Results tagged ‘ West Michigan Whitecaps ’
Greetings from Orlando, FL, home of the 109th Annual Baseball Winter Meetings!
And helloooooo industry!
To the extent that the Winter Meetings exist in the popular imagination, they are viewed as a simmering cauldron of Major League hot stove activity. And while the lobby of the Disney Swan resort is admittedly teeming with agents, scouts, managers, and big-name sports media personalities, the bulk of the attendees are associated with good ol’ Minor League Baseball.
But the assembled media cares not about such individuals. And why should they? Minor League business news doesn’t sell. Right guys?
But who needs them? I’ve got you, whoever you may be. And what I’d like to tell you about is my time in Orlando thus far.
Upon arriving on Sunday evening, I was whisked away in a Party Bus and driven to Disney property. Anyone have any idea who these people were and how this happened?
But all that’s in the past now. My day started bright and early at the Bob Freitas Business Seminar, designed to “bring together the best minds in the industry…and making their thoughts available to the industry as a whole.”
Last year I was able to present at the Seminar. But my mind isn’t the best these days, so this year I simply existed as audience member. Then, I wrote about it.
One of the highlights of the morning was courtesy of Jim Jarecki and Steve McCarthy of the West Michigan Whitecaps. They gave an informative and highly detailed presentation on specialty theme jerseys which I found to be very interesting (the team does 10 each year, five for a cause and five for fun).
Here’s McCarthy and Jarecki in action, modeling their wares (Led Zeppelin and ’70s Night, respectively).
Some much better shots of the Seminar, courtesy of MiLB.com’s photography wunderkind Danny Wild.
This is Brooklyn Cyclones general manager Steve Cohen, detailing “Promotions That Pop.”
In between the morning and afternoon portions of the Seminar was the Opening Session, featuring league by league executive of the year awards and speeches by Minor League Baseball president Pat O’Conner, vice president/COO Tim Purpura, and vice president Stan Brand. More on this can be found in my article on MiLB.com, which will go live any minute now. Go check it out, as some interesting stuff was said.
But save for the feverish typing (and even more feverish cursing of the internet connection) of the assembled media hordes, Day One has largely come to a close. We’ve now arrived at the portion of the evening in which attendees enjoy expense account steak dinners at Shula’s and then adjourn to the hotel lobby for alcohol-fueled conversation within the clamorous din of the Swan Lobby.
Check back in Tuesday afternoon for more, as I’ll have lots of info from the Trade Show and beyond. In the meantime, I’ll be hanging out in the Coronado, listening to THIS.
To the itinerary!
9/2 — Omaha Royals (their last-ever game in Rosenblatt Stadium!)
9/3 — Iowa Cubs
9/4 — Burlington Bees
9/5 — Quad Cities River Bandits
9/6 — Kane County Cougars
Feel free to get in touch with any content suggestions or inside tips regarding the teams/cities in question. And if you’ll be at any of these games, please say hello. As always, I’ll be the guy in the shirt.
And not only will tomorrow be the Omaha Royals’ last game at Rosenblatt Stadium — it may be their last home game as the “Omaha Royals.” In conjunction with their 2011 move to nearby Sarpy County, the organization is currently staging a “Name the Team” contest. Over 400 names have been suggested thus far, let’s go to the press release:
Names relating to the weather and to the military have been leading the way so far. Some of those suggestions include Storm, Hail, Heat, Blizzard, Twisters, Bombers and Commanders. Some fans have just tweaked the name to vary slightly from Royals, suggesting Monarchs and Kings. Other fans, no doubt sad to see the demise of Rosenblatt Stadium following the 2010 season, have submitted the team name Blatts for
I would like to suggest a return to the moniker employed by the city’s long-defunct Western Association franchise: the Omahogs.
And while I am excited to be visiting the Iowa Cubs on September 3, I’m disappointed that I will not be in attendance for September 5′s giveaway: the Player to Be Named Later Bobblehead.
Finally, one of the sport’s most unsung characters gets his due:
A parody video in which a G-Funk classic is repurposed as a celebration of a California League baseball team. It’s Bo’z N Da Hood with “Nothin But A Storm Thang”:
The lyrics to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” are incorporated into one of the verses in the above video, but for a truly unique interpretation check out this adorable dispatch from Lansing.
It’s a good thing that Ryan was in Lansing and not West Michigan, because he would probably have been terrified by first pitch honoree Ronald McDonald:
(photo credit: Emily Jones)
Sweet dreams! I’ll be sending out dispatches from the Midwest as soon as I can.
Let’s change things up today. Instead of a rambling preamble, I’m going to go straight to a picture from Peoria:
This man’s freakishly florescent facial hue comes courtesy of one of America’s most essential and beloved foods: Mac and Cheese. Lucas Smith, the Peoria Chiefs’ events and entertainment manager, explains how this all came about:
Of course, you can’t hold “Mac and Cheese Night” without a “Mac and Cheese Eating Contest.” The details on that:
Each bowl held eight pounds of Mac and Cheese mixed with hot dogs
and a side of peanuts. (Wednesdays are our Free Hot Dog and Peanuts
nights). The winner ate over three pounds of mac and cheese in a half
hour. After the half-hour was up, two friends of the guy with the hat
decided that a full stomach wasn’t enough, so they buried his face into the hot
mac and cheese. It was one of those “had to be there” moments.
More “had to be there moments”, which, more than anything, convey how unfun it is to participate in an eating contest:
Much lighter promotional fare could be found the very next evening, as the Chiefs staged Motown Night. Fresh off the success of their “Chiefstreet Boys” performance, a quartet of Peoria players took to the tunnels and engaged in an exuberant choreographed dance routine.
Corey Martin, Luis Flores, Anthony Giansanti and DJ Fitzgerald, I salute you:
Another worthwhile video to emanate from the eminent Midwest League is this time-lapse look at four very busy days in the history of West Michigan’s Fifth Third Ballpark. Witness a baseball game, the Great Lakes Irish Music Festival, and three concerts, all in under two minutes:
Watching time lapse videos generally evokes an existentialist malaise in the viewer, but depressive feelings precipitated by the inexorable passage of time writ large are no match for the in-the-moment joy provided by the Memphis Redbirds’ new rally mascot:
I don’t possess any additional information about this brine fellow, but that’s not going to stop me from assuming his name is “Dill-bert”.
I just studied Led Zeppelin’s entire discography and yet the only other potential headline I could come up with for this post was “Whole Lotta Glove”. So with wordplay opportunities already exhausted there’s nothing left to do but get to the point.
And the point is that on this special evening the team took the field in Zeppelin-themed jerseys.
Tea For One:
Led Zeppelin IV:
For those scoring at home, this marks the second time in as many seasons that the Whitecaps have enjoyed a walk-off victory on a rock and roll theme jersey night. In 2009, Pink Floyd was the honored group:
Finally, the Lake County Captains are one of two Cleveland-area teams staging a “Please Stay Lebron” Night on July 1. I’ll certainly be providing more info on this in the near future, but among other things the team will be changing its name to “LeLake LeCounty LeCaptains.”
Hopefully the evening will include plenty of James Gang played over the PA.
The Stockton Ports announced their “Legends of Baseball Memorabilia Raffle” on Tuesday, a charitable initiative with prizes that are nothing short of spectacular.
The raffle begins on Monday, and continues all the way through August 19. Tickets are expensive at $20 a pop, but this seemingly exorbitant price tag is merely a reflection of the prizes the club is offering.
That’s the grand prize right there — a display featuring autographed baseballs from the top 10 home run hitters in Major League history (the photo shows just nine balls, I’m sure the 10th is just resting in a climate-controlled, hermetically sealed vault). Four other prizes are being offered in the raffle, all proud members of the signed ball family. These include a sphere autographed by eight members of the 3000 Hit Club, an orb with the John Hancock of five members of the 500 Home Run Club, a globule inked with the autos of Willie, Mick, and The Duke, and a cowhide pellet inscribed by Joltin Joe D.
Proceeds benefit a range of charities, including the Ports’ Anchor Fund. Furthermore, the team has opened up the raffle to the rest of the California League. Clubs may purchase tickets from the Ports on consignment, with the remainder of the proceeds going to the charitable organization of their choice.
To summarize: Given the quality of the prizes, the length of the raffle, and the league-wide scope, this raffle has the capability to raise a LOT of money. It will interesting to see just how much.
Odds, Ends, Sods, Scraps, Assorted Minutiae
— The big story in baseball this week has been the passing of legendary announcer Ernie Harwell. He has been eulogized far and wide, and will be missed. The Eugene Emeralds sent out a press release reminding fans of Harwell’s connection to the Ems, which ties into the oft-told anecdote regarding how the broadcaster was once traded in exchange for a catcher.
– Earlier this week, I posted a video in which the West Michigan Whitecaps promoted their “Salute to Sweatpants Night”. Well, the team is at it again. Brandon Inge Bobblehead Night is tomorrow, prompting an elaborate contest amongst staffers to see who is the most Inge-like.
– Finally, I would like to suggest that more Minor League players adopt the look currently sported by Orioles farmhand Ryan Berry. With that combination of mustache, glasses, and hairstyle, it’s going to be tough for him to get through the Minors without a Ryan Berry Look-A-Like Night staged in his honor (I’m looking at you, Bowie Baysox).
I’ve got a lot of West Michigan Whitecap news for you today. Like the Fifth Third Burger, it might take a while to digest. But, unlike the Fifth Third Burger, you won’t regret attempting to consume it one sitting.
You remember the aforementioned Fifth Third Burger, don’t you? The massive meat patty made international headlines last year (really), elevating the Whitecaps to Minor League concession stand royalty. The team knew they had their work cut out for them when it came to a 2010 follow-up, so, naturally, they turned to the fans for suggestions. 10 foodstuff finalists were chosen, with an online vote determining which would be served at the ballpark this season.
23,000 total votes were tallied, resulting in what the team describes as “the tightest race in food voting history.” It was so close that a virtual tie was declared, meaning that both the Cudhigi Yooper Sandwich (6,984 votes) and the Declaration of Indigestion (6,982 votes) will be available for fan consumption.
“We didn’t want a Bush vs. Gore in Florida situation, so we went with both”, explained Whitecaps director of marketing and media Mickey Graham.
The Cudhigi Yooper
For those not “in the know”, “Yoopers” are people who live in Michigan’s upper peninsula region. “Cudhigi” is a famous brand of sausage that emanates from said region. Put these two foreign-sounding words together, and you end up with a sandwich that consists of a sausage patty slathered with cheese, pizza sauce, peppers, and onions.
The Declaration of Indigestion
“When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to disband from the tyranny of healthful eating, they should consume the Declaration of Indigestion,” reads the Whitecaps press release.
Such patriotic and flowery rhetoric probably brought a tear to your eye, so wipe it away and then check this out: a half-pound foot long hot dog covered with steak, cheese, pepper, and onions and served on an colossally-sized roll:
As if all of the above info wasn’t enough, the Whitecaps announced that the following items would also be added to concession stand menus in 2010: potato wedges, sweet potato fries, onion rings, Texas steak nachos, garlic & cheese breadsticks, Texas toast barbeque sandwiches, corn dogs, Italian grinders, boneless Buffalo wings, chocolate-covered cheesecake, fried ice cream and funnel fries.
“We’ll never get rid of it, thanks to you guys,” said Graham, with “you guys” in this case referring to the large hamburger-obsessed media. (How’s that for a sandwich? The fourth estate loves the Fifth Third).
And now I can finally get to my next piece of Whitecap news, which is tangentially related to the food and beverage beat: The inaugural “Wingstock” festival will be held at Fifth Third Field on June 12, and the headliner is none other than Snoop Dogg! To my knowledge, this is the first time that the legendary rapper has played at a Minor League stadium since he captivated Brooklyn’s KeySpan Park (now MCU Park) in 2008. I sincerely hope this is the beginning of a Minor League Snoop golden age.
In one of the most deeply idiosyncratic musical billings the world has ever seen, Snoop’s support act on this evening of chicken wing-fueled mayhem will be…
wait for it…
Jackyl. A band best known for its lead singer’s chainsaw prowess.
To summarize: An iconic West Coast rapper and an AC/DC-inspired chainsaw Southern rock band playing a wing festival held at a Minor League Baseball stadium in Michigan.
This is quite possibly the most American event of all time.
Things have been slow on the news front this week, leading to irrational fears that I’ll never have anything interesting to write about ever again. But, as usual, I have been amply provided for in my time of need.
The West Michigan Whitecaps have released their 10 finalists for 2010′s marquee new concession item, and it does not disappoint. As you may know, the team has a reputation to uphold in the category of “attention-getting concessions.” 2009′s big (and I mean that literally) addition was the Fifth Third Burger, a monstrous concoction that ended up becoming a multi-galaxial phenomenon.
Over the last three weeks, the Whitecaps have been soliciting concession suggestions from fans. The following list represents what they felt was the “best”, which in this case is even more subjective than usual. Behold:
1. Chicken and Waffles – Why did the chicken cross the road? To lie down on a bed of waffles, get smothered in gravy and get eaten by you, of course!
2. Chili Mac Tacos – Think comfort food that took a trip to
Mexico. Creamy mac and cheese is smothered in chili then loaded into a
hard taco shell to create a taste experience that won’t soon be
3. Chocolate Covered Bacon – This little piggy went to market,
this little piggy stayed home and this little piggy dunked itself in
chocolate to become a delicious treat for Whitecaps fans!
4. Corn Dog o’ Plenty – If the Idaho Christmas Tree isn’t enough
corndog for you then try the Corn Dog o’ Plenty. A full half-pound,
footlong frank that is battered and deep fried to make one gigantic
5. Cudighi Yooper Sandwich – If you don’t know what this one is
then you haven’t been to the Upper Peninsula. Cudighi is a spicy
sausage found throughout the U.P. and we might bring it down to West
Michigan. A sausage patty, smothered in cheese, pizza sauce, peppers
and onions could grace the concession stands of Fifth Third Ballpark.
6. Declaration of Indigestion – When in the course of human
events it becomes necessary for one people to disband from the tyranny
of healthy eating, they should consume the Declaration of Indigestion.
You see, all sandwiches are not created equal as this half-pound,
footlong hot dog is covered in a philly cheese steak (steak, cheese,
peppers and onions) and served on a gigantic sub roll. It is certainly
your unalienable right to consume one of these in the pursuit of
7. Idaho Christmas Tree – Why waste your time eating all of your
favorite items separately? This is a batter-dipped hot dog rolled in
french fries and deep fried to create the perfect limbed link on stick.
8. Poutin – A real treat from North of the border. The French
Canadians have done it again, and this time with gravy. Fries, fried
cheese curds and gravy make up this delectable side dish. Tres bien!
9. The Pink Panther – Not sure if this guy is named after the
famous detective or the insulation, but either way it’s delicious. Take
a hot dog bun, slather it in icing and fill it with pink cotton candy.
Maybe drizzle some root beer syrup over the top for good measure. It’s
the dessert dog you’ll have to try this summer!
10. Twinkie Cheese Dog – This dog can survive any disaster and
it might cause a few of its own. Simple – a hot dog laid in a Twinkie
covered in cheese. Yum.
Twinkie Cheese Dog? Now where have we seen that before? I wonder…
Voting runs through February 23, so be sure to make your voice heard. And while it’s still very
But a deep-fried combination of hot dogs and french fries? That’s pure brilliance, and if executed properly it will be an advancement in American society on par with the polio vaccine.
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
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
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?
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
email@example.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.
“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.
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:
And with that, I bid you farewell.