Results tagged ‘ Reading Phillies ’

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If it’s outdated Indianapolis Indians comedic holiday content that you want, then it’s outdated Indianapolis Indians comedic holiday content that I’ve got!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

Whole Lotta Love b/w Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On

Starting any piece of writing with the formal definition of what will then be discussed is as hackneyed as it gets. But when has an aversion to the hackneyed ever stopped me before?

Hashtag (noun) — The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.

While this may be old news to the more social media-adept among us, I included the above definition (taken from the Twitter Help Center) as a way to bring everyone up to speed regarding a technique that I’ve been using more and more as a means to gather news and opinions from the disparate corners of the MiLB universe.

hash

A hashtag, albeit a stylized one

For instance, I established the #MinorLeagueFrontOffice cliche hashtag as a means to collect said cliches, and the result was the “Minor League Front Office Cliche” compendium that you may have read (and may have even enjoyed) last week.

And while I did not originate the #mascotlove hashtag, I suggested to teams that they use it within all of their Valentine’s Day tweets chronicling the amorous travels of their gift-delivering mascots. Searching through tweets with the #mascotlove tag, one can find images such as the following:

@ReadingFightins: Here is a photo of the @CrazyHotDogVendr on one of his many Valentine’s Day deliveries this afternoon. http://ow.ly/i/1wFBI  #mascotlove

chdv

@BowieBaysox Here is a great video compilation from @Branden_Roth of all the Valentine’s deliveries Louie made today #mascotlove http://youtu.be/MId_uKXGw7Y

@DurhamBulls A dapper Wool E. Bull making the rounds today delivering#ValentinesDay Wool E. Grams. #mascotlove pic.twitter.com/gMdqIuBe

wooly3

And on and on the #mascotlove went, but at this point I think you get the general idea.

Meanwhile, the Harlem Shake has been a gargantuan internet trend over the past week. While its power is now waning, mercifully, the #HarlemShake hashtag provides a seemingly infinite list of individuals and institutions who did their own version.

This includes Minor League teams, of course, with the State College Spikes the first out of the gate. The Connecticut Tigers soon followed suit, and other teams to post their own versions include the Columbus Clippers, Vancouver Canadians, Lake Elsinore Storm, Tulsa Drillers, Buffalo Bisons, Round Rock Express, Delmarva Shorebirds, Charlotte Stone Crabs, Gwinnett Braves, Corpus Christi Hooks, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Lexington Legends, Bowie Baysox and Frederick Keys.

As for a favorite? Choosing one is a near impossible task. But I’ll go with the Connecticut Tigers, due to their creative use of outdoor environs. Also, the “roar” at the end of the song is very fitting given the team name.

[10 minutes later]

I can’t seem to post this. So watch it HERE.

And as for a video I actually CAN post, how about Round Rock’s bobble-centric version?

If the demand exists, I will follow up this post with a compendium of all MiLB Harlem Shake videos. It won’t be one of the prouder moments of my life.

Finally, there’s this: inspired by the Brooklyn Cyclones’ freewheeling “Ask Me Anything” blog posts, I have instituted an #askbensbizanything hashtag. As the name would imply, feel free to ask me anything (the weirder, the better) but please keep in mind that this is a family publication. Thus far the questions have trickled in at a glacial pace, but when have I ever let a profound disinterest on the part of the reading public ever get in the way of anything?

I look forward to your continued queries, however few and far between they may be.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Get the LED Out

Things were a bit slow on the news front over the past couple of weeks, a situation that led to posts where I, you know, used a thesaurus to improve upon 140-characters or less baseball messages.

But no more! Things are really heating up these days (metaphorically), and from this point forward I will have lots to write about. And what I feel it would be prudent to write about today is the sudden glut of new videoboards in the Eastern League. The Akron Aeros, Trenton Thunder and Reading Fightin’ Phils will all be sporting new boards in 2013, and what better time than now to take a look at this triumvirate of LED-based enhancements?

Let’s start with the Aeros, whose new owner Ken Babby was the focus of my latest Minoring in Business column over on MiLB.com. Last week, the team revealed plans for a $1.65 million Daktronics videoboard project. A rendering:

New Akron Aeros Video Board Rendering

The Aeros board is 26′ x 68′, which they note is the “largest main video display in Double-A baseball and unofficially the fifth-largest in Minor League Baseball in LED size.”

A comparison of the team’s old board vs. the new one, in visual form:

Aeros New Video Board Comparison (2)

And, of course, that’s not all. For there will also be a ribbon board.

New Aeros Ribbon Board (2)

But perhaps it would be most apropos for me to show this all to you in video form:

Okay, that’s enough. Let’s move on.

Akron’s new videoboard announcement came right on the heels of Trenton making a similar proclamation. (Over Twitter I declared that the Aeros stole Trenton’s Thunder, which was part of my unsuccessful bid to start an insult war between the two clubs).

Here’s a mock-up of what the Thunder’s recently-rechristened Arm & Hammer Park will be looking like in 2013 and beyond. What I’m wondering is this: How is the shortstop already ranging to his right and preparing to dive? The pitcher hasn’t even completed his delivery!

thunderz

Photos shall be followed by facts, that’s the Ben’s Biz way! This is per the team:

Once installed, the project, which includes the addition of a 21′ x 68′ high density screen in right field, a new 20′ x 16′ display in left field and a new 14′ x 15′ highway marquee will make unprecedented technological advances while enhancing the fan experience at ARM & HAMMER Park.

The centerpiece of the improvement will be the 21’x 68′ world-class video board in right field that totals 1,428 square feet, more than four times larger than the previous video screen.

Other aspects of the project include a new message/data display in left field that will provide superior visibility and a larger and higher definition picture display on the highway marquee found outside the stadium along Rt. 29. The Thunder’s video production will now have replay capabilities, enhanced HD cameras, pitch speed and more.

The third and final EL entity to be featured in today’s entry are the recently re-christened Reading Fightin’ Phils. Their recent $1 million multi-media investment is highlighted by a 30′ x 60′ videoboard that shall feature “the clearest picture of any board in the Minors.”

redzfite

The team’s press release is well-worth checking out, particularly as it includes a bevy (yes, a bevy) of before and after pictures. But in the interest of brevity I shall forgo this bevy, and instead quote judiciously from said release.

[T]he team will be installing a $1 million multimedia video board project at FirstEnergy Stadium with the help of TS Sports of Dallas, Texas in the months leading up to the 2013 season. Once installed, the project, which includes the addition of a 30’x60′ HD10 board in center field, will make unprecedented technological advances while enhancing the fan experience at America’s Classic Ballpark.

“We are very excited to announce this investment into your ballpark,” said Fightin Phils General Manager Scott Hunsicker. “Some may be wondering ‘What was wrong with the existing videoboard?’ and the truthful answer is nothing, but here at the Fightin Phils, we do not believe in leaving well enough alone. We do not believe in the mantra ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Instead, we believe in ‘fightin’ for what is best for our fans and ‘fightin’ to provide the best fan experience possible.”

The centerpiece of the improvement will be the 30’x 60′ HD10 video board in center field that totals 1,800 square feet, making it the largest video board among Double-A teams and 4th largest in Minor League Baseball. As just the fifth HD10 board installed by TS Sports, Reading’s will be the largest that TS Sports has ever installed. With superior resolution, the board will be illuminated by the second most LEDs of any team behind the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds.

Of course, the above assertion regarding Reading’s Double-A videoboard supremacy is no longer true as the Aeros have trumped them by a mere 32 square feet. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there in the world of Minor League scoreboards. A dog eat dog world.

(And, as an aside, Hunsicker’s quote seems to be a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the fan criticism that accompanied the team’s recent name change from the Phillies to the “Fightin’ Phils.)

I’ve been to all three ballparks featured in this post, and it is my opinion that the Thunder were the team that was most truly in need of a new board. Here’s a pic from my visit to Trenton last season, which perhaps can give you a sense of how tiny the old board was. Its visibility was nil, akin to a mosquito perched upon Paul Bunyan.

070

And that shall do it for this, the latest and therefore greatest entry in the Ben’s Biz canon.

Apropos of nothing, but I’m currently reading a book of Stephen King short stories and the thought has occurred to me that Stephen King might enjoy this blog should he ever come across it. I hope to one day to receive an encouraging email from him.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

A Season of Transition

For those familiar with Minor League Baseball’s offseason news cycle, the month of November holds special meaning in that it is prime time for teams to announce their re-branding efforts for the next season and beyond. Recent news on that front has included the unveiling of the Hillsboro Hops name and logo, the Lexington Legends’ heavily-mustachioed new look and Erie’s enhanced commitment to marauding wolves.

But this week is gonna be a doozy, with three re-branding efforts of escalating intrigue being unveiled over the course of the next five days. The Hudson Valley Renegades will debut their new logos on Wednesday afternoon, and later that evening the (relatively) nearby Scranton/Wilkes Barre Yankees will announce their new name. (This effort is in conjunction with the team playing in what will essentially be a “new” ballpark next season, as PNC Field is in the midst of a thorough renovation that forced the team to spend the entirety of 2012 on the road.)

The Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees — time is running out.

The six finalists in the SWB Yanks’ re-branding are a largely unserious lot: Blast, Black Diamond Bears, Fireflies, Porcupines, RailRiders and Trolley Frogs. After being known as the Yankees (and, before that, the relatively conservative-sounding Red Barons), there is sure to be some backlash in the Scranton area from fans unhappy with their home team’s more flamboyant new direction. Such controversy is par for the course, really, and SWB president Rob Crain should be well-equipped to handle it given that he was an assistant general manager in Omaha when that team changed its name from the Royals to the Storm Chasers. (That change was not at all popular in the early-going, though fans have by and large come around to it).

But whatever the reaction is in Scranton, it will be a mere prelude to the third and most fascinating re-branding effort being unveiled this week. On Saturday, after 46 years of being known as the “Phillies,” Reading’s Eastern League club is announcing a new name and to say that the local reaction to this change has been negative would be an understatement. Just check out the comments on this web site press release, or the reaction to virtually any post on their Facebook page, or this online petition against the change, or, finally, this 2800-member strong “Save the Reading Phillies” Facebook page. To add gasoline to the flames, iconic PA announcer Dave “Frenchy” Bauman has publicly declared that he will resign from his position if the R-Phils change their name and, in response, the team has announced that PA announcer tryouts will be part of Saturday’s re-branding festivities. (For those interested, Bauman has commented frequently on the aforementioned “Save the Reading Phillies” Facebook page).

Time is running out

In general I am supportive of team re-branding efforts, even when they aren’t initially embraced by the community. Negative reactions to irreverent team names and identities are often motivated by the fear of the unknown and a general ignorance of how Minor League teams operate, and a common pattern has been observable in recent years in markets such as Lehigh Valley (IronPigs), Richmond (Flying Squirrels) and, of course, Omaha: Anger gives way to acceptance once the season begins and fans are able to witness first-hand how the new identity is incorporated into the overall entertainment experience. (Because, like it or not, Minor League teams are in the entertainment business first and foremost. Affiliation agreements can be short-lived, and the product on the field is 100% dictated by the parent club. Therefore, it makes sense for Minor League teams to focus on what they can control: their identity and the multi-faceted entertainment options that complement the game itself).

But Reading is unique case in that the franchise already seemed to be enjoying a best-of-both-worlds scenario. The city has been nicknamed Baseballtown, after all, and the fan base has a justifiable sense of pride in both their classic ballpark and a long-running Phillies connection (alumni include icons such as Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski to more recent luminaries such as Ryan Howard). The “Phillies” name has a powerful resonance in Reading, perhaps more powerful than that of any other Minor League team that still retains the moniker of its parent club.

Before he wore #20

But, meanwhile, Reading’s deeply-embedded front office (led by GM Scott Hunsicker) has worked hard to create a thoroughly unique Minor League atmosphere at the ballpark, and the fan base has embraced this side of the game experience as well. Vegetable racing, the mascot band and dancing super-fan “Disco Briscoe” are all part of the FirstEnergy Stadium atmosphere, which, of course, also includes the ostrich-riding Crazy Hot Dog Vendor. (I have been fortunate enough to visit dozens of Minor League stadiums over the past several years, and never have I seen a ballpark character with the level of popularity enjoyed by the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor – read all about it HERE).

Given that the R-Phils already do an excellent job walking this distinctly Minor League tightrope, the imminent re-branding represents a huge risk and brings to mind the old “If it ain’t broke…” cliche. For even if fans eventually embrace the new name, the public relations fallout from this decision will reverberate for a long time to come. Quite frankly, the strongest partisans on either side aren’t looking particularly good right now: the R-Phils front office is rather cavalierly flying in the face of deeply-ingrained fan sentiment within an admirably supportive market, while the most vocal contingent of fans against the change are engaging in online histrionics that are rather out of proportion to what is actually taking place. (Passion for the hometown team is a wonderful thing, but it’s not like the team is relocating. They will remain a Phillies affiliate, regardless). And say what you will about Hunsicker and company, but they’re not a bunch of Johnny-come-latelies to the Reading baseball scene. Shouldn’t their success in running the club thus far be taken into consideration? Shouldn’t the tone of this discussion be a bit more diplomatic?

There’s a lot more to explore when it comes to this story, and I’ll do my best to follow up with different viewpoints throughout the offseason. In the meantime, I’d like to know your opinion: Brilliant? Suicidal? Both? Let me know.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Mama, Don’t Let Your Alternate Logos Grow Up to be Cowboys

“If it bleeds it leads” is a well-known journalism trope, and those of us who make a living in the cutthroat world of Minor League baseball blogging ascribe to a similar saying: if it’s a logo then it’s a go-go.

Therefore, I have no choice but to begin today’s missive with the latest and greatest images to emanate from the world of MiLB. On Saturday, the High Desert Mavericks unveiled a pair of high-definition alternate logos:

Colors are a state of mind, man.

Sez the team:

“After 21 seasons in the Victor Valley, we felt it was a great time to introduce new logos which reflected both the Mavericks team identity and our strong connections to the High Desert community,” general manager Eric Jensen said. “Our new ‘HD’ logo allows the whole High Desert to feel represented when they’re wearing Mavericks apparel and incorporates the unique physical attributes of this region.

“Likewise, the new cowboy logo represents the rugged resilience of those who reside in the desert while providing a historical tie to the Maverick name.”

I was fortunate enough to be able to visit a Mavericks game last season, but somehow I neglected to notice physical attributes such as a green sun. I did, however, notice the ruggedness.

Another team I visited on that trip were the Lake Elsinore Storm, who have recently announced a very good reason to make a return visit. Following April 22’s ballgame, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts will perform a free show.

This has to be one of the best deals of the season — where else can $9 buy entry to both a professional baseball game and a rock n roll spectacle?

Sez the team:

The concert, set to begin approximately 30 minutes after the game ends, will be held in celebration of Storm owner Gary Jacobs’ birthday. Jett, known for “I Love Rock N Roll,” is scheduled to perform a 90 minute set with her band on a stage placed behind second base.

Hey, Lake Elsinore, please do me a favor and offer Rocky Road ice cream during the ballgame. It would mean a lot.

But now let us return, one more time, to the world of logos. On Monday the Reading Phillies announced a great new idea, one that sees them teaming up with Brandiose in order to teach the art and science of logo design to a new generation.

It’s called ‘9 to the Nines.’

And since it’s been a press release quoting kind of morning, let’s do it one more time:

As a kid, did you ever dream of wearing uniforms like the pros? Jason Klein and Casey White of Brandiose are the guys who design the official logos and uniforms for Major League Baseball teams. The duo will be coming to Reading, PA to give the kids of the Olivet Boys and Girls Club a firsthand look at how baseball logos come to life. Brandiose will also be collaborating with the kids to design their very own logos for the Baseballtown RBI League.

Jason and Casey will take the kids through the same creative process they take teams of Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball through by discussing the parts of the community the kids cherish the most. They will then work with the kids to bring those ideas to life in logo form. Kids will sketch their ideas at the event, with Klein and White compiling the ideas into a major league look for each Baseballtown RBI League team. The kids’ logos will be unveiled in time for the Baseballtown RBI League’s 2012 Opening Day.

And — hey! — if any kids want to submit a Ben’s Biz logo that could be used for 2012 and beyond then you know where to find me. That’s right, alone and in front of a computer.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Recommended Reading

The posts on this blog are rarely team-specific during the offseason, simply because there is rarely enough content from one team to comprise an entire post.

Today is one of those rare occasions, as the Reading Phillies have unleashed a torrent of notable news upon the world. First and foremost, the team’s plans for the 2012 Eastern League All-Star Game Home Run Derby are downright hallucinogenic.

The above visual (yes, that is an intern on a crane out in left field) will all come to life on July 10. Perhaps some extensive quoting from the press release would be warranted at this juncture:

[P]layers will be trying to hit select targets around the field to earn points….targets include outfield dunk tanks, R-Phils fanatics jumping on a trampoline, and pink flamingo yard ornaments sprinkled around the outfield. 

Conversely, there will be obstacles hitters will want to avoid in order to not lose points. The Reading Phillies mascots will be scattered around the field, trying to snag balls hit by the all-stars. For each ball the mascots catch, the hitter will be penalized with negative points. 

While the hitting challenge is going on, an exclusive VIP party will actually take place right on the infield. These VIP quests will be protected by a net as they party away with homerun balls sailing over their heads.

Grammy Award-winning musician and Berks County resident David Cullen will also be performing uncomfortably close to the pitcher’s mound in a protected area as he entertains fans and all-stars in attendance.

Those desirous of a detailed visual explanation would do well to watch the team’s five-minute explanation video, linked to in the aforementioned press release.

My guess is that the R-Phils were influenced by the Quad Cities River Bandits, who last season put some very unique twists on the Midwest League Home Run Derby. Any other 2012 All-Star Game hosts planning something similar? Let me know!

Meanwhile, a new logo has come out of Reading as well. This:

Because nothing says "charity" like meat with a malicious smirk?

The above frankfurter, designed by the artists formerly known as Plan B Branding Brandiose, is the new mark for the club’s Baseballtown Charities.  Some explanation:

Baseballtown Charities, a non-profit 501(c)(3) entity, was launched ten years ago in association with the Reading Phillies in order to keep baseball alive in Reading through charitable donations to underprivileged youth, who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to play baseball. The organization was also founded to pay tribute to Reading’s rich baseball history. 

Since its inception in 2002, the Baseballtown trademark has played a necessary part in the baseball community of Berks County. Under the Baseballtown namesake, FirstEnergy Stadium has played host to the High School All-Star Game and the Olivet’s Boy’s and Girl’s Club Championship. Each year, the organization crowns the King or Queen of Baseballtown to honor the past by recognizing that individual’s accomplishments and contributions to baseball/softball.

And, finally, with Valentine’s Day on the horizon the R-Phils have put out a video in which team employees explain the significant role that mascots have played in their love lives.

Maybe one of these days I’ll put out a video explaining how mascots played a role in mine.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

A Compelling Compendium

It’s the first Friday of 2012, and what better way to celebrate than by doing the same sort of thing I’ve always done? That’s right — it’s time for another rollicking blog bouillabaisse! This particular bouillabaisse will take the form of the third edition of the Ben’s Biz Twitter Top 10!

The purpose of such an endeavor is to provide a compendium of the most intriguing @BensBiz tweets and re-tweets of the past week (or three weeks, in this case). The tweets, as they appeared on Twitter, are italicized. Let’s do this!

Follow this guy on Twitter: @BensBiz

10. Gum included

For those living in NYC, let it be known that @EconomyCandy in Lower East Side sells wax packs of ’87 and ’89 Topps for .75 cents.

My ’87 Topps-themed post from earlier this week was met with much enthusiasm, and I was very gratified to read the various emails, Tweets, and Facebook and blog comments that were issued in response. If the post got you feeling nostalgic for that era of baseball cards AND you live in NYC, then head over to Economy Candy in the Lower East Side. It is a truly wonderful establishment.

9. And speaking of ’87 Topps and how it relates to Minor League Baseball…

RT @blueclaws: @bensbiz did feature on ’87 Topps set (25th anniversary) – Claws gave out these replicas in 2010: http://twitpic.com/83hxkk

8. Offseason drama

One of my favorite Tweets from a Minor League player, ever.

RT @murraywatts: Hey lady down the street yelling at me to get out of her yard…it’s cool, I brought a bag for the dog poop

Watts to lady: "It's cool."

7. They’ve got the Clapp!

Fans of Canadian baseball icons with hilarious names rejoice: Stubby Clapp returns as @ValleyCats mgr in 2012 http://bit.ly/AwtqiT

Hopefully, Stubby will find something to get riled up about during the 2012 season. This, from last year, was classic:

6. Dance Dance Revolution

Overlooked logo sub-genre! RT @shorebirds: Check out the new Shorebirds Dance Team Logo! http://twitpic.com/832cga

Yes, check it out:

5. The Original Odd Couple

The @RPhils Opening Day bobblehead features Ryan Howard and his best friend the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor: http://bit.ly/vZPr7y

4. What to wear while Googling “Santorum”

Tis the Season! NH @FisherCats offering “New Hampshire Primaries” merch http://bit.ly/zyUNnQ (“Primaries” was team’s original name)

3. A Most A-peel-ing Individual

This year’s best Hot Stove Banquet guest? @Crosscutters welcoming Dave “The Great Potato Caper” Bresnahan http://bit.ly/Ar5Ult

If you don’t know anything about the “Great Potato Caper,” then it’s really time to educate yourself. Click on the above link to start…

2. Christmas in July, in January

On 7/27, @LCCaptains staging 3rd annual “Christmas Story”-themed giveaway. Meet “The Pink Nightmare” http://yfrog.com/h4vd4cdj

 1. Local Hero
Speaking strictly as a fan, it’s likely that @IronPigs Jamie Moyer bobblehead (wearing HS uni) will be my favorite giveaway of 2012.
True story: Jamie Moyer’s sister was my fourth and fifth grade music teacher at Shady Grove Elementary. In fifth grade she kicked me out of chorus for chronic misbehavior, and I would now like to apologize: Ms. Moyer, I’m sorry.
benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

From Boats to Floats

It’s a strange state of affairs when Major League logo unveilings are outpacing those from the far more pliable Minors, but what is life if not strange?

For in the past week we’ve seen new looks for the San Diego Padres and (more significantly) the Miami Marlins, while the only fresh identity to be unleashed in the Minors for 2012 remains the defiantly exuberant surfin’ Cubs of Daytona. This will soon change, as the Pensacola Blue Wahoos are scheduled to emerge from the tropical depths this Friday (for more on Pensacola, check out my MiLB.com piece that ran on Friday).

For now, however, those needing a Minor League logo fix will have to make due with this Lake County Captains 10-Year Anniversary insignia:

The press release announcing the new mark notes that The logo will be featured on limited edition merchandise available at the Cargo Hold gift store at Classic Park as well as on-line at http://www.CaptainsBaseball.com. Merchandise featuring the special logo is currently arriving now in time for the holiday shopping season. The logo will also be seen on all team-issued print materials produced for the 2012 season.

And, as you may recall, it was just last season that the Captains unveiled their new primary logo.  That came amidst a month which I now refer to as Logo-vember 2010, as it also included unveilings from Asheville, Kinston, Wisconsin, Omaha, New Hampshire, Kannapolis, and Altoona (among others).  What a memorable — nay, magical! — time that was.

But even pre-existing logos need publicity, and the Carolina Mudcats got a nice boost last week when a new character on the Fox show Bones sported a team cap. Apparently this fella was named “Finn.”

Another team due for some increased exposure via the star-making machinations of the entertainment industry are the Fresno Grizzlies. This past August scenes from an upcoming Billy Crystal vehicle entitled “Parental Guidance” were shot at Chukchansi Park.  And apparently the filmmakers were so enraptured with mascot Parker that he was recently flown down to Atlanta in order to do some follow-up shots. For more, check out this interview with Parker in the team’s “Yardwork” blog.

The Talent (Photo: Cody Turner)

But a mascot’s true place is close to home, of course, especially with the holiday season approaching. This is a most busy time of year, as amply illustrated by today’s announcement by the Delmarva Shorebirds that Sherman will be appearing in a whopping SIX parades. Can anyone top that?

And in perhaps even more exhilarating mascot parade news, the R-Phils mascot band has announced their first “in-motion” gig: atop a float at the Reading Christmas parade.

Quack the Duck is psyched:

I have no doubt that he’ll be the top “billed” performer.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Passing the Time in the Absence of Our Pastime

Yesterday’s post served as this year’s Halloween content clearinghouse, but as usual a few things slipped through the cracks. And when something falls through the cracks, it’s best to save it from such a nefarious fate by belatedly bringing it back into the light.

That’s a convoluted way of saying that I stumbled across a ridiculous photo I wanted to share. It was taken at the State College Spikes Spookfest and features mascot Ike the Spike idly observing a werewolf being wheeled on a stretcher by a witch who appears to have Frankenstein in a headlock.

Just another day in the Minor Leagues.

Further PA-based Halloween content has emerged from Reading, as the R-Phils have announced the winners of this year’s pumpkin carving contest. This is a seriously impressive triumvirate of illuminated gourds:

But would you expect anything less from the Reading faithful? This is a fan base that has proven carving abilities.

At any rate, November is probably the slowest month when it comes to Minor League Baseball news. (December has the Winter Meetings, at least, and once the new year hits there is an abundance of info related to the upcoming season.) But we all get through it together, and there are many productive ways to pass the time.

For starters, Visalia Rawhide broadcaster Donny Baarns has launched a new podcast called “Candid Voices,” in which he “chats with the best sports broadcasters about their careers, their stories, and anything else they feel like talking about.” The first episode’s guest is Mariners broadcaster/veteran TV writer Ken Levine, and can be heard HERE.

Meanwhile, the always exemplary Great Lakes Loons blog “From the Nest” has a post called “25 Ways to Keep Baseball In-Season This Offseason.”


Lots of great stuff is contained therein, and the post follows a template that can (and should) be copied by other Minor League teams. Check it out.

A more “inside baseball” (so to speak) offseason perspective can be found over at gameops.com, as always astute industry veteran Scott Carter’s has filed a column featuring a veritable treasure trove of ways that teams can engage with fans when there are no games being played. This is required reading for those seeking to understand how and why teams need to function as interactive year-round entities.

And then, of course, there are videos. Always, there are videos. Some of them have malevolent undertones….

while others mine humor out of mascot misfortune.

And finally there’s our old pal Ike the Spike, who apparently snapped out of his werewolf-observing reverie long enough to lead a “Thriller” flash mob. Check it out HERE.

As always, thanks for checking this blog out. Your patronage helps to validate my professional existence.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

The Season Never Ends: Victory Laps, Vanilli, and Villains

In much the same way that a bear lives off of its own fat throughout the winter, I am able to survive the lean times by relying on my great storehouse of Minor League content.

Today I’ll dip into that vast reserve in order to bring you a steaming bouillabaisse of words and images from the 2011 campaign (I just spelled “bouillabaisse” correctly on the second attempt, tying my personal best in this category).

Let’s start with our friends in the mountain foothills, that distinguished Carolina League entity known as the Lynchburg Hillcats. Last month, the team staged a NASCAR Night promotion and staged it well.

It all started in the stadium parking lot, with cars from different eras of racing history stationed therein.

Also present was the official pace car from nearby Martinsville Speedway, one of the night’s sponsors.

The evening’s guest of honor was Rex White, a legendary racer who in 1960 won the NASCAR Grand National Championship.

Meanwhile, Danny “Dale Earnhardt” Dudley was named “Best Dressed Fan.”

Between-inning games and contests were centered around the theme. Here, the green flag signals the start of the “Tire Roll”…

…while a white flag indicates the last lap of the Pool Sprint.

Moving from cars to guitars, last month the Reading Phillies welcomed a touring performer I had never before heard of: the Sauce Boss. Not only does this guy play “Florida Slide Guitar Blues,” but he cooks gumbo on stage and serves it to the audience.

The Sauce Boss, smoking pot

Keeping with the song and dance theme, the Fort Wayne TinCaps held a ’90s Night Promotion in August that included innovations such as the following:

– The “92nd”  inning, commemorating Nirvana’s release of “Smells like Teen Spirit” with a “What’s that Smell” onfield promotion.

– The strike-shortened “94th inning”, in which all promotions were stopped in the middle in memory of the MLB strike which began on August 12, 1994.

– The Titanic “King of the World” cam in the 98th inning.

And then there was this:

Even more horrifying is a ballpark character I learned about during the recent Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar: the New Hampshire Fisher Cats’ “Ram of War.”

This unapologetic villain competes against children in between-inning contests, crushing their dreams and feeding off the screams:

Brilliant. The world of Minor League Baseball needs more bad guys, they make us all look good in comparison.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

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