Friday, October 24, 2014

Overdue Post - Argo, Field Notes, Skitz News

yes, its been a while since my last post, so here it is, better late then never!

WILLIE ARGO - ON THE MOVE?
A series of tweets by Biscuits outfielder Willie Argo give the impression that he has been told of an impending transaction...
Sounds like a change in organization for Willie! We wish him the best if he is in fact on the move. The news comes on the heels of Willies appearance with Chef Jeff making Hot Dig Biscuits.

I asked the MoSkitz prez about it, Greg Rauch quickly whipped out his phone but was unable to confirm or deny any Argo related info.



WHATCHA BE WAITIN FOR, BLOGGERDUDE?
Well, I was waiting in hopes we would get some real news from Biloxi and their fustercluck of a ballpark. But the only thing we hear officially is that the teams ownership finally had to pony up some of their own cash - $33OO bucks to pay for cupholders for the seats. One of the many things cut when the City of Bil-vegas saw the bottom line on the stadium.


GIVE BACK THE BOXES

Other things cut were luxury boxes, axed to keep the cost of the park under $36 million. However MiLB approved the stadium plans based on having the boxes, not having the boxes made the League Prexie grumpy and Biloxi will have to add the seats back into the plans due to "league seating capacity requirements". Classic. I wonder what they will cut out to bring the cost down now that they have to spend the bucks on the luxury boxes!

I did enjoy thinking that the team wouldn't have extra luxury instead of the usual "Let them eat cake" mentality that is prevalent in the baseball sales offices. I don't think its a stretch to say that the majority of those who sit in luxury boxes are less fans of baseball than they are fans of being catered to. Heres hoping the next round of cuts does away with the ballroom and billiards tables instead of pulling some useful item from the fans who actually sit in the seating bowl to watch the game.

Lastly on the Biloxi team topic, whatever happened to that "Name the Team" contest they had after they told us they wouldn't be doing one? I have a new suggestion - the Biloxi Teasers!



WORLD SERIES PARTY!
Its a world series party, but there wont be another. The Biscuits held their final World Series Party for Season Ticket Holders on Wednesday. Turns out that they got in trouble for breaking the old "retransmission, rebroadcast or dissemination without express written consent from MLB" rule that we have all heard of so many times. In the future the event will be a Fall Banquet that just HAPPENS to fall during the Series, and maybe won't be put up on the big scoreboard in centerfield.

But we learned alot of things at the party, thanks to team prez Greg Rauch and GM Scott Trible and the Biscuits staffers for the following info....

RIVERWALK GETS NEW FIELD

There were 39 dump trucks of dirt taken away from the infield during the recent work being done on the field. The field is six inches lower than it was, in large part due to the organic material that had accumulated over the past 11 seasons.

The field is in fine condition, the sod has taken root and the last of the work on the infield is underway. In a couple weeks that should be finished and then the mound will be built back up.

The City is handling the work, the Biscuit grounds crew is overseeing and assisting, but the municipal crew does the bulk of the work.

THE CINDER PATH IS FAIR
There is a new quirk on the Riverwalk playing surface that could factor into the gameplay conditions. The Bullpens now have a warning track around them and a portion of the track will be in FAIR territory. The white chalked fair/foul line will have to pass from grass to warning track gravel and back to grass as it passes the bullpen mound.
About six inches of cinder path will be in fair territory

This will mean balls could hit the path in fair territory, a good recipe for triples as the outfielders will be coming in to field the ball that hits the path before skipping into the corner.

Also a good chance for ground rule doubles as a bounce on the track could easily send the ball over the side wall. Its not every park that gets ground rule doubles on balls that go over the first base wall!

Other than the odd bounces waiting to happen, its a good change. No more having to drive the groundscrew carts over the mound. Oh, and the players will know there is a hill coming up as they chase shallow foul popups!

NO TO THE JOE
Huntsville is off the table for the Southern league in 2015. There will NOT be a team in Huntsville, according to what the front office guys told me. This kind of goes against the press releases that imply the Stars could return to the Joe for one final season.

Biloxi may not host their team until August, but the team will likely play "somewhere in the state of Mississippi".

PROMO PRIDE
The Biscuits are proud to have released their promotional calendar early, and are already planning for 2016's season. "Nobody can say we copied anyone, this year other teams can be accused of copying US!" Trible proudly boasts.

The "Back to the Future" Jerseys will be awesome, we are told. They will NOT simply be trucker vests with numbers sewn on the back, though I didn't get any firm details on how they will look. I do suspect they will resemble a trucker vest or labcoat, but we will have to wait and see.

The front office is hopeful they can scare up a DeLorean for the event!

The popularity of the "Back to the Future" jersey auction will go a long way in determining the chances of a "Turn Back the Clock" night that includes a throwback jersey.


NEW MANAGER FOUND
The ticket office has a new manager, he will be in to work on Nov 9th. Part of his early duties will be to make sure season ticket holders are given their own seats to the AllStar Game and Home Run Derby.



ALL STAR BASEBALL

The dignitaries are being lined up, but so far no firm names. "...its tough to get the older guys to confirm ten months ahead of time" Trible said.

BAD NAME FOR GREAT EVENT
The Meet the AllStars event is dubbed a "Social", I feel thats kinda lame - the Biscuits Boosters already have an "Ice Cream Social" event for the boosters to meet the team that most of the players try to find excuses to avoid. That event will be held in the Alley and will have ALL players from both teams. A drastic improvement over the 2006 version when fans had to brave the blistering heat in the street. Also the two squads swapped out, so fans had to go thru the gauntlet line twice if they wanted to meet both teams!


Having the HR Derby at Paterson was seriously discussed, but ultimately shot down because the 'Skitz didn't want to have two ticketed events.


Big Mo may yet challenge the other mascots in the league to a contest or race of some form, but other teams may not be willing to send their mascots to work during the AllStar Break. The break is a time when most MiLB teams enjoy a few rare days off in midseason.

MORE ANSWERS ON THE WAY
The Southern League holds its winter meetings next week, so fans of all teams may learn what 2015 details are coming.

Friday, October 10, 2014

BISCUITS SEEK NEW MANAGER, 100 Yrs of Progress?

Its usually a slow time for a minor league blogger in October, but we always have Biscuits news to go over...


The Biscuits fixed the pig.
They also fixed the field.
Both needed it badly. Could Big Mo be next?
Might help cut down on his wandering


BILOXI IS BLOWING IT

No movement on the Biloxi scene, nothing confirming the obvious - that the team will stay in Huntsville until late in the 2015 season or, looking more likely, waiting to open the 2016 season at their new park.

We have speculated alot about Biloxi building a new ballpark and the efforts to move the Stars to the coast, but there is one person who told us it would be like this and would probably say that things are going just as planned.
well, yes, but thats not who I meant...


Sherrie said "it'll be years" before Biloxi has a team

Along the same lines, no coinciding word on how it could affect divisional alignment. If North Division Montgomery has to travel NORTH to face a team in the Southern Division it will look bad on league Prexie Webbs permanent record.



ANOTHER PLAYER APPEARS?
No word on Panama Citys efforts to lure a double-A team, which would have to be a Southern league participant. Mobile perhaps? The BayBears and Dbax reluctantly agreed to a new two-year pact that neither was happy about. The Dbax might enjoy shifting over to PCB, and Mobile might let them.



100 YEARS OF PROGRESS IN FIELD DRAINAGE TECHNOLOGY: 
A PICTORIAL IN TWO PHOTOS

Photos of the field being worked on were posted by the Biscuits at their faceplace site and on twitter. Riverwalk needed it badly, it had been looking rough the past couple years.

The trench for the drainage...

Looks like ditch technology hasnt come that far, here is Cramton Bowl ca 1920s getting the same treatment...

I can't help but feel there was a similarity. It also made me want to put on a fedora and wool suit to watch while some digging took place.



BISCUITS SEEK NEW MANAGER

Not fired yet
Closer to home, starting last week the Biscuits were known to be seeking a new Manager. And while no news comes our way yet on the field staff from Tampa we can be sure to see a new face running the show - in the box office!


Yes, its true, the box office managers chair has been vacated by kyle who no longer appears on the website contact list. So if you have ever had to explain the intricacies of your seat preference at the box office instead of just taking "best available" you are going to have to go over it for them again this spring.

And for a few dollars more per ticket. Gotta cover that vet trip for the pig, Auburn Uni don't spay pigs cheap!
Miss Gravy, future spinster pig

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Winning Is Mental - Develop-Mental!


Long have I chafed at casual fans who feel losses by minor league teams are acceptable. "Its about development, not winning games" is a crock. I have pointed out that if that adage were true we would never see an intentional walk or bring the infield in with the bases loaded at the minor league level.

Losing games at the any level does little to further the advancement of a team, an organization or its players. It doesn't make sense to develop players by teaching them to accept losing.


Frank Ward, tired of losing
But don't take it from me alone, hear what Nashville Sounds owner Frank Ward says about the value of winning. In a recent conversation with the Milwaukee Sentinel the Sounds owner cites losing as the main reason the Sounds abandoned the Brewers affiliation.
"The biggest thing was winning," and "...winning is very key to us and the A's bring that to us..."

And then there is major league GM Billy Beane, who says of minor league victories "We consider winning at this level (Triple-A) as a major part of the relationship, a major part of development,"
Billy Beane as most know him

Beane also says "We recognize the importance that the team means to the community and part of that is making sure that it's a good team. I reiterate that commitment we have to the fans, the city, to Frank, to everybody else involved with the Sounds."


THE TENTH MAN
Of course, the fans have their thoughts too. Some comments on the above article have the same flavor we have heard at Biscuits games the past seven seasons.

bagman: With probably the oldest minor league roster year of the year the Nashville fans were tired of watching career minor leaguers and other teams first round busts. Not to mention the poor fundamentals throughout the organization.

papa geezer: Maybe alot of fans will sever ties with the Brewers after this total collapse. Not too many Nashville players make it big in the MLB, which says alot and why Nashville is going with another team.

So who says that winning is important to minor league teams? I do, Triple-A owners agree, Major league GM's agree and obviously fans agree as well.

For the record, the last time the Nashville Sounds were in the playoffs was 2007.

In order to improve an organization it takes learning to win, not just learning to play. It takes building a complete foundation, not just a couple of good bricks. 

Hopefully the Rays organization wakes up and works on building a full team, not just parts. Since the Biscuits last won the Southern league the team has been a farm for single players, almost always pitchers. Position players have been surprises when they prove themselves, pitchers have been rushed through and often end up hurt or overmatched at higher levels.

The Tampa Bay Rays have taken a step backwards in the focus on creating a winning organization and the team needs to address how it has been teaching players to lose.




SEPTEMBER 25 1920
Montgomery, AL
"Colored League Champs to Play - Championship of Country Will be Decided in Series Beginning Today.

Championship honors will be at stake at South Side Park this afternoon when the Chicago American Giants clash with the Montgomery Grey Sox club. The Chicago team won the pennant in the colored national league, while the Grey Sox team won the bunting in the Southern league. The visiting team has played sensational ball all season, and according to reports have a strong aggregation.
1920 Chicago American Giants
Sam Streeter
The Grey Sox team had a light workout Friday in preparation for the game, and Manager Cunningham announced that he was confident his club would make a credible showing in two games with the Chicago outfit.

Sam Streeter or (Charlie) Mason will probably pitch for the local Club, with Williams catching. Secretary Stables of the Grey Sox announced Friday night that the Chicago team which played here a few weeks ago, is not the club scheduled for play here Saturday and Sunday.

Extra seats have been placed in the white grand stand and a tremendous crowd is expected to witness the game today and Sunday. Play will begin at 3:30 o'clock with Cotton acting as umpire."

Friday, September 19, 2014

2015 Biscuit Promotions, Dressed Like A Biscuit




Congrats to the JaxSuns on their 2014 SL Championship, they knocked the Lookouts back into the "Most Futile" category. Cant wait to face both next year, hopefully we can take the trophy back from Florida.


2015 Biscuits Promotional Schedule Released

It looks like the Biscuits front office took notice of the fans concerns about the promotions and have stepped it up for the upcoming All Star season. Among the highlights:

Desmond Jennings Bobblehead giveaway
Turn Ahead the Clock Back to the Future Night with futuristic jersey auction
Craft Beer Fest
Hot Dog Festival

Add the usual assortment of Jimmy Buffet, Star Wars, 1980s themed nights. A couple autograph days and the AUM "Premium Giveaway" that is usually a lunchbox-related item.

We also get Miss Gravy's Birthday, which used to be Big Mo's Birthday so we may see Big Mo traded in the offseason.


THE BISCUIT UNIFORM
Long time fans and casual observers probably don't pay much attention, but with the impending change in uniform tops for the Montgomery Biscuits, the team will be wearing its third home jersey and sixth overall uni top. Its been over a decade since the Biscuit duds were first introduced and the changes have been subtle. But there have been changes.
Chris Nowak in the classic Skitz uni


FONT & COLORS
The Biscuits use their own script/font for the team name and numbers on the uniform as well as other signage around the park, but the player names on back of the shirts are always a basic sans serif block lettering.

The colors are uninspired but unoffensive, based on the yellow-blue contrast popular in many sports logos.

Monty Biscuit is the palette
The Biscuits yellow is a bright but not neon the team likes to call "Butter" but in fact has almost no resemblance to the dairy product OR to any paint palette reference to "butter yellow".

The Butter-Yellow of the Biscuits uniform will vary from a middling yellow of a variety close to the average "school zone" sign to an almost orange hue seen on "road work" signs.
Offsetting the bright tones of the yellow in the uniform is a dark navy blue trim. The Biscuits uniform is often referred to as the "Butter and Blue" by announcers, but rarely among fans. I suspect this is because the yellow isn't butter colored, and even if it WAS yellow isn't the dominant color of the home uniform.
Andrew Bellatti reads to Keith Castillo and friends


2004
FIRST LOOK

The home whites and road blues were first seen for the new team in Montgomery and they were impressive. The only flaw on the design was in the name, Biscuits were about as embarrassing a name as could be flung on a southern team by carpetbagging ownership. Still is, but I digress.

The white tops were sleeveless vests with a bright yellow scripted "Biscuits" on the chest outlined in dark blue. Yellow and blue piping runs vertically up the chest on either side of the buttons and circles the collar.

The vest is worn over a dark blue undershirt with a Biscuits logo-M on the left shoulder. After the first season, the "Monty-Biscuit M" logo on the shoulder would not be a requirement, though some players would still wear it at times.
Isenia wearing M logo undershirt
The uniform number is seen smaller on the front left and larger on the center of the back, also in yellow with a blue outline. The name on back of the home white jersey is arched above the number at the shoulders in blue capital letters.


PANTS, SOCKS, SHOES

Long pants? Must be April '04!
The Biscuits have maintained a strict high-cuff rule since early on in their existance. You can find images of Biscuits wearing pajama pants from early 2004, but sometime during that season a Tampa official mandated that our players should look like ballplayers and not kids at a sleepover.

The home pants are white with yellow/blue piping along the outside of the leg. They are worn high cuffed with dark blue stockings. 
While noone has informed me there is a shoes rule, all players wear black shoes with white trim. I have never seen a player with other colors in their shoes, so I am going to say there is probably a dress code limiting shoe expressions.

ROAD UNIFORMS

The road uniform is a dark blue top with yellow "Biscuits" emblazoned on the chest above the number. Yellow and blue piping lines the buttons and circles the neck. The yellow trim on the road blue jersey is a different color than the home, this is the almost-orange trim that must be an intentional thing, as they have had opportunities to change it to match the home colors but haven't.
Hellickson in road blues

No name on back for any road jersey, just the large uniform number to prevent hecklers in other cities from getting too personal.

Road pants are gray with yellow-blue piping down the outside leg, worn high cuffed with dark blue stockings.


2007 PLAYOFFS FORCE UNI CHANGE 
In 2007 the Biscuits went to the playoffs, facing the Huntsville Stars in the championship series. When the two teams were preparing to line up on the field for the national anthem, we saw a change was needed. Both teams were essentially identical in dark blue tops, only the home teams white pants setting them apart.

The Stars ended up wearing their road Red tops for most of their home games during the championships.
2007 Playoffs

So in 2oo8 the Biscuits unveiled their new road alternates, a set of grey tops that would go on to be known as....

 THE SILVER SURFERS

They were ugly. They were cheap. They might be jinxed. Some loved them and some called them the worst shirt in the history of sports. But the 'Skitz wore them from '08-13.
Delmon Young in Silver Surfer 2013

Season Ticket holder Jennifer says they are jinxed, bad luck somehow. Not sure why, the Biscuits won it all in the first season with the Silver Surfers, so I would think that knocks curses out of the discussion. But then again, we have had some really lean years since they were introduced and haven't won a title since that 2008 season, so there is that.

The Silver Surfers are the alternate road top, a gray so pale its almost pink when viewed under stadium lights at dusk. The Biscuit script is the same on the chest as the home and blue road top. No front number, no name on back. The design is essentially the same as the blue road top, minus the front number. Yellow and blue piping flank the buttons vertically, then curve up and around the collar.

Matt Buschmann in the Silver Surfer

The Silver Surfers are a mesh material, which made them popular among some players for being a more comfortable jersey during the hot and humid Southern league months. Other players, however, felt them an affront to style and would rather have worn burlap than the pink mesh.

Of the Biscuits uniform designs, the road gray alternates have probably been worn the least, and getting less use means less replacements - they were in use through '13.
Omar Luna wears the Silver Surfer as Billy Hamilton sets the MiLB steals record


BISCUITS GO STRAIGHT

In 2007 the radial arch NOB for the home jersey became a straight block nameplate across the back, and has remained so. This makes it easy to date photos of Biscuits players, a curved name means the pic was taken in the first three seasons!
 Mike Prochaska in '07

 2013 BISCUIT JERSEY
In '13 the Biscuits unveiled a new uniform top. Replacing the blue sleeves under a white vest, the 2013 jersey was a short sleeve white shirt of heavy poly. The jerseys look great but were very hot for players, due in part to their top-shelf quality.
As such, the team wore them just two seasons and starting next spring will be wearing a new lighter jersey.

Albert Suarez stylin in the 2013-14 style jersey
WILSON VS RUSSELL
The Biscuit jerseys have always been made by Wilson, but the folks I talk to at the Skitz say they will be using Russell for the 2015 uni. I had thought there was a deal in place by Wilson with MiLB, but somehow that doesn't seem to bother the Montgomery staff.
They tell me we can expect a much lighter cloth, perhaps even a mesh home jersey next year, made by Russell.They will be similar to ....

2014 NEW ROAD GRAYS
Hellickson rehabed in the gray

The Montgomery Gray was the name of our team for several years in the past, and as often as the Biscuits wore their new road uniforms opposing fans must have thought we had gone back to being the Grays.

Floro pitching in road uni
The new road tops are of lighter material, almost a mesh fabric that was very popular with the players and didn't look as odd as the Silver Surfers. The Biscuits wore them three or four times in their five game road series, and were obviously happy with them.

The road grays are of the same design as the road blues and home whites, sharing the same piping and trim on other Montgomery uniform styles.
Biscuits enjoy rain delays in road grays



CAPS
The Biscuits have had quite a few caps, I will have a later post detailing the hats and their changes over the years. There is alot to cover with caps!