The newest Florida State League affiliate comes to Bradenton hoping to follow in the footsteps of the Charlotte Stone Crabs successful 2009 debut.
The Bradenton Marauders will begin play in 2010 as the Pirates’ high Class A affiliate after Pittsburgh purchased the Reds’ Sarasota affiliate at the start of the offseason and relocated it to their complex in Bradenton. (The Reds will move their high A affiliate next season to the Pirates former Lynchburg home in the Carolina League.)
Optimism appears to be high in Bradenton, where the Pirates have made their spring training home for 38 years and have become a staple of the community. The Pirates unveiled their in the week following the Winter Meetings, hoping to play up their relationship with Pittsburgh in a town that has embraced being the spring home of the Pirates.
The new logo was first shown off at a local Kiwanis Club before a few hundred people earlier this week, then made the tour around town over the next several days accompanied by several Pirates players in Bradenton for an instructional camp.
"There is a lot of excitement locally," said Bradenton general manager Dan Wolfert, who spent the past five seasons running the team in Sarasota. "The Pirates have been here a lot longer than the Reds were in Sarasota. They are excited about having a team of their own, a team they can cheer for . . .
"We wanted (our identity) to be similar to the Pirates and have it affiliated with the Pirates so people would know that, but we also wanted to have our own brand. We can use the Pirates to piggy-back off because they are so well liked and ingrained in the community."
The newest Florida State League affiliate unveiled its logo and nickname today. So please meet the 2010 Bradenton Marauders.
The Pirates affiliate comes to the FSL after Pittsburgh purchased the Reds' Sarasota affiliate and moved it to Bradenton, Pittsburgh's spring training base. (The Reds' high Class A affiliate will play at Lynchburg in the Carolina League next season.)
"We wanted to show that we're Pirates-related, and have a close association with the big league team," Braden general manager Dan Wolfert told MLB.com. "But at the same time, we wanted to maintain our own brand and convey that we are something unique."
I'm still trying to get a hold of Wolfert, but in the meantime here's my two-cents for a promotion: Somehow hook up with A Tribe Called Quest and play a "Midnight Marauders" game in honor of their classic album–or maybe make it a Noon Marauders event to better fit the old-school retirement community. I don't think Q-Tip or the 5-Footer have been heard from in awhile, so they may need the work.
(Hopefully, more to come soon on the Marauders.)
Augusta general manager Nick Brown is not particularly upset about missing the Winter Meetings last week in Indianapolis. He’s just happy to be alive.
Brown spent eight days in early November at a local Augusta hospital, including four in a medically induced coma, after a case of the H1N1 Virus resulted in him contracting double pneumonia in his lungs. The otherwise healthy 39-year-old Brown did not realize how dire his situation was until he was released from the hospital on Nov. 16.
"My doctor asked me when I was being released if I know the phrase ‘even money,’ " Brown said. "I told him I did. The doctor then said, ‘Well, last Wednesday (when Brown was put in a coma on Nov. 11) I wouldn’t have given you even money to survive."
Never has 45 degrees seemed so balmy. That is the temperature that greeted me in Durham yesterday, and after waiting 20 minutes to catch a shuttled bus in a 15 degree Indianapolis morning, Durham’s weather seemed quite pleasant.
That said, Indianapolis gets high marks as a Winter Meetings host. The convention center hosting the trade show and minor league meetings was conveniently located near both the minor league and major league hotels. The major league media workroom was just a few steps from the Marriott lobby where most reporters congregated for the week—a distinct change from last year’s event in Las Vegas.
And if you didn’t want to go outside into the cold, you essentially could have stayed inside for four days and found plenty of decent options. Those hearty enough to brave the elements found plenty of eating and drinking options—including the Baseball America contingent who took in a wine bar and bistro for the first time in company history.
Anyway, my 3-year-old son was thrilled to have me home from "Annapolis India" and wants to know if he can come next time. We’ll see if Indy gets another shot in a few years. (In the meantime, I haven’t mentioned to my kids that Disney is the host next year.)
Here’s a few more news items from Indianapolis:
Randall Steps To The Plate
Two years ago at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, I followed Ed Randall around as he tirelessly promoted his new charity dedicated to fighting prostate cancer: Ed Randall’s Bat for the Cure. Back then, Randall described himself as "the car alarm you can’t turn off when it comes to this," and was determined to early detection opportunities a regular promotion at minor league ballparks.
Well, he’s accomplished that goal and one more: his cause is now an official charity of Minor League Baseball.
I’ve spent the past 36 hours shaking a lot of hands and getting the opportunity to meet many of the people who I speak to on the phone throughout the year. It’s been a very enjoyable experience and I’ve generally gotten positive feedback on my work. "You get most of it right," one team owner told me yesterday. I’ll take that as a compliment.
Weather permitting, I’m off to Durham in the morning. So here are a few final tidbits to report:
Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg has been named manager for the Iowa Cubs. Sure, this is another step in Sandberg’s fast track to the big leagues. But don’t discount what this means to Chicago’s Triple-A affiliate, a 2009 Freitas Award winner that is still bouncing back from a disastrous 2008 season marred by historic flooding. [...] Continue Reading »
Some news and notes from around the Winter Meetings.
* I ran into High Desert owner Bobby Brett and Bakersfield owner DG Elmore yesterday, and neither reports much progress on solving their ballpark problems.
Brett needs to find a buyer for the Mavericks since his ownership group purchased Cal League affiliate Rancho Cucamonga (owners are not allowed to have multiple teams in a league). Brett said he has had some inquiries, but it sounds like potential buyers want to have a new home for the team locked up first since local government has made it clear it is interested in renovating the team’s ballpark. There is potential for the team to move to Chico, but nothing concrete, Brett says. Same goes for potentially moving the team to a neighboring city.
Meanwhile, Elmore said no progress has been made in Bakersfield’s quest for a new facility or home. There are simply no public funds available for such a project, thus the reason for the Blaze’s potential partnership Cal State Bakersfield falling through earlier this season. New Cal League president Charlie Blaney has been charged with finding a solution in Bakersfield.
It did not take long for the economy to make its way into discussions at the Winter Meetings. In fact, the recession that resulted in minor league baseball's first season without an attendance record in five years was the first subject addressed by Minor League Baseball president Pat O'Conner during his remarks at the opening session.
"Despite the economy and tough weather we battled all season, 2009 may very well be one of the best seasons we have had in many years," O'Conner said in a Indiana Convention Center ballroom packed with league and team officials. "The financial statements may reflect otherwise, but I can honestly say I have never been more proud of what minor league baseball stands for, what we can do, how we developed our sense of community, than I am over the 2009 season."
It would be difficult to argue with O'Conner on both points. Though the sport as a whole saw a 2.5 decrease in attendance and teams almost universally speak of even harder-hit sponsorship sales, the model of affordable, family-friendly entertainment prevented the drop from being even worse–like the 6.5 percent experienced by major league teams. [...] Continue Reading »
The Major League Baseball Players Association unanimously elected Michael Weiner executive director, making official the general counsel’s succession of longtime union boss Don Fehr.
Fehr handpicked Weiner as his replacement when he announced his retirement after 26 years on June 22. Weiner, 47, has been with the union since 1988 and has held the position of general counsel since 2004. He’s essentially served as Fehr’s righthand man, playing an active role in the past several collective bargaining agreements.
"It is with great pleasure that today we officially name Michael Weiner as our next executive director," association player representative Tony Clark said. "For more than 20 years Michael has worked diligently and tirelessly to support and defend the rights of players. We are extremely confident that the future of our union is in good hands with Michael at the helm."
Weiner’s promotion is effective immediately.
A team isn’t really a team until it has a logo. And every 5-year-old’s favorite baseball team unveiled their new look this afternoon.
The Richmond Flying Squirrels have officially arrived, as the team unveiled their logo at a press conference today at their future home, better known as the will-it-ever-be-renovated Diamond.
I’m no logo expert, but I do think I can differentiate between the good and bad. And these look pretty good to me. The primary one is not too cartoonish but still animated enough to catch the attention of kids—which, of course, is most minor league teams’ target demographic.
The design was by Plan B Branding, who I think has done very creative work in the past with teams like the Spokane Indians, Casper Ghosts and others.
“We have taken great lengths to create an overall identity that will be appealing to fans of all ages,” Flying Squirrels CEO Chuck Domino said. “The unique nature of our entire image gives us great flexibility, and we know our fans will be able to take pride in the new look of their new team. We are excited to have the potential of creating one of the most popular brands in professional sports.”
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