December 2009

Not completely irrelevant (Crustacean Nation)

Andrew Buchbinder, Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations

First of all, I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who came on down to L.P. Frans Stadium last Saturday for the Crawdads Christmas Party, expecially to those that donated canned food items.  In total, almost 200 pounds of canned food was collected, which will be distributed by Unity Lutheran Church.  200 pounds!  That’s awesome – and we’d like to say thanks for helping us make sure a couple less people go hungry this holiday season.

Alright, now what to talk about?  We could talk about Tiger.  Nah, what else is there to say?  In my book, just another athlete that turned out not to be the shiny picture of perfection we hoped he would be. 

How about how the Red Sox decided to not go after Jason Bay or Matt Holliday and instead sign a 36 year-old Mike Cameron?  While I would greatly enjoy diving deeper into the undeniable nonsensicle nature of that decision, there are ‘Sawks’ fans in this office and I try to be nice.

So, what else? How about space?  Space has always fascinated me.  Not necessarily enough to motivate me to educate myself greatly on the vast subject, but enough for a headline like “Alien ‘water world’ found” on MSN.com to catch my eye.  I read the article.  Some things were eyebrow-raising, most went entirely over my head.

More than having even a partial resemblance of an understanding of the topic, I enjoy reading these articles and/or watching shows on space because it puts things in perspective for me.  It makes me think about all the ‘just a speck of dust’ cliches.  It is really quite humbling if you really, deeply, at least try to think about it. 

There are planets soaring through areas (I’m sure there’s a more scientific term… er… continuums?) that are six-and-a-half times the size of Earth?!  Close enough to us for the people who get all this stuff to study those planets from Earth?!  And they have water?!

Due, most likely, to an over-abundance of caffeine intake, this is typically where I get sidetracked and start thinking about Marvin the Martian.  I then, naturally, transition to Bugs Bunny.  Before you know it, I’m belting out the “Fricka fracka firecracka shish boom bah, Bugs Bunny Bugs Bunny RARARA!!” cheer.  And then, as I’m doing now, I try to figure out exactly where my mind has gone.

Anyway, we could talk about space, but clearly that starts me down a completely random path.  Let’s just stick to the holidays.  I hope everyone out there, in Hickory and beyond, has a safe and happy holiday.  Enjoy your family, enjoy some great food, give meaningful gifts, and, of course, think about space… Marvin the Martian… and Bugs Bunny… don’t forget his cheer.  Merry Christmas!

Andrew Buchbinder is entering his second season as director of broadcasting/media relations with the Crawdads.  He previously served in similar capacities with the Bakersfield Condors (ECHL) and the Bakersfield Blaze, the ‘Dads High-A affiliate in the California League.

 

Winter Meetings Recap (Blogs from the Boss)

~Mark Seaman, General Manager

Our Assistant GM, Charlie Downs, and I recently returned from the baseball winter meetings in Indianapolis.  (For what it’s worth I think Indianapolis is a nice city to visit, however I would recommend doing it in the summer).  The winter meetings is an annual event where all of the major league and minor league teams meet for 3 to 4 days to contact all kinds of business. It was a busy 3 days.  People often ask us what we do at the meetings and what goes on while we are there.  I can assure you our experience there is nothing like what you see Peter Gammons reporting about on ESPN.  While you may find the truth boring, I thought I would recap our visit to Indianapolis.

Sunday 12/6
5:25 pm – Flew out of Charlotte
7:10 pm – Landed in Indianapolis and went to our hotel.
8:00 pm – Met up with friends from other teams for dinner.  (To me the best part of the winter meetings is seeing people we have either worked with or met during our time in baseball and spend some time catching up.)

Monday 12/7
7:00 am – Woke up to snow on the ground and 40 mph winds.  This is definitely not Las Vegas (The winter meetings were held in Vegas last year)
8:00 am – We left the hotel for the convention center.  We spent the day attending the Bob Freitas seminar and interviewing potential future Crawdads employees. 
The Freitas seminar is put on by Minor League Baseball (MiLB).  The purpose is to give teams ideas they can use at their respective ballparks to increase the fan experience.  Topics covered include sales & marketing, retail operations, community relations and everything in between.  The speakers typically consist of current minor league team employees.  We always pick up some useful ideas that we are able to implement here in Hickory.  But we are not going to tell you now what gems we found this year, you will have to come to the ballpark in 2010 to find out for yourself!  Between the seminars and the interviews, we spoke with over 20 potential candidates today alone, made for a long day. 

Side note – A division of MiLB, Professional Baseball Employment Opportunities (PBEO) runs the job fair which attracts an excess of 500 job seekers annually.  Mostly young adults right out of college looking to get their start in baseball.  The process works as follows:  Teams post the jobs they have available, job seekers turn in resumes for jobs they are interested in to the PBEO, then the PBEO distributes the resumes to the appropriate team and then the teams decide who they would like to interview.  It is an extremely hectic and nerve-racking 3 days for all parties involved.

8:00 pm – The teams that are owned by Mr. Beaver, Charlotte Knights, New Orleans Zephyrs and the ‘Dads had dinner together and spent time sharing ideas between the teams.

Tuesday 12/8
8:00 am –   We left the hotel for the convention center.  We once again spent the day interviewing potential future Crawdads employees, we conducted in the neighborhood of another 25 or so interviews today.
10:00 am – South Atlantic League GMs meeting.  This is an opportunity for the GMs in the league to get together and discuss numerous league items.  Here are a few items that were on our agenda; pregame timeline for BP and Infield, 2010 All-Star game update (which will be in Greenville), update on the SAL virtual office, presentations for multiple vendors, discussion on the SAL hall of fame.

When we were not interviewing or attending the league meeting we spend time in the trade show.  The trade show is an area where vendors that are trying to sell products to the teams set up.  The vendors represent a wide range of companies.  Anything from stadium equipment, uniforms, entertainment acts, giveaway items, retail items, mascot suits, concessions items fireworks shows and more can be purchased at the trade show.

6:00 pm – We attended the Texas Rangers affiliate reception which they host for all the minor league teams in their farm system.  We had the opportunity to speak with Rangers President Nolan Ryan, GM Jon Daniels, Director of Player Development Scott Servais and a number of other individuals throughout the Rangers front office as well as staff members from the other affiliates.    The Rangers have great people throughout their organization; we enjoyed working with them last year and look forward to the interaction again in 2010.  
     

Wednesday 12/9
8:00 am – We left the hotel for the convention center.  We spent the day interviewing potential future Crawdads employees and attending the trade show.  (The days start to resemble the movie Ground Hog day, one day just like the next.)
10:00 am – South Atlantic League Owners and Directors meeting.  This is an opportunity for the Owners and Directors in the league to get together and discuss numerous league items.  For example, here are a few items that were on the agenda; BAM/BIRCO update, League president’s report, Trustees report, Committee reports, which there are 7 different committees, discussion of changes to the constitution and bylaws, and about 6-7 other things.
7:00 pm – Gala hosted by MiLB at Lucas Oil Stadium (home of the Colts).  This was a fun event.  They fed us plenty of great food, had a band playing and gave us tours throughout the stadium.  It was a great way to wind down after a long 3 days.
 

Thursday 12/10
7:45 am – Left the hotel for the airport
10:10 am – Landed in Charlotte
12:00 pm – Back at the ballpark writing this Blog (This is now now, a little space balls reference)

And that concludes our tour from the Hickory Crawdads perspective of the 2009 baseball winter meetings.

We look forward to seeing everyone tomorrow at the Crawdads Christmas Party from 11am – 1pm.  This is a great opportunity to pick up some Crawdads gear to put under the tree or a ticket book as a stocking stuffer, it’s the gift that will give all summer long!

The Big Three (Group Sales Gab)

~Kathryn Bobel, Co-Director of Group Sales

Let’s get a few things straight.  Yes, it is December. And yes, we are about as far away from a pitch being thrown at L.P. Frans Stadium as it gets.  It’s no longer 97 degrees and I’m no longer using a giant slingshot to fire hotdogs into the stands and fans’ outstretched hands (it’s absurd, but you know you love it).  We said sayonara to summer, farewell to fall, and have welcomed winter (though not necessarily with open arms), which ultimately means that the staffs of minor league baseball teams have headed back indoors to those things you nine-to-fivers call desks.  So, even though the sights, sounds, and smells of the Frans are currently dormant, the Crawdads front office is alive and kickin’!  What do we do, you ask? Great question! It seems as though quite a few individuals ponder this conundrum (including my own mom, who for a while during my college years would periodically ask, “Now, what do you want to do with your degree again?”), so I will attempt to briefly explain why we remain gainfully employed from October to March.

 

The Crawdads, just as any minor league organization, rely heavily on the support of the community to survive.  I would even go as far as to say the time, energy, and capital–let’s call them The Big Three–that local businesses provide the team with combine to form the lifeblood by which the Crawdads are able to exist.  So, in order to improve our operation each and every year, it is during the winter months that we head out into the community to illustrate that any additional time, energy, and capital that citizens are willing to give will greatly add to the experience that we have all come to know and love–spending our warm summer nights under the lights at L.P. Frans Stadium. 

 

So, the next time your friendly neighborhood Crawdads representative calls your business up and asks if we can have just ten minutes of your day to discuss any time, energy, or capital that you may be willing to part with for a great cause, we would be greatly appreciative if you would acquiesce.  At the least, humor us.  Give us just those few minutes we asked for, and then we’ll be on our way.  I believe it goes without saying that we are hoping to step out of your door having added you as a Crawdads partner, but even if you say that the timing isn’t right at this moment to donate any of your Big Three, know that we’ve saved a seat at the ballpark for you.  The ‘dogs are piping hot, the adult beverages are ice cold, and the entertainment can’t be beat.  Sure, you can get dinner and show anywhere, but where else is your food delivered to you by being shot over a giant net with a giant rubber band?

 

Kathryn Bobel is entering her second season with the Crawdads and first as Co-Director of Group Sales.  She served as Sales Assistant with the ‘Dads throughout the 2009 campaign, after stints with the Indianapolis Indians (AAA) and US Track and Field

Are all sandwiches created equal? (Grubbin’ with the Groundskeeper)

~Stuart Morris, Head Groundskeeper

Are all sandwiches created equal? The existence of Vegemite suggests that the answer is a resounding, and disgusting, no.

Vegemite.jpg

 

The sandwich is a staple of lunches everywhere, from the PB&J in the Ghostbusters lunchbox of a child (or socially “special” comic book store employee) to the corned beef sandwich at your local Irish pub. The varieties of sandwiches around the world are endless. Different meats, bread, cheeses, veggies and condiments (bacon is both a meat and a condiment) allow sandwich explorers to roam to whatever combination soothes the savage glutton. Clearly, some are much better than others. Which raises the question of how to rank them.

Corned beef.jpg

 

I am not here to tell you the perfect stack – merely to offer some help in judging. The sandwich which all others should be judged by, the tasty combo that has graced us for years (its probably in your child’s lunch box today) is the bologna and cheese on white bread. It’s simple, tasty and readily available.

My favorite version however uses hand sliced bologna seasoned with a quality barbecue dry. You grill it, then before taking it off the grill add sliced Hoop cheddar. When it’s all melted and delicious, serve it on toast with yellow mustard, barbecue and hot sauces (Texas Pete’s hot sauce works well).

Bologna.jpg

 

Although this is one of my favorite sandwiches, it is not the world’s best.  There’s always something better (and usually more fattening) around the corner. Another slightly more sophisticated interpretation of the above-described bologna sandwich follows, but use your imagination. 

Steak Bomb Sandwich

Croissant.jpg

 

1 sirloin steak
1 bell pepper sliced
1/4 onion sliced
1 can croissant dough
1 jar mushroom gravy
Worcestershire sauce
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Season and grill your steak to your desired doneness. Simplicity works best with the seasoning – Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, salt and black pepper.

2. Heat a skillet over medium, then add gravy, bell peppers, and onions

3. When steak is finished resting, slice across the grain of the meat into bite-sized pieces.

4. Put steak chunks into skillet until gravy is thick.

5. Roll out croissant dough, making sure no seams break. Pour gravy steak mix into the center of the dough. Wrap dough around the mixture and bake following the instructions from the can.

Who said a croissant couldn’t be manly?

Stuart Morris is entering his third season as the Crawdads Head Groundskeeper.  In addition to his tireless work on the field, Stuart is an accomplished chef, easily qualifying him for the distinction of Most Cultured Groundskeeper in the South Atlantic League. 

 

Christmas coming up quick (Group Sales Gab)

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is right around the corner. Everywhere we look people are getting in the Christmas spirit. Christmas trees are everywhere, decorations are out, and yards are lit with Christmas lights. Before we know it Santa’s sleigh will be packed and he will be coming down our chimneys.

Christmas is a busy time of year. Everyone is trying to get their holiday shopping done, plan and attend Christmas parties, and visit their families. Don’t forget to mark your calendars for the Crawdads Christmas party on December 12th from 11-1 p.m. The event is free to attend, and Santa will be here! Also, you can make Christmas crafts, play games, and enjoy tunes spun by Soundstorm DJ.

Kim is entering her third season with the Crawdads and first as Co-Director of Group Sales.  She spent the previous two as a Sales Assistant while completing her education at Gardner-Webb University.

Feeding Frenzy (Crustacean Nation)

~Andrew Buchbinder, Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations

As the calendar pages flip to the twelfth month of the year, the baseball world is brought out of its fall slumber with the excitement and anticipation of the Winter Meetings, which are being held in Indianapolis next week.  It would not suffice to call the Meetings a three-ring circus — in reality, they’re more like a 16-ring circus (at least).

There really is something going on at all times during the Meetings, not the least of which is the frenzy surrounding the job fair.  The Winter Meetings Job Fair is like the long-saught-after watering hole in the middle of the Sahara for young men and women hoping to commence a career in baseball.

Ambitions abound, to say the least.  While securely employed by a hockey team, I went to the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas last year.  The reason for my trip to Vegas was to test the baseball waters, and see if there were any opportunities out there that would enable me to re-inundate myself in the game I love the most.  Well, since I’m sitting here, clearly it worked out (we’ll get to that in a moment).

But first, let me just say that I have never appreciated, and I mean truly and deeply appreciated, my employment in the world of minor league sports as much as I have after witnessing the hysteria of the job fair.  Due to already having a job at that point, I was able to swing by the fair, keep my eyes and ears open, casually meet people, and not have to fly around in a constant state of panic, trying to run into some perceived person that is going to hire me, which is what the majority of the job fair attendees spend their entire Winter Meetings experience doing.

This is doubly true for radio guys.  They might kick me out of the club for saying this, but I was actually embarrassed by some of the tactics they were implementing in attempts at stealing a little time from GMs.  I actually saw radio guys staking out the lobbies of the meeting halls, waiting for the GM and Board of Governors meetings to let out so that they could pounce.  If you want to experience what it must have felt like to have the plague, try going to the Winter Meetings and telling a GM that you’re a broadcaster.  Whether you’re badgering them or not, it typically brings conversations to quick and awkward conclusions.

That being the case, and again the fact that I had a great job to fall back on, I went through the Winter Meetings experience relaxed.  I let opportunities (or, more realistically, rumors of opportunities) come to me, which they will if you keep your ears open.

Which brings me to how I ended up sitting in this chair in Hickory, NC.  Almost one full year ago, I attended the Texas Rangers reception at the Winter Meetings with the GM of the Bakersfield Blaze (our California League affiliate that I had called games for during the 2008 campaign).  Each team holds receptions for their systems, and Shawn Schoolcraft (Blaze GM) was kind enough to invite me to go with him.

I jumped at the opportunity.  Not because I intended to corner Nolan Ryan or John Daniels and try to badger my way into a job with them, or with any other team in the system for that matter, but just because I wanted to be in the same room as Nolan Ryan.  Extending your network of contacts always helps too.

In the end, I didnt even speak to Nolan Ryan or John Daniels.  However, I did speak to ‘Dads AGM Charlie Downs.  Just out of the blue, Shawn and I went up to Charlie and introduced ourselves, welcoming the Crawdads to the Rangers system.  Charlie and I kept talking, discussed what he does for the Crawdads, what I did for the Blaze and Condors… and it just so happened that the previous Crawdads broadcaster had just informed Charlie and GM Mark Seaman that he would not return for 2009.  Perfect, completely and utterly lucky timing.  Not forced, but natural.

On our way out, Shawn told me he’d meet up with me in a minute and doubled back to tell Charlie that I’d be a good fit.  That remains one of the absolute kindest things anyone has ever done for me, and I remain indebted to Shawn for the kind words.  The next day, I met with Charlie and Mark, then stayed in touch throughout the heart of winter, and wrapped up the talks in late January.  And now, somehow, another great year has passed.  My first with the Crawdads, and third in the fraternity of minor league sports.

The moral of this story is geared towards any and all of those hopefuls that are trying to get their feet in the door.  It is this – be attentive, be proactive, but, most importantly, be patient.  Be willing to let your opportunities play out.  Don’t stalk GMs.  And have fun, it tends to be the best way to get a job in a business centered around having and providing fun.  Just a glimpse into the wide world of the Winter Meetings Job Fair.

Andrew Buchbinder is entering his second season as director of broadcasting/media relations with the Crawdads.  He previously served in similar capacities with the Bakersfield Condors (ECHL) and the Bakersfield Blaze, the ‘Dads High-A affiliate in the California League.