Monday, July 14, 2008

All Christmas, all the time

Here's the math: At least 30 different minor league clubs are hosting a Christmas in July promotion this month. Five minor league teams have the promotion planned for July 25 and Christmas can be found in at least one ballpark on 17 of the July's 31 days. Class AAA Iowa was the first down the chimney on July 2. Class AA Tulsa wraps it up on July 31.

Friday night was the St. Lucie’s turn. Fans that brought an unwrapped toy to the park saw the game for free. Santa tossed the first pitch and posed for pictures. And there was Christmas music. Tons of it, starting an hour before the game. Drove those in the press box nuts. The Dugout doesn’t like Christmas music to begin with. They only time it should be played is on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. To hear it in the sweltering South Florida July heat approached torture. In fact, didn’t our troops blare Christmas music at the Iraqi palace until they surrendered? And there must be plenty of rockin’ Christmas tunes at Gitmo.

Just out of curiosity, why don’t any teams offer Hanukkah in July?

The upside of the night was Orlando Hernandez’s rehab start for the Mets. Making his first start for the Florida State League’s Mets since opening day, and only his third overall in the minors this season, Hernandez threw 77 pitches in 5 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits while striking out five.

The righthander still sports the high leg kick, but the 90-plus mph fastball appears long gone. Hernandez touched 86 on the gun, but most fastballs barely cracked 80. He even offered a few sub-60 mph curveballs.

Thought St. Lucie manager Tim Teufel summed up the performance pretty well: “He looked like El Duque out there, mixing it up. I thought he threw well. He kept everybody off balance. I know he’s pitching against A-ball, but no one really got a good swing against him.”

Bud-buy: Apparently it’s official. Belgium-based InBev bought Anheuser-Busch for $52 billion. Anheuser-Busch, most famous for brewing Budweiser beer, is a huge supporter of sports teams – baseball in particular. There’s no reason to believe InBev will discontinue that commitment, but anything can happen after the buyout is complete. Many ballpark managers are certainly nervous. There’s a lot of advertising money in play.

Bad day to be a baby: Wilmington barely missed out on grabbing the Promotion of the Day honors on the main site with its Celebrity Fall From Grace Night. Prior to the start of the ballgame the Blue Rocks will mock Brittany Spears by having a staffer dressed like her driving around the field with an infant doll on her lap. Later a staffer (who happens to be white) will offer his best Michael Jackson dance moves; then dangle a baby doll off a balcony. Apparently the O. J. Simpson look-a-like won’t be asked to slash a baby.

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