Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Where Beer Takes Flight

I'm not a big beer drinker - because my waist has gotten too big. A guilty pleasure, however, can been found at Tyler's Taproom on the American Tobacco Campus.

It's what they call a "seasonal flight" - a sampler of summertime brews - four, four-ounce pours. On my last visit, I tried...

Skinny Dip (Fort Collins, CO)
Harpoon Summer (Boston, MA)
Liberty Ale (San Franciso, CA)

(I asked the waitress to write the names on a napkin so that I could conduct this scholarly research for you.)

Another BIG reason to visit Tyler's: they now have our Bullpen Pale Ale on tap at their Durham and Apex locations. Bullpen is brewed by the Carolina Brewery of Chapel Hill and Pittsboro and served in their brewpubs, too. Bullpen is developing a following, and other restaurants are adding it to their menus this summer. I'm trying to get a list...stay tuned...

One more thing: This Saturday, from 12-1, we broadcast live (AM620/The Buzz) from Tyler's in Durham. Bulls radio announcer Neil Solondz hosts the Bulls' Beat. He will bring several players along. Join them for lunch...and a seasonal flight. (Everything in moderation, of course.)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Team Advantage

Here’s a shout-out to our friends at Pyramid Resource Group in Cary, DJ and Barry Mitsch.

They have designed a training program for the global publisher Wiley & Sons/Pfeiffer. Wiley does the renowned Frommer’s travel guides and the For Dummies series. They are a major publisher in the academic and business training realms, too.

Pyramid has developed the Team Advantage program. The Bulls front office staff served as “lab rat” for the curriculum design a number of years ago.

A significant endorsement…

“The Team Advantage is for any leader with a team and a goal. It’s a proven process, with challenges and rewards that will drive your team past typical corporate objectives to new levels of engagement and commitment. You can transform your team—and your organization—with The Team Advantage.”

Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The One Minute Manager and Leading at a Higher Level

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bulls on MLB Network - Monday!

Monday afternoon the Bulls go coast-to-coast. Durham vs. Lehigh Valley is the featured afternoon game on the MLB Network.

Over 50 million homes. 43 cable and satellite providers. Whoa!

Also, I’m proud to report that the game will be in High Definition, a first for Minor League Baseball on the MLB Net.

We take HD for granted these days, but it is not a simple undertaking. Time Warner provides a fiber link from the ballpark in Durham to Microspace Communications in north Raleigh…where the game is uplinked to a satellite…and then pulled down in NYC at the MLB Network.

…but I’ve saved the best for last:

Our TV is produced by an Explorer Post, a cadre of dedicated high school students. It’s known as Post 50, sponsored by Fox50 TV and the Bulls. These young folks get big-time, real world broadcast production experience, and Monday’s telecast will be a nice addition to their resumes!

THANKS to Fox50 Chief Engineer Jim Gamble, Bonnie Southard McNay at Microspace Communications and our friends at Time Warner Cable for helping to make this historic, nationwide broadcast possible.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dispatch from St. Pete

I find myself in St. Petersburg for a couple of Rays vs. Padres games, and I have witnessed a collision…not on I-275…rather a pile-up among baseball, politics, demographics and economics.

Rays' owner Stuart Sternberg held a news conference Monday saying it’s time to revive talks about a new ballpark with the proviso that downtown St. Pete is a non-starter…that a new stadium needs to be closer to Tampa or in Tampa.

Raleigh-Durham. Tampa-St. Pete. We have a lot in common…aside from the Bulls-Rays connection. BIG IDEAS that require a regional approach don’t come easy, and they are often incendiary…at least in the early stages.

Here in St. Pete, the mayor has a contract with the Rays playing downtown in the Trop thru 2027, and he’s not budging. However, the truth is on Sternberg’s side. Under his ownership, the Rays have played in the World Series and spent much of this season as the top team in MLB. Yet, the Ray’s attendance isn’t even at the MLB average. Yes, it’s time to talk about a new ballpark.

Even the St. Pete newspaper is editorializing in Sternberg’s favor, and one columnist points out that Tampa is not the enemy. It could be another city (Charlotte was mentioned) that will eventually tempt the Rays to leave FL all together.

Meanwhile, I’m having a great time in St. Pete. The downtown waterfront is awesome. Great ambience…super restaurants…walkable…a nice breeze off the water. Wish you were here…so do the Rays!

Friday, June 18, 2010

More Turf Talk

Wouldn’t you like to rip out your lawn and replace it in 48 hours. This could be a show on HGTV!

When the Bulls return home on Friday, 6/25, the team will be playing on a brand new infield.

The old turf was stripped off and new sod was meticulously installed in a carefully choreographed, two-day operation June 14-15. I thought the Army Corps of Engineers had landed at the DBAP. Instead, it was Precision Turf of Buford GA with a tractor trailer load of sod from Sandhill Turf near Pinehurst. Of course, we get our grass from the Carolina sandhills. Those country club bloodlines are primo.

We’ve never tackled a project like this mid-season, but the year began with 18 Duke baseball games followed by 32 Bulls springtime games. The field had been rode mighty hard…so we hit the reset button for our summer run. We want everything to be perfect for the July 4th holiday.

Meanwhile, you can watch the grass grow on our web cam. Keep an eye on Head Groundskeeper Scott Strickland. Observe his NASCAR inspired mowing technique…and join us next weekend as the Bulls play Lehigh Valley, the Phillies Triple A affiliate.

Photo credit: Ashley Yarber

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Drainage Drama at the DBAP

Now the story can be told…

On or about June 4th we noticed a damp area in our warning track. It was more like a puddle of quick sand. Step in it and your shoes and ankles disappeared. Further investigation revealed a sinkhole. Would it render the field unplayable? Our next home stand - just days away - was set for June 8th.

In my world that’s big drama! A major series was about to begin with Buffalo and Gwinnett. Missing any of those games was not an option. The cone of silence was imposed for the weekend as GM Mike Birling and Head Groundskeeper Scott Strickland pondered the looming crisis and an emergency fix.

The Problem: Heavy rains had saturated the grassy bank behind this concrete wall of signs. The drainage system had failed and an underground aquifer had formed beneath the warning track in center field. (If only Blue Cross could help us!?!)

The Fix: Excavate the area, bore through thick concrete, install drainage, add 20 tons of crushed stone and restore the track as well as the adjacent turf. Nolan Thomas and Company, athletic field contractor, to the rescue! They began at sunrise on June 8th - and remarkably, thankfully - the Bulls played the first game of our home stand that evening at 7:05.

Thanks to Nolan Thomas, Penhall Construction Services and Bovis Lend Lease for savin’ our bacon!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

DBAP - Home to High Achievers

Last week began and ended with kids at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park (...and we managed to play some baseball, too!)

On Monday we hosted 250 honor roll students from Durham's middle schools, Friday night 800 Scouts took over the outfield for a camp out, and the week concluded with the final day of Pepsi Baseball Camp on Saturday.

The Bulls hosted the students and their parents for lunch, and the young scholars got to run the bases as the ceremony concluded. Check out the slide show at the Durham Public Schools web site.

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I wish that I had better pix of the Scouting sleep-over, but I'm grateful for the camera phone shots. After Friday night's game with Buffalo, the DBAP was pretty much converted to a KOA . The outfield was literally covered with tents. (No camp fires or RVs, though.)

There's more to come: Y Guides and Princesses in July; Girl Scouts in Sept. Click here for details. And THANKS to our sponsor:

Also, I'm especially grateful to Bulls' Head Groundskeeper Scott Strickland. What a patient, understanding guy! And I appreciate the extra effort from our staff. They didn't get any sleep at the sleep-over.

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Last but not least, our first installment of Pepsi Baseball Camp was Thursday, Friday and Saturday on the DBAP field. Camp Director Mary Beth Warfford spent her birthday with seventy kids in the Carolina heat and humidity...while the kids spent time with professional baseball players - a unique sports camp! Click here for info on the July and August sessions.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Thursday Night Lights

We're having a great home stand. Winning. BIG crowds...almost 11K Friday night...but let's rewind and savor Jose Lobaton's Thursday night GRAND SLAM.

I read that the term, grand slam, originated with contract bridge, and Denny's has it trademarked for the chain's famous GS breakfast - but this week - I'm claiming it for Jose Lobaton and the Durham Bulls!

Click here for the game story, and enjoy the video posted below...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Recognizin' the Racers

A team of cyclists representing the Bull City and Durham Cares is racing from California to Maryland. The Race Across America begins June 12th in Oceanside CA and ends in Annapolis. This is serious cycling: 24 hours a day for eight days.

You can participate...ride with them in spirit...on a stationary bike at the American Tobacco campus. Check out the Durham Cares website for more info on the race and the local fund raiser.

That's Henry Kaestner of Durham Cares and Bandwidth Inc. We gave the team a send off at the DBAP on Tuesday evening. Click here for the video from WRAL TV5.

...and there's another BIG event - Race for the Cure - this Saturday at Meredith College in Raleigh. News anchor and the leader of TEAM WRAL, Pam Saulsby, was at the ballpark Wednesday evening raising awareness and sponsorship dollars.

TV5's Pam Saulsby on the BIG screen at the DBAP.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Extreme Makeover

The Owner’s Suite at the DBAP has received a facelift. After fifteen seasons it was due for a makeover.

The suite is sort of a gentleman’s man cave. Pool table. Poker table. Even a barber’s chair…complete with barber! Dark paneling, carpet, cabinets. Traditional wood bar stools.

Nowell’s Contemporary Furniture, true to their name, has contemporized the space. New CONTEMPORARY furniture, COLOR, LIGHT. New cabinets, granite countertops and appliances.

It’s the work of Nowell’s designers Michael Perry and Jessica Zentmeyer. And a plug for the worker bees: Apex Cabinet, Bovis Lend Lease and our managers, Rhonda Carlile and Josh Nance.

Their work is getting rave reviews. Wool E. Bull – quite the traditionalist – is pleased, too.

The Wool E. Bull, furniture model, photo shoot: Ashley Yarber

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ethical Eatin' at the DBAP

The Bulls continue to lead the South Division of the International League, and the DBAP has maintained its vegetarian-friendly status with PeTA.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has just released its rankings of ballpark concessions. We’re Number Four among MiLB teams, cited for our:

  • black-bean veggie burger
  • veggie dog
  • bean burrito
  • Carolina veggie burrito (with sweet potatoes and black beans)
  • fruit cup
  • hummus with pita triangles
  • salads

Click here for MLB rankings
Click here for MiLB ranking

I commend our
Centerplate food and beverage chief Tammy Scott. For the 2010 season she has a “healthy choice” option at each concession stand, and Tammy has created a Healthy Fare cart. It features salads, hummus, a fresh fruit parfait…even some gluten free baked goods…plus Redbridge gluten free beer and Peak organic brew.

I recommend one of our humongous bean burritos, sweet potato fries and a Peak. That's mighty good eatin'.

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