Results tagged ‘ Omaha Royals ’

Taking Stock of Quad's Going On

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for curtains.jpg‘Tis the season for promo schedule unveilings, a time of year that ranks very highly in the Ben’s Biz Blog Pantheon of Seasons (an authoritative list I wrote whilst bored during the sleepy winter of 2006).    

According to my calculations, 72 of the 120 full-season affiliated clubs have released their promo schedules, with more being added to the list every day. A few heavy promotional hitters have weighed in over the last 24 hours, whom we shall now pay more attention to:

Stockton PortsLike West Michigan before them, the Ports have jumped into the world of rock ‘n roll theme jerseys. On May 29th, the club will honor a mostly-forgotten act from across the pond who called themselves “The Beatles”. Other highlights include promotional appearances from Brady Bunch-er Christopher Knight (May 21) and legendary hurler Vida Blue (June 14), but what stood out for me the most was this: A Grant Desme bobblehead giveaway on “Faith Night” (as you probably know, Desme announced his retirement in order to join the priesthood. This despite a stellar 2009 campaign in which he was named the Ports Player of the Year).

My first impression was that the bobblehead might feature Desme in a priestly get-up, but Ports media relations manager Kristin Pratt quickly set me straight:

“Grant’s in his home Ports uniform…We had his bobblehead night originally scheduled on July 30th as a stand-alone promotion. However, things got shuffled around, he landed on Faith Night, and we think it’s pretty fitting.”

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Quad Cities River BanditsThis promo schedule goes on for a long time, as close to eternity as one can get without becoming infinite…Salutes to Grilled Cheese, Conspiracy Theories and the ’85 Chicago Bears…Stan Musial and Bert Blyleven Bobbleheads…The return of Tattoo Night and the Mega-Candy Drop…etc, etc, ad nauseam.

But I have to give a special shout out to the “Circle of Life” long weekend, which the team describes accordingly:

For one long weekend, the Bandits will celebrate a quartet of momentous
life occasions…On
oldmanbaby.jpg Friday, May 7th, the River Bandits will
host “Maternity Night”, with all expectant mothers being welcomed with a
free lamaze class, craving stations on the concourse, and a grand prize
of a maternity package, including baby furniture and accessories. On
Saturday, the River Bandits, along with the Quad-City Times and the
Lucier Family, will award the inaugural Keith Lucier Memorial
Scholarship and award one deserving student a free year’s tuition at the
University of Iowa. On Sunday, the team will give away a Bandit
Wedding, with the winner announced on May 9th and the ceremony to be
held at the ballpark on August 20, and on Monday, the River Bandits will
complete the Circle of Life by giving away a free all-expense-paid
funeral!

All of the above promotions have been done before, in one form or another, but this marks the first time I have seen a club make a journey from the cradle to the tomb over the course of four consecutive home games. Bravo, and hopefully an addition to next year’s schedule will be “Mid-Life Crisis Night.” All fans sporting a ponytail and/or driving a convertible get in free, and the individual with the largest age discrepancy between himself and his girlfriend/wife gets to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” while backed up by a Jimmy Buffet cover band (it goes without saying the night would be sponsored by a company within the pharmaceutical industry).

rosenblatt.jpgOmaha Royals2010 will mark the O-Royals 42nd and final season at Rosenblatt Stadium, and their promo schedule is anchored by three significant giveaways that commemorate this bittersweet event. Observe:

– Johnny Rosenblatt Bobblehead, honoring the former Omaha mayor for whom the facility is named (first 1,500 fans, May 22).

– Rosenblatt Stadium Canvas Painting (first 1500 fans, June 13)

– Final Game featuring Replica Wooden Seat Giveaway (first 2,500 fans, September 2). 

I’ve got more. Boy do I ever got more. But more is something I want to leave them wanting, so the words are going to stop now.

Just like that.

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

Relevant Developments

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for cyclones10.JPGWay back on February 1, the Brooklyn Cyclones announced that they would be staging a “YOUniform Contest”. In the highly unlikely event that the details slipped your mind, here’s a brief summary:

“The Brooklyn Cyclones are inviting young fans to participate in a
unique art contest, with the winning jersey design to be worn by the
team as a special, limited-edition YOUniform, and
auctioned off after the game to support Camp Brooklyn.”

Well, today the Cyclones announced the five finalists in the contest. Check them out HERE, and vote for your favorite. In my mind, two stand above the rest. This one reminds me of something a Caribbean soccer team might wear, and would also work very well if the team ever staged a “Bi-Polar Disorder Awareness Night”:
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As for this one, what’s not to like about the boldly-designed jersey, three-tiered pants, and no-nonsense artist’s note?

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In further Cyclones jersey news, the team unveiled what it will be wearing during it’s much-hyped “Jersey? Sure! Night”. This:

jerseysurejersey.jpg 

– And, hey, remember when I wrote about the Omaha Royals’ “Mike and Mike Fan Mic”? I hope so, because it was all of three days ago. Well, the team got an effusive shout out on the Mike and Mike show this morning, in which they were repeatedly praised for their efforts. Click HERE, and then scroll down to “Show in Review” and click on “Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic discuss their new favorite team”. That team would be — you guessed it — the Omaha Royals. Their new favorites. 

– Mike and Mike ended the aforementioned segment by mentioned that the O-Royals were “ahead of the curve.” Well, I wonder what the team in Altoona would have to say about that. After all, they ARE the Curve. And one of their latest innovations is something that I’ve never seen before — a twice-weekly comic strip that is running in the local Altoona Mirror. Here’s the most recent installment:
curvepa.jpg  
Is it just me, or is that lawn mover in possession of a face (and therefore, quite possibly, sentient thought)? It’s got a gas cap eye, snout nose, blade mouth, and wheel ears. Coincidentally, all of the above body part descriptions are also public domain country music song titles. It is an amazing world in which we live. A truly amazing world.

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

Mike, Mike, and Mics

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for omaha-royals-logo.gifThe Omaha Royals are a team of action. Their latest promotional endeavor illustrates this assertion. The assertion that I just made.  

Team president Alan Stein was listening to venerable sports radio duo Mike and Mike yesterday morning, and his ears perked up upon hearing…this:

After ESPN’s NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy kiddingly suggested that his
television crew should interview fans about their thoughts on the first
half of a game, Mike and Mike’s producers put together some staged
“interviews” with fans. Mike Golic suggested on the air that somebody
might like that idea and pilfer it.

If there’s one thing that Minor League teams excel at, it’s pilfering ideas. So, you can see where this is going:

money.jpg

At each of the Omaha Royals’ 72 home games this season, the Royals
will use a half-inning break for a “Mike and Mike Fan Mic” – going into
the crowd at Rosenblatt Stadium and asking fans what they think about
the game, how cold their beer is, or whatever else they want to chat
about.

As Golic suggested on air and as Stein recognizes, you should have
to pay for a good idea. So, the Royals are preparing to send a contract
to Mike and Mike at their ESPN home in Bristol, Connecticut offering to
pay them – as Stein termed it in his Kentucky drawl – “a dollar a
holler.” In other words, Mike and Mike’s producers earned them the tidy
sum of $72 this year.

$72 is nothing to sneeze at, because no one wants to handle money with mucus on it. But in all seriousness, I really like the idea of a daily “fan mic half-inning.” It will result in a virtual mountain of comedic moments, intentional and otherwise, and I’m hoping that the highlights of this experiment wind up on YouTube.

Along similar lines, I would like to suggest a recurring between-inning skit in which a front office member dresses up as Wendy Williams and dispenses relationship advice to the fans.

In other news…

– The Wall St. Journal ran an item today on the Peoria Chiefs’ new fantasy baseball initiative (the club is renting out O’Brien Field suites for the purpose of conducting fantasy drafts). Word on the street is that an unnamed influential Minor League “biz”-ness blogger helped facilitate the club’s national exposure…

The Tacoma Rainiers have announced extensive renovation plans for Cheney Stadium. This will be the facility’s first major uplift in over fifty years, and will cost an estimated $30 million. The targeted completion date is Opening Day 2011.     

– But when it comes to stadium improvements, it will be tough to top the Albuquerque Isotopes latest additions:

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How about that Marge Simpson, folks? Give her a hand. Seriously. She needs one.

– February 27th was “National Pig Day”, and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs celebrated by putting single-game tickets on sale. Despite the poor weather, the Lehigh Valley faithful flocked to the event, with the first person in line arriving at 4 a.m.(!)

pig day.JPG 

This was far better than my personal National Pig Day celebration, which consisted of eating bacon alone in a diner while listening to the man in the booth across from me break off his wedding engagement via cell phone.

I hope everyone enjoys their weekend. Don’t forget that Saturday is National Frozen Food Day, and that Sunday marks 77 years of Monopoly.

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

Leaving It All Out There

Today is going to be one of those days where I throw a lot of stuff against the wall, just to see what sticks. So if you like to stare at walls that have stuff stuck to them (with even more stuff in a pile on the floor below), then keep reading.

We’ll start with — what else? — videos.

Videos such as the most recent edition of Omaha’s “My Offseason Life Is Average“. This is, in a word, funny (extra bonus points for the extreme brevity):

Meanwhile, some intense turtle-tracking is going on in Beloit. Better luck next time, guys.

Recently, the Gameops.com Blog did a post on Improv Everywhere, a group that stages live, public pranks. In the post, Gameops’ Jon Cudo says that he “is interested to see if any team or event operator is using any similar theatrics to amuse and confuse.” I, too, am interested in such a thing. Here’s an example of an Improv Everywhere stunt, one that could certainly be adapted to a Minor League game.

And for something completely different, check out the Lakewood
BlueClaws’ latest podcast. A suspiciously adult-sounding group of
children are treated to a dramatic story, one which explains how the
new mascot’s name came about.

fishcat.jpgMeanwhile, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats have become the latest team to stage a “Golden Bobblehead” competition. The gist of it is that each week, the golden bobblehead will be hidden at an area business. Fans are given clues as to its location, and the person who finds it receives a 2010 VIP Experience Prize Pack. More details are HERE.

I’ll close with a ridiculous barroom idea, which came courtesy of a friend of mine. He asked me if a team has ever attempted a group rendition of the National Anthem, in which each singer was responsible for a single word of the song. That would take 81 singers and a substantial amount of coordination, but if done well it could be a very memorable publicity stunt.

Please, someone, make this happen. For I am a lowly blogger, destined to comment rather than create.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Superstitions, Swedes, and Analogies of Dubious Relevance

mirror.gifHappy Friday the 13th — a day in which misfortune is the norm and calamity lurks behind every corner.

This is the third and final Friday the 13th of 2009, and as (bad) luck would have it none fell during the baseball season. This deprived teams of the chance to stage superstition-themed promos, with ladders on the concourse, broken mirrors in the bathrooms, and black cats darting across the outfield. Or something like that. All of this is to say that the next in-season Friday the 13th will be 8/13/2010, and I fully expect for there to be an abundance of interesting promotions on this day. If YOU, whoever YOU may be, have any Friday the 13th Minor League promo suggestions then please get in touch (email, Facebook, Twitter, etc., all listed below).

Moving on…The Fresno Grizzlies released a “very special” episode of their “I Hate theswede.jpg Offseason” video series today. The episode is entitled “The Swedelot”, so named because it is a “Swede” — a summarized re-creation of a favorite movie (in this case, “The Sandlot”). The Grizzlies entered “The Swedelot” into the “Fresno Swede Fest“, winning awards for both “Best Actor” (thanks to Parker the mascot’s powerhouse performance) and “Best Original Screenplay”.

I know that was a lot to digest, but do your best. Also, watch the episode HERE.

Meanwhile, the upstart O-Royals continue to move in the opposite direction with their “My Offseason Life Is Average” series. The latest episode, minus the opening and closing credits, is about five seconds long.

If I may make an analogy — if these two video series were 1970s English rock bands, “I Hate the Offseason” would be Queen and “My Offseason Life is Average” would be the Sex Pistols. Discuss.

Finally, the blog “A Penny’s Worth” recently featured an interview with Lakeland Flying Tigers general manager Zach Burek. Check it out HERE.   

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

Improving My Game

paperclip.jpegAfter talking the talk, I realized I must walk the walk.

The talk that I’ve been talking is that social networking is an effective and low-cost way for teams to stay in touch with their fan bases year-round (I even wrote an article based on this premise, which can be found HERE).

And the walk that I’m now walking is this:

Official Ben’s Biz Blog Facebook Page
Official Ben’s Biz Blog Twitter Page

I have spent the the better part of the past two afternoons making sure I am a “friend”, “fan”, “foe”, or “follower” of as many Minor League teams (and mascots) as possible. But this represents just the proverbial tip of the iceberg when it comes to who I can connect with, so please do not hesitate to become my friend, follower, foe, or, where applicable, internet life partner. I always enjoy hearing from my loyal readers (and am still amazed that such individuals exist), and my new and improved online presence will only help facilitate such communication.   

It will also help me keep abreast of what’s going on throughout the Minors. What follows are a few things that I have come across in the course of my extensive Minor League Facebook and Twitter travels:

– Last week, I expressed surprise at the fact that no teams had followed the lead of the Fresno Grizzlies, who produce a weekly “I Hate the Offseason” web series. Well, the Omaha Royals are doing just this, and the title of their series directly references Fresno’s.

Behold “My Offseason Life is Average”, episodes 1 and 2:
 

The O-Royals videos above are willfully absurd, but not so absurd as the true-life video that a Salt Lake Bees fan recently posted on the team’s Facebook page: Bon Jovi’s bass player, in a Japanese airport, wearing a Bees t-shirt! You can’t make this stuff up.

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And, finally, my travels led me to one of the best Minor League blogs I have seen in a while. It’s called “Goshen and Giddings”, and is devoted to illuminating the long history of professional baseball in Visalia, CA (a lot of great old photos and team programs are containted therein). An affirmative head nod goes to Donny Baarns, director of broadcasting for the Visalia Rawhide, for putting it together.

In closing, I would like to offer a few boldfaced ways in which you can get in touch with me. Please utilize the following options at your discretion. And thanks, as always, for reading.

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

Opportunistic Reappropriation Abounds

recycling.JPGLast week, I dedicated a post to the third annual “Minors Moniker Madness” competition. The goal of this ridiculous endeavor is to determine who has the greatest name in all of Minor League Baseball (and, by the way, don’t forget to VOTE! Just 16 names remain…)

Minors Moniker Madness is far from an anomalous event, however, as several other baseball-related entities are staging March Madness rip-offs tributes of their very own. Among them:

The Toledo Mud HensJamie Farr’s favorite Minor League team is currently in the midst of its “Eat 16″ tournament, in which fans are asked to vote for their favorite concession stand items. Myfarrout.jpg prediction is that Nachos, a #14 seed, emerges as the Cinderella story of this competition. Vote HERE.

The Omaha RoyalsWarren Buffet’s favorite Minor League team sent shockwaves through the blogosphere after dropping this bombshell of a press release. In lieu of a tedious summarization of said press release, please allow me to quote liberally:

OMAHA, NE – He’s the President of the Omaha Royals, but Alan Stein is a
native Kentuckian and a graduate of the University of Kentucky. No
surprise then that he has made a friendly wager that the Wildcats will
emerge victorious when they become one of the marquee basketball names
to visit Qwest Center Omaha next Monday night in the second round of
the National Invitation Tournament.

Stein was hoping to make the
wager with Creighton University Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen.
However, Rasmussen is not allowed to do that by NCAA rules. In stepped
Jill Rasmussen, Bruce’s wife, to carry the flag for the Bluejays.

meetyrmaker.jpg

If the 21-13 Wildcats win, Mrs. Rasmussen will be sending a box of
Omaha Steaks to Stein. If the 27-7 Bluejays pick up the victory on
their home court, Stein will be shipping Mrs. Rasmussen a basket of
Kentucky Proud products, which will include a bottle of the
world-famous Maker’s Mark bourbon.


“I am absolutely confident that the blue-and-white will prevail on
Monday night,” Stein quipped, as both teams wear those colors. “I can’t
wait to attend the game.”

“Bring it on,” Mrs. Rasmussen simply said.

UPDATE: Mrs. Rasmussen has since trademarked the phrase “Bring it On.” I had to pay over $800 just to include those three words in this post. It was worth it. 

Baseballposts.comThis one gets points for thoroughness, as baseballposts.com has assembled a tournament that seeks to determine nothing less than the the most popular team in all of Minor League Baseball. 223 teams are featured, divided into eight regions, and voting will continue until April 15.

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This is a herculean and somewhat quixotic endeavor, akin to the the famous scene in Fitzcarraldo in which a 360-ton boat is dragged up and over a hilltop.

Which reminds me — when is a Minor League team going to step up and stage a “Salute to Werner Herzog” promotional night? Existentialist between-innings games and contests, Klaus Kinski look-a-alike contests, and Popul Vuh over the loudspeakers — it would be a night of family fun!

Okay, the crickets have arrived in force. That’s my cue to get out of here while the gettin is still good…       

Ty Cobb is a Legend

tycobb_LR1 copy.jpgMemo to future parents: If you would like to give your child a leg up in the dog-eat-dog world of Minor League Baseball front office employment, then make sure to name him (or her) after a Hall of Fame ballplayer.

For an example of just how much of an edge this simple technique can provide, consider the case of young Ty Cobb.

Mr. Cobb worked as a marketing intern for the Omaha Royals this past season, his first in the world of professional baseball. Unlike most interns, he was immediately given his own blog, so that fans could read up on the experiences of Ty Cobb as he learned the ins and outs of Minor League Baseball. Then, later in the season, Cobb was honored with his very own night at Omaha’s Rosenblatt Stadium. Fans received special Ty Cobb baseball cards, and were able to get autographs and pose for pictures with the man himself.

Now, Cobb has been “traded” to the Lexington Legends, where he will work in the team’sanger-management.jpg marketing department. From the O-Royals’ press release:

“In exchange for the young Cobb, and in the spirit of the late Hall of Famer with the same moniker, the Royals will receive a bottle of
Maker’s Mark Kentucky Bourbon, a box of cigars and a copy of the 2003 film ‘Anger Management.'”

You know, I have gone through my whole life with the name of “Benny Hill”, and no one has ever traded me for a bundle of goods associated with the late British comedian. I find this very disheartening, but I haven’t lost hope that one day this may occur.

Shatel-ing It Like It Is

lavosh_bite_size_140gweb.jpgA substantial backlog of fascinating material has accumulated here at Ben’s Biz Blog headquarters, and I am greatly looking forward to sharing my bounty of Minor League news.

But, today, time is of the essence, and I simply do not have it in me to do a powerhouse post. Instead, let me fill you in on a thoroughly ridiculous promo that was staged by the Omaha Royals this past weekend. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how it came about.

1. On August 19, columnist Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald makes the following observation: “…the Royals shouldn’t be afraid of $6 parking prices (at the new
downtown stadium) because people pay that much to park in the Old
Market. That’s a fair point. But the Royals would be going from free
parking to $6. Plus, you can’t get lavosh at a Royals game.”

2. After doing some research, the O-Royals’ front office learns that “lavosh is of Armenian origin. It is a flat bread used to celebrate in
the Jewish fashion. There is no yeast in it and it can be eaten during
many Jewish festivals and Holy days.”

3. Armed with their newfound knowledge of Jewish flatbread, the club announces that a special lavosh pizza will be available at the ballpark on Saturday, August 23. It consists of chorizo sausage, roasted bell peppers, onions and smoked gouda sauce, and is named after Shatel. Furthermore, fans have the option of “Shatel-ing” their nachos by replacing the chips with lavosh crackers.

4. Finally, the club stages an on-field promo — “‘Shatel Lavosh Toss,’ where participants willomaha-royals-logo.gif toss large lavosh
crackers into a container. If they win, they will receive free parking
to all Omaha Royals games that will be played at the new downtown
stadium.

Now, as someone who possesses only a superficial knowledge of O-Royals ballpark negotiations, lavosh, Omaha’s Old World Market, and the journalistic stylings of Tom Shatel, it is quite possible that I do not fully understand the club’s motivations for staging this evening of lavosh-related ridiculousness.

Nonetheless, I hope this promotion serves as an inspiration to other Minor League teams. The next time a local journalist makes a snide reference to your club’s parking and ethnic food-related deficiencies, don’t just smile and turn the other cheek. Instead, incorporate said reference into one of the most baffling promotions of the year!

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