It's an admittedly slow time of year, but "Promotion Preview: Offseason Edition" soldiers on. This week's column is light on promotions, but what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality. Or so I hope.
In an interesting confluence of time and place, the first three promotions listed are taking place Friday in the Eastern League. Let's take a look.
Altoona Curve (Eastern League)
Open House, Nov. 21
It can be tough to plan family outings these days, as nearly everyone seems to have their own agenda. An entirely plausible example: Dad wants an all-access tour of a Double-A baseball stadium, Mom wants to donate both food and toys to charity, Johnny wants to meet Santa Claus and get his face painted and Suzy wants to acquire a quart of wedding soup while being amused by the antics of an anthropomorphic steam engine.
As luck would have it, the Curve are offering all of these things during Saturday's annual Open House at Blair County Ballpark. The event will benefit the Food for Families soup kitchen as well as Toys for Tots, which explains why the admission charge is either a canned food item or a new unwrapped toy. (Fans also have the option of purchasing a quart of wedding soup and a loaf of Italian bread for $5, with the proceeds benefiting the soup kitchen).
So in the interest of family unity, attend the Curve's Open House. Steamer the anthropomorphic steam engine will be glad you did.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Eastern League)
Granite State Baseball Dinner with Jim Rice, Angelo Dundee, Chris Carpenter and more, Nov. 21
Hot Stove Dinner season, that most overlooked of seasons, has arrived. Many teams will be hosting star-studded (or at least star-specked) banquets over the next several months, but few will have the luminous megawattage of the Fisher Cats' annual Granite State Dinner. Guests include three Hall of Famers, each representing a different Hall of Fame: Jim Rice (baseball), Steve Nelson (football) and Angelo Dundee (boxing). And if this diverse triumvirate of sporting legends wasn't enough, former Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter and sports reporter Heidi Watney also will be in attendance. Tickets cost $75 (or 3/4 of a Franklin, as the kids say), with proceeds benefiting a diverse triumvirate of local altruistic organizations.
Richmond Flying Squirrels (Eastern League)
Coats for Kids Ballpark Warming Party, Nov. 21
It still feels weird to write "Richmond Flying Squirrels" and have it refer to a real, live, fully operational entity. On Saturday, this fledgling franchise is opening its doors to the community by staging a "Ballpark Warming." As everyone knows, the best way to warm a ballpark is to donate a coat on the premises of said ballpark, so that's just what the club is asking fans to do. In exchange for the donation (which will go to the Coats for Kids organization), fans will be treated to a tour of The Diamond so they may witness first-hand the myriad renovations and improvements the facility is undergoing in preparation for 2010. They also will receive a raffle ticket in exchange for each donated coat, with prizes including autographed memorabilia, raceway tickets and professionally stuffed and mounted flying squirrels (Note: that last one is, unfortunately, not true).
Rome Braves (South Atlantic League)
First Annual Chop Shop Wing Ding, Nov. 21
Speaking for myself, I would attend a "Chop Shop Wing Ding" on general principle, without needing to know exactly what it is. But for those of a less curious disposition, let me elaborate: the R-Braves' Chop Shop Wing Ding is, first and foremost, a car show. And yes, a wide variety of wings will be available at the concession stands. But for my money, the best reason to attend is because Guns N' Roses tribute band Appetite for Destruction will be performing. This band of skilled imitators has named itself after one of the greatest rock albums of all time, and I commend it for this. For the record, I would like to state that my three favorite songs off said album are "It's So Easy," "Mr. Brownstone" and "My Michelle."
Fort Myers Miracle (Florida State League)
Ballpark Festival of Beers, Nov. 25
The Miracle's "Ballpark Festival of Beers" has become an annual tradition, one likely to result in a sizable pre-Thanksgiving buzz. Billed as "Southwest Florida's largest beer tasting event," the festival brings together many of the area's brewers so they may offer their hopped-up creations to the public. For $20, attendees receive beer sampling tickets along with that most important of beer festival accoutrements -- a mug. Food and live music are also part of the equation, resulting in a timeless trifecta that can hardly be improved upon.
Oklahoma RedHawks (Pacific Coast League)
Snow Tubing at the Ballpark, opening Nov. 27
The day after Thanksgiving is known as "Black Friday," a grotesque display of rampant consumerism that serves as an annual reminder of man's inhumanity to man. But in Oklahoma City, a far more amenable option exists when it comes to how one could pass the time -- Snow Tubing! The RedHawks have temporarily turned Bricktown Ballpark into a winter paradise, featuring two slopes of real, live snow. These slopes begin in the upper deck end on the playing field, resulting in a ride of epic proportions. Tubing at the Brick runs all the way through Jan. 3, giving the snow-deprived folks of Oklahoma City ample opportunity to experience one of winter's few joys.