January 2010

Jump for Glee (Group Sales Gab)

~Kathryn Bobel, Co-Director of Group Sales

When we were told to start blogging, our Director of Media Relations, Andy B., told us that we could write about anything we wanted. He, fortunately, keeps us on track by throwing in a few Crawdads Clippings directly related to baseball every now and then, giving the rest of us the opportunity to ramble on about whatever flows from our brains to our fingertips.  So far, you’ve read about Stu-burgers, Boston natives, and West Coast vacations. This blog, however, is so far out of left field that even Shoeless Joe Jackson couldn’t track it down. 

I am going to present to you the five best reasons why you should be watching the best show on television right now, Glee. That’s right. I said it. The girl who for years eschewed any band, drama, theatre, orchestra, or choir dweeb member is now hooked on a show chronicling the lives of eight or so of them joined by the most infamous high school club of them all:  glee club.  By the end of this blog you will want to type www.amazon.com as fast as you can into your URL box, search “Glee,” click “1-step-checkout,” wait anxiously by your front door, and then stay up all night watching each and every episode back-to-back-to-back. (Not that I did that or anything.) In the interest of full disclosure, I was only turned on to the show by my show-choir crazy sister and parents. Before my epiphany known as Glee, never in a million years would I have voluntarily turned on a show about two-stepping singing freako’s high-schoolers on my own.  So, without further adulation, I give you the five best reasons you should be watching the best show on television–GLEE!

1. Dynamite songs.  By far the most amazing element of the year-old, hour-long teenage soap is the incredibly catchy, toe-tapping array of songs ranging from the classic “Don’t Stop Believin'” to the new-age smash hit “Single Ladies,” all of which have been arranged in new, fun, hip ways.  Granted, the actors and actresses aren’t your average, pimply faced 16-year-olds but 24-year-old Broadway talents, and they aren’t actually singing while the cameras are recording (their singing voices are laid over the video), but it’s still them.  And holy schnikes are they good! On a four hour car ride about a month ago, I listened to the 20-song soundtrack approximately 14 times. (I’ll deny it if anyone asks.)

2. Cute boys.  Honestly, half the reason I watch most of what I do on television (NCIS, Bones, any professional hockey game) is because the boys are just so gosh darn HOT.  Glee is no exception.  I think it is perhaps every girl’s wish to have a dreamy dude that can serenade her, and with this cast, you certainly have your pick.  An added bonus–most of these crooners can throw a perfect spiral too.  A guy that can sing and read a defense? Sign me up!

3. Slurpee facials.  We all know about the normal high school torture methods–swirlies, wedgies, swirling wedgies.  But, imagine frantically walking down the halls of your high school, books in hand, scared the bell will ring and doors will slam shut before you reach your destination and all of a sudden BAM!  You’re drenched from the top down in frozen grape soda.  You’ve just been given a slurpee facial.  Reserved for only the lowliest of the low, getting a slurpee facial in the show solidifies your standing in the subbasement on the high school hierarchy.  Although cruel, definitely unusual, and perhaps ill-conceived, it’s hard to deny the hilarity of sticky grape pop being hurled through a crowded high school hallway–as long as, you know, you’re not the one it’s being hurled at.

4. Drama.  Baby-daddies.  Extra-marital affairs.  Conniving, corrupt teachers. This show is so juicy it makes Jose Conseco look like a Sun-Maid raisin. The audacity of television in today’s world is the result of how eagerly and hungrily many of us gobble up the mind-numbing, though thoroughly entertaining, material billionaire TV producers create and networks air every year.  I know it may sound like I’m bashing pretty much every prime-time show on the air right now, but believe me when I say I’m the first in line with my knife and fork ready to chow down. (This blog also proves that I’m attempting to convince you that you should be sitting next to me at the table.)

5. It’s real.  Underneath some of the outrageous plot lines (and by some I mean all), the coordinating costumes, and the fancy-schmancy dance numbers, the nitty-gritty of the show concerns the trials and tribulations that anyone ages 13 to 17, and beyond for that matter, can go through.  Glee illustrates that while it may take a little while to find them, there are people out there who care deeply for us despite whatever flaws we see in ourselves. And that, my fellow TV-loving friends, is something to be truly gleeful for.

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.

Allow Myself to Introduce… Myself (The Rookie Challenge)

The final question in my final interview with the Hickory Crawdads was, “What are you going to be this Halloween?” For better or worse, honesty is policy. Still, I hesitated before nervously delivering a stuttered response. “As of now, I – uh … I plan on – uh… dressing as a – uh….. Hooters waitress.” Great, guess I can cross the Crawdads off my list. I should have said Big Bird instead.

One week later, Crawdads Director of Promotions Brett Koch gave me call.

“We’d like to offer you the position as group sales assistant,” he said. “I know you’ll probably want a couple of days to think abo….”

“Yes!” I cut him off. “I’ll take it! I’m there! Thank you!” Two days into the new decade, I left my home in Waltham, Mass. (Andrew Buchbinder, Crawdads Director of Media Relations, chastises me whenever I say from I’m from Boston. Waltham is all of 12 miles west of Beantown).

I pulled into Hickory on January 4, a day later than I was scheduled to arrive due to car trouble (that story in itself may be another blog). I am now in my third week with the Crawdads, yet this friendly, welcoming, dedicated (and sometimes delirious) staff has made it feel like home.

With that, in the words of Austin Powers, “allow myself to introduce… myself.” I was born and raised in Waltham, Massachusetts, a diverse city with a population that exceeds 60,000. I played high school soccer (goalie) and basketball (bench). Oddly enough, I’ve never played baseball. But there’s something undeniable about baseball’s culture, history, and statistics that drove my ambition toward working for a Major League team.

I graduated from Springfield College in May 2009 where I double-majored in sports journalism and English. During my four-year tenure at the small, private institution, I completed internships with a newspaper, magazine and TV station. I served as the student newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief, and my intramural basketball team reached the final-four in consecutive years. I’d delve into other extracurricular activities during the college years, but that probably wouldn’t lead to a good first impression.

Anxious for a way into the baseball industry, I accepted an unpaid media relations internship with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats after graduating SC. I didn’t have a dime to spare, I would be lucky to get six hours of sleep in one night, I was living with my aunt/ friends/ any roof that had a couch under it, and I loved every minute of that summer. All the while I knew that eventually the experience would lead to something positive – and it did.

Thus I find myself in Hickory, North Carolina, where office breakfasts consist of fried chicken wrapped in biscuits. Hickory, North Carolina, where 10th St Dr NW is indeed a road. Hickory, North Carolina, where red traffic lights turn a four-mile drive into a 15-minute excursion. Hickory, North Carolina, home of the Crawdads, and home to yours truly.

Gregor enters his first season as group sales assistant with the Crawdads and second year in minor league baseball, after spending the 2009 campaign with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats of the Eastern League (AA).  The Waltham, Massachussetts, native is a 2009 graduate of Springfield (Mass.) College.

2010 Hot Stove in the rearview (Crustacean Nation)

~Andrew Buchbinder, Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations

Let the countdown to the Home Opener (April 16 vs KAN with Fireworks Show, hint hint) officially begin, as we held our 2010 Hot Stove Banquet last night.  First and foremost, THANK YOU to everyone who came and helped make it such a fun evening, as well as, of course, Rock Barn Golf and Spa, who hosted the event again and cooked up all the delicious grub!

In addition to a social hour, silent auction and raffle, the evening included a complete cast of speakers, ranging from local area high school and college baseball coaches to Texas Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels.  All of the coaches provided program updates and 2010 previews, while Mr. Daniels spoke about his rise to the Rangers reins, steps the organization has taken to upgrade the farm system (which was ranked #1 in the big leagues in 2009) and the blossoming relationship between the ‘Dads and the Rangers.

Afterwards, Mr. Daniels opened it up to a question-and-answer session, fielding queries ranging from Rangers payroll and free agency explanations to a geography lesson on the island of Hispaniola, which includes the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

All in all, the evening was a blast and we certainly enjoyed seeing so many of the friendly faces that we’re accustomed to seeing at the ballpark during the season.

On that note, the Home Opener is coming up verrrry quickly on Friday, April 16.  As mentioned above, we’ll be hosting Kannapolis (always a fun match-up) and it will be our first Friday Night Fireworks Show of the season. 

Actually, the season itself starts eight days before our Opener, since we kick things off on the road in Hagerstown on April 8.  Not to worry though — all of our games will again be broadcast live on The Big Dawg 92.1 FM and Hickorycrawdads.com, so you can follow the team before you get to see them at L.P. Frans on April 16!

Again, a big thank you to everyone involved with the Hot Stove last night!  ‘Til next time, Go ‘Dads!

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.

Leftover Chicken Bones (Group Sales Gab)

~Kathryn Bobel, Co-Director of Group Sales

My past few blog inspirations had come to me rather quickly and easily, and my every-other-Thursday deadline was never an issue.  This week, however, I had more trouble coming up with a blog idea than Chuck Knoblauch had coming up with an error-free night in the field.  But, last night while I was at the gym, the latest SI came to the rescue.  As many media outlets do, SI had compiled a decade list of the best and worst of everything in sports, specifically re-printing chuckle-inducing “Signs of the Apocalypse” and “They Said Its” from the past ten years.  (A personal favorite: Ducks winger Teemu Selanne on the hockey culture–or lack thereof–in Anaheim–“It’s not like back home in Finland or even Canada, where girls wanted my leftover chicken bones from a meal I ate.”)  So, as I loped along on the treadmill reading about all the mind-boggling and sometimes bone-headed statements that have come out of athletes’ mouths, I started to reflect upon what I have gone through in the past ten years and what the next ten years will be made of.

A decade ago, I was 13 and an 8th grader at Guion Creek Middle School in Indianapolis where I played volleyball, basketball, and softball. (In the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t really play basketball. I attempted it.  I wasn’t allowed to dribble or pass–just shoot, which as long as no one was guarding me, I was pretty decent at.)  I went to my classes, went to my athletic competitions, went home to do homework, went to sleep, got up the next morning and did it all again.  My biggest worries then were making sure my pony tail looked perfect every day and avoiding my kooky science teacher who called me Bobeli (a play on Boboli, the pizza crust). Rent and car insurance and cell phone bills weren’t even a dot on the horizon yet.

My high school years seem like they happened two decades ago, with just fond memories of bus rides to away softball games, prom, and my first car, a 1989 Mercury Cougar, floating around in my head.  Most of my free time was spent on the softball field, and if I wasn’t there, I was pondering how to possibly get my batting average above .300.  Worries then were, again, typical–which of my 19 hoodies do I wear today, where did I put my English paper, and how can I get out of my calculus quiz this time?  When graduation came, leaving Pike High School wasn’t so difficult, simply because I knew I was going on to bigger and better things.  The next few years were everything I had hoped for. 

College came and went with fury, and it’s still hard to fathom that I graduated over a year ago.  While at un-falcon-believable Bowling Green, my biggest concern was making sure I could pack as much sport and entertainment experience as I could onto my resume in three and a half years.  I volunteered for every minute sporting event occurring on campus, hoping that it would eventually help land me my dream job in baseball.  I also, of course, found time to lounge around and do normal college kid things like see how many people you can fit into a dorm room closet.

That pretty much brings you up to present-day, 2010 Kathryn who currently resides in North Carolina doing her dream job and blogging every other week.  Ten years ago I didn’t know what the decade would throw at me, but was fairly confident I could handle it (as long as it didn’t throw any junk.  I am turrble–as Charles Barkley would say–at hitting anything that curves, slurves, dives, or drops).  In 2020 (!!), I will be 33 (!!) and hopefully still working in baseball; I really can’t imagine being employed in any other field.  Only time will tell, but hopefully by then I’ll have learned to keep my hands back and hit the off-speed stuff.  Anyone seen Brian Dayett?

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.

Hello 2010 (Crustacean Nation)

~Andrew Buchbinder, Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations

So, is it absolutely mind-boggling to anyone else out there that we are officially in 2010?  It hit me the other day when I was signing some piece of paperwork (I tend not to read before I sign) and it asked for the date. 

I resisted the ingrained urge to scribble ’09, and instead consciously and correctly scripted a ’10’ at the end of the date.  To say it was strange would be an understatement.  10?  Weird.  For some reason it makes me feel like this is year 10.  Not 2010.  I was fine with ’09.  It never felt as if we’d travelled back 2000 years.  But, for some reason, ’10 just feels awkward.

Not to even mention how quickly the last decade went.  It was the first decade that I can remember fully.  Being born in 1985 (which just keeps getting further and further away!), there were some formative years of the early ’90’s that I can’t clearly and wholly recall.

Not the case with the past decade.  I remember where I was when we flipped to the new millennium on New Year’s 2000.  I remember the angst of high school.  The stress of figuring out how in the world I was going to get through the SATs.  The competition in applying to colleges.  The blur of a great four-year block that was college.  My first summer internship in baseball in Connecticut.  My just under two incredible and crucially developmental years working in sports in California.  And my first season in Hickory in ’09.  There, a decade of my life in one paragraph.

Of course, there are plenty of supplemental undercurrents in addition to the above major plot lines, and, as I sit here in my (very chilly) office, I experience a rare sense of satisfaction when waxing nostalgic about the past decade.  It’s almost hard to believe that so much occurred so quickly.  It’s scary in a lot of ways!

On that note, especially with Opening Day 2010 bearing down on us, there is absolutely no time to waste, and no better way to commence the writing of the first chapter of this new-born decade than with a concise yet pleasant greeting.  Hello 2010.

Have a great start to the New Year everyone!  See you at the 2010 Hot Stove Banquet on Wednesday, Jan. 20 at Rock Barn Golf and Spa.  Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels is our keynote speaker!  Give us a call at (828) 322-3000 or check out our Online Team Store to order your tickets!

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.