Results tagged ‘ Crooked Numbers ’

Passing the Torch to the Offseason

With a few exceptions, I’ve dedicated the month of October to writing about in-season endeavors that I did not get around to writing about during the season itself. So I guess it’s fitting that here on All Hallow’s Eve, also known as the last day of October, I have finally exhausted my supply of in-season content. The only thing left in my “potential blog items” Excel spreadsheet involved Jacksonville Suns infielder Derek Dietrich and that time that he performed a post-game juggling exhibition. Seriously.

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“Derek Dietrich Triples and Juggles Torches” — you know, just another day at the ol’ ballyard.

Dietrich, a 24-year-old infielder who logged 57 games with the Miami Marlins this season, pulled of the above feat during August 13′s game against Birmingham. But that wasn’t the only time he took the field in order to toss dangerous items about. Here he is throwing some knives around, potential trip to the disabled list be damned.

And that’s all folks! There is no more in-season content to be had from me (unless, you know, you want to send me some). Therefore, I suppose that now is as good a time as any to bring this to your attention:

The Trenton Thunder have won the 2013 “Promo of the Year” MiLBY Award, for their “Chase the Bat Dog Retirement Party.”

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Read the article HERE, which will be my last piece of content recapping the 2013 campaign.

But since I’m on the topic of MiLB.com content — the final “Crooked Numbers” column of 2013 ran earlier this month, and can be read HERE. After the column ran, I was alerted to this exceedingly entertaining and exquisitely “crooked” article by Aberdeen IronBirds broadcaster Jacob Rasch, on “The Oddities of a Suspended Game.” The article details the head-spinning specifics of a game that took some 33 days to complete, and is a must-read for anyone who enjoys the deep wellspring of absurdity that is baseball. Among the many nuggets contained therein, my favorite is this:

The starting pitcher, Austin Urban, struggled in the first half of the game. In four innings, he had given up 8 runs on 8 hits, including the Calderon grand slam. But in the resumption of the game, Urban was given a chance to atone.

“The suspended game fell on my day to pitch, so I got to go back out there,” Urban explained. “In the month that it took to get that game restarted, I made some big adjustments, and I approached it as a completely different start.”

Urban, given the opportunity to keep his team in the game, shut down the same Yankee lineup he had struggled against the month before. In the four innings he pitched after the game was resumed, Urban gave up only 1 hit and 3 walks, striking out 4.

Urban’s final line is strange to say the least: 8 innings pitched, 9 hits, 8 runs (all earned), 6 walks, and 6 strikeouts. All told, he threw a staggering 156 pitches, a number that would seem impossible if there weren’t a 32-day break in between pitch number 72 and 73.

Stump your friends! In 2013, no professional pitcher threw more pitches in one outing than Austin Urban’s 156.

And this concludes Ben’s Biz Blog post #998.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Crooked Nuggets: July Edition

I am writing this from a hotel in Bakersfield, cranking up the AC while contemplating the legacy of Buck Owens. My content from this California (and Oregon) trip, which begins tonight at Sam Lynn Ballpark and ends next weekend in Hillsboro, will almost certainly provide me with enough blog (and MiLB.com) material to last through the remainder of the regular season.

But before all that there is this important piece of business to take care of: Crooked Nuggets, the counterpart to my monthly MiLB.com Crooked Numbers column. Read the new edition of Crooked Numbers HERE (highlights include a Merkle-esque blunder, Double-A Rod antics, and the info behind this month’s strangest ejection) and then come back here to enjoy Crooked Nuggets: Minor League on-filed weirdness in 75 words or less.

This post, like every piece of Crooked content, is dedicated to Jayson Stark. May he one day acknowledge the existence of my efforts.

Let’s go!

Crooked Nuggets — Notable instances of July 2013 Minor League on-field weirdness and statistical quirks, in 75 words or less!

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A Delay That Makes Scents – Minor League Baseball’s latest and therefore greatest skunk delay occurred in Lynchburg on July 6, in a game between the Hillcats and the visiting Frederick Keys. Keys reliever Miguel Chalas emerged as the man of the hour, fearlessly ambling onto the warning track and using his glove to capture the skunk. (It turns out that he thought it was a cat). For far more on this riveting saga, please read this funny, informative and creatively-written post on the “Unlocking the Keys” team blog.

Good Things Come – Tim Dillard earned the 36th win of his Nashville Sounds career on June 30, establishing a new franchise record. Let’s just say that Dillard took the long route to the record, as he has just one win in 2013 and earned just one in 2012 (notched on August 14, when he tied the franchise mark). Dillard earned eight wins for the Sounds in 2007, six in 2008, 11 in 2009, give in 2010 and four in 2011. Win #37 is currently scheduled for sometime in early 2015.

Anomalous, I Tell You. Anomalous – MiLB.com records only date back to 2005, and in that time the Kannapolis Intimidators have managed to hit just three pinch-hit home runs — all of them against the Greensboro Grasshoppers. The most recent to do so Juan Ramirez on July 14, his only home run of the season.

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Flair for the Dramatic – Speaking of records dating back to 2005: in that time, there have been 16 “ultimate grand slams” in Minor League Baseball, in which a player hit a walk-off grand slam when his team was trailing by three. The most recent to do so was Dayton’s Seth Mejias-Brean on July 18, which marked the first time that any player in the Reds organization had done so since Adam Dunn on June 30, 2006.

Swinging Singles – The Charleston RiverDogs defeated the Hickory Crawdads by a score of 3-0 on July 21, in a game that featured 16 hits. All 16 of these hits were of the one-base variety.

A Pacific Coast League Canine Mascot Reports from Texas – I am proud and a little bit baffled to have among my sources an honest-to-God mascot, and that mascot is Spike of the Round Rock Express. Presented in its unexpurgated form, here is his latest Twitter-based contribution. Make of it what you will.

 

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All in Two Days Work – Brian Fletcher enjoyed a three-homer game for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals this month, and it sure took him a long time to do it. He blasted two homers against Arkansas on July 23 before the ballgame was halted by a thunderstorm, and then when play resumed the next day he hit a walk-off homer in the 11th.

Texas Sized Whiffin’ — During July 25′s game between the aforementioned Northwest Arkansas Naturals and Springfield Cardinals, six moundsmen combined to strike out a league record 32 batters (18 by Northwest Arkansas and 14 by Springfield, with NWA’s Kyle Zimmer leading the way with 12). The previous record was established way back on September 3, 1951 when Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell struck out 14 for Houston and Bob Turley (who lost the game) struck out 17 for San Antonio.

Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better (and then, eventually, worse) – Montgomery’s Victor Mateo and Jacksonville’s Bryan Evans were locked in an masterful pitching duel on July 27, with neither allowing a hit through the first five frames. Evans lost his bid after allowing a solo home run with one out in the sixth, and Mateo then trumped that by allowing back-to-back-to-back home runs to start the seventh.

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Paging Anthony Young – In 2012 Matt Benedict earned a mid-season call-up to the Bradenton Marauders and proceeded to go 0-8 with an 8.08 ERA over 14 appearances. This season he managed to lower his ERA considerably, but still lost his first nine decisions. This epic 17-game losing streak came to end on July 31, when Benedict hurled two scoreless inning and earned the win as his Marauders defeated Dunedin.

Did You Know? – In his New York-Penn League notebook on MiLB.com, Craig Forde points out the following:

A deadline deal in which the Cardinals traded left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski to the Indians came with a quirky side note pointed out by the crack media relations staff in State College. Infielder Juan Herrera, whom St. Louis received in return, was assigned to the Spikes and became the first player to play against and for the club in the same season. 

Tweet Triumvirate! Sometimes all that you really need to know is contained within 140 characters and, often, a corresponding link. Some examples:

And finally, we close with this month’s contribution from Crooked Numbers’ all-time contribution king: Oklahoma City RedHawks broadcaster Alex Freedman.

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After a sustained run of Crooked brilliance, July turned out to be a pretty tame month for Alex and his OKC cronies. But, by Crooked mortal standards, these are still pretty good:

I don’t know how crooked you can say these numbers even are. Pretty tame month and probably not worth inclusion in the main column anyway.

 *Between July 10-12, the RedHawks played four straight games in which one team was shutout. (Includes a doubleheader on the 12th.)

           July 10: W, 7-0

            July 11: L, 11-0

            July 12 (#1): L, 9-0

            July 12 (#2): W, 5-0

 *Along the same lines, the RedHawks pitched three shutouts July 8-12.  They had pitched three shutouts all season up to that point.

 *The RedHawks won the final four games of the month, scoring four runs each night

Thanks to Alex, as always, for the contribution. If you would like to work your way up the Crooked Numbers contribution ranks, perhaps to a sentinel or even an arch-duke, then please get in touch. The journey of 429 miles begins with a single step.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

A Quick Break From the Road: Crooked Nuggets!

Please believe me when I tell you that I have plenty of Midwest League “On the Road” content to share in the coming weeks, but also please believe me when I tell you that I have been writing lots of other great stuff as well. That’s my mission in life, really: to write great stuff and then bask in the profound indifference that it inevitably generates.

And now for something completely indifferent — Crooked Nuggets! This is the succinct yin to the more verbose yang that is Crooked Numbers, my MiLB.com column that features all the weirdest and wildest things that occurred on a Minor League Baseball field in the past month. Read the new edition of Crooked Numbers HERE, and then read this:

Crooked Nuggets — Notable instances of June 2013 Minor League on-field weirdness and statistical quirks, in 75 words or less!

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Losing Control – Four Myrtle Beach Pelicans hurlers combined to pitch a one-hitter against the Salem Red Sox, but Myrtle Beach lost the game by a 3-2 score as, in addition to the one hit, this quartet of hurlers also issued nine walks.

International League Juggernauts — During the NBA playoffs, the Norfolk Tides made the astute Twitter observation that their bullpen trio of Jon Rauch (6’11″), Mark Hendrickson (6’9″) and Adam Russell (6’8″) are a combined one inch taller than the starting front court of the Miami Heat. For those keeping score at home, that’s 244 inches for this Tides triumvirate against the Heat’s 243.

Get a Whiff of This: Of the 54 outs recorded in June 5′s ballgame between Wisconsin and Beloit, a staggering 33 of them came via the strikeout (16 by Beloit pitchers, 17 courtesy Wisconsin). Of the 18 batters who came to the plate during the ballgame, 16 struck out at least once, 11 struck out at least twice, five struck out at least three times, and one (Wisconsin Timber Rattler Chris McFarland) struck out four times.

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Get Out of Here! Even more staggering is this: of the 24 hits tallied by the Lancaster JetHawks and Stockton Ports on June 5, 11 of them left the park! Max Muncy led the way with three home runs, as his Ports slugged their way to a 13-7 victory. The 11 home runs tied a California League record last accomplished in 1962, while the Ports’ seven home runs fell one short of the record for most home runs by one team in a game.

Triples in Triplicate:  Back-to-back-to-back home runs are rare, but even rarer is the the three-base triumvirate that is back-to-back-to-back triples. That’s what Salt Lake’s Trent Oeltjen, Andrew Romine and Roberto Lopez accomplished in the fifth inning of June 2′s game against Colorado Springs, en route to securing a 10-1 victory. It was the second triple of the season for all three players, and in the ensuing month-plus only Romine has managed to hit another triple.

GG Ailin’ Over at Baseball Prospectus, Ben Lindbergh dives into the atrocious inning suffered by Las Vegas 51s reliever Gonzalez Germen against Tacoma on June 13. Germen came on to pitch the eighth inning and surrendered four home runs, marking just the seventh time since 2005 that this has occurred in the Minors. Since 2005 there has only been one pitcher to give up five homers in an inning, and fittingly he, too, has the initials GG: Glenn Gibson, who accomplished the ignominious feat as a member of the Carolina Mudcats in 2008.

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So Long, It’s Been Good to Know Ya – Indianapolis Indians manager Dean Treanor must have set some sort of record for “earliest ejection” on June 16, as he was tossed from the game while exchanging the line-up card at home plate. Treanor was still steaming from a call the umpiring crew had made the night before, and for more on that plus a whole lot of good writing in general please click HERE.

Something in the Way — The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and Cedar Rapids Kernels played a four-game series from June 20-23, and in the final three games of that series a runner was ruled out after being hit with a batted ball. On June 21 (I was there!), the Timber Rattlers had the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth when Orlando Arcia was hit to end the ballgame. Cedar Rapids’ Jorge Polanco was hit while running to second in the second inning of June 22′s game (I was also there, trust me), and, finally, Byron Buxton was hit while running to second in the third inning Sunday.

(The above tidbit, like so many others, courtesy T-Rats announcer Chris Mehring who, as I write this, is live-tweeting his reactions to the 1996 John Travolta action film “Broken Arrow.”) 

Decisions, Decisions – Winston-Salem’s exemplary “Dashboard Blog” notes that this year’s MiLB “starts without a no-decision” leaders are Winston-Salem righty Chris Beck (8-8 in 16 starts) and, even better, Sacramento’s Andrew Werner (7-11 in 18 starts). I will make sure to monitor this situation as it develops.

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Talkin’ ‘Bout Both Generations – It’s been the question on everyone’s mind lately: have any professional pitchers out there faced both Delino Deshields Sr. and Jr? Lancaster JetHawks broadcaster Jason Schwartz believes he has found the answer: Ted Lilly.

Lilly, 37, pitched to Delino Deshields Sr. five times over the course of the 2000 and 2001 season, while Deshields was on the Orioles and Lilly a New York Yankee. Fast forward to June 30 2013, and Lilly, making a rehab start for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, faced Deshields Jr. and his Lancaster JetHawks. Junior walked in his first plate appearance against the wizened Lilly, and laid down a sac bunt in his second.

Laying It Down – The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (yes, them again) were defeated by the Kane County Cougars by a score of 4-3 on June 30. This despite the heroic efforts of T-Rats second baseman Alfredo Rodriguez, who tied a Midwest League record by laying down three sac bunts. Per Chris Mehring, the last time this had happened was two decades and a day before. Kane County’s Anthony Silvestri accomplished the feat on June 29, 1993.

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More Alex Freedman! 

Every month, Oklahoma City RedHawks broadcaster Alex Freedman gets in touch with a full-to-bursting round-up of the Crooked-est things he’s observed whilst logging time in his broadcast booth environs. Much of this month’s Freedman missive can be read in June’s “Crooked Numbers” column on MiLB.com. But, of course, there’s more. Take it away, Mr. Freedman:

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Alex Freedman: Crooked Numbers contribution king

On June 6 in game in Omaha, the RedHawks led 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth. A play with a fielder’s choice plus an error tied the game on what should have been a game-ending double play. Two batters later with runners at the corners, pitcher Jose Valdez did the now illegal fake to third, look to first move, resulting in a balk-off win for the Storm Chasers.

 - On June 10 in Oklahoma City, the Iowa Cubs defeated the RedHawks, 7-6. Iowa starting pitcher Yoanner Negrin earned the win, despite allowing five runs and 10 hits over five innings. The real kicker is Negrin struck out eight batters, so the RedHawks were 10-for-15 against him on balls put in play. Yet he still got the win. That still blows my mind.

This has been “Crooked Nuggets,”  a proud subdivision of the monthly MiLB.com column “Crooked Numbers.” Please, someone, get Jayson Stark (who inspired the column in the first place) to acknowledge its existence. My emails have gone unreturned.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Lowell Leading the League in Flosses

One of 2011′s most intriguing promotions is planned for TONIGHT — the so-called “Human Home Run” in Lowell, MA. Between games of the doubleheader, human cannonball David Smith, Sr. will be shot out of a cannon behind second base and land over the wall in right field.

This stunt is taking place just one week after a similarly unique (yet completely different) initiative. On June 29, 3014 fans engaged in simultaneous dental flossing, a quixotic endeavor on par with last year’s “Salute to Bubble Wrap.” 

While using one long piece of floss would have been hilarious, the Spinners went a far more hygienic route by distributing Glide floss picks. In the middle of the fourth inning, it was synchronized flossin’ time.

The players, upstanding role models that they are, got in the act as well.

Jason Thompson

Swen Huijer

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Minors Moniker Madness legend Seth Schwindenhammer

Flossing would be an especially apropos activity after witnessing the Memphis Redbirds’ new between-inning competition: The Rendezvous Rib Race.

Participants include BBQ Sauce, Rib, Pulled Pork Sandwich, and Rendezvous Dry Rub Seasoning.

On a more personal level, may I suggest that you Rendezvous with MiLB.com? In addition to a jam-packed new “Promo Preview” column, today marked the appearance of  the latest “Crooked Numbers.” 

This column is a labor of love (my attempt to be the Jayson Stark of Minor League Baseball, basically), and I’d greatly appreciate if those who enjoy it pass it along to like-minded friends. I’ll close with my favorite nugget of info from this month’s column, an item brought to my attention by uber-alert Lancaster JetHawks broadcaster Jeff Lasky:

The more things change…: The Lancaster JetHawks suffered through their worst inning in franchise history June 29, allowing visiting High Desert to plate 13 runs in the second. This nightmarish frame broke the old franchise record of 12 runs allowed in an inning, which had been achieved by Lake Elsinore on May 20, 2007. Lake Elsinore’s Yordany Ramirez hit for the cycle in that ballgame, completing the feat with a triple in the record-setting 12-run eighth inning. Amazingly, Ramirez also appeared in the June 29 ballgame — as a member of the JetHawks’ pitching staff! Ramirez, in his first full season as a pitcher after nine as an outfielder, tossed two scoreless innings long after the damage had been done.

This kind of stuff is catnip for baseball nerds, right? I sure hope so.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

One Thing, Led, Another

My recent post on the Lake Elsinore Storm experience included many photos, including shots of the team kitchen as well as the easily-angered Grounds Crew Gorilla. But never did it occur to me that I’d soon be posting a photo of the Gorilla in the team kitchen.

And yet here we are:

For reasons unknown and perhaps best left unexplained, the Grounds Crew Gorilla has gotten into the international youth fad known as “planking.” The Storm have posted a photo set on Facebook entitled “Gorilla Planks the Diamond.” Here’s a few more:

The word plank brings to mind nautical discipline which brings to mind John Paul Jones, the “father of the American Navy” but also the name of the bass player in Led Zeppelin.

And here we are. Yesterday was the West Michigan Whitecaps’ second annual “Led Zeppelin Night”, Led Zeppelin II as it were.

And when it came to theme jerseys, the song remained the same. Once again, the team took the field in these:

Note: Not a player

The Whitecaps have also done “Pink Floyd Night”, and other bands that have been celebrated in such a fashion around the Minors include the Grateful Dead, Beatles, and Rolling Stones.

This leads me to make the following demand, which like all my demands will be aggressively ignored.

Nonetheless: Do a Creedence Clearwater Revival Night! CCR are easily one of the greatest rock bands of all time and deserve Minor League Ballpark immortalization.

Abbreviations such as “CCR” are prevalent on Twitter, a mode of communication that encourages extreme brevity. And as part of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs “Social Media Night”, the team will be wearing the first Twitter-themed jerseys in Minor League Baseball history.

As part of the promotion, the team is asking fans to change their Twitter and/or Facebook profile pics to the following image:

Those who do so will be eligible to win game tickets and an autographed Ryne Sandberg baseball.

Let me close with a final demand — Read Crooked Numbers!!!

It would mean a lot to me if you did so. I spend way too much time on that column, but it’s a labor of love.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Promoting, Pleading, and Lecturing to Start the Season

Opening Day in the Minors is here at last, and I think we can all raise a glass to that.

But anxiety-reducing celebratory libations can wait until later, for right now there’s business to attend to. For starters, the first “Promotion Preview” column of the season premiered today. Here’s how it looks on the home page of MiLB.com:

As I hope you are aware, “Promotion Preview” is a weekly in-season column that highlights the 10 “best” promotions of the upcoming week. I started writing it in 2006, quite by accident, and it is what has led to this niche that I now call my own. Of course, I implore everyone to get in touch with their best and most creative promotions, so that I may (possibly) include it in the column.

This week includes 3D scoreboards, snowman destruction, DIY bobbleheads, weather-related contests, pigs ON a blanket, and a lot more. Get in touch with what I’ve missed/what you don’t want me to miss.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

But with the season starting today, it is even more imperative that once again I draw your attention to “Crooked Numbers.” — a monthly column highlighting the most absurd and unlikely on-field, in-game happenings.

For this I rely greatly on broadcasters and other close observers. Did you see a pitcher notch four strikeouts in consecutive innings? A lumbering catcher hit two triples in a game after not hitting any in his entire career? A journeyman infielder switch teams between games of a doubleheader?

That’s the kind of stuff I’m looking for, the stranger the better but I want it all. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

– And since games are now being played on a nightly basis, it’s worth bringing up a point that I raised on Twitter yesterday. Namely, that teams should have a separate Twitter account for in-game updates and news! This is because there are a lot of fans who are not interested in such minutiae, and will quickly become alienated and agitated by dozens upon dozens of tweets over a short amount of time (I know I am).

This is not just my opinion — I received a lot of feedback on this issue yesterday, with comments ranging from “Even in only 140 characters, you can usually tell it’s different people with different writing styles; there’s no consistency” to “in-game updates become clutter” to simply “with you 100% on that one.”

– I might as well keep this blog’s auto-didacticism feature on for a little while longer. Apologies in advance, but here goes nothing:

I probably spend more time reading Minor League Baseball tweets, Facebook posts, blogs, and press releases than anyone on the planet. Here are a few other recommendations/observations as we begin the 2011 season; sorry if I sound like a jerk.

1. If posting simultaneously to Twitter and Facebook, make sure the message is fully contained on Twitter. Otherwise it ends abruptly with no conc

2. Again for Twitter: Explain what you are linking to, and then link to it with a shortened URL. A tweet consisting simply of a massive URL is unclear, unprofessional and a waste of the precious little space one has on Twitter to communicate.

3.  If you are posting on behalf of a team, speak for the entire organization. First-person is confusing and, again, unprofessional (ie TimbuktuTarantulas: I’m hungry good thing our GM buying us pizza 2day!!)

4. Spellcheck!

5. Speaking for myself:  I’m MUCH more likely to read a press release in which the release is contained in the body of the email itself. Having to open a word document or PDF simply isn’t worth the effort sometimes, especially if its unclear what is contained therein.

6. And use BCC (as opposed to “CC”)! A press release that starts out by displaying 400+ email contacts looks unwieldy and compromises privacy.

The bottom line is that I’m really looking forward to what will transpire this season, and consider it a tremendous privilege to cover such an interesting, creative, and often brazenly ridiculous industry on a daily basis.

Show me what you’ve got!

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Back On Track In the Big Apple

I have returned from Vegas, slightly damaged but fundamentally intact, and ready to resume blogging duties on a regular basis.

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As you’ll no doubt recall, I was in the Sin City in order to attend the annual Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar. How it works is simple. Attendees file into a big room in order to hear speeches and discussions regarding innovative promotional ideas. Then, in the evenings, they mingle.

Speeches

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Minglin’

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As luck would have it, I filed a pair of stories from Vegas.

ray.gifThe first piece laid out a simple and exciting new equation: Mascot Legend Dave Raymond + Vero Beach Sports Village = Mascot Boot Camp, specifically for costumed characters within Minor League Baseball.

The second article focused on Justine Siegal, head of the organization Baseball for All. Siegal was attending the seminar in order to pitch “Girl’s Baseball Day” promotions to Minor League teams.

And, of course, both articles were packed with the requisite “News and Notes” you’ve come to know and love (or, more accurately, that you’ve come to be vaguely aware of, and barely tolerate).

I would have produced more content from Vegas, but on Thursday afternoon I ended up getting very sick (my theory is food poisoning). The less said about that, the better, but suffice to say it occurred to me that the 11th floor of the Paradise Tower in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino would be a very sad and spiritually deficient place in which to shuffle off this mortal coil.

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Tomb of the Unknown Blogger

Sickness prevented me from attending Day Three of the Seminar, during which various promotional awards were handed out.

The winners, determined via attendee voting.

Best Theme Night/Overall Promotion: Brooklyn Cyclones — Jersey? Sure! Night

Best Non-Game Day Promotion: Clearwater Threshers — Hops For Hospice
Best In-Game Promotion: Lehigh Valley IronPigs — Battlefield Challenge
Best Green Promotion: New Britain Rock Cats — Green Team

But more importantly, only 16 hours remain to vote for MiLB.com’s “Promotion of the Year” semi-finals! Choose your favorite in each of four categories, or simply follow the example of “HappyB” and complain about “rediculous” omissions in the comments section.

And, finally, please note that new content has kept on coming regardless. Check out the offseason’s first “Minoring in Business” column, which takes a look at high-profile PDC changes throughout the Minors.

Or, even better, read through 2010′s final edition of”Crooked Numbers”. It details many of the strange and absurd events that occurred on the playing field throughout the month of September, and I really appreciate those who take the time to read it.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

Casual Tuesday

relax.gifI am a blogger, yes, and am often identified as such by those looking to affix a label to what it is I do professionally. That’s okay with me.

But I write articles, too, and would like to take advantage of this relaxed Tuesday afternoon by drawing your attention to that which has recently appeared on MiLB.com: 

New Promotion Preview column went “live” today, as is the case each and every Tuesday. I’ve been getting a fair amount of emails from people who have trouble locating the column. If it is no longer on the MiLB.com homepage, click the “News” tab and then the “Promo Preview” dropdown option.

– The first “Crooked Numbers” of the season can be found HERE. This monthly column highlights improbable and absurd on-field happenings, and I am always grateful to those who get in touch with suggestions for the column. With so much going on out there in the Minors, it is a given that there is much I won’t spot on my own.

– Farm’s Almanac appears each Friday. Last week’s feature on scouts got a great response and can be read HERE.

Continuing on the “relaxed Tuesday” theme, I recently received the following promotional video from the West Michigan Whitecaps. Saturday will be “Salute to Sweatpants Night” at Fifth Third Field, and clearly the best way to promote such an endeavor is by releasing a mascot dance audition video that concludes with an emotional home plate embrace of a pants-less pig.

  

Sweatpants and the Whitecaps seem like a natural fit, as concession stand items such as THESE practically demand an elastic waistband.

 benjamin.hill
twitter.com/bensbiz
 

And So It Begins

Opening Day is upon us! In the following clip, I am agent Dale Cooper, and the Giant is a personification of baseball season: 

MiLB.com is chock full of Opening Day content, including an around-the-minors guide, a special edition of Road Trip, and, of course, the debut edition of Promotion Preview.

But most importantly for this discussion, the start of the season means that this here blog willmilbtee.jpg go into overdrive. I’ll be doing my best to present entertaining and edifying posts on all aspects of the “bizness”, with a special emphasis on promotions. And of course, I need your help.

Get In Touch:

Here are a few of the many reasons to send me an email:

1.) You work for a team, and are in possession of entertaining photos and/or videos from a recently staged promotion.

2). You work for a team, and would like to share info on an upcoming notable event.

3). You are a fan, and would like to share you impressions of a recent Minor League game experience (photos and video always welcome).

4). You are a literary agent, intrigued by my growing mastery of an over-looked yet deeply entertaining niche subject.

I would also like to take the opportunity to mention that Crooked Numbers, my monthly compendium of odd on-field occurrences, will be returning in 2010. For this column to be all it can be, I need broadcasters, media relations directors, and attentive fans to alert me to any weird, wacky, and thoroughly improbable events you may have witnessed.

hobo.JPGTravellin’

As always, it is my goal to personally witness as much Minor League Baseball as I possibly can. Sometimes my on-site reports will be officially sanctioned work trips, others will be spontaneous and self-financed. I would truly like to visit your ballpark, and will do my best to accept any all invitations. Again, get in touch.  

I am grateful that this blog has been able to accumulate a loyal following, and that the number of daily visitors continue to increase. Here’s to a great 2010, and in case I didn’t mention it before: Get In Touch!

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

The Numbers, They Are A-Crooked

crooked.jpgMy sixth and final “Crooked Numbers” column went up on MiLB.com today, and I would implore you to check it out by clicking HERE.

For those who may not be familiar, “Crooked Numbers” is simply a monthly compendium of absurd and improbable Minor League facts. The column will now go on hiatus until 2010, so with that in mind I know present you with my “Crookedest Hits” from the season that was:

Thumbnail image for ghop.GIF

You Learn Something New Every Day: On April 23, the Greensboro
Grasshoppers defeated the Asheville Tourists, 8-7, in 14 innings. The
game was a wild affair on many levels — first baseman Bo Bowman
pitched the 14th for the Tourists and took the loss, for example — but
the most memorable aspect of the contest was that pitchers from both
teams filled in as pinch-umpires.

Below is an excerpt from the story written on the game:

This rare, but not unprecedented, occurrence was the result of a
scary event that took place in the sixth inning. Home plate umpire Koyu
Inoue was struck in the head by a foul ball and knocked unconscious,
and the ballgame was delayed for 47 minutes while he was attended to on
the field. Inoue was taken to a hospital for observation, but returned
to the ballpark later in the evening.

When play resumed, field umpire Jason Hutchings moved behind home
plate. Taking his place in the field were a pair of pitchers — Brandon
Todd of the Grasshoppers and Adam Jorgenson of the Tourists.

jewett.jpg

Synchronicity: Potomac Manager Trent Jewett notched his 1,000th career victory
and his 1,000th career loss on the same day. The veteran skipper
entered an April 30th doubleheader against Wilmington with a 999-999
career record. Potomac dropped the opener, handing Jewett loss No.
1,000. He moved his career record back to the .500 level when the
P-Nats pulled out a 6-0 victory in Game 2.

Cycling Slowly: The month of May featured two instances in which a
player hit for the cycle over a two-day period. On the 9th, Greg Jacobo of the
Cedar Rapids Kernels singled and doubled over two at-bats against the Quad
Cities River Bandits. The game was halted due to rain after an
inning-and-a-half of play and resumed the following afternoon. Jacobo then finished
what he started
the night before, homering in the fifth inning and
tripling in the seventh.

The next player to accomplish a multi-day
cycle
was Brandon Tripp of the Jupiter Hammerheads. The 25-year-old
tripled in his first at-bat against Lakeland on May 28, but the game was
suspended in the fourth. The following evening he returned to action and hit a
single in the fifth, a homer in the sixth and a double in the eighth.

storm.gif

One Game, 51 Runs: The California League is known as a hitter’s
haven, but June 28′s contest between the Lake Elsinore Storm and the High
Desert Mavericks took the circuit’s reputation for offense to stratospherically
absurd levels
. On this day, the Storm defeated the Mavericks, 33-18.

Of course, such a result made quite an impression on the Cal League record
book. A few of the marks that were established:

  • Most
    combined runs in a game (51)
  • Most hits,
    team (Lake Elsinore, 29)
  • Longest
    nine-inning game (4:10, marking the second time this year the Mavericks
    have played nine-inning game lasting longer than four hours)
  • Most
    at-bats, nine-inning game, player (nine, Lake Elsinore’s Bradley Chalk)
  • Most
    at-bats, nine-inning game, team (Lake Elsinore, 60)

And not to be overlooked is the fact that Lake Elsinore’s Mark Clark tied a
Cal League record by crossing the plate seven times.

In addition to their 29 hits, the Storm took advantage of 13 High Desert
walks and five errors. But the game’s worst pitching performance came courtesy
of Mavericks catcher Jose Yepez. The moonlighting backstop came on to pitch the
ninth and yielded four home runs, including blasts by the first three batters
he faced. This atrocious pitching line neutralized his stellar day at the
plate, as he homered and drove in four runs.

Not to be lost in the shuffle was the fact that High Desert’s James McOwen
hit safely in his 36th straight game — a new Cal League record. McOwen, Carlos
Peguero, Kuo Hui Lo and Yepez drove in four runs apiece for the Mavericks, and
the team still managed to lose by 15 runs (the most lopsided defeat of the
season).

Four For the Price of Three: An amazing report from Kannapolis Intimidators broadcaster Alex Gyr:

This may be a little late, but I wanted to let you know about our pitcher
Dexter

carter.jpg

Carter. Dexter, who leads the South Atlantic League in strikeouts,
struck out four batters in a row in the same inning twice in the month of May.

He first did it on May
10 in Lake County
in the fourth inning, when he struck out four
in a row thanks to a passed ball.

He did it again
on May 27
in the fifth inning at Hagerstown, when he used a
strikeout-wild pitch to strike out four batters in a row.

Striking out four batters in a row in the same inning is something that
has been done fewer than 20 times in the big leagues since 1900, and Dexter did
it twice in the same month!

mastro.jpg

Mastro, If You Please:
On July 25, Darin Mastroianni set a New Hampshire Fisher Cats franchise record
when he recorded four outfield assists in a game against the Portland Sea Dogs.
This is a rare feat, indeed. Consider that it has occurred just 11 times at the
Major League level, with the most recent such incident taking place in 1928.
Mastroianni threw out John Ottness at home plate in the first inning, gunned
down Jon Still at the plate in the second and sixth, and nailed Matt Sheely at
third base in the fifth. The Fisher Cats nonetheless
lost the game, 4-3
.

In Which the Magical Becomes Routine:
The Minor Leagues were awash in no-hitters in August, making that most
cherished of baseball experiences seem almost pedestrian. Eleven no-nos
occurred between Aug. 11 and Aug. 28, including two apiece on the 14th, 19th,
22nd and 28th. The Daytona Cubs contributed two during this time, and reliever Oswaldo
Martinez
was involved in both.

————————————————————————————————————

I did my best with “Crooked Numbers” this season, but am nonetheless painfully aware that there is much that I missed. Please get in touch at any time in order to share any “Crooked” tidbits of information that you may come across . I’ll post the best of these tidbits on this blog, thereby creating the illusion that there is still baseball going on as opposed to a gaping void that appears to stretch on for all eternity. 

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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