IL Minor League Fans Eat Up ‘Copter Candy Drop

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 all Mike 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.

Black Helicopter

(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.

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Speed Read: Lance Follows Watson Into Sunset

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?

Tom Watson

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.

Armstrong is trying to take the high road in pledging that he will do whatever he can to help Contador keep the yellow jersey until the end, but Contador couldn’t resist smacking Lance with a rather large verbal backhand:

“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.

Alberto Contador

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?

lance armstrong tour de france

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).

beckham signs

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:

beckham signs

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.

Roy Halladay dominated the Red Sox yesterday, throwing a complete-game in a 3-1 victory in what could be his last start in Toronto. So where’s he going? Philly? Milwaukee? The South Side? The North Side? Anaheim? Mannywood? St. Louis? Minnesota? Texas? Seattle is apparently bucking the trend by admitting they aren’t interested.

• 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.”

The Mets have lost yet another player to injury, and are dangerously close to having to go out and sign Jose Lima again, and nobody wants to see that. Unless his wife shows up for his starts:

Jose Lima Wife

• 5,000 people showed up to see the groundbreaking for the new Marlins stadium, and their view was blocked by the families of the dignitaries involved in the ceremony. Now, if they could only get 5,000 people to show up for an actual Marlins game…

• Hey, so how about that really thrilling PGA tournament that ended in a playoff yesterday? That was some pretty great stuff. Wait, who’s Bo Van Pelt? Milwaukee? What’s going on here?

• With Tom Watson coming so close to winning the British Open, even a guy who survived four surgeries on a brain tumor thinks he’s good enough to come back and play next year.

Henry Surtees, the 18-year-old son of former Formula 1 champion John Surtees, died yesterday from injuries suffered in a freak accident during a Formula 2 race in England. A tire from another racer’s car flew off and hit Surtees in the head, causing him to lose consciousness and drive his car straight into a barrier.

• First, Tony Romo lost Jessica Simpson. Now, he lost a celebrity golf tournament to Rick Rhoden, who won the tournament in Lake Tahoe for the eighth time. Charles Barkley finished last, falling behind Chuck Liddell and Kevin Nealon on the last day.

Charles Barkley golfing

Mike Mussina took the mound for the first time at the new Yankee Stadium yesterday. Of course, it was old-timers’ day, so I guess that means he’s retired. He is, by the way, the last Yankee pitcher to win a game against the Red Sox.

• Maybe the reason that the Pirates gave a bit of an insulting extension offer to Jack Wilson is because they realize that, despite his defensive brilliance, he’s an absolutely atrocious offensive player. Like, along the lines of Yuniesky Betancourt. But I’m not sure I give Neal Huntington that much credit.

Whose win would have been more stunning?

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And For The Ladies … Ball-Less Baseball Is Here

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

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?

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All Louie Wants To Do Is Help End Inhalant Abuse

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?

Louie and Miss Maryland

You of course remember the Baysox (AA Eastern League) from this glorious promotion; how could you not? Louie will be on hand July 8 when the team takes on the Harrisburg Senators at Prince George’s Stadium during their Striking Out Inhalant Abuse promotion. I had no idea this was such a problem, but there you go. Read more…

Bar Fight Gets Roger Clemens’ Kid Koby Cuffed

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.

Roger and Koby Clemens

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.

According to police reports “Police were dispatched to a disturbance in the restaurant’s parking lot at 2 a.m.” Clemens and teammates Mark Ori and Jimmy Goethals were arrested for their involvement in the disturbance.

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Corked Bat, Bad Acting Get Gary Coleman Tossed

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.

Gary Coleman Madison 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.

Video of Coleman’s at bat, via HOME RUN DERBY after the jump.

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Blog-Some: Alyssa Milano Dodgers Merch. On Sale

Tom Hoffarth of FARTHER OFF THE WALL saves a bundle, as L.A. Dodgers merchandise made by Alyssa Milano is going on sale.

Alyssa Milano Dodgers shirt

• Would you like to see the Kingdome collapse or Fulton County Stadium fall down all over again? BALLPARKS OF BASEBALL can help you out with their various video collections.

• USA TODAY’S GAME ON crunches the numbers, as a new poll reveals how far some baseball fans are willing to stretch the truth about attending Opening Day.

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