Welcome to another installment of this Louisville tour diary, in which I detail the time that was had (by me) during last week’s Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar. This post shall chronicle Day Three, but before proceeding please know that a recap of Day One can be found HERE and a recap of Day Two can be found HERE.
And with that bit of introductory housekeeping out of the way, we can now proceed with an unburdened spirit.
Thursday, September 26
Day Three started out strong, as Golden Bobbleheads were the first order of business. These annual awards honor the best promotions to take place in the Minor Leagues during the season, and are voted on by Seminar attendees (the finalists are chosen on a monthly basis by Minor League Baseball HQ in St. Pete). Before voting, each nominated team gives a brief presentation on their promotion, with teams not attending sending video submissions instead (these teams rarely, if ever, win). The end result is a fun and fast-paced couple of hours, as teams politic, provoke and plead from the podium.
Five Golden Bobbleheads are eventually awarded, in the categories of Best Non-Game Day Event, Best Theme Night, Best Charity Promotion or Event, and Best In-Game. I’ll weigh on the winners at a later date in the near future, but as for the presentations themselves this is the only photo that I possess:
That’s Lake Elsinore Storm assistant general manager Raj Narayanan standing next to a gorilla, who soon took part in a light saber battle that almost ripped down the stage curtains. Such anarchy is par for the course when it comes to the Storm, who regularly engage in such nonsense at the Promo Seminar (for better or for worse I’ll never forget their 2009 presentation in which they touted their Subtle Butt flatulence neutralizer giveaway).
Meanwhile, my 10 nominations for 2013′s “Promo of the Year” MiLBY Award are just about to be unveiled. Check them out on MiLB.com and vote for your favorite! The MiLBY’s are the fan equivalent of the Golden Bobblehead, the hoi polloi-embracing yin to their industry insider yang. These two awards are not in competition with one another, but I’ve got to say it’s been a bit disheartening to find that teams generally care a lot more about winning a Golden Bobblehead. Again and again teams brag to me about winning a Golden Bobblehead (often thinking that I have something to do with their selection), but rarely do I hear such excitement when it comes to the MiLBYs.
This is disheartening, yes, but somehow I carry on.
There was a full slate of presentations after the Golden Bobblehead portion of the morning (one of which included a hilarious verbal slip-up), but for the most part I wasn’t paying much attention. In fact, for much of it I wasn’t even in the room. This is because I was to be the Seminar’s final ballroom presenter, so I spent some time in the hotel room putting the finishing touches on this:
I suppose the title is self-explanatory, as this 20-minute speech simply detailed my 2013 travels in chronological order. I tried to keep it breezy and funny yet informative, and I think I succeeded. Going into it I was incredibly nervous and edgy and couldn’t really sit still, but as soon as I got on the stage I was completely relaxed and started making jokes like they were going out of style (and my kind of jokes really are going out of style).
(Also: I am available to give this speech, or variations thereof, in other venues. All that I ask is for travel and lodging expenses to be covered and a small “whisky stipend” provided.)
Unfortunately this smartphone photo seems to be the only documentation of my speech that exists. Please know that it was delivered into a sea of smiling faces, each more impressed than the last at my boundless charm, buoyant humor, and verbal dexterity. If anyone else has any more photos then please send them to me! The flames of narcissism need to be fanned, as I am a lonely man and the offseason is long and cold.
I celebrated my victorious speech like I celebrate everything else: by eating a meal in public while standing, completely alone. In the afternoon there were a couple more “Group Therapy” sessions, and one of the ones I attended was titled “Beyond the Press Release” (moderated by Minor League Baseball corporate communications manager Mary Marandi). I spoke a little bit during the session about the unpredictable crapshoot that is national media attention, but here are two things in my notes that I didn’t get around to mentioning.
– For the love of God, it is the year 2013 and therefore ALL press releases should be sent using BCC (believe it or not, there are still some teams who display their entire mailing lists in the “to” column of every single press release they send).
– Maintain Facebook and Twitter feeds separately. There are still several teams whose Facebook posts automatically appear on Twitter in truncated form (usually ending in the middle of a sentence, followed by an ellipse), which gives Twitter followers the impression that they are a total afterthought. Twitter is far too important a means of communication to be used in such a slapdash manner.
Any thoughts on any of this? Let me know.
Up until this juncture I have been extremely heavy on the written word, leading eyes to glaze over, minds to numb and joints to atrophy. As a remedy to these myriad afflictions I shall close the post with a barrage of photos from Thursday evening’s ballpark outing to Louisville Slugger Field, home of the Bats (this is easily the best stadium naming rights deal in Minor League Baseball, as regards the company’s connection to both city and sport). After shuffling off of the hotel shuttle almost everyone headed toward the concourse booze merchants, but not I. My allegiance is not to the booze (well, at least some of the time), my allegiance is to you. Therefore, I did a full lap around the stadium before entering.
Architecturally speaking and otherwise, Louisville Slugger Stadium is an absolute gem. It fits beautifully into its downtown surroundings, incorporating a defunct train depot into the design and featuring gorgeous views of the Ohio River and the bridges spanning it.
The statue out front commemorates Louisville native Pee Wee Reese in high-flying form.
This pathway (located down the third base side of the facility) leads to an outfield entrance.
Like moths to a flame, industry was gathered ’round the booze (yes, I have a tough time maintaining a gluten-free diet in a ballpark environment, but I think it would be even tougher to work in baseball as a recovering alcoholic).
Tours were being offered at this stage, so I joined on with a group whose departure was imminent. The view from the suites:
This picture, hanging in a corridor located outside of the press box, gives a sense of what an absolute behemoth Cardinal Stadium was (the team played here from 1982-99, largely as a member of the now-defunct American Association).
Old American Association championship banners decorate this spacious entranceway area, which used to be the aforementioned train depot.
We then ambled down to the Bats’ clubhouse, home of the forsaken Aerobie.
This was one of the few clubhouses that I’ve seen that feature a pool table.
Beyond that, I simply enjoyed documenting some of the more absurd pieces of 2013 season detritus. I wonder what the fine is for allowing the fine box to be photographed by a middling Minor League blogger?
Not the best place for a fitted hat sticker, guys.
No offense, USA Baseball.
And while Muhammad Ali is one of Louisville’s most famous native sons, let it be known that one of his most celebrated adversaries also logged time here.
Back upstairs, there was a whole lotta eatin’ going on. Although I failed to document it, the centerpiece of my dinner was a “Kentucky filet mignon” aka fried bologna.
Dinner was followed by the presentation of the Golden Bobbleheads, but, as mentioned previously, I’ll save my thoughts on them for another time. After the awards “ceremony,” whilst in the midst of the usual industry event hobnobbing, I was approached by members of the Bats’ staff. Would I be interested in dressing as a racing food product? How could I say no?
Back down into the abyss we descended:
No documentation exists of our concourse forays, but it was an interesting experience. Usually when I’m in costumes such as the above, the response is one of constant attention. “Hey, can I get a picture?” “High five!” “I know you can hear me!” etc. But when dressing up as a racing food product amid an all-industry crowd, THE INDUSTRY DOES NOT CARE. I was met with contemptuous glares by some, but most were completely indifferent and couldn’t even be bothered to high five. Okay, cool, that’s fine, save your energy for the piano bar. I understand that at this point in the calendar year a certain ennui has set in. It sure has for me!
But yet, I keep writing. There will be more from Louisville, because there is always more until there is nevermore. But, for now, I’m gonna quit Raven.
Wednesday, September 25
The previous post in this ongoing saga detailed Day One of the 2013 Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar, held in Louisville’s Galt House Hotel. And when there’s a Day One it’s a near certainty that Day Two will follow. In my case that’s just what happened, and therefore Day Two is what this post shall detail.
But no matter what day it is, you be sure that there’s a lot going on at the Seminar.
The morning portion of the Seminar was devoted to “Around the Horn,” in which the microphone is passed around the room so that attendees may detail their most successful endeavor of the 2013 season. I wrote all about this on MiLB.com, which, believe it or not, is the official web site of Minor League Baseball. But I took note of far more than that which was included in the article, some of which I will now share:
– South Atlantic League president Eric Krupa plugged his website Club Philanthropy, which details charitable efforts taking place across the world of Minor League Baseball. (Lots of great ideas are contained therein, although it hasn’t been updated since April.)
– The Gastonia Grizzlies, a collegiate wood bat team, staged a “Dig to China Night” promotion in which plane tickets to China were buried in the infield dirt. Whomever located the tickets in a post-game dig would win them, but here’s the catch — the tickets were one-way only, and nothing else was included as part of the package.
– Myrtle Beach Pelicans GM Andy Milovich said that “Salute to Smells” was his team’s best promotion of the year. I wrote about it HERE.
– Phil Wrye, assistant GM of the Bowie Baysox, extolled the virtues of his team’s “Glow in the Park Night.” 2500 fans received glow sticks, greatly enhancing the ballpark atmosphere (especially prior to that evening’s fireworks display).
– The Tri-City ValleyCats attempted to set the Guinness World Record in the category of “Most People Wearing False Mustaches.” This endeavor was inspired by manager Ed Romero, who has a real mustache. (In other news, I am not a fan of the Guinness World Records governing body. My thoughts on that, and much more, can be heard in the latest GameOps podcast. I was speaking live and direct from Louisville’s Galt House Hotel.)
– Emcee Todd “Parney” Parnell remarked at one point that during the early stages of the offseason it would behoove teams to look into the upcoming summer movie release schedule. Based on this info, you can plan timely theme nights well in advance. Another solid Parney tidbit was this: “I tell everyone on our staff to read the [local] paper every day. Some of our most impactful promotions have been done at a moment’s notice.”
– The Lowell Spinners talked about their military trading card set giveaway, which honors local servicemen and women both past and present. This is an idea that other teams will almost certainly steal for their own promotional schedules, and later in the week I snagged my own pack of these cards. Check ‘em out (and excuse the glare):
But, of course, not everyone attending the Promo Seminar works for a Minor League Baseball team. This “Around the Horn” session also gives Job Seekers a chance to introduce themselves and Trade Show exhibitors a chance to promote their product. And when the mic was passed to me, I took the opportunity to lobby for increased gluten-free options at Minor League ballparks in 2014 and beyond. There’s no interest like self-interest ‘cuz self-interest don’t stop!
Wednesday afternoon was largely taken up by “Power Sessions,” in which industry leaders take part in a moderated panel discussion. First up was an intermittently illuminating “What’s Next” roundtable about the future of the industry, which included Minor League exec-turned Astros president Reid Ryan on the panel. I found Reid’s perspective to be an interesting one, in that he is attempting to incorporate some Minor League-style entertainment into the Astros’ big league show. For example — this season, the Astros asked fans to tweet suggestions for the walk-up songs of visiting players.
Michael Hand, the chief marketing officer of Project Brand, spoke on Wednesday afternoon as well. This was the first chance for many in the industry to meet Mr. Hand, who is tasked with obtaining national sponsorship deals for Minor League Baseball as the industry attempts to establish itself as a uniformly formidable sporting entity (which it is!) Hand has an aggressive, take-no-prisoners approach to his job and I got the sense that his intensity and enthusiasm impressed many in the audience.
The Seminar portion of the day complete, attendees adjourned to the Trade Show cocktail party and silent auction. I made a brief appearance at this shindig, but, like the day before, soon left the hotel in order to spend the evening with an actual Louisville resident. Wednesday’s tour guide was Dan Simon of Studio Simon fame (he designed this year’s Promo Seminar logo, in fact), and during a drive around the city we saw many sights and some of them I actually managed to take pictures of.
Such as this — Jim Patterson Stadium, home of the University of Louisville baseball team.
This was a very impressive looking facility, as were all of the University of Louisville facilities I saw during my time in the city. It kinda left me with the impression that academics is not exactly the top priority at this institution, but who knows? Maybe they’re excelling on all fronts?
One pocket of the city that’s definitely excelling on all fronts is St. James Court, located in “Old Louisville.” The houses on this tree-lined street were a sight to behold, bestowed as they were with turn-of-the-20th century Victorian architectural splendor, and I immediately began to fantasize about living in one of them.
I’m not sure what adjective anyone else would use, but I’m going to go ahead and call this fountain “iconic.”
The Conrad-Caldwell house is on the corner, fully restored and open for tours. The internet informs me (and by extension, us) that this house is a “stunning example of Richardsonian-Romanesque architecture” and though I don’t know what that means I am nonetheless impressed.
There was more to my evening in Louisville, but since it wasn’t documented photographically it may as well have not happened. If there was only a way in which one could paint a picture with their words!
While I may be stretching the definition of “On the Road” by labeling this an “On the Road” post, I was indeed out of the office and hence “On the Road” this past week, visiting the city of Louisville for the annual industry event that is the Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar. Perhaps you aware of this event, either through attending it yourself or through reading my coverage over the years (I attended from 2008-2011 before taking last year off because I was in a bad mood).
Regardless, the premise is simple:
Minor League Baseball teams all operate within their own markets and, hence, don’t compete with one another. Therefore, the industry is big on idea sharing and the Promotional Seminar represents an opportunity to do just this. I sense a redundancy attack coming, so rather than succumb I’m just going to quote from my recently published MiLB.com piece:
The Promotional Seminar is a well-structured event, with the agenda divided into three main components: Presentations (in which one speaker presents to all attendees), Power Sessions (moderated panel discussions in front of all attendees) and Group Therapy (categorically divided small group discussions running concurrently with one another).
I’d ask that you please read this aforementioned MiLB.com piece, but as for this blog post it’s going to be a bit more ramshackle and (inevitably) me-centric. Also, it’s going to be chronological and it will only focus on Day One of the seminar.
Tuesday, September 24
After sleeping my way through two flights (the Charlotte airport, I hardly knew ye), I arrived in Louisville a little after noon and proceeded to high tail it to (or more accurately, take a cab to) the downtown Galt House Hotel. This hotel, which can safely be categorized as a behemoth, features two buildings connected by a street-spanning pedestrian walkway. Here’s the view from down the block because, apparently, that’s the photo I could muster.
At 3 o’clock I was scheduled to moderate a Group Therapy discussion, entitled “If You Book Them, Will They Come: What Touring Acts Drive Attendance and Why?” I tried my best to put together an outfit in which I looked business casual chic but instead doofusness resulted. It usually does.
Overall I thought this went well, although the conversation didn’t flow as fast and furiously as it had in the session that took place just prior to mine (“How to Promote a Promotion” moderated by Jen Borowski of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans). Later a few people told me that it had been a tad awkward that several touring performers were in the room, making it so that those working for front offices were hesitant to talk openly about their booking strategies (or lack thereof).
On an industry-wide level one can find many different viewpoints regarding touring performers (which include everyone from the Cowboy Monkey Rodeo show to Reggy the Purple Party Dude to Utility Man Ben to Fur Circus to Louisville’s own Zooperstars! posse). Some teams swear by ‘em, saying that whether fans explicitly come to see them or not they leave the ballpark with indelible memories that will certainly influence their willingness to spring for tickets again. Other teams say that touring perforomers don’t justify the cost, as promotional budgets are limited and its cheaper to develop and promote entertainment in-house.
I understand both views, and don’t think that they are necessarily mutually exclusive. In some alternate reality in which I controlled a promo budget, I’d prioritize in-house talent but nonetheless be adamant about booking 2-3 touring performers a year as its nearly impossible to rival the entertainment that can be provided by road-hardened pros. (Best case scenario, of course, is that sponsorship can be found for the touring act in question so that it doesn’t have to come out of the promo budget at all.)
Digression complete, it was time to proceed past the Trade Show (which represents a chance for exhibitors to re-establish connections and gain some name recognition before the gargantuan free-for-all that is the Winter Meetings) and into the Grand Ballroom.
If there’s one image that, year to year, defines the Promo Seminar it would be this: a bunch of people in a hotel ballroom listening to a speech. I think I’m now starting to understand why my coverage of this event generates virtually no interest whatsoever outside of the industry. (Or in it, for that matter. Why am I writing this?)
Highlights of this truncated Tuesday afternoon portion included Amy Venuto’s impassioned (my notes say “evangelical”) talk on “season seat holder membership programs” as well as Nashville Sounds GM Brad Tammen’s talk on getting the most out of dilapidated facilities. This latter presentation seemed cathartic more than anything else, as Tammen shared the many trials and travails he has experienced while operating in Greer Stadium (flooded front offices and collapsed entrance ways are a way of life).
A welcoming cocktail reception followed, and while I’m all for boozing it up with the industry I had to make a quick exit as earlier in the week I had made arranged to meet with longtime reader Stevo, a score-keeping savant and “semi-retired punk/metal atavist” who lives in Louisville. Before making our way to a local eatery, Stevo pointed out a few points of interest. Such as this:
While the downtown Louisville Slugger Museum includes a working factory, Stevo pointed out that the majority of the company’s output is actually produced in this far less scenic environment. This makes sense because while the museum is a great place to visit (I was there on Friday), it seems unlikely that it alone could handle the demands that come as a result of being the world’s number one wooden bat provider.
Stop two was duPont Manual High School, established in 1892 as an all-male institution and now a co-ed magnet school serving grades 9-12. It is one of Louisville’s most iconic buildings and, more important for our baseball-centric purposes: Pee-Wee Reese went there!
The 2013 Minor League season is dead. Long live the 2013 Minor League season.
What that sentiment in mind, today’s post will yet again feature interesting in-season content that I wasn’t able to get to during the season itself. And, more specifically, today’s post will begin with the Charlotte Knights. As you are probably aware the 2013 campaign was a significant one for the Knights, as it marked their last in Knights Stadium (also known as “The Castle”) before moving into a new stadium in downtown Charlotte proper.
But historic final season or not, there was still plenty of time for the bullpen to antagonize the team’s ATV-adept mascot, Homer. The following slew of photos – yes, a slew! — should make that clear. In fact, this photo slew is so good that it should be made into a flipbook giveaway item for 2014.
So, to recap: I, an ostensibly grown man, am posting pictures of grown men who make a living playing a child’s game acting like children by dousing a grown man in a dragon suit with water and baby powder.
So, with that said, let’s move on to more of the same: more Charlotte Knights’ tomfoolery. On June 15 the team staged a “Dairy Night” promotion, and the highlight (?) of this endeavor was an on-field milking contest between Jhan Carlos Marinez and Jason Berken. Click HERE for a full photo gallery, but in the meantime here’s a representative picture.
But, of course, cow milking contests take place at all levels of the Minors — from Triple-A to Rookie ball. For an example of the latter, there’s this from Elizabethton.
That picture features second baseman Brian Dozier, who is now on the Minnesota Twins, so something tells me that that photo might be a few years old. But, whatever, the team sent it along with their press release so that makes it new enough for me. And wouldn’t it be great if the above photo featured a male cow? Then I could have captioned it “bull, Dozier,” and accolades would have ensued.
Speaking of animals on the ball field — Rosenblatt Stadium, the long time home of both the Omaha Royals and College World Series, is now the home of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. The zoo has incorporated elements of the old ball field into its design, and all in all it looks pretty cool.
And that’s all there ever was, is, or will be from this particular dispatch. Thanks for reading.
On Tuesday night the Omaha Storm Chasers emerged triumphant in the Triple-A Championship Game and the Idaho Falls Chukars won the Pioneer League title. And that, folks is all she wrote. There are no more Minor League Baseball games until April 3, 2014 and April 3, 2014 is a somewhat imposing 197 days away.
It is now the offseason, then, but with one exception: this blog! This post, like the last one and like the next one and like the one after that, will be devoted to material that I wasn’t able to get to during the season due to my peripatetic lifestyle. It’ll be random, but it will be educational, and it will be fun. I insist.
Let’s start with a community-minded initiative that, in my opinion, every team should do a variation of. On June 8 the Tri-City ValleyCats staged “Show on the Road,” in which they brought the Minor League Baseball game day experience to a local youth field. The ValleyCats, in partnership with Hannaford supermarkets, picked a league that “exemplifies sportsmanship” and that league turned out to be the not-so-pithily named East Greenbush-Castleton Youth Baseball League.
Per the team’s ‘Cats Corner blog, the event “featured pregame entertainment, live team introductions, a live performance of the national anthem, and in-game promotions including fan favorites such as the Mayors’ Race, T-Shirt Tosses, Pony Hops and more.”
A few pics from that post:
And so it went. I’m going to momentarily assume that I have any sort of influence in this industry and once again insist that all teams do this in 2014 and beyond.
And now for something completely random: this article (and video), which my Mom brought to my attention, profiles veteran Ocean City (New Jersey) PR man Mark Soifer. Soifer’s irreverent, absurd and always family-friendly promotional philosophies should resonate with anyone who works within Minor League Baseball. For example: He once staged a wet t-shirt contest, in which participants competed to see who could throw a wet t-shirt the farthest.
Moving on, here’s a Tweet that is both self-explanatory and awesome.
— andi roman (@andi_roman) June 2, 2013
Finally, back in June I received an email from David Perahia of BobblesGalore. It read, in part:
I thought this may be a bobble that your readers would get a kick out of. We just came out with this item, only 90 were produced and each one is serial numbered.
It is the first bobblehead ever produced with 5 Mascots on one base, it is also the first bobblehead produced of the Washington Nationals new racing president – William Howard Taft.
Five presidential mascots, one bobblehead base. Some of the greatest achievements in human history are taking place right before our eyes, and we should never forget that.
Well, it had to happen eventually: As of that last Hillsboro post, I am officially done with “On the Road” content. This upsets me, as visiting ballparks take the guesswork out of doing this blog. All season long I never have to think about what I’m going to write, I simply write about where I’ve been.
But no more! I will eventually do a series of “Return to the Road” posts, highlighting that which was seen and experienced outside the confines of the Minor League ballparks in question, but today marks the first of what will surely be many catch as catch can bouillabaisse blog posts. These “everything but the kitchen sink”-style blog posts come about because all season long people send me worthy material, and I inevitably reply that I will “get it on the blog as soon as I get the chance.” That chance is finally getting got, right here and right now. So let’s dive into a stew of Minor League Baseball randomness.
Starting with this:
Yep, it’s the David Freese Kiss Cam, which got a lot of play when I featured it on Twitter a few months back. Freese played for the Redbirds in 2008 whilst in the final phases of his Minor League trajectory, and then returned to the club on a rehab assignment early this season. During his brief Memphis return he posed for the above photos, resulting in what had to be the most unique kiss cam in Minor League Baseball (it helps that the Redbirds possess the largest videoboard in the known universe).
I am always willing to lend my name to such endeavors, so if anyone wants to do a “Ben’s Biz Kiss Cam” in 2014 then I’m happy to oblige. Here’s the raw material.
While in Memphis, Freese also threw water balloons filled with paint at a canvas.
While I don’t have a picture of the resultant artistic masterpiece, let it be known that it was sold by the Redbirds for $810. This money went toward philanthropic endeavors, of course.
UPDATE! Now I DO have a picture of the resultant artistic masterpiece. Cue the J. Geils Band!
File the above two initiatives under “creative things to do when a rehabbing Major Leaguer is in town.” Our next topic is “creative ways to utilize the batter’s eye portion of a Minor League stadium.” This May, the Fort Wayne TinCaps opened “The 400 Club” group seating area and, yes, it is located in dead center field.
This area accommodates groups of between 20 and 150 people, at $40 per person (this includes a buffet food service with draft beer and wine). Here’s the view from the inside, courtesy of TinCaps’ broadcaster Mike Couzens’ exemplary “It’s All Relative” blog.
I was curious as to how the TinCaps were able to insure that the 400 Club would not interfere with the batter’s view, which led team intern/designated eater extraordinaire Keirsh Cochran to secure the following response from team president Mike Nutter:
We worked with Hok/Populus as our national architect, Design Collaborative as our local architect as well as the folks at MILB Baseball Operations and Gould-Evans to ensure the project was done correctly. We looked at SEVERAL glass samples including the same specs that are used in both New York major league ballparks. We ended up being very cautions with this and paid a lot of money to get anti-glare and tinted glass. We also angled the glass downward to ensure no glares would have a negative effect on the hitters in the batters box.
The batter’s eye is actually much bigger now than it was before and a much better hitters background.
Folks are visible through the glass, but the tinting and anti-glare really mutes it and there are no issues with distractions.
I wish that when it came to this job there were no issues with distractions, but nonetheless I will persevere. If you have any comments, complaints or suggestions regarding the kind of content that you’d like to see on this blog throughout the offseason then please, by all means, get in touch.
When Part One of this Hillsboro dispatch concluded I was standing in the tunnel adjacent to the visitor’s dugout, ready and waiting to participate in a between-inning contest. The kneepads were affixed and the blindfold was on, but then something got in the way of my imminent humiliation. Let’s go to the Vine.
Rain delay? https://t.co/2pZhjVtgmT
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) August 11, 2013
This turned into a torrential downpour in a hurry, and the game continued a minute or two longer than it really should have. This continuation of play in the midst of severe precipitation was much to the consternation of the Dust Devils dugout.
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) August 11, 2013
In the above Vine it’s not profanity that you hear, but an angry cry of “That’s Bolshevik!” I constantly heard this word in Minor League dugouts this season, and still don’t quite understand the connotation, but shortly after hearing this word yelled in their direction the umpires did indeed agree to the cessation of play. My moment of on-field “glory” would have to wait.
Cue the interrobang because guess what?! This was THE FIRST RAIN DELAY IN HILLSBORO HOPS HISTORY. I’ve been to a lot of ballparks in my life, and seen a lot of things, but never have I witnessed a meteorological event as significant as this. I and the 3,528 fans in attendance on this sodden August Oregon evening will always be able to say, the pride evident in our respective voices, that “I was there.” (To the Hops front office: when you do the inevitable “First Franchise Rain Delay” commemorative t-shirt giveaway next season, please make sure to send one my way.)
The good news was that the turf at Hillsboro Ballpark was of the artificial variety, and therefore not much was needed in the way of tarp application: all that needed coverage was the pitcher’s mound and batter’s box. The bad news was that the grounds crew, for several agonizing minutes, was nowhere to be found (I think they were doing work on one of the other fields in the athletic complex of which Hillsboro Ballpark is a part?)
But, eventually, the grounds crew showed up and everything was put in order.
“Dude, first rain delay in franchise history and we were the ones who got to call it!” is what I’m pretty sure this umpire was saying to his cohort. (I’m sure there are some people who will call bolshevik on that quote, but I stand by it.)
The grounds crew might not have been totally prepared for the rain delay, but Barley was.
In case you’ve never seen a hop wearing a poncho. https://t.co/dVaOEo81Dv
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) August 11, 2013
The rains were fast, furious, and fleeting (alliterative life metaphor). After approximately half an hour the adorable mini-tarps were taken off the field, and the grounds crew started tamping things back into shape. As they did, a marriage proposal played out on the videoboard.
“There may have been a brief cessation in play, but there will never be a cessation of our love,” said the man.
I wish that couple all the best, but, for me, the promise of lifelong love took a backseat to the threat of imminent humiliation. (I’m used to it). “Here we are now, entertain us,” demanded this throng of Pacific Northwesterners….
and the Hops obliged by sending me out on to the field blindfolded, spinning me around in circles, and then leaving me to the mercy of the crowd’s ostensibly accurate “warmer/colder” exhortations as a means to locate some sort of prize box.
Whatever. I didn’t want whatever was in that box anyway. It probably, like, had gluten in it or something.
Not that I had time to be a sore loser anyway, as immediately after my final on-field failure of the season I scurried up to the second level and did a half-inning on the radio with Hops announcer Rich Burk.
Burk is a veteran broadcaster with far more credentials than your average Class A Short Season shot-caller, as, among other things, he served as the Portland Beavers’ play-by-play man until their departure for Tucson following the 2010 campaign. During the half-inning I was on the air we talked about my travels in general and, more specifically, the fact that I suffer from the ceremonial first pitch version of Steve Blass disease. (I felt dizzy throughout, still feeling the effects of my on-field humiliation.)
And that was that. I took a broadcast booth selfie and then commenced to wander about by myself for a bit.
The solo wandering didn’t start off so well, as I ducked in to an upper level bathroom and then left quickly under duress upon seeing a Playtex dispenser. I thought I had somehow ended up in a women’s room, but it turned out that it was a unisex bathroom and, therefore, my gender confusion was unwarranted. Whew! The last thing I need is people starting rumors that they saw Ben’s Biz walking into the ladies room with a camera and a notebook.
Anyway, here’s a picture that I took just outside the unisex bathroom. It depicts right-hander Blake Perry (or at least I think that’s Blake Perry), who never actually pitched for the Hops. But he did pitch for Hops’ predecessor the Yakima Bears in 2011 and 2012, meaning that his Arizona Diamondbacks Class A Short Season credentials remain impeccable.
Wherefore art thou, press box denizens? In line for the unisex bathroom?
The seating bowl below these invisible media members was far more lively.
As I observed last season in Eugene and (especially) Vancouver, the Northwest League is home to some grade-A baseball fans (although, in Vancouver, that would be “grade-eh”).
“Having Too Much Fun May Distract From the Actual Game” went one of the lighthearted stadium signs…
but I found this one to be more apropos.
I’m going to let the Vine do the talking.
Pacific Northwest has great baseball fans. Engaged w/ every pitch, and very loud. https://t.co/Totq9eLzSc
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) August 11, 2013
But, as with everything else in life, there are two sides to every story. (Also, I have no idea what that kid is wearing on his head.)
Okay, they’re not all great. Leaving tie game in 7th inning. https://t.co/6gDGE9vaEN
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) August 11, 2013
After following the fair weather fans outside so that I could harangue them further, I got distracted by the public art project that was detailed in Part One of this Hillsboro blog series. It looked more beautiful at night, because everything does.
Interactive artwork Hillsboro Hops https://t.co/uDdUCBp95u
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) August 11, 2013
I made it back inside in time for “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” which is sung nightly by Burk while leaning out of the press box (he used to do the same while broadcasting at Portland’s PGE Park).
Not the best angle, but Hillsboro Hops seventh inning stretch led by broadcaster Rich Burke most enthusiast… https://t.co/qLBYc7qbF9
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) August 11, 2013
The stretch is followed by the House of Pain parody “Hop Around,” in which Barley and game day employees lead the crowd in, yes, hopping around. My attempt to document said hopping on this particular evening was a failure.
But the Hops players didn’t join me on board the failure train, however, as they scored three runs in the seventh to secure a 6-3 victory over (didn’t) Tri (hard enough) City. A word to the wise: once a Hops game ends, wait a few minutes before trying to exit the stadium. Otherwise you’ll end up in an agonizingly slow line of disproportionately white-haired people.
Now, under normal circumstances, the post would end here. But these are not normal circumstances, as I attended the following afternoon’s game as well. This was my final day at the ballpark, not just of this road trip but of 2013 overall, and it turned out to be a beautiful afternoon.
On the way into Hillsboro Ballpark I put together a whimsical signage Vine:
Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs Hillsboro Hops https://t.co/moVQzMho2V
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) August 11, 2013
Upon arriving I conducted a couple of interviews that would eventually form the basis of THIS STORY about the farcical events that surrounded the first home run in Hillsboro Hops history. One of those interviews brought me down to the home dugout.
Seeing that Hillsboro logo reminds me that, somehow, I never visited the team store during my two days at Hillsboro Ballpark. The Hops were the number-one selling team on the Minor League Baseball merch charts at the time that I visited, thanks to an enthusiastic reception from the local fan base combined with interest nationwide from baseball fans/beer aficionados who were simply enamored with the team name and logo.
The players mingled on the field while the fans mingled out front.
I toe the line when it comes to the gluten-free diet that celiac disease has imposed upon me.
But, this being the Hops and all, I still felt compelled to document their signature Long Ball Ale to an extent greater than I had in the previous post. Therefore, I issued the following tweet:
I’ll buy a beer for first of-age @hillsborohops fan who finds me and asks for one. You’ll be featured as designated drinker in upcoming post
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) August 11, 2013
Soon enough, a season ticket holder named Dani Mullen approached me and said “So, anyone get that beer yet?” The answer was no, of course, so the beer became hers.
Dani is originally from Fort Wayne (hence the TinCaps t-shirt), but moved to Oregon after 13 years of living in Arizona. She and her husband Allan were fans of Rich Burk when he called games for the Beavers, and she told me that having him here in Hillsboro was “the icing on the cake” when it comes to being a Hops fan. In fact, it was through her listening to my interview with Burk the night before that she knew who I was in the first place.
But anyway, Dani said that the Long Ball Ale was “good, a little bitter, and very hearty. It gets better as you drink it.”
Thanks, Dani, for being the first “designated drinker” in Ben’s Biz Blog history. (Perhaps I can recruit individuals for this position during my 2014 road trips?)
Allan, Dani, and Long Ball Ale:
I made it back to the area behind home plate in time for “Hop Around.”
Post-seventh inning stretch parody at its finest. Hillsboro Hops https://t.co/eGOBFKtpqG
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) August 11, 2013
And then spent an inning watching the game with Bob Webster, a recently retired Intel employee who is now writing a book on the history of the Northwest League.
Bob, a member of the SABR Bio Committee, encourages anyone with information or suggestions pertaining to NWL history to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Meanwhile, the professionals on the field soon gave way to amateurs.
And that, finally, is all I have to share from the road. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for an offseason of plentiful content (including the 1000th post in Ben’s Biz Blog history).
Until then, goodbye from Hillsboro.
My last stop on this West Coast road trip, and in 2013 overall, was Hillsboro, Oregon. This marked the first time that I visited Oregon since way back in, well, 2012, when I stopped by Eugene and Salem-Keizer on my way into Washington and, eventually, the foreign soil of Vancouver, Canada. But I had a reason to return to this area so quickly, as Hillsboro is home to 2013′s lone new team: the Hops of the Northwest League. The Hops are the franchise formerly known as the Yakima Bears, whom I also visited last season, and while the primary owners and much of the front office staff remained intact these two baseball environments have virtually nothing else in common. Go ahead and contrast this post with the Yakima dispatch linked to above and you’ll see what I mean.
The Hops fill the Portland-area professional baseball void that has existed ever since the Pacific Coast League Portland Beavers departed for Tucson following the 2010 season, and as such the fledgling franchise can draw on a deeply-engaged and (perhaps more important when it comes to long-term success) deep-pocketed fan base. Intel and Nike both have headquarters in Hillsboro, and visible from the stadium are construction cranes working on Intel’s multi-billion dollar research facility. It boggles the mind, really — just a few days ago I had been in Stockton, a city that had recently declared bankruptcy, and now here I was in an environment surrounded by construction projects with 10-digit price tags.
Hillsboro Ballpark is a city-owned facility built within a pre-existing parks and rec complex, and as such the acreage is vast and the parking ample. When I pulled into the lot, the parking attendant would not take my “I’m a member of the media” claim at face value, and waited until I was able to extract a pass from the detritus on the passenger seat floor.
“Okay, that’s good,” she told me. “I had to check, because you could’ve just been a blogger.”
Thanking her for her diligence, I pulled into my space and took in the view.
My first impression was that the structure seen in the above photo was Hillsboro Ballpark. But that impression, like most of the primary variety, was erroneous. That structure was a football field, with Hillsboro Ballpark situated just behind it.
The above two facilities have a symbiotic relationship with one another. The Hops’ primary concession stands — which we shall see in a bit — are located in the football stadium, facing outward toward Hillsboro Ballpark’s third base side concourse.
Getting to the stadium from the parking lot was a bit of a hike, but whimsical signage insured that my spirits remained high throughout the journey.
My walking Cramps dissipated after seeing the ballpark’s Lux Exterior.
Said exterior included this interactive public art project, entitled Barometer.
Per sculptor Devin Laurence Field, Barometer “takes the overall triangular form of the baseball diamond held aloft by columns and illuminated with color changing, sound activated LED lights….Around the sculpture are various ‘instruments’ people can play, a giant horn, a rattle roller, drum sets and chimes that together form a symphony of sounds. When no one is at the park there is no colored light, when there is noise it lights up — the louder the noise, the brighter the light. The art is a veritable Barometer of excitement for the ballpark.”
Soon after arriving I embarked upon a ballpark tour with Hops general manager K.L. Wombacher, who re-located with the team from Yakima. K.L., he’s a serious guy.
On the concourse, K.L. and I soon ran into team owners Laura and Mike McMurray. To say that they are enthusiastic about their new locale would be an understatement. Mike told me that after 13 years in Yakima, Hillsboro seemed like “heaven.”
As mentioned before, Hillsboro marks the return of professional baseball to the Portland area after a two-year hiatus. The below display preserves some of the “final” items in Portland Beavers’ history, thus serving as a bridge to the present.
K.L. told me that while suites were part of the original stadium design, the club instead opted for open air party decks. The Hops’ status as a short-season team played a major role in that decision.
“The weather here from mid-June through September is just awesome, some of the best in the country,” said K.L. “During this time of year, people don’t want to be enclosed.”
The view from the top, game day employees in day-glo.
At this juncture game time was imminent, with Dust Devils and Hops alike gathering in anticipation.
And, hey, look! It’s Barley, the Hops’ mascot. Due to the prohibitions of my gluten-free lifestyle, I had to keep my distance.
Barley is a hop, and the Hops are called the Hops because of Hillsboro’s proximity to some of Oregon’s most bounteous hop farms. (Worth noting, and a bit ironic, is the fact that the Hops’ former home of Yakima was even more plentiful in the hop department.)
It was “Breast Cancer Awareness Night” at the ballpark, and this led to a cool moment. K.L.’s mom, Bev, is a 13-year breast cancer survivor and earlier that day she had been told that she had been selected for first pitch duties. She got a big round of applause, led by her son, prior to delivering the pitch and it was a heartwarming and truly spontaneous moment.
Heartwarming then gave way to plain ol’ adorable, as this young fan swept home plate.
Manager-Umpire relationships are volatile and subject to change at any moment, but at the exact moment in time in which this picture was taken everything was copacetic.
The Hops’ players were more than ready to take the field, save for the guy on the far left who was more into perfecting his Eminem impersonation.
“Come to gluten,” says Barley.
With an ominous cloud looming overhead, Barney and his less-glutenous ballplaying friends stood at attention as we honored our country through the singing of our National Anthem. (The flags were at half mast that day, in honor of a firefighter killed in action in Albany, Oregon.)
The completion of the “Star-Spangled Banner” means that it’s time to play ball. So, with Class A Short-Season Northwest League action as the backdrop, I took a lap of the facility.
One of the first areas that I encountered was Hot Dog Nation, a presumably sovereign entity with non-existent border security. At said nation a standard-issue hot dog costs $3.75, and specialties include the Foot-Long, Hoppin’ Jalapeno, Philly Dog, and Chicago Dog.
The Hops name, when it was first announced, drew acclaim from beer drinkers nationwide. Ale aficionados and IPA artisans alike allowed themselves to imagine Hillsboro Ballpark as some sort of beer drinking mecca, with baseball as the centerpiece of a thriving micro-brew scene. For now, however, the beer selection is modest as just three are on tap.
Two of these three beers are provided by the local BridgePort brewing company: Hop Czar and Long Ball Ale. That latter brew, a light and citrus-y summer ale, was sold exclusively at Hillsboro Ballpark and, as such, is the official team beer. The gentleman working the “Brew Pen” taps was, not surprisingly, biased toward BridgePort products. I repeatedly heard him explain the merits of both the Hop Czar and Long Ball Ale in detail, and then follow up those descriptions with a tossed-off “Or, of course, you could have the watered-down American lager.” (Also known as Coors Light.)
I’ll have more on Long Ball Ale in Part Two of this post (oh, yes, there is always a Part Two), but this lap around the perimeter of the ballpark wasn’t going to walk itself. Time to keep on movin’ on.
A cool feature of Hillsboro Ballpark is that, despite limited room to work with in certain areas, the Hops went out of their way to make the concourse of the 360-degree variety. The right and center field berm area is very narrow, before opening up into a more traditionally vast expanse in left field.
I admired this father and son duo, who were sticking it to the man by watching the game for free from beyond the fence.
The bullpen denizens don’t pay to watch the game either.
As mentioned, more traditional bermage can be found in left field.
At this point I was introduced to Tony Hendryx and Tim Watters. The former, on the left, is regional vice president of Ovations food services. The latter, on the right, is an Ovations operation manager. (Or would that be a “Hoperations Manager”?)
If there’s one thing I learned this season while on the road, it’s that food and beverage guys are way more enthusiastic about their jobs than the average person is about his or hers. These guys were no exception, and Hendryx, an Oregon native, spoke excitedly about how the Hops’ mid-June through September season matches Oregon’s growing season and, therefore, the team makes sure to use fresh, local ingredients whenever possible. (“If we can keep it out of the freezer, we do,” said Hendryx.”)
At this point in the blog post you have probably become accustomed to me introducing the “designated eater.” (You know, the individual recruited to eat the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits). But, in this case, “designated eating” was largely eschewed in favor of highlighting two of the Hops’ gluten-free options.
The salmon burger was made of locally caught (never frozen) fish glazed with a brown sugar and garlic powder marinade then grilled and served with fried onions. I wish I had taken a close-up pic of just the salmon, as it was sweet and succulent and one of the best items I had at a ballpark this season. But you get the idea.
And here’s the Cobb salad, with Hendryx explaining that the chicken was from Carlton,Oregon, the hazelnuts grown in the Willamette Valley, the cranberries grown in local bogs and the blue cheese from Rogue River creamery of Central Point, Oregon.
Not that there is all that much competition, but I am going to declare this the best salad currently served at a Minor League ballpark. If you disagree, then get in touch and I will be happy to give your dissent a public airing.
I wasn’t totally alone in my culinary consumption, however. Meet Hops marketing intern Erik Knutsen, who was recruited to serve as a designated eater should the need arise for some designated eating. Knutsen was the most unenthused and underused designated eater in Ben’s Biz history; here he is with a Long Ball Ale that he was wary about drinking given that he was on the job.
“It tastes really good,” said Erik in a deadpan monotone. “Party.”
This party was cut short, however, as I had been recruited to participate in a between-inning contest. The beer, it was abandoned.
Erik and I headed down to the visitor’s dugout area, where I was equipped with a helmet, blindfold, and kneepads. I don’t know the exact name of this game I was going to play, but it bore a strong similarity to that which I made a fool of myself doing in Wisconsin. Basically, an object is placed on the field and I, through the crowd’s “hot” or “cold” exhortations, had to find it.
The sting of Wisconsin-based on-field failure was still fresh in my mind, and I was ready for some Oregon-style redemption.
Except, no. My shot at redemption was postponed due to unforeseen circumstances.
What unforeseen circumstances, you might ask? Well, here’s my answer to that question:
All will be revealed in Part Two of this Hillsboro saga, which, sadly, will be 2013′s final “On the Road” post. We’ll always have the memories.
My “On the Road” posts are perhaps best described as impressionistic fever dreams, in which I try to piece the fragmented memories of my ballpark evenings into something resembling an objective reality. In doing so I strive to reach a fertile middle ground in which a small “t” truth can blossom into infallibility, but sometimes the discrepancy between my account of an evening and that of the team in question becomes too great to ignore. This is certainly what has occurred when it comes to my recent visit with the Reno Aces, as I documented a rather lackluster night at the ballyard that ended prematurely due to a rainout.
When the Aces read this post, they were incredulous. “It goes without saying that Ben is the greatest baseball writer of all time, but not even the greats are unimpeachable,” went the presumed front office sentiment. “And, like Loutallica or Chinese Democracy, Ben’s post on this alleged “Reno Rainout” represents greatness at its most deeply flawed.”
The Aces, led by marketing director Brett McGinness, took it upon themselves to compose a thorough corrective to my Reno rainout missive, which I will now reprint in full. In doing so I am not admitting to any errors in my previous account; rather, I am simply acknowledging that truth is a malleable construction, perhaps nothing more than a coping mechanism designed to create some semblance of order within an existence that requires daily navigation through the chaos of infinite conflicting realities.
We’re not sure what your recent column was, about the rainout at Aces Ballpark. Here’s how we remember it (with photographic proof):
It was a perfect August evening at Aces Ballpark. 75 at first pitch, not a drop of rain for miles.
The Aces and Redbirds took the field right on schedule, and you got the full Aceball experience. You seemed a bit road-weary.
The second-inning trike race against Archie went well. You pulled out to a huge lead, but seemed pretty blasé about the victory.
Next up: Dancing Grounds Crew. Surely this would shake you out of your stupor.
Guest-starring as Roof-Man, perhaps?
Same deal when you were in the wiener dog race (although you came in third, so it’s understandable why you might have been bummed out).
That was when we accidentally offered you a Triple Play Sandwich, chock-full of glutens. Cryptically, you told us, “Don’t offer me glutens. You wouldn’t like me on glutens.”
You took one bite of that sandwich and went a little nuts.
You proposed to some woman on the field. We’re still not sure if you knew who it was, or if you had met her before, or what.
We tried to tell you that “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” wasn’t a duet, but we couldn’t talk you down from the wall.
We didn’t really know what to do, so we had to call the cops.
Long story short, Nevada requires no residency for marriage certificates, so the marriage is binding. You should really head back here when you get a chance, your bride keeps stopping by the ballpark and asking about you, and we’re running out of excuses.
I’ve got to admit, the above account does explain a lot. Namely, why a woman with a 775 area code who is listed in my phone as “Betrothed” keeps calling me. I keep telling this lady that she’s got the wrong number, and that I remain Minor League Baseball’s most desirable bachelor, but who knows? Perhaps it’s time to own up to my gluten-fueled indiscretions and settle down in Reno.
Or perhaps not. I’ll spend the remainder of the week pondering my options, and in the meantime stay tuned for dispatches from one more “On the Road” locale: Hillsboro, home of the Hops. Hopefully my account will jibe with the team’s, but who really does know?
With a few straggling exceptions, the Minor League regular season ended on Labor Day. In conjunction with this imminent cessation of play I spent the day laboring over the August edition of “Crooked Numbers.” If you are visiting this little slice of the internet to begin with, then you probably know that “Crooked Numbers” is a monthly column that details all of the strangest things to have occurred on a Minor League Baseball field over the course of that month. It is a logistically onerous column to write, but any negatives are outweighed by the fact that bizarre baseball minutia is, by far, my favorite kind of bizarre minutia. Crooked Numbers is nothing less than a labor of love
And there’s more where that came from — right here and right now! Welcome to “Crooked Nuggets.” a blog-only supplement featuring all of the Crooked info that’s fit to print, in 75 words or less. There’s so much to get to, so let’s get to it!
Basepath Blunders – On August 4 Eugene Renfroe of the Eugene Emeralds smashed a line drive over the left field wall for a two-run home run. Except, no, he did not. Due to “confusion on the basepaths,” Renfroe passed teammate Anthony Torres on his way to second base, was ruled out, and therefore only ended up with an RBI single. No harm, no foul, as the Ems still defeated Tri-City by a score of 6-1.
Appy League Follies – August 10′s game between the Princeton Rays and Pulaski Blue Jays was a comedy of errors — literally. The hometown Blue Jays made seven of them that evening, including five miscues with two outs in the first inning that led to nine Rays runs. The Blue Jays then clawed back and tied the game at 9-9 after four innings, but it wasn’t enough as they ultimately lost by a score of 13-12. This strange ballgame was particularly strange for Pulaski starter Ramire Cleto. The 20-year-old right-hander allowed eight runs over 2/3rds of an inning but, as none of the runs were earned, lowered his ERA to 2.47.
Pioneer League Follies – The above Princeton-Pulaski tilt wasn’t the only Rookie-level contest this month in which a team made at least seven errors in a game they ended up losing by one run with both teams scoring in the double digits (and shame on you if you thought otherwise). On August 7 the Orem Owlz defeated the Grand Junction Rockies 11-10, in a game that featured eight Grand Junction errors and 10 overall. This was a particularly trying game for Grand Junction catcher Jairo Rosario, who made four errors. Not only did this account for half of the errors he made in the ballgame, but it also accounted for half of his eventual season total.
It All Evens Out– To quote the legendary Harry Nilsson, Nashville Sounds starter Jimmy Nelson went through a prolonged stretch throughout July and August in which “things went good, things went bad, things went good, went bad, then good, bad, good, bad, good, bad.” On July 3, July 21, July 31, and August 11 he combined to post a 1.17 ERA. But those gems alternated with starts on July 8, July 26, August 5 and August 16, in which he posted a 7.03 ERA.
Desert Sessions – Scoring 30 runs in the offense-drenched California League is perhaps a bit less impressive than it would be in other circuits, but, still: it’s impressive! The High Desert Mavericks did just this on August 9, scoring 10 runs in both the first and second innings en route to a 30-8 shellacking of the Lancaster JetHawks. Not only did every batter in the starting line-up hit safely — every batter in the starting line-up scored at least one run, drove in at least one and contributed at least one extra-base hit. On the other side of the ledger it was a tough evening for Lancaster’s Mike Hauschild and Blair Waters, as both allowed 10 runs over 2/3rds of an inning of work.
Post-script: One day after scoring 30 runs, the Mavericks were, of course, shut out.
OKC Can They Swing! — Another impressive shellacking that occurred this month came courtesy of the Oklahoma City RedHawks, who defeated the Colorado Springs Sky Sox by a score of 24-5 on August 3. Further info on this game will hopefully be provided by Crooked Numbers wunderkind Alex Freedman (also the RedHawks broadcaster), but for now let me note the following: all 11 RedHawks to bat in the game scored a run!
#MegaBowl – The Jackson Generals played three straight doubleheaders against the Mobile BayBears from August 19-21, with the teams somehow managing to play 44 innings over a span of 53 hours. All three doubleheaders were sweeps, with Jackson winning the “dual” on the 19th and Mobile emerging doubly triumphant on both the 20th and 21st.
Streaking Across the Carolina League – 2013′s much-coveted award for “most epically streaky team” goes to the appropriately-named Winston-Salem Dash, who lost eight games in a row from August 11-18 and then followed that up by winning 10 in a row from August 19-29. No other teams paired streaks of of eight games (or more) together this season, although the Great Lakes Loons (seven losses followed by seven wins, May 29-June 12) are worthy of an honorable mention.
But Wait! There’s More! – Somehow, in the midst of their aforementioned 10-game winning streak, the Dash managed to lose a game and this got them booted from playoff contention. On August 28 the team dropped an 8-7 decision to Potomac, but since this was a completion of July 11′s suspended game the winning streak remained intact.
Men of their Word – This season the Peoria Chiefs instituted a “Guaranteed Win Wednesday” promotion, which provided fans were awarded a free ticket to an upcoming game in the event of a home team loss. Well, that never happened, as the Chiefs took this whole “guaranteed win” thing to heart and proceeded to go 7-0 on Wednesdays at home during the 2013 season.
Information Omission – The Huntsville Stars defeated the Jackson Generals on the last day of the season by a score of 4-3, and to read the Stars’ game recap one think that nothing out of the ordinary occurred. Well, call me crazy, but it seems that the Stars’ outfield shenanigans were deserving of a mention. It’s not every day that a guy ends up with “RF-LF-CF-RF-CF-LF-CF-RF” next to his name in the boxscore.
Milestone Ruiners – The Tucson Padres scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning on Labor Day, pulling out a 5-4 win over Las Vegas in their final game in franchise history. That’s all well and good, except that this victory was the 3001st in Tucson’s Triple-A history. If the Padres had had the good sense to lose, Tucson would have exactly 3000 wins in its Triple-A victory ledger and all would be right with the world.