By Steve Samek
On Friday May 19,2017, I went to a galaxy far far away. Well or at least a ball park near me for Star Wars Night at the Altoona Curve. The game turned into a mini prospect scouting trip after the main objective for the evening was met. This report will chronical my prospects and promotional thoughts all in one.
The main objective for the night was to snag one of the night’s giveaway items. This came in the form of much loved fish mascot Al Tuna with a light saber as a bobble head. The top 1,000 entrants would receive this prize. While it may not make for fun reading, thanks to lining up at 4:30 p.m. for a 5:00 p.m. gate time, I was able to add this collectable to my collection. Note was only offered to sell this item once and turned it down. I would say most fans got the item, as the crowd was sparse that day.
Surprisingly that crowd didn’t head for the exits after the seven run first inning the Erie Sea wolves put up. Curve starter Alex McRae, who I saw in an earlier game was rocked and looked the opposite of that earlier game. Try to the tune of just 1/3 of an inning pitched giving up six runs and two home runs, including a grand slam. McRae is would be my pick for a sleeper prospect as he sits outside of the top 30 Pirates prospects, but has pitched consistently well.
Jared Lakind pitched 3.2 innings only allowing a singular run on a singular hit while striking out six. He looked good in his long relief. Montana Durapau looked super as well. The 2016 Altoona fireman of the year lived up to the award with two scoreless innings of 1 hit ball with two stakeouts. Look for this guy to make a run at Pittsburgh, despite also being outside of the top 30 prospects.
Former top 30 prospect Luis Heredia did not impress. In 2/3 of an inning Heredia barley kept the lead intact, from a mess inherited from Buddy Borden. Borden was also lacking his best stuff on the day.
Kevin Kramer impressed me with the bat. The number 17 ranked prospect in the Pirates system went 3-4 with a home run and scored three times. http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2017?list=pit. He was a major player in the Curves 11-10 win over Erie. https://www.milb.com/gameday/seawolves-vs-curve/2017/05/19/497495?#game_state=final,game_tab=box,game=497495.
Now to review the festivities. I think the Star Wars theme was a bit underdone. There were several costume characters around the park for pictures, score board graphics and walk up music themed to Star Wars. Though it felt weird that the Curve didn’t have a theme jersey on. I also felt that as cool as the bobble head was, the choice of robe makes it look like Harry Potter. If it didn’t say revenge of the fish on it and have a red colored saber it could be confused for another pop culture icon. It also seemed like the music was the same theme over and over and not a ton of varity. Though points added for playing the Saga Begins by Weird Al during the eight inning.
The promotional video work also gets an A grade. Loved the Loco vs. Al Tuna using the force hitting and pitching. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3S0Czrkw8l8.
I just think they could have done a better job emerging fans in the theme. Maybe have special themed contests, or have the costume characters participate in the games. Maybe add more video clips from the movie on the score board if doable. Overall I think I give the promotion a B-.