Results tagged ‘ Lakewood BlueClaws ’

Still Recapping, Moving Images

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If you thought I was done recapping the 2010 season, then you thought sensibly.

You also thought wrong. 

One (self-imposed) task remains, and that is to dedicate a post to the best team-produced videos that appeared on this blog in 2010. This is an entirely subjective task, of course, but it is indisputable that the following videos you are about to see possess ample comedic chops. 

In reviewing the year that was, I came to the realization that my favorite videos of the season had the following three things in common: They featured players, they were short (under two minutes) and they were funny.

No team was better at combining the following three criteria than the Peoria Chiefs, who put out videos featuring boy bands, models, and karaoke superstars. But my personal favorite paid homage to the sweet sounds of Motown.

The Tulsa Drillers were able to provide great insight into the culture of the bullpen, whose denizens are free to focus on matters follicles.

In Everett, meanwhile, the players were more concerned with that which resided above the upper lip.

And since we’re talking about players, I would be remiss if I didn’t include the masterwork of Reading Phillies sluggers Tagg Bozied and Matt Rizzotti.

The Charlotte Stone Crabs also used players to great effect throughout the season, as part of their “This Is Stone Crabs Baseball” ad series. This one, starring Isaias Velazquez, was my favorite.
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Velazquez has good reason to be upset, and as this video amply illustrates it is not wise to mess with Minor League Baseball players. Behold, the “aqua-palypse” that took place in Gwinnett County.

Of course, a good Minor League video doesn’t necessarily need to feature the players at all. Lakewood BlueClaws intern “D-Bo” made a name for himself this season with a series of videos designed to highlight upcoming promotions. Here’s a sample, with sight gags a-plenty:
 

Amazingly, I’ve gotten this far without posting a parody video. Let’s rectify that immediately, by checking out the Binghamton Mets unique take on “Twilight”.

But nothing inspires parody more than early ’90s West Coast gangsta rap, as evidenced by these two works of art.

The above video was produced by the Peoria Chiefs, bringing this post full circle. But before closing this one out, I have just one more thing to announce:

It’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

Boy oh boy is it ever.

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

What Are You Doing These Days?

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Those who work in the game of baseball quickly become accustomed to the following question: “So, what do you do during the offseason?”

The short answer, and one that seems contrary to popular belief, is “A lot.” While it’s easy to assume that the offseason immediately kicks off a months-long vacation for those who work in Minor League Baseball front offices, the reality is that baseball is a year-round business.

So, what are you doing during the offseason? Let me know, because I’m planning an MiLB.com article that will answer this question, from the perspective a variety of Minor League folks. This article might make it easier for you to justify your offseason existence to friends and family, so please get in touch via the usual channels and we’ll set something up. 

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz
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As for me, what I’m doing these days is compiling blog posts with the last of my stray in-season material. For example, did you know that the Trenton Thunder front office defeated the Lakewood BlueClaws front office in their annual “Battle For 195″ softball game? It’s true! They got a trophy and everything.

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Pictures related to inter-office softball matches usually cause my blog traffic to skyrocket, but to be on the safe side I’ll pack this post with even more scintillating content.

Remember when I visited the Iowa Cubs, and noted the long lines that would form at “Sandberg Alley” prior to every home game? Well, Ryne Sandberg managed the Double-A Tennessee Smokies before advancing to Iowa, and there was a “Sandberg Alley” there as well.

The team officially re-named the aisle leading to the home dugout “Sandberg Alley”, and had a ribbon cutting to memorialize the event:

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Some addresses cannot be found via your GPS:

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Eager Smokies fans awaiting their brush with greatness:

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Finally, allow me to remind you once again that the virtual voting booths for MiLB.com’s “Promotion of the Year” are still open (through Wednesday 10am ET). As of this writing (6:49 pm ET, 10/11/10), the results are as follows:

Birmingham Barons — 100th Anniversary of Rickwood Field: 37%
Arkansas Travelers — Jose Canseco vs. Gary Hogan: 34%
Lancaster JetHawks — Robert “Hoot” Gibson Bobblehead: 22%
Fresno Grizzlies — Twilight Night: 5%

Click HERE to vote. Click HERE for rock n roll.

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

Promo Year in Review, Part Three: Celebrity Appearances

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Minor League ballparks are hospitable places, rolling out the red carpet for sitcom stars, sexagenarian wrestlers and eccentric hurlers alike.

Today’s edition of “Promo Year in Review” features my top six celebrity appearances of the year, highlighting a half-dozen bold-faced names who graced the ballpark with their presence. But, as always, I need YOU to tell me who I’ve missed. Get in touch via email or Twitter and let me know, as suggestions for this and previous categories will be accepted through 10 a.m. Monday.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz
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My six nominees, in ever-so-sensible alphabetical order. Click on each individual’s name to see how his ballpark visit was originally covered (and, yes, they are all men. Don’t shoot the messenger).

Fresno Grizzlies — Alfonso “Carlton” Ribiero (as part of “Mad Tight ’90s Night”)

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Lakewood BlueClaws — Jeff “Chunk” Cohen (as part of “Goonies Night”)

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(note: that’s Cohen on the right, judging a “Truffle Shuffle” contest)

Oklahoma City RedHawks — Peter Mayhew (aka “Chewbacca”)

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Reading Phillies — Dennis “Mr. Belding” Haskins

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Round Rock Express — Rojo Johnson (aka Will Ferrell)

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Vermont Lake Monsters — Bill “Spaceman” Lee/Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd (on the same night!)

I don’t have a picture from this picture, but here are their respective Wikipedia photos:

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Duty compels me to once again mention that I need your input. What celebrities caused a sensation at YOUR Minor League ballpark this year. And — hey! — I know you’re reading. There’s no escape. Get in touch. Are you going to let my complete neglect of sexagenarian wrestlers go uncriticized?

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

Superstar Sluggers and the Scantily Clad in Jersey

The baseball season is a grind, even if you’re just writing about it. Here’s some more grist for the mill, so that things don’t come to a grinding halt.

Let’s start with the Lakewood BlueClaws, whose quest to retire Ryan Howard’s number has had more twists and turns than a Chubby Checker concert on Lombard Street.

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The team had planned to retire the number of this prominent 2002 alumnus on September
2nd, with Howard himself in attendance. A Phillies make-up game was
added to the schedule on this date, however, rendering the guest of honor unavailable.

Thumbnail image for Lakewood_BusterBlur.JPGBut Howard went on the disabled list with a sprained ankle earlier this month, and he’ll be playing in
Lakewood TONIGHT as part of his rehab assignment. So the number
retirement ceremony is now back on
, honoring a player who will in fact be in the
starting line-up.

And consider this:

Howard previously rehabbed with Lakewood in 2007, knocking in four runs over two games. This gave him 91 RBIs as a BlueClaw, tying him for the all-time franchise record. He’ll have a chance to break the tie on Friday, leading to the following question: Has any player in the history of the game ever broken a prominent franchise record while on a rehab assignment with a team that is also retiring his number?

My guess would be “no.”

And since we’re on the topic of New Jersey Minor League Baseball, I’d like to bring your attention to the extravaganza that occurred in Trenton on Tuesday.

The Thunder staged “Football Kickoff Night”, featuring Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders and team mascot Swoop. 

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A jewelry-wearing eight-year-old autographing a baseball for a triumvirate of cheerleaders would have made a great Norman Rockwell painting.

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Also on the agenda was the Thunder’s second annual “Rock, Paper, Scissors” tournament, won by Mr. Rob Prakriya of Pennington, NJ and presided over by a sneering referee:

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Finally, last week’s post on Omaha’s Star Wars Night generated a tremendous amount of traffic to this woebegone corner of the blogosphere. I am nothing if not a pandering sycophant, so please enjoy two more “Star Wars Night” photos. These emanate from Lowell, home of the Spinners:

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That’s going to do it for me this week. I’ll be back in all my angst-ridden glory on Monday, ready to return to that which has swallowed me whole.

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

An NFL of an Idea

craw2.pngNFL training camp is in session, meaning that baseball’s months-long dominance of the American sports landscape is coming to a close.

But instead of lamenting this fact, Minor League Baseball teams are having fun with it.

On Thursday, the Hickory Crawdads are staging the “Haynesworth Conditioning Challenge” in honor of the fitness test that Redskins defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth has been unable to pass.

From the press release:

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All participants will have to complete the same conditioning test
that Haynesworth has failed multiple times, which is as follows:

1. Twelve consecutive 25-yard dashes (300 total yards) in less than 70 seconds

2. Rest period of 3.5 minutes

3. Twelve more consecutive 25-yard dashes in less than 73 seconds

All participants that successfully complete the challenge in the
allotted time will win two season tickets for the rest of the 2010
season, including all potential playoff games. All participants that
attempt the challenge will receive a free ticket to a future game this
season (excluding Aug. 14). Since Albert’s had multiple shots at it,
any fans that attempt and fail the challenge on Thursday can come back
to L.P. Frans Stadium any time between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. this Friday and
try again.

While this promotion is definitely happening, the same can’t be said for the Fort Myers Miracle’s “Brett Favre Night.” The team may or may not stage a tribute to the Vikings QB on Monday, and their maddeningly indecisive and contradictory press release provides no clear insight whatsoever.  

But who needs football anyways? Those enamored with the out-of-breath exertions of larger-than-average men got more than their fill in Lakewood last week. As part of the BlueClaws’ “Goonies Night” celebration, Jeff “Chunk” Cohen judged a “Truffle Shuffle” contest:

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Think that that guy could pass the Haynesworth Conditioning Challenge?

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

On the Road: Greetings From FirstEnergy Park

lakewood new.jpgSometimes all you can do is laugh.

That’s certainly how I felt soon after arriving at Lakewood’s FirstEnergy Ballpark on Friday. Upon securing a parking space, I meticulously made sure I had everything I needed for the evening. Notebook? Check. Pen? Check. Camera? Check. Business cards? Check. Press pass? Check.

With all the necessary supplies accounted for, I began my walk to the stadium. Unfortunately, there was one crucial thing I had neglected to do: TURN OFF THE CAR. The doors were locked, the keys were in the ignition, and it was still idling.

Buster the BlueClaws mascot sez: Dude, you’re an idiot.

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To make a long story short, I spent the next 75 minutes trying to figure out a way to resolve this self-inflicted conundrum. I was eventually bailed out by Verizon Wireless Roadside Assistance (who knew?), who had been dispatched to the stadium by my Mom (thanks, Mom).

Being stranded in the FirstEnergy Park-ing lot is like being marooned in the desert.

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If anyone is aware of a bigger parking lot in all of the Minor Leagues,
then please send photos. I will happily devote an entire post to baseball’s biggest parking lots.

At least while I was waiting I got to see a rainbow. Trust me, it was there, you can see it if you squint and concentrate on the space between the light poles:

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Finally, at approximately 7:37, I made it to the ballpark (crawling, wearing tattered rags, and suffering from heat-induced hallucinations):

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 It was “BruceClaws” night, in which the team changes its name in order to celebrate the rock ‘n roll legacy of notable New Jerseyan Bruce Springsteen. My parking fiasco caused me to miss the pre-game concert by cover band E Street Shuffle, who were, by all accounts, awesome. Several hundred fans turned out early to see them.

The team was wearing special “BruceClaws” jerseys, which fans were able to bid on:

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Meanwhile, the team played Bruce’s music all evening long no matter what the circumstance. As mentioned in THIS STORY, the nightly Pork Roll, Egg, and Cheese Race was accompanied by “Hungry Heart”.

Cheese won in a photo finish:

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Going forward, however, I insist that the race be accompanied by a much different but nonetheless notable musical selection. THIS.
The aforementioned Buster is rapidly becoming one of my favorite mascots. He has a suitably northeastern edge about him, and is similar to the Phanatic in that he’d rather mess with you than be your friend. Here he is in action:

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And he literally towers over the opposition:

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Likewise, FirstEnergy Park is huge. It offers plenty of room to move, akin to newer Triple-A ballparks such as those found in Lehigh Valley and Gwinnett County.

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As is often the case, FirstEnergy gets more beautiful as the night wears on:

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The night ended well for the BruceClaws, who pulled out a 3-2 victory in 10 innings. Upon the conclusion of the contest, I drove all the way to my current undisclosed location and this time made sure to remove the keys from the ignition.

What do you have to say about that, Buster?

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Yeah, you’re right. I’m still an idiot.
benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

Slugging Saints, Bored Broadcasters, Horse Hoarders, and Tulsa Troubadors

zephyrs.jpgThis past Wednesday, the inaugural “Heath Evans Charity Softball Game” was held at Zephyrs Field in New Orleans (home of the New Orleans Zephyrs, natch).

The event featured Evans and a whole slew of his New Orleans Saints teammates, but it was Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees who stole the show. The multi-talented QB hit home runs from both sides of the plate during the home run derby portion of the evening, and then bashed another one during the game itself.

Somewhat inexplicably, no professional-grade video seems to exist of Brees’ batting barrage. But a few amateur cinematographers documented it to the best of their abilities, as seen here:
 

From the right:

And during the game:

Moving on from baffling under-documentation to copious over-documentation, the Modesto Nuts recently released a video that details just how maddening (and interminable) rain delays can be. Absurdity levels are off the charts on this one:
 

And speaking of absurdity, the Lakewood BlueClaws have been releasing videos that are jam-packed with groan-inducing puns and shameless sight gags (meaning that inclusion on this blog is guaranteed). Meet “D-Bo”, who provides a joke-filled tour through the ins and outs of the team’s upcoming homestand:
 

Finally, the Tulsa Drillers are one of many teams to stage a local variation of “American Idol”. This recently released video illustrates a dramatic disparity among the talent levels of the various contestants:
 

It might be hard to say goodbye to yesterday, but it sure is easy to say goodbye to today.

Until we meet again, I remain: 

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

Opening Day Harbingers

Could there possibly be a better way to get psyched for the season than by watching a commercial produced by a Double-A team that features a fast-talking, alliteratively-named pitchman?

The answer, my friends, is yes. But I’m going to lead with this anyway:

I’m not sure I like the thought of getting rained on by 22-ounce sodas and “cheeseburgers without cheese”, but I nonetheless must give this commercial an enthusiastic thumbs-up (although THIS remains my favorite food-related Eastern League ad). Two days of free ballpark food really is a tremendous deal, and Bobby conveys his message with a zeal bordering on the messianic.

And since a mention of the Trenton Thunder inevitably makes fellow Jersey-ites the Lakewoodlakewood new.jpg BlueClaws jealous, I’ll soothe fragile egos by mentioning this:

The BlueClaws are auctioning off the opportunity to raise the 2009 South Atlantic League championship flag prior to April 16’s game at FirstEnergy Park. Bidding starts at $200, with proceeds benefiting the team’s charitable foundation. This is an excellent idea, though I’d like to see Phillies organizational stalwart (and current BlueClaws hitting coach) Greg Legg do the honors.  

gbraves.jpgAnother good idea worth pointing out as we steamroll toward Opening Day comes from down south, as the Gwinnett Braves are asking fans to change their Facebook, Twitter and MySpace profile pictures to shots
of their favorite G-Braves memories
. From shots at Coolray Field to
pictures with Chopper in the community, the team wants fans to show
their G-Braves pride.”

Many of these photos will be utilized as part of an Opening Night slideshow, a multi-media presentation which, in my own mind, will be set to Billy Joel’s “The Time to Remember”. Either that or the Chicken Dance. 

It is now time for this post to conclude, and with it the month of March. Opening Day is now so close I can smell it, an aroma best described as a mix of domestic beer and magnetic schedule paint fumes.

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

Mascot Love We Deliver

I stand before you today in order to deliver Minor League mascot Valentine’s Day photos.

The public has demanded them, and I am certainly not one to ignore the pleas of the populace. Therefore, that is precisely what this post shall be dedicated to. But first, a quick request…

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Inspired by the copious snow that has been deposited all over the country as of late, I have decided to do a story on extreme weather and the groundskeeping challenges it presents. In addition to teams that have recently been hit with snow, I’d be interested in speaking with anyone who has had to deal with drought, flooding, hurricanes, and, of course, locust plagues. I’ll most likely have to contact teams individually today and tomorrow, but that’s a hit-or-miss proposition. Consider this post an invitation to get in touch — benjamin.hill@mlb.com

Okay, we now return to regularly-scheduled programming: Minor League mascot Valentine’s Day photos.

Because, as you surely know, there was a lot going on. And how can I lead off with anyone but Boomer, who is surely the suavest mascot in Minor Leage Baseball? Here, Boomer spreads some joy to the youth of Williamsport:

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Boomer’s not the only mascot named Boomer. There’s also Boomer of the Trenton Thunder, who is not at all terrifying, not the least little bit:

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In Lowell, the Spinners sent out a star-studded caravan to a local elementary school, where Valentine’s Day cards were made. These cards were then delivered to a VA hospital (apparently, Canaligator and crew got hungry along the way):

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In Portland (ME), Slugger made the rounds on behalf of the Sea Dogs:

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The Gwinnett Braves sent out the ever-seductive Chopper, who never fails to impress the ladies:

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Buster “rose” to the occasion in Lakewood:

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Sandy the Seagull swooped into a Brooklyn elementary school:

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A very endearing video of Sandy’s delivery can be viewed HERE.

But how could I close anywhere other than in Reading? As usual, Screwball did his thing:

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But this year, fans had options. For the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor was also pressed into service. Here’s how it went down:
 

Now if that wasn’t romantic, then I don’t know what is. I mean, seriously, I don’t. Can anyone help me out here?

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

A Blog Post Before the Roof Caves In

carsnow.jpgHello from wintry New York City!

I was going to do a post called “Snow-cial Media”, that compiled all of the weather-related Twitter and Facebook postings I have seen throughout the day. But then I thought to myself that that was a stupid idea, and decided to write about something even more stupid instead: mascot videos.

So here goes nothin’…

In Beloit, the Snappers are once again hot on the trail of their elusive turtle mascot. It’s an enjoyable video to watch, even if I can’t quite fathom a mascot-team relationship in which the former is always on the run from the latter:

Meanwhile, out in Visalia, Tipper is spending some time out on the golf course. This is just a little “slice”-of-life video, giving you a glimpse of how mascots behave when they are away from the bright lights of the ballpark.
 

In closing, let me once again ask the following favor: make me a new blog head shot! Thank you.

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

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