Results tagged ‘ Lake County Captains ’
It’s the first Friday of 2012, and what better way to celebrate than by doing the same sort of thing I’ve always done? That’s right — it’s time for another rollicking blog bouillabaisse! This particular bouillabaisse will take the form of the third edition of the Ben’s Biz Twitter Top 10!
The purpose of such an endeavor is to provide a compendium of the most intriguing @BensBiz tweets and re-tweets of the past week (or three weeks, in this case). The tweets, as they appeared on Twitter, are italicized. Let’s do this!
10. Gum included
For those living in NYC, let it be known that
@EconomyCandy in Lower East Side sells wax packs of ’87 and ’89 Topps for .75 cents.
My ’87 Topps-themed post from earlier this week was met with much enthusiasm, and I was very gratified to read the various emails, Tweets, and Facebook and blog comments that were issued in response. If the post got you feeling nostalgic for that era of baseball cards AND you live in NYC, then head over to Economy Candy in the Lower East Side. It is a truly wonderful establishment.
9. And speaking of ’87 Topps and how it relates to Minor League Baseball…
8. Offseason drama
One of my favorite Tweets from a Minor League player, ever.
@murraywatts: Hey lady down the street yelling at me to get out of her yard…it’s cool, I brought a bag for the dog poop
7. They’ve got the Clapp!
Hopefully, Stubby will find something to get riled up about during the 2012 season. This, from last year, was classic:
6. Dance Dance Revolution
Yes, check it out:
4. What to wear while Googling “Santorum”
3. A Most A-peel-ing Individual
If you don’t know anything about the “Great Potato Caper,” then it’s really time to educate yourself. Click on the above link to start…
2. Christmas in July, in January
It’s a strange state of affairs when Major League logo unveilings are outpacing those from the far more pliable Minors, but what is life if not strange?
For in the past week we’ve seen new looks for the San Diego Padres and (more significantly) the Miami Marlins, while the only fresh identity to be unleashed in the Minors for 2012 remains the defiantly exuberant surfin’ Cubs of Daytona. This will soon change, as the Pensacola Blue Wahoos are scheduled to emerge from the tropical depths this Friday (for more on Pensacola, check out my MiLB.com piece that ran on Friday).
For now, however, those needing a Minor League logo fix will have to make due with this Lake County Captains 10-Year Anniversary insignia:
The press release announcing the new mark notes that The logo will be featured on limited edition merchandise available at the Cargo Hold gift store at Classic Park as well as on-line at http://www.CaptainsBaseball.com. Merchandise featuring the special logo is currently arriving now in time for the holiday shopping season. The logo will also be seen on all team-issued print materials produced for the 2012 season.
And, as you may recall, it was just last season that the Captains unveiled their new primary logo. That came amidst a month which I now refer to as Logo-vember 2010, as it also included unveilings from Asheville, Kinston, Wisconsin, Omaha, New Hampshire, Kannapolis, and Altoona (among others). What a memorable — nay, magical! — time that was.
But even pre-existing logos need publicity, and the Carolina Mudcats got a nice boost last week when a new character on the Fox show Bones sported a team cap. Apparently this fella was named “Finn.”
Another team due for some increased exposure via the star-making machinations of the entertainment industry are the Fresno Grizzlies. This past August scenes from an upcoming Billy Crystal vehicle entitled “Parental Guidance” were shot at Chukchansi Park. And apparently the filmmakers were so enraptured with mascot Parker that he was recently flown down to Atlanta in order to do some follow-up shots. For more, check out this interview with Parker in the team’s “Yardwork” blog.
But a mascot’s true place is close to home, of course, especially with the holiday season approaching. This is a most busy time of year, as amply illustrated by today’s announcement by the Delmarva Shorebirds that Sherman will be appearing in a whopping SIX parades. Can anyone top that?
And in perhaps even more exhilarating mascot parade news, the R-Phils mascot band has announced their first “in-motion” gig: atop a float at the Reading Christmas parade.
Quack the Duck is psyched:
I have no doubt that he’ll be the top “billed” performer.
For mascots, there’s no escaping the spotlight. These mute yet endlessly expressive characters are the center of attention everywhere they go, and as a result they always need to be “on.” Pictures are requested, high fives demanded, and antics expected. It’s an exhilarating existence, to be sure, but not at all conducive to moments of quiet reflection and self-analysis.
Yet such moments, while rare, do occur. To capture them on camera is an exhilarating feeling, akin to a landlocked bird watcher getting an glimpse of the elusive Red Phalarope. This is how I felt during a June trip to Lake County, when I was able to capture Captains mascot Skipper in a moment of introspection.
Feeling inspired by this rare bit of photographic luck, I asked readers to please send in introspective mascot photos of their own. This request was met with an enthusiastic response, and the results are contained in this post.
What follows is the most impressive collection of introspective mascot photos that the world has ever seen.
The above individual is Louie of the Great Lakes Loons, whose powers of introspection are far greater than the average bird. Soon after abandoning his dugout perch, he went into the stands and got the fans to join him in a moment of quiet contemplation.
Another city boasting thoughtful birds amongst its citizenry is Toledo. Muddy the Mud Hen is a voracious reader, and can sometimes be spotted at the local library with his beak buried in a good book.
Muddy’s literary endeavors have increased his powers of imagination. Back at the ballpark, he sometimes gets lost in thought while resting his left arm on a railing that doesn’t even exist.
As evidenced by the picture of Skipper at the top of this post, ballpark tunnels represent a good place for a mascot to temporarily escape from the madding crowd. Here’s Phinley of the Clearwater Threshers, patriotically pontificating.
Meanwhile, in Winston-Salem, Bolt takes a moment to reflect before instigating some between-inning hula-baloo.
They say lightning doesn’t strike twice, but I was able to get a shot of Bolt during my visit to Winston-Salem this past July. This one is perhaps less “introspective” than “fatigued.”
While in Winston-Salem, I spent time with not one but TWO blog readers who went on to email me introspective mascot photos. Matt “Possum” Campbell solicited this shot of the Danville Braves’ “Blooper,” who does his best thinking with left hand planted firmly on stomach.
Meanwhile, veteran Minor League wanderer Rex Doane sent in pictures from various far-flung locales. Our journey with Rex begins in Norfolk, where Rip Tide sometimes assumes a near-beatific demeanor.
Then we fly over to flyover country, with this behind-the-back view of Swoop of the South Bend Silver Hawks.
And, finally, we arrive in the modest environs of the Modesto Nuts’ dugout. That’s where Al Almond sometimes goes in order to escape from the nuttiness surrounding him.
Another thoughtful dugout denizen is Fort Wayne’s Johnny TinCap, whose demeanor is never crotchety even if his hobbies sometimes are.
Of course, one doesn’t need to be solitary to be introspective. Over the three seasons that the team has been in existence, Chopper of the Gwinnett Braves has established himself as one of the most empathetic woodchucks in the Minors. Here he is having an on-field heart-to-heart.
Chopper’s upright demeanor is in stark contrast to Millie of the Lowell Spinners. On the last day of the season, this canal-dwelling alligator went deep into her own headspace while sitting on a stadium bench.
Allie’s daughter, Millie, simply curled up in the fetal position in order to think long and hard about the season that had just transpired.
With this concept on the verge of collapse, it seems that I’ll have to call it a day. Of course, keeping sending those introspective mascot photos in. I am totally amenable to there being a second, third, fourth, and even fifth installment of this series.
There will be no sixth installment.
I suppose it should be fairly evident by now (especially after the Fort Wayne post), but when I’m on the road I say “Yes” to anything that the teams might ask me to do. I call it the “participatory approach”, mainly because I like how those words sound together.
And in Lake County, I most definitely took the participatory approach. The team was uber-hospitable to me from the get-go, a welcoming attitude perhaps best embodied by this ego-stroking media credential.
I needed the boost, honestly, as it rained heavily throughout the four-hour drive from Fort Wayne to Lake County (just outside of Cleveland). In fact, this was the scene as I pulled into the stadium.
But this was the last hurrah for inclement conditions, as almost immediately the sun started to shine and the birds began to chirp One of my first acts of the evening was to “assist” with the tarp pull.
Let me note the following: tarp pulls are hard work! Similar to when I put on a mascot suit last season, I immediately was hit with a newfound respect for how difficult it must be to do on a daily basis.
With the tarp removed, the following realization finally hit home: It’s going to be a great night for baseball, after all.
And do you know what makes a great night for baseball even better?
It was “Thirsty Thursday,” and the Captains offer one of the best (and most creative) Minor League drinking bargains around. For one hour prior to game time, the team offers 10-cent beers. These dime brews (Budweisers, all) are sold in five ounce cups and available at Castaways Bar (in left field). Fans may buy up to 10 beer tickets, but may only redeem two at a time.
The 10-cent price is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to one of the most infamous promotions in baseball history: the Cleveland Indians’ “10 Cent Beer Night” in 1974. My favorite sentence from the well-worth-reading Wikipedia entry on the fiasco: A large number of intoxicated fans – some armed with knives, chains, and portions of stadium seats that they had torn apart – surged onto the field, and others hurled bottles from the stands.
But unsettling indicators of pervasive post-industrial societal decay were nowhere to be found on this particular evening.
Serenity ruled, so I stepped behind the counter and spent a half-hour pouring beers for early-arriving imbibers.
It was a pretty simple operation. Bud was poured from kegs into pitchers, and from pitchers into the 5 ounce cups. From there it was a matter of repeating the simple mantra of “drop two, take two” (drop two beer tickets in the bucket, take two beers).
And, novelty aside, this is still a tremendous bargain — the equivalent of a 20 ounce beer for 40 cents!
I was soon instructed to put down my pitcher so that I could become one. Yes, for the second time on this trip (and fourth overall) I had the honor of throwing out the first pitch. But once arriving on the field there was some time to kill, so groundskeeper Dan Stricko put me to work watering the infield.
I believe that I’m displaying improper technique in the above photo, as the hose should in fact be wrapped around my back. And speaking of improper technique — time for the first pitch.
In this photo, I am patiently waiting for ebullient on-field host Andrew Grover to finish introducing me to the crowd.
It was a strike, I tell you. A strike.
And it was now time to get the game underway.
The evening’s “Play Ball” kid went dead silent when it became time to perform his assigned task of yelling “Play Ball!” After about 15 seconds of silence, Grover adopted a falsetto voice and uttered the game-starting phrase himself.
Number #45 in the above picture is hitting coach Jim Rickon, who I interviewed prior to the game. Rickon is an aspiring inventor, with his latest creation being the Bat Jack. Check it out HERE, and tell them Ben’s Biz Blog sent ya.
Update! Check out this MiLB.com article about Rickon and the soon-to-be mentioned Cole Cook.
A grip trainer would perhaps have been helpful for my next endeavor — participating in a between-inning “Minute To Win It” contest. My task was to extricate every tissue from a box of Kleenex, one at a time and using one hand.
In 60 seconds.
And I did it! With just one second to spare! This was the most challenging and dramatic between-inning contest I’ve ever been a part of, and I’ve been basking in the memory of it ever since. Update! And now I can re-live it again and again! Here’s the video:
This led to a far less successful endeavor, in which me and three 20-someting male fans (some might call them “bros”) participated in the Team Trax race against a team of interns.
We dubbed ourselves “Team Dime Beer”, then ran like a group that had far too many of them. The guy in the back (not visible in the above pic) immediately steamrolled into the guy in front of him and we went down like dominoes as the interns methodically made their way to an easy victory.
Team Trax are one of the newer offerings from the excellent Gameops.com, and more info on can be found HERE. Company founder Jon Cudo happened to be in attendance at the game; it must have been painful for him to see his creation utilized so poorly. But it’s always good to see Cudo — he contacted me for an interview back in 2007, a key step in my slow realization that I might be able to write about this kind of thing for a living.
Quote from the interview: [B]eing based in NYC I rarely get to see what I’m writing about, which is frustrating and something I hope to change as the years go on.
And now I’m actually getting to participate in what I’m writing about — thank goodness for the inexorable passage of time! Which, on the particular evening, soon brought us to the “Sheetz Hop-A-Long Poniez” race. The team has put the video up on YouTube:
In retrospect, I should have continued with the “sideways hop” strategy. But congrats to the winner, who taunted me repeatedly about it for the rest of the evening. I think he said his name was Jay Milo.
In the middle of the fourth inning I ascended atop the third base dugout, and once again felt the unique agony that comes with not being able to aim a t-shirt throw properly. I hammed it up, delayed my throws, picked my target, and…missed. Both times. I’m sorry I let you down, fans I was aiming for.
No pictures of this failed effort exist. Immediately afterward, I was ushered up to the broadcast booth for an inning on the air with announcer Craig Deas. I had already done a pre-game interview with Deas for the “Captains Warm-Up Show”, so this time around I simply provided “color commentary” about a game I hadn’t watched at all up until that point.
A highlight of the conversation centered around pitcher Cole Cook, who I had interviewed earlier in the day. Cook’s father Peter MacKenzie is a well-known character actor, and among his many credits is the sitcom Herman’s Head (Cook used to visit his father on set, and during downtime would actually play inside Herman’s head. This is the greatest thing I have ever learned about any ballplayer ever).
To any Fox executives who may be listening, PLEASE release Get A Life on dvd!
Between that and my Weird Al plug in Fort Wayne, I was very pleased with my on-air performance during this trip (and please email me if you’d like to discuss anything at all related to Get A Life).
The commercial break in the broadcast booth provided a chance for some between-inning sustenance in the form of a hot dog slathered in world-famous Bertman’s Ballpark Mustard. Clevelanders are crazy about this stuff — and for good reason.
And — jeez — during the inning break there was a marriage proposal on the dugout! I would have loved to cover that as well but one thing I’ve learned on these road trips is that you can’t do it all. The days are stuffed to the gills.
And speaking of being stuffed to the gills (yeah, I’m just gonna play this segue off like it was an accident), it was soon time for the nightly Fish Race!
I was the blue fish, and eked out a victory over green and red (not pictured) that may or may not have been pre-arranged. Also, the photo above might not be to “scale.”
After changing out of my fish costume, I stuck around the right field area and snapped what I may believe may be the most introspective mascot photo of all time.
But Skipper soon snapped out of his mental reveries. For it was his duty to lead a gaggle of youths across the field as part of a nightly “Fun Run.” I tagged along, but as it turned out the whole thing was a blur.
With the game winding down, I ducked into the team store in order to pick up a Captains shirt.
The change of clothes was necessary, as I was slated to be a special guest in a post-game high school home run derby. Assistant general manager Neil Stein threw me batting practice in the cages located beyond right field, and it’s fortunate no footage exists of this because I started out by whiffing on five straight pitches.
I shagged balls in the outfield while waiting for my turn, watching kids about half my age pummel it out of the park. When it came time for me to bat I performed better than I had in the cage, in that I least made contact with all 10 swings. But it generally wasn’t very solid contact, and the best of the bunch was an opposite field “shot” that traveled an estimated 265 feet.
Maybe I needed a Bat Jack?
So, yeah, all this (and more) happened in the span of a little more than three hours. Huge thanks to the entire Captains staff for such an enjoyable and action-packed experience — I only wish that I had had more time to spend there.
But there’s still more to come from “the road.” Stay tuned, and thank you for reading. Please continue to do so, while spreading the Ben’s Biz gospel to any and all interested parties.
To begin today’s post, I’d like to share one of the greatest mascot photos of all time:
That sky-diving bull is Hornsby of the Tulsa Drillers. Jumping out of an airplane (why not?) was one of his last acts before undergoing a thorough overhaul. As part of an effort overseen by Mascot Doctor (and original Phillie Phanatic) Dave Raymond, the Drillers hired a full-time performer and and re-did the costume.
Meet Hornsby 2.0:
I think a good way to publicize the new Hornsby would be to make a video of him in a sushi restaurant eating soup, accompanied by the sounds of 2 Live Crew. The video would be called “Miso Hornsby.”
Never mind, sorry, strike that from the record. It’s just that if you can’t please everyone you’ve got to please yourself. And speaking of guardin’ parties, the 550-pound Ryan Howard Garden Gnome recently presided over the Reading Phillies humdinger of an Opening Night celebration.
A $10 million offseason renovation project always results in an extra-festive atmosphere!
But for many teams, the pomp and pageantry of Opening Day soon succumbs to cold, hard, reality. Emphasis on the cold. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are snowed out today, and yesterday evening West Michigan Whitecaps played a ballgame despite this being the scene earlier in the day:
But in the team’s own words: “If there’s snow on the field, play ball!”
Such frosty weather can be hazardous to mascots as well, as the Lake County Captains latest “Christmas Story”-themed giveaway dramatically illustrates. On July 23, one year after the “Skipper Leg Lamp“, the team is distributing this:
Yes, Skipper’s nose magnetically attaches itself to the foul pole.
That’s all for me today, but before I go let me note that there is a NEW PROMOTION PREVIEW column and that FEEDBACK IS APPRECIATED! I want to be the Big Meech of Minor League Baseball writers, but instead feel like Hoover because all of my writing occurs in a vacuum.
I’m sure this has nothing to do with belabored, obscure, and obsessive compulsive wordplay.
All of a sudden it feels like the season again, with news and notes coming in from left and right and everywhere in between. It’s time to start posting, because the content levels are rising and soon I might drown — alone and forgotten in a remote corner of MiLB.com HQ.
To the Bullet Points!
– The New York-Penn League may not start play for another three months, but that didn’t stop the Brooklyn Cyclones from releasing a picture of their Angel Pagan bobblehead. I’m glad that they took his first name literally as opposed to the surname, because a bobblehead depicting the ballplayer as a hedonistic polytheist probably wouldn’t go over too well.
— Meanwhile, Brooklyn’s NYPL rivals the Lowell Spinners announced the follow-up to last year’s celebration of Bubblewrap.The team will stage a “Flossing World Record Attempt” on June 29, a promotion recommended by four out of five dentists. My extensive research into this most crucial of topics revealed that previous attempts have involved a huge single strand of custom-made floss.
I’m not sure if this will be the case in Lowell, but either way I recommend that this product serve as the official sponsor.
– In other follow-up news, the Lake County Captains are continuing with the Christmas Story themed giveaways that started with last season’s “Skipper Leg Lamp.” On July 23, fans will receive a bobble doll in which Skipper’s nose is stuck to a foul pole. I haven’t obtained a picture yet, but this item is of course a reference to this:
– Another notable jersey hailing from the preeminent Midwest is that which the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will be wearing during Sunday home games. This one is like an undersized fish — total throwback.
Some big logo news reached these shores today, as the Lake County Captains have unveiled a new identity.
The primary mark is one of the splashiest in years. It’s naut bad at all!
The new primary logo solidifies the Captains nautical theme and the organization’s ties to Lake County. The primary colors in the new scheme will be navy blue, light blue, tan, yellow and flesh. The primary logo features a ship wheel with the new “Captains” script font across the center with a baseball below the name coming out of a wave of water. The handles of the ships wheel represent the knobs of baseball bats.
The logo seen above replaces this, which has been made to walk the plank:
At home or on the road, the players’ caps will feature this well-lit design:
The logos were designed by Studio Simon, but no one had to tell me that. This Louisville, KY-based firm has developed a quite recognizable aesthetic, one that can be spotted across the Minor League landscape (including the Eugene Emeralds and Bradenton Marauders as well as logos for the Winter Meetings, Opening Day, and the Professional Baseball Umpires Corporation).
Meanwhile, all this talk of Captains has gotten me thinking about Jack London’s “Sea Wolf.” That book is awesome; you should read it and then email me your opinions.
To that end, today’s post features my 10 favorite photographs from the recently deceased campaign. All of these pictures appeared on this blog at some point during the season, and are presented in the order in which they originally appeared.
Remember — it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. Let’s all take a look at once was:
Snowpening Day — Freezing precipitation prevented the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers from playing their first scheduled home game, causing the players to release their start-of-the-season aggression upon hapless snowmen (note the Rattlers’ scoreboard message, a nice example of thinking ahead).
Catatonic Cauliflower — Jerry “The King” Lawler visited Reading’s FirstEnergy Stadium, leaving no doubt as to his feelings regarding rampaging vegetables.