Thursday, February 26, 2009

Gee Unit

Nice to see baseball back in full swing, and even nicer to see some former Cyclones pitchers in Mets camp early this spring.

The week started off with so-so reports on the Cyclones alum. Tobi Stoner was shut down with shoulder soreness (mostly precautionary, they say) and Mike Antonini gave up a pair of "massive" home runs (but they were in an intrasquad game to Carlos Beltran and David Wright...try to find me a pitcher who those guys haven't gone gonzo off of).

Today, however, Dillon Gee got the good guys back on the scoreboard, tossing two shutout innings against the Marlins, allowing just one infield hit and striking out two Fish. Gee had a phenomenal year for the Cyclones in 2007, finishing sixth in the league with a 2.47 ERA. He allowed one run or less in seven of his 11 starts, and showed pinpoint control, striking out 56 batters while walking just nine in 62 innings. Nine. Ricky had nine walks in a third of an inning during 24 Hours of Baseball!

We wish all three pitchers the best of luck and we'll keep following them this spring!

-- Dave

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mad Props

It's things like this that lead to Christian Bale-scale meltdowns.

KJ and I have been working on a new ad concept, promoting the Grub Club (free food, $50 in savings, etc.). I thought it would be appealing/interesting/eye-catching to set up some food on and around home plate, as opposed to a dinner plate -- creating a picture of a meal with a subtle baseball element incorporated. Pretty good, right? OK, so now all we have to do is get our props together, and set up the shot.

Not as easy as it sounds.

To start with, home plate has been stolen ahem, misplaced. Not the one on the field, but the spare one we have that we were planning to use indoors. But it's like minus-10 degrees outside with the wind, so we switch to one of the little collectible replicas they sell in the team store.

Next, the food. The kitchen has been closed for some time now, so we need to venture out into the real world to buy food items that you can get here during the summer. The hot dog and soda were easy. The ice cream was a bit more challenging, but we found some. Then, the chips. We work with a specific vendor for the chips in the ballpark, so any old bag wouldn't do. It had to be Utz (which, incidentally is the best, anyway). After three stops -- involving a half-hour's worth of trips into the bitter cold, arguments with deli clerks, and a near-miss in the parking lot -- we finally found the right bag. OK, mission accomplished. Finally. We head back to the park, and set up the photo shoot in conference room.

And that's when Steve walks in.
Steve: "What's this going to look like in the ad?"
Me (still flustered and frustrated from my last 30 minutes): "Pretty much like what you're looking at, since we'll just be taking a picture of it."
I kid you not, as we had this two-sentence conversation, Steve -- almost as if by muscle memory alone -- ripped open the bag and started eating the chips.
Me (horrified): "Um, that's probably not going to be a great-looking prop anymore, now that you've torn into it.
Steve (with Sour Cream & Onion chips still on his lips): "Oooooh. Sorry. I didn't even realize that. Makes for a good story, though, huh?"
Sometimes you just have to laugh, right? Either that, or go on a profanity-laced rampage that winds up being mocked, reenacted, and viewed or listened to millions of times on TMZ or YouTube.

Anyway, we improvised on the chips, and got the shot...and it
does make for a good story.

Look for the ad in the paper in the coming days, and check out the Grub Club offer. Five games, with over $10 of free food at each game! It's really a great deal!

-- Dave

UPDATE: The picture turned out pretty well. You can see it here. The food, however, was left out on the table overnight (my fault), and became a topic of conversation in the conference room this afternoon, until Ricky finally went ahead and ate the three-day-old hot dog, then dipped the two-day old sour cream & onion chips in the two-day old melted ice cream and ate that for dessert. And no one put him up to this, mind you. He just did it. The man has problems.

Monday, February 23, 2009

More for Your Money

I'm not going to break into a recession song and dance, like Wolverine did last night, but in a time when we are flooded by the gloom and doom of the current economic crisis, I do want to point out once again that there is absolutely no better entertainment value for your dollar than Brooklyn Cyclones baseball.

Really, it's almost silly how much you get for your money when you buy a Cyclones ticket. Tickets range from just $5 to $15, and in addition to seeing baseball's stars of tomorrow and a team that has made the playoffs in five of eight seasons, you practically make your money back with all the free things we give you, throw at you, or let you win.

Almost every game has a free giveaway, a fireworks show, or some type of special appearance. You are literally handed free goodies as you walk into the park, more free stuff is tossed into the stands all game long, and just in case you still have any space left in your hands, pockets, fanny packs, or kangaROOS, we give you more swag as you leave the park. T-Shirts, collectibles, baseball caps, bobbleheads, bumper stickers, balloons, baseballs -- there's no end to what you'll be loading in your car at the end of the night, along with all the great memories.

And I don't mean to sound like the ShamWow guy, but "wait...there's more!" (You following me, camera guy?) When you buy a ticket plan, or a block of group tickets, you get even more great stuff for free!

This year, we're introducing the Grub Club, which lets you eat for free at every game in your plan, and the We Win, You Win plan, which lets you legally bet on the Cyclones! (Well, kind of...if we win any of the games in that plan, you get FREE tickets to another game!) When you buy 20 or more tickets as a group, you get discounted prices, and every single member of your group gets a free high-quality Cyclones cap.

It's really kind of ridiculous. Can you imagine going to the movies (a similar $10-$12 venture) and having an usher give you a free t-shirt, free food, and telling you that if you like the movie, you can come back and see another one for free? Of course not.

With all of the action on and off the field, there is just no better way to beat the recession than by getting tickets to see the Cyclones! A night out to entertain yourself, your friends, and your family for less than $15, and loads of free stuff that makes you feel like you're getting a big-company bailout.

Like Mr. ShamWow says, "I don't sells itself."

(Of course, it doesn't actually sell itself, so go to to get your tickets today!)

-- Dave

Friday, February 20, 2009

New Coaching Staff

It's been a while since we had an entirely new coaching staff in Brooklyn, but that's exactly what we're getting this year.

The Mets have announced that Pedro Lopez (pictured) will be at the helm in '09, becoming the seventh manager in club history. He'll be joined by Pitching Coach Rick Tomlin, Hitting Coach Jack Voigt, and Coach Joel Fuentes.

I have to admit that I don't know a whole lot about the members of this staff yet, other than the bios we included in our press release, but I didn't know a whole lot about guys like Tony Tijerina, Hector Berrios, or Donovan Mitchell, either, before they got to Brooklyn, and those are three of the best coaches (and people) I've met during my time in baseball. (They also led the '04 squad to the playoffs, incidentally.) And I had never heard of Edgar Alfonzo before he led the Cyclones to the best season in franchise history and racked up over 150 wins. So name recognition doesn't mean much in my eyes.

In the weeks and months leading up to the season, we'll learn more about our new staff (and maybe even have them author a blog entry or two), so that we can get to know the men we'll be welcoming to Brooklyn this summer!

-- Dave

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Milk Money

Have you ever heard of the "milk gallon challenge?" Basically, it says that it is impossible to drink a gallon of milk in one hour...and keep it down. (Well, OK, not impossible. Joey Chestnut can do it even faster than that, but he's a pro, so that doesn't count.)

Somehow, the challenge made its way into a Ticket Office conversation, and Brian the Intern (that's the name on his birth certificate) immediately boasted that he could easily accomplish the feat. The T.O. then brought said challenge to the attention of the Blog, and here we are.

No one believes it's possible -- especially for someone who is 5'3" and 95 pounds -- to drink a gallon of milk in an hour and keep it down...but we're willing to hang out for an hour after work to see the results. (Not Steve. Steve just kind of shook his head and said "If he dies, and I'm around...that would suck." Then he walked out the door.)

Despite dozens of absolutely disgusting videos to the contrary, Brian the Intern was ready to proceed ahead and try to prove us all wrong. And here's how it all went down (spoiler alert: and back up again):

With many staff members already gathered, Brian the Intern (BTI) burst through the door to the players' lounge looking disturbingly like Paulie Bleeker, but not quite as buff. Seriously. The kid was wearing wristbands, a yellow headband, a toddler's t-shirt, shorts, and white socks pulled up to his mid-calf. Not exactly an intimidating sight. But I will say this...he talked a good game.

Before he even popped the top of the milk gallon, his bravado actually had me thinking twice about my prediction. And then the challenge began.

BTI chose to "enhance" his milk with chocolate powder (which I still think was his biggest mistake, since all that does is make it thicker and heavier, but hey, whatever). He poured the first cup, stirred in the mix, and away we went. With the stopwatch keeping the pace, BTI chugged the first cup, then the second, then the third. He was a milk-drinking machine, pulverizing the pasteurization. And what started out as competitive bravado became over the top braggadocio. He was talking smack between cups, doing cartwheels (or what were supposed to be cartwheels), challenging Ricky to a post-challenge race, etc. There was no way he wasn't going to crush this challenge.

Then the half-hour mark hit.

BTI was talking less and less, and taking deeper and deeper breaths. The lighting in the room wasn't ideal, but I swear he started to turn a shade of yellow, and I think I saw his pupils getting grey. More importantly, his sips were getting smaller and smaller. And he was starting to sweat.

Throughout the whole process, we, as a staff, were nothing but supportive. And by "supportive," I mean we were trying to make him puke. Pat and I discussed the merits of eating whole sticks of butter. Ricky gave us a physical description of how the milk was interacting with BTI's stomach acids. KJ had some interesting theories on how BTI would likely be spending the remainder of his evening. Things like that.

At first, BTI laughed it off, and even had some good retorts, but as time kept ticking, he seemed to find it all less and less amusing. Which, of course, made it more and more fun.

The 40-minute mark brought the turning point. BTI simply started shaking his head -- slowly, but steadily. I asked him if that was a "no problem, I got this" confident head shake, or an "I don't think I'm going to make it" head shake. Without changing the expression on his face, BTI simply stared straight ahead and said. "It's not looking good." And that, dear friends, was the beginning of the end.

Approximately three minutes later, BTI told Ricky to get his camera ready (video to come eventually) and started doing this thing with his neck and shoulders that my grandmother's cat used to do right before it coughed up a hairball. Seconds later, BTI and his Bleeker headband were buried, ostrich-like, in a giant garbage can, with various sights and sounds coming from the depths below that elicited a deafening roar from the crowd.

It wasn't quite as dramatic as the infamous Stand By Me barf-o-rama (PG-13...go look it up, Joyce), but it did send some of the weaker-stomached scurrying for the doors.

Milk, 1. BTI, 0.

It was a valiant effort, but -- like his performance in the Full-Time vs. Intern Softball game -- BTI proved more talkin' than walkin'.

Don't worry, BTI. Your career in the minors is only beginning. Like they say in Brooklyn: Wait Til Next Year!

-- Dave

Monday, February 16, 2009

Survey Says...

I have been accused (unjustly), from time to time, of exaggerating (or completely fabricating) different aspects of my colleagues' personalities (and personality disorders). So, with that in mind, I recently sent out a survey with some important questions that I think will give you a true glimpse into the minds of the people behind Brooklyn baseball. Now you can judge them on their own words and thoughts, and I can't be held accountable:

(OK...I couldn't hold myself completely back, so I made a few of my own comments in parenthetical italics.)

Brandy: George Clooney
Chris: Sarah Michelle Gellar
Dave: Minka Kelly
Gary: Kelly Rippa
John: Minka Kelly (back off, stalker)
Joyce: Rob Dyrdek, Barry Zito, Seth Meyers, Anderson Cooper
Katie: Justin Timberlake, Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning, Vince Vaughn - the list never ends
Kevin: Carrie Underwood
KJ: Bar Rafaeli, Megan Fox, Christina Hendricks, January Jones. All-Time: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Sophia Loren
Liz: Kellan Lutz, Christian Ronaldo, Jason Statham
Olena: Ricky Viola
Pat: Christina Hendricks
Ricky: Carmen Wong Ulrich
Steve: Elizabeth Hurley
Tatiana: Brad Pitt

Brandy: Brandy (Just kidding. She left that one blank)
Chris: Dracula's Lament
Dave: Hello - Lionel Ritchie
Gary: Probably all the Hannah Montana songs
John: Miley Cyrus...I can't remember the name of the song, but I like it
Joyce: Some people think that NSYNC is embarrassing. But not me.
Katie: Spice Girls (the whole first album)
Kevin: Don't own an iPod
KJ: I Want You Back - N*Sync
Liz: It's not just one's the entire New Kids on the Block playlist, which includes their new album. OMG, it's AWESOME!
Olena: Don't have an iPod
Pat: The Newsies Soundtrack
Ricky: Nothing. It's my iPod and I have perfect taste in music
Steve: What's an "iPod?"
Tatiana: Coco Jambo - Mr. President

Brandy: Cheerleading...I mean does it count as a sport?
Chris: Baseball (or anything played in the sunlight)
Dave: The one where cars go in circles
Gary: Synchronized Swimming
John: NBA basketball. I love college basketball, but I hate the NBA. NASCAR would be a close second if you can call that a sport
Joyce: To To do...anything is less fun than the alternative option of eating.
Katie: To To play...marathon running.
Kevin: Soccer
KJ: Hockey
Liz:'s a little too bloody
Olena: Rushing to work
Pat: Hockey
Ricky: Weightlifting
Steve: Car racing
Tatiana: Counting money

Brandy: 22 or 17 (my volleyball numbers)
Chris: Any number...I love to COUNT
Dave: 17
Gary: 23
John: 9
Joyce: 3
Katie: 3 or 8 or 38 or 83 get it -- my birthday is 8/30/83
Kevin: 11
KJ: 9
Liz: 5
Olena: 7
Pat: 24
Ricky: 49
Steve: 7. It always seems to come up at the craps table
Tatiana: 13

Brandy: Pass the Roids
Chris: Vampirical Evidence
Dave: Mex's Mashers
Gary: G-Men
John: I actually have never had a fantasy baseball team. My fantasy hockey team's name is the Labatt Blueshirts
Joyce: J-Money
Katie: Front Office Female
Kevin: Irish Beer Drinkers
KJ: The Middlemen
Liz: The Red Bulls
Olena: Spice Boys
Pat: Changes with the season
Ricky: Don't have one
Steve: NA
Tatiana: Crazy Hot Dogs

Brandy: True Blood
Chris: Sleeping the day away in my coffin
Dave: One Tree Hill
Gary: Pizza
John: I listen to Kelly Clarkson a little bit more than I probably should. Her new song, by the way...phenomenal
Joyce: America's Best Dance Crew (She calls and texts her votes in. Seriously.)
Katie:, reality TV, and Thin Mints Girl Scout Cookies
Kevin: Happy Hour
KJ: Christo's Steakhouse in Astoria. Underrated and under the radar.
Olena: Candies. A lot of candies
Pat: Justin Timberlake
Ricky: Lots of exercise
Steve: Writing on the promo board after business hours
Tatiana: Night swimming

Brandy: Anne James
Chris: Van Helsing
Dave: Anthony Mary
Gary: Lucille John (apparently Gary's DEEP under cover)
John: Kenneth Firpo
Joyce: Blossoming Lilly Rising Sun
Katie: Marie Joseph
Kevin: Joseph Ann
KJ: Augustus Meyer
Liz: Barbara Anthony
Olena: Hidme
Pat: Francis Trumbull
Ricky: My father doesn't have a middle name, so I just wear a wig and call myself "Joyce."
Steve: Lynn Seymor
Tatiana: Sofia Teresa Blanco

Brandy: The Green Jaguar
Chris: The Black Vampire Bat
Dave: The Blue Tiger
Gary: The Enabler, gold & green (I don't think Gary understood the question)
John: The Pink Chipmunk
Joyce: The Red Pony
Katie: The Fuchsia Ewe
Kevin: The Green Dog
KJ: The Orange Dog
Liz: The Red Cheetah
Olena: Super Panda
Pat: The Blue Dragon
Ricky: The Blue Suckerfooted Bat
Steve: The Turquoise Dog
Tatiana: Mickey Mouse

Brandy: to see the future
Chris: Immortality
Dave: telekinesis
Gary: to fly (save on gas and tolls)
John: to sell 300,000 tickets in one day
Joyce: to magically heal wounds, even lethal and/or psychological ones
Katie: teleportation
Kevin: to fly
KJ: super intelligence (maybe then you could actually hang out with Joyce. Maybe.)
Liz: to see the future (like Alice Cullen)
Olena: reading minds
Pat: flight
Ricky: to turn people plaid
Steve: to fly, so I can avoid the Belt Parkway
Tatiana: super speed

Brandy: still popular?
Chris: someone with a very nice neck
Dave: still cute
Gary: beautiful
John: apparently gaining weight
Joyce: my age
Katie: messing up, from a marketing standpoint
Kevin: fat
KJ: still looking for the BBD (bigger, better deal)
Liz: overrated and overpaid, but has great hair!
Olena: a girl
Pat: singing at a chili cook-off
Ricky: hotter now that she has gained some weight
Steve: dating Tony Romo?
Tatiana: not my hero at all

Brandy: Googling. I don't follow celebrity gossip, which makes it hard to follow Joyce's convos
Chris: Drinking blood
Dave: Blogging about my co-workers
Gary: Filling out surveys like this for Dave
John: There are cameras in the TO. Someone is always watching.
Joyce: I don't know what that's like. Steve stands behind my desk 15 minutes a day, asking questions I can't answer while he eats my food.
Katie: Filling out lame surveys
Kevin: wondering what Ricky is thinking about
KJ: Practicing my crime-fighting moves from instructional YouTube videos
Liz: I'm locked in the Gallery by myself...need I say more? (Yes)
Olena: Watching others
Pat: Plotting against Dave (I'm in your head!)
Ricky: Buying cement for my "fishing trips"
Steve: Trying to figure out what people are doing when they think no one's watching
Tatiana: On the phone with my boyfriends

Brandy: Mustard
Chris: Blood
Dave: Mustard
Gary: Mustard
John: Both
Joyce: Hollandaise sauce and fried onions
Katie: Ketchup
Kevin: Mustard
KJ: Spicy mustard
Liz: I only eat hot dogs once a year, so i usually get a little crazy with my toppings...mustard, ketchup AND sauerkraut
Olena: Ketchup
Pat: Both
Ricky: Mustard
Steve: Spicy Mustard
Tatiana: Mustard

Brandy: Jennifer Aniston
Chris: The one who wore a necklace of blood
Dave: Angie
Gary: Jennifer Aniston
John: Really this question should involve Jessica Alba, but I'll go with Jennifer Aniston. I've never really seen the big deal with Angelina Jolie
Joyce: Team Aniston, pre-obnoxious-John-Mayer era
Katie: Jennifer
Kevin: Aniston
KJ: Aniston. She's a New Yorker!
Liz: Team Jolie
Olena: Jennifer for sure
Pat: Brad Holt
Ricky: Angelina Jolie
Steve: Jennifer
Tatiana: Jennifer Aniston

Brandy: um...If I don't say Biggie I think Ricky will make me swin with the fishes
Chris: Depends how hungry I am
Dave: Pac
Gary: Neither
John: I have absolutely no opinion on this question
Joyce: The one who knew California likes to party
Katie: Notorious
Kevin: Neither - I am a redneck
KJ: Although I don't like Puffy, It's Biggie. Tupac would have been a big movie star if he lived; brilliant mind and talent.
Liz: Biggie, Biggie, Biggie, can't you see? Sometimes your words just hypnotize me...
Olena: Can't make up my mind
Pat: Q-Tip
Ricky: Come on. I'm from Brooklyn.
Steve: Flo Rida
Tatiana: Ivanushki International

Brandy: Brunettes
Chris: As red as blood
Dave: Brunettes
Gary: The color of my wife's hair
John: I don't discriminate. When I was younger I had a think for blondes, but I got over it.
Joyce: I pay attention to more meaningful the face. (And SAT scores)
Katie: Blondes
Kevin: Yes
KJ: 1) Brunette 2) Redhead 3) Blonde
Liz: Brunettes
Olena: Blonde
Pat: Reds
Ricky: Brunettes
Steve: Whatever my wife is at the time
Tatiana: Brunettes and blondes and others

Brandy: Heath Ledger?
Chris: I like anything having to do with bats
Dave: Bats
Gary: Batman
John: Adam Graves...I exclusively watched sports as a child. (And hockey, I guess)
Joyce: Batman
Katie: Robin
Kevin: Batman
KJ: Please...the Dark Knight
Liz: Batman
Olena: Batman
Pat: Caped Crusader
Ricky: The Joker
Steve: Joker
Tatiana: Batman

Brandy: Chicken & pineapple or BBQ chicken
Chris: The meatier, the better
Dave: Pepperoni
Gary: Pepperoni
John: Pepperoni or sausage
Joyce: Artichoke hearts
Katie: Ham and pineapple
Kevin: Pepperoni
KJ: Pepperoni and meatball. Try Singas Famous Pizza in Queens -- SOOOOOO good!
Liz: Mushrooms and proscuitto
Olena: Vegetable
Pat: Pep
Ricky: Pepperoni
Steve: Broccoli
Tatiana: Pepperoni

-- Dave

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Friday the 13th...

In honor of Jason's big day, here's a reminder of what happens when it rains during "Halloween in July":

Yes, that's me in costume on the tarp, yet again. No, I'm not happy. And yes, I am screaming obscenities into my mask. Good times.

-- Dave

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Happy Campers

I hate that term. It's done to death, already. Seriously. Google it. There's not a product under the sun that doesn't have a Happy Camper brand attached to it.

It seems like some people still use it to describe just about anything and everything ("Oh, so-and-so just got fired and he's not a happy camper." Or, "so-and-so must be a happy camper...she just won the lottery!"). And anyway, if someone is genuinely joyful or upset, do they really want people patronizing them by referring to them as happy or unhappy "campers?" Of course not. Generally, I avoid the term at all costs.

However, when it comes to the Cyclones Baseball Camp, I make an exception, since it's literally filled with hundreds of, well, happy campers.

Each year, Cyclones players and coaches
work with kids on the fundamentals of the game, with a focus on fun. For me, the fun is in watching the interaction between the players and the kids. The kids get one-on-one time with professional athletes they idolize, and the players all seem to really open up around the kids - away from the pressures of the field, the media, etc. It's some of the most free and genuine interaction I see all summer. Not that i want to wax too nostalgic and have Ken Burns start doing a voiceover or anything, but it does kind of make you think about the purity of baseball, and how the game really affects so many lives.

Anyway, with that heartwarming fuzzy stuff being said, the Kids Camp also inevitably (and inadvertently) creates some pretty funny moments, too. Last year, Jordan Abruzzo started his batting lesson by saying three or four times that for safety purposes, no one was to swing a bat while they were in line -- only when they got to one of the appointed stations. Does everyone understand? "Yeah." I can't hear you! Does everyone understand? "YEAH!" No sooner did he turn around than one kid took a hack and accidentally clipped another, who, of course, hit the deck in a very dramatic scene (obviously, it's only funny because no one got hurt). The look on Jordan's face was absolutely priceless.

Yury Santana marveled at the talent level of the Brooklyn kids, as compared to camps he had done in other places. "These kids are no joke," he told me. "Some of them have better arms than guys on the team!"

And a couple of years ago, Edgar Ramirez became a Baseball Camp legend when he worked every day of the camp and created a cult following with his sense of humor, crazy antics, wacky nicknames, and phenomenal approach to teaching the kids. Because of the camp, that whole summer he was like the Pied Piper. Wherever he went, a trail of kids was following. "Edgar! Thanks for teaching me how to hit!" "Donkey! I was at the camp with you!" "I made the All-Star Team!" Those kids had a real connection to him, and vice versa. it was pretty cool to watch.

And now for the sales pitch:

Registration has begun for the 2009 Kids Camp. Check out all the dates and details, and get your kid in on the fun!

-- Dave

Monday, February 9, 2009


You may recall that a while back, I cast some celebs to play the parts of my colleagues in a hypothetical Brooklyn Cyclones movie. My favorite part about the whole activity was that I changed the pictures on their online profiles, and didn't tell them about it.

Word spread pretty quickly, unfortunately, and I've even gotten requests from family members to please take down some of the faux-tos in particular.

The pics are still up there, but since then, I've tinkered from time to time with other aspects of their profiles. For example, some of them may not actually know about the nicknames they have listed. Recently, Arnold Shortzenegger, Trick Daddy, and The Spy have all called me asking questions like: "When did you change my nickname?" (A while ago.) "What does that nickname even mean?" (If I told you, that would kill the joke.) "What the hell is wrong with you?" (Lots and lots.) and "Don't you have anything better to do?" (Unfortunately, no.)

Here's where you can get in on the joke. In most cases, the colleagues in question are either unaware or unappreciative of their new nicknames. So, of course, I think we should use them as frequently as possible. When you see your favorite staff member this summer, or when you call to place a ticket order, drop one of the nicknames into the conversation every once in a while and then pretend nothing's out of the ordinary. (Mini Plans are on sale now, by the way, so it's a good time to call 718-37-BKLYN)

Let's see who cracks first! It'll be fun.

-- Dave

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fun Can Be Hard Work

One of the best parts about working in the minors is that a major job responsibility is to generate fun.

A fun (and funny) atmosphere is at the heart of every one of our games. We are, for all intents & purposes, staging a fun-filled show each night in which there just happens to be some baseball being played, as well.

From t-shirt tosses to pink apes to dunk tanks to dizzy bats to pork rind sculptures to rally chickens to jousts to jugglers to processed meats racing on the warning track, you are sure to see something at every game that is unique, strange, and perhaps borderline insane...but above all, fun!

With that in mind, our staff met today with an expert in the Art of Fun (or, "Emperor of Fun" as it says on his business card), Dave Raymond, who for years was the man behind the antics of the Philly Phanatic (boooooo) and now helms the company that brings Reggy to KeySpan Park (yaaaaay).

Dave talked to us about some of his experiences as a mascot and a fun facilitator, and about what we can do to make the ballpark experience even more fun for all those involved.

One thing he said, in particular, rang true to me as it relates to the Cyclones. "We're giving fun away for free every night, but it is extremely valuable." It's can't put a price tag on the enjoyment or memories a family gets during their time with the Cyclones. And that's something we try to keep in mind with everything that we implement. Almost every new idea, giveaway, or promotion is followed by the questions "Will the fans like it? Will they think it's fun?" (And sometimes we even think the answer might be yes!)

He also talked about a few other things that help in the process of fun-building -- things that I think we do a pretty good job of:
  • Leadership. The people at the top have to foster a fun and creative environment for the staff. Check. Our GM occasionally dresses in a pink gorilla suit, sings showtunes at street fairs, encourages practical jokes, wackiness and creativity, and engages in countless other fun antics)
  • Consistent Culture. Recognize the sense of humor of your group and its audience, and develop it daily. Focus on your strengths and build on them. Check. We're a tad bit dark and/or sarcastic at times, but that's us...and most of New York...and we have fun with it. Much of it is admittedly unsuitable for publication (i.e. Joyce as Atlas...long story...don't ask) but those things that do make it through our not-so-stringent filter seem to strike a chord with our core Brooklyn fans.
  • Find the Funkillers. There will always be people who want to tell you why an idea WON'T work. Find them quickly. Embrace them and use them to help shape your idea until it WILL work. Or...just beat them over the head with fun until they see the light. Dave compared it to walking into a prison yard and picking a fight with the biggest, baddest, meanest guy you can find, as a means of taking a stand and establishing credibility. Steve noted that he would keep that in mind the next time he went to prison.
We've said for years that what's most important for a night or an idea to be succesful is that we as a staff are 100% behind it and having fun with it. Only then can we expect you guys to get behind it an enjoy it as well. Kind of like this blog -- an inside joke that's caught on with those outside the joke...who, by catching on, are now on the inside.

If you come to a game and you're laughing (or even chuckling, smirking, booing, or wondering what in H-E-double-hockey-sticks you just saw), then we consider the night a success -- win or lose.

So rest assured, Brooklyn baseball is not far away. And in the few months until Opening Day, I can promise you that we're hard at work on being as silly as we can
and coming up with ideas that will make this summer one of the most fun you've ever had!

"Fun with a Purpose" as Mr. Raymond would say. (In my humble opinion, "Fun with a Porpoise" would be even better, but whatever.)

-- Dave

Monday, February 2, 2009

Solving Problems, One Mini Plan at a Time

I have a certain routine when I come into the office every morning: Head directly into the kitchen, grab a cup of coffee, say “hi” to Ricky, listen and nod as he pontificates on disturbing topics, and then head back to the Ticket Office. While waiting for the caffeine to kick in from said cup of coffee (and for my brain to scrub itself from said conversation with Ricky), I devote a few minutes of my morning to reading advice columns. This includes Dear Abby, Annie’s Mailbox, Dear Margo, etc. It’s a weird habit, but I like reading about other people’s enormous problems, knowing there’s a solution that can be outlined in a paragraph or two.

Now, with Mini Plans on sale and a plethora of new kinds of plans available, I like to think that the Brooklyn Cyclones contribute to solving the world’s woes.

Here’s how my very own personal advice column would go:

Dear Cyclones Ticket Office,

I got laid off from my job and have had to drastically slash our family’s entertainment budget. I don’t want to deprive my children, but how can we continue to have regular family outings without dipping into their college tuitions?

- Penny Pincher

Dear PP,

We’re glad you asked. The Brooklyn Cyclones offer a new Mini Plan called the Grub Club Plan: 5 games, plus free food. Each member of your family gets a hot dog, soft drink, chips & ice cream, every game. You can look forward to five family outings, at the cost of $75 per person. With the money you save, you’ll be able to put off looking for another job for at least eight more months.

- The T.O.

Dear Cyclones Ticket Office,

I know I should be grateful that I’m still gainfully employed, but my job involves staring at a spreadsheet all day and making numbers add up correctly. I feel myself falling into a deep depression, dreading each work week. And it gets worse in the summer when the sun is shining outside. What should I do to keep my motivation going?

- Working Doldrums

Dear WD,

We’re glad you asked. We have a new mini plan called the Hump Day Plan, with most of the games placed strategically in the middle of the work week. Then, you’ll know that your Wednesdays will end with baseball, a party atmosphere, and fun, attractive people (us). Soon, you’ll start looking forward to the end of the weekends and the start of the work week. Of course then, you can always pair your Hump Day Plan with our Weekend Plan.

- The T.O.

Dear Cyclones Ticket Office,

I’m an NYU law student with no money. I owe my bank $150,000 in student loans, and my friends don’t seem to understand that I can’t afford to drop endless amounts of cash on a night out in the city. This means I’m also losing friends. How do I have a social life without sacrificing tuition/rent money?

- Broke and Friendless

Dear BAF,

We’re glad you asked. #1) If you want to restock your supply of friends, join the Brooklyn Cyclones Facebook Fan Page. We’re here for you. #2) We have a new We Win, You Win Plan. It’s only $45, you get 3 games guaranteed, and a potential 3 games FREE. That’s $45 for a potential six nights out having fun. What does $45 get you in the city? The cover charge and a cocktail? We thought so.

- The T.O.

Dear Cyclones Ticket Office,

My dad is in jail for extortion. My mother has a gambling habit and relies on me to help pay her bills. My husband has left me for my best friend. My sixteen-year-old son has been expelled from school, and I can’t rein in his behavior. I find myself in a dark tunnel with no light at the end. What should I do?

-At The End Of My Rope


We have a Fireworks Plan to light up your life! Fireworks always make people feel better. Also, this plan includes our Baracklyn Cyclones Night, a tribute to our new President Obama, who made a campaign promise of hope (and it sounds like you could use a little hope right now)! Problems solved. You’re welcome.

- The T.O.

See? That was easy! There's nothing too big or too bad for a Mini Plan to handle! Brooklyn Baseball: Saving the world one life at a time!

-- Joyce