Results tagged ‘ Reno Aces ’

Return to the Road: Stockton to Reno to Klamath Falls…

Early next week, come hell or high water (but preferably neither), I will reveal my 2014 road trip itineraries. In the meantime I will continue to dip into my seemingly inexhaustible reserve of 2013 road trip content.

Today’s “Return to the Road” segment, fourth in a series, picks up in “Magnificent” Stockton, CA.

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My time in Stockton, at the ballpark or otherwise, has been amply chronicled in previous posts and articles. But before heading on my way to Reno, Nev., I made a stop at Rasputin Music. This is the sort of one-size-fits-all music and movie superstore that weas once quite prevalent around the country, but now going extinct as our media consumption habits move from the physical to the virtual. (In my home of New York City, for example, the Virgin Megastore at Union Square is now a bank, and the iconic E. 4th street Tower Records now houses the MLB Fan Cave. The only establishment of this ilk still holding it down in the Big Apple is J&R Music World.)

I don’t know if Rasputin is still going strong, but it’s still going, and God bless ‘em for it. Perhaps I’m somewhat motivated by nostalgia, but I can’t help spend a little money when I visit establishments such as this.

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My core musical tastes, circa 1989:

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My core musical tastes, circa 1999:

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Cassettes for a quarter:

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Buyer Beware:

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Finally, a gluten-free pop artist:

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All of this is to say: If you still find joy in the act of going to a record store, and find yourself in the Bay Area or Central Valley, then keep an eye out for Rasputin. It’s the kind of place where you can buy Guns N Roses “Spaghetti Incident” for $5 because, hey, why not, it may be a cover album but it’s still Guns N Roses!

(Or at least that was my line of reasoning).

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Soon after leaving Rasputin I spotted this establishment. I should have pulled over and taken a proper picture, but, regardless, old-fashioned bowling alley signage should always be celebrated. (I would have plenty of opportunity to do that the next day, as it turned out.)

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Finally, a brief stop at Stockton’s “Miracle Mile” shopping district.

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From “Magnificent” Stockton it was on to Reno, where I had the misfortune to witness one of the only rainouts in Aces team history. Or did I?

Regardless, I had some time to poke around Reno the next day before showing out for points northwest. The bus station was fairly easy to spot.

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But that wasn’t the only over-sized and out-of-place vehicle in the immediate vicinity. The annual Hot August Nights car show happened to be taking place during the weekend I visited Reno, and this was one of the more notable entities on display.

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Beyond Bigfoot:

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In the midst of all this automotive action, I happened to  notice a most welcome sight.

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Delicious, filling, and (often) gluten-free, Vietnamese is one of my all-time favorite cuisines.

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One of downtown Reno’s more notable (non-gambling related) attractions is the National Bowling Stadium/International Bowling Museum Hall of Fame.

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In case you’ve never ventured to the upper deck of a bowling stadium before…

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The Hall of Fame featured plaques for male bowlers, while women were celebrated via paintings honoring their “superior performance.”

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Also featured: archaic equipment and pop culture detritus.

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Speaking of pop culture detritus, I made one more stop in Reno before leaving town for good. Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

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Randy Newman signage on a building’s exterior is always a positive in my book.

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The interior of Recycled Records included vinyl, cds, and even eight tracks.

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My next, and last, stop on this road trip was Hillsboro, Ore., home of the Hops. I didn’t have to be in Hillsboro until the following evening, however, so I made a plan to drive to Klamath Falls, Ore. so that I could then drive to (relatively) nearby Crater Lake in the morning before heading on to Hillsboro.

I hope that makes sense.

Upon getting out of Reno proper, the landscape changed considerably.

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I can’t tell you where I was, but a stop at this gas station yielded both a Big Hunk and a Pop Shoppe cane sugar root beer.

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Again, I chose Klamath Falls as my destination because of its close proximity to Crater Lake. I had no baseball plans for this particular evening, but while checking into the Days Inn, the clerk asked me what had brought me to this neck of the woods. I replied that I was a baseball writer, and planning to visit Crater Lake in the morning before before driving on to Hillsboro.

“That’s funny,” he replied. “I figured you’d be hear to see the Gems. I think they’re playing right now.”

What?!

Unbeknownst to me, Klamath Falls is home to the collegiate wood bat league Gems, who play at 65-year-old Kiger Stadium. And would you believe that Kiger Stadium was located a five-minute walk from the hotel in which I had elected to spend the night? And that the Gems were indeed playing at that very moment?

I had thought that Klamath Falls would be the one town on this trip in which I didn’t see a baseball game, but, as is so often the case, I thought wrong.

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The next — and last! — post in this series will detail my time in Klamath Falls and Crater Lake. That will really and truly conclude my 2013 road trip content, leading to the unveiling of my 2014 road trip itineraries.

In the meantime, please know that I am aware that the season is underway!

A new Promo Preview appeared today (Tuesday), and will run weekly through the remainder of the season.

– A special ‘Opening Weekend” edition of Crooked Numbers appeared yesterday (Monday), and will run monthly for the remainder of the season.

– And, what’s this? A bold new form of Ben’s Biz “On the Road” content? I’ll have more on this shortly…

There’s a lot going on.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Information Regarding the Online Insult Prowess of Aquatically-Inclined Felines

In yesterday’s post on the West Michigan Whitecaps, I speculated that their Facebook update in the aftermath of Friday’s stadium fire was the most liked and shared Facebook update in the history of Minor League Baseball. Continuing on this speculative line of social media-centric thought, it is also likely that the most popular tweet in the history of Minor League Baseball occurred just last month.

It all began on Tuesday, December 3, when the Sacramento River Cats sought to fill some offseason down time by engaging fans in an “ask us anything” discussion. This prompted their Pacific Coast League rivals the Reno Aces to posit a somewhat snarky question, and within a quarter hour the River Cats responded in devastating fashion:

Oooh, burn! And, as burns are wont to do, it soon spread like wildfire throughout the Twittersphere and then the internet in general. Retweet upon retweet soon inspired a number of regional and national blog posts, amusing innumerable individuals along the way. I expected the Aces, egos bruised, to retort in kind but instead they took a “you’ve won the battle, but not the war” stance and humbly retreated into the background.

The background is where this feud remained, until the River Cats decided to end 2013 by gloating anew.

This time, the Aces couldn’t stay silent.

And on and on it went, a tit for tat diss battle in which no clear winner emerged. Click HERE to read the whole back and forth, but please know that it ended with the Aces’ referencing the “worst bobblehead of all time.”

As mentioned, the above Twitter battle gained some notoriety not just within Minor League Baseball but within the sports universe at large. But the River Cats take on all comers, as evidenced by this far-less publicized battle that took place with the Fresno Grizzlies on December 19. This one was started by Parker, the Grizzlies mascot, in response to an innocuous question from a local radio station.

Oh, Parker, why did you do that? Did you really think you’d get away it? Cue debilitating River Cats comeback in 3…2…1…

Parker’s ensuing retort wasn’t much to speak of (Sorry Parker, just keepin’ it real), but the Grizzlies jumped in with a parting shot. The lesson here is: when beefing with the Sacramento River Cats on Twitter, and at a loss for words, simply mention “the worst bobblehead of all time.”

At the end of the day, Twitter wars are stupid. But aren’t most things? And Twitter wars are not only stupid, they’re entertaining as well. So I guess what I’m saying is this: if you’re a Minor League Baseball team, go ahead and tweet something insulting at one of your league rivals. I’ll be glad you did.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

On the Road: Two Sides to Every Story in Reno

My “On the Road” posts are perhaps best described as impressionistic fever dreams, in which I try to piece the fragmented memories of my ballpark evenings into something resembling an objective reality. In doing so I strive to reach a fertile middle ground in which a small “t” truth can blossom into infallibility, but sometimes the discrepancy between my account of an evening and that of the team in question becomes too great to ignore. This is certainly what has occurred when it comes to my recent visit with the Reno Aces, as I documented a rather lackluster night at the ballyard that ended prematurely due to a rainout.

When the Aces read this post, they were incredulous. “It goes without saying that Ben is the greatest baseball writer of all time, but not even the greats are unimpeachable,” went the presumed front office sentiment. “And, like Loutallica or Chinese Democracy, Ben’s post on this alleged “Reno Rainout” represents greatness at its most deeply flawed.”

The Aces, led by marketing director Brett McGinness, took it upon themselves to compose a thorough corrective to my Reno rainout missive, which I will now reprint in full. In doing so I am not admitting to any errors in my previous account; rather, I am simply acknowledging that truth is a malleable construction, perhaps nothing more than a coping mechanism designed to create some semblance of order within an existence that requires daily navigation through the chaos of infinite conflicting realities.

RENO’S RESPONSE

We’re not sure what your recent column was, about the rainout at Aces Ballpark. Here’s how we remember it (with photographic proof):

It was a perfect August evening at Aces Ballpark. 75 at first pitch, not a drop of rain for miles.

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The Aces and Redbirds took the field right on schedule, and you got the full Aceball experience. You seemed a bit road-weary.

The second-inning trike race against Archie went well. You pulled out to a huge lead, but seemed pretty blasé about the victory.

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Next up: Dancing Grounds Crew. Surely this would shake you out of your stupor.

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Nope.

Guest-starring as Roof-Man, perhaps?

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No dice.

Same deal when you were in the wiener dog race (although you came in third, so it’s understandable why you might have been bummed out).

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That was when we accidentally offered you a Triple Play Sandwich, chock-full of glutens. Cryptically, you told us, “Don’t offer me glutens. You wouldn’t like me on glutens.”

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You took one bite of that sandwich and went a little nuts.

You proposed to some woman on the field. We’re still not sure if you knew who it was, or if you had met her before, or what.

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We tried to tell you that “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” wasn’t a duet, but we couldn’t talk you down from the wall.

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We didn’t really know what to do, so we had to call the cops.

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Long story short, Nevada requires no residency for marriage certificates, so the marriage is binding. You should really head back here when you get a chance, your bride keeps stopping by the ballpark and asking about you, and we’re running out of excuses.

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I’ve got to admit, the above account does explain a lot. Namely, why a woman with a 775 area code who is listed in my phone as “Betrothed” keeps calling me. I keep telling this lady that she’s got the wrong number, and that I remain Minor League Baseball’s most desirable bachelor, but who knows? Perhaps it’s time to own up to my gluten-fueled indiscretions and settle down in Reno.

Or perhaps not. I’ll spend the remainder of the week pondering my options, and in the meantime stay tuned for dispatches from one more “On the Road” locale: Hillsboro, home of the Hops. Hopefully my account will jibe with the team’s, but who really does know?

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

On the Road: Rain Delays and Triple Plays in Reno

I’ve traveled quite a bit over the past four seasons, and in that time I’ve kept meteorological misfortune to a minimum. The only time whilst “On the Road” in which I experienced a rainout was in 2010, when a vicious Chattanooga thunderstorm put a halt to any and all Southern League activities that had been scheduled for that evening at AT&T Field (or, as I like to call it, “Orphan Initialism Field”)

When I arrived at Reno Aces Ballpark on a recent Thursday it was decidedly overcast, hardly the sort of day that sets hearts to fluttering.

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“But, still,” I thought to myself,” “This is Reno. I don’t think that there are ever rainouts here. It’s, like, near a desert or something.”

This was an exact thought-quote.

Upon entering the ballpark (which, as you may be able to infer from the above pictures, is located in downtown proper) I met with Aces marketing director Brett McGinness and we embarked on a tour of the facility. For some reason, the very first picture that I took is of a deserted (for the time being) cornhole bago area.

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“This started as a bocce court, but bocce didn’t fit the Reno aesthetic,” Brett told me. “Bago has been much more popular.”

Also representative of the Reno aesthetic are huge meat smokers in the shape of a train.

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Aces Ballpark is the centerpiece of Reno’s entertainment-centric “Freight District” and the city is a major trucking and transit hub in general, so the train motif makes sense. There are train tracks located directly beyond left field, for goodness sake.

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The scene is different in right field, as there one finds the Truckee River.

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To the right of right field, out in the distance, on the horizon, there are mountains.

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But as for the more immediate surroundings? Take a look:

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Refreshment options abounded, actually.

Outside there were food trucks, or, as nobody calls them: vehicular comestible purveyors.

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Upstairs, this was the scene at “Bugsy’s.

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“Bugsy’s” is so named because “Bugsy” is the nickname of Aces manager Brett Butler. Butler got that name during his playing days, when his snazzy sartorial sense inspired teammate Mike Krukow to remark that he dressed like mobster Bugsy Siegel, and the name stuck.

Keep in mind that I was walking around the ballpark with a guy named Brett [McGinness], who told me that “Growing up Brett Butler was my favorite player, because there were no other Bretts playing baseball. Now when I’m walking around the ballpark Brett [Butler] will see me and say ‘How’s it going, Brett’ and I’m like ‘Wow, dream come true!’ Brett Butler knows my name!”

Such interaction is par for the Brett Butler course, actually, as prior to the season he requests short bios of the Aces front office so that he can competently make small talk with them when the need arises. That’s just the kind of guy Brett Butler is!

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There are plenty of food and drink options at Aces Ballpark — especially if you DON’T want to watch the game. There’s an entire attached entertainment district that is collectively referred to as “The Freight House.”

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Bago can be found up here as well,  beneath the upper torso of a glowering neon baseball player.

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It is rumored, but not confirmed, that this player was modeled after veteran infielder Cody Ransom.

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Meanwhile, game time was almost upon us. In the following Vine, the PA announcer’s exhortation to “Play Ball” occurs about half a second after a jagged bolt of lighting cuts across the sky. Baseball and lightning are, generally speaking, incompatible.

But the game had begun and there was nothing to do but keep on keeping on, despite the less-than-ideal conditions. The evening’s originally scheduled “designated eater” (you know, the individual who consumes the ballpark delicacies that my gluten-free diet prohibits) was a local DJ/Aces superfan/Reno man-about-town named Chris Payne.

Payne was recently voted Reno’s “best public figure to fantasize about,” so have at it:

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Unfortunately, Payne’s own recent set of dietary restrictions — he had given up red meat– rendered him unable to adequately perform designated eating duties.  All I could do was admire his tattoos and footwear and move on.

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“I take what I do as a fan to the next level,” said Chris. “I’m always thinking eight steps ahead of everyone else.”

Desperate times call for desperate measures, so Into the designated eating void stepped Brett McGinness himself. And first up for Brett was the $15 Triple Play sandwich, which consists of 18-hour smoked brisket and pork shoulder, BBQ-glazed meatballs, cole slaw, three pieces of Texas toast, pickles, and peperoncinis. After you order it, you are given the following sign so that an Aces food service worker can come out and hand deliver it.

(In the below photo, senior sous chef Brad Radack is holding the sign. We’ll meet Brad in just a bit.)

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What a beauty this thing is!

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Have at it, Brett!

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As Brett methodically consumed the above item with grace and aplomb, the situation on the field went from bad to worse.

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Say what you will about radar, it is incapable of untruths. And, sure enough, about 10 minutes after the first pitch, the skies opened up. It was a veritable deluge, and Brett abandoned the Triple Play sandwich in favor of tarp duty.

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The concourse, in which elbow room had once been so plentiful, quickly became a mob scene.

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Two brave — or would that be insane? — souls stuck it out in the stands.

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The Aces’ tarp work was exemplary, and after the situation was under control Brett returned. (His sandwich, however, did not. I have no idea where that thing went.)

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The Aces had prepared a rather ambitious schedule for me, involving many aspects of the game day experience, but the rains rendered this schedule moot. (At the time the rain hit I was preparing to take part in a trike race, because, as Brett said, “We figured we’d put you on a metal object in a thunderstorm.”)

Okay, fine. Plan B: watched Brett eat more food. What a life. This time we headed up to Duffy’s, a member in good standing of the Freight House conglomerate:

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Brett, still soaking wet, soon had before him Duffy’s version of a reuben: corned beef, french fries and dressing on rye, cooked in a woodstone pizza oven.

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Chef Radack reported that this is a new item, and it has been popular as a late night selection (Duffy’s opens 90 minutes before the game and then stays open until midnight or so). Brett, he enjoyed it.

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It’s not on the menu, unfortunately, but Chef Radack and his crew were kind enough to prepare me some gluten-free pizza. On the left is pepperoni, on the right is the veggie-centric “Farmer’s Market” (onions, zucchini, peppers, pomodoro sauce).

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Radack and crew, awaiting my reaction:

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Thumbs-up, guys! (Seriously, please don’t kill me.)

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It really was good — I’m not sure what type of flour was used, but it resulted in a crisp thin crust and that’s all I ever ask for. (Well, that and fresh ingredients. And impeccable presentation. And affordability. And a complete and total obsequiousness to my every passing whim.)

Meanwhile, outdoors, the rains had subsided. That was the good news. The bad news was that so much rain had fallen in so little time that the field remained sodden and certainly would remain sodden for some time.

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Well, okay, then. In order to pass the time I resumed my new favorite activity: watching Brett McGinness eat. Here’s a Caesar wrap on a spinach tortilla, Brett. Do with it what you will.

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“I’m like the Homer Simpson of food critics,” said Brett, commenting on his perhaps-less-than-discerning taste. “This is awesome, too. I love it!”

Well, then, you may as well keep right on eating. Here’s a Frito Pie Dog, in which a 10-inch hot dog is topped with chili, cheese, and Fritos.

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Previous Homer Simpson-esque proclamations notwithstanding, Brett was starting to get a little burned out.

“This, it tasted like a Frito Pie Dog,” he said. “Whatever you imagine it tastes like, that’s what it tastes like.”

This would prove to be Brett’s first and final tautological culinary observation of the evening, as word soon came over the PA that there would no more Pacific Coast League baseball on this rain-besmirched Reno evening.

My sentiments exactly, videoboard. My sentiments exactly.

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2013 marks the Aces’ fifth season, and this was just their third-ever rainout. What a disappointment for such an anomaly to occur on the lone night that I was in Reno, as there is so much of the Aces experience left to be seen!

Perhaps, through a combination of technological chicanery and good old fashioned elbow grease, I’ll be able to find a way to show you some of these things. Who really does know?

Stay tuned…

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

2013 Promotions: 10 Alliterative Bobblehead Giveaways

There are few, if any, things that I like more in this world than the sound repetition device that is alliteration. Examples of it abound here on (ahem) Ben’s Biz Blog, perhaps my favorite being a post titled “Charlie Crist Cancellation Causes Costumed Crustacean Candidacy.” I should have retired immediately after writing that.

But, no, here I remain. My personal predilection for alliteration has led me to peruse 2013 promo schedules for examples of it in bobblehead form, because what better way could an able-bodied 34-year-old man possibly make use of his time?

1. Bowie Baysox — Jim Johnson, July 22

The Bowie Baysox have the honor of leading this post, for they are the only alliteratively-named team giving away an alliterative bobblehead. Their honoree is Bowie-turned-Baltimore pitcher Jim Johnson, who was born in June in the town of Johnson City.

And would you believe in that in addition to the Jim Johnson bobblehead, July 22nd is also “Mutt Monday” at the ballpark? And that the Baysox are playing the Akron Aeros? It’s almost too much too take.

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The Gwinnett Braves also get a very special mention in this post, as they are the only team with TWO alliterative bobbleheads on the promo calendar.

2. Gwinnett Braves — Brandon Beachy (April 6) and Freddie Freeman (May 18)

Yes, a Brandon Beachy Braves Bobblehead! It boggles the brain!

And now the rest!

3. Richmond Flying Squirrels — Brandons Bobblehead (Belt and Crawford), April 5

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This bobblehead is doubly alliterative in that not only is it a Brandon Bobblehead, but one of the Brandons is Brandon Belt. A Brandon Beachy Braves Bobblehead followed by Brandon Belt, right here on Ben’s Biz Blog. My life’s work is nearly complete.

4. Rome Braves — Henry the Hot Dog, April 20

Will Henry come covered in condiments?

5. Frederick Keys — Manny Machado, May 11

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This May a multitude of Manny fans, many men and maybe many more women, will flock to Frederick in order celebrate Monsieur Machado’s manifold splendor.

6. Reno Aces — Brett Butler, May 25

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A bounteous booty of Brett Butler bobbleheads bestowed upon Reno’s resplendent residents as a means of creative championship commemoration.

7. Sacramento RiverCats —  Chris Carter, June 23

Chris Carter, a Californian, consecrated by the ‘Cats. Cool.

8. Harrisburg Senators —  Stephen Strasburg, July 15

It’s Military Monday and the bobblehead is mini. Stephen Strasburg’s scintillating skill set stays sky-high.

9. Clinton LumberKings — Mitch Moreland, August 3

Mitch Moreland matriculated at Mississippi.

10. Memphis Rebirds — BBQ Bobblehead, August 16

Memphis is mum regarding the scintillating specifics of this “BBQ Bobblehead,” but what we do know is that it is taking place during a “Fred’s Family Friday” promotion.

My work here is done.

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

Permanence Amidst the Ephemeral

Last week I took a break from the typical sort of blog content, eschewing the ever-present “now” in favor of planning for the future. And indeed, your input is still very much desired regarding that particular tri-fecta of posts:

Tell me your MiLB road trip suggestions!

Follow me on Twitter, win free stuff, send me more free stuff so that other people can then win it!

– Send me headshots! (Seriously, the response to this thus far has been tepid at best. My writerly ego, so fragile to begin with, is in danger of suffering irreparable damage. Here’s some inspiration for ya:

But that was then, so now it’s time to look at what was then now. Or, rather, was now then. Capiche? Me neither.

First and foremost, we have a late arriving piece of news from the team name/logo field: Next season, the peripatetic Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees will be known as the “Empire State Yankees.

The Yankees’ Empire State of Mind is due to the fact that the team will be playing “on ze road” throughout the 2012 season, with the majority of the ballgames being hosted by the Rochester Red Wings (the team is also playing “home” games in the Empire  State locales of Batavia, Buffalo, and Syracuse). This less than ideal situation is because the team’s PNC Field is undergoing an extensive $40 million renovation, rendering the field unplayable.

Or is it? The renovations have yet to begin, as the team’s scheduled sale to Mandalay Baseball has yet to go through. More on all that, as well as the mild controversy behind the Empire State Yankees name, can be found HERE.

And, hey, since we’re on the new logo tip now would be a good time to show the San Jose Giants’ recently unveiled 25th anniversary mark. Your life will never be the same: 

And now for yet another logo, of sorts: The Reno Aces have continued their St. Patty’s day tradition, by releasing an Irish-themed limited edition t-shirt.

On St. Patty’s Day the team should drop the “Ren” from their name and simply go by the name “O’Aces.” Although, come to think of it, that might result in a lawsuit from the Gallagher bros.

Meanwhile, I’ve been spending a lot of my “down” time here at the office in the tedious but worthwhile task of compiling (via spreadsheet) 2012 promos of note. Some interesting stuff pops up sometimes, such as this offering from the Portland Sea Dogs:

April 15:  Tax Day/Headstone Giveaway

Sez the team: There are only two guarantees in life: death and taxes. Therefore the Sea Dogs have partnered with Jones, Rich, and Hutchins to giveaway a headstone to one fan.

I like it! We as a society need to spend more time contemplating (and therefore overcoming our fear of) the sheer inevitability of death. While a “Salute to Mortality” theme night is a long way off, the Sea Dogs are at least moving the conversation in the right direction.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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In the Year 2013…

My current “making do with what I’ve got” logo stance continues unabated with today’s post, as the lead item is this:

For those who need things spelled out for them — this is the logo for the 2013 Triple-A All-Star Game, an annual contest which pits two historically rich but misleadingly-named leagues against one another (International vs. Pacific Coast). As you can see, the 2013 edition will be taking place in Reno. The “biggest little city in the world” is home to the Aces, who played their inaugural season in 2009.

The lines orbiting the baseball in the above logo directly reference the sculpture that greets fans upon arriving at Aces ballpark:

Photo: DAVID CALVERT/RENO ACES

The logo was designed by Brandiose, who once upon a time in a faraway and distant land were known as Plan B Branding. Those looking for more insight into the company’s philosophy and history would do well to read this supremely simile-laden interview with co-founder Jason Klein on apennysworth.com

A sample:

Q: Logo designers sometimes fight disparaging perceptions ranging from proverbial snake oil salesmen to glorified finger painters. How do you persuade clients of the tangible benefits of identity design?

A: We measure brand success several ways: retail profit, how creatively empowered the staff becomes, staff productivity, attendance, loyalty to the brand, and fame and notoriety. Alex Bogusky once said, “If nobody’s talking about your brand, it’s dead.” This plays a very important role in our process and how we measure success.

Let’s move away from eloquent analogy and distant 2013 talk and back toward the present. Or, more accurately, the recent past. Whatever. Writing 500+ segues a year is exhausting.

Have you ever wanted an expedient tour of a Major League team’s offseason publicity event? The Frederick Keys have you covered, and then some:

And how about something that could be happening in the near future. On Monday, the Tri-City ValleyCats put out the following on Facebook:

We are thinking about a Jimmy Fallon bobblehead this year at “The Joe!” He has ties to the area attending the College of Saint Rose and is a huge hit on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Would you come for a Fallon bobblehead?

“Artists” rendering of said bobblehead:

As I remarked on Twitter: “Hopefully this idea doesn’t Fallon deaf ears!”

See, there’s a reason I get paid the big bucks. But if it’s small bucks you’re into, let it be known that the State College Spikes are desirous of a new Ike!

Guess that gives new meaning to the term “deer hunting season.”

Blogger…OUT!

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Something For Everyone

Lots of flotsam and jetsam has piled up on the shores of Ben’s Biz Blog remote island headquarters, and the only way to deal with such excess detritus is by accumulating it into a tidy pile.

Nice to get a belabored analogy out of the way so early. Let’s go to the info!

First of all, a pair of Pacific Coast League announcers are on the cusp of celebrating significant milestones. Tonight in Des Moines, Deene Ehlis will call his 3000th game for the Iowa Cubs. The broadcast will also be notable in that it’ll include an interview with Indianapolis Colts receiver (and University of Iowa alum) Dallas Clark, who has been immortalized by the I-Cubs in bobblehead form.

Then on Tuesday, Steve Klauke of the Salt Lake Bees call his 2500th contest:

Reports the team:

Klauke joins legendary Utah Jazz broadcaster Hot Rod Hundley (2,645) as the only two play-by-play broadcasters to call 2,500 games with one Utah team. He also becomes just the fourth current Pacific Coast League team broadcaster to reach the 2,500 games-called mark with one PCL team. Currently in his 18th season with the Bees, Klauke can be heard live on 1320 KFAN and at slbees.com.

Klauke will be recognized during a pregame presentation on Tuesday, April 26, while audio highlights of his more notable calls will be played throughout the game.

Trivia Question! Who are the other two current PCL broadcasters to have called at least 2500 games? The first person to email me with the correct response will get to contribute 150 words to a future blog post on whatever topic they choose (must be family friendly, of course). benjamin.hill@mlb.com

Since we’re on the topic of the PCL , it is well worth pointing out that the Fresno Grizzlies are staging a Saturday night tribute to severely (and senselessly) injured San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow.

In the words of the team:

Fans can purchase a Super View ticket and special Bryan Stow bracelet for $15, with $10 going directly to The Bryan Stow Fund, established to support Bryan and his family. Stow is a paramedic with American Medical Response and works games for the San Francisco’s Single-A affiliate, the San Jose Giants, at Municipal Stadium.

As you’ll recall, the aforementioned San Jose ballclub is dedicating the month of April to Stow.

I might as well stay with the PCL, as yesterday Sacramento and Reno upped the stakes of their rivalry via a bet between each city’s classic car museum. Typical, right?


Pertinent details:

The annual season series between the Reno Aces and the Sacramento River Cats will take on new significance in 2011, as the two host cities’ auto museums will face off in a high profile wager based on the overall winner of the season series. Reno’s very own National Automobile Museum will put up the 1949 Mercury that James Dean drove in “Rebel Without a Cause,” while Sacramento’s California Auto Museum will put up a 1932 Ford raced by driving legend AJ Foyt.

The RiverCats have owned the Aces as of late. Reno’s win on 4/19 snapped a 12-game losing streak against Sacramento, with their previous victory having come exactly a year previous. (My knowledge truly knows no boundaries, a fact that I’ll tell myself many times over tonight while sitting in an easy chair and drinking whiskey in a darkened living room.)

But anyway, can you believe that I’ve made it this far before featuring a new food item that laughs in the face of death? What follows is the Lancaster JetHawks’ new “Heart-Stopper” a limited time only delicacy consisting of a hot dog on biscuits, smothered in sausage gravy, cheese, and bacon.

I actually think this one looks pretty good! If only concession items could safely and sensibly be sent via the United States post office…

Until that day arrives, I’ll be amusing myself with humorous videos. This one, featuring the clumsy ball-handling skills of Durham Bulls hurler Mike Ekstrom, is a must-see instant classic.

That’s going to close out the week for me. But before I go, may I direct your attention to my latest “Farm’s Almanac” piece on MiLB.com? Professor Joe Price is singing the National Anthem at over 100+ ballparks this summer, and he’s truly a man on a mission. From the story:

“I always love for people to join in, and for the anthem to be sung together regardless of political orientation,” said Price. “This can, potentially, be everyone’s national anthem. And as a result it can bridge the gap between the Tea Party and liberals, between hawks and doves. Because, even though it is a wartime song, it was written as a celebration of freedom. The preservation of our freedoms is what lies at the heart of it.”

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Keys, Kino, Bambino, Reno

At this time of year I feel like I’m manning the laser cannon in Space Invaders, blasting away  at the relentless Minor League news stories falling methodically from the sky like so much alien detritus. No matter how adept my aim, however, I am always destroyed in the end.

But enough with the life metaphors, as Opening Day is approaching and there is simply no room for existentialist fatalism. There’s a new mascot to write about!

The costumed character in question is a relative rarity on the Minor League scene, as he is based on a Key historical figure, one whose martial maritime (mis)adventures inspired our National Anthem. Meet Frank Key of the Frederick Keys, based on Francis Scott Key and sponsored by the Tourism Council of Frederick County:

Frank Key, who joins long-time mascot Keyote at Harry Grove Stadium, will have his own adult fan club. Those who join “Frank Key’s Army” receive perks such as discounted merchandise and concessions, exclusive Q and A’s with staff and players, and the always enticing prospect of “unique fan experiences.”

In other mascot news, Tucson’s recently-unveiled Friar character now has a name: The Kino Bambino.

The team explains this Ruthian character thusly:

The long lost brother of the San Diego Padres’ Swinging Friar roamed the desert and arrived in Tucson for the March 25th Spring Training game. He dazzled the 11,000 fans that day, dancing and waving to screaming fans. The Tucson Padres front office marveled at their luck – the brother of the Swinging Friar showing up just weeks before the season!

Then the only question was – what to call him? After sorting through the hundreds of suggested names, one stood above the rest, the Kino Bambino. His name has a strong connection to the Tucson region, while also honoring the most famous baseball player of all time. The Kino Bambino, and Kino Stadium, are named after Father Eusebio Kino, the man who established 24 missions in the southwestern United States in the late 1600’s.

Quite fitting that a mascot with a religious background would come to the team after wandering in the desert. Kino Bambino is both on and from a mission.

From Keys to Kino to…uniforms? Sure, why not?

The Asheville Tourists unveiled their lunar-based logo some time ago, but it wasn’t until last week that the world got a look at the unis.

Click HERE for more pics, but I’ve got no time for such finger-activated endeavors. For the Reno Aces have unveiled some new gear, time to switch to ALL-CAPS:

Team-issued explanation:

For all road games, Reno will wear a gray and navy cap, which includes a new logo that features the Reno “R.” The team will debut this new cap during the April 5 exhibition game against the University of Nevada at Aces Ballpark.

Also, the Aces will wear an alternate white cap for select home games this season.

But before you can talk about logos, you have to have a name. Pensacola’s Southern League entry will begin play in 2012 (having re-located from Zebulon, NC), and the team is now accepting submissions in a “Name the Team” contest.

The only thing I can come up with is the “Pensacola Wars” and that’s not even funny. But what else is new?

benjamin.hill

twitter.com/bensbiz

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