Results tagged ‘ Tennessee Smokies ’

The Sun Will Come Out…Eventually

Yesterday was Opening Day, except when it wasn’t.

As is common at this time of year, there were a range of weather woes across the Minor League landscape. Seven of the 58 scheduled games were rained out, with the most dramatic example coming courtesy of the Frisco RoughRiders.

Today isn’t looking much better. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, who played in frigid conditions on Thursdays, have already announced a postponement. In Toledo, meanwhile, the visiting Louisville Bats are worried about the viability of their game against the Mud Hens…

And — WHOA! — things are looking severe out by Sevierville. Click on THIS and then come back to me. I’ll be waiting….

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Okay, cool, thanks for re-joining me. All of this meteorological mayhem got me thinking about a guest post that ran on this blog last year, in which Pete Golkin advocated for the creation of an industry-wide Universal Rain Check. The idea is simple: when a game gets rained out, the team in question issues a rain check that can be redeemed at any Minor League ballpark. Wrote Golkin at the time:

Remember, we’re talking about Minor League Baseball tickets. They’re not supposed to break the bank or become scarce–which is why you’ll never see a scalper in the parking lots at Danville, Greensboro or Richmond.

To work out the details, I suggest calling in the same accountants who said my old sliced cheese wrapper meant two-for-one admission anywhere on a Tuesday. And if I have to prove I’m an out-of-towner to get a rain check with “range,” I’ll gladly show a driver’s license. Simple stuff.

So on behalf of baseball pilgrims everywhere—at least the ones not bound for Fenway in an SUV limo–give the Universal Rain Check a shot, MiLB. It can only mean more fans up and down the road.

That post was met with one of the most robust comment sections in Ben’s Biz Blog history. But, alas, it was met with silence from those in a position to actually implement the program.

UNTIL NOW.

On Tuesday, the Dunedin Blue Jays issued a press release, and the press release contained the following information:

The Dunedin Blue Jays…are proud to announce the Raincheck Baseball Initiative (R.B.I.) program for the 2014 Florida State League season.

This unique program will allow fans to redeem a ticket from any rained out game from another team in Minor League Baseball for a Dunedin Blue Jays game….The R.B.I. program is believed to be the first of its kind in professional baseball.

“Basically, it’s a universal rain check,” said Nate Kurant, the new Director of Marketing and Social Media for the D-Jays. “A friend and I did a baseball road trip across the Southeast last season and each day had at least a 70% chance of rain. If any of those days had been rained out, we never would have made use of a rain check.”

“I know a lot of people love Minor League Baseball and take trips throughout the season to visit different parks. Essentially, I wanted to develop something that would meet a need for MiLB fans and help set us apart in Dunedin,” said Kurant. “It’s a beautiful city and hopefully this will give baseball fans more incentive to visit us throughout the year.”

Fair-weather fans that present a ticket from a different MiLB team’s rained out game not only will receive admission to a D-Jays game, but also take home a “Rainy Day Blue Jays” pack including a Blue Jays rain poncho. They will also have the option to participate in one of the numerous in-game promotions.

“It’s a nationwide, international MiLB promotion that is open to everyone from our fellow Jays affiliate in Vancouver all the way to our Florida State League friends in Palm Beach County.”

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“Come see us using a ticket stub from a rained-out Minor League game,” said the Dunedin Blue Jays in unison.

One team down, 159 to go. Do YOU think the universal raincheck is a good/viable idea? Would you take advantage of such a program? Are you tired of me asking obscure questions, as you would rather see a picture of a giant hamburger?

Okay, fine, here you go:

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

On the Road: A Sweltering Chicken Meets a Managerial Burger in Tennessee

As you surely recall, my last post had a cliffhanger ending. I was at the Tennessee Smokies game, the National Anthem had concluded, and the game was about to start.

So what happened then? In this, part two of my Smokies blogging saga, all will be revealed.

In a shocking twist, the ballgame began very shortly after the anthem’s conclusion. At this juncture, I found myself in the right field berm area and my vantage point was as follows:

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Thus began a lap around the stadium’s (almost) 360 degree concourse, heading plateward.

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178 As I was making my way up the third base side of the stadium, disaster struck!

Well, it almost struck, at least. A member of the visiting Barons, I’m not sure who, flailed at a pitch, lost his grip, and sent his bat hurtling into the stands. This photo shows the immediate aftermath, as ushers and director of entertainment Ryan Cox (white cap, uber-stylish shirt) survey the scene as concerned Barons look on from the visiting dugout. The bat was retrieved by the long-haried gentleman at the back of the shot, some 12 rows deep.

180All’s well that ends well, as no one was hurt. In the photo below GM Brian Cox (not be confused with Ryan Cox, sitting right next to him) is in the process of retrieving the bat from the fan. Following standard protocol, the fan was eventually given a different bat in return.

181And since we’re on the topic of being attacked by bats —  none other than Dan Wagner was in the starting line-up for the Barons. Here’s some scoreboard proof of this, taken later in the ballgame.

217Wagner knows how it feels!

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That photo was taken during my 2011 visit to Winston-Salem, and that following offseason I devoted a blog post to Wagner’s re-telling of the incident. 

A choice quote:

[The bat] was clamped on my leg, so I swiped it off with my glove and it ended up on the ground opening and closing its mouth at me. I could see the fangs. It was super-creepy, worse than a spider or a rat, just nasty.

What an awesome tangent that was! I call this the “best Minor League Baseball blog of all time” because it is, and if someone could give me a “Best Blog” award along with, like, $750,000 in cash I’d really appreciate it.

But to return to the narrative at hand, all I can tell you was that the rest of my lap around the stadium perimeter wasn’t very eventful.

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186Although, I did witness an earnest conversation  between Cox and the Statue of Liberty. He was gently trying to tell her that “Salute to Huddled Masses” night wasn’t a very good idea for a promotion, especially since Huddle House wasn’t interested in sponsoring.

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I might have heard that conversation wrong, but my hearing was about to get a whole lot worse. For it was I who had been recruited to suit up as “Clucky Jacobsen” in the Smokies’ nightly Chicken Race, a costume that comes complete with a stiflingly hot, senses-obscuring rubber mask.

The Chicken Race, in which a group of kids chase Clucky across the outfield, is a long-standing Smokies tradition. The rules:

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I wrote an MiLB.com article about my Chicken Run experience, and it turned out to be one of my favorite things I’ve ever written in a professional context. Click the link to read it — please — and then return here to the blog for the following supplementary pictures:

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The luxurious changing area…

This…194

plus this…195

equals this:

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Mingling with the masses

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202Clucky and his pursuers

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205Disappearing into the night.

207Minor League Baseball is a beautiful thing.

Upon changing back into my civilian attire, I convened with my designated eater (for those new to this blog: I have recruited a “designated eater” at each ballpark I visit, to consume ballpark delicacies that my gluten-free diet does not allow).

Frederick Love, ladies and gentleman!

209Love, who grew up in Seattle, is no stranger to the world of stiflingly hot ballpark costumes. After graduating from college, he went on to suit up as Louie for the Bowie Baysox and Hornsby for the Tulsa Drillers. His current mascot gig is as “Chilly” for the Knoxville Ice Bears of the SPHL, and his sister, Baylor, works for the Smokies as a group sales representative.

In the above photo, Love is sitting outside the Double Play Cafe with a Buddy Bailey Burger (named after the Smokies’ alliterative manager) and an order of BBQ Pork Nachos.

The Buddy Bailey Burger —  1/2 pound beef patty, cheddar cheese, onion, lettuce, tomato — was the main event, and Love dug right in.

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Buddy Bailey Burger on Ben’s Biz Blog

“It has a sweet smell, very appetizing, and I wanted to get the first bite in right away,” said Love of the Buddy Bailey Burger. “I threw a little ketchup and mayo on there, and it all mixes together well. The burger is well cooked, very juicy with a lot of flavor.”

As for the nachos, Love had had those before.

“They’re one of the best things they have here,” he said. “They’ve got a perfect smoky taste.”

As he spoke, various food products raced by on the field.

213Thanks to Love for volunteering for the greater good. He is designated eater #3 of the 2013 season, and I appreciate his service.

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We had, at this juncture, entered into the latter third of the ballgame.

Images:

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Both man and beast remained vigilant as the game entered its tense final inning. (WATCH on Vine)

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Despite a late rally, the Smokies went down in defeat. This was their sixth loss in a row, part of an agonizing streak that had earlier included three straight shutouts followed by a 12-11 defeat. But win, lose, or draw, it doesn’t matter. It was Friday, and that meant fireworks were a comin’.

The pyrotechnics display was enjoyed by Soppets and non-Soppets alike.

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It was past 10:30 at this point, but it’s Friday night and who cares about bedtime? The kids, they then ran the bases.

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Being too old for such shenanigans, I instead went on a search for impromptu works of art. (WATCH)

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Suitable for framing

All that was left to do now was take a walk back to my hotel room. The Hampton Inn and Suites, it beckoned me. (WATCH).

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Good night from Sevierville!

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benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

On the Road: Getting My Bearings in Tennessee

Like their Southern League cohorts the Mississippi Braves, the Tennessee Smokies are that rare Minor League entity that identify themselves by state as opposed to city or region. But, unlike the Mississippi Braves, the “Smokies” team name actually denotes the region of the state in which they play. If teams throughout the Minors took this approach, it would result in entities such as the Pennsylvania Lehighs, the Arkansas Northwests, and the Florida Palm Beaches.

This is all a convoluted way of saying that the Smokies play in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountain region (located in the far eastern portion of the state, Sevierville to be precise), and that their team name is unorthodox. So, yes, with that out of the way:

Welcome to Smokies Park, home of the Smokies, and, also, home of a Smoky Mountain visitor center!

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I arrived at Smokies Park a bit later than I was aiming for, due to a GPS/common sense snafu in which I drove to a “Stadium Drive” in Knoxville instead of the one in Sevierville. It wasn’t until I made a turn onto “Peyton Manning Pass” that it occurred to me that I may have driven to the University of Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium instead.

They don’t pay me the big bucks for nothing.

Within half an hour I was in the correct location, and totally psyched because the team hotel (WATCH) was located within walking distance from the stadium (the second-most important hotel amenity, behind a good internet connection). As I jauntily strolled through the parking lot in the fashion of R. Crumb’s “Keep On Truckin'” character, the first fans I passed were these guys.

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“Hey, that’s the blogger,” said the cornholer in red to his cornholing companion. The cornholer in red turned out to be Frederick Love, who had volunteered to be the evening’s designated eater (the designated eater is an individual I recruit at every ballpark, to eat the concession foods that my gluten-free diet does not allow). Psyched to be recognized so quickly in the evening, my walk became even jauntier. Even what appeared to be copyright infringement couldn’t slow me down.

Expect a call from Fresno, Grainger band.

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A nice crowd had gathered out front for this fireworks Friday, a gathering comprised of humans and bizarrely-colored bear alike.

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I made a quick stop in the press box upon arrival.

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To the right of these gentleman, taking up nearly an entire wall, is this cartoon tribute to late Smokies beat writer Nick Gates.

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Gates covered the franchise from their 1972 inception as the Knoxville White Sox (Knox Sox!) all the way through the 2010 season, when health issues forced him to retire. He died in 2012 at the age of 62.

For a variety of reasons — the ailing state of the newspaper industry chief among them, as well as the team’s ability to easily disseminate information themselves —  Minor League beat writers are an increasingly rare species these days. It was a great gesture by the Smokies to pay tribute to Gates and the nearly lost era of journalism that he represents.

Another touching tribute can be found behind home plate, as the team has installed a permanent seat in honor of POW/MIA American servicemen.

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The plaque:

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The POW/MIA seat came about as part of the club’s annual “Tribute to Heroes” promotion (the 2013 iteration of which took place Saturday, the day after I was in town). It pre-dates similar efforts not just in Minor League Baseball (Lowell, Mobile), but also the more heralded efforts of the New England Patriots as well.

All of this is to say: the Smokies were at the forefront of the POW/MIA empty ballpark seat trend, which is slowly gaining traction around the world of professional sports as a simple and eloquent way to honor those who are not with us.

A seat-based tribute of a different sort can be found in the right field section of the berm seating area.

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These seats, rickety as a Pittsburgh rock n’ roll house party, are from the team’s former home of Bill Meyer Stadium in Knoxville. The Smokies played there from their 1972 inception as the Knoxville White Sox (Knox Sox!) through 1999, but the stadium itself opened in 1955. I hadn’t been familiar with Mr. Meyer, but he enjoyed a long career in baseball, most of it based in the Minors. He played one game as a member of the 1913 Cubs and, 39 years later, skippered the worst Pittsburgh Pirates team in franchise history.

Speaking of notable managerial campaigns…

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As you may recall, Ryne Sandberg managed the Smokies in 2009, the second stop in a Cubs organization managerial journey that began in Peoria and later continued on to Triple-A Iowa. Having a Hall of Famer manage the club is a big deal, obviously, and “Sandberg Alley” is where the fans would line up for pre-game autographs.

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As Smokies Director of Entertainment Ryan Cox explained to me, “This wasn’t [Sandberg's] first rodeo. He’d sign there in front of the dugout for 10-15 minutes before every game, and then it’d be ‘Okay, I’ve got to go.'”

“When the umps walked to home plate for the manager’s meeting, that was his cue to exit,” added team president Doug Kirchhofer. “If he didn’t do it that way, he’d be there all night. There’d be no end in sight. He would do it on the road, too, and throughout the season I heard from a lot of teams that they were very appreciative of that.”

You may recall my post on the Smokies’ Sandberg Alley, which included this picture of the ribbon-cutting ceremony:

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The following season the Iowa Cubs adapted the “Sandberg Alley” idea. I was there. I took these pictures. I am omniscient.

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One blog post, so many digressions! To return to the narrative at hand, I was a honored to be one of the guests on assistant general manager Jeff Shoaf’s pre-game show.

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This interview was broadcast live over the stadium PA, and as usual I struggled a bit with hearing my words booming back at me. I guess you get used to it, but I do not like the sound of my voice unless it is rapping the Humpty Dance at a Koreatown karaoke joint.

You could say that hearing my voice is hard to “bear,” but you’d only say that in order to facilitate a lazy segue to a picture I don’t remember taking.

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I do remember the National Anthem, however, as performed by the Fresno Grainger Grizzlies band. The bombs bursting in air were punctuated by actual bomb-like air bursts.

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Folks, my loquaciousness has gotten the best of me. This post is gonna have to be a two-parter.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

The End is Near

I just wrote a big two paragraph introduction that, upon further reflection, was little more than anxiety-ridden self-indulgence. Who needs that noise? Forget all that, and let’s get to the good stuff. We now join this blog post, already in progress.

So many things have happened! Are happening! Will happen! All the time! I don’t know where to begin, but I do know when.

Now!

Last month, I gave ample virtual ink to the Stockton Ports’ “Presidential Seat Cushion” giveaway.

As I wrote at the time:

One side of the cushion features presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, while the other is of Democratic incumbent Barack Obama. And the fans are being asked to sit on the face of the candidate that they do not support.

The promotion got a robust media response, and when the gates opened the fans were ready for some face sitting action. This elderly woman was handed her seat cushion by a banana:

On the other side of the age spectrum was this young fella, now traumatized for life due to prolonged exposure to presidential seat cushion caricature.

Meanwhile, this crew was all over the political spectrum.

Another notable June promotion, and one that I also featured prominently in Promo Preview, was the Frederick Keys’ “Six Months to the End of the World Night.” As the name would imply, it was an evening of apocalyptic proportions.

To the images!

Zombies abounded at the ballpark — as promotions manager Brandon Apter noted “We’re going to keep the emphasis on family fun, but that’s not very easy when there’s blood all over your face.”

“Take Me Out to the Ballbrain”

And how’s this for a deliciously morbid between-inning promotion? A “last meal” eating contest.

Apocalyptic imagery has been everywhere in recent weeks. If you haven’t seen this terrifying/hilarious video of a Tennessee Smokies tarp pull gone awry, then it’s well worth the short time it will take to rectify that.

122,000 views and counting for “Tarp-Nami” — and no one got hurt!

And then there was the storm that swept through Yakima on July 8, which wreaked havoc throughout the stadium. Boise Hawks broadcaster Mike Safford was a witness to the carnage, and sent along the following email:

Here is a look at Yakima’s BP cage after it took a wild ride down the street in last night’s thunderstorm…

It was found on Pacific Avenue in Yakima after the storm.

I’m not sure that anyone could have curtailed a calamitous event such as the above — not even Spiderman. Last I saw that guy, he was wandering around the visiting dugout during a Charlotte Knights game.

Photo: Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Making Do With What You’ve Got

It is of course not something that I can control, but I’ve received several complaints this offseason regarding the relative paucity of new logo unveilings.

And, indeed, times have been tough (especially when compared to a particularly fertile 2010-11). This year’s crop has been limited to the Daytona Cubs, new franchises in Pensacola and Grand Junction, and two Blue Jays affiliates (Dunedin and Bluefield) who responded to changes made by the parent club. The rest have been anniversary marks, All Star Games logos, and various subtle tweaks.

But if it’s logos you want and logos you demand, I’ll do my best. For example, the Billings Mustangs recently unveiled a logo celebrating 60 seasons of professional baseball.

Writes the team:

In honor of the club’s 60th Season, the Mustangs, in association with Studio Simon, have developed a 60th Season commemorative logo, which will be featured on multiple applications and platforms throughout the season. The logo will serve as a sleeve patch for both the home and road jerseys, and it will also be available on team merchandise and souvenirs.

Keep in mind that there have been a few small gaps in Billings’ baseball history, which is probably why the words “Since 1948″ don’t appear on the logo. That would be confusing, as would the slogan “Celebrating 60 Mostly Consecutive Years of Baseball Since 1948.”

The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes will be sporting new uniforms in 2012, and it’s easy to find “fault” with them. The logo remains the same, but the team is emphasizing its affiliation with the (relatively) nearby Los Angeles Dodgers.

Try this on for seis

Team talk:

Arguably the most noticeable change will take place on the numbers in the uniform, as the 2012 uniforms will feature the Quakes’ customary “fault line” running through the middle of each digit, giving it a unique and truly “Quake” look.

An addition to the 2012 uniform will feature a red number on the lower left-half on the front of the jersey, which is also a popular feature of the current Dodgers’ uniform.

Quakes’ jerseys will have sleeves in 2012, a change from the sleeveless style worn in years past. The jersey will no doubt be “Dodgerized”, as the left sleeve will feature the traditional “LA” logo.

Missing from the pants this year will be any piping down the sides, as the new pants will be solid white, also emulating that of the Dodgers’ home pants.

I’ve put my weekly Twitter Round-Up on ice for a bit, as I’m not sure if people were getting/enjoying the concept. But I remain committed to that form of social media, and hope that @BensBiz slow march to 1500 followers transitions into a tidal wave to 10 million. I mean, let’s be honest here, I’m worthy of far more followers than I have.

Follow @BensBiz on Twitter!

One new Twitter account that should be of interest to readers of this blog is @milbstaffprblms — a compendium of, you guessed it, Minor League staff problems. A few samples:

when you see your season ticket holders more than your spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend #MiLBStaffProblems #noweekends #noholidays

the shoes under your desk covered in orange clay and the mildewy smell that accompanies them #MiLBStaffPrblms

chicken fingers are a staple of your summer diet #milbstaffproblems #fatgut

I would like to note that I am not the one running this account, despite my (subtle) presence in the @milbstaffprblms avatar.

Update! And, wouldn’t you know it, @broadcastrprobs has now emerged. Follow that one too!

Let’s end the week, as we often do, with a video. This one hails from Tennessee, land of the Smokies, and is to be lauded for its commitment to absurdity. (Another Update! Episode Two of the McGinty and Cunningham series is out, and can be viewed HERE.

Commitment to absurdity: a Ben’s Biz Blog guiding principle since 2007. Thanks for reading.

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

Bull Hiring, Ball Handling, Bow Hunting, and Bob

Tomorrow’s post will be the last of 2010, and dedicated to holiday content. But that’s in the future. What’s in the present is the year’s final blog bouillabaisse — time to throw it all in a pot and stir it up real good!

To begin, I’d like to highlight an intriguing job opportunity: The Tulsa Drillers are currently searching for a full-time Mascot Coordinator and Performer. Do you have what it takes to be the next Hornsby?

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The Drillers are currently in the process of revamping Hornsby, and have hired “mascot doctor” Dave Raymond (the original Phillie Phanatic) to assist with the process. And while the club is listing the mascot coordinator position as an internship, they are also making it clear that the potential for full-time salaried employment exists for 2012.

It’s good to see mascots get this kind of respect. Having a talented and dedicated performer in the furry suit can help a team’s marketing efforts immeasurably and lead to far greater visibility within the community.

And speaking of talented performers, check out the latest dispatch from Slugger of the Tennessee Smokies:

But with all due respect to Slugger, others out there are displaying a little more ambition in their offseason endeavors. The Tri-City ValleyCats recently announced their “4 in 24 Project,” in which they’ll renovate four local youth fields in the span of just 24 hours (!!!)

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Sez the team:

The renovations will take place in early April of 2011, with work scheduled around the clock. In order to bring the selected fields to game ready conditions, each one will have new sod placed in their infield while also seeing their pitchers mound and homeplate areas re-built.

I’ll be keeping my eye on this one like a crossbow hunter keeps his eye on a deer. And — what a coincidence! — that leads me to my next topic: Hawkins Gebbers is the latest player to be featured in the “Offseason With the AquaSox” series. If you’ve never seen a Minor League player exhibit his crossbow skills before…well, that’s about to change:

Moving on to an issue of far greater import, the Altoona Curve have announced the five finalists in their “Name the Engineer” contest.
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Your choices are Tenacious, Casey, Buster, Loco, and Choo Choo Charlie. Vote HERE, and make sure to choo-choose wisely.

Finally, the passing of Bob Feller last week got me thinking about how I had interviewed him just eight months prior. The occasion was the grand opening of the Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum in Mobile, and Feller was one of the Hall of Famers on the star-studded guest list.
This brief clip shows just how sharp Feller was, getting the most out of life at the age of 91. And while it didn’t seem like much at the time, I’m very grateful I had the opportunity to speak with a true legend of the game.
benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

What Are You Doing These Days?

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Those who work in the game of baseball quickly become accustomed to the following question: “So, what do you do during the offseason?”

The short answer, and one that seems contrary to popular belief, is “A lot.” While it’s easy to assume that the offseason immediately kicks off a months-long vacation for those who work in Minor League Baseball front offices, the reality is that baseball is a year-round business.

So, what are you doing during the offseason? Let me know, because I’m planning an MiLB.com article that will answer this question, from the perspective a variety of Minor League folks. This article might make it easier for you to justify your offseason existence to friends and family, so please get in touch via the usual channels and we’ll set something up. 

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz
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As for me, what I’m doing these days is compiling blog posts with the last of my stray in-season material. For example, did you know that the Trenton Thunder front office defeated the Lakewood BlueClaws front office in their annual “Battle For 195″ softball game? It’s true! They got a trophy and everything.

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Pictures related to inter-office softball matches usually cause my blog traffic to skyrocket, but to be on the safe side I’ll pack this post with even more scintillating content.

Remember when I visited the Iowa Cubs, and noted the long lines that would form at “Sandberg Alley” prior to every home game? Well, Ryne Sandberg managed the Double-A Tennessee Smokies before advancing to Iowa, and there was a “Sandberg Alley” there as well.

The team officially re-named the aisle leading to the home dugout “Sandberg Alley”, and had a ribbon cutting to memorialize the event:

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Some addresses cannot be found via your GPS:

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Eager Smokies fans awaiting their brush with greatness:

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Finally, allow me to remind you once again that the virtual voting booths for MiLB.com’s “Promotion of the Year” are still open (through Wednesday 10am ET). As of this writing (6:49 pm ET, 10/11/10), the results are as follows:

Birmingham Barons — 100th Anniversary of Rickwood Field: 37%
Arkansas Travelers — Jose Canseco vs. Gary Hogan: 34%
Lancaster JetHawks — Robert “Hoot” Gibson Bobblehead: 22%
Fresno Grizzlies — Twilight Night: 5%

Click HERE to vote. Click HERE for rock n roll.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter
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One More Before Hitting the Road

pa.jpgFirst things first, I am on the cusp of my third road trip of this 2010 season. As a Pennsylvania native who now lives in NYC, this one includes some pretty familiar territory:

July 10 — Lakewood BlueClaws
July 11 — Reading Phillies
July 12 — Williamsport Crosscutters
July 13 — State College Spikes
July 14 — Triple-A All-Star Game @ Coca-Cola Park (home of the Lehigh
Valley IronPigs)
July 15-17 — Attending Keystone Mascot Camp, culminating in performance at Harrisburg Senators game
Juy 18 — Harrisburg Senators (sans mascot costume)

As always, feel free to get in touch with travel recommendations as well as suggestions as to what I should call this trip. The Keystone Krawl? Pennsylvania Perambulations? Northeastern Navigations? I got nothin.’

But it’s not about me, or what I’m doing. At least it shouldn’t be. With that in mind, here’s a formidable array of content that has nothing to do with yours truly.

– The Tennessee Smokies are one of many teams to have staged a Michael Jackson tribute night this season, but theirs stood out for one simple reason: Zombie Dancers!

This is certainly the most painstaking “Thriller” recreation to take place in the Minors this season:

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Meanwhile, the Trenton Thunder’s July 4th entertainment consisted of the ultra-American combination of a Strong Man Competition and Apple Pie Eating Contest (in addition to the requisite baseball and fireworks):

The club hosted the final event of the Liberty Strongman Challenge: The Atlas Stones

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And then there was this:

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The Hudson Valley Renegades recently held a “Jim Joyce Redemption” promotion, featuring plenty of fake mustaches, “Whack An Umpire” games (as opposed to the usual “Whack an Intern”), Umpire Impersonation Contests, and Umpire bloopers and arguments displayed on the videoboard.

Portrait of the Umpire As A Young Man:

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The Lowell Spinners recently welcomed a most intriguing between-inning performer: Al Milar the Human Knot. This flexible Australian is like a cross between Rubberboy and Mad Chad.

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Spinners director of media relations Jon Boswell reports that the Human Knot is highly entertaining and very affordable. Give Jon a call if you want more info. Twice I tried to embed THIS VIDEO of the Human Knot in this post, and twice it disappeared. I’m giving up.

But not before mentioning that THIS is occurring in Little Rock, as I type this. I wish I was there.

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Okay, I think that’s enough content that has nothing to do with me. Here’s to the negation of the self!

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

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