Archive for December, 2013

If you follow baseball or have turned on Sports Center during the past few months you have probably heard the phrase “Hot Stove” mentioned once or twice.  But what exactly is a Hot Stove, and how does it have anything to do with baseball?

The phrase “Hot Stove” is a term used to describe the cold winter months between the World Series and the start of Spring Training.  The term is derived from the image of fans huddled around a hot stove, talking about baseball and speculating plans their teams have cooked up for the next season.  The Hot Stove season is a time for trades, player contract extensions, new team hires, and massive re-strategizing.

The term Hot Stove has also been embraced as a way to describe events hosted by teams in the off-season. This year, the Scrappers are very excited to host their first Hot Stove Banquet on January 30, 2014.

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So What Can You Expect at the Scrappers Hot Stove Banquet?

The Hot Stove Banquet will be a unique way to experience baseball in the off-season and get a look at future Cleveland Indians.

This year, ten to twelve Top Prospects from throughout the Indians organization will be making the short trip to Niles for a meet and greet, question and answer session, and autograph session with fans in attendance at the banquet.  The names of the prospects attending will be released on this blog and at www.mvscrappers.com in early January.  It is likely that several of these players have played in the Mahoning Valley, and the banquet is a time for fans to see them a little more polished and refined as they prepare to play for Cleveland in the near future.  It’s also a time for fans to get to know the personalities of these prospects away from the diamond and see them as people as well as players.

Emceeing the event will be former Cleveland Indian Jason Stanford.  Stanford was signed by the Cleveland Indians as a Free Agent out of University of North Carolina- Charlotte in 1999. He had his Major League debut for the Indians in 2003 against the Minnesota Twins and also played a short two game stint as a Scrapper in 2005.  He spent nine years pitching in professional baseball with the Indians, Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs.  Stanford is currently the Pitching Coach for the Youngstown State Penguins baseball team as well as the co-host of Indians On-Deck, Indians Minor League Magazine and Tribe Report on SportsTime Ohio

In addition, a member of the Cleveland Indians Player Development staff will speak briefly at the event.

The Hot Stove Banquet is presented by the M.V.P.B.A. Scrappers Backers and Sports Radio 1240 and will be from 6-8 PM on January 30, 2014 at Cimenero’s Banquet Center in Niles.  The event includes the above-mentioned activities as well as a dinner and silent auction benefiting the M.V.P.B.A. Scrappers Backers.  Tickets are $35 for adults and $25 for children (age 12 and under) and may be purchased at the Holiday Store located next to Auntie Anne’s at the Eastwood Mall, the Scrappers Box Office or by calling (330) 505-0000.

Baseball is a game, yes. It is also a business” – Willie Mays

After a full week in Florida our front office is back from Winter Meetings and adjusting to the below freezing temperatures in Ohio.  After returning on Friday, General Manager Jordan Taylor, Assistant General Manager of Sales Matt Thompson and Assistant General Manager of Stadium Operations Brad Hooser spent some time catching me up on their adventures.

Winter Meetings officially started for the trio when they arrived in Orlando and were picked up at the airport by the Brandiose party bus.  For those who are unfamiliar, Brandiose is one of the premier design firms in Minor League Baseball.  They have helped design logos for many teams including the Scrappers over the past several years.  On the bus, the staff got to loosen up and catch-up up with other winter meeting attendees on the way to the hotel.

(Brandiose)

Ready to board the Brandiose Party Bus! (Brandiose)

(Matt Thompson)

Inside the Brandiose Party Bus (Matt Thompson)

After arriving at the Swan Resort and Hotel in Walt Disney World, the group checked in and got their schedules for the week.  The Winter Meetings had over forty different seminars this year in the categories of sales, marketing, web design, operations, merchandising, media, and community relations.  Seminars are led by the industries best and are a great way for teams to share their strategies and insight.  Some of the seminars our staff attended included “Minor League, MAJOR Marketing Channel”, “Brining Technology Into Your Stadium Operations” and “Creating a Fanatical Food Experience”.

Matt Thompson walking into the Swan Hotel for a Day of Seminars (Brad Hooser)

Matt Thompson walking into the Swan Hotel for a Day of Seminars (Brad Hooser)

In addition to the seminars Jordan, Matt and Brad also attended networking events.  A favorite for many teams is the annual affiliate dinner.  The dinner is a chance for staff from Arizona, Mahoning Valley, Lake County, North Carolina, Akron, and Columbus to get together and socialize.  Of the six Indians affiliates, four are located in the state of Ohio.  This is very unusual for a farm system and for many Minor League teams the affiliate dinner is the only time of the year they get to see the other front offices in person.

Though it is not on the official Winter Meetings schedule another highly anticipated event each year is the New York Penn-League Kangaroo Court.  Kangaroo Court is a time honored baseball tradition played in almost every Minor League and Major League clubhouse across the country.  New York-Penn League execs play each year as well by airing their grievances each December.  A front office member will issue a complaint against a team and the group will decide the appropriate fee for the team to pay.  Kangaroo Court is a way for the league to poke fun at each other and raise money for the New York-Penn League foundation.  Though I am not allowed to disclose any of the charges brought in court this year I can promise it was a fun night for all teams in attendance.

In their down time, Jordan, Matt and Brad met up with old friends from different teams and enjoyed their surroundings.  I’m told one night Matt performed at a Karaoke Bar (sadly there is no video, I asked).  They explored Downtown Disney and also attended the Winter Meetings Gala.  Celebrity sightings included Kevin Millar, Chris Rose and Chris Fowler.  Jordan can also be spotted on last Thursday night’s Intentional Talk.

Winter Meetings Gala (Matt Thompson)

Winter Meetings Gala (Matt Thompson)

On their final day the front office met up with 2011 Scrappers intern and current Promotions Manager of the Lake County Captains, Drew LaFollette, and toured the set of the ESPN College Football Awards.

Now that the group is back in snowy Ohio, they are more ready then ever to bring new ideas and great fan entertainment to the Mahoning Valley in 2014.

It’s the second week of December, which can only mean one thing: Winter Meetings.  Winter Meetings week is one of the most anticipated weeks of the off season for both fans and front offices a like. on the Major League side deals are made, players are traded, contracts are extended and we start to get a glimpse of how the next seasons team will look.  Though the player development affects the Minor League teams, our version of Winter Meetings are a whole different world.

The Winter Meetings are a baseball winter wonderland.  Members of every Major League and Minor League front office fly to one resort each year to meet, make deals and network.  In addition, media, promotional representatives, ticket representatives, and hundreds of hopeful job seekers flock to the meetings as well.  This year the meetings are taking place in Walt Disney World and it will surely be a week to remember

Minor League front offices attend the Winter Meetings mostly to meet with their owners, their affiliates, and to attend seminars.  The meetings are a time to network and socialize but also a time for us to learn from each other how to get better at our craft.  Seminars range from social media in sport, merchandising and licensing, ticket sales strategy, women in baseball, and promotional brainstorms. Though there are over 160 teams across the country, winter meetings reminds us that we all have  the same goal: to provide the best family friendly entertainment and baseball atmosphere possible for you, the fan.

Another reason front offices attend the Winter Meetings is to peruse the trade show.  I have previously mentioned in this blog that Minor League front office’s like to have fun, and there is no better example of this then the Winter Meetings Trade Show.  Hundreds of stands line the convention room showcasing anything from rubber chickens to the latest laser show technology.  It’s a carnival for the baseball promotions nut.

The third major component of the Winter Meetings is the Job Fair.  Teams from across the country post their available jobs for the best and brightest in Minor League Baseball to apply to.  It’s a great opportunity for young professionals to get their foot in the door and good first look at what the industry of Minor League Baseball has to offer.   This week we are very excited to have 2012 promotions intern and Ohio University senior, Angela Martin guest blog for us her impressions of the job fair and Winter Meetings!

Tune into the blog all week as Angela and our front office update you from Orlando!

(Photo courtesy of Major League Baseball)

(Photo courtesy of Major League Baseball)