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

1 comment:

Lisa Gav said...

As a former member of my High School bowling team myself, I feel for you, Gary. However, my involvement was more "Hey, free bowling!" and "Does this count as an extra-curricular activity I can put on college applications?" than any stitch of talent.

It will be hard to top 2010 in terms of having a fantastic team that won what felt like just about every Home game. The promotions were pretty great, and it was terrific to have a ballpark full of fans throughout most of the season. I loved the STH BBQ and Fireworks too. I think a focus group of fans has the potential to be a great idea as well.

I know it's only November (and how the heck did it get to be November already?) but I'm looking forward to next season!