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IMG_0194I would have visited this museum devoted to Johnny, but I didn’t have the…money.

IMG_0196The John Seigenthaler pedestrian bridge is anything but, as it offers great views of the Nashville skyline. (Previously known as the Shelby Street Bridge, the structure was renamed in honor of journalist and first amendment crusader John Seigenthaler.)

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Storm clouds were beginning to roll through, an ominous sign for that night’s scheduled baseball action (the game was called in the second inning).

IMG_0198Finally, I hoofed it on over to Broadway. This is the most touristy section of the city, what Beale Street is to Memphis. With time running out, I decided to make a brief stop at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop.

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This establishment has a great marquee, and the display at the back of the store (an homage to the still-ongoing Midnight Jamboree) adds a lot of character.

IMG_0205But as for the records themselves, this store was lousy. Understocked, with a selection comprised of overpriced (and generally not hard to find elsewhere) CDs.

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But I don’t want to end on a negative note. I loved being in Nashville, and this is the only way I’ll rag on such a great city.

Thanks for reading this penultimate series of “Return to the Road” posts. There’s still more to come in that regard (from my New England trip), which should segue nicely into the reveal of my 2016 travel itinerary.

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Return to the Road: Third Man, a First Person Account

August 4, the final day of my sprawling ballpark road trip through the South, was spent in Nashville. My primary objective in the Music City was to check out First Tennessee Park, the new home of the Nashville Sounds. Stadium visits are always the primary objective.

But the secondary objective, as always, was to explore the city to the extent my limited time frame allowed. In this regard, I received a major assist from Tyler Glaser. Tyler, who works at Grimey’s Records as well as the historic Belcourt Theatre, had volunteered to be my designated eater at that evening’s Sounds game. Utilizing some local connections, he also set up a tour of Third Man Records. Third Man is the music shop/record label/house of curiosities/recording studio/performance space established by Jack White. The company began in Detroit; the Nashville branch opened in 2009.

Third Man is located on 7th Avenue South, in a rather unassuming location.

001 (2)The open-to-the-public portion of Third Man consists of two rooms.

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005Restoring turn-of-the-20th century coin-op entertainment is a Third Man specialty.

This is the Scopitone, which plays music videos on 16mm sound film. Third Man co-founder Ben Blackwell, who gave Tyler and me a tour, said that this is the only Scopitone in operation and that they had to “Frankenstein it together.” He went on to say that maintaining it is a “nightmare.”

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16mm films at the base of the Scopitone:

IMG_0170“Fully automatic” Photobooth:

IMG_0173This is the “Voice-o-Graph.” One can step inside and record anything they want direct to vinyl. Blackwell said that customers do “marriage proposals, jokes, whatever.” More ambitiously, Neil Young recorded his 2014 LP A Letter Home on the Voice-O-Graph. And let’s not forget that Weird Al and his band stopped by and recorded this.

Records, all released by the Third Man label, are available as well. (I, forever and always, am a fan of Mudhoney.)

008Blackwell described the whole Third Man operation as “Simple DIY on a large scale.” Our tour continued throughout the entire facility, but unfortunately cameras were no longer allowed. The “Hipster Willy Wonka” vibe (as I heard one person refer to it as) continued throughout. We passed thorough a graphic design station (staffed by four full-time designers) and a recording studio featuring live direct-to-acetate recordings. If my notes are to be believed, the studio uses a Rupert Neve 5008 console and the signal is sent to a 1955 Scully Lathe.

The musicians who record at Third Man set up in a literal “Blue Room”, augmented by soft lighting, carpets and taxidermy.

Ben’s Biz solo record, coming soon:

thirdmanphoto My notes include a lot of other interesting tidbits from my time at Third Man, but a lot of it is out of context and kinda hard to convey without accompanying photos. A few random notes:

— The operation is bigger than it looks from the outside. Third Man Nashville has grown from two to 27 employees since it opened in 2009, and has expanded to include the building next door (which had been an auto body shop).

— All Third Man Record order fulfillment is done in house; when Jack White’s Lazaretto LP came out they shipped 25,000 in a single week.

— A “super-top secret” master tape storage room is located on the premises, climate-controlled and fire-proof. In the (increasingly likely) advent of the apocalypse, it’s possible that Third Man recordings will survive and perhaps even thrive in a post-human reality.

Anyhow, thanks to Tyler for setting up the tour and Ben for showing us around.

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Return to the Road: I Went to Jackson, and That’s a Natural Fact

On August 2 I visited the Mississippi Braves, who play outside of Jackson, Mississippi. I bypassed that particular Jackson entirely, however, in favor of its Tennessee counterpart. Jackson, Tennessee, is perhaps best known in pop culture via the country duet “Jackson“, an exemplar of marital dysfunction and misplaced masculine confidence. The tune wasn’t written with any particular Jackson in mind but has since become most associated with Tennessee. In 1967 it was recorded by both Johnny and June Carter Cash and Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra. Both versions are stellar (though make me choose one and it’ll be Nancy and Lee every time).

After witnessing August 3’s Jackson Generals game, I had a little time to poke around the next afternoon before moving on to Nashville. So, I poked. Said poking soon brought me to the Madison County Courthouse; the monument seen on the right is dedicated “To the CONFEDERATE DEAD of Madison Co.”

IMG_0145On the courthouse lawn stands my favorite historical plaque of all time. It made me laugh for a couple minutes straight, and over the last six months it has continued to make me laugh at semi-regular intervals.

IMG_0150The First United Methodist Church, which boasts an interesting history, is located nearby.

IMG_0153It was now (past) lunchtime. I needed to get a meal in Jackson before heading out of the city. The West Alley BBQ and Smokehouse was just a short walk away; how could I argue with that?

IMG_0158I stopped by West Alley on a Tuesday afternoon, and the place was nearly deserted. This certainly looks like more of a late-night, party-oriented live music kind of environment. I wish I could have experienced it as such.

IMG_0155Nonetheless, the atmosphere was very welcoming. The waitress, a young African-American woman whose name I unfortunately cannot recall, pulled up a seat next to me and made various menu recommendations while asking where I was from and what had brought me there.

I went with the rib platter.

IMG_0156West Alley only has 11 Yelp reviews and 13 on TripAdvisor, so from an internet-based perspective it’s a bit of an unknown. But the guest book was loaded with accolades from out-of-town guests, and I was happy to add my own.  IMG_0157After making my feelings known, I had to split.

IMG_0159Goodbye, Jackson.

IMG_0160And hello, open road. Soon enough, I found myself at one of our nation’s greatest rest areas.

IMG_0162I also ended up in traffic next to Ted Cruz’s tour bus. This marked the only time in my life in which I was to the right of Ted Cruz.

IMG_0163Somewhere on the way to Nashville, there was a massive AT&T outage. My destination had been (predictably) a local record store, but with maps and internet down on my phone I had no idea how to get there. It made me feel like a helpless baby, unable to function in a world without a smartphone, and served as a reminder to always have my destination written down as well as a supply of relevant maps.

While aimlessly driving around the city’s downtown, I stopped outside of the Tennessee Titans’ Nissan Stadium to recalibrate. I don’t find stadiums, they find me.

IMG_0164Finally, after much trial and error, I made it to my location: Grimey’s Records (and the adjacent Grimey’s Too).

IMG_0166At Grimey’s I met Tyler Glaser, who was to be my designated eater at the following evening’s Nashville Sounds game. But, prior to that, he had set up a visit to Jack White’s Third Man Records. That will be detailed in the next post in this series.

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Return to the Road: History en route to Mississippi

Once again, it is time to return to the road. This latest round of posts detail my late July/early August journey through a not-inconsiderable portion of the South. The previous installment detailed my time in the general area of Biloxi. Today we begin in Mobile, Alabama, home of the BayBears.

As is too often the case on my jam-packed road trips, I didn’t really have any time to explore Mobile. (I had the time when I was there in 2010, however).

Anyhow, here’s a picture taken from an elevated location.

IMG_0092And…that’s about all I have for Mobile. I was actively mobile throughout my entire stay and didn’t really have the time to take pictures. Early the next afternoon, before leaving town, I set my coordinates for a Vietnamese restaurant. Along the way, however, I saw this.

IMG_0094As a big fan of mudbugs — or crawfish, or crayfish, or whatever you want to call them — I felt compelled to alter my plans and stop in for lunch. However, I got confused and ordered a platter off of the “fried” menu instead of the “fresh.” This would be a mistake under any circumstances, but doubly so for me given my (unwanted but necessary) gluten-free reality.

After staring at this brown mound with a mixture of shock and horror, I left the restaurant in a state of shame and disgrace.

IMG_0093My bad luck (or, more accurately, ineptitude) continued at a nearby gas station, where a serious of payment issues, gas cap snafus and miscellaneous bloopers led to a prolonged ordeal. At the end of it I was so flustered that a fellow customer had to stop me from driving away with the hood of my car popped open. It was a complicated and embarrassing situation, and that night in my hotel room I recorded a six-minute monologue about it.

I will not share said monologue. Just know that, on the road, I sometimes experience mental meltdowns. But the bad times are more than made up for by the unexpected joys.

Unexpected joys such as finding this unorthodox salt and pepper distribution system in my Montgomery, Alabama hotel room.

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The next day, I left Montgomery (home of the Biscuits) and drove onward to Pearl, Mississippi (home of the Mississippi Braves). As it just so happened (I didn’t even realize it beforehand), my planned Route 80 excursion took me across the Alabama River via the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

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The Edmund Pettus Bridge was the location of one of the most indelible moments of the Civil Rights movement. On “Bloody Sunday” — March 7, 1965 — demonstrators were viciously attacked by police (and recently-deputized legitimized thugs) as they walked the bridge while en route to Montgomery to confront Governor George Wallace about the recent police murder of protester Jimmie Jackson. Two days later, with the nation watching, the demonstrators returned and, this time, were allowed to cross the bridge in peace. These events were powerfully depicted in the 2014 Martin Luther King biopic Selma. 

And there I was, driving across that very same bridge on a sleepy Sunday morning, while en route from one Minor League stadium to another. I pulled over in Selma’s nearly deserted downtown and walked across the bridge, feeling nearly overcome with emotion (including self-loathing, for not ever taking a true risk in service of a greater good). Pettus, a former Alabama governor, was a Grand Dragon in the KKK. And now his name will forever be associated with peaceful protest in service of racial equality.

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Downtown Selma

The Alabama River

The Alabama River

IMG_0120After that welcome pit stop, it was onward toward Pearl. Misunderstanding just how rural the drive would be, I didn’t fill up my tank when I had the chance and almost ran out of gas. I don’t know where this gas station was, but I was very happy to have found it.

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Finally, I made it to Mississippi.

IMG_0123In Mississippi, I found a pork rind that, to my addled brain, looked like baby Jesus’s manger. I shoulda sold it to the Weekly World News. 

IMG_0124Thanks, Truckland.

IMG_0139And thank you, for reading.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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Game Boy On! RoughRiders Release Theme Jerseys

The Frisco RoughRiders, fresh off of their internet-conquering announcement that they would open a Lazy River at Dr Pepper Ballpark, are once again in line for some nationwide accolades. Today, the team announced their 2016 theme nights, which were highlighted by the following Millennial and Gen X-friendly pop culture trifecta:

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Let’s start with the theme jersey on the left, which will likely generate the most hyperbolic acclaim. Friday, July 8, is “Salute to 8-Bit and Arcades Night” and the RoughRiders will take the field in Game Boy uniforms. (Maybe if they lose the game the fans will receive a console-ation prize.)

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Of course, it is now time to defer to the press release.

The uniforms feature the text “Riders” inside of the Game Boy “screen” on the front of the uniform top, above of a directional pad, “A,” “B,” “Select,” and “Start” buttons along with the classic Game Boy vent-style speaker on the lower right-hand side. On the back of the uniform, each player’s number will be represented with 8-bit digits and their name written on the top of an inserted “game cartridge.” The team will feature retro arcade games inside the ballpark and will be giving away both a next-gen and a retro gaming console that night.  The fun continues as the Riders will be recreating classic video games as in-between innings contests.

Recreating classic video games as between-inning contests? I saw the Hudson Valley Renegades do that once.

July 29th is Ghostbusters Night. Ernie “Winston Zeddemore” Hudson will be on hand at Dr Pepper Ballpark for the festivities, as will the Ecto-1 automobile. Fans will have the slime of their lives.

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 June 24th is “Salute to Top Gun Night”, celebrating the 30th anniversary of — you guessed it  — the movie Top Gun. 

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On this night, the RoughRiders defense does not plan to join the Error Force. However, there’ll be a lot going on:

The players will be introduced by their flight call signs as they come up the plate. Fans can participate in a “Lost that Loving Feeling” singing contest, and the first 30 fans that come dressed in the official Top Gun beach volleyball outfit (swimsuit and dog tags) can participate in sand volleyball match at the ballpark during the game on a genuine sand court!

Finally, Star Wars Night is August 20. While the RoughRiders have not yet released their jerseys it is worth noting that fans in the Lazy River will float that night on Star Wars rafts. This may be one of them.

Pool-raft-landspeeder

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Logos Round and Round

There are many ways, perhaps infinite ways, to visually represent the entirety of the Minor League Baseball ecosystem. One could place each team’s logo on a map of the area they represent, group them by league, affiliate or classification, or simply make an alphabetical list from Aberdeen to Wisconsin. (It’s really too bad that the Carolina Mudcats don’t call themselves the Zebulon Mudcats, as they are the only team operating in a town that starts with “Z”.)

But I’ve never seen a better way to represent the world of Minor League Baseball than the Isaac Newton-inspired visual feast published today by Chris Creamer’s Sportslogos.net.

I hate saying “behold” in blog posts because it smacks of clickbait condescension, but this really should be beheld:

The Minor League Baseball Logo Colour Wheel (yes, “colour”, as Sportslogos.net is based is Canada, where some words are not spelled properly).

2016-Minor-League-Baseball-Colour-Wheel2Speaking as one who has become accustomed to routinely seeing his blog posts repurposed by other websites (thanks for the “h/t” at the end of the post, I guess) I’d strongly encourage you to visit the original “Colour Wheel” post. The Colour Wheel was created by SportsLogos.net contributor Paul Caputo, who gets bonus points for using the word “embiggen.” (It’s a perfectly cromulent word.)

To be quite honest, I’m not exactly sure what a color wheel is. Let’s learn together, via the unimpeachable and virtually infinite reservoir of information that is Wikipedia: 

By C. B. (probably Claude Boutet) - Traité de la peinture en mignature (The Hague, 1708), reproduced in The Creation of Color in Eighteenth-Century Europe, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3359814

By C. B. (probably Claude Boutet) – Traité de la peinture en mignature (The Hague, 1708)

A color wheel is:

“[An] abstract illustrative organization of color hues around a circle that shows relationships between primary colors, secondary colors, tertiary colors etc….”[A]rtists typically use red, yellow, and blue primaries (RYB color model) arranged at three equally spaced points around their color wheel.Intermediate and interior points of color wheels and circles represent color mixtures. In a paint or subtractive color wheel, the “center of gravity” is usually (but not always) black, representing all colors of light being absorbed; in a color circle, on the other hand, the center is white or gray, indicating a mixture of different wavelengths of light (all wavelengths, or two complementary colors, for example).

The arrangement of colors around the color circle is often considered to be in correspondence with the wavelengths of light, as opposed to hues, in accord with the original color circle of Isaac Newton.

Okay. Cool. As for the Minor League Baseball “Colour” Wheel, I think my biggest takeaway is that the industry is “bluer” than I had imagined. Also, that it would make for a really cool blacklight poster.

Kudos once again to Paul Caputo and sportslogos.net, who have done Canada proud with this “labour” of love. Did you know that the country has a “Double-Eh” team? It’s true:

Wikipedia

Wikipedia

Another awesome joke by me. I’m gonna celebrate by listening to Zed Zed Top at full volume.

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Brooklyn Cyclones Honor Full House to the Fullest

The Brooklyn Cyclones, not surprisingly, are at it again. In 2015, the Class A Short-Season Mets affiliate staged a rollicking tribute to Saved By the BellThis season, the nostalgia-inducing early-’90s sitcom in question is Full House. And why not? The San Francisco-set TGIF TV night staple is currently enjoying a renaissance via Netflix’s Fuller House reboot.

The Cyclones’ tribute to the Tanner family, taking place on July 9, is anchored by a John Stamos “real hair” Uncle Jesse bobblehead (2500 of which will be given away). Stamos used to have a lot more hair, but as you can see from the below tweet he has since “cut it out.” (Yeah, I know that was an Uncle Joey saying, but whatever).

In times like these, I defer to the almighty fountain of information that is the press release.

The Full House Tribute Night will be held at MCU Park on Coney Island (The City by Sheepshead Bay)….The Cyclones cannot say with certainty that they will HAVE MERCY on their opponents that evening, the Rush Hour Renegades (Okay, their [sic] actually from Hudson Valley, but we’re going for a theme here in case you didn’t notice).

[T]he Cyclones will be wearing special on-field jerseys that will instantly take you back to those Friday nights in front of your TV watching “TGIF”.  The uniforms will feature a foggy Golden Gate Bridge on the front and a design reminiscent of Uncle Jesse’s wallpaper, pink bunny and all, on the back.

FullHouseJersey

The Cyclones aren’t the first Minor League Baseball team to don Full House jerseys, of course. That honor — or debasement, depending on your point of view — goes to the Frisco RoughRiders. (And, you oughta know, the ‘Riders actually brought Dave “Uncle Joey” Coulier out to the ballpark.)

FullHouseAs for the Cyclones, there’s Kokomo going on than the Stamos bobblehead. Again, I return you to the magical realm of the press release:

  • In honor of Uncle Jesse and Aunt Becky’s 25th Wedding Anniversary (has it really been that long?) the first 25 couples who were married in 1991 will be able to throw a first pitch prior to the game.  They will also be invited onto the field prior to the start of post-game fireworks for a cheek-to-cheek dance to Uncle Jesse’s hit song “Forever.” 
  • Danny Tanner Clean-Off
  • Uncle Jesse Air Guitar Contest
  • No Hands Cereal Eating Competition – After Uncle Jesse’s motorcycle crash, he tries to eat a bowl of cereal with two broken arms, contestants will be asked to do the same (don’t worry, nobody’s arms will be broken during the process)
  • Uncle Joey Race Around the Bases – Contestants will have to perform various tasks associated with Uncle Joey including dressing like Bullwinkle, playing the role of Popeye and saving Olive Oil, scoring a hockey goal and then racing home to wave the Canadian Flag. 
  • How Rude Pout Cam
  • Kimmy Gibbler Stinky Feet Competition – Some poor soul on our staff will judge who has the most foul smelling hoofs in the ballpark.
  • All broken bats will be presented by Ranger Joe’s sidekick Mr. Woodchuck.
  • In honor of the Olsen Twins and Michelle Tanner, real life twins will be able to take advantage of 2-for-1 ticket deals at the box office.

Re: the “no-hands cereal eating contest”:

Expert Minor League observers (ok, me) will note that this isn’t the first time that the Cyclones held a sitcom-related cereal-eating competition at the ballpark. During 2014’s Seinfeld promo, fans competed to finish a bowl of cereal (including the milk).

SI.com

SI.com

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Return to the Road: In the Vicinity of Biloxi

Hello, and welcome to the latest installment of “Return to the Road.” Yesterday’s post detailed a few highlights of my time in New Orleans from July 27-29. On the 29th — a Wednesday, for those keeping score at home — I drove approximately 90 miles northeast to Biloxi. I was in Biloxi for two nights but, unfortunately, spent very little time in the city itself outside of MGM Park and a nearby hotel.

I did poke around the area a little, but let’s back up a bit. During the Shuckers game on the 29th, I met local restaurateur Brad Orrison. He’s the co-owner of The Shed, a barbecue located in nearby Ocean Springs that also has a stand at MGM Park.

Brad Orrison and his little "Shed-Heads."

Brad Orrison and his little “Shed-Heads.”

On the afternoon of July 30, I decided to drive to The Shed. It is a self-consciously ramshackle and very spacious establishment.

IMG_0044A closer look.

IMG_0048Upon entering, you place your order at the counter, and then, take a seat. To pass the time while waiting, you may want to take a dimly-lit photo.

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To my left, there was a live performance area. The Shed is a “Blues and BBQ joint,” and I imagine that it gets pretty lively on nights and especially weekends. Thursday afternoons, not so much.

Here’s a (poorly lit) photo of brisket and baked beans (My fries never arrived, but I decided not to make an issue of it after remembering that I’m too fat as it is).

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I should really keep tasting notes or something, because I’m writing this some seven months later and my memory is hazy regarding how The Shed’s barbecue actually tasted. I recall liking it, but that the meat could have stood to be a little tenderer. In retrospect, I wish I had gotten the ribs, which are the house specialty.

Also during the Shuckers game on the 29th, then-general manager Buck Rogers (now with the Lancaster JetHawks) told me that his favorite barbecue in the area was the burnt ends at Murky Waters. In order to get ’em, though, you had to arrive early. Therefore, on July 31, after checking out of the hotel, I drove back to Ocean Springs.

Murky Waters is in downtown proper, as opposed to The Shed’s more remote Highway 57 location.

IMG_0059I arrived early enough to snag an order of burnt ends. Success!

IMG_0058Burnt ends are the best, in general, and these were particularly good. Soft, fatty. melt-in-your-mouth meat contrasted with a crisp blackened crunch (a description that, metaphorically speaking, could be applied to many of my favorite bands).

Anyhow, Ocean Springs is a picaresque town.

IMG_0060This is the “Tatonut Shop”, specializing in potato flour donuts. I would’ve loved to have tried them, but they were not gluten-free so in lieu of eating I stood forlornly outside and took a picture.

IMG_0061Wandering begot more wandering.

IMG_0062Somewhere in the vicinity of the tree-lined street shown above, I stopped at a local pharmacy to pick up toothpaste and pens (two of my biggest road trip needs). I was quite taken with the store’s selection and decor.

IMG_0072From there, it was just a short drive to some waterfront views.

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IMG_0064My final act in Ocean Springs, as it is in so many of the places that I visit, was to take a picture of a spider in a port-a-potty.

IMG_0067And with that, it was time to bid adieu to coastal Mississippi. Mobile, Alabama, awaited.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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