Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Kids & Baseball | Rekindling the Flame


The ACC Baseball Championship is drawing fans from Boston to Miami this week, but our Local Organizing Committee has placed a priority on connecting Triangle kids with this major college baseball event.

Thursday morning over 325 students will attend ACC Education Day. It's a "best field trip ever" that ties science and history lessons to the National Pastime. And the kids get to watch UVA, last year's NCAA champ, take on Clemson in the 11am game. 

For three afternoons this week we're entertaining about 250 youth in the Full Frame Theater on the American Tobacco Campus. Thanks to WUNC TV they will be viewing an abridged version of Ken Burns' new documentary on Jackie Robinson. Afterwards, they trek over to the DBAP for a snack and the afternoon ACC tournament game. That's my kind of after-school program!

On Friday in the Alumni Village at American Tobacco there's a youth sports clinic and Saturday is Little League Baseball Day.

Meanwhile, fifteen teams (10u, 11u, 12u) are competing in our 2nd annual Triangle Youth Classic at the Walnut Creek complex in Raleigh. NC Development Baseball runs that tournament for us. The teams will come over to Durham Saturday night for the UVA-Louisville game.

Much is written about the decline in baseball fandom among young people. There's no denying it, but here in Durham, we are trying hard to rekindle the flame. The ACC Baseball Championship is a great platform for that.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Atomic Crispy Chicken & the Bull City Float


We have packed so much into this upcoming home stand, you'll need a moving van to haul away the memories.

There's a Hall of Fame induction Thursday for the Bulls winningest manager, Charlie Montoyo. Fireworks follow the Friday and Saturday games. The team debuts their Bull City Blues uniforms Saturday. That game is followed by an out-of-the-park hitting exhibition from the amazing Long Haul Bombers. And Sunday is reserved for mascot mania as we celebrate Wool E. Bulls' birthday with dozens of his peers from teams around the region. Click here for more details.

And I offer a culinary heads-up from Bull City Hospitality...

We'll be fryin' up a mess of Atomic Crispy Chicken - chicken breasts marinated in a spicy secret sauce. Just ask for "The ACC"...as we prepare to host the ACC Baseball Championship next Tuesday.

Dial back that nuclear intensity with a Bull City Float - an orange and blue concoction, owing to Blue Bunny sherbet awash in Fierce Grape Gatorade, served in a Mason jar. I was in on the taste testing this afternoon. It's a hit!


Sunday, May 8, 2016

What Matters


Amidst all of our region's successes, poverty and inequality threaten our shared fate.
Triangle Community Foundation

Dr. Tony Iton, physician/lawyer at The California 
Endowment, speaks to the Triangle Community
Foundation on April 27th.
My last post was faith-related. Living evermore dangerously, I venture into public policy/politics...

I was once a disciple of "trickle-down economics" and "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" self-determination. In recent years I've had an attitude adjustment. 

There's still some truth in trickle-down, but in a global economy the trickling (job creation) may occur in China or Sri Lanka, not necessarily in NC. Money invested on Wall Street might become profit for a company that has off-shored, not supporting our tax base at home. 

And personal bootstrapping has little motivational luster in places of high poverty. Weak schools, poor job prospects, high crime and health deficits conspire against upward economic mobility.

I received a refresher course on this a couple of weeks ago at the Triangle Community Foundation's What Matters event. We heard about a California initiative - an attack on poverty and inequality - through the lens of public health. Please invest five minutes watching this video. And it's narrated by George Takei, Mr. Sulu from Star Trek!

 

Congratulations to our CEO and his wife. Jim and Barbara Goodmon received the Catalyst Award from TCF for their support of the foundation, their emphasis on regionalism and their philanthropic work.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Beneath the Canopy of Creation



On this National Day of Prayer I reprise our Opening Day Invocation by the Rev. Dr. Luke A. Powery, Dean of Duke University Chapel. It's a memorable prayer, and I won't soon forget the circumstances. As Rev. Powery stepped onto the field it began to rain. We couldn't pause because the Invocation and the National Anthem were precisely timed with a vintage aircraft flyover. Standing in a downpour w/no baseball cap, the ink smearing on his paper, Rev. Powery offered this prayer to begin the Durham Bulls 2016 season:



Gracious God, fount of every blessing, as we stand under the canopy of your creation, we bask in the beauty of spring and newness of life. Our hearts are filled with joy as flowers bloom, leaves bud, grass grows green, and bright colors overflow the North Carolina land. The aroma of your presence fills this stadium tonight and what a joy it is to be alive and to be together in a spirit of community.

What a joy it is to experience another baseball season with the Durham Bulls. We thank you for the way this team draws people from all walks of life, from the east and west, north and south, Duke fans and Carolina fans, all in the same stadium cheering on their team. We thank you for those who make every season possible - the administration, staff, players, coaches, umpires, sponsors, volunteers, fans, and everyone who works tirelessly to make each game so special.

Let the play and delight of tonight brighten the world just a little bit, that we may not be so burdened down by sounds of the world’s sorrowful lamentations but rather filled with the echoes of eternal celebration, alongside our family, friends, and even strangers who are gathered here. As we cheer, clap, sing, dance, laugh, and eat, may we never forget those for whom no one is cheering. May we remember the least, the lost, and the left out and acknowledge that to whom much is given much is required. Just as these teams give their all with bats, baseballs, and gloves, help us to give our all to love of neighbor.


We receive this Opening Night as a gift from your gracious hand, knowing that sometimes we strike out in life, but one day we will round the bases of life’s journey and make it home safe at last as the great company of saints wave their hands in everlasting joy and praise. Amen.



Saturday, April 30, 2016

Friday Night (DBAP) Lights



It's hard to believe we lost last night's game. I was having such a good time.

Before a sell-out crowd, Dayron Varona hit a homer into the Famous Snorting Bull. That is a rare poke for which he receives a steak dinner at the venerable Angus Barn. And phenom Blake Snell, back from his MLB debut at Yankee Stadium, was pitching. Game story.

The crowd roared as our Dancing Grounds Crew saluted Prince...and the soundtrack for a spectacular fireworks show featured his greatest hits. So yes, we lost to Louisville 4-2, but it was an outstanding night at the DBAP. The Bulls return to downtown Durham next Friday, vs. Norfolk at 7:05, as a seven game home stand commences.

If I may raise a point of personal privilege, we celebrated my Mom's 90th birthday at the ballpark last night. (My Dad hit 95 in March.) We enjoyed official birthday greetings from Wool E. Bull - a perfect evening for the young at heart!


Monday, April 18, 2016

Tales of the Turf


We are only seven homes games into the 2016 season, but Goodmon Field is in for industrial strength lawn care this week.

Now that Duke calls the DBAP its home field, there have already been 40 "turf events" here dating back to mid-February scrimmages. No other pro baseball team in the US shares its field with a university team to this extent. It's a super efficient use of the stadium, but the wear and tear on the turf presents an agronomy challenge. You can't just throw out more fertilizer and cross your fingers. You need a rigorous turf management regimen.

While the Bulls are on the road, the infield is being completely replaced and the outfield has been aerified. The latter provides more oxygen to the Bermuda turf that begins to propagate in this warmer weather. Fans marvel at the lush green grass, but the real action is below ground. It's all about healthy roots!

For me, this is painful. It's like watching major surgery on a TV medical drama. I wince and look away as the turf docs put their scalpel to the infield.





The Bulls return from a ten day road trip on Sunday. We play Indianapolis at 5:05. The team is at home 4/24-29. Come out to the game and admire the handiwork of our grounds crew.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

On Duke's Tom Butters


A note about the passing of retired Duke Athletic Director Tom Butters...

Capitol Sports managed the Duke Radio Network in the 1990s. Looking back (and I should confess) we were in the vanguard of commercializing college sports 25 years ago. Butters mightily resisted! It's hard to wrap your mind around that today, but he could be passionate about it. He was a deep thinker, very articulate. He took me to the wood shed a couple of times over our marketing ideas. But you never felt too bad about losing an argument to him. It was like receiving an infusion of integrity!