Friday, December 3, 2010

Jack Voigt Said to Say "So Long," Not "Goodbye"

They come and they go, Hobbs. They come and they go.

Over the last 10 years, I’ve used Max Mercy’s line more times than I can count as players, coaches, managers, mascots (remember Pedro the Pelican?), and colleagues have indeed come and gone.

Now I’m the one doing the going, and wanted to post one last blog entry on my way out.

Some have feared/anticipated my Final Blog Post, worried that I might mention Mahoney’s homicidal dreams, Gary-ality, Steve’s ongoing battles with technology, Ricky stalkeriffic tendencies, Alexa’s electronic dog collar, KJ’s paralyzing germ phobias, and things of that ilk…but I’m not going to do that.

It’s been a great run, and I’ve laughed harder and had more fun than most people should be allowed to while doing their jobs.

I’d especially like to thank those of you who have followed this blog, and been a part of the craziness associated with it. The Blog started out as an online storage shelf for the front office’s inside jokes, and over the years has evolved into a space for the team’s personality to peek out from behind the curtain, and get you in on the fun with us.

I used to convince Steve that just about anything was fair game for blog posts, and quell his anxiety by telling him “don’t worry, no one’s reading this thing besides us.” The truth is, over 50,000 visitors have been a part of our blogalicious efforts, and your feedback, responses, and reactions (even those of shock, horror, or disgust) have kept this thing going. In the minor leagues – especially here at the Cyclones – it’s all about having fun, and not taking yourself (or the rest of the world) too seriously. Hopefully, this blog has helped pull in that direction.

Soon, there will be a new person (or people) filling up this space, and I’ll join you on the other side of the blogosphere, as a reader of the Triple-B, instead of a writer (although I already have some nefarious plans to log on and stir the pot from time to time!).

Until then, thanks again for reading, responding, and being a part of the insanity.

Now cue up some Boyz II Men and hit the lights…

-- Dave

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bowling & Brainstorming

On Tuesday, we held our annual off-site brainstorming/planning session, with this year's meeting taking place at 300 New York.  

For those that don't know, 300 is a state-of-the-art bowling alley/meeting space/entertainment venue, and it proved to be the perfect spot for us.  In addition to a really productive exchange of ideas, 300 also gave us a chance to unveil a secret from one staffer's past.  More on that later, but first let's talk business and get you behind the scenes of our meeting.

As we do each year, we first looked back at 2010, and discussed what worked, what didn't, what we did well, what we need to improve on, what we'd like to expand on, and what we can eliminate.  The general consensus was that 2010 was one of our best promotional efforts, with high-end giveaways (like the Ike Davis upside-down bobble and Jersday Thursdays), and creative themes (like "Jersey? Sure!" Night and our Salute to The Office).  Our Season Ticket Holder BBQ was one of the highlights of fan interaction, our new weekend parking policy was a success, our "everyone runs the bases" promotion was a bit hit (and will be expanded in 2011), and our Friday and Saturday night fireworks shows remain strong staples of our schedule.

We spent a large chunk of time talking about inter-office communication, and how improving it will make the overall Cyclones experience better for everyone, trickling from the staff down to the fans.  This is something we talk about every year, but this year I think we made some real headway towards implementing improvements in practice, not just in theory.  At the heart of the communication discussion was the overriding philosophy that every department is affected by -- and dependent upon -- every other department, and that effective communication among the front office will make everyone's jobs easier and their efforts, ultimately, more successful.  It sounds really simple, but if you've ever worked in an office, you know sometimes it's easier said than done.

Here's an image we all looked at and talked about, illustrating what I just outlined above:

After a quick bite to eat, it was time to really focus on some specifics for 2011.  In many cases, I can't go into too much detail until we 100% finalize some of the ideas and are ready to formally announce them, but I can give you some general bullets (in no particular order) to provide a small sampling:
  • We've got some new community programs lined up that will have the Cyclones making a bigger impact throughout the borough off the field than ever before.  
  • We talked about a couple of specialty jersey designs that we think will really excite people.
  • There will be post-game autograph sessions on certain dates, and we'll invite fans onto the field to meet the Cyclones.
  • We've made some enhancements to our giveaway item process, and Season Ticket Holders, in particular, will be very happy with what we have planned.
  • As I mentioned, "everyone runs the bases" will be bigger and better, as we open it up to Tuesday, Wednesday, AND Thursday games!
  • We're going to try to institute a series of focus groups this winter to bounce some of our ideas off fans before we implement them, and listen to your ideas and get your thoughts and feedback on what you like, don't like, etc.
  • There will be bigger discounts and more benefits for youth league teams, groups, and group leaders.
  • And in my big teaser for this blog post (sorry, but we have to keep some surprises up our sleeves), an idea was sparked for what I think has the potential to be our most fun-filled theme night ever -- one that I personally can't wait to dig into, and one I think you're absolutely going to love!
Again, that's just a sneak peek.  The 2011 season is going to be a great one, and we're all really excited to get things in motion.  If you haven't already done so, you can check out the 2011 game schedule and start penciling in some dates on your calendar!

Now, about that secret.

After the meeting, we all laced up our shoes and hit the lanes for some bowling.  As you can imagine, there were varying levels of skill and ability.  Mickey Miggy and Randy were kingpins who had clearly spent many hours tossing turkeys in The Bronx and Milwaukee, respectively.  KJ unleashed his always-bubbling-just-beneath-the-surface anger with every throw, sometimes ricocheting the ball off the gutter so hard that it bounced back into the pins.  Steve got low like his boy Flo-Rida, and followed through with a silky smooth delivery.  Alexa and Sharon bruised every male ego in the room by tossing strike after strike.  Mahoney stomped to the line and gave it a lefty launch.  And Berman, Ian, and I battled it out for the lowest score (which would have been great if we were playing golf).

But one bowler stood out from the rest.

From his graceful approach to his picture-perfect mechanics to his pin-pulverizing results, it was clear that this was not Gary's first time marking the maples.

In fact, with his fingers, physique, and deadly accuracy, he was sort of a dead ringer for another famous bowler with prehistoric prowess:

But as we all marveled at his innate -- almost preternatural -- bowling skill, there was something Gary was keeping inside.  A secret from his past that he locked away with equal parts pride and shame.  Little did we know that he was not, as it appeared, born to bowl, but that he instead had spent countless hours honing his abilities to become the master bowler to whom we all now bore witness.  With a little prodding, the truth was revealed.  Gary wasn't just any old bowler...he was the former captain of the Bishop Ford High School Bowling Falcons!

I know, I know.  It's pretty hard to imagine this guy as a high school bowler.  But I assure you, it's true.  In fact, thanks to some arduous research, I even unearthed this long-lost image, capturing the infamous 1991 event, in which GP's fingers got stuck in the ball and Lenny Kaplan heroically raced to his aid to help pull it off:

Kaplan was given a key to the city and Perone never again set foot inside Gil Hodges Lanes.

So there you have it.  Gary's God-given ability, the sacrifices he's made for the sport, and his high school bowling career is now all public knowledge.  I, for one, think we're all a little bit better for knowing.

-- Dave

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pop Sensation

I'll admit it...we were starting to feel a little left out.  

Steve and I -- the Martin and Lewis of minor league baseball (I'm Dean, obviously) -- were becoming the forgotten men in the Cyclones front office, what with Mahoney winning NYPL Man of the Year honors and Gary being hailed as MiLB's next Branch Rickey.

But thanks to an invitation to be presenters at this year's Winter Meetings in Orlando, we'll finally have our one shining moment.  And in the Sunshine State, no less!

Steve and I will be leading a round-table presentation at the Bob Freitas Seminar that we've tentatively titled:
PROMOTIONS THAT “POP”: Capitalizing on pop-culture trends to create promotions that will engage your fans and win you awards (or get you sued, fired, or both).  
In three 30-minute sessions, we'll be talking about the creative process and implementation that has gone into the development of some of the promotions in recent years that have incorporated pop-culture trends to garner national media attention -- "Baracklyn," "Jersey? Sure!," the Ike Davis upside-down bobblehead, etc.  (Click here, here, here, or here if you need a refresher on the buzz that surrounded some of these nights.)

We'll talk a little bit about what made these nights successful, what we wish we did differently, how other teams can incorporate some of the more effective elements, how we come up with these groundbreaking, innovative, cutting-edge, some would say "genius" ideas (hint: usually by accident), how we make the promotions media-friendly to maximize exposure, and even unveil a few of the pop-culture related ideas we've had that we eventually decided were too over-the-top even for us! (Maybe I'll share here after the presentation.)

So if you're planning on attending the Winter Meetings (December 6-9), check us out.  If you're not, we'll tell you all about it when we get back!

-- Dave

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hand Model

Remember George Costanza's all-too-brief hand modeling career? (It was The Puffy Shirt episode for those who need a refresher.)

Well, it seems that our own Gary Perone's giant hand has also gone Hollywood!  

I just hope Jimmy Dean Gary is getting some hefty royalties for the use of his oversized digits (at the 1:20 mark):

-- Dave

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bow-TIE Pasta

It's been a while since the last blog post.  I apologize.  But really, there's not much to write about in late September/early October (read all about The Cyclone of Life if you don't believe me.)

Today, however, we played our annual Pasta Bowl game against the boys from Gargiulo's, and while the performances were nothing to write home about, they at least give me something to blog about.

Much like the 2002 MLB All-Star Game, this contest between superstars resulted in a controversial tie.  In fact, the similarities between the two games are eerie.  In '02, the game was called because the major leaguers ran out of multimillion dollar athletes, since they didn't want to overuse their finely-tuned arms and bodies.  Today, the game was called because Steve couldn't lift his arm above his waist anymore and Jake had to leave to go to his second job.  Almost the exact same circumstances!

All in all, we were pretty pathetic.  We probably had about seven or eight combined hits in 10 innings (technically, I had three of them, but one was a pop-up to short that no one touched and the other two went a TOTAL of two and a half feet).  Our first basemen made five errors, Miggy couldn't throw out an 11-year-old kid (twice), Berman and Mahoney were taken out by a well-hidden sniper (Mahoney rounding third, and Berman in the on-deck circle), I got hit by a ball while running the bases and trying to be slicker and quicker than my creaky 34-year-old body will allow, Jake purposely got into the worst rundown in the history of rundowns, Ian threw jump hooks/shot puts from the outfield, Steve gave up perhaps the hardest-hit home run in MCU Park history, and Ricky thought we were all just playing a really long game of hot potato.

Three and a half hours later, both sides just basically gave up, because it seemed like no one would ever score again, and we were all just too tired to care anymore.

On the positive side, the Gargiulo's crew brought some outstanding food, so it was all worthwhile.

-- Dave