Wednesday, July 19, 2006

First Pitches & Foul Balls

Has the ceremonial first pitch completely lost its meaning at the minor league level ? After seeing 11 "first pitches" thrown at Somerset this past Saturday night, you really have to wonder. According to Wikipedia, the first pitch is "usually thrown by either a celebrity or a locally significant person." Is some random kid throwing out the first pitch on behalf of a corporate sponsor a "significant" person ? Not to take anything away from the kids (because I'm sure it's quite a thrill for them), but what's the point of having so many first pitches other than to get the sponsors' names out there one more time. I suppose this is just another example of corporate America taking over the world of minor league baseball.

Also, not to sound like a curmudgeon, but why does every kid in attendance now feel like it's their right to get a foul ball ? What exactly do kids so with the balls once they get them home ? My guess is that they just end up in their closet, never to be looked at again. When I was a kid (which wasn't that long ago), adults were never obligated to give foul balls to the closest kid. And players would rarely hand a ball to a kid. I'm all for kids getting foul balls, but just wish they had more appreciation for them and didn't assume it was their automatic right to go home with one.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Where am I ?

Having just returned from my big ballpark road trip, I noticed a disturbing new trend among the affiliated minor league teams. As if may teams doing the same promotions and on-field games wasn't bad enough, now we have companies actually sponsoring the same exact on-field game at multiple ballparks. Hamburger Helper, BC Powder, and Advance Auto Parts must be in partnership with MiLB as they all sponsored the same games at several of the South Atlantic League and Southern Leagues games I attended. For Hamburger Helper, it's the "throw the meat in the frying pan" contest. For BC Powder, it's the "throw the ball thru the board" contest. And for Advance Auto Parts, it's the "wipeout inning" contest. This is one of the big problems I have with minor league baseball now - no teams try to differentiate themselves by doing unique contests or promotions. It used to be that each minor league team would try to bring some hometown flavor to the ballpark experience. But with big business taking over in 90% of the markets, going to a ballgame is becoming a more and more generic experience.

On my trip, I saw 15 games in 15 different ballparks. I have started posting some new photos and reviews and will continue to do so over the next month or so.