West Virgina Power News List

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Moving on up...

Minor League Kerouac has made like the Jefferson's and moved on up.

Not to the east side, but to the MLBlogs Network.

Read more at Minor League Kerouac on the MLBlogs Network.

See you there.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

27,000+ steps and 100+ strokes later...

I'm long overdue for about eight posts.  I'll roll back into it with my version of the All-Star break.

Three days is not enough time to do anything, but it is enough to relax for a day, see my wife once and then leave for New Jersey.  The team worked out on Wednesday morning and left in the afternoon for a ten(-ish) hour ride from Charleston to Toms River.

I chose to fly Wednesday morning to LaGuardia and catch up with my best friend.  Shawn lives on Long Island and usually meets up with me in Lakewood for a few days.  I got off the plane at 10:30 am, grabbed some lunch and we hit the links.  Not just any links, but Bethpage Black.  A former and future U.S. Open course.

I'm definitely not qualified to play here, but if you pay the money ($135 for out-of-state golfers and $70 in-state on this public course), they will let anyone ruin their fairways and greens.  In my case, just the greens (you have to hit a fairway to hurt it).

I tend to shoot in the mid to low 90's, but not this day.  Couldn't hit a drive on the front and I couldn't putt on the back.  But what a course!

Here are a few shots of the old men in action.

Shawn hit this one flush down the middle... or at least that is the story we will tell.
My post-World Cup Facebook cover pic.
Bethpage Black is a traditional course and you are only allowed to walk it.  My FitBit gives a more accurate description as to how I hacked the course.

On our way to Lakewood Thursday morning, Shawn and I stopped at Peter Luger's.  This is a world class steakhouse...  and I ordered a white wine to go with my steak.  It was like a record scratched and the room went silent.

They gave me these chocolate-filled gold coins regardless of my faux pas.

 Now I'm full, rich and will never have another bad day.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Redneckery, Rome, and more...

May 24 was our third annual Redneck Night.  This promotional theme night was the brainchild of our former Executive Vice President and has lived on since he left.  In fact, his new team tried to replicate the night.

Redneck Night draws some heat from fans each year.  They believe that we play up the negative connotation and mock the state of West Virginia.  It is meant to be, in fact, so far over the top and absurd that it is just fun and silly.  We have a redneck wedding, which is an actual legal ceremony, a giveaway, a celebrity appearance (NASCAR legend Bobby Allison), and even a redneck sushi shack.

It is all fun and games and no harm is meant.  Our native West Virginian loves the night and even served as the sushi chef.  This theme night won an award in 2012 from the industry, and we hope to win again by taking the night up another level.

The post-redneckery road trip took us to Rome, GA, and Greensboro, NC.  I had not been to Rome's State Mutual Stadium before.  Not a bad park at all...  It is a mini-replica of Lexington's Whitaker Bank Ballpark.  SMS was designed by the same company that did the Lexington park.  If you squint, you might think you are in Kentucky.  Then the humidity punches you in the face and you remember that you are eight hours away from home.

Rome again

I did try the barbecue at Rome's ballpark.  It was nothing special, though it did come served on a Frisbee plate.  If the "plate" had a Braves logo, or even the BBQ place's name, this would have been a cool collectible.  Instead it was plain and I gave my Frisbee to some kids.  We have enough crap at home and I certainly don't need a Frisbee.  They are missing out on a great marketing opportunity.

West Virginia took two out of three, bookending the series with a six run first on Monday and a six run ninth inning on Wednesday.

I had a much better experience in Greensboro this time through.  Last June, I was not a fan.  (Please read my 2013 review and candid thoughts:  If not for you, I wonder who it is late for?)

I tried to be more outgoing in hopes that the stay would be better for everyone.  Who knows if I was successful?  I only know that the press box intern wishes I would hurry up and leave so she could go home.

I had the fortune of trying two great places on this trip.  Monezi is within walking distance of the palatial estate known as the Days Inn Greensboro.  It is a Brazilian buffet.  You pay by either the pound ($7.95) or by the all-you-can-eat plate ($18.95).  Since it was lunch, I went small and by the pound.  Fortunately it was by the weight of the plate and not the weight of the patron before and after, so I got out at $10 with a plate containing plantains, polenta, pulled pork, chicken in wine sauce, pork sausage and a Brazilian chicken empanada.

Trip Advisor lists Monezi as #124 in Greensboro.  While the pricing is high (especially for lunch... I couldn't venture a guess on if I could afford dinner on a per diem), Trip Advisor has this one wrong.  Not knowing all the competition, but seeing fast food ahead of it...  This is a top 50 place (if not top 25).

Monezi's Website

I also ate at Sarah's Kabob Shop.  Trip Advisor says it is number "1".  I "says" they are right.

Sarah's Kabob Shop Website

This is getting longer winded than anticipated, so I'll save the tour of the UNC campus for another day.  I will leave you with this though.  I celebrated a birthday on May 25 and my wife came through.  On my Amazon Wish List, I asked for a US Soccer jersey to help get me set for the World Cup.  In the notes, I added that if the person really loved me, they would customize it with my name and favorite number.

I'll never have another bad day.

Friday, May 23, 2014

TCB- Taking Care of Business...

In Augusta, I had the chance to catch up with an old friend.  Jeff Meehan was the Director of Food and Beverage at Appalachian Power Park for my first three years with the team before he and his then-girlfriend-now-wife moved to Augusta to run a restaurant.  Jeff and I had the chance on my very first day in Augusta to hit the golf course.

He plays fairly consistently and I do not.  But I held my own and stuck with him for most of the round.  I shot a 91 playing a new course and I'm good with that.

Jeff Meehan- Augusta's big hitter
By not playing golf as much as I would like due to the baseball schedule, my swing can fall apart pretty easily.  At times, it feels like folding broken lawn chair looks... not fluid at all.  In fact, I shanked this shot (maybe because I knew the camera was there).

Me- the Jim Furyk of short amateur golfers

After golf, Jeff picked a place called the Whiskey Bar because of its creative and unique hamburgers.  He went classic with cheddar while I was adventurous.  I got the "TCB": an Angus burger with apple wood smoked bacon, peanut butter and banana slices on a croissant bun.  An Elvis-inspired adventure perhaps...

It. Was. Amazing.

As for Lake Olmstead Stadium, home of the Augusta GreenJackets...  Well that is a different story.

This park was built in the mid-1990's and seems to collect all features from of all of the lower-echelon parks in the league.  The seating bowl is what would happen if Municipal Stadium (Hagerstown) and Grayson Stadium (Savannah) had a ballpark baby.  In addition, they do not have a video board (Kannapolis) though they do have a very nondescript outfield wall (Delmarva).  They do not have any suites either (Asheville, Hagerstown and Savannah).  The 'Jackets are under new ownership and management (albeit now owned in part by the former management).  They are working on building a new park in downtown Augusta that has been met with criticism and lawsuits.  Nothing is ever easy, especially when millions of dollars are on the line.  The GreenJackets do, however, put on a high-energy show despite their stadium limitations that was entertaining.

One other thing that the GreenJackets do have?  A sense of humor.  On the first day of the series, I, a veteran Media Relations manager, received this front page of game notes as "written" by the Media Relations department of the Jackets.

Notice the very black section titled "Last outing:"

I posted this on Facebook and tagged some broadcaster friends... one of which who tagged an GreenJackets employee... who passed along my joke to the rest of the staff. And the whirlwind ensued.  I walked in on Thursday to the comment, "Oh look.  It's Mr. Twitter."  I replied with "It was Facebook and I have no idea what you are talking about."

My high maintenance ways caught up with me on the last day. My copy of Augusta game notes included a fully completed front page, a word search, a crossword puzzle, two coloring book pages and an invoice for "services rendered."

Well played, Augusta.  Well played.

The joke is on the 'Jackets though.  Since my middle initial is not "D,"  I'm not paying this fake bill.

I'll never have another bad day.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Greenville's Monster and More...

The current Power road trip has taken us to Greenville, SC, and Augusta, GA.  Greenville is a long-storied franchise with short-timed roots at Fluor Field.  The club has its origins in Shelby, NC, and 35 years ago, was a Pirates affiliate.  Rafael Belliard came through Shelby, Bucco fans.  Pay your respect.

Ok... That's enough.

The franchise moved... and then moved again, settling in Greenville at the old stadium.  Fluor Field opened one year after the team became a Red Sox affiliate, so the park was built with Boston in mind.  A gamble in my opinion because of affiliation changes and how often they occur (read about Medlar Field at Lubrano Park in State College to understand more of what I mean).

The coolest part is their version of the Green Monster.  33 feet high instead of Boston's 37-foot original.  Like its parent club, the Drive included a hand-operated scoreboard.

I asked for a quick look.  What is behind the scenes?  Stacks of metal plates with numbers and team names.  League opponents, colleges and even a few high schools.

For lunch on getaway day, I scouted Smoke on the Water.  A Saucy Southern Eatery... or something like that.

I went for the pulled pork sandwich with fried okra.  The pork was decent.  Not the best yet, though, by any stretch.  This stop served as a learning point for my BBQ challenge.  From this point on, I will not order something that is not already sauced.  Smoke on the Water had five sauces: Sweet Tomato, Spicy Mustard, KC-Style, Eastern Carolina, and Fiery Tomato.  I sampled them all with the top half of my sandwich bun (since the waitress never brought the promised cornbread).  Ultimately I split the sandwich down the middle with KC-style and Eastern Carolina.

By not getting something pre-sauced, the meat didn't have time to suck up the sauce and therefore... wasn't as good.  This is my fault, not theirs, but the waitress also didn't recommend a better option.

After four rounds:
1.  Willie's Almost Famous (Lexington)
2.  Chestnut (Asheville)
3.  Smoke on the Water (Greenville)
4.  Jim 'N Nicks (Kannapolis)

As we move on to Augusta, I leave you with this unique view from inside the Greenville Monster.   What a way to see the game.

I'll never have another bad day.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Tooting our own horn. Well...

Building a promotional night that garners attention in the industry and gets people excited about coming to the stadium is a difficult thing.  So often, ideas are formulated and embellished to the point that it makes the follow through difficult to match the plan.  I'd like to believe that our April 26 game against Hagerstown was, from conception to execution, on point with what was planned.

First off, celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Pittsburgh Pirates 1979 championship.  We gave away championship ring replicas and our players wore Pirates-themed Power jerseys.  Adding to the fun was our Wall of Fame induction ceremony and appearance by former Charlie (and member of the 1979 championship team) Omar Moreno.

Omar and his wife Sandy were a blast to spend time with.  He wore both of his championship rings (he also won one with the Royals in '85).   I think they both had fun being in Charleston and Omar was quick to tell stories about walking to Watt Powell Park, eating big steaks from Ponderosa and remembering his teammates from the Charlies era.

I'll say this about his visit.  It wore me out.  I was on the go and on my feet the whole time. Maybe that is what a great promotion takes.

One food update... During our recent trip to Kannapolis, I went back to Jim 'N Nick's for barbecue.  I sampled their food last year in Charleston, SC.  This time around, I went for the Carolina BBQ.  It was sauceless (even though Carolina-style is supposed to have a vinegar-based sauce...  Maybe I got a dry batch.).  The sauce on the table was... ok.

So... On the 2014 BBQ Leaderboard after three rounds:
1.  Willie's Almost Famous (Lexington)
2.  Chestnut (Asheville)
3.  Jim ' N Nick's (Kannapolis)

I'll leave you with this tidbit.  During homestands, I have the luxury of prepping for games in the home radio booth.  Over the years, I have created a near Zen temple in the home booth.  Lights out, television on, a tart burner going (mostly to mask the scent of tarp shoes).

While prepping for games, I'll have episodes of Seinfeld on the television.  I now own all nine season of the Seinfeld collection on DVD and even just one hour of watching serves as a welcome change of pace to the day.  Mind you, I never just sit there and watch.  I'll listen and look up occasionally because a little laughter never hurts.  In the rotation during the last homestand, this disc came up.

Season Four-Disc 2.  Maybe the best single disc in the entire nine season set.  I'll never have another bad day.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Change, changes... and more BBQ.

Something funny happens on the road.  As I have mentioned in the past, the players and staff get meal money for these trips.  It is a set amount per day for each day of the trip.  Players use this to cover food costs and clubhouse dues usually.  As seen on this blog, I use it to stay well fed and up to date on the movies my wife won't want to see when the opportunity and time allows for it (Example... the night we were rained out in Asheville, I went to see the latest Captain America- rewatch the first one and you will enjoy the second more).

What never fails on any long trip, though, is the massive amount of change that I collect.  Everything I buy seems to be x-number of dollars and 20 cents... or 5 cents... or 14 cents.  And I don't take this leftover change with me anywhere, so it builds up.

This is at the end of the first seven day road trip.  $6.42 in coins.  And somehow still, I got two parking tickets during the next homestand.

While in Asheville, I tried a new-to-me place for lunch on the last day in town.  Chestnut is right along the main drag heading towards downtown about a half mile from the ballpark.

This is a barbecue brisket on a pretzel roll with tobacco onions and bleu cheese with a side of sweet potato salad.  Unlike the BBQ in Lexington, this was a sweet tasting sauce that worked well with the pungent cheese.  If 2013 was the search for the perfect sandwich (I'm looking at you Zunzi's of Savannah), 2014 might just shape up to be a quest for BBQ.  Willie's Locally Famous still holds the top spot, the Kannapolis may have a few contenders coming soon.

Lastly for tonight... During the past off-season, one of our most valuable employees left the Power for a new job with another team in baseball.  I asked for the chance to replace her.  I have taken on some new responsibilities in addition to my old ones.  This has made my life somewhat stressful, but again... I asked for and wanted this chance.

Here is the breakdown of my Opening Day at Appalachian Power Park.
4:15 am- Bus arrives home from Asheville
4:30 am- Home and in bed
8:10 am- Wake up for first radio interview (8:15) about the opener
8:40 am- Wake up again for the next interview (8:45) (if I actually fell asleep again)
8:50 am- Accidentally checked email before trying to go back to sleep until 10:44 am
9:05 am- Out of bed and into the shower.
10:00 am until 4:30 pm-  It is a blur.  I know I ate lunch though
4:30-6:30 pm- Interviews with three TV stations, two radio stations, a feature reporter, accommodating all the media as best possible, and occasionally jotting down some things on my scorecard.
6:45 pm- Radio pregame begins
11:30 pm- Home to bed.

I am not complaining.  I just know that is the most work I have done in one single day since getting in to this industry. I give my predecessor all the credit in the world now that I have had a glimpse into this life.

I'm ready to go and do it all again.  I'll never have another bad day.