Monday, June 23, 2008

Olympics and Chuck Norris make for Sioux-perior Tuesday


Tomorrow (June 24) is going to be a fantastic day to be a ballpark that a Goldklang Group-owned minor league club calls home. The New York-Penn League’s Hudson Valley Renegades claimed MinorLeagueDugout.com’s Promotion of the Day with their weird creation of kiddie Olympics. One item that wasn’t in the write-up was that the Renegades also plan to give free gas cards to some of their fans.

Hudson Valley beat out fellow Goldklang (think Mike Veeck) teams Charleston and Sioux Falls for the honor. The RiverDogs will attempt to answer the philosophical question: What would Chuck Norris do? This was supposed to be the most macho night on Charleston’s schedule, but it lost a little toughness when various media outlets reported that Norris’ wife made him shave his beard.

Now Charleston is going to have a little fun with that. Chelsea, the Riverdogs’ female mascot, will shave male mascot Charlie before the first pitch. Later in the night a group of young karate kids will come onto the field and break things that newly shorn Norris imitator couldn’t.

Throughout the night Riverdogs staffers will ask fans various Chuck Norris questions such as: If Chuck Norris walked into a bar, what would be the first thing he would do?

A. Order a drink
B. Put money in the jukebox
C. Roundhouse kick someone in the bar

Needless to say, the roundhouse will always be an option, and with Chuck Norris it’s always the right option.

Sioux Falls, the Riverdogs’ sister club in the American Association, hosts Sioux City on Tuesday in a battled they’re calling Sioux-perior Night. The Canaries intend to give their reasons – 27 of them in fact – why their Sioux-based city is better. The area on the backs of players’ uniforms that is usually reserved for a player’s name will instead contain reasons why Falls topples City. Some affirmations:

Doesn’t smell
The Falls
No state income tax

The Canaries are choosing to back up their tough talk by guaranteeing victory. Should the Explorers silence the Canaries, all fans win a free ticket to Thursday’s game.

Goldklang teams aren’t the only ones having fun. Everett is giving away a hot dog bobblehead. Everett was a San Francisco affiliate before switching to Seattle and becoming the AquaSox. During those days their on-field mascot was a hot dog dubbed “Frank.” Though Everett’s main mascot is now a frog named “Webbly,” Frank is still around. Every time the Sox talk about retiring Frank they are inundated with phone calls demanding he stay. This is the second year the Sox have given away a Frank bobblehead (top photo).

“Once you give a guy a second bobble, you can’t get rid of him,” spokesman Rick O’Connor said.

By the way, these are the same AquaSox that announced in a press release dated April 1, 2008 that they had traded Webbly to the Tri-City Dust Devils. O’Connor said they still get one or two fans a day asking when the Dust Devils’ mascot will arrive.


Spam folder: Reading claimed the Promo of the Day last Friday for its Spam Carving Contest. There were two categories: freestyle and Pagoda. The Pagoda is a Japanese-style building that sits atop a hill in Reading. The folks at Reading were kind enough to send a photo of the winning Pagoda (lower photo).

Sunday, June 22, 2008

More praise for Playing for Peanuts

The previous blog promised comments from CSS – the network that is broadcasting Playing for Peanuts via Comcast cable to the Southeast. Time to deliver on that promise.

The Dugout spoke with two members of CSS upper management, both of whom were extremely complementary about the show.

“We’re getting very positive feedback,” said CSS General Manager Mark Fuhrman. “It’s a very unique take on the minor leagues. It gives people an insight on what these people go through.”

Fuhrman said CSS reaches nearly six million households. Though Peanuts is not subject to a traditional rating, Fuhrman did say that it’s exceeding expectations.

CSS currently debuts new episodes on Friday at 7 p.m., then replays it two or three more times throughout the week. The above video is the preview for the show’s fourth episode.

“I think it works well for us for a number of reasons,” CSS Director of Programming Larry Haber said. “It’s good geographically and it works with the audience that we’re trying to hit with our college baseball.”

The positive response has prodded CSS to give Peanuts an even larger rotation during the summer – which is good news for fans of minor league baseball.

Better start: Even after today’s rainout, St. Lucie is tied atop the Florida State League’s East Division. Sure, the second half is only four days old, but the Mets improvement is worth noting. It took the Mets 11 outings to win two games to start the first half. They didn’t notch their third win the 23rd game.

The Dugout spent plenty of time this season documenting the Mets’ poor play. Here’s some props. For their sake, let’s hope they’ve turned the season around.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Former SCL CEO Toole pleased so far with Playing for Peanuts

Original plans for the Playing for Peanuts story, currently the headliner on the main MinorLeagueDugout.com site, included an interview with former South Coast League CEO Jaime Toole.

Locating Toole turned out to be a little more difficult than expected. Rather than hold the story any longer, the story was published without his comments.

The Dugout did reach Toole earlier today, talking by phone for about 20-minutes.

“I like it,” said Toole, who is currently working as a marketing consultant. “I think John (Fitzgerald) did a nice job. It gives a pretty accurate portrayal of what it’s like on the road and I think the overall tone of the show has been positive.”

Toole added that he isn’t concerned about being portrayed in a bad light when the show delves into the controversial suspension/retraction of South Georgia manager Wally Backman.

“I’m not worried about it,” Toole said. “As long as it’s true to the actions that happened, then I’ll be OK with it.”

In the surprise moment of the conversation, Toole said he and some others are attempting to buy the assets of the South Coast League. He thought the initial demographic research the league conducted yielded positive data. The Southeast, he believes, can still support an independent league.

Just don’t look for them to return to Anderson, S.C., Albany, Ga., or any of the other previous SCL cities.

“When you suspend operations, you almost suspend all the hope of the vendors we were working with,” Toole said.

Toole still seemed proud of his work with the SCL, pointing out more than once that the league sent 15 players to affiliated baseball.

According to Toole, the league finished its lone season $750,000 in debt which, he said, “wasn’t insurmountable.”

If he had to do it over again, Toole would have concentrated more on the hiring processes for team front office personnel. He said the rapidity with which they needed to staff six teams caused the league to rush the process of filling those slots.

Toole suggested his potential new league would have an age limit, which would allow the league to lower costs by keeping players' salaries down. Cost would also likely prohibit the hiring of big-name coaches like Backman or Cecil Fielder, who took over an SCL team midway through the season.

Overall, the conversation was pretty interesting. The Dugout has no real way of confirming most of Toole’s facts, but there was no immediate reason to challenge his assertions, either. One statement he made intending to pump-up the SCL was pretty funny, though.

“You’d be surprised how many people don’t realize the league is not playing this year,” he said.

The Dugout doesn’t know how many people that is, but it’s certainly less than the amount of people who never knew the league existed.

The tarp incident: The latest episode of Playing for Peanuts, which aired tonight in Florida, featured the grounds crew’s inability to pull the tarp, which was mentioned in the main story. Watched the show with a couple of people who hadn’t seen Peanuts before. They found that scene laugh-out-loud funny. The episode ended with Backman getting tossed, which should make next week’s show a must see.

Coming attractions: The Dugout also talked with people from CSS, which broadcasts the show in the Southeast via Comcast Cable. Intended to add their opinions of the show on this blog, but it grew a little long. Look for it tomorrow.

And, yes, a blog or perhaps even a full story about last night’s experience in ambidexterity during the New York-Penn League’s game between Staten Island and Brooklyn is in the works. Likely deluged by media requests today, the league office wasn’t answering phones. Here's a look at the switch hitter vs. switch pitcher video:

Thursday, June 19, 2008

St. Paul Saints brings replay to baseball


The Dugout is not a fan of instant replay in sports. It’s bad for football and would be awful for baseball. Instant replay helps correct some bad calls, which is what made it appealing when it first debuted in the NFL, but it didn’t take long for NFL officials to start overturning calls that were made correctly on the field – decisions exponentially worse than getting a call wrong the first time.

The Dugout also finds merit in the argument that replay removes flow from games.

The biggest problem with replay, though, is that video lies. Seriously. Taking a three-dimensional world and stuffing it into the two-dimensional television box inherently distorts an image. Moving a camera even a few feet away from the goal line can make a football that never reaches the line appear to cross it. It’s happened more than once.

Errors will be repeated in baseball, especially in today’s irregular-shaped parks where shooting in straight lines presents a far greater challenge than it does on a football field.

Baseball doesn’t need to be slowed down by replay, and it doesn’t need umpire’s calls questioned even more than they already are. Leave television out of baseball.

With that rant out of the way, the St. Paul Saints announced today that replay will be available to umpires when they host the American Association's All-Star Game on July 22.

The game will be televised regionally and umpires will have access to feeds from all seven cameras via a videophone carried in the crew chief’s pocket. They will be able to select which camera to view, and control the speed of playback.

By putting the choice to go to replay in the hands of the umpires could keep delays to a minimum. Allowing them to reach into their pocket to see and control all camera angles will give them the best possible – though still not 100 percent accurate – view the play in question.

The Saints partnered with Best Buy Inc. to develop the system. The Dugout spoke with St. Paul executive vice president and general manager Derek Sharrer earlier today and he said the impetus for creation of the system actually grew from an offhand remark by Tony Kornheiser during ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption. Apparently Kornheiser suggested that if Major League Baseball wanted to develop a replay system, they should go shop at Best Buy.

Someone at the Best Buy headquarters, located in the Twin Cities area, heard the remark and contacted the Saints. A short time later they collaborated to design this system.

See, watching PTI can be educational.

Here is the press release issued by St. Paul announcing the introduction of replay:

Best Buy Mobile Builds Professional Baseball’s 1st Instant Replay System for St. Paul Saints

Replay system to be instituted during American Association All-Star Game keeps calls on the field and in umpires’ hands with mobile video solution that costs approximately $1,000 retail


ST. PAUL, MINN. (June 19, 2008) – On July 22, umpires will use instant replay in professional baseball for the first time ever.


While Major League Baseball debates the logistics and timing of replay, Best Buy Mobile will implement a mobile instant replay system with the St. Paul Saints during the American Association’s All Star Game in St. Paul, Minn., marking the first time in the history of baseball that instant replay will be used in a professional game.


“It’s amazing how many disputed moments in baseball -- Jeffrey Maier reaching over the wall at Yankee Stadium, the disputed dropped third strike to A.J. Pierzynski in Game 2 of the ALCS or Don Denkinger's call in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series -- could have easily been resolved with an instant replay system that now costs about $1,000,” said Derek Sharrer, executive vice president and general manager, Saint Paul Saints. “This summer, we’ll take the first step toward giving umpires the same clarity on the field that fans have at home.”


To avoid adding substantial time to the game, video replay will be streamed to a mobile phone kept in umpire crew chief’s pocket, giving him immediate access to the play from his position on the field. The umpire will be able to control the video – functions such as rewind, fast forward and pause – from his phone using Slingbox technology.


“Baseball purists contend that instant replay takes the game out of the umpires’ hands. With the help of Geek Squad, we’re keeping calls – literally – in umpires’ hands using mobile video,” said Shawn Score, president of Best Buy Mobile. “Streaming video is just one of the hundreds of ways mobile technology can be a plus to people’s lives – whether they are passing time at the DMV, making the most of their three-hour layover in the airport, or umpiring a professional baseball game in front of 25,000 screaming fans.”


The American Association All-Star Game takes place on Tuesday, July 22 at Midway Stadium in St. Paul, MN. It will pit the best players in the independent league. Game time is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.


"We are happy to have the American Association be the leader in testing this new technology,” said Miles Wolff, American Association Commissioner.


Umpires will review decisions involving homeruns, fair or foul ball, hit batsmen, catch or no catch, plays at the plate and any play with two outs. The crew chief will have the authority to overturn the original call. Geek Squad Agents will be stationed in each team’s dugout in order to quickly respond on the field to any technical issues experienced by the umpires.


The solution designed by Best Buy Mobile and Geek Squad includes the following components:
· Sling Media Slingbox Pro
· TiVO Series 2 Digital Video Recorder
· HTC Touch smart phone


About Best Buy Co., Inc.Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE: BBY) operates an international portfolio of brands with a commitment to growth and innovation. Our employees strive to provide customers around the world with superior experiences by responding to their unique needs and aspirations. We sell consumer electronics, home-office products, entertainment software, appliances and related services through approximately 1,300 retail stores across the United States, throughout Canada and in China. Our multi-channel operations include: Best Buy (BestBuy.com, BestBuy.ca, BestBuy.com.cn and Best BuyMobile.com), Future Shop (FutureShop.ca), Geek Squad (GeekSquad.com and GeekSquad.ca), Pacific Sales Kitchen and Bath Centers (PacificSales.com), Magnolia Audio Video (Magnoliaav.com), Jiangsu Five Star Appliance Co. (Five-Star.cn) and Speakeasy (Speakeasy.net). Best Buy supports the communities in which its employees work and live through volunteerism and grants that benefit children and education.

Rainout leaves St. Lucie ready for fresh start

The first half of the Florida State League season officially ended tonight. That was the good news for St. Lucie. The bad news was that rained splashed away the Mets game at Jupiter, depriving St. Lucie of it’s only chance to win a 20th game.

St. Lucie finished the first half at 19-50, making the Mets the lone affiliated team not to reach the 20-win mark. The Mets are only the sixth team to fail to win 20 games in a half since the FSL went to the split-season schedule in 1988.

The Dugout spent part of the day at Roger Dean Stadium, which was smacked by a line of South Florida thunderstorms most of the afternoon. Despite the rain, there were a few Mets who wanted a shot at that 20th win. Most, however, were looking forward to the rebirth of sorts starting Thursday.

“The first half is going to be finished, finally,” St Lucie manager Tim Teufel said. “When you have such a long half, it’s nice that in a day we’re starting fresh.”

Is Warthog that bad?: Winston-Salem is moving into a new ballpark next season, and the powers that be thought the Warthog nickname and logo (above) simply wouldn’t fit with the new d├ęcor.

Winston-Salem asked fans to suggest new nicknames. Warthog management narrowed it down to these five: Aviators, Racers, Rhinos, The Dash and Wallbangers.

Of these five, The Dugout reluctantly prefers The Dash, a nod to the combo name of the parent city. However, none of these five names is nearly as good as Warthogs. Put an end to the contest before less interesting heads prevail.

By the way, here’s one columnist who thinks he’s figured out exactly what the nickname will be, and his logic makes some good-ole southern common sense.


Next name, please: Fort Wayne is the latest minor league club to hold a nickname-the-team contest. Like Winston-Salem, the Wizards are moving into a new ballpark next season and likely expect a merchandising boost from a new moniker.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Floods force Iowa to play in empty park

In 2002 Charleston hosted Nobody Night - a bizarre promotion that saw the Riverdogs play in an empty ballpark in order to set the record for the least attended baseball game.

Iowa hosted a similar game on Saturday, not by choice. Flooding has forced the evacuation of much of the city of Des Moines. The parking lots surrounding Principal Park were under water.

The Cubs postponed Friday’s game but figured they needed play Nashville on Sunday to ensure the integrity of the 144-game schedule. The city granted permission, provided Iowa didn’t allow fans in the ballpark (see photos, courtesy Iowa Cubs).

A couple of scouts and a few Cubs’ staffers were the only people in attendance to see the Cubs defeat the Sounds 5-4.

The Dugout understands the Pacific Coast League’s desire to play every game on the schedule and admires the players’ eagerness to get at least one game in. After all, they were probably tired of sitting in their hotel rooms watching the water rise.

Boredom and a paper schedule, however, are not reasons to play a game in an area that city officials deemed treacherous. Assume the game doesn’t get made up. What’s the worst that happens?

Sure, weather has made mockery of the PCL’s schedule. Many Midwest teams inside and outside the PCL are struggling to play all their games - earlier this season a similar flooding problem forced Quad Cities to move three of its home games.


The spread-out nature of the PCL makes scheduling make-up games more difficult and costly. In this case that’s exactly what should have been done. Cancel the game for now. If that one game becomes so crucial, there will be time to make it up before the post-season. Should it be needed, the rescheduled game will draw far more fan interest than Saturday’s game would have on a dry day.

The only sane reason to intentionally play a game without fans blossomed from a promotion cultivated in Charleston’s wonderfully bizarre front office – and even that decision was questionable.


FSL All-Star recap: The West Division’s all-stars defeated the East in front of 3,500 fans in Saturday's Florida State League All-Star Game. Brevard County put together a nice night. While most people were watching the post-game fireworks, The Dugout snuck out early to peek through the numerous telescopes that were set up in the parking lot (bottom photo). Pretty cool.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Pigs, astronomers and homers - just another FSL All-Star Game

Viera, Fla. - There aren't supposed to be pigs on the side of the road. That's not a shot at the police. Three times in the last two months The Dugout has been driving on major Florida roads and seen what can only be assumed to be wild pigs foraging on the shoulder.

It happened again today en route to the Florida State League All-Star Game, which is being played at Space Coast Stadium near Melbourne, Fla. Prior to the game a group of people set up telescopes outside the ballpark, allowing fans to look at solar flare activity. They promised even more telescopes will be there following the game.

Brevard County has a pretty good crowd for the All-Star game, especially by FSL standards. Looks like it could be 3,000.

The crowd was significantly less than that for the homerun contest, which was won by Vero Beach’s J.T. Hall. With the wind knocking down nearly everything hit to left field, left-handed swingers enjoyed a distinct advantage. Hall made the most of that advantage - not that the 6-foot-3, 230-pound designated hitter needed it. The top photo shows Jupiter pitcher Jeff Allison congratulating Hall after the first round.

Yes, that is the same Jeff Allison who was a former first-round draft choice by the Florida Marlins, then lost three seasons to drug addiction. Allison is 4-6 with a 4.36 ERA for Jupiter. The stats don’t scream “top prospect,” but at least he’s back on the mound. His velocity has not returned to the mid-90s yet and the control isn’t where either Allison or the Marlins would like it to be. Given time, maybe both will return.

The Dugout hopes to sit down with Allison in the coming weeks. He’s one of the most outgoing players in the Hammerheads’ clubhouse. He seems like someone worth routing for.


More from Friday the 13th: Grand Prairie passed along some photos from its Joe Pool Lake Loch Ness Monster Night. The AirHogs asked fans a simple question: If the local lake had a monster, what would it look like. The bottom photo is one interpretation.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Gibbons to restart in the Atlantic League

Former Baltimore outfielder Jay Gibbons appears to be back on the right track.

Gibbons, who admitted to using human growth hormone, was released by the Orioles in March. Since then the 31-year-old has contacted all 30 major league teams looking for a job. On Wednesday ESPN published a copy of a letter Gibbons sent to each club in which he took responsibility for his actions and offered to prove himself in the minors.

According to the article, Gibbons received a smattering of responses from clubs, but no offers. Tired of waiting, or simply facing the reality that his name is too toxic right now, Gibbons appears ready to give the independent Atlantic League a shot.

The Baltimore Sun reported in today’s edition that Gibbons expects to play for a New York or New Jersey club, a list that would appear to include Newark, Somerset, Camden and Long Island. It’s a good move by Gibbons. The Atlantic League is where he belongs.

It’s wonderful that Gibbons raised himself a rung or two higher than others mentioned in the Mitchell Report by admitting he cheated. But that admission does not carry automatic absolution.

Set aside the perception that major league teams have privately conspired not to sign players named in the Mitchell Report. Why would any organization want the negative publicity associated with signing Gibbons? What team wants to appear to condone steroid use? Where’s the upside?

The Atlantic League is different. It has a history of providing opportunities to former major league players who’ve messed up their careers. If his talent is still there, Gibbons will have the chance to show he can still play in the major leagues.

No doubt major league clubs will be monitoring his progress. They may not want to be the first to sign him, but if Gibbons shows he can still play, some big league club won’t have a problem with being the second team to offer redemption.


Friday the 13th: Friday’s calendar date is providing all kinds of fodder for minor league promotions. There are several Halloween in June nights, and a few more honoring the movie: Friday the 13th. The winner of MinorLeagueDugout.com’s Promotion of the Day award really took it to the next level (You’ll have to check the main site to see what it is.)

Monday, June 09, 2008

Fort Myers links minor league baseball to gas

Gas prices have risen so high that they are now the standard by which minor league prices are measured.

Every Monday, Fort Myers sets the ticket price for that night's game by the cheapest price for a gallon of gas in the area. They are also linking the prices for beer, hamburgers and bratwursts and chicken sandwiches. Admission for tonight’s game cost $3.95.

In addition the Miracle will hold gallon giveaways, where between-inning contest winners will leave with a gallon of water, pork and beans, and broccoli (you can keep that one). Finally, some fan will win a free gas pass.

Look for more teams to work the high cost of gas into their summer promotions.

More fun with wieners: Sunday night’s Wienermania in San Angelo got the attention of at least one local television station. The Colts were kind enough to send a link to the story. Here it is: http://conchovalleyhomepage.com/media_player.php?media_id=7187#

The magic 20: Rome and Lexington of the South Atlantic League each won their 20th game of the season in recent days, leaving the Florida State League’s St. Lucie Mets as the only team stuck in the teens.

St. Lucie won its 16th game last night, assuring that it won’t post the fewest single-half wins since the FSL split its season into halves in 1988. The Mets have just seven games remaining to reach the 20-win mark.

Lehigh Valley, incidentally, started 2-20 but with a good week won’t finish with the worst record in the International League. There are a couple of teams the Iron Pigs could pass.


Nice race: The Dugout will keep an eye on the Texas League’s north division, where Arkansas, Northwest Arkansas and Springfield are in a three-way tie for the lead with nine games remaining.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

San Angelo's Wiernermania elevates United League

Congratulations goes out to the San Angelo Colts, who today became the first United League team to ever claim the title of MinorLeagueDugout.com's Promotion of the Day.

Based in Texas, the six-team United League began play in 2006. It hasn't received much national attention, but as numerous leagues in the past have shown, making it to a third opening day is no small accomplishment.

San Angelo doesn’t offer many wild promotions. There are a few giveaways in the coming months, but none of which are likely to gain Promo of the Day honors. Still, the Colts seem to have found something good with Wienermania.

Judging from the pictures on the right, quite a few people brought their dachshunds to the ballpark in previous years. The dog owners appear to put quite a bit of effort into getting their pooches to look good. And San Angelo puts in its fair share of effort, too.

Several teams host wiener dog races. Few also hold the costume contests and other games the Colts provide. San Angelo is the host of this season’s United League All-Star Game, which is usually a pretty good sign of the health of a franchise. Here’s to seeing this promo featured many times in the coming years.

The Dugout hopes to have pictures from this year’s event for an upcoming blog.

Dueling stories: Sunday’s Florida vs. Cincinnati game featured two pitchers who leant stories to The Funniest Thing I’ve Ever Seen: More than 100 crazy stories from minor league baseball.

Florida’s Joe Nelson recently got called up to the bigs. The Marlins’ broadcast team relayed the story of how Nelson met his wife – the same story that’s featured in the book. That story deserves its own blog entry, so it is being saved for a slower day.

While waiting, peruse Majewski’s tale.

What, No Wake Up Call?
His given name is Gary Majewski, but his teammates call the Houston native “Tex.” Today, exhaustion makes his southern twang a little slower.

Yesterday’s longer-than-expected travel – the bus left his Charlotte Knights waiting at
the airport – combined with today’s already completed 10:15 a.m. start have left most of
his Charlotte Knights teammates short of rest.

The game hasn’t been over for more than 20 minutes, yet half of the Knights have already
headed home to bed.

Majewski is seated at a table eating lunch. He, too, would likely be on his way home if he weren’t so hungry and hadn’t agreed to an interview. Tex might be even more tired had he pitched in either of the last two games – both Charlotte losses.

Slumped over a sandwich, Majewski doesn’t look like a typical closer. The intimidating goatee is there, but with shaggy, curly hair and the wire rimmed glasses, the 24-year old could just as easily pass for a hip physics student.

Ah, but the attitude is there.

“You have to be just an arrogant bastard on the mound,” Majewski explained. “You have to be the biggest dickhead in the world. You have to learn to deal with it and [the coaching staff] has to learn to deal with you. When I’m on the mound everything is toned down. I don’t hear anything. From when I step on the mound until that last out, that’s the point of the game where I have to concentrate the most. That’s my job. That’s what I get paid to do.”

Majewski has another job with the Knights – one that’s as necessary as it is unofficial. Tex is a prankster. He likes to target players who are easily angered. It’s worth the screaming, Majewski
says, just to see the looks on their faces.

“I do it to keep myself sane,” he said. “You’re gone for eight months out of the year. You play for six months. There’s another month and a half for spring training. It’s like (the movie) Groundhog Day. Every day is the same. You have to do something to change it up
a bit.”

Gary Majewski: Jake Meyer and I were in Louisville in the hotel.
We had just gotten back from [lifting] weights. Our buddies, Aaron
Myles and Ryan Hankins, were going to get something to eat. Jake
and I got their room key and went into their room.

We went to the beds and put the mattresses [on the floor] and
the box springs on top. Then [we] remade the beds. Then we put
some plastic wrap over the toilet, underneath the seat. We also put
some K-Y jelly on top of the toilet seat.

We saw them coming back to the room so we took off. We got a
call about five minutes later from Myles. He’s mad because he
kinda dove into his bed without even thinking. Thump. So he’s fired
up.

At the same time Hankins went to the bathroom. I guess he
walked into the bathroom and saw the plastic wrap, but he didn’t
notice the KY jelly. He had to take a No. 2. Needless to say he had alittle KY on his ass.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Lincoln's results are in...

Diligent readers of the main MinorLeagueDugout.com site will recall that the American Association’s Lincoln Saltdogs claimed the Promotion of the Day for their Election Night.

The Saltdogs’ web site is quickly becoming an anticipated destination during The Dugout’s monthly scan for the top promos. They could claim another night or two during June, and they hinted at several other nights in coming months.

For now, though, we’ll revisit Election Night. The Saltdogs polled their fans on a variety of topics on Wednesday. If the results are accurate, ketchup could help Barack Obama carry Nebraska. Lincoln was kind enough to send all the results, so here they are:

Ketchup 60% Mustard 40%
Giveaways 84% Entertainers 16%
Hot Dogs 52% Hamburger 48%
Red Team Jersey 26% Blue Team Jersey 53% White Team Jersey 21%
Right Field Playground Area 61% Left Field Inflatable's 39%
Day Game 8% Night Game 92%

A couple other recent nights didn’t quite reach Promo of the Night status, but they are worthy of note. For starters, The Dugout likes Mobile’s thinking when they offered Cinco de June on, obviously, June 5. Carry it through the rest of the years, boys.

On Saturday, Lexington offered Abe Lincoln bobblehead dolls because, well, the former president was born in Kentucky.


Oddly enough, Saturday was national doughnut day. The Dugout didn’t find an organization taking advantage of that one.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Gwinnett strikes out with new logo


The Gwinnett Braves chose to disregard the trend for interesting, lively logos when the team unveiled its new look on Monday.

Sure, the designers were limited by the team’s choice to retain the Braves’ nickname, which is another debate altogether. Instead of following the highly successful lead of fellow International Leaguer’s the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, Gwinnett stayed traditional. The argument is that the new logo will increase Atlanta’s and Gwinnett’s brand recognition.

The Dugout isn’t buying it. Anyone whose ever spent any time in the south knows that Atlanta is the only baseball team recognized by southerners. Heck, it’s really the only southern professional team that boasts a widespread following. Gwinnett missed an opportunity.

Gwinnett followed Monday’s unveiling with Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony. Thankfully, work has already started on the ballpark slated to open in April of 2009. Perhaps they were waiting for good weather. Renditions of the new ballpark are posted on the Gwinnett web site.

The Triple-A Richmond Braves announced they were moving to Gwinnett earlier this year after repeated attempts to get a new ballpark in Richmond fell apart. Officials in Richmond are attempting to raise money for a new park with the idea of luring a new team to Virginia’s capital.

The Dugout will be sad to see Richmond’s old ballpark go. Though not as picturesque as most ballparks, it was the scene for the cover of The Funniest Thing I’ve Ever Seen; More than 100 crazy stories from minor league baseball.

Nice game but…: Congrats to Huntsville’s David Welch, who didn’t allow the Chattanooga Lookouts a hit on Monday – his 25th birthday. Headlines predictably proclaimed Welch’s performance a no-hitter. A brief inspection, however, showed the game was only a seven-innings. Welch gave a great performance for sure, but let’s reserve the “no hitter” adjectives for games that go at least nine innings.

Other nice promos: This time of year usually offers several candidates for Promotion of the Day. Lincoln’s Election Day is Wednesday’s winner. Other Wednesday notables are Grand Prarie’s All Hogs go to Heaven, which included a funeral giveaway, and Sioux Falls’ Salute to Crazy Horse. All three teams hail from the American Association.

Monday, June 02, 2008

"Playing for Peanuts" offers an entertaining look at South Coast League

Flipping trough the channels yesterday The Dugout came upon a show called "Playing for Peanuts" on Comcast's CSS network.

The crew spent last season following the South Coast League's South Georgia Peanuts, a team that by almost any measure was clutching to the bottom rung of the baseball ladder. Other than being led by former big league player and psuedo-major league manager Wally Backman, the Peanuts appear to be an utterly unremarkable group of guys.

That’s what makes the show so interesting.

Part of the fun of watching lower level independent games is seeing kids who are taking their last shot at the game. From the brief episodes aired Sunday, there are several players worth routing for.

The ballplayers are cast against the backdrop of what will likely be shown to be the wonderfully dysfunctional – and now defunct (OK, suspended) - South Coast League.

Opening day set the tone. Cameras were present at the home of the Charlotte Redfish when the parachutist attempting to deliver the inaugural game ball crashed into the outside of the outfield wall. Midway through opening night the lights in the ballpark go dark. After they are finally re-fired and the Peanuts finish off the Redfish, players head for the showers only to find there are no towels.

In an interview likely shot the following day, the Charlotte general manager somehow says with a straight face something to the effect of: If forgetting towels was the biggest problem we had, I’ll take it.

Yeah, pay no attention to the crashing parachutist and the blackout.

The Dugout is hoping to talk with director/producer John Fitzgerald, who also produced the Irish national baseball team documentary “The Emerald Diamond,” in the coming weeks.

In the mean time, keep an eye open for “Playing for Peanuts.” CSS in South Florida seems to be using the show as a filler when college softball and baseball games run short or get rained out.


A preview for an upcoming episode shows a grounds crew lining the batters box with chalk being poured from a paper cup. If nothing else, the foibles of the South Coast League alone should make viewers feel better about their jobs.