Results tagged ‘ West Michigan Whitecaps ’
Hey, remember that thing I did yesterday? Where I wrote a bouillabaisse blog post that included a bunch of Minor League items thrown together in haphazard fashion? Well, that’s happening again, so buckle up the brain belt and drive right in!
After an extended liaison with the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2013 marks the State College Spikes’ return to being a Cardinals affiliate. And, wouldn’t you know it? The team now has a resident cardinal. (They’ve named him Ozzie, as in Smith.)
Minor League team stadium visitation by a species representing said team’s Major League affiliate are rare, though who among us can forget that time a crusty sailor took up residency at Clinton’s Ashford University Field after the LumberKings became a Mariners affiliate?
I’ll be visiting the West Michigan Whitecaps later this month — June 27th! — and if the ultra-spicy Squeeling Pig is available in gluten-free form then I’m definitely going to give it a try. Either way, it’s the only concession item I am aware of that requires a waiver.
In this video, some intrepid members of the team give it a try. No trips to the disabled list resulted.
I’ll also be visiting the Wisconsin Timber Rattler later this month — June 21 and 22! Think they’ll give me a ride in this sweet bullpen car?
I’ve written about Daytona super-fan Front Row Joe on several occasions, but little did I know that there is a Front Row Joe equivalent in good ol’ Curve PA. This Altoona Mirror article profiles Susan Mielnik, who has attended every Altoona Curve game since the franchise’s 1996 inception. Hats off to her!
I wrote about the Fort Wayne TinCaps rather brilliant Social Media Night jerseys in this week’s Promo Preview, which of course you read already. But that’s indicative of the team’s larger approach, as the TinCaps have been taking theme jerseys to new levels of transcendence all season. Just check out these 50’s Night duds:
TinCaps creative director Tony DesPlaines writes:
Designed in-house and produced by Wilson, these jerseys featured a beautiful green argyle design with a jukebox on one sleeve and the TinCaps logo on the opposite sleeve. The team thought they looked like golfers, but from the stands they looked great.
Speaking of theme jerseys, check out what the Omaha Storm Chasers wore during their Star Wars promo.
There’s more to this than meets the eye. Storm Chasers director of marketing and promotions Ben Hemmen explains:
May the FORCE be with you… The Omaha Force that is! It’s the second annual “What If… Night” presented by Autism Action Partnership featuring a unique Jersey auction…. Plus, it’s “Star Wars Night”! Dress up like your favorite Star Wars characters, help us find “Yoda” around the ballpark, hear Princess Leia sing the National Anthem, and meet Darth Vader. The force, Omaha & Jedi will definitely be strong at Werner Park Saturday night so it should not take a Jedi mind trick to tell you not to miss out on this special evening. What If… the Storm Chasers had been renamed the Omaha Force three years ago? Head out to Werner Park to find out!
More where all of this came from? Oh, you better believe it.
Year after year (after year after year) there are two Minor League teams that can be counted on to deliver the goods when it comes to creating unique concession items. One of those teams is the Charleston RiverDogs, featured yesterday.
And the other?
The West Michigan Whitecaps, of course, who made a colossal impact with 2009’s “Fifth Third Burger” and, since then, have never looked back. Each year they present 10 potential menu additions to their presumably food-crazy fan base, and the one that receives the most online votes is integrated into the concession offerings.
This year’s addition is (lurching, arrhythmic, artery-clogged drumroll please): The Baco!
The Baco (which, when first announced, had an umlaut in its name) is, quite simply, a bacon-shelled taco. Because variety is the spice of life, here’s another view:
And because the rule of threes must always be abided by, here’s one more look.
The Baco will be sold to anyone willing to purchase one, no strings attached. But the other truly significant addition to the Whitecaps’ concession menu REQUIRES FANS TO SIGN A WAIVER. This is the “Squeelin’ Pig,” to be eaten at your own risk.
Regarding the above sandwich, the Whitecaps have this to say:
Billed as the spiciest sandwich served at any ballpark, this is a pulled pork sandwich packed with a punch of Giardinara, a sprinkle of Ghost Pepper and flaming BBQ sauce.
It’s certainly the spiciest ballpark sandwich that I am aware of (if you have a dissenting view, then please let me know). I think this deserves a closer look. I mean, not all that much closer. Just a little bit:
Okay, my picture supply is officially exhausted (although please note that I actually have multiple pictures). But even in the absence of images, I must carry on. For the Whitecaps have actually added 17 items to their 2013 concession line-up, and I’d like to alert you to some of the highlights:
Fried Mac & Jack Cheese Bites – Macaroni and Jack cheese, battered and fried. (Main Concessions Stands)
Iced Coffee – Swiss Mocha or French Vanilla creamy iced coffee topped with whipped cream. (Suites and Main Concessions Stands)
Mac & Cheese Cart – Traditional or White Mac & Cheese topped with your choice of bacon, lobster, buffalo chicken, hamburger, or chili (Home Plate Concourse Cart)
Smoked Sausage Kabobs – Seasoned and apple wood smoked sausage, potato, and green pepper kabobs (1st Base Concourse Smoker)
Moo-ville Ice Cream – Flavors such as Supercow and Cowtrails top the list of a variety of premium ice creams sold at the ballpark (3rd Base Concourse)
Red’s Apple Ale, Perrin Golden Ale, and Shock Top Apple Crisp Beers– New unique profile beers to be served throughout the ballpark. (Beer Portables)
ALSO! The Whitecaps’ website features a downloadable PDF of their Gluten-Free Menu. Great news for celiac-afflicted individuals such as myself, and something I’d love to see more teams do. Let me know if your team, in fact, does.
Oh, and because I’m the best there ever was, is, or will be, this post isn’t the only thing I’ve produced today. New Ben’s Bookshelf column out NOW, featuring my favorite Minor League Baseball books. What are yours?
The Aberdeen IronBirds must have been well-rested after the holiday weekend, because this morning they set (what I believe) is the record for the earliest new logo unveiling in the history of Minor League Baseball. Beginning at 6:15 a.m., noted baseball bros Cal and Bill Ripken (of IronBirds’ ownership group Ripken Baseball) embarked on a whirlwind early morning tour of local television stations in order to debut the team’s new logo for 2013 and beyond:
As any seasoned MiLB logo observer will be able to tell, the above mark is a Studio Simon creation. (The team relayed to me via Twitter that “the main design idea” came courtesy of Bill Ripken.) The bird seen above replaces the more overtly cartoonish anthropomorphic plane that previously served as the team’s primary logo.
The IronBird featured in the primary logo is even more prominently featured on the hat:
In a press release put out by the team, Bill Ripken employed three verbs over a five-word stretch in an attempt to explain the reason for the new logo. That’s no easy feat!
“The IronBirds are evolving to continue to remain on baseball’s leading edge,” said Bill Ripken, co-founder and executive vice president of Ripken Baseball. “This is why we wanted a fresh new look and feel to connect with families, and resonate with fans of all ages.”
Another team to have recently jumped aboard the new logo train are the Buffalo Bisons. The team’s previous blue-tinged logo made an overt attempt to highlight their affiliation with the New York Mets, but with the dissolution of that relationship the Bisons have instead chosen to assume an identity distinct of the parent club (which is now the Toronto Blue Jays).
This logo isn’t “new” so much as it is a callback to a look employed by Buffalo during the years 1988-97. Sez the team:
“It was important for us to reestablish our own team identity with our new logo. Our fans have continued to express their fondness of the red, white and blue logo from the late ’80s and early ’90s at the ballpark. We feel this new logo not only pays tribute to that history but gives the team an exciting new look for the future,” said Mike Buczkowski, Vice President/General Manager of the Bisons.
And far be it for me to gratuitously point out press release typos, but this one is really funny:
For the past four seasons, the Bisons adopted a blue and orange theme with a more atomically correct bison charging out of the city landscape.
And, finally, there are the West Michigan Whitecaps. The club has unveiled an array of supplemental looks in advance of their upcoming 20th anniversary campaign.
The “Olde English” logo will now serve as the team’s official road cap. And, wow, that alternate logo on the far right is certainly one of the more ridiculous to come down the pike this offseason. It takes the team’s long-standing primary logo and combines it with a tiger because, you know, the Detroit Tigers are the Whitecaps’ parent club. Here’s one more cut-and-paste job for you, before I end my blogging day:
“I’m excited about these new logos,” said Whitecaps president Scott Lane. “They strengthen the Whitecaps’ identity with the Detroit Tigers in a very literal way for our fans, who are also Tigers fans. I think the logos are a little more edgy and youthful and will appeal to the younger generation of fans.”
Thanks, as always, for your Ben’s Biz Blog patronage. I am evolving to continue to remain your #1 Minor League Baseball news source.
Everything’s Cyclical is what I named my (now-defunct) bike shop, but these two words apply to Minor League blogging as well. And in accordance with the natural rhythms of that particular cycle, it is now time for me to write a bit about ballpark food.
In comparison to past seasons, there haven’t been any media-baiting monstrosities unveiled as a means to generate interest in the coming baseball campaign. But, as always, there are some new concession stand items vying for your attention (and mine).
Down in Southwest Florida, the Fort Myers Miracle have premiered the Breakfast Brat (topped with bacon, egg, and a “drizzle” of maple syrup).
That looks like a wonderful concoction, but surely it’s not enough to satiate the appetite of the hungry blog reader. So for dessert, let’s head to that delicately-combined triumvirate of state names known as Delmarva. The Shorebirds are offering a “super-pretzel” this season, one that’s the size of five mortal pretzels and comes equipped with three toppings.
Apparently it is so tempting that the photographer ate some before taking the requisite glamor shot:
The team asked fans to give this pretzel a name, a query which generated an amazing 130 responses.
Some suggestions, such as “This does not look appetizing at all,” were not as clear and concise as the team would have liked. But many were, and among these “Pretzilla” was my favorite. My suggestion: Love Me Dough.
UPDATE: In response to a flurry of reader inquiries, I contacted the ShoreBirds in order to determine just what the above three toppings are. Your answer: Chocolate, strawberry, and cream cheese. AND THAT’S NOT ALL! The team is also offering a “savory” version of the pretzel, with toppings of pizza sauce, garlic butter, and nacho cheese.
Meanwhile, the Quad Cities River Bandits have asked fans to vote on what 2012’s new concession item will be. The choices are:
- Chorizo Corn Dog
- Mashed Potato Sundae
- Smoked Turkey Leg
- Deep Fried Pork Tenderloin
- Fried Ravioli with Marinara
- QC Steak Sandwich with BBQ Sauce & Cheddar Cheese
My choice is an emphatic one: the Chorizo Corn Dog. But, as is so often the case, my opinion has proven to be too esoteric. The QC Steak Sandwich is currently in first (voting ends today!), with the Chorizo Corn Dog a distant fourth.
Basically, I just wanted to write about a Chorizo Corn Dog. And it was all for naught.
One team that is no stranger to fan voting are the West Michigan Whitecaps, who, as is their custom, had fans vote on 10 potential new food items. As always, there were some interesting contenders.
How about some Scotch Eggs, followed by a deep-fried root beer float (ice cream sandwich dipped in root beer batter and deep fried)?
In college I used to call the above combo the “breakfast of champions,” but since then I’ve learned to consolidate. Now I just stick to deep-fried Scotch. But neither above the above two items will be on the 2012 menu. That honor goes to…well, I’ll let the team make the announcement, as they have done so in cinematic style.
Yes, the Westside Po’ Boy: sports kielbasa, pierogies and sauerkraut smothered in marinara sauce and loaded on a hoagie roll. It replaces last year’s winner “Chicks With Sticks” (celery, carrots, and hummus) which was — the horror! — actually good for you. Clearly, healthy eating at the ballpark is a concept that the American populace is not quite ready to embrace.
The Memphis Redbirds “Organ Donor” jerseys” got a lot of attention both here and elsewhere, and for good reason — very few professional baseball teams, if any, have ever taken the field while decked out in innards-exposing uniform tops.
It all went down on Saturday, with the Redbirds earning a 5-2 victory over the far more conservatively-dressed Tucson Padres. Prior to the ballgame, backstop Nick Derba modeled these awareness-raising duds in the dugout.
Credit for each of the next six photos: Allison Rhoades/Memphis Redbirds
Whether on the mound, at the plate, in the field, or in the dugout, the Redbirds really showed a lot of heart.
And at the end of the day, everyone learned a valuable lesson. Whether black or white, bald or hirsute, smiling or grimacing, we’re all the same on the inside.
But in another, far more accurate sense, we are not all the same. Some of us are way better dancers than others, as evidenced by this amazing video featuring touring ballpark performer B-Boy McCoy going toe-to-toe with preternaturally gifted Whitecaps hurler Alex Burgos.
And on the topic of artistically precocious Minor League ballplayers, here’s a clip of Charlotte Knights catcher Adam Ricks shredding his way through the National Anthem prior to last Thursday’s ballgame.
But for every triumphant moment in life, there is one of defeat. This sobering lesson was brought home earlier this week, with the news that Mark Hamburger had been knocked out of this this year’s (still-ongoing) Minors Moniker Madness tournament by none other than Shooter Hunt.
And you know what goes well with a large helping of Hamburger? A side of corn on the cob, that’s what. We’ll end today’s blogging (mis)adventures with Cedar Rapids’ unflinching look at the harrowing aftermath of anthropomorphic vegetable bathroom usage.
Ending on a high note, as always.
Tonight is “Thrifty Thursday” in West Michigan, featuring a plethora of food and beverage discounts. It is also “Space Alien Night.”
And judging by the looks of jersey the team is wearing, it looks like they might want offer a special on hamburgers and Jim “Beam.”
“Space Alien Night” appears to be an ambitious endeavor, as the team has the following events planned:
Pregame interview with an alien…Video clips and music from famous alien movies…Inflatable Aliens decorating the ballpark and given away as prizes…Space alien jerseys for the team and alien costumes for the staff…Recreation of the mashed potato sculpture from Close Encounters of the Third Kind…A $5 reserved seat offer ($4.50 off the normal price) to anyone that lives on Jupiter Ave….Alien themed promotions on the field…An alien autopsy display…We will reveal the answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything…Alien trivia.
I like that penultimate initiative, thrown in there like it’s no big deal: “We will reveal the answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything.” Of course, the best way to advertise such a spectacular event is through a series of absurdist no-budget comedic vignettes.
The WhiteCaps are strong proponents of the absurd comedic video, as evidenced by this recent ad for “Japanese Baseball Night”:
Japanese Baseball Night was more than just a celebration of dubious b-movie dialogue that may or may not have been of Japanese origin in the first place. Promotions manager Brian Oropallo writes that
We served some hot dog sushi, played Japanese music and baseball highlights, had a Japanese announcer for the starting lineups and an inning of PA announcing and, as seen in the video, some animal mascots from Japanese league teams. The balloon launch was the highlight of the evening.
Ah, yes, seventh-inning stretch balloons. Just one of many, many, many things I have written about through the years. Here’s how it looked:
In closing, I once again urge you to send me your introspective mascot photos. Since self-respect is an “alien” concept to me, I will continue to beg for them until I have attained at least 10.
For example, at least once a year the Fort Myers Miracle will attract national media attention by staging satirical sports promotion. Some recent highlights:
2007: Billy Donovan Night (MiLB.com’s “Promotion of the Year”)
And let’s not forget “Mike Tyson Ear Night”, “The World According to Sir Charles”, and “Don’t Be A Bengal, Be A Good Citizen Night.”
And then there was what took place last night — “Rest the Vest,” poking fun at the signature sartorial stylings of scandal-soaked Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel.
The new coach of the Buckeyes presumably will not wear sweater vests on the sidelines; so it’s time to retire them. Fans are encouraged to bring their sweater vest and place it in the retirement bin near the front gate of Hammond Stadium.
The Miracle want everyone to enjoy the “Rest the Vest” Night and even though you might not have a favorite sweater vest, if you have a tattoo then you also benefit.
Some pictures from the evening:
This all leads me to a bigger question — are topical but not necessarily locally-connected promotions worth doing? The Miracle obviously think so — after all, it put them in the national spotlight yet again. Google “Fort Myers Miracle Jim Tressel” and see for yourself.
But I’ve spoken to quite a few Minor League employees who don’t see the point in staging a promotion that lacks a local connection. If it doesn’t energize and engage the hometown fans, then why bother? National attention is all well and good, but not at the expense of alienating or exasperating the fans showing up at the ballpark on a regular basis.
It’s not all so cut and dry, of course, and this is perhaps an issue worth exploring in further depth. But, for now, thrill to the sight of a costumed Bat getting hit with a ball.
As far as I can tell, the ball went into Buddy’s mouth and stayed there. The pitcher and the catcher were wholly unconcerned, however, retrieving a new ball without so much as a second glance.
But you may want to give this photo gallery a second glance, seeing as it features images from the West Michigan Whitecaps’ “Led Zeppelin Night.”
Moving on from a uninspired segue to no segue at all, I recently came across the between-inning innovation that is the Team Trax logo race.I have yet to see one of these in action, but definitely seems like something that could catch on.
Let’s hear it for teamwork!
My recent post on the Lake Elsinore Storm experience included many photos, including shots of the team kitchen as well as the easily-angered Grounds Crew Gorilla. But never did it occur to me that I’d soon be posting a photo of the Gorilla in the team kitchen.
And yet here we are:
For reasons unknown and perhaps best left unexplained, the Grounds Crew Gorilla has gotten into the international youth fad known as “planking.” The Storm have posted a photo set on Facebook entitled “Gorilla Planks the Diamond.” Here’s a few more:
The word plank brings to mind nautical discipline which brings to mind John Paul Jones, the “father of the American Navy” but also the name of the bass player in Led Zeppelin.
And here we are. Yesterday was the West Michigan Whitecaps’ second annual “Led Zeppelin Night”, Led Zeppelin II as it were.
And when it came to theme jerseys, the song remained the same. Once again, the team took the field in these:
The Whitecaps have also done “Pink Floyd Night”, and other bands that have been celebrated in such a fashion around the Minors include the Grateful Dead, Beatles, and Rolling Stones.
This leads me to make the following demand, which like all my demands will be aggressively ignored.
Nonetheless: Do a Creedence Clearwater Revival Night! CCR are easily one of the greatest rock bands of all time and deserve Minor League Ballpark immortalization.
Abbreviations such as “CCR” are prevalent on Twitter, a mode of communication that encourages extreme brevity. And as part of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs “Social Media Night”, the team will be wearing the first Twitter-themed jerseys in Minor League Baseball history.
As part of the promotion, the team is asking fans to change their Twitter and/or Facebook profile pics to the following image:
Those who do so will be eligible to win game tickets and an autographed Ryne Sandberg baseball.
Let me close with a final demand — Read Crooked Numbers!!!
It would mean a lot to me if you did so. I spend way too much time on that column, but it’s a labor of love.
To begin today’s post, I’d like to share one of the greatest mascot photos of all time:
That sky-diving bull is Hornsby of the Tulsa Drillers. Jumping out of an airplane (why not?) was one of his last acts before undergoing a thorough overhaul. As part of an effort overseen by Mascot Doctor (and original Phillie Phanatic) Dave Raymond, the Drillers hired a full-time performer and and re-did the costume.
Meet Hornsby 2.0:
I think a good way to publicize the new Hornsby would be to make a video of him in a sushi restaurant eating soup, accompanied by the sounds of 2 Live Crew. The video would be called “Miso Hornsby.”
Never mind, sorry, strike that from the record. It’s just that if you can’t please everyone you’ve got to please yourself. And speaking of guardin’ parties, the 550-pound Ryan Howard Garden Gnome recently presided over the Reading Phillies humdinger of an Opening Night celebration.
A $10 million offseason renovation project always results in an extra-festive atmosphere!
But for many teams, the pomp and pageantry of Opening Day soon succumbs to cold, hard, reality. Emphasis on the cold. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are snowed out today, and yesterday evening West Michigan Whitecaps played a ballgame despite this being the scene earlier in the day:
But in the team’s own words: “If there’s snow on the field, play ball!”
Such frosty weather can be hazardous to mascots as well, as the Lake County Captains latest “Christmas Story”-themed giveaway dramatically illustrates. On July 23, one year after the “Skipper Leg Lamp“, the team is distributing this:
Yes, Skipper’s nose magnetically attaches itself to the foul pole.
That’s all for me today, but before I go let me note that there is a NEW PROMOTION PREVIEW column and that FEEDBACK IS APPRECIATED! I want to be the Big Meech of Minor League Baseball writers, but instead feel like Hoover because all of my writing occurs in a vacuum.
I’m sure this has nothing to do with belabored, obscure, and obsessive compulsive wordplay.