Results tagged ‘ Wisconsin Timber Rattlers ’

Every End Is A New Beginning

There’s just a little more than a month to go before Opening Day. Truly, the clock is ticking on the offseason:

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That was the scene in Omaha recently, as a flatbed truck pulled into brand-new Werner Park whilst toting a gigantic clock featuring Vortex the stormcloud. So what this is, essentially, is a Time Vortex. Are the Storm Chasers attempting to reach out to the Dr. Who fans in the house?

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, “The Offseason” has officially come to an end. The Timber Rattlers unveiled the last episode of their weekly series today, and it’s a doozy. In addition to skillfully referencing a recent hit comedy (“Brat Tub Time Machine”), it explains mascot Fang’s strange anatomy AND features a character who happens to go by the name of “Ben Hill.” What an honor:

Over on MiLB.com, “Offseasoning” has come to an end. This was a bi-weekly column profiling players’ offseason jobs and activities, and the final installment features current free agent, Twitter champion, and all-around nice guy Michael Schlact.

I’m hoping to soon do a few articles in the “Offseasoning” mode, but this time featuring Spring Training. Let me know if you are aware of any interesting stories taking place in Minor League camp.

But while some things are coming to an end, others are just beginning (sunrise, sunset, etc etc). This is the case in Pawtucket, as the Red Sox have just unleashed a whodunit “Scavenger Hunt” onto the world.

Yes, the villain in this adventure is a gorilla wearing a Yankees hat. The Paw Sox will release clues each week that will guide fans toward a “Golden Soft Toss” ball redeemable for team-related prizes.

Earlier this week I noted some of the interesting giveaways the Altoona Curve have on tap for this season. There’s more where that came from, as yesterday the team released their Theme Night schedule. The highlight is “What We’re Watching Wednesdays,” explained as such in the press release.

lockelocke.jpgThe first “What We’re Watching Wednesday” will take place on May 4 vs. Akron and lampoon the now retired ABC phenomenon “LOST”. The team’s working title of “LOST – Locke & Locke” plays off of 2010 Curve pitcher Jeff Locke, who actually was a huge fan of the cult series, and the mysterious character John Locke from the show itself.

After attempting to decipher the mysteries of the island, the Curve will try their hand at crime solving on June 8 vs. Erie with “NCIS/CSI: Curve, Pa. – Lawglenn.jpg & Order SVU” night. Other “What We’re Watching Wednesdays” include “How I Met Your Mascot” on June 15 vs. New Britain, “Glenn’s Kitchen” (which will place Curve Manager of Concessions Glenn McComas in the role of Chef Gordon Ramsay) on June 29 vs. Reading, “Lawn Stars” (starring Head Groundskeeper Brian Soukup) on August 17 vs. New Hampshire and “Only in Curve, Pa. with Bill the Comic Guy” on August 24 vs. Richmond. That should “Git ‘R Done” for the WWWW theme series.

There might be remarkable parity in Major League Baseball these days, but no one tops the Minors when it comes to parody.

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

Late, Better Than Never

scales.jpgI apologize for the lack of fresh blog content this week. The reasons for this are varied, ranging from a brief jury duty stint to an all-consuming desire to spend my time memorizing the Nicki Minaj verse in “Monster.”

But I’m going to end the week on a high note, speeding into the weekend with grace and aplomb. Who wants to ride with me? I’ve got plenty of room in the jalopy!

In this week’s previous post, I wrote about the Trenton Thunder’s 1-obsessed ticket offer. Clearly, they are serious about promoting this, as evidenced by today’s announcement that they have re-signed the inimitable Bobby Baseball as internet spokesman.

Here’s a new and mature Bobby, seemingly ready to disavow his frenetic past.

And since we’re on the subject of ticket offers, it’s worth noting that the Bakersfield Blaze are currently running a “season tickets for life” promotion. As explained in the shortest press release of all time: The Bakersfield Blaze are giving one lucky fan FREE SEASON TICKETS FOR LIFE! All you have to do is purchase a ticket plan by January 31st and you will automatically be entered into the drawing.

And since we were on the subject of videos, take a gander at the latest episode of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers “Offseason” series. This is imperative viewing for those who have never seen a mascot go through airport security before. It’s a very labor intensive process.

And if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the latest video series out of Montgomery is most flattering indeed.

I’m pretty sure that this recent Vancouver Canadians video is a total original, as discovering that familial ties exist between front office members must be an exceedingly rare occurrence.

To paraphrase Nat King Cole, the Reading Phillies latest video is “Unembeddable.” But it’s well worth watching, seeing as how it’s a detailed look at the NFL playoff picks of Reading Phillies players. Click HERE to see the rampant prognosticating, all the more amazing due to the fact that the video must have been filmed some four months ago.

Having exceeded my video quota for the day, allow me to transition to one of many favorite Minor League news sub-genres — Mascot Feats of Endurance On Behalf of Charity.

From the Akron Aeros:

Akron Aeros mascot, Orbit, will be participating in this year’s “Tackle the Tower” event. The annual event benefits Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland. On Saturday, February 5th, Orbit will climb 38 flights of stairs at the Tower at Erieview in downtown Cleveland. Orbit’s personal goal is to raise $1,500.

Orbit is up for it.

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And — hey! — I almost forgot that it’s “Gratuitous Video Friday” (so forget what I said about having exceeded my video quota). Today’s selection is a touching duet featuring Bobby Bare and his son Bobby Jr. The song was written by Shel Silverstein.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Esconced in the Northeast

seattle.jpgI wish I was vacationing in Seattle right now, because then I could use “Back In Seattle Again” as the title for this post. That would be a solid ‘70s-era Aerosmith reference, and that’s the kind of thing that makes me happy.

But I’m in New York City — a world away from the Pacific Northwest — and coming up empty in regard to a clever title. But the important thing is I made it back from the Baseball Winter Meetings in Orlando with my dignity intact, and can now focus on that which I missed while I was gone.

Like, the debut episode of “The Offseason” (season two). As you’ll no doubt recall, this is the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers’ “Office”-inspired web series.

The above video is really a video within a video, making it possible to write a sentence in which the word “video” appears four times.

Are there any other teams out there doing (or planning on doing) an offseason video series? Teams who have done so previously, such as the Fresno Grizzlies and Omaha Royals Storm Chasers, have refrained this time ’round. The pickins, therefore, have been slim.

Moving from Appleton to Apps, last week the Sacramento River Cats announced the launch ofsacapp.gif a team iPhone application. Sez the team:

The River Cats are the first Minor League Baseball Team in the country to release an iPhone application that allows fans the ability to purchase tickets directly through the app.

I have often found it to be the case that whenever a Minor League team claims it is the first to do something, another steps forward to dispute that claim. Any self-appointed industry fact checkers want to file an official disputation?

Regardless, team iPhone apps are becoming and more and more common around the Minors. The River Cats’ was designed by Critical Technologies Group, who have also worked with the likes of the Toledo Mud Hens, Lakewood Blue Claws, and Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

wayne.jpgFinally, I would like to note that this blog is #10 in the latest MLBlogs “Latest Leaders” rankings (“Pro” category). This ranking is satisfactory, but there is PLENTY of room to grow.

I am always open to suggestions regarding how growth might be accomplished. Please, get in touch with ideas related to content, collaborative projects, and general observations or advice (even if it’s just to lay off the belabored Aerosmith references).

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

Greetings Before the Meetings

It’s a quiet Friday here at MiLB.com headquarters, and my thoughts are turning toward the future.

The immediate future, as it were, as on Sunday I’ll be traveling to Orlando in order to attend the annual schmooze-a-thon that is the Baseball Winter Meetings.

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As for what I’ll be doing there, to an extent that is still “up in the air.” My overarching goal is to provide coverage that serves as an alternative (or complement) to the usual breathless reporting on trade rumors and free agent signings, looking at the Meetings experience from a variety of Minor League perspectives. At the very least, I’ll make sure to once again document Trade Show lunch options. 

So, if you’re in Orlando next week make sure to say hello and give me an update on what you’ve been up to. As usual, I’ll be the guy with the haircut.

Last year’s Meetings were in Indianapolis, which allows me to segue somewhat smoothly into NEW LOGO NEWS.

We are 125 days from the 125th season of professional baseball in Indianapolis, and to celebrate this sesquicentennial the Indians will be displaying the following logo on the outfield wall and sporting it on the uniform:

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While new logos have been prevalent this offseason, weekly web-based Minor League comedy series have been on the decline. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are doing their part to reverse this trend, as season two of their highly-acclaimed “Offseason” series debuts next week.

Here’s the tear-jerking teaser video. Get psyched!

Meanwhile, this amusing video from Everett just made it’s way on to my radar. It’s the “Bullpen Olympics”, with events including “spitting, chugging, shooting, and flicking.”
 

All I’ll say about this is that these guys seem confused when it comes to the specifics of throat anatomy.

And — hey — it’s Gratuitous Video Friday! Here’s a clip of Tony Orlando at the Epcot Center, as soon I’ll be in tony Orlando near the Epcot Center. Close enough, right?
 

Logos On and On and On

2011_Fisher_Cats_Script_Logo.JPGI’ve spent a lot of time over the past week writing about logos. This may seem like a frivolous endeavor, but not when you consider that within philosophy the word “logos” is defined as “the rational principle that governs and develops the universe.”

Not so frivolous after all, is it? Thus justified, let me move on to the changes that have taken place in New Hampshire.

Before taking on the “Fisher Cats” moniker, Manchester’s Eastern League franchise was briefly (and controversially) known as the “Primaries.” It’s fitting, then, that the team has changed its primary colors to ones which evoke the American democratic process: red, white, and blue.

Now that I’ve made things as confusing as possible, as is my m.o., let’s go to the visual evidence. The team’s primary logo used to look like this:

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And now it looks like this:

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The re-tooled home cap, with enhanced re-tail value:

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Alternate cap logos abound. This batting practice design would also work well in nearby Paw-tucket:

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This highly-stylized “FC” should appeal to discerning high-society types.

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And this? This is just awesome. Me to this Uncle Sam logo: I want you!

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Don’t take that one for granite, New Hampshire!

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Meanwhile…The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, one of last week’s blog subjects, have announced a contest in which fans are asked to take a picture of themselves with any of the new logos.

In order to help promote the contest, the team has created some Photoshopped classics of our 26th President to serve as inspiration. Classics such as this:

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Now that’s something you can take for granite.

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

Suspense in the Land of Snakes

In the previous post on this blog, I mentioned my willingness to feature new logos. But like any good internet survivalist, I can make do with less than that.

Today, my biggest piece of news involves a team’s intent to soon unveil a new logo. That team would be the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, who will be releasing three new marks to the public on November 12.

In order to whip said public into an anticipatory frenzy, the Rattlers are releasing a series of countdown videos. Rarely has the inexorable passage of time been so exciting:

In tandem with the above video, T-Rats broadcaster Chris Mehring has written a column detailing the last time the team changed their identity. The year was 1994, and this name and logo was apparently in the running.

The Fox River Phantoms, represented by what appears to be a homicidal umpire:

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At the very least, the insensate arbiter depicted above would make for a good horror movie character. His dispassionate but unstoppable pursuit of his victims would culminate in a coldhearted bat bludgeoning, one bringing new meaning to the phrase “Three strikes and you’re out.”

Sticking with the horror theme, the Trenton Thunder have dusted off a video that purports to reveal a ghostly presence emanating from the innards of Waterfront Park:

In considerably less horrifying news, the State College Spikes will soon be announcing the winner to their inaugural “Ike’s Wacky Weekly What Are They Saying Moment?” The fan who provides the funniest caption to this photograph wins a team-autographed baseball.

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Pass me the horseradish.

Finally, it’s time for another installment of Gratuitous Video Friday, the least anticipated feature of the internet’s least-commented upon blog.

This video features the rap stylings of one of the most deeply eccentric sports broadcasters of all time. “Sister Sledge can fall off a ledge!”

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

10 From ’10

coffin.jpgThe 2010 Minor League season is now lifeless and entombed, but it is my duty to preserve the corpse so that future generations may gaze upon its sepulchral splendor.

To that end, today’s post features my 10 favorite photographs from the recently deceased campaign. All of these pictures appeared on this blog at some point during the season, and are presented in the order in which they originally appeared.

Remember — it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. Let’s all take a look at once was:

Snowpening DayFreezing precipitation prevented the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers from playing their first scheduled home game, causing the players to release their start-of-the-season aggression upon hapless snowmen (note the Rattlers’ scoreboard message, a nice example of thinking ahead).


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When Ya Gotta GoThe Northwest Arkansas Naturals held a nightly “Adoptable Pet of the Game” promotion this season, and on April 11 the evening’s honored canine broke loose from her handlers…
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You can guess what happened next

Catatonic CauliflowerJerry “The King” Lawler visited Reading’s FirstEnergy Stadium, leaving no doubt as to his feelings regarding rampaging vegetables.

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Tattooed PerfectionOakland A’s hurler Dallas Braden became a household name upon pitching a perfect game, but soon afterwards returned to Stockton in order to abdominally express his hometown pride.
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(photo credit: George Steckler/Stockton Ports)

Sweets From the Sky: The Visalia Rawhide dropped candy from a helicopter following an afternoon game in May. Idyllic images resulted.
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(photo credit: Chris Henstra)

Guacamole-Topped Vengeance: San Antonio Missions fan Randy Neuenfeldt lost a race to the Puffy Taco in 1992. He wasn’t about to let that happen again.
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A Dignified EveningThis is what happened when Jose Canseco fought a 60-year-old man prior to an Arkansas Travelers game. Your winner, by decision: Gary Hogan!
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ConfidenceWe could all learn something from the preternaturally self-possessed young Trenton Thunder fan.
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Postgame for PyrosStuntman Ted Batchelor ran around the bases following a Savannah Sand Gnats game. He was on fire at the time.
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Spitting ImageThe Lake County Captains saluted the almighty watermelon in August, leading to a snapshot most adorable.
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Of course, feel free to send along your own favorites from the 2010 season. I am, as always, interested in your input.
benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

So What'd I Miss?

ketch.jpgThe “Southern Swing” yielded plenty of blog content, but one unfortunate side effect of the traveling life is not being able to keep up with the overall Minor League scene at the level to which you’ve been accustomed.

So consider this entry an attempt to get partially up to speed. Playing “ketchup”, if you will.  

Let’s begin with what is undoubtedly baseball’s biggest story at the moment, a young Washington Nationals pitching phenom who goes by the name of Stephen Strasburg. The Nationals’ gain is the Minors’ loss, as Strasburg’s starts resulted in sell-out crowds no matter where he took the mound. A pair of artifacts from one such start is now available on the MiLB auction site — an autographed camo hat and autographed camo jersey from May 22’s “Armed Forces Celebration” in Syracuse. With four days left in the auction, the former is going for $326 and the latter for $755.01.

That, of course, is pocket change to readers of Ben’s Biz Blog, who according to demographicstras.jpg research are affluent tastemakers with good looks as ample as their disposable income.

A more affordable (read “free”) piece of Strasburg memorabilia was given away at Blair County Ballpark yesterday — a poster commemorating his first professional start (which took place at Altoona’s Blair County Ballpark as a member of the visiting Harrisburg Senators). This highly collectible item sparked a debate on the Curve’s Facebook page, as some fans took issue with a giveaway honoring a member of the opposing team. I’d be curious to hear opinions on this — did the circumstances warrant such a giveaway, or is it always “wrong” to commemorate the “enemy”?

Of course, I have more to talk about than Mr. Strasburg. Plenty of chattering craniums are already engaged at this task, and it is generally my goal to  be zigging while the others are zagging and to then zag in reaction to the zig.

So how about a couple of videos?

Readers may remember that I wrote up the Richmond Flying Squirrels’ “Tribute to the Marshmallow” in a recent edition of “Promotion Preview.” One of the between-inning contests was the “S’More Relay”, which is to be commended for its creativity and commitment to the theme:

Another example of above-and-beyond promo commitment can be found in Binghamton, as the Mets put together a video promoting their upcoming “Twilight Night.” Never has the line “You have baseball bat antlers” been uttered with more sincerity:
 

Moving from antlered mammals to poisonous reptiles, I’d like to note that on Monday the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will be giving away a figurine featuring mascot Fang driving a NAPA race car.

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Sorry to be a broken record when it comes to Fang and his unorthodox snake anatomy, but I just can’t get over it. Putting aside the feasibility of a reptile being granted a driver’s license, how is it possible that a snake possess both hands and feet and can use them with enough dexterity to both steer a wheel and operate pedals?

I’ll have more “ketchup” material tomorrow, unless someone out there provides me with some totally must-see, can’t-wait blog items.

Do it!

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

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