Results tagged ‘ Trenton Thunder ’

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
.com/benzbiz

10 From ’10

coffin.jpgThe 2010 Minor League season is now lifeless and entombed, but it is my duty to preserve the corpse so that future generations may gaze upon its sepulchral splendor.

To that end, today’s post features my 10 favorite photographs from the recently deceased campaign. All of these pictures appeared on this blog at some point during the season, and are presented in the order in which they originally appeared.

Remember — it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. Let’s all take a look at once was:

Snowpening DayFreezing precipitation prevented the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers from playing their first scheduled home game, causing the players to release their start-of-the-season aggression upon hapless snowmen (note the Rattlers’ scoreboard message, a nice example of thinking ahead).


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When Ya Gotta GoThe Northwest Arkansas Naturals held a nightly “Adoptable Pet of the Game” promotion this season, and on April 11 the evening’s honored canine broke loose from her handlers…
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You can guess what happened next

Catatonic CauliflowerJerry “The King” Lawler visited Reading’s FirstEnergy Stadium, leaving no doubt as to his feelings regarding rampaging vegetables.

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Tattooed PerfectionOakland A’s hurler Dallas Braden became a household name upon pitching a perfect game, but soon afterwards returned to Stockton in order to abdominally express his hometown pride.
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(photo credit: George Steckler/Stockton Ports)

Sweets From the Sky: The Visalia Rawhide dropped candy from a helicopter following an afternoon game in May. Idyllic images resulted.
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(photo credit: Chris Henstra)

Guacamole-Topped Vengeance: San Antonio Missions fan Randy Neuenfeldt lost a race to the Puffy Taco in 1992. He wasn’t about to let that happen again.
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A Dignified EveningThis is what happened when Jose Canseco fought a 60-year-old man prior to an Arkansas Travelers game. Your winner, by decision: Gary Hogan!
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ConfidenceWe could all learn something from the preternaturally self-possessed young Trenton Thunder fan.
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Postgame for PyrosStuntman Ted Batchelor ran around the bases following a Savannah Sand Gnats game. He was on fire at the time.
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Spitting ImageThe Lake County Captains saluted the almighty watermelon in August, leading to a snapshot most adorable.
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Of course, feel free to send along your own favorites from the 2010 season. I am, as always, interested in your input.
benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

Promo Year in Review, Part Two: Theme Nights

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The Promo Year In Review train is rolling along right on schedule, making a stop today at teeming “Theme Night” station.

It was very difficult for me to narrow this category down to a Top Six, as there were a lot of great contenders. As always, I tried to put a premium on originality, and ample photo and video documentation certainly influenced the decision-making process as well.

Two more finalists will be added to this list based on reader suggestions, so get in touch via email or Twitter regarding YOUR favorite Minor League theme night of the year. Suggestions for all categories will be accepted through 10 a.m. on Monday, September 27.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz
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My six nominees, in sweet, sweet alphabetical order. Click on the Promo name to see how it was originally covered.

Brooklyn Cyclones — Jersey? Sure! Night

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Fresno Grizzlies — Twilight Night

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Lake County Captains — Please Stay LeBron Night

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Lake Elsinore Storm — Obscure Sports Night

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Reading Phillies — Salute to the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor

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Trenton Thunder — World Cup Night (with on-field baby race)

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Omissions, both egregious and understandable, are easily rectified via the power of electronic communication.

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

Superstar Sluggers and the Scantily Clad in Jersey

The baseball season is a grind, even if you’re just writing about it. Here’s some more grist for the mill, so that things don’t come to a grinding halt.

Let’s start with the Lakewood BlueClaws, whose quest to retire Ryan Howard’s number has had more twists and turns than a Chubby Checker concert on Lombard Street.

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The team had planned to retire the number of this prominent 2002 alumnus on September
2nd, with Howard himself in attendance. A Phillies make-up game was
added to the schedule on this date, however, rendering the guest of honor unavailable.

Thumbnail image for Lakewood_BusterBlur.JPGBut Howard went on the disabled list with a sprained ankle earlier this month, and he’ll be playing in
Lakewood TONIGHT as part of his rehab assignment. So the number
retirement ceremony is now back on
, honoring a player who will in fact be in the
starting line-up.

And consider this:

Howard previously rehabbed with Lakewood in 2007, knocking in four runs over two games. This gave him 91 RBIs as a BlueClaw, tying him for the all-time franchise record. He’ll have a chance to break the tie on Friday, leading to the following question: Has any player in the history of the game ever broken a prominent franchise record while on a rehab assignment with a team that is also retiring his number?

My guess would be “no.”

And since we’re on the topic of New Jersey Minor League Baseball, I’d like to bring your attention to the extravaganza that occurred in Trenton on Tuesday.

The Thunder staged “Football Kickoff Night”, featuring Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders and team mascot Swoop. 

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A jewelry-wearing eight-year-old autographing a baseball for a triumvirate of cheerleaders would have made a great Norman Rockwell painting.

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Also on the agenda was the Thunder’s second annual “Rock, Paper, Scissors” tournament, won by Mr. Rob Prakriya of Pennington, NJ and presided over by a sneering referee:

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Finally, last week’s post on Omaha’s Star Wars Night generated a tremendous amount of traffic to this woebegone corner of the blogosphere. I am nothing if not a pandering sycophant, so please enjoy two more “Star Wars Night” photos. These emanate from Lowell, home of the Spinners:

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That’s going to do it for me this week. I’ll be back in all my angst-ridden glory on Monday, ready to return to that which has swallowed me whole.

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

Head Over Heels And Other Anomalies

caught.jpgAt this moment in space and time I am more or less “caught up” in my blogging duties. This is a good thing, but I can’t shake the nagging suspicion that I’m missing something.

Because there’s always something, isn’t there?

Before getting weighed down by the contemplation of such abstract notions, I wanted to share some odds, ends, bits, pieces, and nuggets that I have accumulated in recent days. Oh, there’s some ephemera in here too. Can’t forget the ephemera.

Let’s start off with something visually striking.

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The above item, designed by the bobble visionaries at Coyote Promotions, is being given away by the Brooklyn Cyclones on August 2. As you may have noticed, it is upside down. Therefore, it is Ike’s legs that bobble while his head remains stationary.

This object is also unique in that it commemorates a player’s Major League feat (Ike’s dazzling trifecta of foul territory catches) while said player is in a Minor League uniform (the Cyclones, whom Ike played for in 2008). The Cyclones are literally re-writing history, then, putting the events of 2010 within a 2008 context. This bit of space-time continuum trickery results in cognitive disconnect, a common ailment in the world of Minor League Baseball promotions.

For instance, the Binghamton Mets are staging a “Big Lebowski” promo next week. But playing the role of Jesus Quintana is none other than Bingo the Bee.

Deal with it:
 

Meanwhile, in Lake County, the Captains held their annual star-studded “Cleveland Sports History Night.” As this video shows, the team was actually able to find a sponsor for a re-enactment of one of the worst moments in the city’s long and sad sports history.
 

I was going to expound further about the above video, but my Google image search for “Art Modell” also turned up naked “art models” and I fear that I will soon be fired as a result of this inadvertent breach of internet usage policy.

Let’s quickly proceed to Trenton then, as last night the Thunder staged “Irish Heritage Night” AND a “Mustache Bash.”

On the Irish side of the equation:
 
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The mustache side:

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And the combination thereof:

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Incidentally, may I please suggest that teams staging a Mustache promotion utilize THIS SONG?

And, please, don’t forget that an epic milestone will be occurring TONIGHT on the West Coast: the 40,000th game in California League history. As for which game will receive the honor, that’s yet to be determined. Five games will be running concurrently this evening, and it all depends on the finishing times.

But it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. There’s no better proof of that saying than active Minormike.jpg League home run leader Mike Hessman, who received a call-up yesterday to the New York Mets. The 32-year-old had hit 18 home runs this season to run up his Minor League total to 329; he certainly has nothing left to prove in the International League.

And I, meanwhile, have nothing left to write.

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

In Which Racing Babies Foretell the Future of Sport

boomer with soccer balls 2.jpgThe World Cup has captured the sporting attention of the entire globe, even gaining some traction in the famously soccer-indifferent United States.

And in these United States, the focus is on the countries competing in “Group C”: Algeria, England, Slovenia, and, of course, the U.S.
The Trenton Thunder, cutting-edge prognosticators that they are, held an on-field Baby Race in order to predict the Group C results. The four infant competitors, each representing one of the countries, had to crawl 10 feet toward a wildly gesticulating parent. 
And is it any surprise that Baby USA emerged victorious? USA is the greatest! Join me in jingoistic fervor by watching this riveting video: 

I mean, seriously, it wasn’t even close. But respect to all the other competitors, who continued to race even as Baby USA celebrated his victory by attempting to eat a microphone. 
The final results:
1. USA (Alexander Dowling, 12 months)
2. Slovenia (Logan Mushinski, nine months)
3. Algeria (Kyle O’Donnell, nine months)
4. England (Eva Munoz, nine months)
The Thunder have posted a bevy of pictures on their website. I enjoy this one, as it shows the wide range of objects that can be used to lure racing babies toward an imaginary finish line.
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Baby USA was awarded with a team-autographed soccer ball, but was totally unimpressed: 
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Before wrapping this up, I’d like to mention that “Wingstock” took place at West Michigan’s Fifth Third Ballpark this weekend. The music festival featured the truly unbeatable 1-2 combo of Jackyl and Snoop Dogg. Fans of shirtless chainsaw-wielding should click HERE for a local news report, and those desiring to see Snoop in action can do so via a variety of YouTube videos (search “Wingstock Snoop Dogg”). I’d love to post them here, but they contain objectionable language and as such would contrast with this post’s otherwise family-friendly content.

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And, hey, speaking of concerts at Minor League ballparks — Alice Cooper will be appearing at Classic Park in Lake County on September 3! It would be quite depressing to hear him play “School’s Out” so late in the summer; hopefully he’ll replace that in the set list with some deep cuts off of “DaDa“.
benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

I'm Right Here Waiting For You

tulsa_drillers.pngI am writing this on Friday evening, well aware that most of you won’t be reading it until Monday morning.

So, how was your weekend? Those football games were awesome, weren’t they? A Saints-Jets Colts Super Bowl is really something to look forward to! And how about Conan’s last show? I thought the funniest best part was when Neil Young did a song parody called “The Network and the Damage Done” his farewell speech.

And speaking of Conan, in yesterday’s (I mean, Thursday’s) post I gave credit to the Round Rock Express for being the first Minor League team to offer Conan a job. Well, the Tulsa Drillers made an offer of their own:

“[The Drillers] will make Conan O’Brien our official MC for every
Drillers game for as long as
labamba.jpg he and you all live. The Tonight Show
Band? They can play every game — even LaBamba. Andy Richter, Pierre
Bernard, Preparation H Raymond, The [self-pleasuring] Bear, and PimpBot 5000
can all join our full-time staff. Bring them all.

We are fully prepared to offer you all your very own suite at ONEOK
Field to enjoy each Drillers game. Come on, guys, “The CoCo Cabana”.
Seriously. we can make it happen.”

The full letter can be read HERE, in all its resplendent red-haired glory.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for profriverdogs.jpgSpeaking of resplendent glory, the city of Charleston, SC is positively aglow with the news that a male Statue of Liberty may be erected in the city. Of course, the RiverDogs can not let news of such magnitude go by unnoticed. Behold, the “Be Your Own Statue” contest:

As part of their new Be Your Own Fan
marketing initiative, the RiverDogs are asking all fans to help determine the
face, shape and size of the new statue. The Be Your Own Statue promotion
invites fans to submit a drawing, photograph or video letting the club know who
should be the face of this new national monument.

The winner will be revealed as part of the All
Things Male promotional night, set for Saturday, July 17, when
Charleston hosts the Augusta GreenJackets for a 7:05 p.m. first pitch.

“All Things Male” promotional night? I hope that’s better than last year’s “All Things Mail” Night, which didn’t deliver despite my stamp of approval.

And speaking of approval, the Trenton Thunder get mine for a new Twitter contest (ortwitter2010.jpg “Twitest”) announced today: Project 2010 in 2010. Here’s the scoop:

The Thunder’s goal is to have 2,010
Twitter followers by Opening Night (April 8, 2010). When we reach that
number, the Thunder will conduct a random drawing among their Twitter
followers, and give away a Grand Prize to one lucky fan. All of our
followers will also be winners because we’ll release an exclusive
ticket special just for them.

Grand prize is a jersey signed by
the 2010 team.

And speaking of 2010, that’s what year it is. But right now it’s winter, and therefore cold, and therefore our nation’s baseball stadiums are not exactly in optimal condition. Check out these pictures of Principal Park I received today from the Iowa Cubs, who stole the joke I would inevitably have made by writing “Ice Cubs” in the subject line:

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But if thoughts of Spring are more your thing, then take solace in this: The Reading Phillies announced today that their first “Gluttony Night” of the season will be held on April 9. They also announced that the evening will double as “Crazy About Reading Night” and I was like “Duh guys, every team is crazy about themselves.”

Finally, MiLB.com has a brand-new message board feature. If someone could take it upon his or herself to start a thread on how Benjamin Hill is the greatest and most overlooked writer in the entire world I’d really appreciate it. I’m too modest to do it myself, you see.

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

Making Concessions (With Your Pants On the Ground)

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Whitecaps Primary.JPGMaybe it was because of the long weekend, but today has been busy with a capital whatever-letter-busy-starts-with.

I’ve got lots of Minor League news items to share with the masses, and like a fair-minded mother I love each item equally. Nonetheless, I can’t help but lead with THIS:

The West Michigan Whitecaps are soliciting original ideas for new food items to be
served at Fifth Third Ballpark this season. Starting Wednesday, January
20, fans can submit their ideas and thoughts online regarding what new
food items they would like to see served at Fifth Third Ballpark this
summer.

Some of the more unique concessions items served in the past include
Deep-Fried Twinkies, Caesar Salads, Deep-Fried Pepsi, Apple Cider
Floats and the Fifth Third Burger, which garnered international
attention with its debut last season and will remain on the menu in
2010.

And who could forget the Fifth Third Burger, that meaty monstrosity that just last March helped turn yours truly from an obscure blogger to a slightly less obscure blogger?

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If YOU would like to submit a concession idea to the Whitecaps, then read on:

Ideas for new items will be taken through February 8 and
submissions can be made through the Whitecaps facebook page
(facebook.com/wmwhitecaps), the Whitecaps Twitter page
(twitter.com/wmwhitecaps) or via e-mail at
playball@whitecapsbaseball.com. All submissions should be accompanied
with a description and a picture, if possible.


Starting February 9 fans will be able to vote for their choice on the
new 2010 concessions items. Voting will take place on the Whitecaps
website, whitecapsbaseball.com, and will end February 23.

I came up with an idea of my own, and if I can reconcile it with the laws of physics as well as societal mores then I will definitely submit it.

Moving On…

“Pants on the Ground” has become a certifiable cultural phenomenon, to the point where even Brett Favre is doing deeply unfunny renditions of it. And when a cultural phenomenon occurs, you best believe Minor League teams are going to jump on board. Kudos, then, to the Greensboro Grasshoppers for being the first team to create a video that references General Larry Platt’s masterpiece.

nypl.JPG for the 2011 New York-Penn League All-Star Game. The winner recieves an All-Star Prize Pack as well as “a lifetime of bragging rights.” More details can be found HERE.

Proceeding Into the Abyss From Which There Is No Return — MLBlogs released its 2009 rankings today, and yours truly (me, in other words) finished 21st in the “Pro” category. This represents a significant step up from 2008’s #49 ranking, so thank you very much for reading. It is my ultimate goal to become #1 overall, not just within MLBlogs but the entire internet.

Beyond Forever — A little known fact is that I regularly churn out articles for MiLB.com. Recent offerings include pieces on Gwinnett County’s new GM, Haiti relief efforts, and a new edition of “Roadtrip“. Thanks, again, for reading.  

Oh, and one last thing — Over the past several weeks, many clubs have posted pictures of their ballparks covered in snow. That was so early January, however, and teams that are “in-the-know” have moved on to the next trend: candid shots of fog enshroudment. Behold Trenton’s Waterfront Park:

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And with that, I bid you farewell.

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

Resolved: To Stop Blogging Until 2010

Champ Chosen in Champ Choosing Competition

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for trenton_logo.GIFReaders of this blog may recall that, prior to the World Series, the Yankee-affiliated Trenton Thunder and Phillie-affiliated Lakewood BlueClaws staged a “Choose Your Champ” contest. The premise was simple: fans had to submit their World Series predictions, including winner, number of games, and eventual MVP. The fan with the winning entry was to receive an all-expenses paid trip to Opening Day 2010, at the expense of the team affiliated with the World Series loser.

Okay, that didn’t sound so simple when I was just typing it all out. But, trust me, it was. IfThumbnail image for Thumbnail image for lakewood.gif more information is needed, click HERE and HERE to peruse my prior coverage of this bombshell story.

For those of you may be unaware (newborns and the Amish, essentially), the Yankees won the World Series in six games and Hideki Matsui was MVP. But despite the fact that over a thousand people entered the ‘Choose Your Champ’ contest, no one picked all three of these occurrences. So, the Trenton Thunder resorted to Plan B: a mascot-abetted random drawing. Just try to contain your excitement while watching this Hitchcockian masterpiece of sustained suspense:

Congratulations to Princeton paralegal Marc Rosenthal, whose ability to have his name drawn out of a batting helmet remains unparalleled. The BlueClaws blog caught up with Rosenthal this morning, as befits a journalistic entity of uncommon tenacity. Click HERE to read Rosenthal’s thoughts on emerging victorious in this hotly-contested duel of World Series prognosticators.

And click HERE to become my follower on Twitter.
benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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