Results tagged ‘ Logos ’

Flipping the Script

The use of Native American imagery within the world of sports is a controversial topic, as teams like the Cleveland Indians and (especially) the Washington Redskins are under increasing pressure to abandon names and/or logos seen as culturally insensitive. But the Spokane Indians have found a way around this problem, collaborating with the local Spokane tribe to adopt a look that celebrates, rather than denigrates, the people it purports to represent.

This season, the club will wear a jersey in which “Spokane” is written in Salish script.

salish

The collaboration between the Spokane Indians and the Salish tribe is nothing new, but the above jersey represents a significant development. In fact, this partnership will be the topic of my next Minoring in Business article, running on MiLB.com tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Speaking of teams sporting a name inspired by their region’s Native American population, the Syracuse Chiefs recently unveiled this:

But that’s not the only interesting historical sporting overview that I’ve recently found via Twitter. Behold:

But as much as some things change, others remain constant. On 3/14 the Bowling Green Hot Rods held a “Pi Day” promo, in which tickets were sold for $3.14 for three hours and 14 minutes, beginning at 3:14 p.m. (And, as an added bonus,  fans who bought the tickets in person were offered free slices of pizza “pi”.)

I was curious as to how this promotion was received, and Hot Rods assistant general manager Ben Hemmen satiated my curiosity thusly.

National “Pi” Day was a BIG hit in Bowling Green. In just three hours and fourteen minutes (3.14), we sold over 600 tickets at the box office or over the phone to games for this upcoming summer. The Power of “Pi” will definitely be something that we look at using next season to tie in a promotional opportunity for our fans.

Among the many items on team to-do lists at this time of year is adding new situationally appropriate song selections to the music database. For help with this endeavor, one enterprising rookie-level P.A. announcer took to Reddit. The resulting discussion is well worth reading.

This blog is also well worth reading, in my less-than-humble opinion, and I thank you for having Reddit.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Marching Toward the Inevitable

The ides of March is (are?) almost upon us, and I’m not really sure if this is has any relevance to the world of Minor League Baseball. Nonetheless, the ides of March are (is?) inextricably linked with the word “beware,” and therefore I feel a nagging sense of foreboding and anxiety that I just can’t shake. In order to deal with this lingering angst in a productive way, today’s post will be a good ol’ bouillabaisse of Minor League news and notes. May this be a therapeutic experience for all.

60 Degree Weather Guarantees are a common Opening Day promotion, with the Indianapolis Indians being long-time proponents of the concept. Last year Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders president/general manager/chief of unwieldy job titles Rob Crain got in on the act in a most enthusiastic fashion, and in 2014 he’s taking things even further. Per the team:

Clad in floral orange shorts, inexplicable snorkel gear and a life preserver designed for a little girl while wearing a face of both fun and fierce determination, the RailRiders’ venerable top executive issued assurance that families and baseball enthusiasts will be comfortable when the gates open on April 10….But he did not stop there. Like most extremists, Crain took it to another level when he also promised triumph. If the RailRiders fail to defeat their nearby rivals from Syracuse? “I will dress up like a woman until we win,” said Crain.

 

Before moving on, I would like to note that “Inexplicable Snorkel Gear” should be the title of the next Guided By Voices album.

My colleague Josh Jackson, whose eloquence never crosses into grandiloquence, recently wrote a MiLB.com article about the Fresno Grizzlies “Farm Grown” program. (I wrote briefly about this program during my visit to Fresno last August.) “Farm Grown” seeks to highlight Central Valley agriculture as well as the Grizzlies’ role in developing “Farm Grown” players, and in 2014 there will even be an agriculture center located at the Grizzlies’ home of Chukchansi Park.

The Gar Tootelian Agriculture Zone, to be exact:

Gar Tootelian Ag Zone Rendering

I mentioned to the Grizzlies, via Twitter, that “Gar Tootelian” sounded like something out of the Star Wars universe. They concurred, and hinted that 2014’s “Star Wars Night” promo would indeed have a Gar Tootelian aspect to it.

At this point, I don’t even understand what it is that I’m writing about. Time to move on.

Oh, wait, I’m not going to move on. Yesterday, these very same Fresno Grizzlies became the latest team to inspire an avalanche of lazy “greatest thing in the history of ever”-style hyperbolic internet rhetoric. Congratulations!

On August 2, the Grizzlies will wear Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle theme jerseys. Perhaps the Grizzlies’ version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song can go like this.

Giants Farm Club Fresno Grizzlies, Giants Farm Club Fresno Grizzlies, Giants Farm Club Fresno Grizzlies — prospects in theme jerseys, auction later!   

fresno_jbalq2mp_olm2kfot

Remember when I wrote about the as-of-now-theoretical Holiday League? Well, that entity welcomed a new team last month: the Rushmore Commanders. The Commanders have four primary logos, one for every president enshrined on Mount Rushmore. And they, like the Grizzlies, will also wear theme jerseys during their (as of now theoretical) debut season.

A sampling:

Abe Lincoln primary logo

Abe Lincoln primary logo

ratification of the Constitution theme jersey

ratification of the Constitution theme jersey

Okay, after my latest and therefore greatest blogging exercise I feel considerably more relaxed. But for how long? The ides of March are just four days away.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

(Even More) Marking of Momentous Milestones (and More)

February 14 is a day when most people are either pitching woo or lamenting the absence of woo while listening to Wu-Tang Clan songs that sample John Woo movies.  I, meanwhile, devoted a chunk of my always productive and multi-faceted work day to a blog past entitled “The Marking of Momentous Milestones.” It dealt with anniversary logos.

Soon after the publication of said post, I was alerted to the existence of several more anniversary logos. So, in the interest of fairness as well as professional stagnation, today’s post will be devoted to EVEN MORE ANNIVERSARY LOGOS. (Sorry, it’s just that many of these logos are a lock to be on caps.)

Let’s start with the Round Rock Express, who are celebrating their Quinceanera.

15

Meanwhile, the Richmond Flying Squirrels are entering their fifth campaign. If you don’t believe me, just look at this:

rich

While it’s true that you can’t spell Quinceanera without “Erie,” the SeaWolves are even older than that. Read all about their 20th anniversary plans HERE.

480x380_20_SEASONS_de3r906i_deidh7y0

Five plus 20 equals 25, which is the number of seasons in which Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s International League franchise has been operational.

RailRider

The RailRiders will be celebrating this anniversary throughout the season, including wearing a theme jersey that incorporates their three distinct identities (Red Barons, Yankees, RailRiders) into one coherent (?) whole.

25thjersey_7vv6ije9_gpxfdw7m

Yes, I’ve jumped from a 15th anniversary to a fifth anniversary to a 20th anniversary to a 25th anniversary. But there was a pattern to the order in which I shared the above logos, and it wasn’t numerically related. Anyone have any guesses?

Meanwhile, I’m barely more than half-way through my self-imposed blog post word minimum, so let’s keep this train rolling.

Also in (relatively) recent logo news, the Bristol Pirates have unveiled their look for 2014 and beyond (this marks Bristol’s first year as Pittsburgh’s rookie-level affiliate, hence the new look). Check it out, via this series of moving images:

The Harrisburg Senators have unveiled a new batting practice cap, which honors the insects that used to rain down upon fans during night games at City Island.

Mayfly_Hat_-_2

From the team:

Mayflies, obviously huge fans of the team, have been known to hang out around Metro Bank Park, home of the Harrisburg Senators, on humid summer nights. These harmless little bugs are hatched near the banks of the Susquehanna River. The mayfly has a short lifespan and is fond of the bright lights of the ballpark. They can often be seen near the stadium light poles around 9:00 p.m. on a game night during the summer months. 

From me:

I am done writing this blog post. 

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

The Marking of Momentous Milestones

Every day is the anniversary of something. For example, one year from today will mark the anniversary of this post, which is, not coincidentally, about anniversary logos. You all love anniversary logos, right? I don’t — “mildly enjoy” would better describe my feelings — but a job’s a job so here we go.

2104 marks the Everett’s 20th season as a Mariners affiliate as well as their 31st season in the Northwest League. The latter of the two accomplishments is the focus of this logo, designed by the renegade maverick firebrand rebel iconoclasts that are Brandiose.

Everett30thLogo-Color

The press release says:

The new emblem incorporates the AquaSox current color scheme along with a hint of orange in recognition of the team’s previous affiliation with the San Francisco Giants. The franchise was known as the Everett Giants for 11 seasons (1984-1994) before becoming the Everett AquaSox prior to the 1995 season.

Later, the press release was compelled to report this non-essential but rather interesting bit of information:

Nearly 30 years ago, on June 19, 1984 at Everett Memorial Stadium, the Everett Giants took the field for the first time led by manager Rocky Bridges. Before an overflow crowd of 3,527 – Bellingham defeated Everett 10-5. Since then, nearly 2.7 million fans have come to Everett.

And did you know? Pitcher Terry Mulholland made his professional debut as a member of that 1984 Everett team, marking the first of what would be 23 professional seasons. Mulholland is the only player in baseball history to have pitched for the 1984 Everett Giants and the 2006 Tucson Sidewinders, a fact that will get you everywhere in life.

And while I haven’t been everywhere, I have been to Everett. Click HERE and HERE for a good chunk of the coverage I provided while visiting the AquaSox.

18 hours and 53 minutes after receiving information regarding the AquaSox, I was hit with the following:

Lake Elsinore, CA – On April 15, 1994 the Lake Elsinore Storm opened its gates to the community and Southern California. This season on Opening Night, April 10, the organization will commence a 20th Anniversary celebration at The Diamond that promises to be special.

The 20th Anniversary Logo commemorates two decades of baseball in Lake Elsinore and will be displayed on game jerseys, team hats and the infield grass, as well as throughout the community with a 20th Anniversary poster.

20thAnniversaryLogo3b3 FINAL

I can’t wait for the 30th anniversary logo…

Unlike the AquaSox, the Storm press release did not include any information on the first game in franchise history. While I do not have access to that information, I can tell you that among the members of the 1994 storm was one Kevin Flora. The very next season, Flora became one of five players named “Kevin” to play for the Philadelphia Phillies (Elster,  Jordan, Sefcik, and Stocker) were the others.  Jim Fregosi managed that team — RIP.

While I don’t know anyone named Kevin personally, I did visit the Lake Elsinore Storm in 2011. Read all about that HERE, and then read this piece on the origins of the team’s logo (among the top-sellers in all of Minor League Baseball).

Earlier this week I duly tweeted out both of the above logos, and soon enough I was hipped to the existence of other, quite similar, entities.

I have seen no further information regarding the Bees’ 20th anniversary plans, but let it be known that the team was called the Salt Lake Buzz from 1994-2000 and then the Stingers from 2001-05 before, perhaps inevitably, transitioning to the Bees moniker. The 1994 Buzz club included a 21-year-old LaTroy Hawkins, who returned to Salt Lake in 2012 on a rehab assignment.

I have never been to Salt Lake, but I have visited a team called the “Bees.” Click HERE to read about it.

Twitter is good at generating buzz, and the Tampa Bay Yankees soon chimed in with the following:

That 1994 Tampa Yankees squad featured Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter, but more importantly, there’s this: One year prior to playing for a Major League team that included four other players with the same first name, Kevin Elster appeared in three games as a member of the Tampa Yankees.

It’s a beautiful place, this world.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

The Most Popular Blog Post of All Time

During my recent run of bouillabaisse blog posts, I took the time to parse the “Year in Blogging” report that I had recently received from WordPress. For the purposes of today’s post, I’d like to return to the following excerpt:

[T]he 2013 Year-End Blogging Report…included the following information regarding the search terms that led people to visit Ben’s Biz: “Some visitors came searching, mostly for canadian tuxedo, ben’s biz blog,bens biz blog, skateboard, and brett favre.” The lesson here is that a picture of Brett Favre in an all-denim outfit riding a skateboard would be blog traffic gold. Can someone doctor one up for me?

I am happy to report that not one, but two, someones indeed doctored one up for me. Posting them here will drive my traffic to stratospheric new levels, insuring that I remain the most influential and indispensable blogger in Minor League Baseball history. This one is courtesy of Wisconsin Timber Rattlers creative director Ann Mollica, who, among other accomplishments, played a huge role in making the world aware of the Whitewall Ninja.

favre_mollica

And this one is courtesy of a mysterious Twitter entity, known as @AizersWallet.

Favre_AizerswalletMy sincere thanks to Ms. Mollica and Mr. AizersWallet for their photoshopped efforts on my behalf. And I thank you, random internet Google searcher, for your fleeting visit to Ben’s Biz Blog. Before you leave, please take a moment to recognize that I am the greatest and also most underrated baseball writer of all time.

Thank you.

You know what else drives the eyeballs to this little slice of the internet landscape? Rhetorical questions.

But since I don’t have any material related to that particular topic, I’ll instead hit you with some logo news. Late last month, the polarizing but undoubtedly influential “ideas company” that is Brandiose announced the final re-branding of what had been a very busy offseason (Akron RubberDucks, El Paso Chihuahuas, Inland Empire 66ers, Vermont Lake Monsters, and more that I am probably forgetting as I sit here typing stream of consciousness-style).

Forthwith, the Vancouver Canadians will sport this updated look (note the “V” hidden within the leaf):

VancouverCanadians-01 (1)

 On the topic of “new logos with cool hidden elements,” here’s the Brooklyn Cyclones’ 2014 New York-Penn League All-Star Game logo:

asg

Even cooler are the jerseys that will be worn during the All-Star Game, which feature “the names of EVERY Player who made it from the NYPL to the Major Leagues watermarked into the pattern.”

jerzzz

And, finally, how about a logo for a team that doesn’t officially exist yet? If all goes according to plan, the Huntsville Stars will move to Biloxi in time for the 2015 season. This fledgling Southern League franchise, a Brewers affiliate, does not yet have a name. But it does have a website, and the website includes this logo:

bb

Seeing those two B’s together reminds me that I need an official “Ben’s Biz” logo. Please, feel free to send over your prototypes.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Covering All Bouillabaisses

Over the last four months there has been plenty of content on this ol’ blog, from road trip retrospectives to Promo Seminar and Winter Meetings recaps to Job Seeker Journals to personal numerical milestones to re-branding round-ups to guest posts on attendance, Google stadium tours, and theoretical sports leagues. Just scroll through the archives! That, and much more, is all there for the (re)visiting.

But while I’ve continued to deliver the varied and indispensable content that one would expect from the Greatest Minor League Baseball Blog of All-Time (TM), one word has been missing from the conversation for nearly four months now. It is a word that is very dear to me, seeing as how it connotates an endlessly malleable approach to both topic and presentation.

Bouillabaisse.

Yep, today’s post is gonna be a bouillabaisse, a hodgepodge of Minor League news and notes that have been simmering together for quite some time on the pilot light that is my “blog topics” notebook page. As always, let’s hope that the sum is greater than its parts and, more importantly, that the remainder of this post (#1034 in Ben’s Biz history, for those keeping track at home) is less meandering and inconsequential than the intro. Not likely!

Let’s start at the top of the alphabet, as the always-reliable Altoona Curve have become the latest team to turn the oft-lackluster slugfest that is the All-Star Game Home Run Derby into something else entirely (see Quad Cities River Bandits, Reading Phillies, Charleston RiverDogs). Last month, the team announced “The Ghost Man Games Challenge.”

ghost man

The premise:

Ask almost anyone from any generation about a “ghost man” and it will conjure up childhood memories of playing baseball with imaginary base runners. The Altoona Curve (AA, Pirates) plan on bringing those ghost men to life as part of the 2014Eastern League All-Star Stop in Curve, Pa. on Tuesday, July 15. “The Curve, Pa. Ghost Man Games and Hitting Challenge” will cap an evening’s worth of activities at Peoples Natural Gas Field the day before the league’s annual All-Star Game.

Each division (Eastern vs. Western) will receive six ghost men and have the opportunity to earn up to 15 extra ghost men in five games leading up to the hitting challenge. The games include: Bubble Gum Blowing Challenge, Closest-to-the-Pin Flying Disc Toss, Mascot Mouth Accuracy Challenge, T-Shirt Cannon Catch, and Mascot Dodgeball Challenge. Each game will have three ghost men up for grabs.

Following the five, fast-paced games, three hitters for each division will take their hacks trying to hit home runs and doubles (anything that reaches the warning track on the fly). The trick will be how each division employs their ghost men ahead of home runs or doubles hit by the sluggers in order to score the most runs. Each hitter will get five outs before their turn or “inning” is finished. The divisions will take turns and play a three-inning contest.

You know what the above picture means? No segue!

Let’s move straight to the next item, which is this: the Nashville Sounds are playing their final season at Greer Stadium in 2014, and are commemorating it with this nifty logo:

greer-stadium-nashville-sounds-commemorative-mark-37-years-of-hits

It should read “37 seasons of hits,” if you want to get technical about it, but still: a cool logo. (And, with any luck, I’m hoping that 1978-2014 are not the dates that end up on my tombstone. Fingers crossed).

Meanwhile, on the other end of the birth-death continuum upon which we all reside, 2014 marks the Charlotte Knights’ first season in a brand-new downtown facility. This, too, has been commemorated in logo form, and it looks great. Joust great.

Charlotte Knights Inaugural Season Logo

 No segue!

nosegway

The Omaha Storm Chasers already have three mascots, a fact that, in the past, has been known to rile up ornery snarkhounds. Well, those of the curmudgeonly persuasion are going to go full-bore apoplectic once they hear of the team’s latest endeavor, as the Storm Chasers are adding three more mascots to the fold for 2014. These mascots are currently only identified via their silhouettes, such as this guy (who, if you read his character description, is clearly a piece of corn).

Omaha_Character1

Each of these three characters needs a name, so click on the above link if you want to register your opinion. My three choices are Kernel Cobb, Cap-Tin, and Tony Bone.

nosegway

A number of Minor League entities have dance teams that perform routines between innings, but this is even better: in 2014, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs are going to have a drumline. It’s about time!

Designated_Hitters_small

Team sez:

This 15-member drumline will be a featured act at 15 home games throughout the season. The Designated Hitters will welcome crowds in the parking lot at Coca-Cola Park before games, participate in player introductions and perform Drum Battles atop the dugouts after select innings later this season.  

And for an example of even more unorthodox between-inning entertainment, please consider this from the IronPigs’ fellow PA denizens the Erie SeaWolves:

nosegwaybenjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Guest Post: Tis the Season for the Holiday League

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and with Thanksgiving comes the official start of the holiday season. What better time, then, to turn this blog over to the Holiday League? 

Yes, the Holiday League — a theoretical three-team (and growing) circuit whose logos are entirely real. The “HL,” as I just decided to call it, is the brainchild of artist/designer/baseball fan John Hartwell, who established Hartwell Studio Works in 2006. In this post he talks about his professional background, how the Holiday League came to be, and, most importantly, shares his collection of HL primary and alternate marks. This should gave you logo fiends out there — you know who you are — a lot to talk about, but even casual fans should enjoy perusing an imagined sporting realm which has room for zombies, reindeer, and anthropomorphic evergreens. Get ready to read John’s words now, as this italicized intro has run its course. 

holidayleague-logo

I’ve been working as a creative professional for the past 20 years, first as an illustrator and cartoonist, adding graphic designer to my description for the past ten. I cut my sports teeth on the Nolan Ryan-era Texas Rangers and absolutely feel in love with minor league baseball in the mid-to late 90‘s with the San Antonio Missions. Games at the Wolff with Henry the Puffy Taco and Ballapeño are not to be missed.

When Hartwell Studio Works launched as in independent sports design shop in 2006, one of my very first clients was Jonathan Nelson and the Birmingham Barons, doing a variety of marks for the team, including a team rebrand in 2008. As the studio’s client list grew, I knew marketing and self-promotions needed to be part of the regular project mix.

The Holiday League started as last Christmas’ North Pole Reindeer studio promo. The Reindeer were, if nothing else, a clever idea that made me laugh. It could have fallen flat on its face, but at least I would have fun doing it.

reindeer-primary

reindeer-secondary

North Pole Reindeer secondary marks

The overwhelmingly positive response to the Reindeer, however, led to the idea that this “Holiday League” could have real legs as a studio promotional campaign. The “Holiday League” name was a throw-away line in the Reindeer promo, but through the Huggers and Creepers promos and the league website and store launches, the whole thing has taken on a life of its own. It’s proven to be a great creative exercise, giving me a chance to try out new ideas and stay fresh.

Arborville Huggers “traditional” logo option for fan voting. (Extra points to whomever can identify the Monty Python reference in the original email promo.)

huggers-traditional

The Arborville “hippie” option:

huggers-hippie

The Huggers logo option for “today’s modern hipster.”

huggers-hipster

The Amityville Creeper primary logo. I briefly considered hailing them from Crystal Lake, but thought that might be too obscure:

creepers-primary

Don and Doug the Doubleheader. The Creepers were an exercise in making bad baseball + Halloween jokes.

creepers-doubleheader

Credit for Bat Boy goes to a designer buddy of mine who, when I told him about the Creepers idea over lunch, blurted out “Bat Boy!” as a name for one of the mascots. I literally stopped in mid-chew, smacked my forehead, and realized it was a far better idea than the vampire character I originally had in mind. He was kind enough to let me use his much better idea!

creepers-batboy

I’m a big fan of The Walking Dead, so Wally the Walker was a no-brainer (get it?) for the Creepers. I laugh every time I look at him. 

creepers-wally

This year’s Christmas promo is already teed up with a return trip to the Reindeer. It will be a bit different from what has gone before, but I think folks will get a kick out of it. Next year’s holiday teams have already been determined, and I’m already looking forward to Christmas 2014.

Keep up with the latest from the Holiday League at www.holidayleague.com, or follow Hartwell Studio Works on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

So there ya have it, folks: John Hartwell and the Holiday League. Thanks for reading, enjoy your Thanksgiving, and see you in December. Oh, and that reminds me: The Winter Meetings are almost upon us! Please get in touch if you’re going be there and/or have any Winter Meeting content suggestions or article and blog post pitches That’s what I’m here for. 

benjamin.hill

twitter.com/bensbiz

Your October 2013 Re-Branding Review

Here on the  blog, the recent content theme has been “covering in-season topics that I didn’t get around to covering during the season itself.” But out there in the real world, the biggest news on the MiLB front has been a topic near and dear to many of you: branding.

Over the past week, there has been one team launch (the El Paso Chihuahuas), one new identity (the Akron RubberDucks), and three sets of new logos (Arkansas Travelers, Charlotte Knights, and Rochester Red Wings). This post, number #999 in Ben’s Biz Blog history, attempts to make sense of it all in a crisp and concise fashion.

October 22: El Paso Chihuahuas (read my MiLB.com story HERE)

cheewawa

 

In my nearly eight years of covering Minor League branding efforts, none elicited as strong a reaction as October 22’s announcement that El Paso’s new Triple-A team would be called “The Chihuahuas.” The comment section of the MiLB.com article linked to above serves as a pretty good summation of the initial reaction, about 1/3 incredulous, 1/3 angry and embarrassed, and 1/3 delighted.

“Chihuahuas” is aggressively kid-friendly and completely independent of any overt reference to the parent club (in this case, the Padres), which is a trend that should be familiar to anyone who follows this industry. In recent years Brandiose has been behind  IronPigs, Flying Squirrels, Storm Chasers, and RailRiders, so why not Chihuahuas? Why not anything?

My Take: While I like the color scheme and logo, the “Chihuahuas” name leans just a bit too ridiculous for my taste and was in fact my least favorite of the five “finalists” in the “Name the Team” contest (Aardvarks, Buckaroos, Desert Gators, Sun Dogs). Yes, the players come and go, but it’s a little off putting to me that men competing at Minor League Baseball’s highest level have to take the field with “Chihuahuas” emblazoned across the chest.

That said, the team did a phenomenal job in regard to creating a buzz not just in the community but nationally, and now they have the opportunity to build an entire brand around something very unique. As is so often the case, I feel that once people get used to the name they’ll not just tolerate it but embrace it. Myself as well, probably.

Also, as an aside: Holding a Name the Team “contest” in advance of announcing a new name is a great way to generate publicity. But these contests are disingenuous in that they rarely, if ever, actually take fan opinion into account. Is this advance buzz worth the ill will generated when the name chosen doesn’t reflect public consensus in any way, shape or form? It won’t happen, but I’d love it if a team came right out and explained the paternalistic mindset that informs these decisions: “You fans mean well, but since you live in a market that was heretofore without Minor League Baseball you have no idea how the industry operates and therefore no real idea what would truly make for a good team name. Feel free to argue impotently amongst yourselves while us professionals do our jobs, as in the end everything will turn out alright. We guarantee it.”

October 23: Arkansas Travelers (Read my MiLB.com story HERE).

travelers

The Travelers’ motivation for creating a new set of logos (designed, once again, by Brandiose) was two-fold. Firstly, the team wanted to streamline and simplify an identity that had become a bit of an unwieldy hodgepodge in recent years. Second, new logos represented a good way to generate buzz and momentum as the Travs enter a 2014 season in which they will serve as hosts of the Texas League All-Star Game.

My take: I like it. The Travs’ have a history in Little Rock that goes back over 100 years, and that’s something that they’re understandably proud of. The new logos are correspondingly sleek, simple and traditional (the horse references the “Arkansas Traveler” folktale that resulted in the team name in the first place), and rumor has it that there may be more to unveil later in the offseason.

10/24: Charlotte Knights (read my MiLB.com piece HERE)

KNIGHTS

The Knights are moving into a brand-new downtown ballpark in 2014, and with the new digs comes this new set of logos. Here’s what general manager Scott Brown told me:

“Charlotte is nicknamed ‘The Queen City’ after Queen Charlotte, so, moving forward, we wanted to capture royalty as our theme. The time was ripe to do this, because even though we’re only two miles away [from the previous home of Knights Stadium] we’re now inside the city limits. The Knights are defending the Queen City.”

My Take: Similar to the Travs, I like this sleek and relatively simple re-brand as it serves as a great way to kickstart what is a truly exciting new era for the Knights. And while I’m ignorant of pretty much everything beyond the world of baseball, several people on Twitter pointed out that it is somewhat similar to the logos of the collegiate UCF Knights and Army Black Knights. This could be seen as a negative, as well as the fact that the logo on the far right seems to depict a seahorse in the midst of suicide. But, again: I’m a fan.

10/29: Akron RubberDucks (read my MiLB.com story HERE)

akron_rubberducks_480x270_mxmv0iyx_y0cxrxkv

After 17 seasons the Aeros are no more, as Akron’s Double-A franchise has scrapped that in favor of “RubberDucks.” This is all part of owner Ken Babby’s attempt to revitalize what had been an ailing franchise, and is sure to be accompanied by a veritable onslaught of duck-themed promotions in 2014 and beyond. The “Rubber” in the team’s name refers to Akron’s standing as “Rubber Capital of the World,” but even with this local tie-in the name generated a near-Chihuahuas level of internet commentary (best characterized as a mix of gentle snark and faux outrage).

My Take: When I first heard the “RubberDucks” name I winced a little bit, thinking it too cartoonish and child-like. It has grown on me somewhat, however, due to the aforementioned local tie-in, sharp and eye-catching logo set, and a general faith in the Akron front office. And just a thought, but might Akron’s “Rubber capital of the world” status have something to do with its steadily-declining birth rates?

November 1: Rochester Red Wings (read team press release HERE).

RED

Less a re-brand than an update, this Studio Simon creation highlights mascot Spike’s ever-increasing commitment to the weight room. Pretty soon he’s going to using the #riseandgrind hashtag on Twitter.

My Take: While far less splashy than the four new logos talked about above, this is a nice re-imagining of an iconic brand (the Red Wings are the oldest team in all of Minor League Baseball). Studio Simon always does good work.

And thus concludes Ben’s Biz Blog post #999. I still don’t know what I’m doing for 1000, so it might take a while to appear. Any suggestions?

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Market Saturation and Wireless Communication

Among this year’s crop of new Minor League logos, surely the most striking was the Lexington Legends’ away cap. It features a mustache, and nothing else. Or, if you prefer images to words, it features this:

lex

By adopting such a look, the Legends were clearly aiming to make an impact outside of their market. Ty Cobb, the team’s graphic designer, acknowledged as much when I spoke with him at the time of the logo’s unveiling.

“Minor League Baseball is all about the ‘wow’ factor, and we wanted to go beyond the normal stuff you’d see at the ballpark,” said Cobb, whose name is totally unremarkable. “And we wanted to be the team to do this first, to have a mustache on a hat. Our mascot, he actually has a mustache, so we’re not just hopping on a fad. … We’re going to be easily recognizable when on the road. Fans can just look at the mustache.”

As the Legends hoped, many fans have done more than just look at the mustache. They’ve gone out and bought it. As of today, the team has sold the hat in 45 out of 50 states en route to their goal of “mustache domination.” Or, if you prefer images to words:

domination2

For the most part, this is a simple matter of demographics as Alaska, Montana, Maine and Vermont are among the ten least-populated states. But Arkansas? What’s up with that? Nearly three million people live there — including those who are fans of fellow Royals affiliates the Northwest Arkansas Naturals — and yet none have sprung for a hat.

(Perhaps because headwear would only sully their beauty? As I learned last season, Arkansans are nothing if not beautiful. Just scroll through this blog post for proof!)

All of this begs the question — has any team ever sold a particular piece of headwear in all 50 states? Or will the Legends be the first?

Once again it is I, cold and alone, who asks the questions that no one else dares to.

Moving on to other matters, let this be your thrice-monthly reminder that my Promo Preview column runs every Tuesday on MiLB.com. Click HERE to read the latest edition, which is virtually hot off of the virtual presses.

pp

Included within this week’s column is a write-up on Thursday’s “Manager Cell Phone Night” in Omaha, which pays tribute to emerging dugout-to-bullpen communication technologies. Since the column went to (virtual) press, promotions manager Ben Hemmen (the second-best Ben H. working in Minor League Baseball, after yours truly New York-Penn League president Ben Hayes), sent the following supplemental information. I, for one, love it:

– In honor of all Major League Baseball “Calls to the Bullpen” happening on cell phones this season, the Omaha Storm Chasers are offering anyone who brings in a rotary phone or old cell phone for donation a “buy one box seat, get one box seat for FREE” ticket special.

– All “Calls to the Bullpen” will come with a special surprise from Jirsch [Manager Mike Jirschele]. We will also unveil never before heard or seen manager to manager phone calls, voicemails and texts on the videoboard.

 And since you can do everything on a cell phone these days, other exciting offers, deals, competitions, and games will take place at Thursday’s game:

– There will be a Facebook challenge that night for a FREE night at a future game in the Safeco Insurance/ Manager Mike Jirschele Dugout suite.

– If you e-mail the Team Store at the game that night (stormfront@omahastormchasers.com), you will receive a coupon for a special offer.

– A few lucky fans who use twitter on Thirsty Thursday and hashtag #BudLight or #Pepsi to @omastormchasers at the right time will have enjoy a beverage on the house.

– The person who posts the best picture of Manager Mike Jirschele to Instagram will win an autographed Mike Jirschele cell phone. 

I was going to end this post with a picture of Mr. Jirschele, but in my quest to find a photo of him I inadvertently stumbled upon this shot of Alice Cooper and Mike Moustakas. Love it to death:

alice_moose

photo: royals.mlblogs.com

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

The Never-Ending Happening

I’m posting this on a Friday afternoon, and on a Friday afternoon there’s only one way to do things: Bouillabaisse style!

So let’s do it! I’ve got lots to share with you, starting with a new logo straight from the heart of Appalachia. 

astroz

Greeneville’s new look is a response to similar changes made by the parent club and in this regard they are the Bluefield and Dunedin of 2012. (That reference is apropos, but I’m not going to take the time to contextualize it. I have a press release to quote!)

Sez the team:

The new Astros identity features a full star logo with a block letter ‘G’ in the middle of the star. The Astros home caps will feature this logo on a solid blue cap while the road caps will be solid orange.

The G-Stros (does anyone call them that?) change is permanent, so now let’s move on to something of a “one night only” variety. On July 12th, the Erie SeaWolves will be donning these nautical duds:

Niagara Jersey FBThese jerseys are the result of the SeaWolves partnership with the Flagship Niagara League, an organization that is seeking to promote its Tall Ships Festival.

I realize that this explanation raises more questions than it does answers. In brief: Lake Erie was the site of key 19th-century naval battles, and the Tall Ships festival (which does indeed feature tall ships) commemorates this history. Read more HERE.

Now we must proceed from theme jerseys to alternate ones, as the Mississippi Braves have somehow managed to fit “Mississippi” across the chest of this navy blue number:

bravez

I’d link to a press release with more info, but there doesn’t seem to be one. All I can tell you is you can buy these jerseys for $175 at the M-Braves team store. I guess in this case the “M” in “M-Braves” stands for “mum’s the word.”

Transitioning from the occasional to the regular, the new-look Buffalo Bisons recently unveiled their 2013 uniforms.

bisonzA bit more from the Bisons:

In the creation of their new uniforms, the Bisons paid special attention to popular team jerseys from the past. The use of a ‘Scarlet Red’ lettering and ‘Reflex Blue’ numbers on the front of the ‘Ice White’ home and gray road uniforms was taken from the jerseys worn by the team in the early years of Coca-Cola Field. A ‘Hitting Buster’ has also returned to the team’s official on-field cap, a look Bisons fans have long enjoyed from those first seasons at the ballpark. 

Meanwhile, one of the rarest of logo creatures was released into our midst this past week. A ballpark logo, this one for the Birmingham Barons’ currently under-construction Regions Field. I will refrain from editorializing, because words only get in the way of images.

The image:

baronz

I’ll close, as I often do, with something out of left-field (not literally, in most cases).

How’s THIS for a staff bio pic?

shiner

According to the GreenJackets, Kyle’s shiner was obtained while playing in a staff basketball game. Reminder to all: never play basketball with the staff of the Augusta GreenJackets.

Okay, this post isn’t quite over yet due to my desire to do some ponderous professional pontificating.

And what I have been pondering lately is whether or not to make some changes to this blog in regards to the frequency with which I post. These days I average about three entries a week, with each post (allegedly) having some substance in that it is at least 400 words long and often covers multiple topics.

But perhaps more timely “Quick Hit” or “Short Hop” or “Biz Quick” posts would be a good strategy to utilize as well? The idea here is that whenever some particularly news/buzz-worthy content appears, I would immediately generate a short post. The plus side is timely and engaging material and more of it, but the potential negative is that this approach would cheapen the product and make this blog just another cheap cranker-outer of disposable content.

Does this debate exist strictly in my own head? Probably. Am I talking to myself as I write this? Definitely. I guess the takeaway here is that after 5+ years and 900+ posts I care about this blog more than I’d like to admit, especially in regard to how the content is packaged and presented. So, if you have opinions on this (or any other pertinent matter), please get in touch. If you don’t have any opinions on this, that’s okay too. If I was you then I wouldn’t either.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

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