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Grizzlies roast Cats with #Wackramento

Willie Nelson, Pat Sajak, Jose Canseco all headed to MiLB stadiums
June 16, 2015

Minor League teams are known for the creativity of their gameday promotions. On Tuesdays this season, we preview 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 [email protected] with the subject line: "Promo Preview" or send a Tweet to @bensbiz, hashtag "#promopreview."

The Fresno Grizzlies are hosting "Grumpy Cat Night #Wackramento" on Tuesday, the latest salvo in a front-office battle that has been raging since the offseason.

"We welcome our rivals to the north [the Sacramento River Cats] by showcasing their grumpiness," wrote the Grizzlies, regarding Tuesday's Sacramento-baiting promo. "Any fan showing a post of a grumpy cat meme on their social media with the hashtag #Wackramento will receive 50 percent off regularly priced tickets."

So why are the Grizzlies offering discounts to fans who dis the River Cats on social media? This beef originated during the offseason, after the San Francisco Giants severed their ties with the Grizzlies in order to enter into a new affiliation with Sacramento. This prompted the Grizzlies to adopt a new, defiantly Fresno-centric persona, embracing their underdog status while going on the attack toward Sacramento.

The #Wackramento hashtag first emerged during an extended Twitter tit-for-tat in February. I am proud to say that my coverage of this online battle helped spur the Grizzlies to create an "official" #Wackramento logo.

The River Cats soon responded in kind.

The Grizzlies then adopted the "Fresknows Nothing" slogan as their own. Sam Hansen, the team's director of marketing, sent along a manifesto which read, in part:

"When you come from NOTHING, you have NOTHING to fear. That's the difference between Sacramento and Fresno. We don't call it Wackramento out of jealously, we call it Wackramento because we don't identify with you. You are not OUR capital. 

We are fearless, hungry bears who came from NOTHING. And this is our home. Welcome to #Growlifornia."

And so it goes. When asked to comment on the Grizzlies' upcoming "Grumpy Cat" promo, an individual with the River Cats front office simply sent along the following.


Best of the Rest           

Round Rock Express (Pacific Coast League)
Willie Nelson bobblehead, June 18

The Round Rock Express play just outside of Austin's city limits, and in this area there is no greater hero than peripatetic country music iconoclast Willie Nelson. On Thursday, the Express pay tribute via the distribution of 2,500 bobbleheads that portray Willie, bandana-bedecked and wearing an Express jersey, staring intently into the distance while strumming a few chords on Trigger (his guitar). Gates open at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, but fans can pay their own tribute to Willie by arriving 70 minutes prior.

Frederick Keys (Carolina League)
Game Show Night featuring Pat Sajak appearance and bobblehead, June 19

Conscientious consonant choosers and voluminous vowel vouchers alike will delight in the Keys' "Game Show Night" promo, as it includes an appearance by Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak. Sajak, who maintains a residence in (somewhat) nearby Severna Park, Maryland, will throw out a first pitch, sign autographs and generally make the best of a Vanna-less evening at the ballpark. What's more, the first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a Pat Sajak bobblehead. Arrive at the ballpark early or go bankrupt trying to secure one on eBay later.    

• Akron RubberDucks introduce LeBron Burger, Delly Dog for Cavs fans »

Lakewood BlueClaws (South Atlantic League)
Halfway to the Holidays with Ugly Sweater Jerseys and Ornament Giveaway, June 19

Minor League teams often celebrate offseason holidays in "halfway" form -- "Halfway to Halloween," "Halfway to Valentine's Day," "Halfway to Groundhog's Day," and so on and so forth. But when it comes to celebrating Christmas, teams usually go past the halfway point and opt for a "Christmas in July" promo. But not the Lakewood BlueClaws. The BlueClaws are going halfway all the way, as Friday is "Halfway to the Holidays" night. The players take the field in Ugly Sweater jerseys (which are ugly even by ugly sweater jerseys standards), while the first 1,500 fans at the ballpark receive a team-logo Christmas ornament. Santa Claus is also scheduled to appear; maybe he'll demonstrate his crossover appeal by competing in the between-innings Dreidel spinning competition.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Carolina League)
Prostate Cancer Awareness Night with bobble-finger giveaway, June 21

Last season, Pelicans general manager Andy Milovich underwent an in-game prostate exam while singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame. Milovich's awareness-raising publicity stunt received national attention and kick-started an industry trend, but the Pelicans aren't resting on their laurels. Sunday's Prostate Cancer Awareness promo -- not coincidentally scheduled for Father's Day -- includes a bobblefinger giveaway designed to function as a permanent reminder to dad to get that prostate checked. The Pelicans have secured a most apropos sponsor for the bobblefinger -- ARS Rescue Rooter, an emergency plumbing specialist.   

Quick Hits

Because too much is better than not enough, here's a look at even more notable promotions taking place this week.

June 17: Twenty-first-century renaissance man Jose Canseco visits the Cedar Rapids Kernels, where he'll participate in a home run derby organized by the city's parks and rec department. … The Charlotte Knights celebrate Caddyshack with an appearance by Michael O'Keefe, who played Danny Noonan in the film.

June 18: The Charleston RiverDogs pay tribute to their benevolent, capable and hunky general manager Dave Echols with "We Love Dave Night." … The El Paso Chihuahuas' accurately named "Bartender Challenge" features top bartenders competing head-to-head in a series of in-game challenges.

June 19: Slime flies when you're having fun: the Akron RubberDucks celebrate 25 years of Nickelodeon. … In Altoona, the Curve distribute Josh Harrison Garden Gnomes (pictured). … The Fort Wayne TinCaps, Nashville Sounds and Tennessee Smokies all celebrate "Star Wars Night." 

June 20: More Star Wars! This time the Akron RubberDucks, Clinton LumberKings, Inland Empire 66ers, Rochester Red Wings and South Bend Silver Hawks take part. … The Charleston RiverDogs' annual celebration of South Carolina native Larry Doby includes a Newark Eagles replica jersey giveaway. … The Potomac Nationals pay homage to the talents and style of Michael Taylor with a one-of-a-kind "Flattop" bobblehead

June 21: The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders host a "Legends Game," essentially a star-studded continuation of the previous day's Old-timer's Game at Yankee Stadium.

June 22: It's Monday. Not much happens on Monday.

June 23: The Readin Fightin Phils give away Ostrich Tube Socks. No context needed. … The Richmond Flying Squirrels celebrate Betty White's half-birthday. Again, no context needed.  

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.