Jaguars Offensive Lineman Gets Burned Bad on Twitter by the Durham Bulls

Don’t mess with the Bulls, young man. You’ll get the horns…(I’ll see myself out now).

Over the Memorial Day weekend, Jacksonville Jaguars center Luke Bowanko was taking in some ACC Tournament baseball on television. Understandable, considering he played his college ball at Virginia. However, Bowanko appeared to take exception with the setting where the conference tourney was taking place…

Cue the snappy minor league baseball comeback!

 

Apparently Bowanko hasn’t seen the Kevin Costner baseball classic (one of many), Bull Durham. After the initial Twitter haymaker, Bowanko wasn’t going to go down without throwing one more jab…which was happily greeted by an uppercut response.

Bowanko probably thought throwing shade “at the Bull” was a good idea, but Crash Davis’ old club sent that thing “outta here in a hurry”. (I have no shame for dropping these Bull Durham quotes)

While Twitter exchanges like these are fun, it’s nice to see when the losing party can show some self-awareness and recognize when they are beat.

Kudos to you, Mr. Bowanko, for going down with dignity and grace.

I would recommend you charge your phone though.

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Piffcast: Memorial Day 2016 w/ The Next James Bond, Riot Fest and More

For your Memorial Day Listening, Michael and TJ give their guests a breather and cover a vast array of topics all on their own. They discuss their favorites of the NEXT James Bond candidates, some of our favorite video games, the Riot Fest Chicago lineup, Game of Thrones (per usual), and all the tangents that come with.

Listeners ALSO get in on the fun by asking ANYTHING and the guys do their best to answer them. Questions include: The #1 Sport for America, Favorite Simpsons Characters, Sports to add to the Olympics, and our favorite things to do in Chicago.

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Vin Scully Reciting the James Earl Jones ‘Field of Dreams’ Speech is Pure Baseball

“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball.”

…and Vin Scully too.

Scully will be taking a bow at year’s end on what has been an incredible broadcasting career in baseball. It began in 1950, when Scully joined Red Barber and Connie Desmond in the Brooklyn Dodgers radio and television booths. At 25 years old, in 1953, he was the youngest to ever call a World Series game…a record that stands today.

13 NL Pennants, 6 World Series titles, and 66 years with the same team makes Scully an all-timer. It’s hard to imagine someone other than James Earl Jones reciting the “People Will Come”, but then again Scully personifies what the speech means. Scully, like the game itself, endured. His voice is comforting, reminding fans of “when they were children and cheered their heroes.”

Now if only we can get Jones to recite Scully’s famous intro…

It’s time for Dodger baseball! Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant good (day/evening) to you, wherever you may be.”

For comparison.

 

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Can We Have More ‘Bat Dogs’ in Baseball, Please?

During a Wednesday evening stint with the New York Yankees Double-A affiliate, Trenton Thunder, third baseman Alex Rodriguez (and the rest of the internet) found out about one of the best things in all of minor league baseball…

…the “Bat Dogs”.

For the first two innings of Trenton home games, golden retrievers Derby and Rookie pickup the bats after each player’s at-bat. Below are the dogs in action after Rodriguez grounded out early on.

The New York Daily News has a great story on the origins of the bat dogs. As is the way of minor league baseball, Trenton was looking for something new and different that would attract fans to the ballpark. When a fans fell in love with traveling act “Jake, the Diamond Dog” in the late 90’s, the team knew they needed one to call their own. Jake’s trainer found the Thunder a puppy named Chase, who served as Jake’s understudy before going full-time with the club.

The bat dogs have been a staple in Trenton since 2003. Chase bred Derby in 2009 and Rookie was born in 2013. When the team goes on the road, the dogs go home with Thunder Sr. VP of corporate sales and partnerships Eric Lipsman. They don’t leave teeth marks on the bats and the only issue is that dogs really don’t like pine tar, which is understandable.

Some Major League organizations host their “Bark at the Park” promotional nights, which is an awesome opportunity to bring your pup to a ballgame. Others have their own Team Dog, like the Brewers and their little bichon frise named Hank. The first MLB team to implement bat dogs will be the real winner though. It’s not like they are taking jobs from bat boys, as they the dogs could just retrieve bats for the first two innings like in Trenton.

Having dogs around the clubhouse may be good for morale, unlike Adam LaRoche having his child around 24/7 (I couldn’t resist). Just take it into consideration, MLB marketing executives. Who doesn’t love dogs?

Bat Dogs

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Ballpark Foodie: Much More Than a ‘Sausage Race’ in Milwaukee

Saturday, I took the trip from Chicago up I-94 to take in some baseball, beer and delicious encased meats. Celebrating my dad’s birthday a little early, we made a day pairing the Lakefront Brewery with Milwaukee baseball. Very thankful the fine people at the Brewers shared this so I knew what to look forward to before getting to Miller Park.

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Getting to Miller Park early is a fun experience. There’s tailgating, bags, grilling and every Wisconsin team logo present. Even in 30 degree temps, there’s a pretty solid party raging. Under the dome is a different kind of party though, and way more than the mid-game Sausage Race that you’ve heard so much about…

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During batting practice, I took the opportunity to walk the 100-level concourse, engulfing myself in the smells of ‘Stormin Gorman’ pulled pork sandwiches, Banh Mi brats (with asian slaw and cilantro lime mayo), and assorted sugar-coated, roasted nuts.

On the 200-level, toward right field, I was directed to the “Brat Boys” concession stand where the real fun was…

The Wisconsin Dog

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With homemade beer jam, sauerkraut and a big pile of bacon.

 

The Jalapeno Popper

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Deep fried jalapeno peppers and nacho cheese.

If you crave something sweet, I highly recommend heading toward right field on the 100-level concourse and finding the bright green “Hoely Moley” Doughtnut + Frozen Custard Sandwich stand.

There are a litany of topping options, like pecan pie pieces, peanut butter, Nutella, and more. I went with the first choice on the board though.

The ‘Baby Spice’

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with cinnamon donut pieces, caramel and fudge.

Oh, and the game went 12 innings, Padres won 8-7, and Andy Grammar played a post-game concert!

Thank you for the good time, Milwaukee. I will certainly be back to explore some more this summer.

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Your Annual Reminder It’s Opening Day

While the weather forecast may have called for overcast skies (a day after disheartening April blizzards in Chicago), there’s still a ray of sunshine breaking through any and all mundane mediocrity clouding your life. For one day, every cliche and sports movie monologue feels as inviting as the guy selling programs when you walk through your favorite stadium’s gate.

Only a handful of teams are playing today, the Cardinals, Pirates, Blue Jays, Rays, Mets and Royals. The whole league will be in action tomorrow and the hometown love will pour over each respective ball club, but it’s amazing how we can all be just as excited today. Is it because everyone is tied for first place at this very moment? Do we forget that there are 161 games to go and anything can happen from now till October? Or is it because we just can’t help but “get romantic about baseball”?

The romance is real. It hits you when you first climb the steps from the concourse toward your seats at Wrigley Field, much like walking up a ramp to your aisle at Fenway Park when the sun starts to set. If you’re lucky enough to share that with someone, don’t take it for granted. As a White Sox fan, I lose myself in their brand new pregame montage every year, with moving music and memories. I forget I’m 28 years old and involuntary noises erupt from my windpipes as the fireworks signal it’s time to begin. There are micro-versions of these instances throughout the long regular season, but nothing compares to the first.

I could go into a long thing about hope for every team, only for someone (maybe myself) to shoot it all down with projections, sabermetrics, and the pessimistic cold hard reality check that not everyone is meant for the playoffs. However, baseball is weird…quite possibly the weirdest of the major sports. While numbers, trends, and track records are real and incredibly valid, you can’t predict injuries, suspensions, personal issues, trades or the litany of fortune-bending occurrences that are bound to happen over the next 6 months.

Also alluring is the mystery of what kind of greatness and individual accomplishments this new season will hold. Who will be the closest to batting .400? How long will someone go in their hitting-streak, and will the challenge Joe DiMaggio? Who will throw the next perfect game? Can anyone emulate the 1998 home run race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire (and not be busted for steroids)? Where will longtime veterans finish on the all-time lists (Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Albert Pujols) and who can we get excited about to possibly surpass them someday (Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Kris Bryant)? Who will come out of nowhere?

Right now, more than any time the rest of regular season, you can comfortably be a fan. You can be excited. You can be optimistic. You can be a full grown…kid. For a few hours at a time, you can escape to a game you love and forget about the drama and stresses of life for a little bit. It’s Opening Day. Just have fun.

Share your experiences and thoughts with me this season on Facebook or Twitter

 

Ballpark Foodie: White Sox Unveil New Food Items for 2016 Season

As that new baseball season smell keeps fans anxiously waiting for Opening Day’s first pitch, baseball stadiums across the nation will be permeated with the unique smells of ballpark food. Sure, you can pickup your classic baseball hot dogs, pretzels and nachos, but why not indulge the foodie culture that the sport has come to identify itself with in recent years.

The Chicago White Sox have been especially keen on the tastebuds of their fan base. Double-thick maple bacon on a stick is staple for fans (and goes great on the Comiskey burgers grilled at the same stand). Thursday afternoon, the club rolled out their new concession items for the 2016 season at U.S. Cellular Field.

Photo credit: Chicago Tribune

Merkt’s Cheddar Beef Sandwich

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Thinly-sliced ribeye, grilled and tossed with Merkt’s cheese. Seved on a hoagie roll and topped with Chi-Town Pico.

 

Bacon Cheddar Pretzel Dog

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Vienna all-beef hot dog on a pretzel roll bun. Topped with nacho cheese and bacon. 

 

Tater Totchos

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Tater tots, available in a mini green betting helmet, topped with nacho cheese and jalapenos. 

 

New Beggars Pizza Options

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Barbecue Chicken – Thin crust with sweet BBQ sauce base, diced chicken and mozzarella.

Italian Beef and Giardiniera – Pretty self explanatory. 

 

Click here for concession location details and gluten free options (for those who need them). White Sox home opener is Friday, April 8th against the Cleveland Indians. Tickets available for the upcoming season here

I’ll be there April 9th to try everything out myself. Follow along on Twitter and Instagram