Pitchers and catchers will start making trips to Arizona and Florida soon. Spring training is right on us! I haven't made a trip to Florida for the preseason games, but I did spend some time in Arizona.
I am getting excited about the upcoming season in the minors. The Lexington Legends play in my back yard almost. The Florence Freedom and the Louisville Bats are very short drives.
Teams in Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee make for nice weekend trips.
There are many things I love about the minor leagues. There are a few things I don't like. There are a few things I would like to see more of.
I guess I should start with the things I don't like. In general I am not big on on field announcers. They are usually too loud. They are always too obnoxious.
There are a couple I have come to appreciate. Steve of the non-baseball Lexington teams (The Horsemen and the Stallions) is funny as heck. The female on field announcer for the Florence Freedom is not as obnoxious as most, and is funny too.
I hate "who can scream the loudest" contests. That's one I can do without.
Other than baseball at a baseball game, here are some of the things I love.
Mascots. The furrier and the more muppet like, the better. I know that MANY people hate mascots, especially purists, but I think they are great. In fact, I would like to see more of them. Belle of the Florence Freedom is amazing. I am also a fan of Skipper of the Lake County Captains.
Travelling entertainment. The Zooperstars are just pure fun. They get around too. I have seen them at a lot of games. I love BirdZerk and Myron Noodleman too. Oh, and dogs that catch frisbies. That's just good fun!
Giveaways. I love a t-shirt or a bobble-head. Even if the bobble-head is of a local politician or someone I don't care about. The shirt might be thin and it might dissolve after a few washes, but that's OK. Something free is always cool. Some of my other favorite giveaways have been: tickets to another game, statues, lunch boxes, ice cream cookies, and burritos.
The only giveaways I don't like are the ones for kids only. Hey, I paid just as much for my ticket as that kid!
Racing people in costumes. I have seen fish, eyeballs, and various food items racing around the ballpark. Don't act like you are too good to enjoy this! I have never seen hot dogs race each other on TV!
Military night. I think most teams are doing a form of this during the season. I think it is great. I would like to see more of it too. Some teams ask that veterans and those currently serving in the military to stand. All teams should be doing this one.
I love a good version of our national anthem. I will take an OK version. I saw a girl who was about 6 or 7 maybe nail it before a Horsmen's game a year ago and the whole place was holding back the tears. I heard an opera singer give a haunting version of it to a crowd in Washington PA several years ago as a storm was coming through. That is a moment I won't forget either. Amazing.
Here are a few things I hope to see more of:
Tribute days. Especially Negro League tribute games. I don't see enough of them these days. It seemed like, for a time, they happened frequently. Every team needs to have at least one of these a season. Many of the old All American Girls Pro Baseball League are still around too. Every team should have a tribute night to them each season too.
Better season ticket plans. I think it is VERY important to get out and support the local team in every way possible. I know that the minor league teams (especially the independent ones) really appreciate every ticket you buy. Buying tickets is a great way to support the team. However, if I am going to buy a season ticket, I expect a bit of a hookup. Check out the Mahoning Valley Scrappers site (mvscrappers.com). They have a good season ticket deal. You get a jersey with your season ticket! Plus, they give you some coupons, early entry to the game, stat sheets, guaranteed giveaways and a ticket trade in for unused tickets. I think it is a bit offensive that some teams offer to trade your unused season tickets in for Monday-Thursday games only, and for lesser valued seats.