Thursday, July 9, 2015

Day 6.2: Hudson Valley Renegades. A trip through New Jersey by way of St. Louis

After the New Jersey Jackals, we ate at Moe’s Southwest Grill by the grace of the coupons we’d received from Rockland hitting a home run.  Then we sat at a Starbucks for a couple of hours.  Chances are that most things you’ve read on the blog up to this point were written at the Starbucks in The Shops at Nanuet.
Updated and caffeinated, we doubled back up north a little bit to see the Hudson Valley Renegades in Fishkill, NY.  We hope that name is Dutch.  What we got is one of the most creative promotions we’ve seen this trip and a few examples of what we love most about Minor League Baseball.

Highlights and Lowlights
1.       Walking up to the park, we saw what looked like an entrance.  Upon further inspection, it was for season ticket holders only.  That’s not too unusual, but this entrance had a special carpet to walk on.  Although, when we left, we went out of that exit.  And we totally walked on the carpet.
2.       There was also a gentleman by that entrance with an electric bass and a karaoke machine as he played the bass line and vocals to every karaoke song you’ve ever heard.  He was ok, we guess, but he was completely drowned out by a local radio station playing dance music by the ticket lines.
3.       They tear the ticket stubs here!  Most spots use bar code readers instead and we prefer the tactility of ripping the stubs off.
4.       The real reason we came here was the advertised promotion, American Road Trip, because, well, duh.  We didn’t know what it would entail and even joked beforehand that they would have a different foodstand for each state.  We weren’t actually that far off.  Every inning represented a different American city, so for 6 outs you could get a special food item from a particular stand.  The mid-inning promotion games were also city-themed.
5.       For instance, Zach got some toasted ravioli during the St. Louis inning.  There were crabcakes for the Boston inning, etc.  The Boston game involved throwing crabs at each other, Washington had a Family Feud type game with questions like “Name an influential Vice-President”, a dance contest to “Welcome to Miami”, and various other fun activities.
It's ravioli without those pesky forks.

6.       Maybe the strangest of these was for Philadelphia, where they held a Rocky boxing contest.  Now, we would have gone for something like giant inflatable boxing gloves, but Hudson Valley simply put pedometers on the contestants’ wrists and foreheads and had them air box at each other.  Whoever made the most punches and “dodges” (i.e. head wiggles) won.
7.       There was a Blackjack themed game in which the MC claimed that a King, Ace, 7 was a bust, instead of an 18.  Consequently the girl with that hand got a pie in the face.  Zack tried to heckle the MC over this mistake, but the guy just shrugged his shoulders and said “She’s sixteen years old, she doesn’t know I’m not going to explain that to her here.  Plus a pie in the face is funnier.”  We like getting feedback.
8.       The normal food options were pretty solid, too, with a beer garden, health food stand, ziti, pizza, buffalo blue fries, and more readily available.  The Be Your Own Chef Brisket Burger stood out to all of us.
We are impressed, though still amused at what shows up at a Health Food stand in a ballpark

9.       The PA announcer had his own highlights and lowlights, as he gave amusingly specific directions to the interns during on-field promotions.  “J.C., you need to be on the other side.  Cameraman, follow him.”  However, he congratulated a veteran for his work in “eye rock”, so…
10.   Astroturf!  Games that aren’t on grass really shouldn’t be games, but it would prove useful in a later game.  Plus the extra bounciness of the infield led to some very Minor League defense.  Hudson Valley committed 5 errors all on its own, usually at the expense of its diminutive second baseman.
Ahhh summer....  Feeling the small blades of polyproplene between my toes.  At least the vista is beautiful and authentic.

11.   In fact, the only person on the field shorter than said second baseman was the home plate umpire.  His stature reminded one of Danny Devito, and watching him run out into the infield to make a call when the other umpire was unavailable was a treat.
12.   The base running wasn’t much better than the defense, with Brooklyn getting at least a couple of runners thrown out by outfielders.  One rundown involved 7 defenders surrounding a runner between first and second.  He was eventually tagged out near second base by the catcher.
13.   A different TOOTBLAN was accompanied on the tron with Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi screaming “No Soup for You!”  In this case, there was a wild pitch with a runner on third.  The batter specifically held his hand up to the runner, signaling “Don’t Run!”  Runner goes anyway and is tagged out at the plate by the catcher.
Pretty sure someone's about to make a mistake here.

14.   Lest you think the entire ballpark to be hectic and chaotic, you should know that the left field seats had a relaxing waterfall nearby.  Very zen.
Water on the rocks
Hudson Valley Renegades
Make for bad haiku

15.   There was a diminutive man wearing a hat and suspenders carrying around a rather thick briefcase and a stool.  Do I even need to tell you that he made balloon animals?
16.   There turned out to be a surprising number of vocal visiting fans.  They chanted “Brooklyn” and “Cyclones” back and forth to each other across the field.  The most noticeable group was a Jewish boys’ camp sitting split in areas on either side of the field.  They even rushed the Brooklyn dugout after the game to get their autographs.
17.   Hudson Valley interns seem to use the exact same hot dog and ketchup costumes that we saw earlier in the day at the Jackals game. 

  • Regularly Scheduled Metrics:
  • Price of Beer: 5 points
  • Most Caloric Concession Item  Probably the Brisket Burger with fries.  8 points
  • Minor League Personalities:  Little League, Teenagers on Dates, Families, Die hards both Major and Minor  5 points
  • Willingness to Give Random Bloggers Free Seats: BOOOOOOOOOO!  0 points
  • Tailgating: Really crowded parking lot, but it was just cars.  0 points
  • Funniest Roster Name:. Cade Gotta gets some love as it gave us a chance to shout “Cade Gotta what?  Cade Gotta get on base!” and to jokingly suggest his name be pronounced “Cah-day” after the “Kale” mistake from before.  But the most enjoyment had to come from Tucker Tharp, after he hit a tharp thingle to thenter field.  7 points
  • Promotion Quality:  This was a good one.  More than just a half-assed acknowledgement (we’re looking at you, Opposite Day) or a series of appropriate video clips and sounds (Back to the Future Night), American Roadtrip had food, events and fun develop naturally throughout the night, giving fans and bored guests alike something to enjoy that was out of the routine.  Nicely done.  9 points
  • Crowd: Well, the most vocal were fans of the visiting team, but this was still a packed house on a Wednesday night.  7 points
  • Men’s Room: Don’t actually remember.  Let’ just say 0 points.
  • Bonus Points: +1 for tearing the stubs, +2 for wide range of food selection, +1 for waterfall, +3 for funny PA guy, +1 for getting re-heckled by the blackjack guy, +1 for balloon animals, +2 for TOOTBLANs, +1 for lots of autographs, +1 for season ticket carpet, +1 for Astroturf, +1 for Soup Nazi, +1 for fireworks, +1 for Beer Garden
  • Summary: 58 points on our arbitrary scale.  This was one of the better stops this year.  The team here really knows how to work a promotion into the game, and the extra food options was a huge plus.  There’s variety inside the park and the product on the field was… well they were certainly entertaining, even if they have some room to grow.  The Astroturf didn’t even bother us due to the level of chaos it produced on the field.  8.5/10

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