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AA: Bribing Fans In July

Welcome Back! I always find myself struggling to find time to make posts come summer. And it doesn’t get easier from here on out. But one of the coolest things about running this site is meeting or running into people that play in our HR derby. Believe it or not, we have contestants from East to West and North to South (last season we even bridged the Atlantic Ocean). And recently, I was honored in witnessing two of our teams tie-the-knot in the Rocky Mountains (congrats Cowhide Joyride and Ruby In The Rockies). And one of the bonuses of this trek was getting to meet even more of our players face to face. The expression on your faces when I break the news that I’m ‘The Commish’ is always priceless. So who knows, The Commish may be coming to a town near you and maybe we will become more than just faces in the crowd (or words in an email).

One way to bribe me to a town near you is with baseball. Obviously, I enjoy baseball. Some people may even call it an addiction. I just can’t turn baseball off inside my head. But most people aren’t like me, so it takes some coaxing to get them to head on out to the ballpark. Last month I covered the minor league affiliates who had some of the best and weirdest free giveaways. So where should you go in the month of July to get some one-of-a-kind items? Well, start mapping out your July road-trip through these cities:

  • Friends Don’t Let Friends Be IronPigs Fans – Scranton RailRiders – July 1 – You can wear this shirt anywhere but Allentown, PA. If you wear it there, it’s your own funeral.
  • Second Wise Man Bobblehead – Nashville Sounds July 11 – If you got the first one in June, you have to get the second one to continue towards the coolest nativity scene in your neighborhood.
  • Sequin Glove – Toledo Mud Hens – July 12 – SEQUINS!!!! O-EM-GEE!! It’s totes adorbs. I can only hope that it distracts the other team’s batters while I’m in the field.
  • Tiara – Wisconsin Timber Rattlers – July 12 – If you couldn’t make it to Toledo in time for the Sequin glove, you could settle for a tiara if you happen to be in Wisconsin. I mean who wouldn’t be pumped for Princess Night at the ballpark.
  • Slap Watch – Louisville Bats July 13 – Please tell me you remember slap bracelets… Oh the 80’s and early 90’s. Now we are in the future and technology is better. So how do you make a fashion weapon even better? You add a watch to it, so you know the exact time that you hit your brother over the face with it.
  • Beer Stein – Albuquerque Isotopes July 18 – I don’t know what your bar-ware collection looks like, but if it’s anything like mine, there is always room for 1 more beer stein. And if there isn’t, you build another cabinet.
  • Duck Dynasty Tea Cup – Cedar Rapids Kernels July 18 – I was very tempted to make a trip to this game after reading ‘Tea Cup’. I would look a lot more manly at tea-time if I had a teacup with a giant beard on it. But alas, its a cup made for sweet tea similar to the one Si drinks out of.
  • Pujols Garden Gnome – Inland Empire 66ers July 19 – I only have a garden so that I have a home for sports gnomes. Seriously. Bernie Brewer shifts to a new home every time the Brewers lose. So go get your has been Pujols gnome. He needs a loving, caring home.
  • Free Loaf Of Bread – Reading Fightin’ Phils – July 20 – Boom! Shopping list done. Yes honey, I remembered the bread.
  • Salt & Pepper Shakers – Lakewood Blueclaws July 24 – Phew. I’ve been looking everywhere to up my salt and pepper shaker collection by one. These old squirrel ones aren’t just cutting it anymore and need to be retired. And just in case you miss this game, you can go to the July 27 game and get your Umbrella Hat. Here’s hoping for rain on Sunday the 27th.
  • Babe Ruff Snow Globe – Birmingham Barons July 26 – Sweet, a snow globe… in July?! I kind of wonder who this Babe Ruff character is. Is it a dog’s head on Babe Ruth’s body or is it Babe Ruth’s head on a dog’s body? Either way, what an awesome gift to display not just at Christmas, but all year round.
  • Ugly Sweater Jersey – Lowell Spinners – July 24 – Um… the picture is worth 1,000 words. I would totally wear this on Christmas and the 10 days after. No need for washing.
  • Santa Hat – Arkansas Naturals – July 24 – What’s with all the Christmas in July. I like snow but why remind me of the cold when the heat finally got here. It’s too bad I can’t get the ugly sweater and the santa hat. Why did they plan these giveaways on the same night!
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AA: June’s Fan Bribes

It’s time for some AA (Audience Augmenter) posts in 2014 thanks to a lead from The Golden Trouts. They sent me a great link to a promotion the Indian’s Class A affiliate, the Lake County Captains, are running August 1st. The first 1500 fans get an AWESOME Jobu bobblehead. I think one of our teams, Jobu Needs ANOTHER Refill, needs this on their desk as a team mascot.

I love these types of fan enticing gimmicks. What better way to persuade fans to come to a sporting event than bribing them with crap that people love (I’m one of those guys that love bobbleheads and I don’t know why). But this link got me thinking… what other head scratching fan giveaways are going on in the Minor Leagues that will definitely attract some sort of fans. Well, after a little research, I found the ones in June that made me do just that, scratch my head. So mark your calendars for these upcoming dates:

  • Starling Marte Oven Mitt – Altoona Curve June 1st – Unfortunately, you missed out on owning this one of a kind oven mitt. I mean who wouldn’t want to remember a struggling CF every time they pulled their casseroles out of the oven?
  • Door Mat – Colorado Springs Sky Sox June 1st – Again, you may have missed this giveaway and what better way for a fan to remember that their team is in last place in the standings and being walked all over. Thus making them the division’s door mat.
  • Mystery Star Wars Bobblehead – Lancaster JetHawks June 14th – What’s better than useless crap? Mystery useless crap. I will feel very bad for the fan that receives a bobblehead of Jar-Jar Binks.
  • Bible Bobblehead of First Wise Man – Nashvillle Sounds June 29th – For a team affiliated to beer drinkers, I’m a little surprised by this giveaway. Don’t worry, you have the chance to own all the wise men in bobblehead form. Just don’t miss one of the other two games because I’m sure you won’t be able to find these cheap on Ebay. Your best bet may be to steal them from someone’s Nativity Scene this December.
  • Free Beer and Hot Wings Bobblehead – West Michigan Whitecaps June 19th – Uh? Why didn’t they just stop after the word ‘Wings’?! Why did they have to add the word bobblehead to the end? Imagine how many fans (and college students from across the country) they could have had in attendance if Free Beer and Hot Wings were on the menu that night. It would probably go over worse than the Cleveland Indians’ 10cent Beer Night.
  • Kayla Miller Vendor Bobblhead and Cowboy Monkey Rodeo Bobblehead – Wilmington Blue Rocks June 10th and 26th – I’m pretty sure this organization is giving away gifts at every game this season, whether it’s salt and pepper shakers or umbrellas or dog bowls. But two unique ones are the bobbleheads for their local stadium Kayla Miller and another bobblehead of the cowboy rodeo monkey. First, the Kayla Miller bobblehead is interesting and let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want a collectible bobblehead of themselves. But having 1000 other people having a mini statue of you on their mantle is a little creepy (or even creepier, in their bathroom). The cowboy rodeo monkey bobblehead is crazy awesome if Whiplash (the Monkey) actually makes an appearance. This isn’t the first time we have highlighted Whiplash in an AA post, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Keep sending me those interesting links. I only have so much time to find them myself.

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AA: Presidential Player Presiding

So maybe your fantasy baseball team is struggling, or maybe your real team is struggling, or maybe your statistical world just got rocked… Well, how about some marketing antics from The Commish’s backyard to cheer you up? (You don’t have a choice, you are going to hear it).

In the Northwoods League, the Waterloo Bucks are holding a great promotion on July 13th for Presidents’ Day. Not that they need the fan support (they took 1st in the 1st half of the season), but any fan with the last name of any of the 44 US Presidents gets in to Saturday’s game for free.

That’s not all… if you have a last name the same as the current President, you get to play shortstop for the team (pending a physical). Do you know how bad I want to find someone with the last name Obama?! Just to see some random person play shortstop for a single inning would be awesome. Too bad no one within 240 miles meets said criteria.

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AA: Staged Gimmick or Damsel In Distress

Was this just another staged gimmick at a minor league ball game? Or was this actually an ignorant boyfriend?

Whatever it was, the reactions of the fans around them were awesome! Most of them seemed to not know that the couple was right in front of them, they were all staring at the big screen when they reacted.

Take note single HR derby males, do not talk on your phone during the kiss cam… unless you are pulling a blockbuster fantasy baseball trade or trash talking your buddies about doing horrible in the HR derby. Those reasons should be excusable by your girlfriend otherwise your relationship wouldn’t last anyways.

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AA: We The Jury Find The Runner… Safe!

Who needs instant replay when you can have a jury?

That’s just what the St Paul Saints intend to find out on May 11th in a game against the Gary South Shore Railcats. In fact, they are getting rid of all umpire’s and replacing them with two judges and two juries.

No, the jury will not be selected through “random draw” like typical jury duty. In fact, all the jury members will be minors… yes, minors. They will be made up of 24 little leaguers (12 for each jury, 1 jury for each team) and replace the base umpires.

The home plate umpire will be replaced by a ‘judge’. It will still be a usual umpire, but be dressed in the typical black robe. However, he will not call balls and strikes from his usual position. Instead, he will stand behind the pitcher and call the game (seen in a Brewers spring training game this year, and reminiscent of the 19th century).

The juries will rotate half-innings and majority rule will decide the runners’ fates. A tie will not go to the runner, instead the judge will break the tie.

But this gets even better, not only will there be a judge on the field, but the fans will also have a judge in the stands that they can take their objections to. Which could turn out to be the best/worst idea if the boozers show up for the game.

This game should be marked on everyone’s road trip calendars because you will get the most game for your buck in this one. Not only will you get to watch 6 hours of baseball, but it also means beer sales ending in the top of the 8th inning won’t occur until 4.5 hours after game start. Please refer to the boozers link above for history that may repeat itself.

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AA: MiLB Gimmicks Are Back

It’s been a while since there was an Audience Augmenter post, so let’s bring at least one back in 2013…

While you are catching up on your Sandlot Retrieval Skills, here are some interesting Minor/Independent League promotions that you may want to road trip to experience:

  1. Lennay Kekua Bobblehead Night – You may be asking yourself ‘Who is Lennay Kekua?’. Well, you aren’t alone because the entire US was asking that same question in January when Manti Te’o announced his deceased girlfriend had called him in December. Her name: Lennay Kekua. And what followed was a confession of a year long hoax about the girlfriend being fake and the voice being a mans… So what does the Florence Freedom marketing department think about this whole National Event? How can we capitalize on this… The answer:Lennay Kekua Bobblehead Night. That’s right, the first 1,000 fans through the gates will get a Lennay Bobblehead, which of course is an empty box. But it doesn’t end there, an entire section will be kept reserved for fans and their imaginary significant others. Two seats for the price of one, but only one person allowed. And to top it all off, there will be a kiss cam roaming this section as well. So mark your calendars for May 23rd so you can be one of the lucky fans that get the collectible of the year. I wonder how much one could sell said bobblehead autographed by Te’o for on Ebay?
  2. Urinal Gaming System Cures Awkward Stare – The Queens of Cork will need to use your imagination on this one… All you guys know that awkward moment when someone ponies up to the urinal next to yours and you have to make that decision. Are you going to strike up a conversation or are you going to stare straight forward at the bare off white colored brick? Well fellow urinal users fear not because the Leigh Valley Iron Pigs have a solution. The Urinal Gaming System. It’s time to stop simply flushing your recycled beer down the drain and start using it to maneuver your skier around gates, put out burning buildings, or answer trivia questions. The best part is you get to see how your score compares to your fellow pee’rs after the game. Bring it on PinBalls Hero.
  3. Fans Will Be Fined $1 For Improper Spelling Of Team Name – The A’s Triple-A affiliate, The Sacramento River Cats, have officially warned the media, it’s employees, and it’s fans. If you even dare spell the team name without a space or with a lower case ‘r’ or ‘c’, you are subject to a fine… of $1. I will not post any examples as I can’t afford the fine, so if you wan’t to know what is acceptable or not, check out their press release. Don’t worry, hand written notes, text messages, and tweets are not subject to penalties.

Got any other interesting promotions that I should mark as a stop on a baseball road trip, let me know about them in the comments below.

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Get Me Out To The Baaall Game

Here’s something to read/watch to keep you sane on your nine-hour layover.

So who’s sick of the MLB blackout policy? Probably only a select group of you. Most of said group is probably located in Iowa, Western Illinois, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Oklahoma, or Arkansas. These areas have the most blacked out teams. Take Arkansas and Oklahoma, residents can’t watch games from the Cardinals, Royals, Houston, or Texas. Now if one of those teams have a local network deal, they would have the ability to watch that team. Then you have Iowa, residents here are blacked out from the Twins, Brewers, Cubs, White Sox, Royals, and Cardinals. What does the MLB expect… they want to force Iowans to drive 5-6 hours in any direction to watch a live baseball game? Ridiculous. At least residents can watch the Cubs in their ‘rebuilding’ years on WGN.

One plus (if it can be called that) to being stuck in an area with multiple markets, you get the opportunity to watch the marketing departments duke it out in advertising. It seems obvious that the best marketing departments are these teams in the multiple team markets. Take a look below at some of the Kings of Cork favorites from the 2012 campaign (I think the Cardinals not only won the World Series, but their Marketing Department mopped the floors with the rest of baseball’s marketing).

Those aren’t all of the 2012 MLB commercials but IMO, they are some of the best. But if you disagree, link me to some of the others (from 2012) that you believe should be on this list. We will gladly add them to the list.

AA: MLB Turns Back The Clock, Bring Out Your Dimes

Welcome to an early addition of Audience Augmenters. We are going to rewind the clock this week; because after doing a little research, I found out why the Majors can’t get away with the cheap gimmicks like Minor League ball can. I promise, after this week, we will return to our regularly scheduled program of showing the funny, strange, and/or just plain outrageous attendance promotions currently being offered in baseball.

So why has major league baseball tamed down their promotional nights. I believe it is due to these three/four promotional nights of the 70’s (oh how I wish I could have partaken in the 70’s fun).

#1 – 10 Cent Beer Night – Cleveland Indians (It even has its own ballad)

Dime Time Beer!!! Sign me and my 40 other buddies up for this game. Not only are you spending less than a night at the bar, but you also get to watch baseball as well (including a woman who decided to flash the crowd from the on-deck circle). I really wish I could have been part of the Cleveland Indians marketing department meeting when this promotion was brought up. Who in their right mind thought this would end well? Even if the June 4, 1974 game versus the Rangers didn’t end with a 25,000 person brawl, where players and coaches were wielding bats for self defense, those 25,000 definitely didn’t walk to the game. Although that era was a different time than it is now, where the local cops would give you a slap on the wrist for driving while intoxicated and not bringing them a spare beer.

The night started with the woman flashing, it turned into a naked guy sliding into second base after the second HR by the Rangers. After that it turned into a streaking chaos, guys on the field mooning the Ranger outfielders (I’m pretty sure one of these guys was my father). By the 9th inning when Cleveland tied it at 5, there was just a pile of clothes in left field. When one fan flipped the bill of the Ranger outfielder and he fell face first, the Rangers manager turned to his bench and cried “Our Freedome!!!”… Then they all came out of the dugout swinging Louisville sluggers, but they were met by many more drunk and clothed fans with chains and knives.

This led the Indians manager to turn to his bench who grabbed bats and made a Blackhawk down rescue mission for the Ranger players (some where knocked out with chairs while others were beating the crap out of kids). I mean this brawl made the Ron Artest brawl look like a grade school fight. I highly recommend reading this article at least to the point where they have the actual game time comments from the commentators. My favorite part is after the game ended in a forfeit by the Indians, the Indians owner announced they would be limiting the next event from 6 to only 4 cups per person (they had 3 more of these nights planned since it did over double the attendance to the game).

#2 – Disco Demolition Night – Chicago White Sox

For the Rest of the Story: Follow the Jump…

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AA: Wisconsin Baseball Fans LOVE Cheap Gimmicks

Wrestling mascots, tennis balls littering the mound next to a 5 gallon pail, robotic t-shirt guns, under age college students rolling kegs around the bases, and of course “the beer batter” whom gives the fans $1 beers if he strikes out. These are only some of the differences between the professional level and any amateur level of baseball. Without these gimmicks, how else would amateur baseball get fans to enjoy themselves at the ballpark. Well, those items and the chance to witness the rising of the next Bob Gibson.

Professional clubs try to simulate this atmosphere, but at a much more tame level. The Brewers have the Sausage Race, Pittsburgh has the Pierogi Race, Washington has the Presidents Race (which is funny because Teddy Roosevelt isn’t ever allowed to win), teams give out items to the first X number of fans (ranging anywhere from an umbrella, to a bobble head, to the sweetest t-shirt of all time). But none of these gimmicks are as great as what the amateur organizations will try in order to persuade their fan base to contribute to the team’s revenue.

Thus, I am going to try to start a new weekly (semi-weekly) column where I share one or multiple organizations’ greatest 2010 promotions. If you stumble upon any or know of any, feel free to send me a link. You can get a hold of me via the contact page.

So let’s begin this year long journey I am dubbing “Attendance Augmenters” or AA for short.

This week I will be hi-lighting the Madison Mallards 2010 promotions. One, because they bring back fond memories of my great alum days; and two, because they always have great promotions ( see the Gary Coleman stunt RIP Gary).

The Madison Mallards are part of the 16 team Northwoods League. This league is formed by some of the top collegiate players around the country and allows them to play competitive summer ball. The Northwoods League is also known for playing more games and drawing the most fans (partially due to these gimmicks) than almost all the other collegiate summer leagues. The league has produced some of the top names in baseball today, including Ian Kinsler (ex-Mallard), Andre Ethier, Juan Pierre, Max Scherzer, Ryan Spilbroghs (ex-Mallard), Josh Willingham, and Ben Zobrist just to name a few.

For the Rest of the Story: Follow the Jump…