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Money Talks

Time for a random rant… I recently finished my summer baseball voyages and got to experience a few things. One was a rare same city double header. I started with a day game at US Cellular between the WhiteSox and Royals and immediately followed it up with a night game at Wrigley the same day. Both were new venues to me and unique experiences that I got to share with some good guys.

Later in the summer, I ventured down south and made some pit stops at a few minor league stadiums, the Asheville Tourists (Rockies single A) and the Louisville Bats (Reds triple A, plus a side trip to the Louisville bat manufacturing plant tour and museum).

The two similar trips got me thinking… I had more ‘fun’ at the minor league games than I did at the major league games. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the baseball much, much more at the MLB level but the games were missing the excitement, entertainment, and energy that the minor league games had.

And I think I know why, the fans are ‘true’ fans. The fans were more into the heckling, the chants, the game. There were always some stupid contest or humiliating task for fans to win prizes after every side batted. And front row tickets were under $15. They live for their hometown entertainers and they can afford to go and support them. That second point is key… They can afford to go. Professional sports have gotten caught up in the business boom and solely trying to make money. What this means is real fans can’t afford the good seats or any seats (or the concessions). It’s sad too because these are the people that truly care about the teams. Not the business men buying the suits to butter up clients. Not the millionaires looking to flaunt their money. I tend to splurge and pay for the good seats but I would enjoy it much more if I hade some spare money to buy a beer and hot dog. And there is no way I can go to a World Series game without being in standing room or nose bleed sections. The normal seats for those events are reserved for social royalty.

I think Olbermanns rant below solidifies this idea of sports being purely business these days. Everything could be made better but then there would be no money for the owners, office, and players to swim in.

And in tonight’s Braves/Mets game, the Braves tv broadcast actually kept a clock of all the time batters were not standing in the batters box after they approached the plate… The final tally in the 9-innings was an astonishing 23.5 minutes. If the MLB enforced the rules, that game would have been done almost 30 minutes sooner, but they would also be thousands of dollars poorer.

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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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You’ve Been Drafted: Uncle Bud Wants You

Something to cover your boredom now that the NBA Finals and the NHL Stanley Cup are finally over.

Most baseball fans know where babies the next generation of ball players come from. The first year player draft. But how many know when the draft is and who was taken in the 1,000th round any round by their favorite team. I would guess less than 2 percent.

Good news though, The Commish here at Kings of Cork will fill you in on what you missed two weeks ago. Yes, that’s the answer to one of the sarcastic comments above. The MLB draft took place last week. The first round was on June 6th; the 2nd-30th rounds were on the 7th; and the 31st-50th rounds were on the 8th… No need to refresh your browser, you read that correctly. Round 50 was on June 8th. Why 50 rounds in the MLB draft? Each MLB team has 4 minor league affiliate teams that they need to fill rosters for. Not to mention that most top prospects just flame out so why not increase your odds of finding the next Jose Bautista by signing more than 50 guys a year.

I won’t bore you with the top high school prospects that went in the top-50 players or many of the names you have never heard of and most likely will never hear of from the 1,530 players drafted. Instead, I will fill you in on the more interesting draft picks on names you might be familiar with because of their lineage. So let’s start chopping away at the baseball family tree:

  • Dante Bichette Jr. – It isn’t difficult to figure out this players lineage. Bichette Jr was drafted in the first round by the devil New York Yankees and has already committed to the team (he previously was committed to play college ball for Georgia). In his final season as a senior in high school in Maitland Florida, he hit an amazing 0.640 with 10 homers in 30 games. His playing style is very similar to his father’s, Dante Bichette Sr. Senior was known most for playing with the Colorado Rockies after being traded from the Brewers due to the Rockies being a new expansion team. He also played with the Angles and Boston. If Bichette Jr is anything like his old man, he could be the next triple crown winner (Bichette Sr narrowly missed that feat in 1995).
  • Dereck Rodriguez – No, A-Rod does not have a long lost son or brother… This is the offspring of the infamous ‘Pudge’. Ivan Rodriguez, aka Pudge, was the first MLB catcher to amass a 100R/30HR/100RBI line in a single season and was also named the AL MVP in 1999. Dereck (his first name is actually Ivan) is not a catcher but instead plays center field for a high school in Miami and was selected in the 6th round by the Minnesota Twins. Hopefully, he isn’t the next Carlos Gomez.
  • Trevor Gretzky – Yes, that Gretzky. Trevor is “The Great One’s” 3rd child and was selected by the Cubs in the 7th round. Trevor plays 3rd base and might be Aramis’s replacement in the coming years. That is if Trevor decides to stick with Baseball. He is also a star football player whose teammates include Will Smith’s kid and Joe Montana’s kid.
  • Shawon Dunston Jr. – Another name that is recognizable by the Jr after the last name. Senior was the great shortstop for the Cubs and was on the opposite side of the bag for one of the greatest double play duo’s in the game (Dunston and Sandberg). And once again, the Cubs drafted a Shawn Dunston. This time the Cubs only had to pay an 11th round pick (instead of the 1st round pick spent on his father). Don’t worry Starlin Castro fans, Junior is not a shortstop. He’s currently an outfielder for his California High School.
  • Cameron Seitzer – This name is on this list simply for the Brewer fans. Yep, Cameron is Kevin Seitzer’s boy. Kevin endured two stints with the Brewers as their everyday third baseman and was named an All-star twice in his career. His son, however, plays first base and was selected by the Rays. Hopefully Cameron pans out because the Rays could really use a first baseman right now.
  • David Lucroy, Nick Avila – These names have to sound familiar to the NL/AL Central fans around here. David Lucroy is the younger brother of Jonathan Lucroy of the Brewers and Nick Avila is the younger brother of Alex Avila for the Tigers. Who cares, right? Well, the interesting piece of information about these two is that the older brothers are catchers and the younger brothers are pitchers… AND both the Brewers and the Tigers drafted the younger brother of their starting catchers respectively. Yep, there is a possibility that 2 teams in the Majors will have a pitcher/catcher brother combo. This hasn’t been done since the 1962 season where Norm Sherry caught for his brother Larry Sherry for the LA Dodgers. And the brother pitcher/catcher battery has only been completed 10 times since 1877 in MLB history. Lucroy was taken in the 29th round by the Brewers while Avila was taken in the 37th round by the Tigers. It will be interesting if both teams accomplish this feat in the same season.
  • Bryan Harper – This is the same Harper as last year’s number one overall pick, Bryce Harper. The difference is that Bryan is the older brother and he went 29 rounds later than his brother did by being drafted in the 30th round. But, like Lucroy and Avila, the Nationals drafted Bryan Harper as well. Too bad Bryce is being moved from catcher to outfield by the Nationals organization, otherwise the Harpers would be listed with Lucroy and Avila above since Bryan is a south-paw pitcher. Cub fans can be offended since they drafted Bryan in round 29 in 2010 but couldn’t convince him to sign.
  • Trent Boras – If this name doesn’t sound familiar, please refer to this link. Yes, this is the offspring of Scott Boras. The guy known and dreaded by every Major League team. If an organization is looking to sign a contract and that player is a client of Scott Boras, they better have their loan agency or loan sharks on call because Boras will take any team to the cleaners (see Barry Zito’s contract with the Giants, any of A-Rod’s contracts, or Dice-K’s contract). So what sorry team drafted Boras’ kid… the Milwaukee Brewers drafted him in round 30 as a high school third baseman. The last thing the Brewers need is another Boras’ client (I suppose someone has to replace Prince. Hopefully, Trent doesn’t suck as much as Carlos Gomez).
  • Casey Rasmus – For the Red Bird fans, Casey is Colby Rasmus’ younger brother. Yet another team drafting a current player’s brother. The Cardinals took Casey in the 36th round as a potential replacement to Yadier Molina once his knees give out behind the plate.
  • Brett Geren, Matthew Scioscia, Shane Farrell – These names may be a bit more obscure unless you have been brushing up on your baseball managers list lately. Brett Geren was drafted in the 42nd round and is the son of the recently fired Oakland manager Bob Geren. Matthew Scioscia and Shane Farrell were both drafted in round 46th. Scioscia is the son of current Angels manager Mike Scioscia and Farrell is the son of current Blue Jays manager John Farrell. These picks seem like management bribery to ensure their sons have jobs after high school.
  • Photo by Associated Press

    Kyle Gaedele – This name requires an eraser to find the baseball lineage. Take the last ‘e’ off the name and you have the great-nephew to the Saint Louis Browns’ greatest gimmick in history. Eddie Gaedel popped out of a papier-meche cake in between games of a double header and stood a mere 3-feet 7-inches. He then proceeded to pinch hit and recorded a walk on four straight balls before being removed for a pinch runner. His jersey is still on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame bearing the number ‘1/8’. Don’t worry Padre fans, the team’s 6th round pick, Kyle, is almost 3-feet taller than his great uncle and hit 17 homers for Valparaiso. However, it would be entertaining for Kyle to jump out of a cake for his Major League debut.
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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…