Why I don’t go to major league baseball games

American-League-2010-First-Half-Average-Ticket-Prices1-600x298My wife will tell you that it’s not so much that I love baseball as much as it is part of my DNA. The soundtrack in my car from late March to late October because is whatever baseball game I can find on the radio. On May 20th, 21st and 22nd The Chicago Cubs – a team I have loved since growing up in Chicago – will play The Boston Red Sox – a team I have loved since I was 9 when we moved to Providence, RI, and I decided that it wasn’t cheating on your 1st team if the 2nd team was in a different league – will be playing each other at Fenway Park.

Here’s how much I am devoted to the two:

  • I am still upset that Ernie Banks never got to play in the World Series.
  • When someone asks how long I’ve lived in Boston I reply, “Since the spring after the ‘86 [World] Series.”

Until 2004, I reveled in loving the two most ill-fated teams in baseball. While that had its charms, I am quite content that only one of my beloveds is a constant reminder of the fickleness of probability.

Because of all this and knowing full-well that tickets were absurdly expensive, I went to see if maybe I could afford one in some far-distant bleacher seat with nearly totally obscured view of the field. The least expensive price for just such a seat: $99.

Out of curiosity, I went to see the cost least expensive ticket I could find for any game Red Sox at Fenway. So I looked at the cost for tickets to a Wednesday day game vs. The San Diego Padres, a team that will be lucky if it finishes above Baja this year. $46 for a seat in that weird little triangle in the center field bleachers.

Meanwhile, 45 minutes away in Pawtucket, RI, the best seats in the house for the Sox AAA farm team go for $11. For the AA team in Portland, ME: $9. For the single A Lowell Spinners $10. For the independent league Brockton Rox: $15 and that includes waiter service. If you want basically the same seats and are willing to get your own damn snacks: $9.50.

brockton-rox-main-logo1I’ll see you in Brockton. Bill Buckner, whom I have truly always admired, is managing and I’m pretty sure he’ll give me an autograph for no extra charge.

BP marketing satire failure

In an attempt to cash in on the rage at BP, the Brevard County Manatees of the Florida State League say batting practice has been renamed hitting rehearsal. So now we have HR instead of BP. It’s like humor without the funny part. C’mon PEOPLE! You can do better than this.

ManateesLogo Further, this quote by the Manatees GM Kyle Smith is just marketing BS: “As an organization, we feel that changing the term ‘batting practice’ and ‘BP’ to ‘hitting rehearsal’ shows that we are deeply concerned and hurt by the disaster on the Gulf coast. We hope to send a message to the community that we are definitely worried with the pollution that is in the waters off the Gulf Coast and its potential impact on the beaches here in Brevard County.”

That said, I do think the team has a great logo.

In other BP news, CEO Tony “Sticks & Stones” Hayward said he does not fear the idea that the US may look to make an example of company executives. "I’m not anxious about being arrested," he said, when asked about the possibility some of BP’s executives could end up in prison.

Because the Feds would send them to a white collar lockup I say we let Louisiana courts take care of this. Angola or bust, baby!

And finally here are two lists I compiled of the best and oddest baseball team names ever.

The funniest real professional baseball team names EVER.

These names are all from the book Professional Baseball Franchises by Peter Filichia, which lists all the baseball franchises that ever existed in the US, Canada & Mexico through 1993 (someone really needs to update it). To be included on this list the team name had to be unique, truly & honestly linked to the locality and/or just so weird and funny that I laughed out loud when I read it. A special salute to Terre Haute & Omaha — two towns that clearly have a sense of humor. Huzzah!

Minot ND Why-Nots
Walla Walla Walla Wallans
Holland MI Wooden Shoes
McAlester OK Sighs
(What the hell was their mascot?)
Omaha: Omahogs & Omahosses
Cooleemee NC Cools
Kalamazoo Kazoos
Terre Haute: Tots, Terre-irs, Huts
Amarillo Dillas
Arkansas Travelers
Cap de la Madeleine Madcaps
Oakland Commuters
Freeport NC Comeons

Click here to see my earlier post for a longer list of awesome and real baseball team names.

Never mind the Yankees and the Red Sox, these are THE BEST BASEBALL RIVALRIES THAT EVER SHOULD HAVE BEEN AND ALMOST ALL NEVER WERE:

Temple TX Surgeons
Kirksville MO Osteopaths

Lebanon PA Pretzel Eaters
Freeport IL & Reading PA Pretzels

Ducks x3
Green Bay Duck Wallopers

Providence Clamdiggers
Norfolk VA Clams
Pawtucket Clam Eaters

Mason City IA Claydiggers
St. John (Canada) Clay Eaters

(Eating weird things seems to be something of a theme, there’s also the Fort Dodge IA Gypsumeaters and the Sterling IL Rag Chewers)

Cleveland Molly Maguires
Coal Barons x4

Hermosillo MX Orange Pickers
Beeville TX Orange Growers

Crisfield MO Crabbers
Gulfport Crabs

Battle Creek Custers
Fort Wayne Kekiongas
(Kekionga was the capital of the Miami indian tribe that nearly destroyed the nascent US Army in 1791. But you knew that already, right?)

Kalamazoo Celery Champs, Celery Eaters & Celery Pickers
Sanford FL Celeryfeds

El Centro CA Imps
Youngstown OH Gremlins

Omaha Kidnappers
Mansfield OH Kids

Matoon IL Broom Corn Raisers
Charleston IL Broom Corn Cutters

Albuquerque Isotopes
Tri-City (Kennewick, Richland & Pasco WA) Atoms

The ultimate guide to great & real baseball team names

WhoopeeLast week’s action by the Macon Music to hold an Eliot Spitzer Night inspired me to get out one of my all time favorite books (and this will tell you how odd I truly am): Professional Baseball Franchises by Peter Filichia. It is a list of all the baseball franchises that ever existed in the US, Canada & Mexico through 1993 (someone really needs to update it). It lists them by city and — most importantly — by nickname. So I went through the whole damn thing — as well as the most up-to-date lists of currently active teams and found the following team names. All existed, some still do. Sadly the Macon Whoopee does not. They were a minor league HOCKEY team. I have taken the liberty of grouping them into leagues that I thought should exist. Those interested might also want to take a look at this List of Funniest Real Baseball Team Names.

First let me mention that when it comes to baseball –everyone has the Blues. Thirty-two towns and cities have had teams with that name.

THE SELF-ESTEEM LEAGUE

Bridgeport CT Misfits
Lincoln NE Missing Links
LaCross Outcasts
Orphans (17 teams)
Davenport Prodigals
Fall River Adopted Sons
Bluffton IN Dregs
Fremont NE Freaks
Centralia IL Zeros
Bonham TX Boogers

THE MORBIDITY & MORTALITY LEAGUE

Zanesville Flood Sufferers
Memphis FeverGerms
Americus GA Pallbearers
Paris TX Parisites (Extra points for an outstanding pun).
Des Moines IA Undertakers
Rockford IL Wakes
Regina Sask Bonepilers
Hannibal MO & Longview TX Cannibals
Waterloo IA Microbes
Clarksburg WV & Casper WY Ghosts
Springfield OH Reapers

THE BETTER THAN YOU LEAGUE

Anniston AL & Texarkana TX Nobles
Calumet Aristocrats
Paris KY Bourbons
Superior WI Boys
Dunkirk NY Dandies
Quincy IL Debutantes
Ellsworth KS Worthies
Bonham TX Favorites
Hoquiam Perfect Gentlemen
Rochester NY Beay Brummels
Brenham TX Kaisers
(Also Barons x5, Millionaires x8, Moguls x2)

And … because someone has to do the work:

Newark Domestics
Troy NY Washerwomen

THE EDUCATED LEAGUE

Waterbury CT Authors
Stratford ONT Poets
Augusta GA Tygers (Official Team of William Blake)
New Haven Profs
Worcester Riddles
New Haven CT & Sherman TX Students
Durant OK & Fayetville IN Educators
Georgetown TX Pedagogues
Collegians x7

THE MIS-SPELLED LEAGUE

Orem UT Owlz
Knoxville TX Knox Sox (Official team of Dr. Seuss)
Hamilton ONT Kolts
Saginaw MI Krazy Kats (Official team of George Herriman)
Baker Canada Kubs
Keokuk Kernals
Lebanon PA Chix
Granby & Hazlehurst-Baxley Red Socks (someone has to now how to spell)

LEAGUE OF TEAMS YOU DON’T WANT TO UPSET

Shenandoah PA Hungarian Rioters
Salina KS Insurgents
Rockford Indignants
Newburgh NY Cobblestone Throwers
Lynn MA Fighters

More after the jump

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Baseball team announces “Eliot Spitzer Night” promotion

MaconMusicThankfully the spirit of Bill Veeck still lives among us. The wonderfully name Macon Music has announced that June 13th will be Eliot Spitzer Night at Luther Williams Field. Much merriment is planned during the game against the Aiken Foxhounds — they really should be the Aiken Backs.

  • The team is giving away a trip to New York and a one-night stay at the Mayflower Hotel.
  • Fan No. 9 into the ballpark will receive a Music prize pack.
  • Anyone with the name Eliot, Spitzer or Kristen, any fan from New York, and/or anyone who has ever resigned a position will receive $1 off admission. No word if these discounts will be cumulative.
  • Wire taps will be placed around the stadium.
  • ATMs in the ballpark will be available for cash withdrawals not to exceed $5,000 per hour.

Adding to the amusement is the fact that minor league ballplayers don’t even make $5K a month, never mind per hour.

FYI: Veeck’s book Veeck As In Wreck and Robert Townsend’s Up The Organization are the best business/marketing books ever written.

Quite probably the best marketing event of the year

I know where I want to be on July 2nd. From a press release

May 15, 2006 – ALTOONA- Inspired by a Los Angeles Angels fan who filed a lawsuit against the club because he did not receive a red nylon tote bag as part of the major league club's Mother’s Day promotion last May, the Altoona Curve have announced that they will be holding Salute to Frivolous Lawsuit Night as part of their Sunday, July 2nd game at Blair County Ballpark.

The Curve’s salute to all ridiculous lawsuits ever filed will include the following:

  • A Pink Tote Bag Giveaway to the first 137 men in attendance ages 18 and ove
  • The first 137 women 18 and over will receive lukewarm coffee so they will not burn themselves
  • The first 137 kids will be given a beach ball with a warning not to ingest it
  • Angels merchandise and novelty items given away throughout the game
  • Honoring some of history's "Most Frivolous Lawsuits" during the game
  • A grand prize drawing in which one fan will receive a “clue” and their own frivolous lawsuit.

Additional details will be announced later

“We realize that these giveaways as part of our Salute to Frivolous Lawsuit Night are fairly stupid and serve no real purpose,” said Curve General Manager Todd Parnell. “But if our fans don’t like them, then they can sue us!”

Curve President and Managing Partner Chuck Greenberg, himself a practicing corporate and sports attorney, declined to comment on his club’s promotion because of concerns that his comments could lead to a frivolous lawsuit.

The Altoona Curve have become widely recognized for the fun, themed nights, including their annual “Awful Night” and the innovative “2006 Retro Celebrity Series”, which is bringing 11 of the most popular names from some of televisions most popular shows to Blair County Ballpark during the 2006 season. The club was honored by Minor League Baseball as the winner of the 2004 Larry MacPhail Award for promotional excellence among all affiliated minor league clubs.

For more information on the Altoona Curve, visit the club’s official website at http://www.altoonacurve.com.

Somewhere Bill Veeck is smiling. (Have I mentioned that Veeck — As In Wreck is one of the best marketing books ever? Mike Veeck's book, Fun Is Good, is pretty damn good too.)

Time to go back to Graceland

There’s a sentence I didn’t expect to write. But there’s a new show at G’land that features a TV Elvis shot when he got angry. How can you not respect someone who does that?

The show, Elvis After Dark, also has a “jukebox, wrapped in yellow and green neon, that provided him with a steady supply of popular music. There are film clips that show family and friends discussing late-night excursions to an amusement park or his favorite movie theater, which he would rent for the night.” Nothing about taking pictures of co-eds wrestling in their underwear, though.

I am a fan, despite the fact that after “The Sun Sessions” anything good he recorded felt like a fluke.
Last time I was in Memphis, the previous Bush was still in office. I went to Graceland and had my own little epiphany — I found out what William Carlos Williams meant when he wrote, “The pure products of America/go crazy.” It’s a combination extravagance and humility unlike I’d ever seen before. Maybe call it unaffected affectation. The tour guides make a big point of telling you that the chandelier is “cut Italian glass.” It’s not crystal, it’s cut glass and he wanted to make damn sure everyone knew it. Maybe it’s just plain old honest, un-ironic kitsch. Shag carpet on the ceilings. I think it was Twain who wrote that you learn something holding a cat by the tail that you can’t learn anyway else. Graceland’s the same way. I’ll admit it, I cried at his grave — not because of who he became but who he wanted to be. And the inscription reminded me that he wasn’t just The Icon but someone’s son:

He became a living legend in his own time, Earning the respect and love of millions.

God saw that he needed some rest and called him home to be with him.

We miss you, Son and Daddy. I thank God that he gave us you as our son.

To be honest, that, some ribs and Sun Studios were about as good as Memphis got. Me and the future Mrs. Collateral Damage went together and I stopped at a gun show — I’d never been to one and figured I’d check it out — there was a LOT of paraphernalia from a former German regime, if you know what I mean. They had the Reich stuff. That was my general vibe of the city. Shortly thereafter we left in a move that is now known as leaving under cover of daylight. We stopped over at Vicksburg, which is about equidistant between Memphis and New Orleans. I bought a reproduction of a civil war map of V’burg and it served just as well as a modern counterpart for getting around town. God, I was glad to get to New Orleans.