Results tagged ‘ Northwest Arkansas Naturals ’

Almonds Play In the Cantina While Ex-Presidents Inflate and Rodents Rappel

As part of my increasingly desperate attempts to provide content from when Minor League Baseball was still being played on a daily basis across the country, please enjoy this triumvirate of pictures from the Modesto Nuts’ “Star Wars Night”.

The club promoted the evening with this video, which if nothing else shows how easily a pair of anthropomorphic nuts would fit into the cantina band line-up:

And I’ll be honest here: the last time I featured a “Star Wars Night” on this blog I ended up with about 4.2 billion hits. Plenty of people were kind enough to link to it, often with remarks like “check out these hilarious pictures!”

That’s something I’ve learned over the years — pictures are key. Writing, not so much. That’s why I would never waste upwards of one hour each day agonizing over pun construction. Of course not. That would be stupid.

But what certainly isn’t stupid is a giant inflatable mascot created in honor of a former team president. Behold inflatable Chuck Domino, unveiled during the Reading Phillies’ Hall of Fame Night on August 31:


But the Reading Phillies, like almost everyone else, have moved on to offseason concerns. The team is currently providing a series of video progress reports as FirstEnergy Stadium undergoes a $10 million renovation project. Here’s Chapter 1:

Domino, meanwhile, is now Chief Executive Manager of the Richmond Flying Squirrels. Today, the Squirrels announced that Nutzy the mascot plans to rappel down a 25-story building next month.

For charity, of course. Sez Nutzy:

Help send me Over the Edge and for Special Olympics Virginia. That’s right…I’m hoping to rappel off a 25-story building in downtown Richmond this October! In order to take on this challenge and join other fearless Special Olympics fans on the roof, I must first reach my fundraising goal. With your help I’ll be dangling from 400 feet up in no time!

Richmond -- Nutzy actual front.JPG

The thought occurs to me that Nutzy should be kept far away from Modesto, as he would probably attempt to store that team’s pair of anthropomorphic Nut mascots within the confines of his cheeks.

But such abstract concerns can wait — the playoffs are still going on! Get pumped, Northwest Arkansas fans. Get pumped.

No matter how where you are in your particular baseball journey — postseason, offseason, or otherwise — I thank you for your continued patronage of this blog. You keep looking at the pictures, and I’ll keep writing. It’s a nice little symbiotic relationship we have going here.

A Naturals Occurrence

Thumbnail image for naturals.jpg(Now with pictures! AND a happy ending!)

When it comes to on-field, in-game dog defecation at Minor League Ballparks, we are truly living in a golden era.

Last year, a pair of canine mascots relieved themselves on the playing field: Master Yogi Berra in Greensboro and the appropriately-named Deuce in Myrtle Beach. This illustrious duo is now joined in the Minor League dog poop pantheon by Mona, who made a memorable “relief appearance” during Sunday’s Northwest Arkansas Naturals game:

Mona was part of the team’s “Iams Adoptable Pet of the Game” promotion, which showcases an animal in need of a loving home. The team is offering two tickets to May 23’s “Bark in the Park” event at Arvest Ballpark to anyone who steps up and provides one.

Naturals GM Eric Edelstein reports that in addition to copious coverage in the local media, the above video got some play on ESPN’s “First Take” this morning. The pet-friendly GM was also kind enough to send along a series of shots that chronicle Mona’s on-field exploits:

Naturals -- Dog3.JPG

Naturals -- Dog4.JPG

Naturals -- Dog2.JPG 

Naturals -- Dog1.JPG 

And, in an example of a good story getting better, Edelstein wrote in on Monday evening with the following update:

the dog was adopted!  And, she actually drew in two families [to the shelter] today. The family that didn’t get her ended up taking two other shelter dogs. So, three dogs were saved thanks to Mona’s dash across the diamond!

Let this be a lesson to all dogs who find themselves on a Minor League Baseball field: take the time to defecate. Only good things will result.   

And finally, I would like to thank the Naturals’ production staff for using music from the Benny Hill show in the video clip. That’s a perfect example of unintentional synergy right there.

Ten In One (And Five More For the Road)

swiss.jpgSo, 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 Timber Rattlers also recently announced the creation of a senior citizens club called “The Silver Foxes.” Not quite as sexy as “Silver Pigs“, but it’s a start.

SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) —  How’s this for an unbeatable deal:sabr.gif

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.

Thumbnail image for PeoriaChiefs.pngPeoria 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 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.

dcubs.gifDaytona 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.

Special Delivery

vday.pngIt 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:

Chopper (Gwinnett Braves)

Gwinnett Chopper.jpg 

Hickory Crawdads — Candy or Conrad (Your Choice)

Hickory -- ConradCandy.jpg
Lake County Captains — Skipper

Lake County Skipper.jpg

Potential Is Realized

My list of “potential blog topics” has become exceedingly unruly, thanks to my tendency to fill every square inch of notebook paper before flipping over to a fresh sheet. The page is so crowded that I can barely read my own writing anymore.  

Therefore, time is of the essence. I must share as many of these “potential blog topics” as I can, before they are lost forever due to poor notebook maintenance.

So let’s do this!

As Seen On TV, Literally — Hey, look: the Fresno Grizzlies recieved a small dose of sweet, sweet nationwide exposure as a result of their “As Seen on TV Night” relay race.

Traficant Do It — The Mahoning Valley Scrappers put their name into action when they were forced to scrap September 2’s “Traficant Release Night.” For those who don’t keep up onTraficant.jpg Ohio’s sordid political scandals, James Traficant is a former congressman currently in jail as a result of a whole slew of felonious offenses related to corruption and general sleaziness. The Scrappers’ promotion was meant to acknowledge (and perhaps satirize) Traficant’s upcoming release from prison, but not everyone in the community was on board with the idea. After receiving a virtual mountain of complaints the team wisely put a kibosh on the whole thing. In its place? “Valley Pride Night” — a celebration of area businesses, attractions, and individuals that is sure to be far less divisive than a corrupt politician with a staggeringly bad toupee.

A Great Need, Fulfilled — The simmering feud between Akronites and Birminghamians will soon get an outlet, as will be running a simulated seven-game series between the Eastern League Aeros and the Southern League Barons.

The theme song for this promotion should be a parody of Mary Poppins’ Chim Chim Cher-ee“: Sim Sim Series, Sim Sim Series, Sim Sim Series/A Sweep is as lucky, as lucky as can be.” I didn’t even have to change that second line at all!

Outside of My Jurisdiction — I cover the world of affiliated Minor League Baseball. You know this. But I still receive emails from individuals and organizations within other subsections of the sports marketing landscape, many of whom are staging promotions that could most certainly be described as “Minor League Baseball-esque”. Like this — “Jon and Kate Plus Eight Family Night” at Washington state’s Skagit Speedway:

Skagit Speedway will ensure the ultimate fun for “Jon & Kate Plus 8 Night” families by banning all paparazzi and tabloid reporters from the facility for the evening. Families are encouraged to video their own reality show at the event and upload the experience to YouTube.

I also recently recieved a promotional email from a big league club, something that does not happen very often. So, hey, check it out — everyone who buys a “special event ticket” for the San Francisco Giants’ upcoming “Latino Heritage Night” receives a limited-edition Carlos Santana bobblehead:

San Francisco -- Santana Bobble.JPG

This One Blows — I included the Northwest Arkansas Naturals’ “Kazoo World Recordkazoopy.jpg Attempt” in the August 11 edition of “Promotion Preview”. The club has since sent out a press release announcing that 3000 fans participated in a group rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, thereby establishing a new world record. While I congratulate the Naturals on their efforts, I wonder if they will be able to have their achievement validated by the Guinness Book of World Records. As I learned while researching this article, breaking a world record is much easier said than done.

Switching Things Up — Ambidextrous pitching prospect Pat Venditte is regularly profiled in the national media, by artisans and hacks alike. The most recent feature aired this Tuesday on ESPN’s E60 program — and included footage of Venditte while he was with the Charleston RiverDogs. This gave the club the opportunity to boast that they would be on national television on back-to-back nights, as on Wednesday the RiverDogs’ Homewrecker Hot Dog appeared on the Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food.

The lesson here is simple — ambidextrous pitchers and giant frankfurters never fail to get the national media’s attention. Teams lacking these attributes should rectify the situation immediately.

That will be it for me this week. Thanks, as always, for reading and emailing.

Reality Invades Minor League Baseball

18kids.jpgMinor League Baseball has always been “real”, simply due to the fact that it exists on our level of spatial and temporal awareness. But this week it will somehow become more “real”, due to the fact that not one but TWO reality shows will be visiting Minor League Ballparks.

First up is the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. On Tuesday, this Texas League franchise (which is not located in Texas — discuss) will host the Duggars clan. This gigantic family stars in the TLC program “18 Kids and Counting“. Headed by recidivist baby-makers Jim Bob and Michelle, the Duggars have thus far brought a dozen and a half children into the world. As an added bonus, all of their names start with the letter “J”.

From the Naturals’ press release:

Jim Bob, Michelle, and their 18 children will throw first pitches before the game, and their actions all night will be filmed by the TLC camera crews who will be on-site shooting an episode of the series. The Duggars will participate in the Naturals’ on-field activities during the game in which they will show the television audience their allegiance to the region’s only professional sports franchise.

The other Minor League team set to recieve some nationwide basic cable exposure is the Charleston RiverDogs. The show “Man Vs. Food” will make a pit stop at Joseph P. Riley Ballpark on Tuesday, so that host Adam Richman can take on an item that has been featured on this blog several times in the past: The homewrecker hot dog.

Homewrecker Hot Dog.jpg 
Can just one man make it through this half-pound monstrosity? Perhaps, but it will be interesting to see which toppings Richman elects to adorn his dog with. 25 are currently available, including pimento cheese, okra, jalapeno, and cole slaw.

At any rate, I am a little disturbed by the fact that this show is called “Man vs. Food.” Shouldn’t there be a symbotic relationship between the two? Does this guy have antagonistic feelings toward water and oxygen as well?

Let me know! I don’t have cable.

Sweet Release

$bag.pngIf there’s one thing that covering the Minor Leagues has taught me, it’s that nearly anything can be turned into a press release.

I mean, why not? The purpose of a press release is to generate publicity for your team. Publicity translates to increased ticket sales, increased ticket sales translates to more money, and more money translates to guaranteed health, happiness, and spiritual contentment. And isn’t that what we’re all after as we navigate through this fleeting enterprise we call “life“?

Today, let’s take a look at two very different, yet equally creative, press releases that have caught my eye this week.

#1 — BlueClaws Invite Potential Hall-Of-Famers to FirstEnergy Park

In this missive, the BlueClaws announce that they have invited Andre Dawson, Bert Blyleven,lakewood.gif Lee Smith, Jack Morris, and “any other player looking to enhance their [Hall of Fame] candidacy” to First Energy Stadium.

Why are they doing this?

“The last two induction classes at the National Baseball Hall of Fame
have featured players who had spent a day signing autographs at a
Lakewood BlueClaws game.

Goose Gossage signed in 2005 and was inducted in 2008 while Jim Rice signed in 2008 and will be inducted in July.”

Oh, okay. That makes sense.

There must be something special in the air here at the Jersey Shore,”
said BlueClaws General Manager Geoff Brown of the obvious connection
between signing in Lakewood and subsequent induction. “We’ve had the
magic touch in bringing people here and those players getting elected
to the Hall of Fame. We hope that we can get a few more players to

Now, obviously, the logistics and financial commitment involved in bringing these baseball heavyweights to Lakewood are considerable. But I truly hope the team follows up on this premise, as it is fun, creative, and fraught with prophecy.

Thumbnail image for sjj.jpgAnd why not go a step further and aim to get Pete Rose and, especially, the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson to the ballpark? (Athough the last time we checked in with that restless spirit, he didn’t seem to be doing too well).

I’d also like to see a team launch a “We Still Love You” signing series, featuring players who were knocked off the Hall of Fame ballot after failing to record five percent of the vote. Those who are eligible for this honor include Mark Grace, Matt Williams, Jesse Orosco, Ron Gant, Dan Plesac, and both Mo and Greg Vaughn.

It is absurd that I give these ideas away for free. Take advantage of it now, before I Iaunch a consulting company and start raking in the big bucks.

#2 — Northwest Arkansas Naturals Recover Three Puppies At Arvest Ballpark

This is simple — over the past week, members of the Naturals’ front office have found threenattynice.jpg stray puppies at Arvest Ballpark. The team turned the dogs over to a local animal shelter, which I imagine is what most people would do in that situation. But by putting out a press release announcing this fact, the Naturals accomplished two things: they increased the chance that these Rottweiler mixes would find good homes while also generating a little bit of offseason attention for themselves. It’s a win-win situation.

The Naturals could have also used this opportunity to promote appearances by Jake the Diamond Dog, who will be at Arvest Ballpark on April 16 and 17. Or, they could have chosen to highlight other fun dogs that can be found around the ballpark — namely this unique concoction.


Ben’s Biz Blog — giving away the milk for free since 2007.   

A Promotion Worth its (Veruca) Salt

rivercats_logo.jpgIt is laid out in the Ben’s Biz Blog constitution (email me if you would like to review a copy of this hallowed document) that any Minor League promotion that can be described as “Willy Wonka-esque” will receive coverage. Therefore, I am now obligated to highlight one of the Sacramento River Cats‘ most recent publicity-seeking endeavors.

Throughout the past week, the River Cats have distributed 500 bags of peanuts throughout the Sacramento area. Within one of these complimentary parcels of salted legumes is the highly sought-after “Golden Ticket”, which can be redeemed for 2008 River Cats season tickets.

Hopefully, this “Golden Ticket” will end up in the hands of a deserving individual, much like Charlie was eventually awarded the titular chocolate factory in Roald Dahl’s beloved book. Stay tuned…

Promotion of the Day

Well, this isn’t so much a promotion as a flat-out “event”, but the Northwest Arkansasnaturals.jpg Naturals play their first home game tonight (weather permitting). Fans will receive special commemorative tickets as they enter Arvest Ballpark, and the likes of George Brett, Arkansas governor Mike Beebe, and Subway spokesperson Jared Fogle will be in attendance. Three skydivers are slated to deliver Texas League Baseballs to the umpiring crew, and an F-16 flyover will occur just after recording artist Joe Nichols finishes singing the national anthem.

And then there will be a ballgame! Welcome to the world of Double-A Baseball, Northwest Arkansas. I hope you enjoy it watching it as much as I enjoy writing about it from 1500 miles away.