Recent news items
A) Two children were injured in a scramble to grab cash being dropped from a helicopter as part of a promotion after a West Michigan Whitecaps minor league baseball game.
B) The minor league St. Paul Saints plan to give away miniature Minnetonka Queen boats for the 30th anniversary of the "Love Boat," a promotion the team says "may remind fans of another well-known Twin Cities area vessel that has been in the news."
Here at Page 2, we love wacky, tasteless minor league baseball promotions. Honest. We can't get enough of them. In fact, we only have one quibble.
They're getting a bit tame.
Helicopter money drops? Why not drop bags of flaming money? "Love Boat" giveaways? How about live (and consensual, of course) sex shows on the ballpark concourse?
Really, to stand out in an increasingly crowded sports marketplace -- arena football has a minor league, for cryin' out loud -- a pack-the-stands concept can't be merely clever. It needs to be truly offensive.
With that in mind, we've come up with some surefire, guaranteed-to-tick-someone-off promotions. Our sincerest wish? That some forward-thinking, 21st-century franchise will make Umpire Colonoscopy Night a reality.
In the immortal words of West Michigan spokesperson Katie Kroft, "It's all fun and games. This is why we have everybody sign a waiver."
Umpire Colonoscopy Night
Promotion: Ball? That's a strike! Strike? Are you serious? Everyone knows that umps are blind -- but do they really have their heads lodged somewhere in their lower GI tracts? Find out on Umpire Colonoscopy Night! One lucky official will be given a full medical exam, broadcast live on the stadium JumboTron.
Why it will work: Local hospital sponsorship is a no-brainer. Also, it worked for the "Today" show.
Likely to offend: Anyone eating at the ballpark; anyone drinking at the ballpark; anyone with functioning eyes.
Probable complications: Forget cancerous tumors. From thumbtacks to Twinkie wrappers to tattered remains of the crummy deal umps had to swallow after Richie Phillips' ouster, who knows what doctors are gonna find in there?
Michael Jordan Demolition Night
Promotion: In a nod to the Chicago White Sox's now-legendary Disco Demolition Night -- a fitting denouement to pop music's darkest hour -- fans are invited to bring their Michael Jordan minor league baseball jerseys to the ballpark. During the seventh-inning stretch, jerseys will be dumped in the outfield, strapped to dynamite and blown to smithereens.
Why it will work: Other regrettable sports and pop-culture purchases are also welcome, including Michael Jordan Washington Wizards jerseys, Emmitt Smith Arizona Cardinals jerseys, Brian Bosworth's autobiography, anything related to Ryan Leaf, Mitch Albom's "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" and copies of Hootie & the Blowfish's "Cracked Rear View."
Likely to offend: Jordan; Smith; Tiger Woods, who had Hootie and Co. perform at his wedding, even though 1995 is a long time ago.
Probable complications: The original Disco Demolition Night ended in a riot without making fun of uberpopular Albom; "Cracked Rear View" sold more than 12 million copies -- can buying that much dynamite possibly be legal?
Dick Cheney Dunk Tank Night
Promotion: The vice president mans a dunk tank outside the ballpark. Fans of all ages are allowed to wind up and let 'er fly -- and if they're inaccurate enough to hit nearby Harry Whittington, Cheney gets wet!
(Note: Hitting targets labeled LAST THROES, RECONSTITUTED NUCLEAR WEAPONS, GREETED AS LIBERATORS and IRAQ: GEOGRAPHIC BASE OF 9/11 TERRORISTS also will land Cheney in the water).
Why it will work: Dunk tanks prohibited by the Geneva Convention? So what? Cheney won't mind. Besides, the veep's approval ratings are slightly higher than Bruce Chen's ERA, which means congressional Republicans facing midterm elections will be first in line.
Likely to offend: Cheney's cardiologist; Hannity (or is it Colmes?); oil executives because it's one less day to hold secret meetings about American energy policy.
Probable complications: Cheney has Scooter Libby sit in for him; attending fans rounded up, and they disappear to quasi-legal overseas detention facilities.
L. Ron Hubbard Bobblehead Night
Promotion: First 5,000 fans get a free doll depicting Scientology's revered, umm, prophet. Look at that head wobble! It's almost as if the little guy's counting money. Or something.
Why it will work: Hubbard once likened his self-created, er, religion to man's "discovery of fire," also dubbing it "superior to his inventions of the wheel and arch." What better tribute than a cheap-o minor league baseball giveaway?
Likely to offend: Tom Cruise; Issac Hayes; anyone who suffered through "Battlefield Earth."
Probable complications: Church of Scientology lawsuits out the wazoo; Comedy Central refuses to re-air inevitable "South Park" parody; followers of Sun Myung Moon demand their own bobblehead night.
Moises Alou Manicure Night
Promotion: Offer dollar drafts and free soda. Lock all ballpark bathrooms. Between innings, fans are invited to visit the dugouts and empty their bladders on batters' hands -- the better to, um, toughen the skin.
Why it will work: Urine is sterile; the way things are going for Barry Bonds, it's only a matter of time before someone tries to whiz on him, anyway.
Likely to offend: OSHA, county health inspectors. Those guys nitpick everything.
Probable complications: Steroid test urine collection is sure to be disrupted; the NEA could mistake it for a Mapplethorpe exhibit and grant funds; the women's line would still be twice as long as the men's.
Britney Spears Bring Your Child to the Ballpark Night
Promotion: All children under the age of 5 get in free! Better still, they get to sit behind home plate, where the foul-ball safety netting will be removed to allow an unobstructed view of the action.
Why it will work: There's nothing like baseball to make a kid go wide-eyed especially when said baseball is about to strike a kid between those widened eyes.
Likely to offend: Child Protective Services. Screw 'em. Since when do safety-minded weenies get to decide who should be sitting behind the wheel of an SUV?
Probable complications: J.T. Snow not on hand to scoop every child out of harm's way; game called off when pitchers on both teams refuse to take mound to "PopoZao" entrance music; could help jump-start Spears' flagging musical career, which means another nails-on-chalkboard cover along the lines of "My Prerogative" and "Satisfaction." Our doomsday scenario? The Britster butchers "Hey Jude." Move over, William Shatner's "Transformed Man"!
Mission Accomplished Night
Promotion: As soon as the home team takes a lead, stop the game. Have the home manager don a flight suit, declare victory, mug for the cameras and thank fans for their support. Send the entire home team to showers except a pitcher and a catcher. Continue with the game.
Why it will work: If you have to ask, you're clearly helping the enemy. Tell us, how does it feel to hate freedom?
Likely to offend: Bitter, fuddy-duddy, know-nothing retired generals who insist you need a full team to play effective defense; the cast of "Top Gun," who at least knew they were playacting when they put on flight suits.
Probable complications: Local TV stations might not accept planted stories proclaiming the promotion a smashing success. Well, unless they're owned by the Sinclair Group.
Just Another Night
Promotion: Nothing. No free stuff, no wacky contests, no zany theme. Just the crack of the bat, the smell of Cracker Jacks, the sounds of spit tobacco and blah blah blah.
Why it will work: This field, this game -- it's a part of our past. It reminds of us of all that once was good and could be again. Oh, people will come. People will most definitely ZZZZZZZZ.
Likely to offend: Everyone. A minor league baseball game without an attention-grabbing promotion? What's next? Anna Benson modeling burqas?
Possible violations: May violate the Constitution.
Patrick Hruby is a columnist for Page 2. Sound off to Page 2 here.