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Working from Home journals: Finding a groove

MiLB staffers write about performing their jobs, sans stadiums
Sam, Jamie, Casey, Emily, Nate and Steven share their thoughts on what it's like to work in Minor League Baseball these days.
April 8, 2020

Minor League Baseball will return, and when it does team employees will be ready. In this second installment of the Working from Home Journals, six individuals from throughout the industry fill us in on what they've been up to. To read part one, click here. 

Minor League Baseball will return, and when it does team employees will be ready. In this second installment of the Working from Home Journals, six individuals from throughout the industry fill us in on what they've been up to. To read part one, click here

Nate Kurant
Director of Promotions, Charleston RiverDogs
Ninth year in MiLB, heading into fifth season in Charleston

Heading into what would have been our Opening Night, there's an unusual feeling across our staff and, I'm sure, around Minor League Baseball. I don't have plans on a night in April for the first time in a decade. And right now, we are finding ways to create a great Opening Night experience for our fans to enjoy from home.
While we would all prefer to have sellout crowds and action on the field, we have found ways to adjust. I mentioned in the previous post that this unexpected delay will force us to try new ideas and concepts. I think teams have already seen fruitful elements that would reinforce that.
We all know that e-sports have been consistently growing in popularity, but how many in our industry bothered to take a swing at it before all of this? Now look at how many teams have created Twitch streams and played as a staff or with their mascot to create content. We've done it and found ways to include our partners to create added value.
Before this, how many teams had offered their ballpark food as lunchtime options? I would imagine not many. Our team added a drive-thru concept last week as a way to support the front lines in fighting this pandemic on Mondays, and as a revenue producer Tuesday through Friday. I know other teams have also added similar ideas. We may come out of this realizing this is a viable revenue stream even in a standard off-season.
Reaching people where they're at has become a renewed effort. Finding new ways to engage has led to possible new sponsorship opportunities. These challenges have given us a great platform for innovation.
Jamie Toole
General Manager, Jupiter Hammerheads
22nd year in MiLB (third with the Hammerheads)

Week No. 2 of the "Quarantine Work Life" brought a little more structure for our staff as we adjust to working from our homes. We utilize Zoom and Microsoft Teams to stay in touch and host most of our staff and departmental connection events. 
Like most professional baseball organizations, we continue to try to stay relevant and top of mind through our social media channels. The Hammerheads had nice success with our "Wallpaper Wednesday" Twitter promotion this week. 

Anything we can do to provide some form of entertainment seems to be appreciated. With the shelter at home order in place throughout Florida, our fans and social media network have time on their hands for engagement. However, our attempted April Fools joke of a half red and half blue playing surface went over like a chubby pole vaulter.
Our MiLB best practices research project continued this week. We are looking forward to borrowing creative ideas from our counterparts in the industry to increase revenue and improve our fan experience at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. 
We continue to stay in touch with our corporate partners and offer promotion for their businesses based on the services they are able to offer.
We look forward to getting back to the ballpark and entertaining fans in 2020! Go Hammerheads!
Steven Elovich
VP of Corporate Partnerships for the Salem Red Sox
13th year in MiLB (all with the Salem Red Sox)

As working from home becomes my new norm, I am beginning to develop routines to replace the ones I had at the office. Every morning, I have my coffee, play with my son for a bit, then make the seven-second hike from our living room to my makeshift upstairs office [formerly an area reserved for Lego building and Hot Wheels racing]. Once I get settled in and have my workstation ready -- pen and Fenway Sports pad, MacBook, phone -- I'm ready to roll.
Just like at the office, I scan all my emails and reply to any that need immediate attention. After that, I check out our Microsoft Teams and check in on what everyone else is up to. Unfortunately, in the sponsorship world meetings are few and far between these days. However, I'm still having daily contact with a lot of our partners and helping to share their messaging with the team's wider social media following. For example, fans will able to show the ticket back coupon at our partners' businesses, only now it'll be from a Facebook post instead of their physical ticket. Afternoons are spent on any calls and video conferences scheduled for that day and are often pretty fluid as new hurdles arise daily. I used to think that a seven-game homestand was tough, but the current three-week homestand I'm on is taking a toll, too. At least I haven't had to pull tarp yet, but I have been wearing a T-shirt and shorts to work every day just in case that tarp pull text comes!
With the uncertainty surrounding Opening Day, almost all our partners have been extremely patient and understanding. Now more than ever my focus is on creating unique assets and ways to show our corporate partners value outside of the ballpark.

Emily Wydo
Manager of Marketing and Promotions, Salem Red Sox
Rookie season in MiLB (spent 2019 working for the Minnesota Twins)

March was the longest year of my life. I'm 23, and I'm pretty sure I found a gray hair this morning.
Working in baseball comes with normal, inherent stress. It's something we sign on for; the best ones, the ones who make it, thrive in this environment. I can now say I much prefer the stress of a long homestand or planning a season than whatever it is I am living with right now.
This is not to say I don't feel hopeful -- I do. I have seen great acts of kindness and experienced a deeper sense of community, more than I ever have before, in the baseball world and beyond. Opening Day, as marked on our calendars for April 9, will come and go, but that only makes me more excited for when it finally arrives. Isn't there a quote like, "Good things come to those who wait?" Whoever said that was probably waiting for baseball, but I doubt they had to wait this long. Instead, I will say this: 
"GREAT things come to those who social distance, wash their hands and wait during a pandemic." -- Emily Wydo
I wrote my first entry from my tiny apartment at my kitchen table in Virginia. This entry I have written from home, at my parent's house in Minnesota. I got on an airplane and fervently prayed that I would not get sick because now I am in a household of five, instead of being a party of one.
My family decided the best way to weather this storm was to all be together [I'm sure we will find out eventually if that was a good idea or not]. My sister, who has a completely different job than I do, sits across from me at the kitchen table and we are now, by physical space, coworkers. We take turns lamenting about the loss of what feels like our former lives. She jokes that "if this goes on much longer, I might have to take up running." And I might take up knitting. Who knows?
Social media, my main focus, is a whole different beast these days. There's no playbook on "Proper Content for a Pandemic" [although I may write one when this is over] and I am desperately trying to keep up with the current fads, cool ideas and memes while simultaneously hoping to avoid burning my eyes out as a result of staring at Photoshop or Twitter all day. I'm not upset and I don't regret it. It's just new and, like everyone else, I am learning as I go.
So on that note, I extend grace -- to myself and to my fellow sports people. I know you are doing your best, as I am doing mine. And when this is all over, shoot me an email so that we can write a book.  

Casey Sawyer
Marketing Manager, Hillsboro Hops
Eight years in Minor League Baseball (all with Hillsboro)

Here in Hillsboro, we're heading into week four of working from home. It is starting to feel a bit more normal now, and I find myself looking more and more forward to the video calls we have scheduled to see my coworkers. Sticking to a routine and having a plan for the week of what I need to accomplish has been the most helpful aspect so far.
Although the delay certainly isn't ideal, it creates unique and interesting challenges. I handle the marketing efforts for the Hops and also oversee social media. There are more eyes than ever on social media right now, so in that regard it's more important than ever that we stay top of mind. Our organization is aiming to create fun, shareable content. We don't want to be disrespectful and want to bring joy where we can. There's enough stress out there; we want people to associate the Hops with fun.
Like a handful of other Minor League teams, we also now run the business operations for a USL soccer team (the Portland Timbers 2). We would have been five games into that season by now but only got one in before the delay. Thinking of strategy and content for two organizations is tough enough as is, but especially in a pivot like this. However, we have creative, fun and positive people on staff who continue to drive us forward.         
The Hops, of course, are a short-season team. Our first home game is scheduled for June 22. We hope that things begin to turn around by that time and that our season isn't impacted, although I understand that we have to prepare for any possibility. Please stay home, stay positive and trust that this will work out sooner than later. We all want to get back out to the park, enjoying our peanuts and Cracker Jack at the ol' ballgame. 

Sam Levitt
Broadcaster, Amarillo Sod Poodles
Third year in MiLB (and another three in independent baseball) 
Second year with the Sod Poodles

This past week, it was all about getting into a better routine as I work from home. I'm usually an early riser, so I've tried to get back into that habit. The newest routine? Taking a little walk around my apartment complex in the morning before I settle in and open my laptop. 
With the Sod Poodles, we're continuing to air our live show on Facebook and Twitter every Wednesday and Friday. The prep for that has taken up a good amount of my time during the week. We're also working on some other content each week. It's nice to still be creating content even though we're not playing games. It forces you to get creative and out of the comfort zone. My goal has been to bring some entertainment into a family's home and put a smile on people's faces during these challenging times. I hope we're doing that. 
I never thought I'd say this, but I am getting a little tired of sitting in my beach chair ... which is the only chair I [proudly] have! There are some rumblings in my head about maybe purchasing something else. We'll see. 
Stay safe. Sending my best to all MiLB fans and beyond during these times.

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