Results tagged ‘ Trenton Thunder ’

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.

IKE.JPG
 
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:
 
trentonirsih.jpg 

The mustache side:

mustache.jpg

And the combination thereof:

combo.jpg

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.
world cup baby race 9.jpg
Baby USA was awarded with a team-autographed soccer ball, but was totally unimpressed: 
world cup baby race 121.jpg
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.

alice.jpg

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:

ice cubs.jpg 

 
icecubs2.jpg

icecubs3.jpg

icecubs5.jpg
icecubs6.jpg

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?

53burg.jpg 

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:

fogenshroudment.jpg 

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

New Jersey Reacts to the Statue of Liberty Bell World Series

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for trenton_logo.GIFIf you are anything like me, then the first thing that sprung to your mind upon seeing that this year’s World Series would feature the Phillies and Yankees was this:

“How are New Jersey’s Minor League teams going to capitalize on this match-up?”

Within 24 hours, that question was answered. And thank goodness, because I had been losing sleep over the matter. 

The Trenton Thunder and Lakewood BlueClaws are jointly staging a “Choose Your ChampThumbnail image for lakewood.gif contest, in which they are asking fans to submit World Series predictions (including winner, the number of games, and series MVP). Whomever makes the most accurate prediction will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the 2010 home opener of this year’s champion.

This is all explained in more detail HERE, so the only thing that I will add at this juncture is to submit your prediction to chooseyourchamp@trentonthunder.com

So now on to the most important matter at hand: MY prediction.

phillies.jpgThe Phillies will win in six games, thus becoming the first National League team since the 75-76 Cincinnati Reds to repeat. (Suggested headline: “November Reign”)

The World Series MVP will be Cliff Lee, who will allow one run over 17 innings en route to two victories over CC Sabathia (suggested headlines: “Simp-Lee Magnificent”, “Lee Stings”, “MV-Lee”, “Lee Sends Message to Yankee Hitters, CCs it to Sabbathia”).

I am done prognosticating, because I am an unabashed Philadelphia fan and it is therefore very Clifficult for me to do this objective-Lee. But I will close with the three most pressing items on the comprehensive “World Series Wish List” that I drafted yesterday evening while in an insomniacal stupor:

1. That fans of BOTH teams dial it down in regards to the angry tone of the trash talk. There seems to be no distinction anymore between passion and boorishness, and I have become disgusted at the level of obscenity that is tolerated (and, for the most part, encouraged) in the stands. Won’t somebody think of the children?

2.But speaking of trash talk, here’s hoping that the New York Post continues to engage infrillies.jpg nonsensical front-page Philly-bashing. Rumor has it that they are going to follow up yesterday’s image of Victorino in a cheerleader’s outfit with a picture of Ryan Howard in a tutu. 

3. Finally, and most importantly, I hope that this whole “World Series in November” thing never happens again. I often wake up sweating, out of breath and out of sorts, after dreaming that Game 7 of the World Series was played on November 5 in a 30-degree freezing rain. This is followed by the chilling realization that this disturbing vision could easily come true, and I spend the rest of the night pacing back and forth while singing the chorus of “Glory Glory Hallelujah” to calm myself down.

Here’s to a memorable World Series, one that we will be telling our grandkids about due to the fact that they had to go to bed well before the games were over. And Go Phillies!

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

Trenton Makes (Contests Involving Mustaches, Meat, and Two-Person Hand Games), The World Takes

Thumbnail image for trenton_logo.GIFThe term “less is more” is bandied about quite often in these waste-conscious times, but this aphorism rarely applies to the world of Minor League Baseball.

More often than not, “More is More” is a superior promotional philosophy. That was certainly the angle taken by the Trenton Thunder during last month’s “Weird Contest Week”, as the club staged off-kilter competitions over three consecutive ballgames and marketed it as a 72-hour exercise in absurdity.

Tuesday, August 18 was “Mustache Night”, featuring free admission for those with upper lip hair. The facial hair of prominent New York Yankees was celebrated throughout the ballgame, and a “best mustache” contest was staged as well.

The winner of what must have been a heated competition was Mr. Andy Aupperle, who sported an angular look of style and precision:

Trenton -- Mustache Contest Winner.jpg

Is it just me, or does Aupperle look like a better-groomed version of Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton?

blanton.jpg

It’s okay…you can say it’s just me.

Meanwhile, other fans extended the definition of mustache to include both “pasted-on words” and “discarded dreadlock”. And by “other fans” I mean “this particular family”:

Trenton -- Mustache Family.jpg

The Thunder have 44 photos from this evening posted on their webpage. While this one doesn’t have anything to do with mustaches, I still feel compelled to share it:

Trenton -- Mustache Night Huge Sandwich.jpg

I believe that the top and bottom layers of that sandwich contain pork roll. I am a fan of pork roll, on levels both edible and anthropomorphic.

At any rate, the above fan would have been more at home during part II of “Weird Contest Week”, as the team staged a hot-dog eating contest. Observe this well-crafted short film:

Congratulations to winner Chad Heidel, who is employed by the team as a group sales account representative. As one can see from the video, Heidel’s victory resulted in instant celebrity status. Currently, “Chad Heidel” is surpassed only by “Kanye West”, “Patrick Swayze”, and “Tom Brady Sux” when it comes to the most common internet search engine queries.

Meanwhile, I find the nonchalance of this hot dog disturbing. He is overseeing the massacre of his own kind:

Trenton -- Costumed Hot Dog.jpg

The third and final “Weird Contest” was August 20th’s “Rock, Paper, Scissors” competition.

Trenton -- Rock Paper Scissors.jpg
 

Check out these riveting action shots:

Trenton -- Rock Paper Scissors action.jpg

Trenton -- Rock Paper Scissors Challenger.jpg

Trenton -- Rock Paper Scissors Champ.jpg

It was the gentleman above who emerged triumphant, a gentleman who goes by the name of Tim Ukaj (I’m going to go ahead and assume that his theme song is “We Will ‘Rock’ You”). Here, Mr. Ukaj basks in the glow of victory:

Trenton -- Rock Scissors Paper Trophy.jpg

That trophy doesn’t appear to have anything to do with “Rock, Paper, Scissors”, but there may be some subtle details that my all-too-human eyes are unable to discern.

Either way, I like that the Thunder took three common Minor League promos and bundled them together in order to create a whole greater than the sum of its parts. Hopefully other teams will build on this concept, so that one day we may be blessed with “Weird Contest Month”, “Weird Contest Year”, and, finally, “Weird Contest Entirety of Existence.”

More is more.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

Eat Free Or Die(t)

new-jersey.gifThe Minor Leagues are a good value. We all know this.

Nonetheless, I occasionally feel compelled to write about teams that have gone beyond the call of duty when it comes to providing the ol’ “bang for the buck”. Two such teams are the Trenton Thunder and the Lakewood BlueClaws, who announced yesterday that kids would eat free at the ballpark, all year long (in this case, “free” means recieving a voucher for a hot dog, soda, and bag of chips).

At the risk of composing something that read like a reconstituted press release, I wrote an article on this season-long promotion. It can be found here.

Now, I’m no economist, but “Kids Eat Free” seems like a risky proposition. The big question is this: Will the teams gain in increased ticket sales and positive PR what they are losing in concession stand revenue?

My numbers are probably way off here, but just go along with me: A hot dog, bag of chips, and a 12 oz. soda would cost approximately $6 otherwise. And if there are an average of 1,000 kids per game, and 70 home dates a year, that’s $420,000 of edible foodstuff that is going to be given away, gratis. Up in smoke, as it were.

Nonetheless, I am in support of these two brave New Jersey entities, as they are unequivocally sending out this message to their respective fanbases: “When it comes to affordable family entertainment, Minor League Baseball is unbeatable.” In these tough times, it is absolutely crucial that this sentiment is spread far and wide, and backed up by cold, hard fact.Thumbnail image for splash.jpg

It will be interesting to see if any other teams jump on board the “Kids Eat Free” ship. Will this be a nearly undetectable ripple in the Minor League ocean, or the beginning of a very large splash? Either way, I need to work on my metaphors.

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

Gettin' That Worm

early.jpgThe 2009 season is still — horrors! — more than four months away.

Nonetheless, several teams have recently announced their 2009 promotional schedules. This simple act serves as a soothing balm to my troubled soul, reminding me and others like me that happy times will soon be here once again.

Let’s take a look at what a few of these promotional early birds have in store for us all.

Lehigh Valley IronPigsThe turnstiles clicked and whirred at a stunning pace last season, lvip.gifas the IronPigs drew over 600,000 fans to Coca-Cola Park in their inaugural campaign. But now, the honeymoon is over. Fans this year will be a bit more discerning, so the club has found a variety of ways to lure the crowds to the idyllic environs of the baseball diamond. Here are three promotions that caught my eye (and you know how painful that can be):

April 15 — Tax Day, w/ team logo checkbook cover giveaways.

June 25 — FeFe the Mascot bobblehead doll giveaway (Fe is the symbol for “Iron”, in case you somehow didn’t know that most basic of facts).

June 29 — Italian Heritage Day w/ Pizza Cutter Giveaway

nhfc.jpgNew Hampshire Fisher CatsBetween this, this, and this, the Fisher Cats have been very much in the Ben’s Biz Blog radar as of late. Well, it continues. Here are three highlights from their 2009 promo sked:

July 23 — Splash Day (this is a Fisher Cats tradition. In a recent “At Home With” column, media relations director Mike Murphy explained it as such: “Our staff dresses up as lifeguards, we set up a dunk tank, and by
partnering with area fire departments, we have “wet zones” where the
fire department spray hoses into the air, dousing specific areas of the
park to offset the heat of the summer.”)

August 7 — Crazy Burger Challenge (your guess is as good as mine…)

August 9 — Manchester Monarchs Cap Giveaway (sweet, sweet synergy with the local minor league hockey franchise)

Trenton Thunder (the only club to be honored on the floor of the New Jersey State senatetrethun.gif this offseason)

May 11 — Championship Canvas Giveaway

May 12 — Ketchup and Mustard Dispenser Set Giveaway

August 12 — Austin Jackson Action Photo Paperweight Giveaway (action photos and paperweights…together at last! Also, I believe that clips from “Action Jackson” should be shown on the videoboard on this most special evening).

Well, this concludes today’s installment of arbitrary promotional listings. Hey, teams, if you have released YOUR 2009 promotional schedule then please do not hesitate to get in touch:

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

Remember, in the cutthroat world of Minor League promotional gurus, no one wields more power than I.

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