Archive for the ‘ Minor League Baseball ’ Category

To the Victors, Go the Spoils: Spikes Seek Powerball Winners

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These were the winning numbers in yesterday’s largest-ever Powerball drawing, which was won by three (currently anonymous) individuals. This supremely lucky triumvirate will now split an estimated $1.5 billion dollar jackpot, a windfall that will be accompanied by a new, unexpected perk:

The State College Spikes — Class A Short Season affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals — have invited the three winners (who bought tickets in Chino Hills, California, Munford, Tennessee and Melbourne Beach, Florida) to attend July 3’s “Billionaire’s Ball.”

PowerballBillionairesPer the Spikes:

As part of the festivities, all three winners are invited to come to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park and pick the promotions of their choice for that night.

The Spikes will make every effort to fulfill any choice each winner makes while adhering to applicable laws and regulations.

“All of our fans would love to have the chance to share a billion-dollar jackpot, but it’s not too often can you have that and do whatever you want at a ballpark,” said Spikes General Manager Scott Walker. “If they want to bring out giraffes, or have the Spikes wear all-plaid uniforms, we’ll do everything we can to try and make that happen. We’re excited to find out what the Powerball jackpot winners want to do at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.”

I’m not sure if having carte blanche at the ballpark would lead me to create an evening of giraffes and plaid, but to each his own. Maybe the Spikes could get this kids clothing store to sponsor it.

plaid

Anyhow, the Spikes’ “Billionaire’s Ball” will also feature fanfare for the common man. The team reports that “Fans can also participate in an array of fun giveaways that night based on the winning numbers, including:

  • 4 first pitches
  • 8 Bullpen Box tickets
  • 19 T-shirts
  • 27 boxes of popcorn
  • 34 hot dogs
  • 10 special “Spikes Power Packs.”

Finally, the night will feature an appearance by David Smith, the Human Powerball Cannonball. There’s never not a good time to post a Human Cannonball video.

The Spikes are encouraging the three “newly minted tycoons” to call them at 814-272-1711 to get the “Ball” rolling on this promotional endeavor. What are the odds that one of them picks up the phone? I’d put it at something like one in 292 million, but, hey, ya never know.

*  *  *

While the Spikes were looking for the Powerball winners today, the Charleston Riverdogs engaged in the far more manageable task of identifying the losers.

See? It pays to play.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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The Armidale Outlaws Want YOU

Last week, I wrote an MiLB.com article about how the West Michigan Whitecaps built their ballpark exclusively with private funds. This piece inspired one Mick Alldis to get in touch with me. Mick, a baseball-loving Australian with a dream, is engaged in a private funding endeavor of his own.

I think the readers of this blog might be interested in what Mick is doing. I’ll let him tell it:

I read your piece on Fifth Third Ballpark (I’m very envious of the ballparks in the U.S.) and while we are nowhere in the league of this type of setup, I thought I’d drop you a line about baseball here in Armidale NSW, Australia. We are a six hour drive from Sydney and three hours inland from the nearest beach (we don’t all live on the beach and punch sharks in the face, you see!)

whitecaps

I’ve played baseball here in Australia since I was a little kid (my claim to fame is that I played against Graeme Lloyd  as a kid growing up in Geelong, Victoria and I think I once tagged him for a home run). Now I find myself building a team in the small town of Armidale NSW (population 25,000).

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 will play in the local Tamworth Winter League (beginning in April) and will drive 80 minutes each week to play until our ground becomes a reality.

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.

outlawscap

It’s a bit of fun and a chance for us to raise money to build a baseball diamond, dugouts and netting and even purchase some uniforms. We hope that we might find some generous baseball followers out there! Our GoFundMe page is https://www.gofundme.com/vfhx3bxw. We have a recent article written about us on the Australian Baseball Alumni page as well

field of dreams

Image from Armidale Baseball Go Fund Me page.

As of this writing (Wednesday, January 13. 12:21 p.m. ET), eight generous souls have donated a combined $575 Australian dollars to the Outlaws’ $5000 goal. If you, like so many others, have once dreamed of nominal ownership in an amateur baseball team located half a world away, then I urge you to donate some dollarydoos. Plus, that’s a pretty sweet hat.

Thanks for getting in touch, Mick.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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Umpire Aficionado Living the Dream in Myrtle Beach

It’s a slow time of year for Minor League Baseball, but that doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. Something is always happening. Today’s something is out of Myrtle Beach, as the Pelicans have announced that they are helping one of their employees “fulfill [a] lifelong dream.”

justin1

That staffer is Justin Fletcher, an intellectually challenged autistic individual who began working with the club as a custodian in 2014. As you may be able to infer from the above photo, the “lifelong dream” in question is Justin’s desire to be an umpire. To that end, the Pelicans are sending him to Vero Beach tomorrow. On Wednesday and Thursday, Justin will attend classes at the Major League Baseball Umpire Training Academy. Some snippets from the press release:

Fletcher…. [is] the first person at the Vocational Rehabilitation of South Carolina to earn a custodial certification. Following his morning and afternoon work at TicketReturn.com Field, Fletcher attended nearly every home Pelicans game, quickly displaying a love for the Carolina League’s umpires by imitating the men in blue in the stands behind home plate.

justin2

“Justin has always said for years now he wants to be an umpire,” said his father Allan Eoff. “And when he found out that (Pelicans assistant general manager) Mike Snow and the staff of the Pelicans were helping his dream come true, he was ecstatic. From that day on, it’s been baseball every day, outside, inside and in his sleep. His mom and I even hear him calling balls and strikes in his sleep. He also only asks for gifts that would outfit an umpire.”

As part of his two-day training, Fletcher will receive a mask, chest protector and shin guards while also spending time in the classroom to work towards completing his umpire education.

“(Pelicans general manager) Andy Milovich told me about this young man at their ballpark who just loved umpiring and loved talking to the umpires that visited Myrtle Beach during the season,” said Minor League Baseball Director of Umpire Development Dusty Dellinger. “After meeting Justin and hearing others tell stories about him dressing up in his umpiring shirt and mask and making calls from the seats behind the plate, I knew we had to bring him to the academy for a few days and give him a taste of what umpiring is really like. I hope he enjoys the experience.”

An alum of Socastee High School in Myrtle Beach, Fletcher was able to meet a few of his umpiring idols prior to games during the Pelicans’ 2015 championship campaign. 

justin3Here’s a video of Justin in action, which displays the degree in which he is able to emulate his Major League umpiring heroes.

He’s like a 21st-century Mark Grant.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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From the Rodeo to the Rocks

In 2009, the Wilmington Blue Rocks became the first team to book Team Ghost Riders — better known as Cowboy Monkey Rodeo  — at a Minor League ballpark. The thrilling spectacle of a monkey riding a dog herding sheep soon became an industry-wide phenomenon.

In 2016, the Blue Rocks have once again made Cowboy Monkey Rodeo history.

“Dir of Mktg Joe” is more coherently known as Blue Rocks director of marketing Joe Valenti, a longtime Cowboy Monkey Rodeo supporter. Valenti serves as the point man when the rodeo rolls into Wilmington, and in that capacity had gotten to know ringleader Tim Lepard.

“[Lepard] will retire the dogs at a certain age so they can live a dog’s life, not doing the grind,” said Valenti. “Last year he was in town in August. I mentioned to him, that if he was retiring a dog my wife and I would definitely be interested. He said, ‘We’ll look into it.’ But that night at the end of the show, as he was standing at home introducing the dogs and monkeys, unbeknownst to me he called me up there and gave me Shot. I had no idea that it was coming, we hadn’t discussed it or anything. It was crazy…He said when you’re ready, we’ll make the tradeoff.”

Shot, hard at work

Shot, pre-retirement

This past Saturday Valenti, his wife and young daughter, Rose, met with Lepard in Virginia and officially adopted the 5-year-old Border Collie.

20160103_162100“He was confused and tentative at first, not sure what to think about having a new family and a new home,” said Valenti. “One reason that Tim was ready to retire him is because he’s so docile. Just an affectionate, laid-back kind of dog, who was over doing the chasing rams kind of thing. Tim thought he would be a good fit with the family. So it’s been an adjustment to get his bearings and figure out who we are, but it’s gone really well….It’s cool to see him slide into the family role.”

Shot with Valenti's daughter, Rose

Shot with Valenti’s daughter, Rose

While Shot will spend the bulk of his time at home, Valenti plans to bring him out to Frawley Stadium on a regular basis.

“He loves people. I do the onfield, hosting, so I can have him come down with me,” said Valenti. “It’ll be cool leading up to the games [with Cowboy Monkey Rodeo], a little teaser, to have the dog here. And I’ll definitely bring him when the monkeys are here, to reunite him.”

Valenti won’t consider adopting a monkey, however.

“The dog is enough. Monkeys are cool, and it’s always fun when they’re around,” he said. “They run around and scare the players. But I’ll stick to the dog.”

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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Shaking Off the Rust

Happy New Year! I started this blog in 2007, which means that 2016 is the 10th year in which it has existed. And yet, this blog will not turn 10 years old for another 20 months. This is a real headscratcher, perhaps the blog anniversary equivalent of the Monty Hall Problem.

Or perhaps not. Perhaps, as usual, I simply have no idea of what it is I speak. Perhaps I should move on to an issue of greater substance. Or at least an issue of some substance. I’ll take what I can get. So let’s proceed with the first bouillabaisse blog post of 2016. (This year, I am now 1-for-1 when it comes to spelling bouillabaisse correctly on the first attempt. It’s all downhill from here.)

Yes, it’s 2016. But let’s begin with my favorite team-produced video of 2015, which comes courtesy of the Norfolk Tides.

The Tides, as you’ll recall, unveiled a new set of logos on December 2. These new logos, like almost all new logos, were immediately excoriated by the team’s fan base via the usual social media channels. The Tides, taking a page from the Jimmy Kimmel playbook, took a “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach:

And, just out of curiosity, what do you think? Are these logos worthy of excoriation? I, for one, think that the sea horse is pregnant with possibility.

Norfolk_Tides_2016

Moving on from excoriation to exfoliation: Dr Zizmor, a legend of New York City subway advertising, has announced his retirement. I think a “Salute to Dr. Zizmor” promo within the NYC market would be great, but maybe that’s simply because it’s the first week back from the holidays and my brain is not yet up to fully-functioning status. It might never get there.

zizI’ve got no Segway, which is one of the reasons I ride the subway. So let’s get this one hover with and rock and roll on to the next item.

You may recall that, during last month’s Winter Meetings Trade Show, OT Sports was hawking KISS theme jerseys.

kiss_jersey_aj5f4fam_k9hjrzcxKISS theme jerseys will inevitably lead to larger KISS theme promos, and there is a precedent for that sort of thing. Teams thinking of jumping on the 2016 KISS bandwagon can pick up pointers from the Prince William Cannons (1998) and Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (1999); both of these promos were overseen by Pat Filippone (currently president of the Seventh Inning Stretch ownership group). Click on the above links and learn, while coming to terms with the fact that I am unable to close this bit with a good KISS reference. I gave it my Beth, though.

Given their innate desire to never alienate the fan base, Minor League teams are loathe to dive into the murky waters of politics. But Lowell Spinners’ mascot Canaligator already lives in murky waters, so he’s gone ahead and launched a presidential campaign.

canal

Canaligator announced his presidential intent following a Donald Trump rally held at Lowell’s Tsongas Center (yes, a Donald Trump rally was staged at a venue named after a lifelong Democrat). The press release contains this immortal quote:

“Look, I’m just a blue-collar gator who believes in staying in touch with his roots. Lowell is my home. These are the canals I swam in as a hatchling. LeLacheur Park is where I fell in love with baseball. What’s more American than an alligator running for president out of a baseball stadium?” 

Canaligator has long had his own Twitter account, but today he began a separate account solely devoted to his political aspirations. Groundbreaking.

Canaligator has not aligned himself as a member of a specific party. Why is he hiding his long-standing Green Party roots?

Get it? Because he’s green.

From the “I’ve never seen anything quite like this before” department comes this news from the Trenton Thunder:

tt

 

John Fierko, a member of the Trenton Thunder front office during their inaugural 1994 season, has returned to the team as its VP of ticket sales. From the press release:

Fierko was a member of the Thunder front office staff in 1994 when the franchise began operation. Fierko spent four years with the Thunder as Director of Ticket Sales before embarking on a career that saw him spend time with the Philadelphia 76ers, the ECHL, the Trenton Devils, the Lakewood BlueClaws and Comcast Sports Net Philadelphia.

Fierko’s first stint with the Thunder began so long ago, a baby born at that time can now legally drink. Those long-ago babies can not yet rent a car, however. That milestone will not occur until 2019.

I’ll close with an item out of Lexington that is, in a word, great: On Friday, the Legends are inviting six groups of local fifth grade students to the ballpark, where they will compete in a Shark Tank-style competition to develop a 2016 promo item. More info from my best friend, the press release:

After making a visit to the ballpark last fall, students from three classes, working in teams as part of an economics unit, were asked to generate ideas for a Legends giveaway.   Students conducted research, designed products, and then created and conducted surveys of other students, faculty and administrators to get their reactions.

Here’s a picture of some of the kids in brainstorming mode, aided and abetted by Ty Cobb (yes, Ty Cobb).

Ty Cobb and WWB students

Stay tuned to see what these kids come up with. And, other teams: Steal this idea.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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Disguise the Limit for Manziel Fans in Lake County

The Lake County Captains, located in the Cleveland suburb of Eastlake, Ohio, have made an annual habit of staging satirical tributes to Cleveland’s ignominious sports history. It comes as no surprise, then, that the Class A Indians affiliate is having a little bit of fun with the latest controversy surrounding Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel.

For those who unaware of this latest bit of ridiculousness: Manziel partied in disguise in Las Vegas last weekend, wearing glasses, a blond wig, a fake mustache and a hoodie. During this period of surreptitious bacchanalia, he went under the assumed name of “Billy.”

Enter the Captains, via Twitter, bringing their trolling A-game:

To the victor, goes the spoils.

The mayor of Flavortown need not apply, however.

While waiting for the fan submissions to roll in, please enjoy the Captains’ 2014 homage to Major League. 

I, meanwhile, will be once again reliving the greatest moment of my life. This happened in Lake County in 2011.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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The Most Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Jokes of the Year

At each ballpark I visited during the 2015 season, I wrote and disseminated a groundbreaking and subversive joke. These jokes became very popular, viewed by dozens of people and, sometimes, even retweeted. As a service to those who somehow missed this social media phenomenon the first time around, I now present my year-end round-up of 2015’s best Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Jokes. One joke from each of my five Minor League road trips is included, as well as one from the 2015 Winter Meetings in Nashville.

Enjoy, and don’t forget to laugh!

Dunedin Blue Jays (April 13)

Kane County Cougars (May 23)

Lynchburg Hillcats (June 27)

Montgomery Biscuits (August 1)

Lowell Spinners (August 31)

Winter Meetings, Nashville, Night Three (December 9)

As you can see, I have not cut my hair since the 2015 season began. Maybe I will in 2016. Until then, thanks for reading and see you on the other side.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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Frisco First to Focus on Faux Pas

Situated as we are within the depths of the holiday season, I don’t get many opportunities to dash off timely posts about recently-announced pop culture-referencing Minor League Baseball promotions. So thanks, Frisco RoughRiders, for coming up with THIS:

runnerupnight

As you may have already guessed (or read elsewhere, if I am somehow not your only source for Minor League Baseball news), this promo is in direct response to Sunday night’s Miss Universe debacle.

Oh, man. Every one was “Phillipian” out about this. Mistakes happen. I really don’t think Steve Harvey deserves the internet-fueled scorn that has been heaped upon him, but at the same time this is an all-time classic pop culture moment. It was inevitable that a Minor League team would respond, and kudos to the RoughRiders for being the first team to celebrate second-place.

In times like these, when there is only one set of footprints in the sand, it is because I have deferred to the press release:

The RoughRiders plan to formally invite Ariadna Gutiérrez Arevalo, “Miss Colombia,” as a VIP guest for the night. Gutiérrez will enjoy a suite for the night and an opportunity to throw out the first pitch. The RoughRiders are also inviting Steve Harvey to serve as the on-field host for the evening.

With the night celebrating famous second-place finishes, the Riders have also extended an invitation to Jim Kelly, Andre Reed, and Marv Levy the quarterback, a wide receiver, and the coach of the Buffalo Bills during their four-year stretch of runner-up finishes in the Super Bowl (1991-1994). The team will celebrate other second-place finishers including Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera (runner-up on Star Search); Adam Lambert and Clay Aiken (American Idol); Carrie Underwood and Michelle Obama (high school salutatorian); Al Gore and Mitt Romney (presidential elections); and Cowboys running back Darren McFadden (two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up).

Like all Riders home games, fans will have the chance to participate in on-field games, but on Runner-Up Night, prizes will be awarded to the second-place, not first-place, finishers. Other in-game promotions include a seat upgrade to the “Second-best seat in the house.”

secondplace

During the game, RoughRiders players will be displayed on the video board with a sash, announcing each American player as “Mr. Texas” or whatever state they are from and international players honored with the name of their home country.

The RoughRiders plan to host an in-park beauty pageant throughout the game. Any fan that can prove a second-place finish in a beauty contest or pageant at any level will receive a free ticket to the game between the RoughRiders and the San Antonio Missions.

If I had had to guess which team would have been the first to announce such a promotion, I would have gone with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. They have experience with this sort of thing. But, fittingly, my second guess would have been the Frisco RoughRiders. They share an ownership group with the Pelicans, as well as staff members (Hi, Nathan Barnett) who cut their promo brainstorming teeth while working in Myrtle Beach. And it’s certainly no surprise that, via Twitter, Pelicans prez Andy Milovich offered a suggestion regarding another “Runner-Up” that the Pelicans could honor.

Namely:

deweyAnd since I can do anyone’s job better than they can do it, I have a few suggestions of my own. Maybe the RoughRiders could honor Teddy Roosevelt — the inspiration for their team name and logo –and his second-place showing in the 1912 presidential election.

tr-bullmoose-postcard-1

Or how about the 1986 Boston Red Sox, who were congratulated thusly on the Shea Stadium scoreboard?

1986And who can forget this gubernatorial mishap, from the 2015 ALDS series between Houston and Kansas City?

txgovtweetI wish I could come up with more examples, but as longtime author of the greatest Minor League Baseball blog of all time so I don’t really know much about what it’s like to be a runner-up. If you have any suggestions, let me know via Twitter, email or that archaic, dust-filled sliver of internet real estate known as “the comments section.”

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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Winter Meetings Blog Writer Journal, December 9

Last week, I dedicated my little slice of internet infinity to the recollections and reflections of four Winter Meetings job seekers. This week, I’m provide my own Twitter-centric account of the week that was. It all ends here, with this recap of my third and final full day in Nashville. 

Wednesday, December 9

Wednesday, the third and final day of the Winter Meetings, is always a wild card. There are, of course, places to go and people to talk to, but I generally don’t have plans to attend or cover any one specific event. That was the case this year, but it still turned out to be a supremely busy day. Per usual, I found myself running around like the proverbial headless chicken. What else is new?

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Wednesday morning was given over to Job Seeker Journals blog posts and other such writerly tasks. While grabbing lunch in the Opryland, I ran into Chuck Greenberg (owner of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Frisco RoughRiders and State College Spikes) and Pelicans president Andy “Milo” Milovich. In Milo’s possession was a recent prized acquisition, a baseball card from 1988 featuring Dave Oster during his reign with the Geneva Cubs. (Oster, now 50, recently stepped down from his position as Lake Elsinore Storm president). The card cost 99 cents on eBay, plus $2.75 shipping and handling, and was the source of much merriment for industry veterans.

oster

While waiting in line for food, I also ran into Inland Empire 66ers director of marketing Matt Kowallis. I casually asked him how things have been going, standard Winter Meetings small talk, but his somber response quickly busted me out of casual conversation mode. The 66ers are based in San Bernardino, the site of a horrific mass shooting the week prior. For the 66ers staff, and everyone in their community, it was impossible not to feel the heavy weight of the tragedy. The Winter Meetings, meanwhile, are a surreal week-long dose of fantasyland unreality. It felt strange to suddenly be contemplating something so horrific within such an atmosphere, but I wanted to give this topic its due. Matt put me in touch with 66ers general manager Joe Hudson, and a bit later in the afternoon I interviewed him about the team’s response to the shooting for MiLB.com’s “Show Before the Show” podcast. (That episode can be found HERE.)

vigil

Program from vigil held at 66ers’ San Manuel Stadium, in remembrance of shooting victims

As I ate lunch, I amused myself by eavesdropping on Kannapolis Intimidators director of communications Josh Feldman as he reviewed a pile of resumes submitted by Job Fair attendees. (Josh isn’t too impressed with those who note their proficiency with Microsoft Office, as it is the year 2015.)

Okay, what next? Oh, right, a final lap through the Trade Show to say hello to people who I had missed the day prior. But on the way there, I ran into Tyler Glaser. Tyler, who works at Grimey’s, a venerated Nashville record store, served as my designated eater when I visited the Nashville Sounds in August. Prior to the Meetings I had gotten in touch about maybe getting a drink or checking out a show, but this was before I arrived in Nashville and immediately resigned myself to a week of all Opryland, all of the time. At least we were able to chat for a few minutes.

IMG_0783And, hey! There’s Lansing Lugnuts broadcaster/noted author Jesse Goldberg-Strassler, a wise and kind individual whom I had not yet spoken to at this year’s event. I had to have a conversation with him as well.

IMG_0784

Oh, hello

And, oh, right, the Trade Show was still going on, though at this point it was in its death throes. I just had enough time to introduce myself to Rookies app founder Matt Sebek, whose product allows users to create their own baseball cards. It’s pretty cool. And, look, he even created one for me.

IMG_0786That was the tone of the afternoon — one conversation to another to another, all imbued with the sense that time was running out. After meeting with Joe Hudson for an interview on the 66ers’ response to the San Bernardino shooting, I hustled back over to Presidential Ballroom D (my favorite of the Presidential Ballrooms) to meet once again with 2015’s group of Job Seeker Journal writers. We recorded a series of “after” interviews, which were later incorporated into this video.

Finally, I returned to the media room and began work on an article summing up the myriad news and notes from the past few days.

The media room is a strange place to work. As I pecked away at the keyboard, the Cubs’ newest free agent acquisition was introducing himself to the assembled media. We were separated by the thinnest of veneers.

I had a very specific deadline while working on this article. At 6:30, buses would be departing the Opryland for the Wild Horse Saloon in downtown Nashville. This was the site of this year’s Gala, a three-hour party that represents 2015’s final opportunity for large-scale mingling.

Personal arrogance and ego-boosting aside, I have always enjoyed the Gala. The Winter Meetings are chaotic and stressful, but once the Gala hits you can take a deep breath and just be. Enjoy some booze and drinks and be glad to have made it through another year.

And go figure: This was my most popular tweet of the entire Winter Meetings. People love to see the industry get down.

After the Gala, I took a bus back to the Opryland. But most of the Gala attendees must have gone to a piano bar (they always do), because the hotel bar scene was listless and seemed more populated by Major League types. I’ve got no interest in that sort. There was nothing left to do but, yes, write and disseminate another Groundbreaking and Subversive Joke.

I can’t remember the last time I felt so tired. I had no one left to talk to. I could feel myself starting to get sick. But, yet, I kept wandering around, on the lookout for joke material, or whatever flimsy excuse I could make in order to keep the night going. Why do I have these compulsions? Why do I feel that it is mandatory to indulge them? I sometimes feel that there is something wrong with me.

And that was it for the Winter Meetings. I really enjoyed getting to (re)connect with so many people who work in this great business, even if you may not have been entirely sure who I was.

Finally, mercifully, I’ve got nothing left. Here’s to another year of making dreams come true.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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Winter Meetings Blog Writer Journal, December 8

Last week, I dedicated my little slice of internet infinity to the recollections and reflections of four Winter Meetings job seekers. This week, I’ll provide my own Twitter-centric account of the week that was.

Tuesday, December 8

Call it a routine, or call it a rut, but one thing’s for sure: Year after year after year, my Winter Meetings’ experience follows the same basic pattern. Monday is dedicated to a run of programmed events (the Bob Freitas Business Seminar, Opening Session, etc) and then Tuesday is Trade Show Day.

trade

I have a love/hate relationship with the Trade Show. I love it because it is an awe-inspiring accumulation of vendors who, together, fulfill just about every conceivable baseball industry need. I hate it because I write about it every year and feel like I don’t have anything new to say. Also, it is a thoroughly exhausting place in which to spend an afternoon. Walking down the aisles, one can feel the eyes of the vendors as they look at your name badge to discern if you are a prospective client. It is an environment of subtle glances, awkward smiles and constant surveillance. Kind of like high school.

I began my time at the Trade Show as I often do, by visiting the Lynn University booth and addressing the students in professor Ted Curtis’s sports management program. Professor Curtis does this every year, giving his charges a great first-hand glimpse at the inner workings of the baseball industry. I imagine that it is an invaluable experience for them; through the years I have crossed paths with Lynn students at various MiLB ballparks. Just look at the prominence they have achieved.

Stephen Goldsmith, designated eater, Jupiter Hammerheads 

0472

Andrew Pollowitz, intern, Potomac Nationals

0195Hey, you gotta start somewhere! Anyhow, thanks to Ted and company for having me out to their booth once again.

As a point of reference, this picture illustrates how much weight I have gained and hair I have grown since speaking to Lynn Students during the 2012 Nashville Winter Meetings.

lynnNext up on the Trade Show agenda was to meet with the lumbering force of nature that is MiLB.com Jack of All Trades Danny Wild. He served as my photographer and videographer for a piece we put together on the Trade Show. You can check it out HERE.

Included within the piece is this video.

Everyone should also be aware of the following piece of information, which is that OT Sports is now hawking officially licensed KISS theme jerseys.

Get ready, El Paso. (Will Eliza”Beth“ton be next?)

After grabbing some lunch and doing some writing in the gargantuan media work room, I was reminded that an election was about to take place. Pat O’Conner was running, unopposed, for a third term as Minor League Baseball president. Always eager to see the democratic process in action, I meandered over to yet another gargantuan ballroom and witnessed a most anticlimactic election. First, each league president affirmed his or her presence during a role call. This same group of circuit overseers then unanimously elected O’Conner to a third term, which begins in January and runs through 2019.

A glimpse of the white-hot parliamentary proceedings:

Then it was back to the media room. Seemingly everyone in there, save for me, was riveted by the evening’s barrage of trades and free agent signings. It began to feel so ridiculous to me, hundreds of people essentially sharing the same information while clamoring to make their “scoop” unique. Possessed of both an absurd and arrogant nature, I started riffing.

Anyone want to chime in here?

Thanks, dude.

After finishing up my work for the day, I was feeling tired down to the marrow of my bones. Also, my stupid new shoes made it so my stupid new socks had bloodstains on the heels due to my stupid old feet. It was time for a brief rest before hitting the late-night socialization scene (a prerequisite of the Winter Meetings experience).

I turned on the TV in the hotel room and began to listlessly channel surf, soon stopping to pause in amazement. None other than Jackson Generals broadcaster Brandon Liebhaber was staring back at me! Was I in some sort of Winter Meetings Twilight Zone?

The show in which Liebhaber — and the rest of the Generals organization — appeared was called I Love Kellie Pickler. Well, I’m here to tell you something, and that something is this: I hate Kellie Pickler. This show was the bad kind of stupid, cloying and condescending and fake (despite being “reality”), and it made me want to emigrate to Canada. Duck Dynasty looks like Masterpiece Theater in comparison. But, in all serious, congrats to Liebhaber and the Generals on the CMT Network exposure. All publicity is good publicity, even when the publicity in question makes one want to pop out their eyeballs with a serrated hotel room entry card (I tried).

With Pickler-rage serving as my energy fuel, I re-entered the Opryland ecosystem and hit the bar scene. It was fun. The Winter Meetings is the only time during the year in which I can walk into a bar alone and know that there will be a lot of people therein who want to talk to me. Usually when I enter a bar alone I make a beeline for the pinball machine and don’t interact with anyone save for the drink-disbursement person situated behind the navel-level wooden barrier.

I was out and about until Semisonic came on over the stereo, but the day’s work is not done until I have written and disseminated a Groundbreaking and Subversive Joke.

Haters are my motivators.

Can’t stop, won’t stop.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

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