Results tagged ‘ Greensboro Grasshoppers ’

Guest Post: I Wanna be Cupdated

As you may be aware, I embark upon yet another Minor League road trip this Friday. While on the road I strive to have a set of established routines, so that my content remains consistent from location to location. Blog posts, MiLB.com stories, photo galleries, hotel room reviews, player interviews and Designated Eater Vine videos will be provided this next time around, but for one reader that’s not enough. This reader, he wants more.

And what does this reader want, specifically?

Cupdates —  as in, information regarding the specifics of each team’s collectible plastic drinkwear accompanied by corresponding visuals.

This cup-besotted reader is Peter Golkin, last seen on this blog advocating for the “Universal Rain Check” (a guest post that resulted in a series of very thoughtful comments, though “the powers that be” didn’t see fit to respond). This time Golkin’s agitating is directed at me specifically, however, and I may accede to his demands if it is demonstrated that they do not occur in a vacuum. I now give this virtual floor over to Golkin, so that he may make his case.

cup

With the new season well under way and Minor League Baseball still heatedly debating the concept of a transformational, good-at-any-park Universal Raincheck (OK, that idea was completely ignored), attention now shifts downward–under the seats amid the soggy post-game detritus.

What Minor League Baseball fans want to know is: Which teams will bring forth the great stadium soda cups of 2013?

Besides the potential jackpot from a killer cap, ballclubs have no more alluring canvas on which to paint their identities than the 16- or 24-ounce plastic vessel now given by architects its own seatside suspension system.

Beer cups tend to be clear and generic for the benefit of security. But an illustrated soda cup begs for a collectable’s afterlife. Perhaps a spot next to the backyard hammock or snug in the minivan’s console. Even as a dipper’s cuspidor, the ballpark cup suggests longevity like few souvenirs can.

So what is the state of the MiLB soda cup in 2013?

Are teams going with thin, delicate models with high centers of gravity and pastel logos like those from Churchill Container Co.? Or are they opting for the thick and litho-friendly Dynamic Drinkware tumbler, like Greensboro did last year with its memorable “Grasshopper Gone Big Time” series? (Yes, they still called Giancarlo Stanton “Mike” but that’s what his superimposed signature reads and the cup was a keeper nonetheless.)

And unlike with official team headwear, money does not have to be a factor in the preservation and study of stadium soda cups. All that’s needed are patience and a willingness to touch someone else’s moist refuse. That’s why ballparks have bathroom sinks and free napkins.

As Rougned Odor continues to make his way toward Arlington and Eastern League clubs keep adding rival logos to urinal strainers, let us also pay close attention to those graspable plastic works of sports art and history.

And who can give us regular “cupdates” while on his pixie-like travels across America? Ben Hill, with perhaps some crowdsourced assistance from his much-intelligent and much-attractive readership.

We want pictures and we want stats (capacity, price of cup with drink, manufacturer, ads/no ads, dishwasher-friendly? etc.) Perhaps this is why Twitter was invented.

Regardless of the ultimate format, a regular MiLB Cupdate is long overdue in this, our unprecedented Information Age.I’ll drink to that and to memories of the man once known as Mike Stanton, Big Grasshopper.

So what say YOU? Should “cupdates” become a regular part of my road trip coverage? If the people speak, I shall listen. 

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Putting the Fun in Philanthrofunphy

From 50-50 raffles to jersey auctions to rappelling mascots, Minor League teams are well-versed in the art of raising money for charity. And, lately, some teams have taken their philanthropic endeavors in bold new directions.

Take the Sacramento River Cats — please — who last month announced that they will issue a $1 fine to anyone who spells their name incorrectly:

You’ve been warned: the moniker “River Cats” is comprised of two words, with a capital “R” and a capital “C.” Effective immediately, all members of the local and national media, River Cats corporate partners, full- or part-time River Cats staff, and season, flex, and mini-plan ticket holders will be fined $1 for spelling “River Cats” incorrectly.

All money collected will go to the River Cats Foundation, which has contributed more than $1.5 million in cash and $16.2 million in in-kind donations to the greater Sacramento community since 2000.

This despite the fact that the team’s Twitter handle is @rivercats — no underscore! — and their logo doesn’t really make a point of separating “River” and “Cats.”

cats

The River Cats’ initiative brings up a larger issue, in that there is a complete lack of uniformity when it comes to Minor League monikers. The Charleston RiverDogs do not use a space between River and Dogs, for example, while the Delmarva Shorebirds go the one word, no caps route. The Minor Leagues are a grammatical minefield, their team names as unregulated as a 19th century western territory brothel.

Another unique fundraising effort comes courtesy of the Greensboro Grasshoppers, who partnered with outbid.com in order to host a live online auction featuring team owner Donald Moore as auctioneer.

GreensboroHeader

Outbid is said to “combine the theater and transparency of live online auctions with social gaming features,” and its existence means that we are all one step closer to living in a Utopian society. Items that the Grasshoppers auctioned off included team-autographed baseballs, a night in a 24-person ballpark suite and, best of all, an autographed Willie Nelson jersey.

Finally, we turn our attention to the Lancaster JetHawks (who, it should be noted, recently had to postpone one of their games due to a haboob).

The JetHawks won the California League championship last season, and now fans are being given the chance to get a ring.

jethawks

Swiped from the press release:

The Lancaster JetHawks have partnered with two local little leagues to host a special raffle giving two individuals the opportunity to win an authentic customized 2012 California League Championship Ring. Proceeds from the raffle will be donated to West Lancaster and Quartz Hill Little Leagues.

Raffle tickets are on sale now and will be sold through June 10. Tickets will be available for $5 each, or five for $20….The winning raffle tickets will be drawn just prior to the JetHawks game on June 12. The two winners will receive custom-made rings personalized with their own last name during a special pre-game ceremony that will take place at a JetHawks game in late August.

And that shall conclude this blogging week, which was admittedly a light one. And when things are light on the blog it’s always a good bet that they’re correspondingly heavy over on MiLB.com Head to the site for Promo Preview, an Opening Weekend Crooked Numbers column, and three — count ‘em three — pieces of content related to 42. 

I do it all for you, as “you” is what I have nicknamed my paycheck.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Everything Old Is New Again

It Is Happening Again.

Those words, spoken so hauntingly by the Twin Peaks Giant (click the link!), have been echoing through my mind recently. Several seemingly unique events that have taken place this week that in fact have precedent in the not-too-distant past. Let’s take a look:

A rather amusing story came out of Toledo today, involving the almost-but-not-quite theft of one of the bronze statues located behind the Fifth Third Field scoreboard. Here are the statues in question, photographed during my trip to Toledo this past June.

But, as the Toledo Blade reports, on Sunday night the girl in pigtails on the far left was reported stolen:

Mud Hens employee Ken Westenkirchner called the police and filed a theft report. The Arts Commission of Greater Toledo, which manages the city’s public art, prepared for a media blitz to publicize the heist and bring the perpetrators to justice….

What Mud Hens officials and the arts commission did not know, however, was that the little girl in pigtails was safely stowed in a police property room. In the early morning hours of Saturday, two Toledo police officers discovered the statue about 20 yards from its original location. They booked it into a property room for safekeeping, according to their report…..

Apparently, nobody bothered to tell the Mud Hens or the art commission. 

Later in the article, Toledo police speculate why the statue was removed in the first place.

Detective Tonya Rider said the bolts that anchored the statue to the sidewalk had been damaged. “I don’t know if it was a prank, if it got too heavy to carry,” she said. “I don’t know what the circumstances were. Maybe it was a case of buyer’s remorse.”

This saga comes on the heels of the near-tragedy that befell the Greensboro Grasshoppers last month, when the statue of iconic dog mascot Miss Babe Ruth went missing. Here’s a picture of the statue, in happier times.

Three days after the theft, Greensboro police caught the culprit and returned the statue (damaged paws and all) to NewBridge Bank Park.  Seeking to make lemonade out of this thoroughly sour situation, the team then auctioned off the returned statue on eBay. The winning bid was $1025, with the proceeds donated to the Greensboro Police Department’s Canine Unit.

Moving on the inanimate to that which is imbued with life, it is also worth noting that this has been a fertile week for player performances of the National Anthem. A YouTube of Charlotte catcher Adam Ricks playing the anthem on his guitar was featured in Tuesday’s post, and yesterday Altoona pitcher Phil Irwin belted it out at at Blair County Ballpark. Check it out on the team’s Facebook page.

Mr. Irwin

A more random and unexpected instance of history repeating itself can be found in State College, which recently had its second comical base-stealing managerial ejection in as many years. It would be near impossible to top the original, when Spikes manager Gary Robinson autographed first base and awarded it to a young fan.

Fast forward nearly one year later — to yesterday. This time the ejected manager was Leo Gomez of the visiting Aberdeen IronBirds, who uprooted third base and walked across the diamond with it before unceremoniously tossing it aside. Spikes first baseman Alex Dickerson then played groundskeeper, jovially returning the base to its intended location. Check it out HERE.

Finally, there’s Jerry “The King” Lawler, a wrestling icon who has become a regular on the Minor League Baseball appearance circuit. When he last appeared on this blog he was knocking out a cauliflower, but his current adversary seems to be anyone with the gall to steal a crown from a perpetually smiling fast food mascot. This one comes courtesy of the Frederick Keys:

Thank goodness for conveniently placed concourse folding chairs. I don’t know what Jerry would do without them.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

New For 2011 — Efficient Pigs, Generous Bugs, and Hard Working Hens

We’re in the homestretch now.

The four finalists in MiLB.com’s “Promo of the Year” voting have been determined. They are:

promoyr.jpg

 

Best Giveaway: Lancaster JetHawks — Robert “Hoot” Gibson bobblehead
Best Celebrity Appearance: Arkansas Travelers — Jose Canseco (vs. Gary Hogan in pre-game boxing match)
Best “Miscellaneous” Promotion: Birmingham Barons — Rickwood Classic
Best Theme Night: Fresno Grizzlies — Twilight Night

ballot.jpg

Congratulations to the above quartet – you are all winners. But the ultimate winner is yet to be determined! Vote HERE to decide the be-all, end-all Minor League Promotion of the Year. Voting runs through 10 am ET on Wednesday, October 12.

And that’ll be it — promise!

But that won’t be it for this blog post. I’ve got content, and I hope you’ll be content with it.

– First things first, the entity currently known as the Omaha Royals have announced the nine

omahog.jpg

finalists in their “Name the Team” contest. Those who like names that evoke weather and/or cattle and/or Star Wars will be well pleased, as the choices are Cattlemen, Commanders, Force, Hailstorm, Omahogs, Royals, Sodbusters, Stormchasers, and  Windwalkers.

I have gone on the record before on this topic, and will do so again: My favorite is “Omahogs.” Not only is this moniker an efficient combination of nickname and place, but it also a nod to Omaha’s past. Between 1885-1901, the city intermittently fielded a Western League club called “The Omahogs.” The 1885 club went 4-24 before folding, replaced in the circuit by a Keokuk Hawkeyes team that included Bud Fowler (one of my all-time baseball heroes).

– Another recent announcement of note emanates from Greensboro, who announced their “Guarantee to Give” playoff pledge. If the team makes it to the postseason in 2011, then $100,000 (!) will be distributed among 20 charities. More info can be found HERE.

– But right now, the 2011 postseason seems so far away. Somewhat closer is Opening Day, which will be especially notable in Toledo. The Mud Hens have announced that their April 14 opener at Fifth Third Field will be a doubleheader, consisting of a pair of seven-inning contests. What an excellent way to say “hello” to the new season, and all the promise contained therein.

dh.jpg

I hope the above information met or exceeded your desire and capacity for Minor League news on a Wednesday afternoon in early October. Please let me know either way.

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

Making Concessions (With Your Pants On the Ground)

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Whitecaps Primary.JPGMaybe it was because of the long weekend, but today has been busy with a capital whatever-letter-busy-starts-with.

I’ve got lots of Minor League news items to share with the masses, and like a fair-minded mother I love each item equally. Nonetheless, I can’t help but lead with THIS:

The West Michigan Whitecaps are soliciting original ideas for new food items to be
served at Fifth Third Ballpark this season. Starting Wednesday, January
20, fans can submit their ideas and thoughts online regarding what new
food items they would like to see served at Fifth Third Ballpark this
summer.

Some of the more unique concessions items served in the past include
Deep-Fried Twinkies, Caesar Salads, Deep-Fried Pepsi, Apple Cider
Floats and the Fifth Third Burger, which garnered international
attention with its debut last season and will remain on the menu in
2010.

And who could forget the Fifth Third Burger, that meaty monstrosity that just last March helped turn yours truly from an obscure blogger to a slightly less obscure blogger?

53burg.jpg 

If YOU would like to submit a concession idea to the Whitecaps, then read on:

Ideas for new items will be taken through February 8 and
submissions can be made through the Whitecaps facebook page
(facebook.com/wmwhitecaps), the Whitecaps Twitter page
(twitter.com/wmwhitecaps) or via e-mail at
playball@whitecapsbaseball.com. All submissions should be accompanied
with a description and a picture, if possible.


Starting February 9 fans will be able to vote for their choice on the
new 2010 concessions items. Voting will take place on the Whitecaps
website, whitecapsbaseball.com, and will end February 23.

I came up with an idea of my own, and if I can reconcile it with the laws of physics as well as societal mores then I will definitely submit it.

Moving On…

“Pants on the Ground” has become a certifiable cultural phenomenon, to the point where even Brett Favre is doing deeply unfunny renditions of it. And when a cultural phenomenon occurs, you best believe Minor League teams are going to jump on board. Kudos, then, to the Greensboro Grasshoppers for being the first team to create a video that references General Larry Platt’s masterpiece.

nypl.JPG for the 2011 New York-Penn League All-Star Game. The winner recieves an All-Star Prize Pack as well as “a lifetime of bragging rights.” More details can be found HERE.

Proceeding Into the Abyss From Which There Is No Return — MLBlogs released its 2009 rankings today, and yours truly (me, in other words) finished 21st in the “Pro” category. This represents a significant step up from 2008’s #49 ranking, so thank you very much for reading. It is my ultimate goal to become #1 overall, not just within MLBlogs but the entire internet.

Beyond Forever — A little known fact is that I regularly churn out articles for MiLB.com. Recent offerings include pieces on Gwinnett County’s new GM, Haiti relief efforts, and a new edition of “Roadtrip“. Thanks, again, for reading.  

Oh, and one last thing — Over the past several weeks, many clubs have posted pictures of their ballparks covered in snow. That was so early January, however, and teams that are “in-the-know” have moved on to the next trend: candid shots of fog enshroudment. Behold Trenton’s Waterfront Park:

fogenshroudment.jpg 

And with that, I bid you farewell.

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

Resolved: To Stop Blogging Until 2010

Article Addendums Are Inevitable

Thumbnail image for vid.jpgIn case you missed my “Tweet” on the matter, I would like to point out that on Wednesday a very important article appeared on MiLB.com.

This article was important for one simple reason: I wrote it. It dealt with how Minor League Baseball teams are making videos and posting them on the internet, and included a variety of examples. Read it HERE, I beg of you.

And now, just as I had suspected, I am being deluged with emails from teams who were excluded from the article (it is my understanding that any number greater than one represents a “deluge”).

First, I heard from the constantly overachieving Quad Cities River Bandits, who recently debuted a weekly video series entitled “There Is No Offseason” (for those keeping track at home, this joins Fresno’s “I Hate the Offseason” and Omaha’s “My Offseason Life Is Average” in the pantheon of vides with “offseason” in the title). Here’s the debut episode:

Quad Cities’ web site features a well-organized “Bandits: On Demand” Multimedia page in which the discerning browser can peruse a wide variety of team videos. I suggest that you go to there, which is HERE.

But first I must share “I’m On A Berm”, the River Bandits’ parody of Lonely Island’s “I’m On A Boat.”

This is one of two “I’m On A Boat” parodies from the Minor Leagues, with the other being Hudson Valley’s “I’m On A Field”. Which do you like better?

 
The second half of today’s email deluge arrived courtesy of the Greensboro Grasshoppers, who have a weekly offseason video series of their own entitled “It’s Always Hoppin’ Fun With the Grasshoppers”. Witness:

Those seeking more Grasshoppers videos can end their quest simply by clicking HERE. And while I’m on the topic, I’d like to point out that canine mascots Miss Babe Ruth and Master Yogi Berra have been entered in Hallmark’s “Cutest Dog of the Season” contest. I’m voting for Yogi, simply because of THIS.

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

2009: The Year in Photos

cam.jpgI am ready to embrace the offseason. I really and truly am. But if I come up with a blog post idea that will let me re-visit a time when Minor League Baseball was actually played every day, then you best believe I’m gonna do it.

And today, that idea is this: to present my favorite photos that appeared on this blog during the 2009 season. I did not apply any specific criteria when making these selections, other than to ask myself “Does this photo make my inner-most being cry out in rapturous wonderment?.” If the answer was in the affirmative, then you will see it listed below. Hopefully, your innermost being will respond similarly.   

What follows are my top 10 pics of the year, listed in the order in which they appeared on this blog.

Master Yogi Berra Lets LooseOn April 21, Greensboro Grasshoppers canine mascot Master Yogi Berra had a bit of an on-field accident. The following is one of two pictures I obtained of the incident (the “clean version”, if you will):

yogi (2).jpg  
(Photo credit: Dano Keeney)

Ceremonial CentenarianOn April 24, Round Rock Express season-ticket holder Chris Nocera threw out the first pitch. She is 102 years old — and very determined:

Thumbnail image for 102 pitch 1.JPG

Cream Stick Gets CreamedThe Akron Aeros nightly “Cream Stick Race” was, by all accounts, a chaotic free-for-all. Here, Vanilla feigns innocence immediately after pushing Maple to the ground:

creamstick 1.JPG


Ready, Set, SwallowSword swallower extraordinaire Dan Meyer prepares to ply his trade in Huntsville. I was lucky enough to be in attendance for this, a post-rainout performance for an audience of 15.

dan ready to perform.JPG

A Moo-ving ImageA key component of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers’ “Salute to Cows” was a mooing contest. The following picture depicts the eventual champion as he readied himself for the moo of his life:

timber rattlers moo contest.JPG 
 

Presidential Self-Love The Brookyln Cyclones gave away Obama bobbleheads as part of “Barack-lyn Cyclones” night, and the commander-in-chief went out of his way to let the crowd know that he approved:

brooklyn baracklyn bobble.JPG

(photo credit: George Napolitano/Brooklyn Cyclones)

An A-peel-ing Photo —  As part of the Idaho Falls Chukars’ “Potato Night”, so-called “Spuddy Buddies” were thrown into the crowd. It was a thing of beauty:

Idaho Falls -- Spuddy Buddies Go Flying 2.JPG

Mascot MassageIn Birmingham, even costumed characters need the occasional rubdown:

Birmingham -- Mascot Massage 2.JPG

Belly Quickly BustedThis guy couldn’t even make it out of the first round in the Williamsport Crosscutters’ annual “Belly Buster” contest:

Thumbnail image for Williamsport -- Belly Buster, hot dog loser.JPG

Owlz Well That Ends Well Hootz and Holly tied the knot in a dramatic post-game ceremony in Orem, resulting in a surreal and oddly touching spectacle:

Thumbnail image for Orem Mascot Wedding Hootz sez I do.jpg

If you have any photos from this past se
ason that you think are worthy of inclusion in this blog, then by all means get in touch. I’ll be waiting patiently for your correspondence.

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

Greensboro Goes Off the Griddle

Thumbnail image for Greensboro -- waffle appreciation animated logo.PNGPromotions, like anything else in life, are what you make of them. So while “Waffle Appreciation Day” might not sound like much on paper, in the hands of the breakfast-loving Greensboro Grasshoppers it was transformed into one of the best theme nights of the year.

I first got a sense of the power of the waffle last month, when I contacted Grasshoppers’ director of special events Allison Moore for some information on the promo (which was held on August 24th). This is just some of her reply:

“August 24th is National Waffle Appreciation Day, celebrating the patenting of the waffle iron by Cornelius Swarthout of Troy, New York on August 24, 1869.

We at the Grasshoppers are very fond of the waffle as our fans chant “Waffle Waffle Waffle” and sing along with Parry Gripp’s “Do You Like Waffles” song on a nightly basis. They do so to taunt the “Waffle House Strike Out Victim” of the night, as they all get free waffles if he strikes out.”

The “Waffle Song”:

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Moore went on to explain that Waffle Day would also feature a waffle eating contest, waffle trivia, Waffle House giveaway items (including cozies and hats), and a special appearance by “The Waffle Man” (a spoof of the West Virginia Power’s “Toast Man”, an eccentric fan who throws toast at the crowd when an opposing batter goes down on strikes):

toast man.jpg 

And, of course, waffle player headshots factored into the festivities:

Greensboro -- waffle headshot.PNG

(You know what I heard about Andrelczyk? That he can pitch “butter” than anyone else, and that instead of socks he wears “syrups”. Also, that the “WL” next to his name stands for “Waffle Lover”).

Anyway…it was clear that the Grasshoppers do not mess around when it comes to waffles. Can you see that they are serious?

Greensboro -- Waffle Day Logo.JPG

After the promo took place, Moore checked in to let me know that it was indeed a “success.” The waffle-eating contest stood out as a particular highlight, with the coveted “Waffle Belt” being awarded to group sales associate Travis Kerstetter:

Greensboro -- Waffle Eating Contest Winner Party Boy.JPG

Those interested in how Kerstetter’s victory came to be should check out this video, which shows the eventual champ out-consuming all who opposed him:

Of particular interest to me was the fact that this clip both began and ended with the music of Weird Al Yankovic (the featured songs were “Eat It” and “Waffle King”). I also must give credit to the on-field MC for referring to Kerstetter’s win as a “Travis-ty”.

And let’s not forget the “Waffle Man”, that mustachioed distributor of fine food product:

Greensboro -- Waffle Man.JPG

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this was the best salute to a breakfast food product that occurred in the Minor Leagues in 2009. If you dispute this assertion then please get in touch immediately. I will diligently consider your arguments to the contrary and then weigh in with a fair and well-considered verdict.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

Ladies and Gentlemen — "Deuuuuuuuuuce!"

Readers of this blog will no doubt recall the April incident in which Greensboro Grasshoppers’ dog mascot Master Yogi Berra used the playing field as his personal toilet.

Believe it or not, on-field canine mascot defecation has occurred yet again — this time in Myrtle Beach (home of the Pelicans). The culprit was the appropriately-named “Deuce“, who dropped one in the outfield before completing a victory lap around the bases.

Doody compels me to post the video of this occurrence, which is both hilarious and disgusting (kudos to the MC, who came up with some appropriate ad-libs). I promise to be back tomorrow with more high-brow fare, but for now sit back and enjoy this season’s most recent scatological lowlight:
 

Ben’s Biz Blog — Your #2 Source For On-Field Minor League Canine Mascot Defecation since 2009.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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