Results tagged ‘ mascots ’

A Mass of Cots-tumed Characters

I’m going to assume that, at this point in time, you have already thoroughly scoured my post on 2014 road trip itineraries. (If you haven’t, then please click HERE). Thanks to all who have provided feedback on that post; more is always encouraged via benjamin.hill@mlb.com  and twitter.com/bensbiz

But enough about me! Did you know that, in recent weeks, several new Minor League mascots have made their debut? I am sensing a profoundly ambivalent response to that query, but soldiering on in the face of ambivalence is what I do best. Therefore, let’s start with Chico of the El Paso Chihuahuas, who I will be able to meet in person on April 29th. Say what you will about the Chihuahuas name/logo/overall branding efforts, but one thing they are definitely not is bashful. Chico, who came into the world without even a scintilla of an origin story, is IN YOUR FACE.

(This, and all Chico photos, courtesy Peter Svarzbein/El Paso Chihuahuas)

chico3

Let’s back up a little…

chico 1

From the rear. This photo could in no way be misconstrued.

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I do my best to refrain from lazy “only on the internet” phrases such as “nightmare fuel,” but there’s no doubt that Chico has a bit of an edge too him. He’s got red eyes, a dog collar necklace, and a cockeyed, teeth-baring grin, three presentational elements that are rarely associated with the Minor League mantra of family-friendly entertainment.

El Paso Chihuahuas — on the cutting edge, or missing the mark? I have a feeling that Chico doesn’t care what your opinion is, whatever it is. He will be performing for a fan base that includes Pauly Shore and Cheech Marin (really!), so chances are that he’ll fit in just fine.

Peter Svarzbein/El Paso Chihuahuas

Peter Svarzbein/El Paso Chihuahuas

Meanwhile, a couple thousand miles to the northeast, the Akron RubberDucks have unveiled “Webster.” 

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And, yes, let’s get this out of the way. As noted by more than one of my Twitter followers, Webster appears to be Minor League Baseball’s version of “Poochie,” the superfluous Itchy and Scratchy sidekick whose cynical conception and even more cynical demise was the subject of a classic Simpsons episode.

poochie

It turns out that, in the flesh, Webster is downright endearing. Chances are slim that he will die on the way back to his home planet, I look forward to meeting him when I visit Akron on July 18.

Out in Modesto, Al the almond and Wally the walnut have long held things down on the mascot front. You’d think that the team would be content with displaying their pair of nuts at every home game, but, no, they want more. Get ready for a female pistachio!

Pistachio_MW_8coe2gyh_zbkadjov

Like all female pistachios, this one needs a name! Fans are invited to choose among Penny, Patty, Shelley, Bella, or Polly, but why isn’t “Ms. Tachio” one of the options? I need to start a consulting company so that such wordplay opportunities are always taken advantage of within the industry. I would be good at this, and you know it.

Finally, in Little Rock, the Arkansas Travelers have unveiled not one and not three but yes two mascots: Ace and Otey. Sez the team:

Ace is a native Arkansan who grew up rooting for the Travelers. He proudly served his country and upon returning to the Natural State competed and won the Mascot Tryout. With a name like “Ace” of course he is a pitcher and stands at a very menacing 7′ 2″ tall and weighs 501 pounds with a size-36 hoof.

From the Travs’ Opening Day Facebook photo album:

ace

At 7’2″, Ace’s height is even greater than former Arkansas Traveler Loek Van Mil!

loek

This, also from the Travs, might be one of my favorite mascot bios in recent memory.

Initially the idea was for just one mascot, but when Ace introduced the Travs and Hughes Agency to his best friend “Otey the Swamp Possum” during the interview process all bets were off. Just like Ace, Otey is also native to the state hailing from Southeast Arkansas. He grew up watching Travs games with his family from underneath the stands at Little Rock’s Ray Winder Field. Otey, who was named after former Traveler infielder and groundskeeper R.C. Otey, claims that he is the Travelers’ “Good Luck Charm”. In fact Otey believes that his superstitions helped the Travs win the 2008 Texas League Championship even though their 62-78 regular season record was the worst for a champion in Texas League history. Otey stands a stout 5 feet tall, he is a fan of second base and the “phantom double play” and his favorite number is .984, which was R.C. Otey’s career fielding percentage.

And with this memorable bio comes a very memorable mascot.

otey

Okay, let’s back it up just a bit…

otey2

Otey inspired a brief burst of snark and faux-outrage from amateur hour internet hyperbolists, but so what? As Otey’s bio makes clear — and this is something I learned firsthand when I visited in 2012 — the Travs and their fans have a strong nostalgia for their colorful Ray Winder Field past.  So much so, the beer garden at their current home of Dickey-Stephens Field is named after a well-known and often well-lubricated fan who would slide, in shorts, into a popcorn box base. Otey should fit right in.

And with that, it’s time for me to hook slide on out of here.

hook

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Don’t Have a Cow, Man

“It wasn’t something that I was planning on, it just sort of happened.”

Those words can be applied to many life situations, from the momentous to the exceedingly trivial, and those words certainly applied to how I spent last Friday afternoon. Taking place firmly within the realm of the exceedingly trivial, I found myself embroiled in a Twitter beef — a literal beef, as it were — with Visalia Rawhide mascot Tipper T. Bull. It all started innocently, with this tweet from the Rawhide:

Because I have a distinct propensity for indulging in bad jokes whenever possible, I replied with the following:

Tipper was less than impressed with this remark, and expressed his disdain thusly:

OKAY, IT’S ON!

At this point I kind of wanted to end it, as Tipper’s tweet was written so definitively. But then I thought, to myself: “You’re 35 years old, an ostensible professional and nominally an adult, and you’re going to let a Class A Advanced bovine mascot have the last word in a Twitter battle? That’s not the kind of man you were raised to be.”

And that’s where it ended. While me vs. Tipper might not have been Aces vs. RiverCats in the MiLB Twitter fight pantheon, it did provide a pleasant diversion throughout the course of an offseason afternoon. And as for Tipper, I’m just going to assume that we’re friends again. The beef has already been squashed.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Bouillabaisse Blog Post II: Electric Bouillabaisseabaloo

In all likelihood you haven’t yet digested — or even been aware of the existence of — yesterday’s full-to-bursting bouillabaisse post. But that’s not gonna stop me from delivering yet another heaping hodgepodge of worthwhile Minor League Baseball news, because that’s just the kind of guy I am: the kind of guy who cannot be stopped, or even contained, really. Lil B’s got nothing on me, for I am the #BouillabaissedGod!

The more perceptive among you may have noticed that yesterday’s post, full-to-bursting though it may have been, contained no videos. Today is not like yesterday, because it never is, and therefore today’s post will contain videos. Let’s get to them, starting with a significant bit of publicity for Lake Elsinore’s “World’s Fastest Squirrel.” 

For more on the World’s Fastest Squirrel and the surreal world from which he emerged, kindly read my 2012 “Minoring in Business” article.

Another example of Minor League Baseball mascots in big-time roles can be found in “What the Phanatic Say?,” which features an impressive collection of Phillies-affiliated characters.

The above video, a parody of “What Does the Fox Say?”, is not to be confused with other such spoofs. THIS, for example, explains the fundamental tenets of Quakerism.

No Segue!

nosegway

The Indianapolis Colts may have been eliminated from the playoffs, but that’s not going to stop me from sharing a video that was made before the postseason begun. This Christmas, Indianapolis Indians stalwart Matt Hague offered valuable sliding tutelage to his next door stadium neighbor Andrew Luck. Hilarity, or perhaps something bearing no small resemblance to hilarity, ensued.

If it’s outdated Indianapolis Indians comedic holiday content that you want, then it’s outdated Indianapolis Indians comedic holiday content that I’ve got!

And, let’s be honest here, if something’s funny then it has no expiration date. That’s my excuse for providing yet another piece of comedic holiday video content, this time courtesy of my old pals the Altoona Curve. Get psyched for The Pockster!

The “Pockster” is a parody of Conan O’Brien’s “Rublight” ad, which you absolutely must watch. There is no person who won’t find it funny. Or, if there is, I don’t want to know that person. And if I do know that person, then all ties are renounced effective immediately.

nosegway

When it comes to Minor League Baseball blogging, I am the greatest of all time. But when it comes to the grapest Minor League entity of all time? That honor now belongs to the Reading Fightin Phils, whose mascot and star player competed against one another in a local grape-stomping competition because of course they did.

nosegway

I’ve shared a lot of stupid videos with you today, resulting in more wonton absurdity then a surrealist painting of a Chinese restaurant. But I’m going to close this post with a video that is thoughtful, tasteful, personal, and passionate. I like it a lot, this heartfelt musical plea to preserve the former home of the Eugene Emeralds.

The fact that this song was written by one “Scoop McGuire” makes it that much better. Check out savecivicstadium.org for more info.

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

Two Items of Note

Today I have two items of note for you, and they really couldn’t be any different in tone. On the serious end of the spectrum, the Mobile BayBears have announced that a seat at Hank Aaron stadium will remain permanently empty in honor of all American soldiers who never returned home.

Section 107, row 1, seat 1:

pow mia

More, from the team:

The BayBears will hold a ceremony to unveil the seat at the home opener, Wednesday, April 10 during the pre-game festivities. Active military and veterans will be in attendance to help dedicate the seat to the over 92,000 missing American soldiers. The BayBears will be installing the seat next week.

The BayBears’ “Black Seat” initiative has garnered a lot of attention over the past 24 hours, thanks to a blog post on Yahoo’s Big League Stew blog that was then more or less re-written by a number of other outlets. There’s been an “every team ever should do this immediately if not sooner” tone to these posts, and it is almost certain that other teams will follow in the wake of the BayBears (and, moreso, the Lowell Spinners as they were the first team to do this). But such a gesture will seem profoundly empty unless it is accompanied by a season-long commitment to and engagement with the region’s military and veteran population. The BayBears, for instance, offer complimentary tickets for active duty personnel and will be staging promotions dedicated to each branch of the military throughout the season.

First things first.

And now, like a kid flipping through Mad Magazine until he sees a Dave Berg byline, we have reached the Lighter Side. I’m just going to rely on the press release for this one, courtesy of the Lake Elsinore Storm.

With the papal election process in full swing and a new Pope on the horizon, the Lake Elsinore Storm Professional Baseball Team feel they have the right candidate for the position.

 He may not be global just yet, but locally a lovable dog is revered by all. That’s right, man’s best friend, who may become God’s best friend, is throwing his bone, or hat, into the papal ring. Storm mascot, Thunder, with inspiration from the likes of Saint Peter, the Apostle, and the 264 Popes that followed, is willing to leave the luxuries of The Diamond behind for the right to serve others as the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church.

ThunderPope1

Paw-pal infallibility

There have been many recommendations on who should be the successor of Pope Benedict XVI….Thunder, though, has a leg, or two, up on the competition.

 He would be the first green Pope, already has his own Thunder/Pope mobile and children of all ages love him. As well, Thunder has been sermonizing and leading others as a beacon of Storm spirit for nearly a decade on the team’s annual Night of Fellowship (scheduled for July 12 this season).

 Thunder’s youthful exuberance and connection with the younger generation should provide a groundswell of support through social media. His friends at @Storm_baseball have started a #Paws4Pope Twitter campaign that could go viral.

 The echoing sounds of “Thunder,Thunder” is a well known cheer throughout the Inland Empire, and Popefully the people of Vatican City will be chanting in Italian “Tuono, Tuono” for years to come.  

ThundePope1 (2)

Now that I think about it, this blog post typifies Minor League Baseball: balancing the serious and the absurd on a season-to-season, month-to-month, homestand-to-homestand, game-to-game, inning-to-inning basis.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Turn the Page, Part One

Have you ever tried to monitor the actions of 160 entities on a daily basis? That’s basically what my job is here at MiLB.com, and please believe me when I say that it can be overwhelming! Keeping track of a such a vast industry exacerbates my already quite pronounced OCD-tendencies, and leads to notebook pages such as the following:

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All of this is to say — it’s time to turn the page! But before doing so, please enjoy this bouillabaisse blog post consisting entirely of news items seen on the above notebook page. Y’know, topics that I’ve kept meaning to get around to but never did (or at least never did outside of the Twitter realm).

So here you go — no segues, just news news news!

Would you believe that the Hudson Valley Renegades have not one but TWO former MLB pitchers on their front office staff? Joe Ausiano (1994-95 Yankees) has long been with the team, and he has now been joined by Rob Bell (who played for four teams over seven big league seasons). Bell, now 36, will serve as a sales account executive.

Hudson Valley: home of Minor League Baseball’s best front office softball team?

The Iowa Cubs have long prided themselves on conducting the most irreverent website polls in MiLB, but decided not to continue with the practice after their site underwent an extensive re-design (as nearly all  team sites have done of late, courtesy of the tech wizards here at MLBAM).

But, rest assured, they went out on top of their poll game!

cubbbs

It’s always about Battle Creek

You may recall my recent post on Minor League Front Office Cliches, in which one of the cliches mentioned was “We wear a lot of hats.” This prompted @Interstate19Cap to reply, via Twitter: “I wear a lot of hats. Haha! I should work in MiLB.”

He also attached a picture of his formidable hat wall. Not quite at a St. Pete level, but close!

hatttz

You may or may not be aware of my most recent “Ben’s Bookshelf” column, which had a Black History Month angle.

bhmbookshelfI recommend all six of the titles shown above (read the article, linked to above), but there’s far more where that came from. Check out this bookshelf pic, sent to me via Twitter by @BeesGal_SLC, and marvel at its thoroughness.

That reminds me — I really should read Curt Flood’s book!

bhmreadz

On the promotion front —  this, from the Altoona Curve, is worthy of attention. April 11 will be BOpening Night, a tribute to batboy Bo Forney who passed away earlier this month at the age of 21.

Bo Forney, with the Dubble Bubble

Bo Forney, with the Dubble Bubble

From the team:

Bo has been an inspiration to many with the way he lived,” said Curve General Manager Rob Egan.  “He had the rare ability to make anybody who came in contact with him feel better.  Bo was such a positive person, loved life, and truly enjoyed people.  We miss him deeply and look forward to celebrating his life on ‘BOpening Night’ and throughout the season.”

A silent auction will take place during BOpening Night with all proceeds from the auction benefitting the American Heart Association.  The auction will consist of game-used items from the Pirates-Curve Exhibition game and will include, in addition to other items, 14-game used jerseys that have been signed by former Curve players /current Pirates players.    

To commemorate the life of Forney, a patch with Bo’s cartoon likeness will be affixed to all bat boys uniforms throughout the 2013 season.  The Forney family will also be in attendance for BOpening Night and will throw out ceremonial first pitches prior to the game.  A moment of silence will be held in Bo’s honor prior to the game as well. 

This reminds me of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, who last season held a ballpark service for vendor Brock Calmes. Events like these help to illustrate the deep bonds that form within Minor League Baseball ballparks, and just how meaningful the presence of Minor League Baseball within a community can be.

Last week, the Tacoma Rainiers let it be known that anyone willing to purchase 350 Opening Weekend ticket deals would receive this pyramid of Dustin Ackley bobbleheads. I don’t think that anyone took them up on it.

summit

Next I’d like to give a shoutout to Spikes, intrepid mascot for your (or at least someone’s) Rochester Red Wings. He joins Rocky of the Wilmington Blue Rocks as the only mascots (that I am aware of) to take part in a Polar Plunge for charity.

spikes

During all 10 of their Friday night home games this season, the Charlotte Knights will be wearing 1990 throwback uniforms. Luxuriate in this image!

throwback

This initiative was inspired by the fact that 2013 will be the team’s last at Knights Stadium. 1990 was the first. Sez the team:

The jerseys, which were worn by the inaugural Knights Stadium Team in 1990, will now be worn by the current Knights team during the new “Flashback Fridays” series, which is set to commemorate 24 years of history at Knights Stadium.

To return to philanthropic endeavors, the Erie SeaWolves are now at the tail end of their “Drive to Five” initiative. 

drive5

The most pertinent of the details:

Through February 28, the Erie SeaWolves will donate $25 to United Way for each new full-season ticket package purchased. If 100 new season ticket packages are purchased, the SeaWolves will double the contribution – raising $5,000 to help United Way achieve its goal to reduce poverty in our region.

If you’re the kind of person who enjoys detailed analysis of industry-wide attendance figures, then you’re going to love the Number Tamer. Nobody does it better! (Or, if someone does, I’m certainly not aware of it).

As you may be aware, one of this year’s most ill-fated sporting ventures occurred in Williamsport, PA. The Federal Hockey League’s Outlaw franchise set up shop at outdoor Bowman Field (longtime home of the Crosscutters), an idea that may sound cool in theory but turned out to be a unmitigated financial disaster. The team pulled the plug on the season mid-way through, leaving everyone in the lurch, and once this happened the Crosscutters offered a quick response via this local newspaper ad:

Outlaws_Exchange_AD

This seems like a disaster waiting to happen, but nonetheless I encourage you like Lancaster JetHawks mascot KaBoom on Facebook. Here’s why:

kaboom

Speaking of inadvisable mascot feats, here’s a picture of Lake County’s Skipper, immediately after “Tackling the Tower.”

skiiper

“Tackling the Tower” isn’t some sort of euphemism, but an annual stair-climbing event with (of course) philanthropic intent. Good work, Skipper!

And, my goodness, this notebook page still has a lot of stuff on it. This post is gonna be a two-parter.

Everything I do, I do it for you.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbizb

To Put It Another Way…

The latest edition of Ben’s Bookshelf appeared on MiLB.com this past Thursday. The featured book this time through is Jesse Goldberg-Strassler’s “The Baseball Thesaurus.” It looks a little something like this:

thesaurus

Upon further reflection…

The Baseball Thesaurus is just what its name implies. To quote my own (stellar) writing, the book is “an alphabetized romp through the baseball lexicon peppered with quirky anecdotes, vintage photos and memorable quotes.”

The Baseball Thesaurus greatly enhances my ability to turn pedestrian baseball sentences into flowery works of national pastime poetry, and for this I am grateful. Using the thesaurus, one can transform a bland remark such as “The pitcher threw a curveball and the batter hit it over the fence” into “The hurlester buggywhipped a snapdragon and the swatsmith manhandled it beyond the rampart.” (Reader comprehension be damned!)

Words, let’s not mince them: I am a nerd who enjoys writing in this antiquated (and, yes, borderline pretentious) sort of way. So last Thursday afternoon I took to Twitter and asked my ragtag band of followers to submit run-of-the-mill baseball sentences so that I could then gussy them up with the Thesaurus. Some highlights:

1. “The Northfield nine posted a picket fence in the middle innings and held on for a 3-2 win.” (submitted by @NatsProspects)

@NatsProspects is kind of messing with me here, by submitting a sentence that is already gussied up! The alliterative “Northfield Nine” can’t really be improved upon, nor can the use of “picket fence” to describe three one-run innings in a row.  But, beyond that, I did my best to tweak it up (although the only instance in which I was able to employ The Baseball Thesaurus was with the word “inning”). My version:

“The Northfield nine posted a picket fence in the centermost stanzas, and persevered for a 3-2 triumph.”

Northfield: Committed to alliteration (photo from smarttravelinfo.com)

2. “The runner tags from second and is thrown out by the right fielder.” (submitted by @LivingInAJar)

In this case, The Baseball Thesaurus equipped me with the tools I needed to go on an alliterative rampage:

“The tenant tags from the second station, but is vanquished at the coffin corner by the rightfield retriever.”

3. “‘fly ball…..caught’ or anything else Harry Doyle broadcast during the amazing 1989/1990 Indians seasons” (submitted by @Spike_RRE)

For those who may have forgotten, Harry Doyle is the name of the Cleveland Indians announcer played by Bob Uecker in the Major League films. You know, this guy:

doyle

“Fly ball…caught” can be transformed into “Cloud-scraper…captured”, but why stop there? Here’s another Harry Doyle quote, transformed via the Thesaurus.

“That ball is off his glove and outta here!” becomes “That lemon is off his lobster trap and over the barricade!”

4. “Sharp two-out single up the middle. This will score two.” (submitted by @CJBoerger)

Okay, this’ll be the last one. My transformative attempt:

“Screaming Meemie to the center of the outer garden. This will send two plateward.”

And then there is the great art of photography, each example of which is worth 1000 words. This picture, tweeted on Tuesday afternoon by the fast-acting folks @IndianapolisEMS, is my favorite example in quite some time.

@IndianapolisEMS: Thanks to everyone who came for health screenings! @RowdieBear learned a thing or two!

Unforeseen technological adversity has made it so that I can’t post this picture. So, click HERE to see a droopy-eyed bear practicing first aid on a severed torso.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Looking for a Pizza the Action

This past September, I wrote an article on the Lake Elsinore Storm’s sizable fleet of surreal costumed characters and what they add to the ballpark experience. Here are the first two paragraphs of that article, in the hope that it may jog your memory regarding what it is I’m talking about:

A gorilla being pummeled with foam noodles before escaping over a 12-foot fence. … A 6-foot chicken racing across a vast expanse of grass alongside an equally oversized squirrel. … A pink rabbit emerging from a secret door, gyrating furiously before disappearing from whence he came. … A cup of ice cream dancing joyously alongside a banana, whose presence greatly excites the aforementioned gorilla.

The above may sound like the disconnected fragments of a particularly surreal fever dream — and they very well could be. But “particularly surreal fever dream” also might be the best way to describe the between-innings entertainment at a Lake Elsinore Storm game, which includes all of the eccentric characters mentioned above and many, many more.

If YOU want in on that action, NOW is the time to act. Last week, the Storm announced that they’re “looking for local talent to join our crazy cast of on-field characters this season.”

storm

Per the team:

Do you have what it takes to join the likes of the Fastest Squirrel in the World and Grounds Crew Gorilla? Create a 30-second video of you as a character of your choice. Upload it to YouTube and send the link to promos@stormbaseball.com. We’re looking to be wowed, so aim for our faces.

That “aim for our faces” remark is a reference to the team’s Rally Cop character, who was known for throwing his “softee balls to your face.” (Those are the team’s words, not mine). The team’s plea for performers is motivated at least in part by the sad fact that the Rally Cop is no longer. Storm staffer Robbie Gillett, the Rally Cop’s alter-ego, is no longer with the team.

So long, Rally Cop — we hardly knew ye!

The Storm aren’t the only team searching for new blood these days. The Lexington Legends currently have an opening in their front office, and one of the candidates has found a creative way to plead his case.

Legends_HireMe_photo (2)

This bit of pizza-based advocacy made a strong impression with the Legends staff, with broadcaster Keith Elkins marveling that it’s “the first edible application that we’ve received.” Ty Cobb, the Legends’  director of creative services, wrote that Dan “will certainly receive full consideration” when it comes to which candidates the team decides to interview. My guess is that Dan has made himself the front-runner in the team’s employment sweepstakes, but who knows? Maybe another candidate will soon utilize a dessert-based medium as a means of self-promotion — that would really be the icing on the cake!

Going out on a high note since 2007,

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Asparagus: The Details

As this will be the last post of November, I may as well lead it off with the topic that always dominates this soon-to-be-expired stretch of the calendar: new logos. It was helpfully pointed out to me earlier this week that I had neglected this recent entry to the alternate logo canon. And what an entry it is:

This one’s courtesy of the Stockton Ports, who will sport this character on their cap during each and every Friday home game next season. The team explains thusly:

The Ports new logos honor Stockton’s heritage as the largest in-land port in California and the Asparagus Capital of the World. A new character, 5 O’clock Dock, is the centerpiece of the identity, brandishing his baseball tattoos and asparagus club.

My favorite line in the press release, however, is the one that notes that the Ports have become “the first professional sports team to use Asparagus green.” Congrats on that accomplishment, guys, but considering the team name and asparagus theme I am disappointed by the failure to incorporate an aromatic “P.”

In other California League headwear news, the Lake Elsinore Storm announced last month that they are now selling 20th anniversary throwback hats that commemorate the team’s original look.

The Storm’s current “eye” logo has long been one of the most popular marks in Minor League Baseball, and that logo can be traced back to designs such as the above. (The eyes used to be part of a larger “Storm” motif, see?) Perhaps that’s a lesson for other clubs — take a particularly striking element of your current logo, then isolate and amplify. Sometimes a minimalist approach can work wonders.

I’ve been posting less videos on this blog than I have in the past, partially because Twitter has become a good forum for that and partially because watching too many of them makes me feel as if my life is slipping away in slow motion right before my eyes.

But, that said, I wanted to single out this recent Fresno Grizzlies production because it is one of the best videos I have seen in quite some time. For one, it highlights a simple and memorable trick that should be part of every mascot playbook. For two, the production is great. (That is certainly not a given when it comes to team-released offseason videos.)

watch?v=vciUTJruLdk&list=UUwivBU_T238VXsk2Kn0dqDA&feature=plcp

Was the fan who got his hat stolen planted there by the team? Almost certainly. Does it matter? Not at all.

And since I’m posting videos, how ’bout this? In Pensacola, the Blue Wahoos have transformed their ballpark into a so-called “Winter Wonderland.” That’s not easy to do in the Florida panhandle!

Skating rink, toboggan slide, jumbo board games, Santa Claus, and more:

watch?v=lnk5UkapEBo&list=UUhxFRSBTWX4fjt5addCXz4A&index=2&feature=plcp

Finally, I’ll close with the following: the basketball trick shot dudes of Dude Perfect visited Frisco’s Dr Pepper Ballpark because of course they did. All of human history has led us to this moment.

And that’s all I’ve got for today. I’ll see you in Nashville next week, should you be in Nashville next week.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

On Innovations and Litigation

I don’t particularly feel like writing about hamburgers today and, hopefully, you’re not in the mood to read about them. Instead, let’s turn our collective attention to an unprecedented-in-MiLB social media innovation. The Reno Aces, otherwise known as the biggest little team in the PCL, have launched “The Club.”

Just for you, only the choicest of press release excerpts:

The Reno Aces Baseball Club today will launch The Club, a new program that rewards fans for game attendance and social media posts about the ballclub….

Participating fans will be able to earn points for checking in at the ballpark on Foursquare, liking the Aces’ posts on Facebook, and re-tweeting the Aces or using special hashtags on Twitter. Fans will also earn points for posting photos from Aces Ballpark to the photo-sharing site CrowdCameo…..

At the end of each homestand, one lucky fan will win a game-worn Aces jersey. At the All-Star Break, one fan will win tickets to the 2013 Triple-A All-Star Game and the 2013 Triple-A Home Run Derby, to be held in Reno next summer. At the end of the season, one lucky fan will win four Infield Reserved season tickets for the 2013 season, including tickets to the All-Star festivities. Fans will also have the chance to win seat upgrades, player-autographed items and other prizes throughout the season.

Archie is totally on board with all of this (photo: David Calvert/Reno Aces)

Points can be accumulated in a number of ways, and at varying levels (10 points for inviting friends to play, 100 for tweeting with a Reno Aces hashtag, 250 for checking in at a game on FourSquare, and so forth and so on). Read the FAQs HERE.

And congrats to current leader Dwayne Jones, who as of this writing has accumulated 38,490 points. That’s a lot of Minor League Baseball-related social media engagement! I can relate.

In other news of an anomalous variety, a press release landed in my inbox last week announcing the following: “Zooperstars! Successfully Defends Its Intellectual Property Rights”

Chances are that if you’re reading this blog then you’re familiar with the Zooperstars! (exclamation mark theirs, not mine). They are a traveling crew of pun-happy inflatable characters, who over the years have become one of the best known touring acts in the Minors. Here’s a shot of Harry Canary, taken last season while I was visiting the Tucson Padres.

Here’s what went down:

ZOOperstars! Inc. today announced that it has successfully defended its intellectual property rights against Inflatamaniacs LLC, a company which was created by a former ZOOperstars! employee. ZOOperstars! is an entertainment company that performs comedic choreographed routines at sporting and other special events around the world.

In April 2011, ZOOperstars! filed a lawsuit against Inflatamaniacs in federal court in Louisville, Kentucky, alleging that Inflatamaniacs created a knock-off act to unfairly compete with ZOOperstars!, infringed on ZOOperstars!’ intellectual property, and used both its website and You Tube to deliberately attempt to confuse and mislead customers and fans about the company’s relationship to ZOOperstars!.  In the agreement finalized last month, Inflatamaniacs agreed to make monetary payment to ZOOperstars! and agreed to stop using ZOOperstars!’ trademarks on its website, on You Tube, and during its public performances.  In addition, Inflatamaniacs agreed to stop performing several of ZOOperstars!’ signature routines which ZOOperstars! alleged were nearly exact replicas of its routines.  In exchange, ZOOperstars! agreed to dismiss its lawsuit, though it fully intended to pursue the lawsuit to final judgment.

Interesting stuff. I was thinking of tracking down one of the Zooperstars! for an exclusive interview, but then thought better of it.

There but for the grace of God go I.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

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