Over the years, minor league teams have tried just about everything to get butts into their ballparks. Fake Tim Tebows, nun massages, Mike Vick doggy toys, you name it - a minor league team will give away anything in order to gain some publicity and sell some tickets. It’s not allMike Veeck’s fault, but the minor league mogul has been behind some of the more out-there promotions over the years at the St. Paul Saints and other, even more obscure teams.
(It’s a conspiracy!)
But at least two minor league baseball teams are discovering that a team doesn’t have to push the boundaries of sanity, good taste, and intellectual property to get people excited about a promotion. Americans, as it turns out, are a simple folk, motivated by the chance to see hundred-year-old technology and, of course, candy.
Sigh. Just 24 hours ago, the idea of Tom Watson winning the British Open and Lance Armstrong winning the Tour de France didn’t seem all that far-fetched. In fact, we were all starting to believe that it all had to happen. Why would they come this far just to fail in the end?
Much has been written about Watson’s inability to hang on to a one-shot lead on the 18th at Turnberry, but lost in that shuffle was the news that Armstrong has basically conceded the Tour to his teammate Alberto Contador after falling behind in yesterday’s climb in the Alps. While Lance is still second overall, he finished ninth in yesterday’s stage and looks like he’s not going to be able to keep up as the Tour continues through the mountains over the next week.
“Lance Armstrong was my idol, but dropping him today wasn’t important — he was just like any other rider … It’s an honor for me to have him working for me,” Contador said.
In other words, this is my sport now. Armstrong, who is rumored to be starting his own team for next year, acknowledged that Contador was the best rider and that his goal now is to do what’s best for his team.
Wins by Watson and/or Armstrong would have probably ended up being the biggest sports stories of the year, if not among the best of the decade. These examples of the triumph of the spirit over the limitations of the body as we age are a shot in the arm of a lot of us could use. For the most part, we are faced every day with some reminder that we aren’t all we could be, and we accept it because we’re getting older. It’s the most convenient excuse, and perhaps the fact that they came up just short is enough evidence for us to keep using it. Golf and cycling are about as far apart in terms of their physical demands as you can get in the sports world. But the fact that a 59-year-old and a 37-year-old cancer survivor could come so close to reaching the pinnacle of their respective sports one last time has to be some sort of wake up call for the rest of us, right?
Speaking of wake up calls (and I hate to keep bringing this up), but it looks as if the nails are just about to be driven in the coffin of David Beckham’s MLS career. In his first home game since his return to the Galaxy, he was roundly booed and got into an angry confrontation with a fan during L.A.’s friendly with AC Milan (Beckham’s other team).
Though he claimed afteward that he expected some negativity, it was clear through his behavior that he didn’t expect it to be quite as overwhelming as it was. The main culprits were the Riot Squad, the Galaxy’s version of a wannabe European fan section. As you can see, they aren’t too happy that Becks backed out on the first half of the MLS season to play in Italy:
After hearing boos and coordinated chants and jeers throughout the first half, Beckham finally had enough and confronted the section of fans as he headed off the field for halftime. He says he went to ask them to calm down, but soon security was getting involved and escorting away a fan who appeared as if he wanted to engage Becks in some sort of physical altercation. The L.A. TIMES has all the particulars of a strange evening at the Home Depot Center.
Lost in all of the tension was the fact that Beckham actually played well, and was instrumental in both of L.A.’s goals in a 2-2 draw with Milan. After he delivered a perfect corner kick in the second half that Bryan Jordan headed into the net, he turned to the Riot Squad and stared them down as he raised his arms in celebration. I imagine that this battle isn’t quite over yet, even though Beckham tried to downplay it in his remarks afterward:
By the way, Los Angeles, way to treat your sports stars. You welcome Manny Ramirez, a proven cheater, back from his suspension as if he was returning from chemotherapy or something, but you get all over this guy. Nice.
• From the world of minor league baseball promotions, here’s footage of Chewbacca riding around in the Mystery Machine at a single-A game in Lowell, Massachusetts:
• More from the world of minor league baseball promotions: The Brooklyn Cyclones dedicated last night’s game to preganancy, complete with a pregame Lamaze class, and the promise of free tickets for life to anyone who names their kid “Brooklyn” or “Cy.”
What if we lived in a world where women were graciously admitted to sporting events, but men were forced to wait in the parking lot with the vehicles? The Hudson Valley Renegades, a minor league baseball team from the New York-Penn League, dared to dream, and now that concept is reality. Welcome to Ball-Less Baseball, where on July 7, only women will be allowed into the stadium to watch the Renegades play the Staten Island Yankees. Hey, wait a minute Guiliani … you’re not fooling anyone: Get out!
Ball-Less Baseball was the brainchild of the Goldklang Group, creative marketing arm of the Renegades. Next Tuesday, only women are allowed in the park — plus boys 7-and-under — while the men must hang out and tailgate in the parking lot. What could possibly go wrong?
Far be it from me to make fun of “America’s newest silent epidemic,” but just how am I supposed to get behind the Bowie Baysox’s upcoming Inhalant Abuse Night when its spokesman, Louie here, has the biggest schnoz in the history of mascots?
Koby Clemens, the 21-year-old catcher for the Salem Avalanche and son of seven time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, was among three members of the Avalanche who were arrested early Sunday morning for what appears to be a good old fashion bar fight.
On Saturday night several members of the Avalanche team, who close their season today, were kicking back and throwing a few back at a popular Salem restaurant, Mac and Bob’s. Then at some point before the night ended, things got out of hand.
Watching Gary Coleman’s “Arnold Jackson” character visit Mr. Horton’s Bike Shop felt less awkward than seeing the former child star step into the batter’s box at last night’s Madison Mallards’ game. Just hours after signing a one game contract with the Northwoods League (summer collegiate baseball) team to appear at their “80’s Night” promotion, as HOME RUN DERBY reported yesterday, the 4-foot-8 Coleman strolled up to the plate to lead off the bottom of the first for the Mallards.
The Diff’rent Strokes star never got to see a pitch, the umpire discovered Coleman’s bat had too much pinetar and was filled with bouncy balls, awful acting ensues and the 40-year-old finds himself ejected from the game and headed to the closest bank to immediately cash that appearance fee check.