Results tagged ‘ Akron Aeros ’
The fifth and final stop in this, my most recent Minor League road trip, was Akron’s Canal Park. This facility has served as the home of the Double-A Aeros since 1997, and is located in the heart of downtown.
To give you an idea of the general surroundings, the stadium is located just down the street from the Civic Theater.
And across the street from from a closed storefront featuring this interesting artwork.
Large municipal buildings abound throughout the area, and some are even called “Municipal Building.”
And the streets are litter-free, thanks to Akron’s passion for the regional sport known as “Trashball.”
Canal Park offers a decent urban view from the seating bowl, with many of the buildings associated with the renowned Akron Children’s Hospital.
And Canal Park got its name for a reason — Akron was settled at the summit of the Ohio-Erie Canal, and developed into a manufacturing and transportation hub. Beyond left field, there are still some aquatic reminders of the city’s history.
The view toward center field reveals an 18″x25″ digital scoreboard, as well as an inflatable slide that takes up seemingly every inch of available space.
Above the seating bowl are 25 suites (20 owned by the team and five by the city). They were personally decorated by the stadium’s original suiteholders, with motifs that could be characterized as “ladies sewing circle” and “old man’s den.”
On this particular evening, early-arriving fans received a “Batman” bobblebelly in honor of the Aeros’ iconic on-field dancer and bat retriever.
The promotion that I was really looking forward to was “Car Survivor,” in which five contestants vie to win a car by seeing who can live inside of it the longest. But, as it turned out, the contest had ended the day before on a technicality.
But the car was still there on the concourse — a 1996 Lexus with 182,000 miles already on it.
The fact that the Aeros are staging promotions such as “Car Survivor” can largely be attributed to new COO Jim Pfander, who spent the last decade with the Mike Veeck-owned Charleston RiverDogs.
One of Pfander’s beliefs when it comes to in-game entertainment is that “it doesn’t have to make sense. It just has to be fun.” Perhaps that best explains new mascot Homer the Polka-Dot Pigeon.
This hallucinatory inflatable (the result of a staff meeting in which half the room was asked to suggest an animal, and the other half a color combination) is joined by long-time mascot Orbit.
As well as a fast food representative desperately promoting the consumption of a rival species in order to save himself.
And speaking of animal consumption, you may recall that the Aeros received a lot of attention this past offseason after unveiling gargantuan meat creations like the Three Dog Night and Nice 2 Meat You burger.
But such innovations are just a small part of a larger story, which is that the club has totally revamped its concessions. Pfander recruited fellow Charleston RiverDog Jason Kerton to serve as food and beverage director, and under his direction each of the six concourse concession stands has taken on a distinct theme.
For example, “Rabbit Food” is available at the health-conscious “Farmer’s Market.”
The menu at the left field grill stand is considerably less healthy.
A large array of franks are available at “The Dog Pound” (with the menu done up in Cleveland Browns colors).
The Major League-referencing “Jobu’s Voodoo.”
The self-explanatory Biergarten
While “Taters” is the only stand equipped with fryers (which are used to fry up pickles and sauerkraut, among a bevy of more standard fare).
But my food-centric wanderings were soon interrupted, as I was asked if I’d like to throw out a ceremonial first pitch.
But of course!
But don’t let those flawless mechanics fool you — I bounced it, for the first (and I hope only) time in my ceremonial first pitch throwing career.
As penance for this lack of control, I accepted an invitation to spend some time in the dunk tank located down the right field line. But since this necessitated a change of clothes, so I ducked into the team store.
I selected the following retro-themed tee, which was then personalized with “Ben’s Biz” across the back (it’s always great when teams are able to provide this service).
The dunk tank is one of the kid’s area amusements, and usually occupied by interns. $1 buys two throws.
This kid, one “Heckman” from the nearby town of Solon, was relentless. He must have spent at least $15 at the tank, and knocked me into the water again and again and again. In the following picture, I am most likely saying “What the heck, man?” That was my go-to line.
But the water was refreshing, and all in all this was an enjoyable way to spend a couple of innings. I liked interacting with the various kids, and quickly judging whether to taunt them (as with Heckman) or attempt to increase their confidence via exaggerated displays of fear.
Upon leaving the dunk tank, I threw on my shoes and was immediately escorted to the top of the first base dugout for the nightly “Pie an Intern” contest. Usually this is preceded by some sort of trivia contest before the inevitable pie-ing, but time was short so on-field MC Calvin Funkhouser simply told the young contestant to “Go ahead and hit him with a pie.”
And so he did.
The pie was then removed, and I was turned around and put face to face with that menacing triumvirate of faux-Mexican wrestlers. Then, I was hit with a pie again.
Walking back up the stairs toward the concourse, I found it impossible to wipe the smile (or the whipped cream) off of my face. I was soaking wet and covered in whipped cream, and somehow still operating within a professional context.
And to top it all off, it was a beautiful summer evening.
I cleaned myself off the best that I could, changed back into my regularly-scheduled outfit, and met up with Kerton for dinner — Akron Aeros’ style!
The Nice 2 Meat You Burger, which could feed two people easily, consists of two 1/3 pound patties, two hot dogs, bacon, cheese, and onions. It is honestly more than a publicity stunt — it’s very tasty. The key is that the meat well-done, providing a uniform crispness throughout.
Keep your distance, Chik-Fil-A cow.
Damp, sticky, smelling like whipped cream, and eating a giant hamburger. The apex of my life so far.
“Dessert” was the Three Dog Night — a hot dog stuffed inside a brat stuffed inside a kielbasa, placed on a hoagie roll and then slathered with sauerkraut and spicy stadium mustard.
This, too, was tasty. But it was more like eating a hot dog stew than some magical combination of meat, in which kielbasa combined with brat to create some heretofore unknown taste combination.
One thing I liked about the Aeros’ approach to “extreme” concessions was that 1. they actually taste good and 2. they are available at all times. And, as a result, they are actually selling. Kerton estimated that through Saturday, intrepid Akronites had consumed 1000 Three Dog Nights and 600 Nice 2 Meat You Burgers.
And it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that the mustard atop of the Three Dog Night is Bertman’s. The Aeros even have it for sale in the gift shop, and I am happy to report that I smuggled it through airport security and now enjoying it in NYC.
Kerton also sent me home with an array of peanuts from the iconic Peanut Shoppe. This Akron institution is located across from the stadium, and their products are available at Canal Park. I really wish I had had the chance to visit.
Another place I wish I could have visited was Chrissy Hynde’s VegiTerranean restaurant. The meatless fare offered by the Pretenders frontwoman would have been a welcome counterpoint to ballpark cuisine. Also, the Pretenders are awesome.
After the game, while gathering my scattered belongings, I met longtime team owner Mike Agganis. We engaged in a freewheeling and rather absurd conversation, often punctuated with remarks like “I bet you’ve never met an owner like me!”
No, Mr. Agganis, I hadn’t.
After leaving the stadium, I happened upon the latest installment of Akron’s Saturday night “Lock 3 Concert Series.”
That’s Hotel Calfornia up there on the stage, an Eagles tribute band. I have no love for that particular rock entity, but it was an admirably flawless replication. They closed with “Life in the Fast Lane”, an apropos selection for any road trip soundtrack. There’s never a dull moment.
But, for now, I am back within New York City’s comforting embrace. To those who have sent me blog-worthy material over the past week — THANK YOU. It’ll be featured here soon, promise.
“News” of dubious validity has been making the rounds today, not a surprise given that it is the first day of April. But what I am about to present to you is gloriously, hilariously real:
On July 11, the State College Spikes will be holding the first-ever “Purr In the Park” promotion.
“Purr in the Park” is, of course, a new twist on the canine-friendly “Bark in the Park” promotions that have spread like wildfire throughout the Minors. But dogs are generally obedient and social creatures. Cats, on the other hand…not so much. How this all turns out of course remains to be seen, but Spikes GM Jason Dambach seems confident that it’ll go off without a hitch. Or, more accurately, with one. He writes that all cats will need to be “leashed or in a portable carrier” and that there will be “cat-related promotions throughout the night” as well as tributes to the likes of Morris, Garfield, Heathcliff, and the black cat from Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (“Salem!”, as I was just reminded via email).
I’m hoping that Will Feral will also be moved to make an appearance. Regardless, I will make it my duty to follow this phenomenal feline story as it evolves.
– But for now, a personal anecdote: I’ve had some friends from Sweden staying with me this week, and this morning they shared a popular April Fool’s mantra from their country. It goes “April April Din Dumma Sill, Jag Kan Lura Dig Vart Jag Vill.”
This translates to “April April You Stupid Herring. I Can Fool You Whenever I Want.”
Less than five minutes after learning this hilarious couplet, the following bit of news appeared out of Memphis:
This morning a 7’2″ pitcher from Sweden, Sloof Lirpa, signed a season-long contract with the Memphis Redbirds.
The 24-year-old pitched four perfect games while playing in the Sverige Baseball League, leading the league in strikeouts, innings pitched and maintaining an ERA under 1.00 all of last year.
Loek Van Mil was unavailable for comment.
Another team guilty of a suspiciously-timed announcement are the suddenly ubiquitous Akron Aeros, who unveiled the news that “Homer the Polka-Dotted Pigeon” will be their new mascot:
This one might actually be true, as the Aeros had fans vote on the bird’s name throughout the week via an online fan poll. And this is an industry that has created Rally Pickles, Anthropomorphic Biscuits, and a DeerBanana, so is a polka-dot pigeon really that much of a stretch?
Minor League Baseball: Making stupid herrings of us all.
Sherman, the feathered mascot of the Delmarva Shorebirds, has been banned from his own stadium! This is a case of benevolent blackmail, as the motivation for his exile is as follows:
[The Shorebirds] have officially banned Sherman the Shorebird from Arthur W. Perdue Stadium until the team collects 500 pounds of canned food items to benefit the “Strike Out Hunger” campaign. All the canned food items will go to the three local food banks on the Eastern Shore. Sherman will not be allowed to attend the April 5 exhibition game or the April 7 home opener unless the team collects at least 500 pounds of canned food items.
This self-imposed mascot ban is part of the Shorebirds’ “Strike Out Hunger” campaign, an initiative announced in conjunction with the 2011 South Atlantic League All-Star Game (to be held at Perdue Stadium). If the team is really serious about all of this, they should go ahead and also ban the players until their goals are met. I’m sure the Major League affiliates wouldn’t object at all.
From here we move on to that most treasured of topics, ballpark food.
Charleston RiverDogs food and beverage guru John Schumacher has gotten in touch with some of his club’s 2011 menu additions (in addition to the already covered “Pig on a Stick.”
Let’s take a look.
A Signature Nacho Stand is new for 2011, featuring options such as “The Kitchen Sink” and “Facebook BBQ”. I’m really going to have to look into the latter.
While you were looking at the above picture, I looked into the issue of Facebook BBQ Nachos. Here’s Schumacher’s explanation, a powerful example of social media if there ever was one:
We had BBQ Nachos on the menu for a few years but decided to take them off after the ’09 season as they weren’t selling well and they had a high food cost. During the first homestand of 2010 a few fans started a Facebook page to “Bring Back the BBQ Nachos @ the Joe”. So we decided to let them sweat it out for a few homestands while the Facebook page grew.
We re-introduced them as Facebook BBQ Nachos.
This year’s signature burger is the thoroughly Southern Pickle Pimento.
The Cheesesteak Brat, a brilliant melding of two ballpark favorites, will make a its debut as well.
And, finally, the imminently self-explanatory entity that is the bologna slider.
Meanwhile, Charleston food and beverage ex-pat Jason Kerton continues to make waves with the Akron Aeros. On March 30th, the team will be holding a rather unique media event:
The Akron Aeros will be featuring the newest food sensations at Canal Park with a special “weigh-in” event for the media. Step on the scale (if you dare!) and then sample one – or all – of our new food offerings.
I have a feeling that some of the media assigned to cover this event will immediately start looking for a “weigh-out.”
The West Michigan Whitecaps have been a major player on the concessions scene in recent years, unleashing colossal monstrosities such as the Fifth Third Burger and the Declaration of Indigestion upon the world.
So when the team held its annual fan vote to determine 2011′s new food item, it seemed a safe assumption that the winner would be something meaty and/or massive. Walking Spaghetti, perhaps? Meat Salad and the Bologna Lollipop also appeared to be strong contenders.
But…no. In a stunning repudiation of all that the Minor Leagues have come to stand for, the winner was none other than the irreverently-named “Chicks With Sticks.”
More specifically, Chicks With Sticks is a healthy option consisting of fresh sliced vegetables with a hummus (made from “Chick” peas) or optional ranch dipping sauce.
While I’m surprised that this won a fan vote, healthy eating options at the ballpark are nothing new. Even the Akron Aeros, best known for their new line of meaty behemoths, recently announced their “Farmer’s Market” concession stand, featuring veggie burgers, turkey hot dogs, hummus and chips, fruit platters, veggie platters and salads.
A quote from Aeros food and beverage director Jason Kerton sums up the strategy here:
“The Akron Aeros will offer a caloric counter-balance to our “extreme” menu items and full lineup of innovative carnivorous creations, with offerings of a lighter fare.”
Nonetheless, recent news out of Durham is more in line with what we’ve come to expect from the Minors. The Bulls will be serving “The Bulldog” in 2011, an all-beef hot dog wrapped in bacon and cheese and blanketed in soft pretzel dough.
Along much more ridiculous lines, Charleston RiverDogs announcer Danny Reed has, uh, announced that he will be attempting the “Slammer Pizza Challenge”. This endeavor is described as a gluttonous pizza quest featuring a team of two people attempting to polish off a 28-inch Gilroy’s pizza with five toppings of the team’s choosing, which can weigh in excess of seven pounds.
And, guess what? He needs a partner! Those interested in joining Mr. Reed’s noble pursuit have until May 23 to apply.
I’m pretty sure that Gwinnett Braves mascot Chopper would be up to the challenge, but right now he has bigger concerns. Nudity alert!
And — hey! — it’s Friday. That means its time for me to end the blogging week with a gratuitous video of my choosing.
And what I choose is this:
It’s a new month, and you know what that means: time for the Akron Aeros to release a new hot dog into the world.
Well, two new hot dogs this time: the “Eighth Wonder” and the “Wonderdog.” And considering that there are 40 topping options to choose from, the possibilities are virtually infinite.
The above trifecta, from top to bottom: 1 — Chocolate Chips 2 — Okra, Cole Slaw and Spicy Mustard 3 — Peanut Butter and Jelly
As for the dogs themselves, both are made from Black Angus Beef. The “Eighth Wonder” is 16 inches long and weighs in at a pound, while the “Wonder Dog” is a more manageable 1/2 pound and 14 inches.
“I probably went through 75 or 80 different toppings, and narrowed it down from there,” he said. “I stand by all 40, everything we’re offering is going to taste good on a hot dog.”
This includes such unlikely candidates such as chocolate chips and Kerton’s personal favorite — peanut butter and jelly.
There are no limits to the amount of toppings that fans can choose, a policy that could result in some truly bizarre combinations. How about wasabi, sprinkles, baked beans, pineapples, and pepperoni?
“Everyone’s taste buds are different, so I say ‘Have at it,’” said Kerton.
[T]he “Kiss Orbit, He’s Irish?” St. Patrick’s Day ticket package is now available and will be specially delivered to homes and office by Aeros mascot, Orbit.
Funny, I’ve never really thought of a mascot having a specific nationality before. I always just viewed them as global citizens of ambiguous origin. Regardless, the $100 ticket package consists of the following:
Two tickets to Irish Heritage Night at Canal Park (Thursday, April 28, 7:05 p.m.)
• Eight flexible ticket vouchers good for any Saturday through Thursday home game
• One Aeros “Irish” baseball cap
• Special Delivery from Orbit to home or office (Delivery based on availability)
The following sentence was not included in the press release, although I wish it was: “This offer is not a sham. It rocks!”
Hate mail can be sent to:
Check out MiLB.com’s new and improved “Fans” page! Those looking to connect with Minor League Baseball in a more comprehensive and meaningful way will find the tools to do so, most notably via a pair of excellently-curated lists:
Individuals with the motivation to “Friend” and “Follow” every Minor League team out there will find themselves immediately privy to much of the information that I later disseminate via this blog. And you know what that means — I am hastening my own demise, making my obsolescence even more imminent. Oh well, we’ve all got to shuffle off this virtual coil sooner or later.
Until then, I’ll entertain you in the only way I know how: Parody and/or food pictures.
Remember in my previous post, when I asked for for teams to submit theme songs? Well, the Akron Aeros have (finally!) become the first team to hop on the “Black and Yellow” bandwagon. This is “Akron Aeros” by Wiz Orbit-Fa:
“Akron Aeros” fits perfectly into the song’s chorus, perhaps better than any other team in the Minors. The only other ones even close are Asheville Tourists, Beloit Snappers, Bowie Baysox, Brooklyn Cyclones, Charlotte Stone Crabs, Dayton Dragons, Erie SeaWolves, Eugene Emeralds, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Fresno Grizzlies, Jackson Generals, Jamestown Jammers, Lakewood BlueClaws, Lansing Lugnuts, Lynchburg Hillcats, Memphis Redbirds, Midland RockHounds, Mobile BayBears, Orem Owlz, Palm Beach Cardinals, Portland Sea Dogs, Reading Phillies, Reno Aces, Salem Red Sox, Springfield Cardinals, Tampa Yankees, Trenton Thunder, Tucson Padres, and Tulsa Drillers.
Moving from four syllables to four comestibles, remember earlier this week when I wrote about the Lehigh Valley IronPigs “Pig Out Menu Items“?
Well, now I have pictures of the four items. Fans, which one would YOU most like to see on a concession menu?
The “Three Little Pigs” Sandwich
Remember — remembering what not to do is just as important as remembering what to do.
I had a blog post all ready to go this morning, but then a “big” “news story” came across my “desk”:
Last night, the Akron Aeros got a prominent shoutout on “The Daily Show.” The team’s recent “Nice 2 Meat You” burger caused the perpetually apoplectic Lewis Black to wax enthusiastic. Watch it HERE (the Aeros come in at the 2:25 mark).
And here’s the picture, first seen on this blog, that appeared on the show.
Touting the “Nice 2 Meat You” as a much-needed antidote to the beef-skimping Taco Bells of the world, Black held aloft a pair of ducats and claimed that he would be at the Akron Aeros home opener.
I caught up with Aeros food and beverage director Jason Kerton this morning, and he says that he had no idea that his creation was going to get a mention during Black’s latest broadside.
“I was falling asleep on the couch last night, and my phone started beeping left and right,” said Kerton. “I was getting a lot of texts from friends telling me that [Nice 2 Meat You] was on TV.”
And while no one wants Black to go into cardiac arrest while enjoying an Aeros game, the team would love to see him make an appearance at Canal Park this season.
“We’d give him the burger, a Three Dog Night, and anything else he wanted,” said Kerton. “But I’m still in shock that we were on the Daily Show. It was funny that we were on it, and even more funny that no one knew it was going to happen.”
Most teams ignore this special day of rodent weather prognostication, instead focusing their energies on Valentine’s Day. But in Norfolk, the Tides have put together a promotion with an extremely easy-to-predict result:
[We're not] taking any chances that a groundhog in Punxsutawney sees his shadow and curses everyone to six more weeks of winter.
Instead, the Tides have employed the weather-prognosticating services of Rip Tide, and they have even offered a bribe to the furry mascot. If Rip Tide doesn’t see his shadow – or just blatantly ignore his shadow all together – then the Tides will give 25 lucky fans a pair of tickets to the Tides game on Sunday, April 17.
And the stunning result? Rip Tide didn’t see his shadow, winter will soon be over, and fans may now enter into a drawing for free tickets. And, for maximum publicity, this all went down on a local morning news program. Good work, Rip Tide.
Meanwhile, the Portland Sea Dogs didn’t even make a pretense of pretending that a Punxsutawney prognostication had any meaning to them.
The team’s “Groundhog Day Special” is as cut-and-dry as a Saharan bodybuilder.
Regardless of whether or not the groundhog sees his shadow today, there are only 9 weeks before the Sea Dogs open the 2011 Season! Therefore the Sea Dogs have a special $9 ticket package offer for fans, good today only!
A different sort of mascot intrigue is going on over in Lancaster, as JetHawks mascot KaBoom is intimating that he may leave the real world for a virtual one.
As we inch our way closer to the 2011 season it seems as if JetHawks fans are all asking the same question; Is it true that KaBoom will join the next generation of Angry Birds?
Lancaster JetHawks Director of Promotions Jeremy Castillo addressed the issue early Monday morning, “At this point I can neither confirm nor deny the rumors. KaBoom and I have had a few closed door meetings, and he has expressed some interest in the game. That’s really all I can say at this time.”
If KaBoom does indeed join the next generation of Angry Birds, it would make him the first Minor League mascot video game character of all time. Let’s all salute this avian innovator:
You know — a pride of lions, a clan of hyenas, a colony of bats, etc. Unfortunately, however, there is no collective noun that describes a group of YouTube videos that are all embedded within the same blog post.
So I’m going to make one up.
Today’s post, then, features a flapdoodle of videos. Enjoy!
Let’s start with this celebrity-filled promo video recently unveiled by the Iowa Cubs, entitled “The I-Cubs Are My Cubs.” None other than the President of The United States makes an appearance!
Update: I-Cubs director of logistics Scott Sailor explains how the team landed Obama’s less-than-unequivocal endorsement:
Obama was the only one we thought to film — and remember, at this time he was a long shot.
We pounced on him in the radio booth after he was on the air for an inning and asked him to say “The I-Cubs Are My Cubs” like everyone else…but he wouldn’t…he’s a Sox fan…but he did compromise and give us the footage we have.
Meanwhile, a fresh triumvirate of mascot-themed videos have been unleashed upon an unsuspecting public.
Moving from Obama to Omaha, it has become apparent that Casey’s offseason life is no longer average. The slugging Storm Chaser was at the Kansas City Royals Fan Fest last weekend in order to take part in the hallowed tradition that is the Mascot Home Run Derby.
Meanwhile, in Akron, Orbit has overcome his malaise and is earnestly preparing himself for next month’s “Tackle the Tower” challenge.
Finally, the Fort Myers Miracle have released the first installment of what may shape up to be an epic serialized mystery. Sparky the Hamster has gone missing!
And — hey! — it’s Gratuitous Video Friday. Or, in this case, Even More Gratuitous Video Friday. I’ll end this blogging week with my new answer to the eternal question “What would be your at-bat walk-up music?”
We’ll all be back on Monday for the punchline of the joke.