Results tagged ‘ Syracuse Chiefs ’

On the Road: New York State of Mind, Part Three

(Interested in perusing all of my 2014 “On the Road” content? Click HERE  to visit a continually updated “On the Road” landing page. Bookmark it, and read ‘em all! More articles are being added by the day.)

Part one in this series detailed my non-ballpark explorations (or lack thereof) in Batavia, Rochester and Jamestown. Part two covered Erie, Pennsylvania and Buffalo, New York. Part three, which you are reading now, begins on August 27th in Syracuse and ends on the 29th as I leave Syracuse for Troy (one of the “Tri-Cities” referenced in the Tri-City ValleyCats name).

But enough of this introductory babble: Let’s get to it, lest it get to us!

August 27 — Syracuse, New York (home of the Chiefs)

After leaving Buffalo (where the last post left off), I arrived in Syracuse in the late afternoon and drove straight to the Chiefs’ home of NBT Ballpark. Here’s a sneak preview of what that looked like:

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I attended that evening’s game — some has been written regarding that experience, but much more remains to be written — and then checked into the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Syracuse. This was a fairly classy establishment, above average as Minor League team hotels go, but the most notable thing about it was the elevators. To use them, one would type in the desired floor on a console located in the lobby, and the console screen would then direct the user to one of three elevators. Inside the elevators there were no buttons (outside of those used for emergencies), since the elevator already “knew” where you wanted to go.

This might be superior to the traditional system, but I found it impossible to shake the habit of pushing a button once inside the elevator. Every time, there was that instinctual lunge toward where the buttons would be, followed by the realization of “Oh, right, it already knows what floor I want to go to.” Everyone I rode with seemed to have the same reaction, with the result that the elevators were always a topic of conversation when riding the elevators. In this regard, the unorthodox system served as a vehicle for increased social interaction within an environment usually permeated by stilted going-through-the-motions niceties and subsequent awkward silence.

August 28: A full day in Syracuse, but not much to report.

After a bout of late morning writing, I set out to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que for lunch. Dinosaur has become a mini BBQ empire here in the Northeast, but it all started at this location in downtown Syracuse.

095I got a brisket and ribs combination platter, and while no photographic evidence of this meal is available I can assure you that it was delicious. And BBQ is generally pretty easy to navigate on the gluten-free front — stay away from sandwiches (and in some cases, certain sauces) and you’re pretty much good to go. Here’s a picture of the brisket, unabashedly stolen from the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que home page:

Homepage_Rotator_2

(As an aside, I recently went to Mighty Quinn’s BBQ in New York City. I was a bit wary of the place because it received a lot of hype and places in NYC often don’t live up to said hype, but this place served some of the best BBQ I’ve ever had. Not just in the northeast, but anywhere. The brisket and wings were particularly amazing. If you’re visiting NYC, make sure to get a meal there. Maybe I’ll join you.)

Anyhow, all I did after going to Dinosaur BBQ was go back to the hotel room, do some more writing, and then drive to Auburn to see that evening’s Doubledays game. Some has been written about that experience, and much more remains to be written. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to spend any time whatsoever in Auburn proper, which is regrettable. Auburn bills itself as “History’s Hometown,” and attractions include the Harriet Tubman Home and Fort Hill Cemetery (built on a site once used by Native Americans as a fortress). It was also the childhood home of apocryphal baseball inventor Abner Doubleday — hence the name of the local sporting nine.

Auburn -- home to Lil' Abner

Auburn — home to Lil’ Abner

August 28 — Syracuse, New York and Troy, New York (home of the ValleyCats).

After checking out of the Crowne Plaza and saying goodbye to the unorthodox elevators, I jumped (literally jumped!) into the car and headed to New Century Vietnamese Restaurant for lunch. Located on a block that was otherwise residential, this unassuming establishment really delivered the goods.

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And by “the goods,” I mean this. God bless Vietnamese food. It is consistently wonderful.

001Time was at a premium, as it always is, but before leaving Syracuse I decided to look up the address of a local record store, punch it into the GPS, and head over. This effort brought me to this area.

007And, specifically, to The Soundgarden. (Given this store’s name, you’d think it’d be located near Cornell as opposed to Syracuse University).

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The Soundgarden is the sort of store that used to be quite common in college towns, a something-for-everybody clearinghouse of cds, vinyl, posters, t-shirts, books, magazines, collectible toys and even incense. I like these kind of places.

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My big find here was the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion “She’s On It/Jack the Ripper” 12″ that was released for Record Store Day. (The NYC stores had sold out of it quickly, and I never got a copy. My high school self would have been very disappointed at my lackadaisical efforts in obtaining this record, as back then a record featuring the Blues Explosion covering Beastie Boys would have made my head explode. (Oh, and fun fact: the first concert I ever saw was Beastie Boys at the Philadelphia Civic Center in May of 1995. Blues Explosion and the Roots opening.))

Anyhow, I also picked up three used cds: Neil Young “Road Rock,” Acid Mothers Family “Do Whatever You Want Don’t Do Whatever You Don’t Want” and “Weird Al” Yankovic “Poodle Hat.” (I coulda sworn I had this already, but a recent perusal of the stacks indicated otherwise. It is imperative to own all “Weird Al” recordings).

And that was it for Syracuse. I realize I didn’t have much but I stretched it out for all that it was worth and got a little more self-indulgent than usual in the process. I hope you don’t mind.

From Syracuse it was on to Troy, where I attended that evening’s Tri-City ValleyCats game. So far nothing has been written about that, but the blog post from that evening promises to be fairly epic. The next day I had some time to poke around the city of Troy, but I think I’m going to save that material for a fourth (and definitely final) “New York State of Mind” post.

Until then, I remain,

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Flipping the Script

The use of Native American imagery within the world of sports is a controversial topic, as teams like the Cleveland Indians and (especially) the Washington Redskins are under increasing pressure to abandon names and/or logos seen as culturally insensitive. But the Spokane Indians have found a way around this problem, collaborating with the local Spokane tribe to adopt a look that celebrates, rather than denigrates, the people it purports to represent.

This season, the club will wear a jersey in which “Spokane” is written in Salish script.

salish

The collaboration between the Spokane Indians and the Salish tribe is nothing new, but the above jersey represents a significant development. In fact, this partnership will be the topic of my next Minoring in Business article, running on MiLB.com tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Speaking of teams sporting a name inspired by their region’s Native American population, the Syracuse Chiefs recently unveiled this:

But that’s not the only interesting historical sporting overview that I’ve recently found via Twitter. Behold:

But as much as some things change, others remain constant. On 3/14 the Bowling Green Hot Rods held a “Pi Day” promo, in which tickets were sold for $3.14 for three hours and 14 minutes, beginning at 3:14 p.m. (And, as an added bonus,  fans who bought the tickets in person were offered free slices of pizza “pi”.)

I was curious as to how this promotion was received, and Hot Rods assistant general manager Ben Hemmen satiated my curiosity thusly.

National “Pi” Day was a BIG hit in Bowling Green. In just three hours and fourteen minutes (3.14), we sold over 600 tickets at the box office or over the phone to games for this upcoming summer. The Power of “Pi” will definitely be something that we look at using next season to tie in a promotional opportunity for our fans.

Among the many items on team to-do lists at this time of year is adding new situationally appropriate song selections to the music database. For help with this endeavor, one enterprising rookie-level P.A. announcer took to Reddit. The resulting discussion is well worth reading.

This blog is also well worth reading, in my less-than-humble opinion, and I thank you for having Reddit.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Minor Leagues, Minor Changes

A quick glance to your right will reveal some minor changes to the ol’ blog dashboard, changes that I hope will add to your overall enjoyment of the Biz Blog experience.

For starters, why not subscribe? Those who do so will receive an email notification each and every time a new post goes live. (Because if there’s one thing you surely need in your life, it’s more email.) Below that you’ll find my five most recent Tweets, and hopefully that will serve as a not-so-subtle reminder to please follow me on Twitter (@bensbiz).

Biz Bloga Lisa says: "Subscribe!"

The links have been updated (and will continue to be updated) as well. I added the category “Ben’s Biz on MiLB.com” to provide links to some of my recurring website features, an action that may help alleviate the disconnect between blog and MiLB.com contact. They are meant to complement one another!

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Find me on MiLB.com!

But not everything is about me, of course. I’ve updated the list of team blogs to include heavy hitters such as the Frisco RoughRiders “Insider Blog” (regularly updated and chock full of info) and the similarly information-besotted (and oft humorous) “Inside the Chiefs” with the Chiefs in question hailing from Syracuse.

On the player side of things, check out “Cole Cook’s Stream of Consciousness.” This should turn out to be one of the most creative and unpredictable blogs out there, and recent posts include literal-minded rap song interpretations as well as ruminations on the potential sentience of mouth-residing gingivitis killers.

(Cook, as you may recall, is a right-hander in the Cleveland Indians organization who I interviewed this past June. He actually grew up in Herman’s Head).

Also of note is Mets farmhand Collin McHugh’, whose “A Day Older, A Day Wiser” is a well-written and wise chronicle of the Minor League life. It is certainly worth your time, should you have any to spare.

Reading about the Minor Leagues is fun!

Also, for the heck of it, I threw on a link to one of last season’s personal writing projects: “Leave ‘Em Wanting Moyer,” a start-by-start documentation of Jamie Moyer’s 2010 season. It’s slightly insane, but aren’t we all?

Anyhow, if YOU have any suggestions as to what blogs to highlight and link to (insane or otherwise), then please get in touch via the usual channels. With this bit of housekeeping complete, I’ll leave you with the best Minor League team video that I’ve come across all day.

Over the Line!

And, why not? Here’s one I missed the first-time around: the Round Rock Express’ Ballpark Rob takes on the phenomenon that was “Friday.”

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Moving On Down

Thumbnail image for lad.jpgI find myself with much random material that I would like to share with you, an individual who I presume possesses at least a passing interest in Minor League Baseball game operations and promotions.

In order to create some sort of order from the chaos, I shall organize said material by level of play. Let’s start at the top of the Minor League ladder, and then move down rung-by-rung until, finally, we find ourselves back on solid ground.

This may take a few days, actually…

Triple-A

The Toledo Mud Hens established a Fifth Third Field attendance record this past Friday, and it wasn’t because of a “National Dance Like A Chicken Day” promotion that came complete with complimentary chicken hat:

chicken.JPG
No, the primary draw was Crystal Bowersox. My hopes of an exciting new fad in jewel-strewn footwear were quickly dashed when I found out that Crystal is an “American Idol” finalist who hails from Ohio. 13,200 turned out to see the up-and-coming troubador sing the National Anthem; I have yet to confirm if she later led the crowd in a spirited rendition of the Chicken Dance.

– Those same Toledo players who enjoyed the vocal stylings of Ms. Bowersox are not nearly as enamored of opposing mascots, as this item from the latest “International League Notebook” makes clear:

Durham mascot [Wool E. Bull] was pelted by water balloons from the Toledo dugout
when he
wooly.jpg appeared on the field [May 12], but it wasn’t quite as funny
when the mascot slipped on the wet grass and suffered an apparent knee
sprain.

“Just what we needed — Wool E. Bull is hurt. The training room is full
already,” Durham manager Charlie Montoyo told the
Durham Herald-Sun.


– The last time I wrote about mascot injuries, the costumed character in question was “Pops” from the Syracuse Chiefs.     Fortunately, Pops seems to be okay these days, as the only thing I have to report from Syracuse is that the team’s blog is currently featuring an amusing rundown of International League hotels.  The latest such establishment to be featured is Pawtucket’s Comfort Inn. 

– Which brings me to my next item, as the excellent blog of Pawtucket broadcaster Dan Hoard recently featured a post on Mike Cameron’s over-the-top generosity during his recent rehab stint with the club. An excerpt:

Cameron took the notion of being a big-leaguer to new heights on Thursday when he purchased a luxury box for Game 6 of the Celtics/Cavs playoff series and invited the PawSox players and coaches to join him. 

Double-A

I mentioned this in this week’s “Promotion Preview” column,but the Richmond Flying Squirrels have launched an interesting weekly promotion in this, their inaugural season: “Where’s Parney”. Writes director of promotions Christina Shisler:   

Every Friday our VP and COO, Todd “Parney” Parnell
frequents a different sponsor’s location (restaurant or bar) after the game and
our fans must track him down! We include hints throughout the week on where he
will be on our e-newsletter, Facebook, Twitter and website and the first 20
fans to find Parney out at one of our “Where’s Parney” sponsor locations win a t-shirt and get to hang out with the Squrirels VP!

Keep in mind, folks, that this is the man everyone is trying to find:

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Richmond -- Parny Unitard beleaguered.JPG 

– Moving from Flying Squirrels to Fisher Cats (as I so often do), New Hampshire’s Eastern League franchise recently welcomed its Two Millionth Fan. Congratulations to 10-year-old Brendan Howard for his well-timed turnstiling.

– Meanwhile, in Tulsa, it appears that another mascot-themed soap opera has entered theThumbnail image for hornsby.jpg fray. I say “another”, because THIS exists in Lehigh Valley. So now we have “Bulled and the Bluetiful” and “As the Bacon Turns”. Anyone want to suggest other potential Minor League parody soap opera titles?

This particular blog post is quite like a soap opera, in fact, in that it shall end with three words that signify the promise of much more to come:

TO BE CONTINUED

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

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