Results tagged ‘ Darren Rovell ’

Regional Cuisine, Sweet and Extreme

Now that the relentless onslaught of season-opening news has finally subsided, I can dedicate a post to the topic most near and dear to the hearts of Minor League fans everywhere.

Food.

But instead of leading with yet another heart-stopping meat-strosity, today’s post will begin by highlighting a food and beverage innovation that deserves to catch on throughout the land. The Richmond Flying Squirrels are offering a “Tastes of the Eastern League” special this season, in which they offer a concession item inspired by the home city of their opponent.

Here’s the list, with my only complaint being the absence of “Spiedies” when the Binghamton Mets are in town:

Akron, Ohio: Galley Boy – Two cheese burgers topped with a slice of onion and BBQ sauce

An approximation of "The Pittsburgher"

Altoona, Pennsylvania: The Pittsburgher – Roast beef, slaw, cheese, and fries on a hamburger bun

Binghamton, New York: Meatball sub

Bowie, Maryland: Crab cake Sandwich

Erie, Pennsylvania: Pierogies

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Chicken Cheesesteak Sandwich

New Britain, Connecticut: Funnel Cake with marinara sauce

Manchester, New Hampshire: Fried Fish sandwich

Portland, Maine: Lobster Cake Sandwich

Reading, Pennsylvania: Philly Cheese Steak sub

Trenton, New Jersey: Taylor Pork roll sandwich

Blogger-ly intuition tells me that the Flying Squirrels aren’t the only team promoting league-wide culinary adventures. Are you?

Of course, the Flying Squirrels are offering suitably obscene “Extreme” menu items as well. This is Minor League Baseball we’re talking about, after all.

From left to right we have the Giant Burger (two 6 oz. Certified Black Angus patties topped with a mound of Squirrelly fries covered in BBQ sauce, drenched in cheese, served on a Crustini bun), Trolley Dog (giant hot dog covered with chili and cheese, nestled on top of two fried pickles), and the Golden Gate Burger (Two 6 oz. Certified Black Angus patties topped with a mound of Squirrelly fries covered in BBQ sauce, drenched in cheese, served on a Crustini bun). Thanks to Richmond director of broadcasting Jon Laaser for the copious food info.

Meanwhile, out west, the Lancaster JetHawks are making waves with their “Sweet Po-Tater Tots” (with a side of syrup). Now this is how teams should photographically depict premier concession items! Take note:

The Sweet Po-Taters recently caught the eye of CNBC sports biz reporter Darren Rovell, who tweeted the above pic to his legions of followers. This, in turn, inspired the JetHawks to put out a press release bragging about said Tweet. If only I were influential enough to inspire photo-shopped images such as this:

Remaining in the California League, you may recall this recent picture of the Lake Elsinore Storm’s “Filthy McNasty,” a two-pound burger stuffed with two hot dogs, bacon and cheese….smothered in chili and topped with crispy onion straws.

Well, there’s more where that came from. In a distressingly (or perhaps mercifully) photo-free press release, the team also relays the following info:

Another attraction is the “Home Wrecker”….three half-pound chili dogs topped with one-and-a- half pounds of French Fries, two pounds of chili and three-quarters-of-a-pound of cheese and diced onions….If one person can finish this monster dog in less than 20 minutes, it’s free!

Other new items added to the 2011 Diamond Club menu include: a one-and-a-half pound baked pretzel with dipping sauces named the “Belly Twister”, cheeseburger sliders with soft pretzel buns called “Pretzel Sliders”, a bleu cheese stuffed cheeseburger aptly named the “Juicy Bleusy”, a jalapeno stuffed cheeseburger called the “Cajun Lucy”, a burrito filled with shrimp, fries, guacamole, pico de gallo and cheese named “The Pipeline” and a make-your-own burrito called the “Cardiac Roll.”

Update! Here are up-close-and-personal pics of the “Homewrecker” and “Pretzel Sliders”:

And here’s the Filthy McNasty, about to be devoured:

The Toledo Mud Hens aren’t lacking for pictures either, as the team recently released a captivating online menu featuring their new concession items.

Highlights include Deep-Fried Pickle Spears as well as the “Texas Twist” a 24-oz soft pretzel, measuring one full square foot! Served with honey dijon, spicy & fancy yellow mustards.

Knot bad!

Sorry, that’s going to have to do. Knot bad. They can’t all be weiners.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

In Which Tweeting Leads to Eating

sandgnat.jpgBelieve it or not, I’ve gotten a little bit (heart)burned out on Minor League food news. But the latest and greatest innovation to come down the pike is interesting not just for its colossal caloric content.

The Savannah Sand Gnats will be serving two brand-new menu items at Grayson Stadium this season, the end result of an interesting case study in fan interactivity and the power of social media. Here’s how it went down.

This past Saturday, CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell asked his huge cadre of Twitter followers to come up with “The next great ballpark food.” Impressed by the response, he then decided to compile the suggestions and put them to a vote on his blog. Savannah Sand Gnats director of communications Toby Hyde quickly reached out to Rovell, saying that his team would put the winning items (main course and dessert) on the concession menu at Grayson Stadium.

The polls opened on Monday afternoon and closed 24 hours later, a span of time in which 2500 votes were collected. And the winners are:

Chicken and Waffles (27%) and S’Mores Panini (39%)!candw.jpg

The former was submitted by an attorney in San Francisco, with the stipulation that waffles would be used as buns. The latter, meanwhile, is “Nutella, Fluff, crushed graham crackers on Italian bread, grilled on a panini press.” Not coincidentally, it was submitted by the owner of a panini business.

From start to finish, this whole endeavor lasted less than 72 hours. But in that span of time, the Sand Gnats received national publicity as well as a great new marketing angle — exciting concession items!

Rovell and the Sand Gnats have provided an easily adaptable template, and I find myself crushed by the sheer inevitability of similar promotions happening in the future.

– At this juncture in the blog post, it’s time to stop writing and let some videos do the talking. Yesterday, the Pawtucket Red Sox released episode two of their Scavenger Hunt extravaganza. I am posting this because of the absolutely hilarious performance turned in by the Tae Kwon Do instructor:

Meanwhile, this video from Hudson Valley shows that old-school arcade classics can (and in fact should) be adapted into on-field post-game live-action contests. Bonus points for the onfield host, who flat-out tells a contestant that “dude, you’re terrible.”

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

Can 'The Beast' Be Beaten?

wimpy.pngAfter a five-day stint in Indianapolis for the Winter Meetings, I have safely returned to New York City’s comforting embrace. There is still much Winter Meetings blogging to come, as soon as I complete the Herculean task of uploading photos. In the meantime, I would encourage everyone to check out my anecdotally-driven wrap-up article HERE

But, for now, I would like to draw everyone’s attention to the blog of CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell. Specifically, Rovell wrote today about an attention-getting concession item that will be served up next season by the Gateway Grizzlies of the independent Frontier League.

It’s called “The Beast”, and it’s 15 burgers stacked atop one another:

the beast.jpg 

Frankly, I am unimpressed…and I am not just saying that because the Grizzlies are an independent team and I cover affiliated ball. The team has a distinguished history when it comes to over-the-top concessions, and I commend them for their efforts. I would also like to suggest that they open a pharmacy on their concourse and call it “Gateway Drugs.”

But “The Beast” is is just a pile of burgers, and I do not think it will end up being 2010’s mostquestion.jpg intriguing concession item.

But, what will? Is someone in the world of affiliated ball going to step up in this category?

I am devoting so much space to this because there is a little history here. If you’ll recall, last season Rovell picked up my post on West Michigan’s Fifth-Third Burger. The story then spread through the internet like virtual wildfire, resulting in a massive boost in readership for yours truly.

So, yes, this post is more self-serving than an afternoon at Old Country Buffet. I challenge you all to create an eye-popping concession item, and then get in touch. My livelihood depends on this.

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

Deep Fried Cornmeal Enters the Mix in Richmond

Hushpuppies.jpgOn Tuesday, I blogged about Richmond’s “Name the Team” contest. Satisfied with my work, I then took the following day off.

But, as the saying goes: “You snooze, you looze.” And I have lost. For while I was convalescing with Country Joe records and The Roald Dahl Omnibus, a crucial development occurred in Richmond’s contest.

A “wild card” entrant has been added to the list of contenders, courtesy of CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell. What happened was this: between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Wednesday, fans were asked to submit their “wild card” name suggestions to Rovell. He recieved over 9000 responses, and chose the following (Drum Roll, please):

Hush Puppies

This is an unorthodox pick, to say the least. Today, Rovell posted on his blog that “The most common names suggested included references to American history
and the local James River. Hundreds of people wrote in for the River
Rapids or River Cats. Others picked names like the Revolution, Generals
and Cannonballs.”

Just one fan, meanwhile, suggested “Hush Puppies.” Despite the lack of anything resembling a common consensus, it captured Rovell’s attention for these reasons:

It has that deep-rooted Southern heritage
It’s different from what has been out there
It’s kid friendly

It has great mascot possibilities

It has an automatic concession tie-in

There is some precedent for “Hush Puppies”, since there is already a Double-A team namedMontgomeryBiscuitsCap.png after a staple Southern food (the Montgomery Biscuits, natch). For the record, I did not submit any “Wild Card” suggestions. But if I had, I would have gone all meta and suggested “Wild Cards”.

At any rate, fans can cast their vote for “Hush Puppies” (or any of the other five suggestions) at the website of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. If the comments section of the Times-Dispatch is an accurate indicator of public opinion, then the local reaction to the half-dozen names on the ballot could charitably be described as “mixed”. This is understandable, given the across-the-board frivolity of the team’s choices. My guess, however, is that fans will come around to the team name (whatever it may be) once a logo is unveiled and an overall marketing game plan established.

iron.gifIt is worth noting that Chuck Domino, chief executive of Richmond Baseball, previously presided over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. That club has enjoyed two spectacularly successful seasons thus far, and the off-kilter name has played a huge role in how the club brands and markets itself. So, there is reason to believe that the same feat can be achieved in the Richmond market as well.

Promo of the Year Update: As of this writing (2:37 p.m. EST), Bowling Green’s “What Could’ve Been Night” maintains a slight (124 vote) lead over Fresno’s “As Seen on TV Night.” Voting doesn’t end until October 12, so this one is far from over. Vote HERE.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

Also, I’m back on Twitter. For real this time: twitter.com/bensbiz

Places To Go, People To See

Officer Giving Directions.jpgIn lieu of, you know, actually providing new content, I will wrap up this blogging week by directing you elsewhere.

CNBC’s Darren Rovell maintains a consistently interesting sports business blog, and yesterday he caught up with former track star Carl Lewis in Beijing. Most of Rovell’s conversation with Lewis revolved around his infamous rendition of the National Anthem at a Nets-Bulls game in 1993 (which can be listened to, in all its glory, here).

Rovell wraps up his post with the following exchange between himself and Lewis:

Me: Will you ever sing the National Anthem again?


Carl:

I don’t know. It may happen again one day. Trust me, there’s a lot of
things in life I said

CarlLewis.jpg

I’d never do and somehow people convince me to do
it.

Me: But don’t you think you have to sing it again to prove you can, you know, start on the right key?

Carl:
People know me know my past, what I stood for, what I did for the
sport. As far as the Anthem goes, people know where to find me. They
know how to get me to do it again. (Lewis rubs his fingers together as
if to say it would take money.) 

Minor league teams… start the bidding! Carl Lewis Anthem Night would be a sure sellout.

Carl Lewis Anthem Night is an excellent idea, and it would generate a ton of publicity for the team that makes it happen. Any concerns over the evening’s possible lack of respect for the National Anthem could be mitigated by including a bevy of overtly patriotic elements as well. Just make sure Roseanne doesn’t show up.

100px-DaytonDragons.JPGAnd speaking of patriotism…the Gameops.com Editor’s Blog has a great post today, featuring video of an incredible event that took place at a Dayton Dragons game. As part of a “Hometown Heroes Celebration” of local members of the military, the club helped orchestrate a very touching reunion between a deployed serviceman and his family.

I don’t want to give anything anyway, but Dragons’ are to be commended for staging such a well-orchestrated stunt. It would be hard to top this one. 

Hopefully George Clooney will see this and it will inspire him to stop talking trash.

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