Results tagged ‘ Charleston RiverDogs ’

RiverDogs Concessions 2014: Boozier, Smokier, Greener, Healthier

Signs of spring are all around us, from warmer weather to Major League Baseball being played at ungodly hours on international soil to tiresome Twitter jokes about busted NCAA brackets. But, for me, one of the surest signs of spring is the arrival of an email from John “Schu” Schumacher, food and beverage director of the Goldklang Group (the Minor League ownership group consisting of the Charleston RiverDogs, Fort Myers Miracle, Hudson Valley Renegades, St. Paul Saints, and Pittsfield Suns).

Schu is based in Charleston, and each offseason he and his RiverDogs cohorts retreat to a secluded kitchen location in order to concoct new food and beverage options that will be served at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park. In previous seasons I have written extensively about these culinary creations, from the Homewrecker Hot Dog to the Pickle Dog to the Pig on a Stick  to Pimento Pickle Burgers and Facebook Nachos to duck and venison sausages to beer shakes and jalapeno peanut butter and jelly burgers.

Which brings us to now, which is all there ever was and all there will ever be. On the cusp of the 2014 campaign, Schu has gotten in touch with his annual email missive. I now cede the floor to him.

[RiverDogs food and beverage director] Josh [Shea] and I finally got out of the test kitchen and have determined our new menu items for the ’14 season…here are the highlights. 

New and Improved Beer Shakes: 

2014-03-20 16.47.14

Beer Shakes were so popular last year, of course they will still be on the menu but we’re kicking it up a notch by adding Spiked Beer Shakes (beer & booze). Guinness Kahlua Shake & Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan Beer paired with a Cathead Pecan Vodka. We will also have a rotating specials.

And, in other alcohol news:

Our Wine Garden will be tweaked into a Sangria Garden serving 4 in-house made Sangrias concoctions (a red, 2 whites and a rose Sangria).

Sushi Dog

Our signature hot dog this year will be a Sushi Dog (a hot dog rolled in Nori paper with wasabi sweet & spicy mustard and a seaweed/cilantro/cabbage slaw.

Commercial Smoker

smokerWe purchased a Commercial Smoker to prepare in-house specialties (brisket, tri-tip sirloin, frog legs & rotating specials).

Yes, frog legs:

Taco Garden

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We started a self-serve Taco Herb Garden in ’13 – the fans loved it! So in 2014 we will be adding 2 more self-serve gardens for our fans to customize their menu items.

Carrot Dogs (and more)

carrotdog

We’ll be adding some additional items to our Healthy Menu – a herb Turkey Burger and a Carrot Dog (a herb & honey roasted carrot stuffed in a bun with cilantro cabbage slaw & drizzled with a Sriracha Honey).

T-shirts (non-edible)

t-shirts14

All told, this will be a lot for Charleston to chew on.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

PB&J, Pork Rinds, and Milkshakes Made With Beer

My previous post focused on a variety of Opening Day innovations, but consider it a prelude to this, the most reliably enjoyable Opening Day innovation of them all: creative Charleston RiverDogs’ concessions!

Regular readers of this blog have long thrilled to the culinary creations of John Schumacher (aka “Schu”), the man behind the Pickle Dog, Homewrecker, Pig on a Stick, “alternative tubular meat searches” and many more offerings at Joseph P. Riley Park (aka “The Joe”).

Yesterday Schu, the food and beverage director for the Goldklang Group (of which the RiverDogs are a part), sent me a photo-laden email containing the latest — and therefore greatest — additions to the RiverDogs food and beverage line-up. Take it away, Schu:

We’ve experimented and were extremely happy with with our Beer Shake creations, and have decided to offer 3 flavors: Palmetto Espresso Porter Chocolate (from a local brewery), Guinness Caramel and Sweetwater 420 Strawberry….they’re delicious!

Beer shake ingredients:

beershake3

Finished product:

beershake1

Schu also reports that the RiverDogs will be offering a beer with the delightful name of “Pig Swig,” created by local grocery store chain Piggly Wiggly. But moving on to harder offerings, there’s this:

We will be adding Moonshine Margaritas to our Tiki Hut using locally made flavored moonshines (Peach & Cherry) from Firefly Distillery.

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Such alcoholic concoctions can be paired with new menu additions like, oh, I don’t know, a Peanut Butter and Jelly Jalapeno Bacon Burger. Schu calls it “mindblowing.”

PBJburger2

While perhaps not quite as attention-getting as the above, there are plenty of other big changes afoot. From Schu:

We are doing a slight makeover (but staying in the same hemisphere) with the changing of our Nacho House to a Taco House called “Wacko for Taco.” (However, because of their popularity we will continue to offer our Kitchen Sink Nachos.) The Taco Menu will include a Chipotle Chicken, Beef, & Pulled Pork Taco (locally made pulled pork from Sticky Fingers).

tacos1

Chipotle Tacos

The 2 headliner items will be a Charlie T(aco) Dog which includes both a soft & hard taco with a hot dog, mustard BBQ sauce & cole slaw filling. For the other featured taco, the MUSC Urban Farm Veggie Taco, we will be partnering with The Medical University of South Carolina that recently started an Urban Garden in downtown Charleston. We will be going to the Farm each homestand to harvest the veggies & herbs to use in the taco.

charlietaco1

Fans of tubular meats will be happy to know that the team’s Sausage World stand is returning, with a Chicken and Apple sausage now complementing the likes of Alligator, Duck, and Bratwurst. And for those just looking for a light, healthy snack, the RiverDogs now offer the following:

Under our Snack Menu we will be adding Fresh Fried Pork Rinds and Pork Cracklins. In addition we will also be offering Deep Fried Peanuts in Sea Salt & BBQ flavors.

Yes! Rinds and Cracklins (a particular bad habit of mine whenever my travels take me below the Mason-Dixon line). Writes Schu:

They come from a company called Triland Foods out of Iowa. You drop the product in 400 degree oil & they take about 30 seconds to expand (or explode as we like to put it). Then you can dust them with your favorite flavoring.

Before and after:

rinds2

rinds1

After a season spent preparing items such as the above, I hope that Schu and his staff can actually fit into these shirts!

shirts13

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Hitting off the Deck to the Bay

“It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon” has become one of my favorite cliches, primarily because it helps to justify the fact that some of my content is months old at this point.

It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.

With that in my mind, let’s (re)visit one of the most unique events to take place in the Minor Leagues this season: on June 18, the first round of the South Atlantic League Home Run Derby was held on the deck of Charleston’s USS Yorktown. Participants hit balls into the Charleston Harbor, which were summarily scooped up by volunteers on jet skis.

The venue:

The above photo, and all of the photos to come, were taken by Chad Walters. You may remember Walters from the 2011 Winter Meetings in Dallas, as he set up shop at the Trade Show in order to inform teams about his Lean Blitz consulting business. He also was a Dipquest attendee. When Walters got in touch just prior to the derby to see if I’d be interested in running his photos on the blog, I said “of course!” I didn’t say that it would take upwards of two months for me to run them but, well, here we are.

Some background info, courtesy of Walters:

The USS Yorktown is docked in Patriots Point in Charleston Harbor. The large bridge in the background is the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge across the Cooper River. The USS Yorktown is a naval museum and is permanently docked. 

Miller High Life was one of the event’s sponsors and, as such ,High Life spokesman Wendell Middlebrooks was in attendance.

Middlebrooks: proponent of the proletariat

More from Walters:

The manufacturer of the inflatable backstop is InMotion Air out of Alpharetta, Georgia. It took them about six minutes to inflate the backstop and probably 20 minutes to completely set up to accommodate some reservations by the organizers about the netting hanging down a little close to bat swing paths.

The scene around the Yorktown as attendees and participants made their way to the venue.

A bunch of Tourists

Truly, there had never been a home run derby like this before.

Just a bit more from the virtual pen of Mr. Walters:

The two hitters I’ve shown from the front side are Matt Skole of Hagerstown and Matt Duffy of Lexington (the jersey resembles the 80’s Astros design). Both moved onto the finals being held tonight at the RiverDogs stadium prior to the start of the All-Star Game.

Oh, well, then let’s take a look at these front side batsmen.

Walters, unfortunately, had to depart the event before Bill Murray showed up to take a few swings (Murray is a Charleston resident and co-owner of the RiverDogs). For more info on how it all went down, then take a gander at this photo recap provided by Charleston-based Post and Courier.

Thanks to Walters for sending his pictures and observations, and my apologies for taking some 52 days to run them. Remember: it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Traveling by Land, Sea, and Air

Quad Cities River Bandits, what have you wrought?

As you may recall, last season the River Bandits turned their All Star Game home run derby into a cartoonish extravaganza replete with beer keg targets and Hooters girls in a dunk tank. The Reading Phillies took this concept and ran with it — on July 10, the team is staging a home run derby that looks like something out of a Chuck Jones fever dream.

And now? Now we have THIS. The Charleston RiverDogs, hosts of the 2012 South Atlantic League All-Star Game, are holding their home run derby atop an aircraft carrier. The Yorktown:


At this juncture I can do one thing and one thing only. Quoth the press release, forevermore:

Quite possibly the first-ever derby off the flight deck of a carrier, the event…will be held on Monday, June 18, at 11 am with the championship round being staged at 5:15 pm Tuesday, prior to the All-Star Game at Riley Park.

The 10 Home Run Derby competitors – five from the Northern Division and five from the Southern Division – will take their 10 swings in an inflatable batting cage that is stationed on the flight deck. A total of four players will make the final round that is set for 5:15 pm at Riley Park.

The RiverDogs, being the community-involved and environment-conscious organization that they are, have addressed the litter potential as they have hired kayakers and personnel on jet skis to retrieve the balls hit into Charleston Harbor. The US Coast Guard will supervise and assist, and no sea life will be disturbed.

In addition, the Coast Guard will assess and note the longest homers to determine the finalists and will radio the results to officials that are stationed on the Yorktown to record.

Moving on, you may remember that in 2010 the Cleveland Indians and their affiliates put together an “Around the Horn” ticket pack that included games at Mahoning Valley, Lake County, Akron, Columbus, and Cleveland.

It’s a great idea (the similarly-clustered Phillies farm system should do one!) and now the Baltimore organization has introduced their own version.

It’s a really cool idea:

Visit the Fan Assistance Center in the Warehouse at Camden Yards to pick up your Birdland Passport. Use the passport when traveling to Oriole Park and the many Orioles’ Minor League affiliates’ ballparks throughout the region. Once you’ve gathered five stamps (of the possible six local Birdland destinations), you’ll receive a limited edition “Did Somebody Say Roadtrip?” Birdland Passport T-shirt.

And since I was speaking of Indians affiliates earlier, I’ll close with this lil anecdote. A couple of months ago, I received an email from a reader named Steve Wood. He lives in Ontario, but is a fan of the Indians and all of their affiliates. He lamented the isolation of the Canadian Cleveland fan:

Standing on the north shore of Lake Erie I would love to be able tell you that I can see the lights of Eastlake, Ohio, home of the Lake County Captains, or straight up East 9th St.in Cleveland as if the founders of that glorious city planned on building a bridge right to my province.  Alas, when I stand on the north shore of Lake Erie all I see is lots of Lake Erie and it’s usually pretty cold so I get back in the car.

Struck by his plight, I forwarded his info to the Captains and the team sent a “fan pack” all the way to Ontario (assistant GM Neil Stein lamented that international shipping laws prevented the team from including a “Moby Dick” sandwich). Here’s Wood now, representing the Captains in the comfort of his kitchen:

All’s well that ends well,

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Welcome to the Jungle

We’re still in the midst of Opening Week, during which Minor League teams pull out all of the stops: Blue Angel flyovers, operatic National Anthems, special guests from seasons past, that sort of thing.

But there’s always room for the weirdness. Always. And one of the prime purveyors of the surreal ballpark spectacle are the Lake Elsinore Storm, whose Opening Night festivities included the following dance routine.

Ah, Grounds Crew Gorilla, I missed you, buddy. Planks for being you.

The Grounds Crew Gorilla may be a unique character, but he’s hardly alone when it comes to animalian ballpark denizens. One of the most recent on the scene is the Great Lakes Loons’ “Rall E. Camel“, a new companion to Lou E. Loon:

Rall E. was the denizen of the much-hyped mysterious box that arrived at Dow Diamond this winter, but apparently he’s none the worse for wear after his long confinement. (No word yet on whether his theme song will be “My Humps.”)

Amidst a spirited discussion on the team’s Facebook page, the Loons offered the following explanation for Rall E.’s existence:

It all dates back to one game in 2009, having exhausted all means of sparking a Loons rally, there was still one last video clip in the production vault. The following ‘Rally Camel’ clip was played on the video board and lo and behold the team rallied. Throughout the year the clip was played in late-game situations and every time the team would rally for the win. Rall E was born.

But sometimes it’s better, or at least more fun, to present things out of context. For example, the following image was recently attached to a press release put out by the Charleston RiverDogs.

Just stare at that for a few minutes, and it will provide entry into new realms of consciousness.

Finally, you may recall that in a post last week I linked to my favorite YouTube video as a means to express my thoughts on the start of a new season. After doing this, I wrote that I would GREATLY appreciate it if someone could take the audio from the clip linked to above  and lay it over an array of upbeat Minor League images, ending with the Opening Day 2012 logo.

The very next day there was an email in my inbox, subject line “Ask and ye shall receive.” So, yes, now this exists:

Big thanks to Anita Tsuchiya for taking the time to create what is surely one of the more obscure videos floating around the internet!

And with that, today’s blogging goals have now been realized. Until next time, I remain:

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Read Up While Counting Down

Opening Day countdowns are a recurring feature of many teams’ Facebook and Twitter feeds, and for good reason. It’s a quick and easy way to keep baseball’s imminence in the collective consciousness.

One team that you can really count on when it comes to counting down are the Delmarva Shorebirds, who are in the homestretch of an ambitious and creative “30 Days of Opening Day” promotion.

Sez the press release:

Starting on March 14, which is 30 days removed from the home opener, the Shorebirds will have a new event, appearance or contest planned each day leading up to April 12.

This includes mascot tour stops, local TV appearances, a Fan Fest, a “Player’s Send-off Party” and recurring weekly promotions such as “Donut Monday,” “Talk to Me Tuesdays,” and “Weenie Wednesdays. ” It is my opinion that “Donut Mondays” should be adapted by every MiLB team. Each Monday morning, the team posts the following message on Facebook:

Post a picture of your office or place of business on our wall and your office could win a delivery of donuts from us tomorrow morning! The post with the most ‘likes’ by 5pm today wins!

It’s a hole lot of fun! (Hope your eyes didn’t glaze over at that last sentence. I dough my best).

Another innovative endeavor comes courtesy of those very same RiverDogs who were featured in Monday’s post. Late last week, the team announced the latest component of their “Be Your Own Fan” marketing campaign.

Another press release, another excerpt. This is how we roll:

Fans will have the opportunity….to register for “Be Your Own Fan” campaign. Upon registering, fans will receive a free colored coded bracelet, plus emails, offers and incentives that cater to their interests and to the reason they come to the ballpark.

There are nine unique fan groups from which to choose:

  • The Networker: Comes to the ballpark to meet and connect with people and utilize the facility’s atmosphere to create business relationships;
  • The Foodie: Someone who loves the various food offerings at The Joe;
  • The Family: Comes to games because they know that a RiverDogs game can always be counted on to provide an evening of quality, wholesome family entertainment;
  • The Socializer: Comes to The Joe to because they know that it is THE place to be seen;
  • Promo-Sapian: Always into the wacky between innings promotions and awesome giveaways;
  • The Traveler: Visits the ballpark for a taste of true Charleston hospitality;
  • The Pyro: Loves the many postgame fireworks shows at The Joe;
  • The River Pup: The younger fans at the park that have a blast as members Charlie’s Kids Club;
  • The Super Fan: Knows the RiverDogs’ roster by heart and wears that heart on his/her sleeve.

The Goldklang Group’s “Be Your Own Fan” campaign has been running for a few years now and, while a good slogan, I often found it to be a bit vague in execution. The above initiative is a real step forward, then, as it clearly details all the ways in which the RiverDogs (and, by extension, Minor League Baseball) can appeal to diverse groups of people.

Minor League Baseball’s appeal can extend to aspiring foul line guardians of advanced age, and the Mobile BayBears are reaching out to exactly this demographic with their “Golden Glovers” program.

Taking a cue from the San Francisco Giants’ long-running “Ball Dudes” promotion, the BayBears are offering the following opportunity to those over the age of 60:

[E]ach BayBears home game, two “Golden Glovers” will report to the field and sign a one-day contract with the BayBears. Responsibilities will be to suit up in uniform and protest the foul lines. BayBears manager Turner Ward will provide key strategies in stopping foul balls down the lines and making sure the “Golden Glover” provide the foul balls to the kids in the stands.

So there you have it, folks. Another blog post, another array of creative and adaptable ideas from the world of MiLB. Thanks for your support; I’ll be here all week.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Totally Tubular

Food content has been enjoying a bit of a renaissance on the blog as of late, and who I am to curtail a renaissance?

The latest comestible tidbit to come down the pike involves a team that could reasonably make a claim to having the best concessions in all of Minor League Baseball: The Charleston RiverDogs.

John Schumacher, Food and Beverage Director extraordinaire, reports that during the offseason “an alternative tubular meat search” was conducted and that “fortunately (or unfortunately) we were successful.” RiverDogs fans, already spoiled when it comes to the variety of traditional tubular meat on offer, will now be able to choose from the following:

That big fella on the far right would be alligator. Duck is at the top of the plate, with venison down below. These alternative tubular meats come courtesy of a boutique butcher that goes by the name of Fossil Farms, and will be part of a new “Sausage World” food stand. The menu:

Sausage World – featuring Brats, Kielbasa, Duck Sausage with plum sauce, Venison Sausage with chipotle BBQ sauce (named the Byrdog after a close friend) & Alligator Sausage with a remoulade.

In another Minor League rarity, the RiverDogs are adding a wine garden to the mix in 2012. It’s still in the maturation process.

I’ve been racking my brain (and you know how painful that can be), but thus far I’ve been unable to think of any other teams that offer a wine garden. Are any out there?

And are there any other teams that market themselves specifically to “foodies”?

If any other teams would like to tout their new food and beverage selections, then you know where to find me (or, at least I hope you do. Check the bottom of this post, as well as every other post I’ve ever written).

And this doesn’t just go for food, of course. If you’re involved or interested in Minor League Baseball in any way, shape, or form, then please don’t hesitate to let me know what’s going on.

For instance, reader Matt Musk recently pointed me to his self-published book “Dream On” (available as an e-book and on paperback). It’s a quick and informative read about his journey from failed youth baseball player to Midwest League champion (of sorts). Lots of good anecdotes are contained therein, dealing with the absurdity of Minor League front office life.

And then there’s Mr. Rex Doane, who checked in last week in order to report that “Today I am the only man in NYC to wear the new High Desert Mavericks cap…it is a responsibility I am willing to shoulder.”

New York City: the epicenter of global fashion trends.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Lonely in Love, Learning to Like, and, of course, Logos

We are born alone, and die alone. And often, as the case may be, we spend Valentine’s Day alone. Fortunately, at least two Minor League teams expanded their traditional Valentine’s Day offers to include those unencumbered by an actual relationship.

The Charleston RiverDogs’ “Lonely Hearts Package” is a mere $18, and includes an upper reserve ticket, frozen dinner, and pint of ice cream. It will be delivered by this sympathetic soul.

Or, perhaps a flying groundhog would be more to your liking? If so, then get thee to Gwinnett, interested singles:

The G-Braves’ identically-named “Lonely Hearts” package includes a ticket to May 14’s “Singles Mingle” night, as well “as vouchers for a box of Nestlé Drumstick® Ice-cream courtesy of Edy’s and a frozen TV Dinner.”

I wondered what kind of “reception” these TV dinner offers had been getting, and if teams had been dealing in the “volume” expected. In response to a Twitter inquiry, the RiverDogs reported that There were a decent amount of Lonely Hearts. @ThePigglyWiggly got a lot of business in the Hungry Man frozen dinner area from us.

As for what “decent” entails, I have no idea. I’m going to guess somewhere between eight and 4,400.

In keeping with the contrarian Valentine’s Day theme, let’s now move on to the world of logos. This is, after all, a word that in Jungian psychology means “the principal of reason and judgement.” Not very love-like at all!

Today’s logo of choice comes courtesy of the Lake County Captains. But perhaps the club should change it’s name to the “CapTens”:

If you think anniversary logos are for the birds, that’s cool. But you know who else should be for the ‘Birds? You. Here’s why:

The Delmarva Shorebirds, class “A” affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, are excited to announce the launch of a brand new campaign leading up to the home opener on April 12 designed to raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters. The Shorebirds will donate one dollar per new Facebook ‘Like’ from now through April 11 to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

The goal of the initiative is to donate a maximum of $1,400 to Big Brothers Big Sisters by growing the Shorebirds Facebook fan page to over 10,000 likes.

So go ahead and give ‘em a like. Right HERE.

And speaking (again) of being for the birds, how about this visual out of Des Moines? The Iowa Cubs sure know how to play to their audience:

Also playing to their audience: the Fort Wayne TinCaps. The team launched it’s “All About You” sweepstakes last week, and it’s chock-a-block with great prizes. But one prize, in particular, towers above the rest.

Yes, a life-size bobblehead! Forget mummification, taxidermy, cryogenics and afterlife-based belief systems. Grotesquely-sized ceramic statues featuring crazily disproportionate bodily dimensions are how one achieves true immortality.

This has been post #768 of the greatest Minor League Baseball blog of all time.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Thanks for the Memories

Writing a pre-Thanksgiving post on “what I am thankful for” has the whiff of an obligatory elementary school essay assignment, but I want to get something up on this slice of the internet before it all goes (mercifully) dark for the holidays.

And you know what I’m thankful for? That I have a job that puts me in absurd situations on a regular basis. Some highlights from the 2011 season.

Racing as a Taco Bell Hot Sauce packet in Lancaster:

If you can't take the heat...

Winning the “Molar Race” in Inland Empire:

Winning a burrito-eating contest in Fort Wayne:

Emptying an entire Kleenex box in Lake County, in less than a minute:

Pied atop the dugout in Akron:

Exhibiting proper Pickle Dog-eating technique in Charleston:

Manning an HD camera in Durham:

Refereeing a flip cup contest in Williamsport:

Losing a sumo match in Bowie:

And, of course — Rally Banana-ing in Delmarva:

The point of this unbridled exercise in Holiday week narcissism is…well…I guess there is no point. But I do want to issue a sincere THANK YOU to everyone who has supported these absurd endeavors of mine. And it’s never too early to start thinking about the 2012 season — please, get in touch if you have any suggestions regarding Minor League places to go and things to do.  I really do try to say “yes” as much as possible.

Finally, two stories are up today that I’d really appreciate if you checked out. First up is my story on Greg Halman, who was stabbed to death earlier this week. I talked to people who knew him at all stops on his Minor League journey, and did the best I could to write something that went beyond “I’m shocked that his happened” quotes.

Elsewhere, I have a guest column up on Baseball Propectus. It’s a pretty through overview of the Minor League mindset, and I sincerely hope it brings a few new converts into the fold.

Thanks again,

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

A Clear View Through the Rear View

It’s been a week of -spection on this blog, of both the intro and retro varieties. Come Monday I’ll return to reporting on current Minor League events, but today we’ll keep with the theme and take one final look back at the season that was.

Specifically, my season that was. And even more specifically, the swag I accumulated. Whether through the mail or at the ballpark, people gave me a lot of stuff . By the end of the season I had no where to put it, save for in overstuffed bags beneath my overstuffed desk.

Enough is enough! Clearly, the time for Fall cleaning had arrived. First, I meticulously took stock of what I had.

And in doing so, I realized that I’d neglected to highlight the haul from my road trip to the Carolinas. This haul was dominated by the ever-generous Charleston RiverDogs, who had provided me with a full-to-overflowing bag of goodies.

The Big Lebowski-themed “Dog Abides” shirt had been briefly featured before, as I wore it while attending a game in Winston-Salem. But right above it there is a notable giveaway item — a Charleston Rainbows jersey (yes, this actually used to be the name of Charleston’s Minor League team).

I also obtained what I believe may have been a giveaway first — mascot-themed salt and pepper shakers, in which the spice-dispensing characters in question are flanked by a friendly tree.

One of the most notable members of the RiverDogs’ ownership group is Mike Veeck, who happened to be the guest of honor at the Kane County Cougars gala “Night of 100 Promotions.” And, wouldn’t you know it, I happened to obtain two shirts commemorating this event.

And, finally, a picture of some random stuff on a table. That’s when you know that you’ve reached the end of the line.

A select portion of my 2011 swag haul has been entered into the Ben’s Biz permanent archives, but the vast majority needs to be shed like so much excess skin. Plans are in the works for a swag giveaway later this offseason. Stay tuned…

At any rate, after this thorough cleaning and consolidation process, my work space is a lot more manageable.

Upwards and onwards!

But, because I can’t help myself, how about one final look back? I mentioned this on Twitter earlier in the week, but recently I came to a startling realization regarding my late July trip to the Carolinas: I saw seven games at seven stadiums in seven days, and the home team won each and every one!

I asked my Twitter followers what the odds of this happening would be, and most replied that it was 1/128 (.78%, two to the seventh power). But Scott “the Heckler” Jennings went a step further, compiling a Google document that took each team’s home record into account! His findings revealed odds of 1.01%

Regardless, it’s clear that I am a walking talisman, my mere presence brings victory to the masses. Invite me to your ballpark, and awkwardly intimate post-game celebrations will be the end result!

Body heat activated high fives!

And, really, that’s going to it on the season-recap front (or is it?). From here on out it’s time to look ahead.

Look, a head!

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

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