Results tagged ‘ Springfield Cardinals ’

The Harlem Shake: A Minor Overview

Introductory paragraphs within this blog forum can sometimes be needlessly circuitous, steeped as they are in obscure references and acute self-consciousness. But not today. Today, we cut to the chase:

What follows is a comprehensive round-up of Harlem Shake videos produced by Minor League teams. 

Yes, you’re probably sick of the Harlem Shake at this point. I am too. But let’s take the long view, as historians with an interest in baseball history, viral fads and the intersection of the two will no doubt delight in stumbling upon this post at some at some unknown moment in the distant future. I am doing this for you, future historians! I always am. For it is you who will ensure my legacy.

Plus, you’ve gotta admit — Minor League teams, with their easy access to supply closets full of banana suits and inflatable ponies, make better Harlem Shake videos than most. So here we go! In no particular order, here are two dozen Harlem Shake videos produced by professional baseball teams in possession of a formal affiliation with a Major League club.

Frederick Keys — Apparently a big-headed reincarnation of Francis Scott Key regularly sits in on front office meetings:

Columbus Clippers — Warning! Includes bear-on-frankfurter violence that may be unsettling to younger viewers:

Bowie Baysox — A toothbrush can’t dance? I bristle at such a notion:

Lexington Legends — Mister would you please stop punching that pony? WATCH ON FACEBOOK.

Vancouver Canadians — As if any proof was needed that this was an international phenomenon:

Fort Wayne Tincaps — A solitary pothead gives way to a banana who loves the queen of hearts.

Lake Elsinore Storm — Yes that is an upside-down squirrel hanging from the dugout, and yes he is happy to see you:

Corpus Christi Hooks — Can’t a man bike through the office in peace? WATCH ON MILB.COM

Tulsa Drillers — Hey, no dogs in the swimming pool!

Gwinnett Braves — Team store? More like surreal fever dream store!

New Hampshire Fisher Cats — Fungo and friends “rose” to the occasion:

Lehigh Valley IronPigs — Give peas a chance. WATCH ON MILB.COM

Buffalo Bisons — Vest-wearing gentleman on the right is my favorite individual to appear in any Harlem Shake video:

Charlotte Stone Crabs – What’s to stop the Incredible Hulk from wearing a sombrero?

Fresno Grizzlies — Forget this faddish viral bastardization. Parker knows how to do the REAL Harlem Shake. WATCH ON VINE. 

Louisville Bats — This takes place in multiple dimensions simultaneously. It will blow your mind.

Bowling Green Hot Rods — I guess you could say that Axle rose to the occasion.

Delmarva Shorebirds — The Shake so nice they did it twice.

Springfield Cardinals — You know what? This is probably the  best one out of all of ‘em.

Round Rock Express — All bobblehead version!

Connecticut Tigers — Shout it from the rooftop!

And, finally, there are the State College Spikes. The first Minor League team to post a Harlem Shake video, and the last to be featured in this post:

EDIT! 

Two latecomers have entered the fray!

Orem Owlz — Holly, the Owlz pregnant mascot, wisely sat this one out.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans — Fans of multi-colored crustacean triumvirates rejoice!

And that’s all she wrote, folks. “She” being me, of course. I am a man. A 34-year-old man. A man who is perhaps too old to be providing you with diversions such as the above. But yet I do, and yet I did.

Do not forsake me, future historians! I do not want to believe that this has all been in vain.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Return to the Road: Rancheros, Records, and Revitalization

It’s time to end the blogging week by, yes, once again returning to the road. The last post in the series ended with a wonderful hamburger in Tulsa, and from there I drove on to Springdale in order to attend that evening’s Northwest Arkansas Naturals game. Perhaps you already read about it?

The next day, the plan was to drive from Springdale, AR to Springfield, MO — the home of the Springfield Cardinals. My lunch destination was the AQ Chicken House, which received a glowing recommendation from regular reader/grizzled Minor League traveler/esteemed DJ Rex Doane. The problem was that it was early on Sunday afternoon when I got there, and the place was overflowing with a post-church lunch crowd. I felt self-conscious waiting alone for a table amidst this rollicking social atmosphere, and scrapped my poultry-related plans.

I wish I had gotten to know thee, AQ Chicken House!

At this point it became time to improvise, and I settled on this unassuming Mexican place about 10 minutes down the road.

Attention members and guests!

And you know what you get when you go to an unassuming Mexican restaurant? Unassuming Mexican food! This is never, ever a bad thing, especially when the salsa comes in a carafe.

I ordered a beloved old standby, which, in my new gluten-free reality, will only become more prominent. Huevos Rancheros!

Unimpeachable

Huevos rancheros gave me the strength I needed to complete the drive to Springfield, and I only stopped once along the way. I just couldn’t resist:

I found the items contained within this alleged village to be exceedingly tacky, and, coming from me, that’s saying a lot.

Upon arriving in Springfield, I checked into the University Plaza hotel. The following note was laid out on the pillow, and while some might be turned off by the overt religiosity I was impressed by its heartfelt and genuine tone. A real rarity in this day and age!

The business that brought me to Springfield did indeed prosper, as that evening I enjoyed a very well-attended Springfield Cardinals game. (And, again, you may have read about it.) The next day, my travel between the eternities included a pit stop in downtown Springfield. A reader had recommended that I check out the Springfield Brewing Company, and who am I to defy a reader recommendation?

This was a cool operation, as beer was indeed brewed onsite.

As for me personally, I felt a bit agitated. As I’ve mentioned several times before, this trip came after my celiac disease diagnosis but before I decided to strictly follow the gluten-free diet that such a disease requires. The menu of heavy beers and upscale bar food didn’t include many gluten-free options at all, and I felt bummed out that in the near future (as in, now) my options at such a place would be severely limited.

But, whatever. I was cheating. Therefore, I ordered an excellent dark beer (forget the name) and the “Brewben” sandwich ($7.95, a great deal!)

The Springfield Brewing Company’s website mentions that their establishment is “an anchor to the re-birth of downtown Springfield” and, indeed, this is a downtown area that is decidedly in flux. While there are many empty and dilapidated storefronts, there are also many creative, risk-taking entrepreneurs involved in a bona fide downtown renaissance.

I was just passing through, as I am wont to do, so I don’t know anything about the history of Springfield or the long-term goals of this ongoing revitalization project (if you do, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email).  But I do know I enjoyed wandering around a bit, while sporadically documenting what I saw.

Great concept

I wish I had done more investigating into this “Robert E. Smith” building (no, it was not named after the Cure singer). It turns out that Robert E. Smith is a “nationally known folk and ‘outsider’ artist.”

I heard that this establishment used to sell Philadelphia Hot Dogs:

This is the Springfield Little Theatre, over 100 years old and still staging live productions.

It took all of my will power not to go into this record store, my favorite type of store in the entire history of stores. But, alas, I was on a tight schedule and, therefore, unable to stick it in my ear.

And what a great entrance way!

Fortunately I was pretty well-stocked with new music as it is. I still buy cds (old habits die hard), and on each trip I give three recent purchases three listens each. Obsessive compulsive much? On this trip, the three honorees were:

– Neil Young and Crazy Horse — Americana

– Grinderman — 2 RMX (this song could not be any more awesome, the 2:20 mark is basically what I want all music to sound like always)

– Late Night Tales Vol.2 compilation, curated by Belle and Sebastian

(and, for my own enjoyment when I’m an old man reading this post, the three albums on the April/May Florida trip were Quakers self-titled, Nicki Minaj “Roman Reloaded,” and Unsane “Wreck.” If anyone ever wants to talk about music, you know where to fine me.)

But anyway! The ride from Springfield to Memphis was a long one, and was highlighted by some of the most low-hanging clouds I’d ever seen.

Pork skins and Mello Yello sustained me throughout, as did unexpected tributes to long-ago baseball greats.

And when I arrived in Memphis late that evening, none other than Jefferson Davis was fronting Deep Purple.

And that’s where we’ll leave off for now. (Sorry for using the royal we, which, really, should be reserved for assent-giving French monarchs).

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

On the Road: An Embiggening of the Baseball Spirit in Springfield

Prior to embarking on this latest (and therefore greatest) road trip, I had never visited any of the seven teams on my itinerary. And of these seven, the franchise that I knew the least about was, undoubtedly, the Springfield Cardinals. They’re not the kind of team to stage goofy promotions or sell attention-getting food items, and their social media presence is minimal. They simply don’t indulge in the sort of Minor League antics that capture the interest of NYC-based niche bloggers such as myself.

That’s because Springfield is less a Minor League operation than it is mini-Majors — the club is owned by the parent Cardinals, and the fan base consists of passionate St. Louis partisans. I found this out immediately upon arriving at Hammons Field, as fans were lined well before game time in order to insure acquisition of a Matt Adams bobblehead (he slugged  32 homers for Springfield last season, and is now plying his trade in St. Louis).

Cardinals fans, Cardinals fans, Cardinals fans — as far as the eye could see. I felt like I was attending a convention of bibliophiles, because so many of the people were, well, red. (For more on all of this, please see my MiLB.com piece.)

After successfully navigating my way through this phalanx of amiable midwesterners, I met with broadcaster Jeff Levering and he helped facilitate a couple of player interviews that were conducted outside of the home clubhouse (thanks to outfielders Jake Shaffer and Adam Melker for tolerating my completely unprepared off-the-cuff stylings). From there we walked into the attached practice facility (which is shared with Missouri State), where a few players were getting in the last of their pre-game cuts.

Next stop, press box!

And in said press box, there was one of the better pre-game meals I’ve eve seen provided to us working stiffs in the media: a well equipped nacho bar! Usually I skip press box meals in order to hit the concession stands later, but this I couldn’t resist.

After the above plate of nachos was consumed, I commenced to wandering. This was one of the wandering-est days I have ever spent at the ballpark, as I didn’t have nearly as specific an agenda as I often do on these road trip stops. I just took in as many vantage points as possible, which I will provide to you along with an (allegedly) informative running commentary.

Views of the immediate surroundings, taken from the upper level:

From there, I turned my thoughts (and actions) field-ward.

I soon made it down to the concourse, and spent a little time in the berm seating area in right-center field. A gaggle of young goofballs saw me taking pictures and demanded that I take one of them. I obliged:

That Alfred E. Neuman-esque character on the right, whose red socks and sandals get-up is just spectacular, then asked if he could take my picture. He seemed shocked when I said yes, exclaiming “You’re actually going to trust me?” in a cracked adolescent voice.

I mean, why not? I grew up with two idiot brothers and am an idiot myself, so I can relate to the random young idiots I meet at Minor League Baseball stadiums. Here’s the photo that he took:

But prolonged exposure to idiocy can be detrimental to one’s professional obligations, so I soon made my way back to polite society.

I stood for the National Anthem from this bullpen location…

and then made my way toward home plate. Some visuals from this portion of the journey:

The reason so many people got to the ballpark early

No comment

Finally, against all odds, I made it to the bustling area behind home plate.

As “mini-majors” as Springfield may be, they’re not above indulging in goofy between-inning hi-jinx. This shot was taken during a plodding father-son wing-eating competition, during which the on-field host remarked “Once again, this is a contest, and we are timing you.”

Those aforementioned press box nachos sublimated my appetite, but I nonetheless made sure to take note of the food options. The “Popcorn Factory” featured an “endless” popcorn for $7, along with an array of seasoning options.

Apparently a “Latin Vibe” can be obtained via the combination of chocolate, marshmallow and jalapeno. Who knew?

I’m sure at this juncture you’re thinking to yourself, “This is all well and good, but can I build my own Doghouse creation?” The answer to that query would be an unequivocal “yes.”

I soon came across a contemplative Louie, who is, of course, a Cardinal. The costume leaves something to be desired, but this was a bird with soul.

I strongly contemplated taking a nap on the concourse…

but instead opted to explore the area surrounding Hammons Field. Directly across the street, one finds Jordan Valley Park. It is an oasis of public art, fountains, and views of a nearby scrap yard.

The industrial atmosphere is even more pronounced directly behind the stadium.

And since I live in NYC, the following counted as a bonafide wildlife sighting.

Finally, and apropos of nothing, I came across the Springfield version of Greenzo.

Back in the stadium, it was business as usual. A game of Angry Birds was taking place on the field, during which Louie may or may not have copped a feel.

I spent the next couple of innings within the upper press box and suite level, barred from the high life by a waist-length metal fence.

The Cardinals really started to run away with the ballgame at this point in the evening. As I engaged in conversation with a kindly elderly usher (Springfield native Joseph Jefferson, who declined my request to take a photo of him), several balls left the park.

Touchin’ ‘em all.

I celebrated the home town success with a popcorn (sans Latin Vibe, not pictured), and then an ice cream helmet from the Springfield Creamery.

But if you’re going to be buying anything at Hammons Field, make sure you have cash on hand. This Empire Bank ATM charged $4 for the privilege of withdrawing money from it. Concourse extortionist!

Avoid!

$4 poorer but still spiritually rich, I made my way back to the berm area. There was a commotion going on in and around the visitor’s bullpen — Travelers relief pitchers were creating a kiddie stampede by throwing gum and candy onto the berm. This photo doesn’t really capture the action well, but it was the best I could do.

The Travelers’ even gave away their pink equipment backpack (a Minor League staple; you may recall the one I came across in Burlington, NC last season). In this shot, the kids holding the backpack were (unsuccessfully) trying to give the backpack back in exchange for more candy.

No wonder such frivolous antics were going on — the game had turned into an unmitigated disaster for the visiting Travelers.

Yes, the Cardinals put up 20 runs on the strength of 24 hits. This was the most runs I’d ever seen scored at a Minor League game (although, admittedly, I barely watched the game), and the team and fans went home happy.

The night officially concluded, for me, once this young straggler finally made it home during the post-game Run the Bases.

All in all, it was a night to be proud of for the hometown team.  John Q. Hammons, a highly successful local entrepreneur and stadium namesake, bids you all a pleasant good night from Springfield, MO.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

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