Results tagged ‘ Williamsport Crosscutters ’

Mascot Love We Deliver

I stand before you today in order to deliver Minor League mascot Valentine’s Day photos.

The public has demanded them, and I am certainly not one to ignore the pleas of the populace. Therefore, that is precisely what this post shall be dedicated to. But first, a quick request…

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Inspired by the copious snow that has been deposited all over the country as of late, I have decided to do a story on extreme weather and the groundskeeping challenges it presents. In addition to teams that have recently been hit with snow, I’d be interested in speaking with anyone who has had to deal with drought, flooding, hurricanes, and, of course, locust plagues. I’ll most likely have to contact teams individually today and tomorrow, but that’s a hit-or-miss proposition. Consider this post an invitation to get in touch — benjamin.hill@mlb.com

Okay, we now return to regularly-scheduled programming: Minor League mascot Valentine’s Day photos.

Because, as you surely know, there was a lot going on. And how can I lead off with anyone but Boomer, who is surely the suavest mascot in Minor Leage Baseball? Here, Boomer spreads some joy to the youth of Williamsport:

Williamsport -- Boomer V-Day.jpg

Boomer’s not the only mascot named Boomer. There’s also Boomer of the Trenton Thunder, who is not at all terrifying, not the least little bit:

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In Lowell, the Spinners sent out a star-studded caravan to a local elementary school, where Valentine’s Day cards were made. These cards were then delivered to a VA hospital (apparently, Canaligator and crew got hungry along the way):

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In Portland (ME), Slugger made the rounds on behalf of the Sea Dogs:

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The Gwinnett Braves sent out the ever-seductive Chopper, who never fails to impress the ladies:

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Buster “rose” to the occasion in Lakewood:

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Sandy the Seagull swooped into a Brooklyn elementary school:

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A very endearing video of Sandy’s delivery can be viewed HERE.

But how could I close anywhere other than in Reading? As usual, Screwball did his thing:

ValentinesScrewball.jpg

But this year, fans had options. For the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor was also pressed into service. Here’s how it went down:
 

Now if that wasn’t romantic, then I don’t know what is. I mean, seriously, I don’t. Can anyone help me out here?

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

Special Delivery

vday.pngIt was just yesterday that I wrote “Valentine’s Day can wait.” But that was yesterday, when men were men, women were beautiful, and blogging material was plentiful.

But today? Today I got nothin’. Therefore, it’s time for my first installment of Ben’s Biz Blog Valentine’s Day coverage. Thus far, I am aware of 10 teams that are offering mascot delivery services on Valentine’s Day. But, as we know, not all mascots are created equal.

What follows are snapshots of the costumed characters that will be personally delivering Valentine’s Day gifts. And for you, the reader, I have a simple question: Which of these mascots do you think is the most romantic, the one most likely to jump-start a truly memorable Valentine’s Day? Please let me know via email, Twitter, Facebook, or, of course, the perpetually neglected comments section. I’ll compile the results and post it on the blog come Monday. Here are the candidates:

Chopper (Gwinnett Braves)

Gwinnett Chopper.jpg 

Hickory Crawdads — Candy or Conrad (Your Choice)

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Lake County Captains — Skipper

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A Video and Two Photos, Preceded By Complaining

overload.jpgIt’s the middle of December. Nothing should be going on in the world of Minor League Baseball, and I should be passing my day by watching Weird Al and AC/DC videos on YouTube.

But this is not the case at all. I am working on new editions of Road Trip and Path of the Pros, in addition to a news piece about an upcoming logo and team name unveiling. Plus, I’ve got a backlog of blog topics to write about, not to mention lots more to share from the Baseball Winter Meetings

And on top of all that, the ol’ inbox is getting lit up worse than AJ Burnett on three days rest. Jeez, if I had known that this little niche of mine required actual work I would have stuck to temp jobs and organ donation.

But this blog requires new and exciting content no matter what, and insufferable soliloquies on the state of my professional life just don’t cut it. That’s why I am pleased to present you with a new offseason video series!

Let us all give a hearty welcome to the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, who recently debuted an “Office” parody entitled “The Offseason”. Take it away, embedded video:

It’s tough to pull off the deadpan pseudo-documentary style of “The Office”, but the Timber Rattlers are off to a good start. And because I appear to be the only person who keeps track of such things, I would like to note that this marks the second time in a week that an offseason video series has featured a scene in which an unfortunate Minor League front office member has attempted to use the bathroom immediately after the mascot (click HERE for the other instance of this emerging trend).

Oh, you want more, do you? Well, all I can provide right now are these pictures of the inimitable Boomer stopping traffic on the streets of Williamsport in order to raise money for the United Way.

Williamsport -- Boomer -- Traffic 1.jpg 

Williamsport -- Boomer -- Traffic 2.jpg

I admire Boomer, because my disheveled attempts to solicit money from random motorists have traditionally been far less successful.

In closing, don’t listen to my complaining about how much work I have to do. Send me an email. I will respond.

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

The Autumn of Our Discontent

scream3.jpgMy recent headfirst dive into the treacherous waters of social networking has yielded a virtual treasure trove of blog-worthy material. Specifically, I am now privy to a seemingly endless cavalcade of team-produced videos.

What follows are two videos that I would like to share with loyal readers of this sputtering, but never completely stalled, blog. Like the Fresno Grizzlies’ “I Hate the Offseason” and the Omaha Royals’ “My Offseason Life is Average”, these videos portray the pervasive sense of boredom and unease that accompanies the cessation of on-field play.

First up: The West Virginia Power front office does their best to re-create the game-day experience, with less-than-optimal results.

Also suffering from a mild-to-moderate case of mental illness is Grover, on-field MC for the Lake County Captains:

The above two videos make it abundantly clear that times are tough right now for those who make their livings in baseball. Thankfully, I have just come across an image that is sure to provide at least a momentary uplift to the mentally downtrodden. Boomer! Arrested for some reason!
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Obviously, this picture results in more questions than it does answers. I’ll go check the Williamsport police blotter in order to see what Boomer’s offense was, and report back in the near future with my findings.

In the meantime, if you have stories pertaining to offseason existentalist angst and/or mascot run-ins with the law, then please get in touch immediately:

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

2009: The Year in Photos

cam.jpgI am ready to embrace the offseason. I really and truly am. But if I come up with a blog post idea that will let me re-visit a time when Minor League Baseball was actually played every day, then you best believe I’m gonna do it.

And today, that idea is this: to present my favorite photos that appeared on this blog during the 2009 season. I did not apply any specific criteria when making these selections, other than to ask myself “Does this photo make my inner-most being cry out in rapturous wonderment?.” If the answer was in the affirmative, then you will see it listed below. Hopefully, your innermost being will respond similarly.   

What follows are my top 10 pics of the year, listed in the order in which they appeared on this blog.

Master Yogi Berra Lets LooseOn April 21, Greensboro Grasshoppers canine mascot Master Yogi Berra had a bit of an on-field accident. The following is one of two pictures I obtained of the incident (the “clean version”, if you will):

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(Photo credit: Dano Keeney)

Ceremonial CentenarianOn April 24, Round Rock Express season-ticket holder Chris Nocera threw out the first pitch. She is 102 years old — and very determined:

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Cream Stick Gets CreamedThe Akron Aeros nightly “Cream Stick Race” was, by all accounts, a chaotic free-for-all. Here, Vanilla feigns innocence immediately after pushing Maple to the ground:

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Ready, Set, SwallowSword swallower extraordinaire Dan Meyer prepares to ply his trade in Huntsville. I was lucky enough to be in attendance for this, a post-rainout performance for an audience of 15.

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A Moo-ving ImageA key component of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers’ “Salute to Cows” was a mooing contest. The following picture depicts the eventual champion as he readied himself for the moo of his life:

timber rattlers moo contest.JPG 
 

Presidential Self-Love The Brookyln Cyclones gave away Obama bobbleheads as part of “Barack-lyn Cyclones” night, and the commander-in-chief went out of his way to let the crowd know that he approved:

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(photo credit: George Napolitano/Brooklyn Cyclones)

An A-peel-ing Photo –  As part of the Idaho Falls Chukars’ “Potato Night”, so-called “Spuddy Buddies” were thrown into the crowd. It was a thing of beauty:

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Mascot MassageIn Birmingham, even costumed characters need the occasional rubdown:

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Belly Quickly BustedThis guy couldn’t even make it out of the first round in the Williamsport Crosscutters’ annual “Belly Buster” contest:

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Owlz Well That Ends Well Hootz and Holly tied the knot in a dramatic post-game ceremony in Orem, resulting in a surreal and oddly touching spectacle:

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If you have any photos from this past se
ason that you think are worthy of inclusion in this blog, then by all means get in touch. I’ll be waiting patiently for your correspondence.

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

All But One Belly Busted En Route to the Pink Pig

Thumbnail image for crosscutters.jpgThe popularity of competitive eating over the past several years has certainly impacted the Minor League promotional landscape. The likes of Joey Chestnut and Kobayashi have become bona fide celebrities, and many teams have capitalized on this trend by staging contests featuring hot dogs and other such All-American foodstuffs.

But no team can match the Williamsport Crosscutters’ annual “Belly Buster:, an eating contest of truly epic proportions. The promo is the brainchild of Crosscutters’ marketing guru Gabe Sinicropi, who last year went so far as to deliver a presentation on the “Belly Buster” at the annual Minor League Baseball promotional seminar.

Courtesy of Sinicropi, here are some of the more pertinent rules:

        
Contestants have to consume designated amounts
of food during each inning. (starting in the 2nd inning)

        
If the contestant cannot finish the food in a
full inning, then the contestant is eliminated from the contest.

        
Food can be eaten starting with the announcement
of the first batter of the inning. Contestants must stop eating when the 3rd out is recorded in the bottom
of the inning.

        
Contestants are not allowed to take bathroom
breaks or leave the contest area for any purpose.  If they do, they will be disqualified.

        
The last person left will win a VIP Trip for 2
to the NYPL All-Star Game & 50 Burger King ********
(ed note: for some reason, MLBlogs censors the name of Burger King’s most popular menu item). All other contestants
will receive parting gifts.

And here is the list of food that was consumed, one item per inning: Two hot dogs, bag of Andy Capp Hot Fries, jar of applesauce, two jars of baby food, jar of maraschino

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cherries, three tacos, and a sleeve of Saltines.

As for how it went down, Sinicropi provided the following recap:

We
almost had to go to overtime, but Scott
McPeek was our winner. There were three contestants left in the final round..which is usually one sleeve of saltines. I
figured they ALL might finish it so I upped it to two sleeves. As I hoped
for nobody finished them both, so we could easily measure who ate the
most. Scott beat the 2nd place contestant by four crackers to win the VIP trip to the NYPL All-Star Game.

Now, at this point I feel that I know my reading public fairly well. And therefore, I know that pictures must be provided. Of the following image, Sinicropi wrote “Why did this guy enter? He could not even eat the two hot dogs provided in round one.”

I love this guy:

Williamsport -- Belly Buster, hot dog loser.JPG

Here, a tank-top wearing contestant oh-so-daintily eats his jar of baby food, like this is the sort of thing he does every day. Note the slightly-less-composed facial expression of the gentleman on the far left: 

Williamsport -- Belly Buster, purple shirt eats from a jar.JPG

Here, I imagine that Mr. Green Shirt is contemplating the absurdity of his existence:

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The eventual champion digs in to a jar of cherries:

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Applesauce Chug!

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When all was said and done, the immortal Mr. McPeek was awarded the coveted Pink Pig: 

Williamsport -- Belly Buster Winner w his pink pig.JPG

So there you have it, folks — the “Belly Buster” is certainly one of the Minor League’s most entertaining food-related promos. Sure, it’s a bit off-center (much like the text in this post) but keep in mind that these are the front office masterminds who put it together (Sinicropi is on the far left, while that gentleman on the far right might end up getting sued by the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor):

Williamsport Halloween Staff Pic.JPG

I’m running out of creative ways to solicit emails from you, the reader. Just email me, okay? It can be about anything at all.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

Everything Must Go!

Normally I would not try to cram so much information into one post, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

See, I will be out of town for the next week (partially related to an on-site Minor League adventure), and therefore severely compromised in my ability to post new content on this blog. Therefore, I better use the prime material I’ve got, before it goes stale.

First, let’s check in with the good ol’ Fresno Grizzlies, who staged “Nerd Night” last week. While I unfortunately do not have a picture of the epic battle between Obi Wan SkyParker and Darth Hot Dog, I do have a picture of some of the evening’s nerdiest nerds (in timeless black and white, no less):

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The Grizzlies’ next big ticket promotion is “Mad Tight 90s Night”, with special guest Dennis “Mr. Belding” Haskins (of “Saved By the Bell” fame). On this most enchanted evening, the Grizzlies will be doctoring player head shots to look like the cover art of iconic 1990s album. Lo and behold, Kevin “Nevermind” Frandsen:

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And Jesus “Chronic” Guzman:

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Moving on…it’s been a while since I’ve checked in with my favorite Minor League mascot — Boomer of the Williamsport Crosscutters. Boomer’s been busy lately. The Crosscutters will be staging a season-long “Star Search” at Bowman Field this season, and Boomer wants in. Here, he enganges in an atonal free-jazz skronk workout on his beloved saxaphone:

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And here, he pummels the ivory:

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But you, the reader, need more. I am here for you.

matt golden.jpegFirst, I heartily encourage you to visit baysox.com, so that you may participate in the search for the “Golden Wieters”. All the details can be found here.

Next, click here in order to marvel at the Lake Elsinore Storm’s response to the Manny Ramirez situation.

Finally, check out my latest “Farm’s Almanac” feature story — an interview with Minor League blogging sensation Chris Hayes. Not only is this guy a great pitcher; he’s a great writer too. And while you’re out in the MiLB.com wilderness, check out my piece on what’s currently playing in Peoria — stadium naming rights are available on a per-game basis.

Jeez…you still need something else to do? How about checking out MiLB.com on Facebook. Do me a favor and bombard that thing with proclamations of love for the writing of one Benjamin Hill.

That would be me: benjamin.hill@mlb.com

Have a great week. I will be back soon enough, as anxious and mentally overloaded as when I left. That’s my personal guarantee, from me to you.

The Art and Science of the Minor League Wish List

wish.jpgToday I must draw my readers’ attention to my Minoring in Business “cover” story, which features the Holiday Wish Lists of 20 (!) Minor League teams.

Folks, this is the kind of content you just can’t find anywhere else, so I hope you appreciate it. I could just as easily be getting paid to write literary essays on the cultural effects of 21st-century social isolation for Harper’s, you know. Lewis Lapham is constantly badgering me to do this.

But, no. The Minor Leagues are my calling, so I must answer the call. Therefore, revel in today’s article, which is chock-full of interesting Holiday requests. There is currently a poll on the MiLB.com homepage, asking fans to vote on their favorites. Your choices include three masterpieces of the Minor League Holiday Poetry genre (Huntsville, Toledo, Quad Cities), as well as a handwritten mascot letter (West Michigan) and a superb doctored photo (Tri-City ValleyCats).

Not included in the Top 5 poll, but still worth checking out, are humorous contributions fromsanty.jpg Reading, Williamsport, and Birmingham. Actually, it’s ALL worth checking out. Do not discriminate.

And I may as well get in on the act as well, and post a Holiday Wish List for this here blog. I refuse to address it to anyone in particular, but I nonetheless believe these things will happen as a result of positive karmic repercussion. I give, so that I may get. Here are the two things that I want:

– More readers! The numbers have been really strong lately, especially for the offseason, but there is still plenty of room for growth. I feel that the subject matter has appeal far beyond “the industry” and Minor League Baseball superfans. The culture and atmosphere of a Minor League Baseball stadium reflects the culture and atmosphere of the community in which it is located. Taken together, these community portraits represent and reflect American culture.

To summarize, and tone down the pretention a notch (sorry Lewis): Minor League Baseball IS America.

– More feedback! There has been a nice uptick in comments as of late, and I routinely receive emails from front office folks and fans alike. But…more please! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this blog is a two-way street. The content will only ever be as good as what I am provided with by my readers.

So get in touch, for any reason at all:

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

East Coast Bias

1_Phillies-Logo.gifMy Major League allegiances are entirely irrelevant to what I write here on the Biz Blog, but nonetheless I feel the need to make it clear that I am a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Therefore, at this moment in time and space, most of my baseball-related thoughts are devoted toward the Fightin’ Phils and their quest to bring a World Championship to the city of Brotherly Love. I will not subject my readership to a treatise on my Phillies-related hopes and fears, however. That would be tacky.

What I can do is highlight a couple of Phillies affiliates in this post (or as I like to call them, “Aphiliates”). Yes, that’s going to have to do for now.

Less Than 17 Cents an Image! —
The Williamsport Crosscutters (the Phillies’ Class A Shortcrosscut.jpg Season affiliate) announced last week that their “Year in Pictures” cd is now available. This unique item contains the 100 best pictures taken by club photographer Dick Hostrander during the 2008 season, and costs $16.95.

From the press release:

The pictures include
game action as well as candid player and fan photos. All images
contained on the CD are full-size, high resolution jpegs with an average
file size of 1mb. The pictures are royalty-free and fans are welcome
to print and use the photos as they wish.

And, as Ron Popeil was so fond of saying — There’s More!

Fans ordering The
Year in Pictures
CD by December 31, 2008 will be entered into a
drawing to win one of five autographed baseballs.  Top prize is a
baseball autographed by Hall-of-Famer Goose Gossage.  Other prizes
include baseballs autographed by former Phillie pitcher Mitch Williams and
Crosscutters team-autographed balls.”

Bottom line is that is an interesting and unique souvenir item that the ‘Cutters are offering, and I’m surprised that it’s not something that more teams do. At the very least, a “Year in Pictures” cd is sure to be a hit with any market’s die-hard fans.

r-phils.gifToys, Tots, the U.S. Marines, and YOU! — Meanwhile, the Double-A Reading Phillies are gearing up for their 11th annual “Toys For Tots” charity drive and Christmas season kick-off. Like anything the R-Phils are involved with, this event is multi-layered and action-packed:

The right field food court will be the
focal point of the day’s festivities, as the Marines will collect new,
unwrapped toys and gifts to be distributed in time for the holidays to
less fortunate children, including the Children’s Home of Reading.

Among the highlights of the day will be the annual appearance of Santa
and Mrs. Claus. There will be complimentary hot chocolate, hot dogs and
soda. The stadium will be decorated in traditional holiday style and
seasonal music will be played over the sound system until 11:00 when
live music will be performed by “Axis”. For fans interested in donating
more than toys the Miller-Keystone Blood Mobile will also be open at
10:30 AM (no appointment needed). Reading Phillies mascots will also
appear throughout the day.”
 


In conclusion — Go Phillies!

A Herculean Feat: Two Posts in One Day

crosscutters.jpgOne of the greatest aspects of Minor League Baseball is the extent to which teams establish identities based on the history of the cities in which they play.

Case in point: The Williamsport CrossCutters. The team’s name is a reference to Williamsport’s history as “The Lumber Capital of the World”, and their logo features a bat and log-wielding lumberjack. Recently, the club celebrated this heritage with a “Pre-game Wood Cutting Demo”, which I imagine was the only pre-game wood cutting demo to occur in the Minor Leagues this season (please correct me if I’m wrong).

Crosscutters VP of Marketing Gabe Sinicropi sent along the following photo, featuring himself (in the jersey) and GM Doug Estes displaying their formidable sawing skills. These skills were not formidable enough, however, as they were defeated in this sawing contest by (horror) two members of the local media.

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In other CrossCutter news, Boomer continues to enjoy his first season as the club’s mascot. He is one of my favorite mascots in the Minors, and it should be easy to see why:

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(Boomer is the one on the left)

Do YOU have pictures from a Minor League promotion? If so, send ‘em to me.

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