Results tagged ‘ Tri-City ValleyCats ’

Show, Meet Road. Road, Meet Show.

A very short time ago, within the same galaxy that I am currently communicating from, I wrote about the Tri-City ValleyCats’ exemplary “Show on the Road” promotion. Read all about it simply by clicking on the link provided, but if time and/or battery life and/or attention span is at a premium and you are unable to do then here’s a synopsis:

For “Show on the Road,” the ValleyCats brought their Minor League game day experience to a local youth field, complete with on-field introductions, mascot races, between-inning contests, and, of course, more.  Commence image placement:

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Soon after I my post about “Show on the Road” I received the following email from Round Rock Express director of communications Jill Cacic (because remember, you can’t spell “director of communications” without “Cacic”):

We actually put on a very similar event this year in a partnership with RBI [Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities] Austin called “Triple-A for a Day.”  We brought out our entire promotional crew, mascot, PA announcer, [on-field emcee] Ballpark Rob, the grounds crew and the hot dog vendor (can’t leave Dell Diamond without him!) down to Downs Mabson Field for the RBI Austin Kid Pitch Championship to turn their field into Dell Diamond. Former MLB pitcher and University of Texas legend Greg Swindell threw out the ceremonial first pitch….It was a really great event and made these kids’ year. There were over 200 people in the stands to watch this game when they said they normally have maybe 30-35. It’s an event that we’re looking to turn into a yearly partnership with RBI Austin.

Here are a few choice photos from the team’s Facebook photo album chronicling the event:

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Or, if moving pictures are more your thing, there’s this Reckless-ly enjoyable recap video:

In a similar vein, this past June the Beloit Snappers invited fans out to the ballpark for a “mystery event” at Pohlman Field.

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Per the team:

All those in attendance will get the chance to meet Snappers players and coaches and they’ll receive a free ticket to the Snappers sixth fireworks show of the season on June 29th. A free hot dog and soda will also be given to everyone who shows up for this secretive happening. All other information about the event is considered highly classified.

This “mystery event” turned out to be a flash mob of sorts, as the 200 or so participants headed to a nearby youth field in order to, yes, bring the Minor League game day experience to a non-traditional environment. Once again, a few photos from the team’s Facebook photo album:

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And so it went, and so it goes. I am fully expecting “Show on the Road” style events to proliferate in the year of our Lord 2014. Don’t let me down, industry. Don’t let me down.

Ben’s Biz Blog post #993 shall now cease to function.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Hey Hey My My the 2013 Season Will Never Die

On Tuesday night the Omaha Storm Chasers emerged triumphant in the Triple-A Championship Game and the Idaho Falls Chukars won the Pioneer League title. And that, folks is all she wrote. There are no more Minor League Baseball games until April 3, 2014 and April 3, 2014 is a somewhat imposing 197 days away.

It is now the offseason, then, but with one exception: this blog! This post, like the last one and like the next one and like the one after that, will be devoted to material that I wasn’t able to get to during the season due to my peripatetic lifestyle. It’ll be random, but it will be educational, and it will be fun. I insist.

Let’s start with a community-minded initiative that, in my opinion, every team should do a variation of. On June 8 the Tri-City ValleyCats staged “Show on the Road,” in which they brought the Minor League Baseball game day experience to a local youth field. The ValleyCats, in partnership with Hannaford supermarkets, picked a league that “exemplifies sportsmanship” and that league turned out to be the not-so-pithily named East Greenbush-Castleton Youth Baseball League.

Per the team’s ‘Cats Corner blog, the event “featured pregame entertainment, live team introductions, a live performance of the national anthem, and in-game promotions including fan favorites such as the Mayors’ Race, T-Shirt Tosses, Pony Hops and more.”

A few pics from that post:

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Ceremonial introductions

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T-Shirt Toss

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A triumvirate of racing mayors

And so it went. I’m going to momentarily assume that I have any sort of influence in this industry and once again insist that all teams do this in 2014 and beyond.

And now for something completely random: this article (and video), which my Mom brought to my attention, profiles veteran Ocean City (New Jersey)  PR man Mark Soifer. Soifer’s irreverent, absurd and always family-friendly promotional philosophies should resonate with anyone who works within Minor League Baseball.  For example: He once staged a wet t-shirt contest, in which participants competed to see who could throw a wet t-shirt the farthest.

Moving on, here’s a Tweet that is both self-explanatory and awesome.

Finally, back in June I received an email from David Perahia of BobblesGalore. It read, in part: 

I thought this may be a bobble that your readers would get a kick out of. We just came out with this item, only 90 were produced and each one is serial numbered.

It is the first bobblehead ever produced with 5 Mascots on one base, it is also the first bobblehead produced of the Washington Nationals new racing president – William Howard Taft.

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Five presidential mascots, one bobblehead base. Some of the greatest achievements in human history are taking place right before our eyes, and we should never forget that.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

In the Year 2013…

My current “making do with what I’ve got” logo stance continues unabated with today’s post, as the lead item is this:

For those who need things spelled out for them — this is the logo for the 2013 Triple-A All-Star Game, an annual contest which pits two historically rich but misleadingly-named leagues against one another (International vs. Pacific Coast). As you can see, the 2013 edition will be taking place in Reno. The “biggest little city in the world” is home to the Aces, who played their inaugural season in 2009.

The lines orbiting the baseball in the above logo directly reference the sculpture that greets fans upon arriving at Aces ballpark:

Photo: DAVID CALVERT/RENO ACES

The logo was designed by Brandiose, who once upon a time in a faraway and distant land were known as Plan B Branding. Those looking for more insight into the company’s philosophy and history would do well to read this supremely simile-laden interview with co-founder Jason Klein on apennysworth.com

A sample:

Q: Logo designers sometimes fight disparaging perceptions ranging from proverbial snake oil salesmen to glorified finger painters. How do you persuade clients of the tangible benefits of identity design?

A: We measure brand success several ways: retail profit, how creatively empowered the staff becomes, staff productivity, attendance, loyalty to the brand, and fame and notoriety. Alex Bogusky once said, “If nobody’s talking about your brand, it’s dead.” This plays a very important role in our process and how we measure success.

Let’s move away from eloquent analogy and distant 2013 talk and back toward the present. Or, more accurately, the recent past. Whatever. Writing 500+ segues a year is exhausting.

Have you ever wanted an expedient tour of a Major League team’s offseason publicity event? The Frederick Keys have you covered, and then some:

And how about something that could be happening in the near future. On Monday, the Tri-City ValleyCats put out the following on Facebook:

We are thinking about a Jimmy Fallon bobblehead this year at “The Joe!” He has ties to the area attending the College of Saint Rose and is a huge hit on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Would you come for a Fallon bobblehead?

“Artists” rendering of said bobblehead:

As I remarked on Twitter: “Hopefully this idea doesn’t Fallon deaf ears!”

See, there’s a reason I get paid the big bucks. But if it’s small bucks you’re into, let it be known that the State College Spikes are desirous of a new Ike!

Guess that gives new meaning to the term “deer hunting season.”

Blogger…OUT!

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

A Compelling Compendium

It’s the first Friday of 2012, and what better way to celebrate than by doing the same sort of thing I’ve always done? That’s right — it’s time for another rollicking blog bouillabaisse! This particular bouillabaisse will take the form of the third edition of the Ben’s Biz Twitter Top 10!

The purpose of such an endeavor is to provide a compendium of the most intriguing @BensBiz tweets and re-tweets of the past week (or three weeks, in this case). The tweets, as they appeared on Twitter, are italicized. Let’s do this!

Follow this guy on Twitter: @BensBiz

10. Gum included

For those living in NYC, let it be known that @EconomyCandy in Lower East Side sells wax packs of ’87 and ’89 Topps for .75 cents.

My ’87 Topps-themed post from earlier this week was met with much enthusiasm, and I was very gratified to read the various emails, Tweets, and Facebook and blog comments that were issued in response. If the post got you feeling nostalgic for that era of baseball cards AND you live in NYC, then head over to Economy Candy in the Lower East Side. It is a truly wonderful establishment.

9. And speaking of ’87 Topps and how it relates to Minor League Baseball…

RT @blueclaws: @bensbiz did feature on ’87 Topps set (25th anniversary) – Claws gave out these replicas in 2010: http://twitpic.com/83hxkk

8. Offseason drama

One of my favorite Tweets from a Minor League player, ever.

RT @murraywatts: Hey lady down the street yelling at me to get out of her yard…it’s cool, I brought a bag for the dog poop

Watts to lady: "It's cool."

7. They’ve got the Clapp!

Fans of Canadian baseball icons with hilarious names rejoice: Stubby Clapp returns as @ValleyCats mgr in 2012 http://bit.ly/AwtqiT

Hopefully, Stubby will find something to get riled up about during the 2012 season. This, from last year, was classic:

6. Dance Dance Revolution

Overlooked logo sub-genre! RT @shorebirds: Check out the new Shorebirds Dance Team Logo! http://twitpic.com/832cga

Yes, check it out:

5. The Original Odd Couple

The @RPhils Opening Day bobblehead features Ryan Howard and his best friend the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor: http://bit.ly/vZPr7y

4. What to wear while Googling “Santorum”

Tis the Season! NH @FisherCats offering “New Hampshire Primaries” merch http://bit.ly/zyUNnQ (“Primaries” was team’s original name)

3. A Most A-peel-ing Individual

This year’s best Hot Stove Banquet guest? @Crosscutters welcoming Dave “The Great Potato Caper” Bresnahan http://bit.ly/Ar5Ult

If you don’t know anything about the “Great Potato Caper,” then it’s really time to educate yourself. Click on the above link to start…

2. Christmas in July, in January

On 7/27, @LCCaptains staging 3rd annual “Christmas Story”-themed giveaway. Meet “The Pink Nightmare” http://yfrog.com/h4vd4cdj

 1. Local Hero
Speaking strictly as a fan, it’s likely that @IronPigs Jamie Moyer bobblehead (wearing HS uni) will be my favorite giveaway of 2012.
True story: Jamie Moyer’s sister was my fourth and fifth grade music teacher at Shady Grove Elementary. In fifth grade she kicked me out of chorus for chronic misbehavior, and I would now like to apologize: Ms. Moyer, I’m sorry.
benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

The Beginning is the End is the Beginning

I apologize for last week’s blog hiatus, and can only hope that absence did indeed make the heart grow fonder (as opposed to withered and discolored). My brief time spent abroad was a truly memorable and meaningful experience, and one I hope to blog about when time allows. Among (many) highlights, I made my French television debut!

But now it’s time to get back into the proverbial swing of things, via an even more proverbial headfirst dive into the frigid deep end of Minor League Baseball’s Olympic-sized swimming pool. The primary issue that we’re all dealing with right now is that the season is, in fact, over (save for the waning days of the playoffs, of course).

And when something ends, the natural instinct is to take a look back on what has transpired. This translates to season postmortem highlight videos aplenty, in locales as diverse as Fresno, Brooklyn, and Tucson. But I’ll feature this one from the Binghamton Mets, who summarized not just the season but their entire franchise history in the span of 60 seconds.

But for a truly unique season wrap-up, let me direct you to this missive from the Tr-City Valleycats: Mayor’s Race Analytics. This post should do for regionally-specific mascot race analysis what Moneyball did for oversimplified and premature obituaries on the occupation of professional baseball scout.

Writes the team:

In recent years, sabermetrics have revolutionized the study of baseball and other sports. Many other fields have also been influenced by statistical analysis, including politics and elections, to name a couple. But somehow, one very important area has been overlooked by the emerging field of analytics: politicians racing at sporting events.

Click the above link for more. And, for the record, I’ll always publicize blog entries that include apropos references to the 1876 Presidential election. Keep that in mind when emailing me.

But no matter how one parses the numbers, one fact about the Minor League life is universal: You’ve got to keep entertaining until the end. Nowhere was this more clear than in Gwinnett County, as the G-Braves kept things moving even in the midst of what turned out to be a season-ending rain delay.

And what is it about the Gwinnett Braves and end-of-season waterworks? It was just last season, after all, that loyal readers of this blog were thrilling to THIS.

The G-Braves finished just out of postseason contention, robbing them of the chance to participate in that most time-honored of playoff rituals: Politician Bets!

The Eastern League Finals are currently taking place, with the Richmond Flying Squirrels and New Hampshire Fisher Cats in a 1-1 series tie. And so much is on the line! Take it away, press release!

RICHMOND, VA – Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and New Hampshire Governor John Lynch have agreed to a friendly wager on the Richmond Flying Squirrels vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats Eastern League Championship Series. Governor Lynch has wagered that if Richmond wins, he will send Governor McDonnell a gallon of pure New Hampshire maple syrup. Should New Hampshire win, Governor McDonnell will send Governor Lynch a gift basket of Virginia Diner specialty peanuts, the official peanut of the Flying Squirrels.

Governor McDonnell, expressing his love of of peanuts to a rapt Skyler Stromsmoe

But even enemies must sometimes put aside their differences and work together, as evidenced by this hilarious photo sent to me by an embedded Northwest League contact.

Yes, that would be an in-game ensemble of Boise Hawks jersey and Spokane Indians helmet. Apparently the Hawks flat-out “forgot” where their helmets were just prior to a late August ballgame.  A search ensued, and in the meantime the hapless Boise batters were forced to go to the plate wearing the cranium-protecting duds of their avowed adversaries.

(And, pleasing only myself, I just included the phrase “In the Meantime” in a bit about helmets.)

I’ve got so much more to share, and of course I’ll be doing just that in the coming weeks/months/years/eternal re-incarnated existences. But for now I’ll close with this, which I wish I had known about in time to include in my final “Promotion Preview” column of the season.

2011′s first, best, and only transvestite bobblehead:

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Home Field Advantage

This past Thursday, the Tri-City ValleyCats embarked upon their “4 in 24″ project. This ambitious and worthwhile involved the renovation of four local youth baseball fields over the span of 24 hours. Here’s a collage of “after” pictures, taken from an excellent blog post re-capping the event.

The project was spearheaded by the team, and done in coordination with an array of corporate sponsors and community volunteers. As the ValleyCats explain:

Part of our mission as the Capital Region’s professional baseball team is to act as a steward for the game. The 4 in 24 project was a great way to further this initiative by giving back to the community that has supported us since 2002…The biggest challenge that we faced was the sheer size of this project. The ValleyCats organization has renovated a number of fields over the years but completing four within twenty four hours required a well-coordinated effort and a lot of coffee. Each of the leagues and sponsors provided volunteers that were crucial in moving things along.

The field work included “cutting out the entire infield grass, raking and grading the dirt, leveling the playing surface, laying out brand new grass and rebuilding the entire pitchers mound and home plate areas.” The aforementioned blog post includes a plethora of “before and after” photos. Here are two:


An even more current example of MiLB altruism can be found in Durham, as the Bulls are collecting food and clothing for those victimized by the recent tornadoes in North Carolina. The team offered free tickets to Wednesday’s matinee contest for all fans donating five canned goods or a bag of clothing. Here’s the resultant scene on the concourse:

As is often the case in April, poor weather is wreaking havoc throughout the world of Minor League Baseball. Yesterday’s post included snow-filled photos and video from West Michigan, and today the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers have postponed their ballgame due to an excess of the white stuff.

This picture appeared on announcer Chris Mehring’s “Rattler Radio” blog today.  It appears that the grounds crew workers may be preparing to pelt the broadcast booth with snowballs.

Meanwhile the Quad Cities River Bandits are currently playing a ballgame despite these conditions outside of the stadium (this photo originally appeared in the Peoria Chiefs “Playing in Peoria” blog).

Such is life when you play in a ballpark built on the banks of the Mississippi, but extensive renovations of recent vintage (including berm seating that doubles as a floodwall) have done much to mitigate the damage.

I’ve gotten through this post without a single joke attempt, a rarity in the world of Ben’s Biz Blog. It feels kind of good, actually, so I’ll end this before the urge to pun-tificate becomes unbearable. Thanks, as always, for reading.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Snowman Decimation Immortalized (and Other Seasonal Happenings)

If there’s one thing that we can all agree on, it’s that a lot of snow has fallen from the sky this week. For Minor League teams, it can be tough to capitalize on a weather phenomenon so antithetical to ideal baseball conditions. But that doesn’t mean they’re not going to try!

The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are certainly capitalizing, as now is a most apropos time to unveil a snow-themed Opening Day bobblehead. 

It’s Scooter Vs. The Snowman!

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This truly unique item was inspired by the Rattlers’ Opening Day snowout this past season. With no game to play, the players took to the snow-covered field in order to let off some steam. And during this unsupervised free time, Scooter Gennett unleashed a brutal attack upon a hapless snowman.

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And now, that moment has been immortalized for all time! The “Scooter Vs. The Snowman” bobblehead will be given away to all fans attending Opening Day at Fox Cities Stadium on April 7. Hopefully it will inspire a “player vs. inanimate object” bobblehead subgenre.

Gennett’s snowman attack took place more than nine months ago, but fans of the now will be gratified to know that there are plenty of more recent snow-covered ballpark photos floating around the internet. My colleague Danny Wild has done the world a tremendous service by compiling many of them in an MiLB.com photo album, but it’s the ones from Spokane that really stand out.

Avista Stadium will be hosting an outdoor junior hockey league game this weekend, resulting in a fairly stunning ballpark transformation. 

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A far more informal winter sport conversion can be found at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, as Tri-City ValleyCats assistant general manager Matt Callahan recently took to the outfield slopes. Do not try this at home (assuming your home is a Minor League Baseball stadium).  

And then there’s snow-covered FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading, a 60-year-old facility in the midst of an extensive $10 million renovation project.

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The snow has temporarily slowed down the pace of the project, giving stadium denizen Ryan Howard Garden Gnome a rare opportunity for wintertime solace and reflection.

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It’s like the old saying goes: There’s snow place like gnome!

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

Unlikely Scenarios Amidst An Array of the Usual

Derek Jeter’s more-contentious-than-expected contract negotiations have led some to wonder if the unthinkable could happen, with the iconic Bronx superstar signing with another team.

But what if Jeter really wanted to defy conventional wisdom? What if he decided to suit up for a Class A Short Season Astros affiliate?

Well, that would look like this:

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The above visual was created by the Tri-City ValleyCats, and inspired by a tongue-in-cheek article in the Albany Times Union.

Why not, right? Stranger things have happened, although at the moment I’m unable to come up with one. What I am able to come up with is information on a completely unrelated topic.

A week after unveiling their new logos, the Altoona Curve have done a further bit of unveiling. This time, the uniforms:

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More info, and links to more uniform visuals, can be found HERE.

Meanwhile, I’d like to note that the Great Lakes Loons have produced the offseason’s first “snow-covered field” photo. Over the coming months, there is going to be PLENTY where this came from.

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 But if it’s plenty you want, it’s plenty I’ve got. Click HERE to listen to Gameops.com’s “Best of 2010″ audio roundtable, with myself as one of the distinguished panelists. Joining me in discussion was sports entertainment guru Pat Walker and Minor League front office free agent Scott Carter (the Cliff Lee of this year’s crop).

And thanks to Gameops founder Jon Cudo, who put the whole thing together.

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That’ll do it for me today, but I’ve got big plans for tonight: Ozzy at Madison Square Garden!

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

Big-Headed Politicians

Those who like to bet on horses are accustomed to seeing racing mares, but it took the Tri-City ValleyCats to bring racing mayors to the masses.

Perhaps inspired by the Washington Nationals’ popular Racing Presidents, the ValleyCats have recently initiated a nightly competition between a triumvirate of municipal government leaders. Each racer represents one of the Tri-Cities, naturally: Albany mayor Jerry Jennings, Troy mayor Harry Tutunjian, and Schnectady mayor Brian Stratton. While not on the field, the three are apparently quite friendly with one another:

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(The above picture, as well as those to come, were lifted from the excellent blog of ValleyCats’ assistant gm Vic Christopher).

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The racing mayors have all been endorsed by their real-life counterparts. Here, Jennings and Jennings get to know each other.

But which is which?

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Schmoozing has its place, but these guys are all business once the “Tri-City Hall Mayoral Race” begins:

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This isn’t the first time that the ValleyCats have tied the mayors of the Tri-Cities into their promotional efforts. In 2008, each of the three politicians was honored with his own bobblehead.

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And speaking of bobbleheads, allow me to close this post with an exceedingly vertical picture of a fine specimen that is being given away in Round Rock on Wednesday.

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Rojo!

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