Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Patching things up

Patching Things Up

The Montgomery Biscuits have a new image added to their 2013 schedule pdf that would make a fabulous patch to put on the home uniforms as a way to commemorate their tenth season. Lets hope thats in the works, it would be great to see the team use it on the field and uniform.

A snazzy patch for the uniform?

It could replace the memorial Don Mincher patch worn league-wide this year after the passing of the longtime League President. The white circle with a black edging around the initials DM was nicely understated and served its purpose very well - I often heard fans ask players what the patch was for. They were always answered politely and given a bit of an education about who he was and what he did, so I think that patch was really good at raising awareness of Mincher and his baseball efforts.

Mincher, great player, executive not so much

Mincher the Washington Senators first baseman

Not that I was a big fan of the former head of the league, though its in bad taste to speak ill of the dead I can only hope that the next boss has more respect for our city and team. I felt that we were lacking in respect from the former administration, the league prez never showed up to hand out pennants to Biscuit champions.

Sort of like the Commissioner not being there to witness Hank Aarons historic blast. Its a responsibility of the executive branch to attend and oversee important events in the league. You can't dodge out on that and expect fans not to notice.

The New Guy

or: Dude looks like a lady

The new guy is actually not. Well, yes the new guy is new, but the new guy is not a guy. This year the reigns of the league are handed to a woman for the first time, not only in our league but in any minor leagues.

Lori Webb, Southern League President

Lori Webb takes stewardship after the passing of Don Mincher left the office fully vacant, while the league was being guided by the MsBraves Gm on an interim basis. The article on MiLB.com states that "The election of Webb represents the second consecutive time the Board of Directors has filled the league's presidential vacancy from within" which for me begs the question - who the hell are the Board of Directors? Not that I am down on the new prez, but I just havent heard of the Board before, much less know who is on it. That bears investigation and when I find out I will let you know too!

The new sheriff has worked the league office before, with titles like Executive Assistant to the League President, Vice President of Operations, Corporate Secretary and Corporate Treasurer. To me it screams that she has been running the league for at least as long as the Biscuits have been in the oven.

Any change from the status quo is generally fought to the death in league offices, and this is likely the same here. I will wait to hand out my judgement of the administration, but I worry that we are in for more of the same or worse than the treatment teams have gotten in recent years. I am sure she is completely qualified, but I wonder if a lack of baseball background has been a factor in the complaints heard around the league geared toward how the league is run.
The favorite band of baseball executives

If you need evidence of the same-old same-old, check out how the Skits have been scheduled. Its basically a blend of the worst of the past three years repackaged and regurgitated. Until we see progress from the new crew, being told they have been the office folks who have already been in place does little to stir warm and fuzzy feelings.

Insane Schedule note

The Biscuits face Pensacola four times this coming year. Three of them we host, a little off but not too bad, right? Except we dont host them over the course of four months during the season, we have them here three times between June 2nd and July 14th!

In the span of six weeks we play fifteen games against one opponent, the only silver lining being that they are home games. Then we don't see them again unless its postseason.

Also insane schedule note - 

During July we go on the road to Mobile for five, come home for five against, of course, Pensacola. Then after a three day AllStar Break we go BACK to Mobile for ANOTHER five game series! The BayBears are in our own division, and other than the lone trip they make here in April we face them ten times over fifteen games in a three week stretch, then none at all!

Used as often as common sense for scheduling in modern baseball, also good for timing very slow baserunners

Trouble In Biscuitville?

As reported by the Advertisers blogger, the Montgomery Biscuits revenue was down drastically from a year ago, which at the time was the low water mark for biscuits income. The rent the team pays to the city is based on the money the team takes in. The figures: 5% of gross revenues, plus 6% of concessions

This confirms what was obvious at the park, seats were empty and concessions went unpatronized. The fact that the team has overpriced its food and beverages slowly over the past five years goes a long way to explain this dropoff.

Sparse crowds are no joke to the bottom line

One school of thought on beer prices is that if teams charge more, they have less trouble with drunken fans since the average fan spends the same amount on beer. If they spend twenty dollars on two beers they are less trouble than if they spend the same twenty on three or four brews.

The Biscuits have used this adage across the board, applying it to hot dogs and soda as well as beer, wine and mixed drinks. They used to be the best place to go, the team was a commercial success because they undercut the entertainment market in the area. It was cheaper to go to the game than see a movie, check out a concert or go to a local bar.

By jacking up prices a little each year they are now no longer the best option for entertainment in the city. If they expect their business to stop dropping off, or even improve, there is only one answer - lower prices across the board. Seriously lower prices, not the token effort made this past season in which a few low cost items were marked down to simply exorbitant.

1954's Shibe Park concessions - back when we could afford to see a game

Even the opportunities to make good on the high prices by offering a promotion geared to save money was turned into a jab at the fans pocketbook by the Biscuits - in 2012 they had "Fifty cent HotDog Night" which is half off the usual "Dollar Dog Nights" (please note that every other team in the league has 50cent HotDog Night as their regular promotion) . The only problem with the Fifty Cent hotdogs were that they weren't the Dollar hot dogs. That is to say, the product sold as fifty cent hotdogs were not the same as what they sold the rest of the time - they double switched us, implying that we were getting half off the usual hotdogs when in fact we were offered cheap-o wieners on tiny buns.

This exemplifies the marketing at Riverwalk stadium, where during a Biscuits Boosters club meeting the complaint was well worded thusly "We must have the best beer in the league, its the most expensive in the league so it must be the best"

Your Montgomery Biscuits - Leading the league in beer prices for the fifth straight season

The Biscuits will be challenged in 2013 to improve something enough to change the trend or be faced with a smaller fan base and diminished support. Inaction is not an option!


Venezuelan League


Our main man and free agent first baseman for Caracas, Henry Wrigley, has moved into the lead in runs scored in Venezuelan league. Henry also leads his team in batting average .327, homers with 8, RBI's, runs and hits. I suspect he also leads the team in swooning female fans, angry opposing pitchers and cheerful high fives from the manager.

That Henry guy just wont stop impressing

He hasn't homered since November 7th, but since that last blast has rapped out four hits in his last three games and scored six runs for the Leones. Vicious at home and also against right handed pitching, I tweeted him for his thoughts on being a free agent but have yet to get a reply. What say you, Henry?

Wrigleys Leones teammate Josh Vitters has a four game hit streak, pushing his average over .300. Not bad for the Cubs prospect who struggled this summer in Chicago.

Dominican League

Vlad Guerrero has four hits in seven games for the Dominican league Tigres de Licey.
What a "Nose to toes, Dugout to dugout" strikezone looks like to a computer

An interesting team, the Tigres have a strong platoon at shortstop with Dee Gordon, Jurickson Profar and Carlos Triunfel just in case. Add Mike Olt and Mexican League powerhitter Michel Abreu and you get a pretty tough lineup!

Looking East

In Japan, players are working in Fall Camps and preparing for the Samurai Japan vs Cuba series, a part of the WBC.

Fall camps are very intensive workouts, especially as compared to american baseball drills. One team had its players work out for seven and a half hours, after which the players ran back to the team hotel.
Another player took five hundred swings with a coach holding a rubber strap around his waist to prevent him from lunging forward. After that, he dragged a 20 kilo tire around for an hour.

Shohei Otani's parents met with HamFighter officials who presented them with a 30 page document covering how players who skipped the Japan league progressed in various sports. There was no discussion of contracts with Otani' parents. It was a long lecture and probably did little to sway Shohei away from wanting to play in the USA.

Upcoming Series

The Samurai Japan will play the Cuban team on November 16 at the Yahoo Dome in Fukuoka and also again on November 18 at Sapporo Dome. It should be an very interesting series!
Cuban National Team cap


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