Minor League teams are known for the creativity of their gameday promotions. On Tuesdays this season, we preview 10 of the most intriguing for the week ahead. If you'd like a particular promotion to be considered for this feature in the future, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: "Promo Preview" or send him a Tweet -- hashtag "#promopreview."
America prides itself on its inclusive and open-minded ideals, and with this being the case, one would think that cured strips of pig meat and soft white blocks of bean curd could find a way to co-exist peacefully.
But, no, apparently they cannot. For America also loves a good competition, and the Fresno Grizzlies are tapping into these innately combative desires with Thursday's "Tofu vs. Bacon" theme night promotion. This initiative is an offshoot of the club's wildly popular "Taco Truck Throwdown" promotion, in which contestants from across the Fresno region vie to establish vehicular taco purveyor supremacy. Only this time, it's going to be #TeamBacon vs. #TeamTofu.
In an email sent to Promo Preview headquarters, Grizzlies media relations coordinator Chris Kutz assumed the role of ringside announcer:
"In one corner, we have #teambacon. The almighty meat, known as a primary food item as well as a taste add-on, is trumpeted as great by nearly all," wrote Kutz. "In the other corner, we have tofu. Oh, lovable tofu. Some consider it weak, but in reality, the "Chosen One (by vegans)" is used in all types of cooking (just like bacon)."
So what are the parameters of this competition, then?
"We have team captains/chefs (nominated by fans) who will cook food items for fans to purchase during the game that contain their respective food item (bacon or tofu)," wrote Kutz. "When the night is all said and done, a winner, bacon or tofu, will be selected."
Tofu is undoubtedly a versatile and invaluable foodstuff, but it generally doesn't inspire fanatical devotion the way that bacon does. The comments on the Grizzlies' Facebook page are skewed heavily in meat's favor, as succinct and self-explanatory remarks such as "Bacon!" are prevalent.
But don't count out the tofu just yet.
"Early favorite is bacon, but the response and passion displayed by #teamtofu has created quite the David vs. Goliath optimism for the underdog," wrote Kutz.
This is America, after all. Anything is possible.
Mobile BayBears (Southern League) Seafood Cookoff, June 27
Seafood Appreciation Night June 28
Fresno isn't the only team staging a culinary competition on Thursday, as the Mobile BayBears are hosting a self-explanatory "Seafood Cookoff" in which local chefs attempt to make the most of the Gulf Coast's bounteous aquatic offerings. A more conciliatory tone will be adopted the next night, however, as in lieu of any sort of competition, the team is simply staging "Seafood Appreciation Night." I see food, I appreciate it. Who can argue with that?
Memphis Redbirds (Pacific Coast League) "The Firm" Night, June 29
A recent edition of this column made note of the lengths that the Durham Bulls had gone to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Bull Durham. But that's not the only cinematic anniversary being commemorated at a Minor League Baseball stadium this month. The film adaptation of John Grisham's The Firm was shot in Memphis 20 years ago, and the hometown Redbirds are celebrating this at AutoZone Park on Saturday. While Tom Cruise (who played Mitch McDeere in the film) isn't scheduled to be in attendance, who's to say that he won't be inspired to stop by? We do live in a world of infinite possibilities, after all.
Fort Myers Miracle (Florida State League) Craig Sager Appearance and Bobblehead, June 29
Before he was renowned far and wide for his interviewing abilities and overall sartorial splendor, Craig Sager served as the sports director for WINK in Fort Myers. On Saturday, he returns to his old stomping grounds, hobnobbing with the hoi polloi at that evening's Miracle game. And in honor of Sager's aforementioned sartorial splendor, the team will be giving away not one but two bobbleheads. One features a white shirt, green tie and yellow jacket ensemble, while the other boasts a more ostentations yellow-pink-blue color scheme. Truly, this is fashion at its most forward-thinking.
Lake County Captains (Midwest League) LanceStrong Night, June 29
The Tour de France kicks off Saturday, and in response, the Captains have decided to pay tongue-in-cheek tribute to the tarnished legacy of former champion Lance Armstrong. The winner of a "spandex fashion show" will be awarded a new bicycle, while between-inning contests make ample use of the once-ubiquitous "LiveStrong" bracelets. Despite the satiric nature of the promotion, the Captains plan to do good as well; the team is encouraging fans to bike to the ballpark and will also be making a donation to the aforementioned LiveStrong organization (Lance is no longer affiliated).
Beloit Snappers (Midwest League) Grace Phillips Cowbell Giveaway, June 30
There are fans and then there are super-fans, and Grace Phillips most certainly falls in the latter category. Phillips, 99 years young, can be seen at Beloit's Pohlman Field for nearly every Snappers ballgame. This long-time season-ticket holder passionately roots for the home team by banging on a cowbell that can be heard throughout the ballpark, and on Sunday the Snappers are paying tribute to her fandom by giving away cowbells to the first 500 fans in attendance. Talk about a ringing endorsement!
Into the Ellipse…
Because there is never not enough to write about, a brief rundown of other notable promotions taking place this week…
- June 27: The Binghamton Mets promote proper New York Baseball fandom by allowing fans to trade in their Yankees caps for a brand new Mets cap… It's "Thanksgiving in June" in Bowie, and the Baysox are following it up one day later with "Orange and Black Friday"… In Kane County, the Cougars pay tribute to Chicago Cubs legend Ron Santo.
- June 28: Celebrate the impending arrival of a new European monarch with the Corpus Christi Hooks, who are staging "British Royal Birth Night"… Things are bound to get tangy in Kannapolis, as the Intimidators have organized a "BBQ Sauce Competition"… Sweet Lou Whitaker visits West Michigan for the Whitecaps' recurring "Tiger Friday" promotion. Bobbleheads shall be distributed.
- June 29: If you like food, trucks, and, especially, food served out of trucks, then you'll love the Dunedin Blue Jays' "Food Truck Rally"… Get comfortable with the Kingsport Mets, who are giving away team-logo neck pillows… The Williamsport Crosscutters pay homage to their previous incarnation as the "Bills" during "Turn Back the Clock Night."
- June 30: It's the first day of Summers in Akron, as the Aeros are hosting "Double Dare Night"… Fans of the underdog would do well to get to Nashville, as the Sounds are giving away a Biblical Bobblehead of David… The annual tradition of the "Mega-Candy Drop" occurs in Quad Cities, as the River Bandits drop candy onto the field from a helicopter.
- July 1: The tactfully-named frenzy of consumption that is "Gluttony Night" goes down in Reading, complete with a Whoopie Pie eating contest.
- July 2: As part of a tribute to World War II veterans, the Lowell Spinners are giving away a "Band of Brothers" bobblehead.