A few promotional ideas worth stealingWritten by Matt Sussman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Growing up, I was fairly convinced I was a master at the extremely nerdy card game “Magic: The Gathering.”
This was based on the fact that I had two other friends who played and I beat them quite frequently. Sadly, this false sense of superiority came crashing down to terra firma when I entered a public M:TG tournament. Not only did I lose badly, I was also disqualified for using illegal cards. True story.
I mention this because it’s sometimes hard, in a city without major pro sports, to get a reading on a team like the Mud Hens and how they compare to other minor league franchises. Not in terms of wins and losses (they have stats and junk to measure that), but by the whole experience of going to a game and seeing the interns and stadium announcer work their pants off to entertain the audience.
I had the pleasure of seeing three other minor league parks, and while the Hens experience is at a much higher level than the average franchise, there are some ideas to steal. And some to leave alone.
Take, for example, Telus Field in Edmonton, Canada. This is home to the Edmonton Capitals of the independent Golden Baseball League. They possess what I determine to be the most atrocious professional baseball field in North America. The outfield is beautiful, luscious grass, but the infield is artificial turf. If I was scolded growing up because I tried to wear two different shades of green in public, baseball diamonds ought to have the same fashion sense.
If we can learn anything else from our friends in Edmonton, it’s to not change our team nickname. The average Toledoan is already desensitized over the hilarity of the Mud Hens name, but imagine if we changed it to something lame like Bulldogs or Thunder.
Edmonton’s team was called the Cracker-Cats. They actually veered away from a unique name that sounds offensive but isn’t. (It’s derived from an oil-rigging term called “cat cracking.”) People are far less likely to buy a Capitals hat than a Cracker-Cats hat, which is the one reason (that doesn’t involve Klinger) that Hens apparel can sometimes be seen across the nation.
So we’ve covered the field and the team name. Now, it’s time to look beyond the team and into the concession stand. What sounds more interesting: a hot dog or a Driller dog? Spoiler: They’re both the same mystery meat, but one has a fancy name. The Tulsa Drillers got it right by selling dogs with nothing but a clever moniker. Creative marketing costs nothing. In their defense, Hens sell the Muddy Dog, which is, contrary to what it sounds like, not a hot dog that dropped on the ground.
Perhaps the best game I saw last year was in Lowell, Mass. The Spinners are the Red Sox’s short-season Single-A affiliate, which sounds as rinky-dinky as it can get, but they came up with perhaps the most diabolical way to taunt the opposing team.
When a visiting player named Tom Edwards stepped up to bat, the electronic scoreboard flashed his picture, as host teams are often generous enough to do. But after a few pitches, they deftly switched it to a picture of disgraced politician John Edwards. Likewise, they really gave it to opposing batter Jacob Julius, when they flashed the Orange Julius logo on the screen. Also, I lost track of the number of times they played the scene from the movie “Twins” when Arnold Schwarzenegger told Danny DeVito, “I’m your brother, Julius!”
This is an idea the Hens need to steal immediately. My only request is that they do not hold any Magic: The Gathering tournaments before the games. I can’t bear to see any children lose confidence in their nerdiness.