Results tagged ‘ Lehigh Valley IronPigs ’
But the National Pastime never rests. The Triple-A All-Star Game confidently lept into the void, in the process becoming the day’s premier baseball event. The contest, which pits the International and Pacific Coast Leagues against one another, was held at Coca-Cola Park in Lehigh Valley.
Unwilling to settle for the MLB Network telecast, I hopped into “my” car and drove a heroic distance (upwards of 35 miles) in order to witness the event live and in person.
Everything looked copacetic when I got there. Just another day at the ballpark:
Like a baseball that needs to go on a diet, Coca-Cola Park was bursting at the seams:
If Coca-Cola Park was an NYC subway line, on Wednesday it would have been the 6 train at 42nd St. at 8:15 a.m. on a weekday.
But being a baseball writer, I only travel by gilded carriage, yacht, or rickshaw. Eager to partake in the aristocratic indulgences that befit one of this standing, I beat a retreat to my private suite in order to enjoy soul-affirming dessert fondue.
(by “private suite” I of course mean “league gathering that I wasn’t technically invited to.”)
While upstairs, I watched American Idol contestant Tyler Grady sing an exceedingly histrionic rendition of the National Anthem.
Grady later signed autographs on the concourse, as did Philadelphia Eagles legend Chuck Bednarik (who had thrown out the first pitch). These two should team up and hit the road together, singing and tackling their away across the American landscape:
For maximum Coca-Cola Park Pleasure, one should grab an ear of corn at Aw Shucks:
A turkey leg at the Jaindl Smoke House:
And then enjoy a some double-fisted food action while lazing on the berm:
Those with a propensity for pig puns are in hog heaven at Coca-Cola Park, as the club has done a swine job of coming up with double-bacon entendres. Here are two of many such signs that can be seen around the ballpark:
While the home team “Dirt Dudes” did a clothes-shedding performance of “I’m Too Sexy.”
Of a more avant-garde nature was this spaghetti-eating contest:
And the “Whack An Intern” game:
The scoreboard was put to its best use with this, the “Can You Match This Face” contest:
But soon these face-contorting scoreboard exhibitionists gave way to the resumption of baseball action. And soon after that, the International League pulled out a 2-1 victory over the Pacific Coast League.
The crowd, most of which can be seen here, were happy with the outcome. The place was pulsating with positive vibes:
But the inexorable passage of time, combined with the completion of the post-game pyrotechnics, resulted in a rapid-emptying of the jam-packed park. Soon, I was left alone with onlythe lingering scent of spent fireworks and my thoughts to accompany me.
The only thing more spent than those fireworks is me. I’ve got to be at a mascot camp in five hours.
That’s the first time I’ve ever written that sentence.
Team president Alan Stein was listening to venerable sports radio duo Mike and Mike yesterday morning, and his ears perked up upon hearing…this:
After ESPN’s NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy kiddingly suggested that his
television crew should interview fans about their thoughts on the first
half of a game, Mike and Mike’s producers put together some staged
“interviews” with fans. Mike Golic suggested on the air that somebody
might like that idea and pilfer it.
If there’s one thing that Minor League teams excel at, it’s pilfering ideas. So, you can see where this is going:
At each of the Omaha Royals’ 72 home games this season, the Royals
will use a half-inning break for a “Mike and Mike Fan Mic” – going into
the crowd at Rosenblatt Stadium and asking fans what they think about
the game, how cold their beer is, or whatever else they want to chat
As Golic suggested on air and as Stein recognizes, you should have
to pay for a good idea. So, the Royals are preparing to send a contract
to Mike and Mike at their ESPN home in Bristol, Connecticut offering to
pay them – as Stein termed it in his Kentucky drawl – “a dollar a
holler.” In other words, Mike and Mike’s producers earned them the tidy
sum of $72 this year.
$72 is nothing to sneeze at, because no one wants to handle money with mucus on it. But in all seriousness, I really like the idea of a daily “fan mic half-inning.” It will result in a virtual mountain of comedic moments, intentional and otherwise, and I’m hoping that the highlights of this experiment wind up on YouTube.
Along similar lines, I would like to suggest a recurring between-inning skit in which a front office member dresses up as Wendy Williams and dispenses relationship advice to the fans.
In other news…
– The Wall St. Journal ran an item today on the Peoria Chiefs’ new fantasy baseball initiative (the club is renting out O’Brien Field suites for the purpose of conducting fantasy drafts). Word on the street is that an unnamed influential Minor League “biz”-ness blogger helped facilitate the club’s national exposure…
– The Tacoma Rainiers have announced extensive renovation plans for Cheney Stadium. This will be the facility’s first major uplift in over fifty years, and will cost an estimated $30 million. The targeted completion date is Opening Day 2011.
– But when it comes to stadium improvements, it will be tough to top the Albuquerque Isotopes latest additions:
– February 27th was “National Pig Day”, and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs celebrated by putting single-game tickets on sale. Despite the poor weather, the Lehigh Valley faithful flocked to the event, with the first person in line arriving at 4 a.m.(!)
This was far better than my personal National Pig Day celebration, which consisted of eating bacon alone in a diner while listening to the man in the booth across from me break off his wedding engagement via cell phone.
I hope everyone enjoys their weekend. Don’t forget that Saturday is National Frozen Food Day, and that Sunday marks 77 years of Monopoly.
So, my original plan for today was to feature all of the head shots that were submitted to me over the past two weeks. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, click HERE.
But here’s the thing: I’m going to be on vacation all next week, and I have more pressing stuff to write about. So the head shots can wait. In fact, keep sending ‘em. In the meantime, here is enough random info to hold you over until my
demoralizing triumphant return on March 1.
In the interest of not prioritizing one item of information above the other, the following collection of newsworthy items is presented in reverse alphabetical order.
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers — If there’s one thing that everyone can agree on, it’s ice cream. But if there’s one thing everyone can’t agree on, it’s what ice cream should be named. The Timber Rattlers will be serving a new flavor at the ballpark next season, described as “a mixture of caramel, peanuts, and chocolate”, and they are asking YOU to name it. Well, not YOU specifically. They are asking YOU as well as every other person who uses the internet. Vote HERE.
The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) is giving away The Emerald Guide to Baseball 2010 to the world baseball community. Developed in the spirit of the classic guides published by the Sporting News, Spalding, and Reach, The Emerald Guide
includes all pitching, hitting, and fielding statistics for every
player active in the major and minor leagues during 2009. Other
features include team histories, up-to-date team contact information
and schedules, an extensive Year in Review essay, team day-by-day game
logs, All-Star Game box score and play-by play, post-season box scores
and play-by-play, transactions, debuts, first-year player draft, and
major and minor league necrology.
Yes, that’s right — FREE. Download it HERE, and tell your friends.
Peoria Chiefs – Dudes are gonna like this. On March 27 and April 1, the Chiefs will host fantasy baseball drafts at O’Brien Field. Here’s the deal:
For just $35 per person, your league will get private use of one our
luxury suites, an all-you-can-eat buffet, draft beer, wireless internet
access and a ticket to the Chiefs May 27 game against the Cedar Rapids
The press release does not mention the greatest benefit of such an offer, which is that it enables men to escape from their curler-wearing, rolling pin-carrying wives. Yes, my knowledge of marriage is limited solely to Andy Capp cartoons.
Omaha Royals — The 2009-10 logo unveiling season is rapidly fading into a sepia-tinged memory, but before it goes gently into that good night I have this to report: The Omaha Royals have unveiled a patch which commemorates their final season at venerable Rosenblatt Stadium (full disclosure: I use the word “venerable” whenever I want to refer euphemistically to something that is old).
Northwest Arkansas Naturals — Remember all the way back in May when I wrote about how the reality show “18 Kids and Counting” would be visiting a Northwest Arkansas Naturals game? That’s okay, I don’t either.
Regardless, video of the episode is now available, and the Naturals must be very pleased with how they are portrayed. The mammoth Duggar family genuinely seemed to have a good time, and there were highlights aplenty (including the most chaotic first pitch since THIS). But my favorite moment occurred when one young Duggar said the following to mascot Strike:
“Take off your head, and let me see your smaller head.”
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Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs — You mean to tell me that the team is now offering free downloadable ring tones? Why yes. Yes I do.
Lexington Legends — Another fantasy fulfilled: a video of a video featuring a mustachioed mascot doing “the John Wall Dance.”
Iowa Cubs — The I-Cubs are now offering a “Promotion Pass” to season ticket holders, entitling them to every giveaway item on the 2010 schedule. Those who purchase said pass will never again be thwarted by age restrictions and limited quantities, those twin demons of the season ticket holder existence.
Gwinnett Braves — As you may have heard, the G-Braves announced Wednesday that Gwinnett Stadium will henceforth be known as Coolray Field. I am allegedly a business reporter, but my most pressing concern has nothing to do with the conditions of the team’s agreement with the excellently-named heating and cooling company. All I want to know is how Chopper the mascot spent his time leading up to the announcement. And thanks to this, I do:
Durham Bulls — All active duty military personnel receive FREE admission to every 2010 Bulls game.
That’s the sort of deal that speaks for itself.
As for me, I’m done speaking for myself. I’ll be off the internet until next month, but in the interim feel free to bombard my inbox with messages regarding matters consequential and otherwise. And, just like Tupac, new material will continue to emerge even in my absence. Four of my articles will appear on MiLB.com next week, so please remain vigilant.
Update — Here are five more worthy inclusions, once again listed in reverse alphabetical order. Why not, right? It’s not like I have anything better to do on a Friday night in NYC. This town is boring. But these towns are not:
Syracuse Chiefs — Hey hey, my my. Logo news will never die. The Chiefs have unveiled a new home uniform for 2010:
Read all about it HERE.
Gwinnett Braves (again): Maybe it’s the presence of new GM North Johnson, or maybe it’s because the team has some confidence after successfully navigating its 2009 inaugural season, or maybe it’s a combination of the two. Either way, things are getting downright goofy down there in Gwinnett County. Goofy and paranoid, in this case, which is generally a very entertaining combination.
A zebra got loose in downtown Atlanta, see, and that can apparently only mean one thing: said Zebra was attempting to travel to a nearby Triple-A team in order to steal the job of a groundhog mascot. I’ll let the team explain things from here on in. CLICK THIS.
Daytona Cubs — In what just might be the most impressive feat of endurance ever accomplished by a Minor League gm, Daytona’s Brady Ballard ran over 40(!) miles during the course of a one-man, 12-hour charity run. More information can be found HERE, and a local news report on Ballard’s run can be seen HERE.
Charleston RiverDogs — Well, here’s something you don’t see any day: bidding for the opportunity to appear in an advertisement for a Minor League Baseball team.
I like the thinking here. Why pay someone to star in a commercial when there are people out there who will pay you? Along those lines, please send me $175 if you would like to see your writing featured on Ben’s Biz Blog.
Altoona Curve — The Curve were among many teams to be buried in snow earlier this month, and they decided to use that as the motivation for a ticket deal. In order to promote said deal, they made a video that is fast-paced, funny, and more than a bit ridiculous:
I much prefer this alternate ending, in which a gruesome and unprovoked mascot attack is juxtaposed with the Benny Hill theme song:
And speaking of Benny Hill — that’s me! And I’m out of here!
For real this time.
“What is this, the 21st century?”, I exclaimed sarcastically to no one in particular. Then, I read my new email. It was from Fort Wayne Tincaps radio broadcast manager Dan Watson, who relayed the following information:
[The Tincaps have] launched an interactive site where people can enter a name/jersey number and become the TinCaps’ “top prospect.” It doesn’t exactly fit the “wacky MiLB promo” description…but I haven’t seen other teams do this.
Well, Dan, it’s wacky enough for me. Also, it’s extremely well done and a lot of fun. Fans who visit tincapsfan.com will be asked to enter their name, favorite number, and email address. Then, it’s time to enter a magical world of imagination in which YOU are the team’s top prospect. Here are some screenshots from my tincapsfan.com experience:
That individual above is IronPigs manager Dave Huppert. I can assure you from personal experience that his interview on myironpigs.com is not an indication of his usual level of loquaciousness.
I have quite a few other Minor League tidbits to divulge, but they can wait until later. Well, one of them can’t wait. Let me share with you, in its entirety, the most compelling “tweet” that I have composed today thus far:
A new twist on “Bark in the Park”: The Arkansas Travelers have booked the legendary Baha Men for a post-game show on 4/29.
You can’t get this information anywhere else. I mean, really, you can’t.
I’ve spilled way too much virtual ink about Valentine’s Day already, and not too much is shaking on the 2010 promotional front. So my only option is this: to systematically exhaust my supply of topics that for some reason or another my moderately-addled mind has deemed “blogworthy.” Topics such as these:
– In Bowie, communications manager Tom Sedlacek dove into a kiddie-pool filled with frigid water. There was a reason for this. Click HERE if you are interested in what motivated such a ridiculous action. Otherwise, just watch:
In Tulsa, the Drillers are having some fun with their brand-new high-powered t-shirt cannon:
The 2010 Triple-A All-Star Game marks the first time that
league-specific uniforms will be worn by respective All-Stars in either
Triple-A or the Major Leagues.
– Finally, the Bowling Green Hot Rods’ website currently features an interview with me. As in Benjamin Hill, the guy typing this sentence right now. Check it out HERE.
I have written many times in the past about Lehigh Valley’s propensity for pig puns, but they really outdid themselves with a press release put out on Friday.
In this missive, the team heaps praise upon a Washington man who saved a pig by giving it “mouth-to-snout” resuscitation:
In hearing a hoof-warming story of a man saving a pig through CPR in La
Center, Wash., IronPigs mascots FeRROUS and FeFe wanted to publicly
honor and award human hero Jeff Olson.
For his saving the life of “Pig Pig” though mouth-to-snout
resuscitation, the pair will be sending a care package to Olson –
which consists of an IronPigs sweatshirt, a bottle of Listerine and
tube of ChapStick – along with an offer for free IronPigs tickets for
he and his wife any time they are in the Lehigh Valley.
But here’s where it really gets good:
In a written statement, FeRROUS had the following words for Olson: “On
behalf of FeFe and all pigs in the Lehigh Valley, I would like to
porksonally say ‘thank you’ to Mr. Olson for going above and beyond the
Call of Suey. By risking life, limb and a lifetime of bad breath,
little Pig Pig will one day be able to go to the market.”
The appearance of “porksonally” and “Call of Suey” in the span of one sentence is a tremendous gift, the sort of thing that gives me the strength to carry on for another day.
Even if the day in question is exactly like the one that preceded it — Groundhog Day, if you will. And I assume you will, because that’s what today is — Groundhog Day, if you will. And I assume you will, because that’s what today is — Groundhog Day.
To sum it up: Groundhog Day is today!
The world-famous Punxutawney Phil saw his shadow, supposedly condemning the nation to six more weeks of winter. But those within the world of Minor League Baseball should instead heed the prognositications of Gwinnett County’s General Beauregard Lee, who failed to spot his shadow. General Lee has far greater baseball credentials, as he served as the inspiration for Gwinnett Braves mascot Chopper (the world’s most seductive groundhog, as you may recall).
Next up on the holiday calendar is Valentine’s Day, which I have already covered extensively. However, there is PLENTY more where that came from — prepare thyself.
It was just yesterday that I wrote “Valentine’s Day can wait.” But that was yesterday, when men were men, women were beautiful, and blogging material was plentiful.
But today? Today I got nothin’. Therefore, it’s time for my first installment of Ben’s Biz Blog Valentine’s Day coverage. Thus far, I am aware of 10 teams that are offering mascot delivery services on Valentine’s Day. But, as we know, not all mascots are created equal.
What follows are snapshots of the costumed characters that will be personally delivering Valentine’s Day gifts. And for you, the reader, I have a simple question: Which of these mascots do you think is the most romantic, the one most likely to jump-start a truly memorable Valentine’s Day? Please let me know via email, Twitter, Facebook, or, of course, the perpetually neglected comments section. I’ll compile the results and post it on the blog come Monday. Here are the candidates:
Reading Phillies — Screwball or Crazy Hot Dog Vendor
So which mascot is the most romantic? Let me know.
I am a big fan of late night TV in general and Conan O’Brien in particular, and as this Tonight Show imbroglio has steamrolled into a bigger and bigger story one thought kept lodging itself into my brain: When is a Minor League team going to offer Conan a job?
This sort of publicity stunt is certainly not without precedent. In recent years the Huntsville Stars courted Roger Clemens, the Augusta GreenJackets went after Brett Favre, and the Toledo Mud Hens set their sights on A-Rod. Granted, Conan is not from the world of sports, but on multiple occasions he has mentioned the tongue-in-cheek job offers he has received. On national TV! Look! If a morning radio show in Fargo, ND could get a mention, then why not a Minor League team?
Well, I am glad to report that the Round Rock Express have come through. In a video posted on their website and Facebook page, the team tries to convince Conan that he would excel at a wide variety of game-day positions. Here’s hoping it catches on.
In other news, the slow but steady release of 2010 promotional schedules has been a most heartening development. The Bowling Green Hot Rods announced theirs yesterday, eager to defend their 2009 MiLB.com Promotion of the Year title. I am happy to report that What Could’ve Been Night will return, and this year’s version includes a Cave Shrimp bobbletail giveaway. Check it out.
Likewise, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs unveiled their promo slate. As has become the club’s habit, the press release features a ridiculous, pun-heavy quote from GM Kurt Landes.
“We’re the IronPigs — and no team exhibits more zeal to make their fans squeal,” he said.
This quote is excellent, and I’d encourage more GMs to talk in such a manner. Am I naive in assuming that all quotes had to have actually been spoken aloud in order to make it into a press release?
I’d also like to mention an excellent contest being staged by the indomitable Brooklyn Cyclones — The “You”niform. Here’s a summary:
“The Brooklyn Cyclones are inviting young fans to participate in a
unique art contest, with the winning jersey design to be worn by the
team as a special, limited-edition YOUniform, and auctioned off after the game to support Camp Brooklyn.”
Finally, how can a week go by without a mention of the Lakewood BlueClaws? Answer, it can’t. Today, the team announced that seven types of hot dogs have been added to the concession menu, each one named after a Hall of Famer.
This leads to a fun comedy-writing exercise: what hot dogs would YOU like to see named after a Hall of Famer, and why?
Over a month ago, I put out the word via various social networking applications that my list of blog-worthy material was low. I did this in the hope that someone within my vast cadre of loyal readers would send me something worthwhile to blog about.
Well, someone did. Sue, the woman behind the blog “Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts“, sent me a cache of Minor League mascot pictures. I decided to save said cache for a proverbial “rainy day”, in which I had nothing else whatsoever to write about.
That day is today.
So, without further ado, let’s all enjoy some mascot pics.
#1: Clearwater’s Phinley at his 2008 birthday celebration:
Phinley and his pals dance the night away:
Rasta Fish, flanked by manatee and alligator
Ferrous and FeFe of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs do their part to transform a Buffalo Bisons fan into an IronPigs supporter:
FeFe vs. “Piglets”
Vegetable Racing in Reading:
Ice Cream w/ Cherry on Top (or is that a plunger?) takes a huge lead over Pizza and Popcorn:
Crazy Hot Dog Vendor!
In Wilmington, perhaps the most random mascot race of all time: Traffic Cone, Peanut, and Hot Dog: