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A juicy promotional idea

Minor-league team takes a shot at BALCO scandal

- John Crumpacker, Chronicle Staff Writer

Friday, December 10, 2004

Looking for surcease from the storm of BALCO developments that have pounded the public lately? Weary of grand-jury leaks, lawyers in high dudgeon and the idea of athletes injecting themselves with substances that can make their heads bigger than they already are?

Look to the plains, then, to Sioux Falls, S.D., home of minor-league baseball's independent Sioux Falls Canaries.

In the spirit of Bill Veeck, who sent a midget to the plate a half- century ago, and his son Mike, who blew up disco records a quarter-century later, the Canaries are staging a promotion called "BALCO* (Be Gone) Night'' on May 23 at their ballpark in Sioux Falls.

Note the asterisk. It's intentional and just might refer to a certain San Francisco ballplayer on the verge of home-run history.

"We don't have to worry about Major League Baseball slapping our hands,'' said John Kuhn, general manager of the Canaries, who play Double-A-caliber ball in the Northern League. "These guys are multimillionaires. (Why) can't we knock them down a peg? ... Minor-league ball has always been about family fun. It's OK to be irreverent as long as you're intelligent with it.''

Channeling the spirit of the late Bill Veeck and operating with the approval of minority owner Mike Veeck, Kuhn and his staff brainstormed "BALCO* (Be Gone) Night'' and came up with:

-- "Specimen'' cups from which fans will imbibe Mello Yellow soft drink, then turn the cups over to see if the numbers on the bottom correspond to uniform numbers of major-league players suspected of using performance- enhancing drugs. Prizes will include free urinalyses. The numbers on the cups are 11, 25 and 33. Draw your own conclusions.

-- A skit called "Juice or Juiced?'' featuring before and after photos of major-league players connected to the BALCO scandal.

-- A Marion Jones "Two Fat Guys Not-on-Steroids'' race. Kuhn said it will not be difficult to find suitable contestants. "We grow 'em pretty big out here on the plains,'' he said. "That won't be an issue. Maybe running 90 feet will be an issue. It's good we have extra physicians out here.''

-- PA announcer Dan Christopherson "in the throes of wild mood swings."

-- A fan vote for the all-time nonsteroid Major League Baseball team, which might include such physical specimens as Babe Ruth, Tommy Lasorda, Fred Patek, Cecil Fielder and the Giants' own Johnnie LeMaster.

-- The sight of the Canaries' 5-foot-6, 150-pound manager, Mike Pinto, in an inflatable sumo wrestling suit delivering the lineup card for the game against the rival Sioux City Explorers.

When it was suggested that another stunt could include someone using a large veterinarian syringe to inject a willing subject, Kuhn said he would take it under advisement.

Lest the Canaries be accused of making light of a subject that can have serious physical consequences for those who use steroids and other performance- enhancing substances, the team plans to have its training staff and medical personnel from a local hospital at the game to explain to fans the danger of using such drugs.

"We need to be responsible,'' Kuhn said. "While we are having fun at the expense of Marion Jones, Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi, we need to be responsible. We have to provide education and say, 'here are the implications if you choose to go down that path.' ''

The Canaries, though, are all about a good time. Their official motto for 2005 is "Fun is Good.'' The team held a "Holiday Hotdog and Beer Tasting Party'' in the clubhouse last week for the purpose of having fans choose which wiener should be sold at concession stands for the coming season.

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I'll wager anything that this will be the Minor League Baseball Promotion of the Year for 2005!

*EDIT: You know what I meant, Shmee, but you're still ignored.*

"I better go take a long walk off a short pier or something."

Some people on this bolard have told me to do just that.

My "Ron Mexico" alias is "Jon Tobago".

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I'll wager anything that this will be the Minor League Baseball Promotion of the Year for 205!

Actually, the minor league baseball Promotion of the Year for 205 was "Win a Trip to the Holy Roman Empire!*"

*Holy Roman Empire is neither Holy, Roman, nor an Empire. The Idvitch Knights baseball club is not responsible for any beheadings or crusades waged against you or your family during the duration of the trip.




The world's foremost practitioners of professional tag-team wrestling.



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