Because You Asked: Why no Durham or Bulls ads on national championship game?


My friend and fellow-blogger Barry asked a question the other day at his place that got at the heart of something I was wondering about, too:

Anybody else notice a complete lack of Durham boosterism during the game? I saw commercials for Louisville, Utah, Toledo, Memphis, Albuquerque, Nashville, and Red Rock freakin' Texas during the game, but nothing from DCVB, the Bulls, or the city. What's up with that?

Barry's right. I had the game taped on my DVR, and when I came home Tuesday night and saw that the between-inning airtime was filled with spots for plenty of AAA cities.

Some were taken out by the teams themselves, including at least one IL team inviting fans to an after-season dinner at the ballpark (in a spot that looked like it was filmed for public access TV circa 1996.) Slicker ads appeared from convention and visitors' bureaus, telling you how great their markets were as places to vacation and relax.

Most embarrassing -- the fact that Durham opponent Memphis had what seemed to be a half-dozen ads, to squat for the Bulls.

What's up with that?

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Bulls win IL championship, move to AAA National Championship Game in OKC on Tuesday

Ballgame over! Bulls win! Tha-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a ... BULLS ... win!

That's how the New York Yankees' radio announcer John Sterling might have called it -- except, of course, since the Bulls beat the Yankees' Pennsylvania cousins, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, we're not sure that he'd be so likely to say that.

Yes, the Bulls won the International League championship last night; the Governor's Cup returns to the hands of the Bulls, marking their third championship in eight years.

Continue reading "Bulls win IL championship, move to AAA National Championship Game in OKC on Tuesday" »

For a baseball fan, Bulls playoff games are addition by subtraction

My good friend, fellow blogger and weekly radio show foil Barry likes to grouse sometimes about the-way-things-were around Durham. One of his favorite subjects: they just don't make baseball games the way they used to.

"When I first started going to Bulls games at the old DAP," he told me over beers and dogs at a game earlier this summer, "the fans really cared about baseball games."

The die-hard Mets fan expressed his regret at seeing fan interactions become scripted events, a set of Pavlovian responses to flashing scoreboard instructions -- and an event that, for many, becomes a series of faux-sumo matches and bean-toss competitions interrupted by some hardball every now and then.

Of course, it's been hard for someone like me who was -- until recently -- a pretty low-key baseball fan to not to love the Bulls just the way they are. The minor leagues are all about a fan-friendly and family-friendly atmosphere, a place where kids and parents and friends all reconnect on a nice warm day in sunny North Carolina.

To a deep baseball fan like my pal Barry, it's all so much icing on top of the baseball cake. And he's been afraid that the baseball experience has gotten buried inside a veritable Blue Monster of cheesy cream cheese frosting.

One thing got stuck in Barry's craw in particular. "You know," he told me during one pitcher change, "this really shows you what I'm talking about."

"When there was a pitching change for the visiting team in the old DAP, the home crowd would make this WHOOOP-whooo noise while the new pitcher warmed up," he complained into his beer. "We were known for it."

Well, I had a chance to get to last night's 4-1 victory over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. (A match that ran late enough into the night as to explain the paucity of stories 'round here today.)

Just as I predicted in yesterday's story, and as augmented by some commenters, the players on both sides were a bit more of a rag-tag collection of AA-level players and vets, those not quite beloved enough by their bosses in the Bronx or St. Pete to have earned a one-month all-you-can-eat at the Big Show.

And the crowd was small -- I haven't heard any announced numbers yet, but it couldn't have numbered over 3,000. No big corporate-sales groups; relatively few kids; no lines at the playpen.

It was probably one of the best baseball games I've ever been to.

Continue reading "For a baseball fan, Bulls playoff games are addition by subtraction" »

Bulls start Finals tonight against Scranton/WB; fans get first dibs on 2010's Rays, DAP games

OK, sure, Minor League Baseball playoffs can be a veritable bizarro-world version of the bigs, a space in which AAA-level teams start with their best players many springs and find their rosters picked over like a buffet line by the time the playoffs roll around.

Yes, the Bulls have been raided of many of their best players -- as has the roster of their opponents, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) Yankees, and players know that a five-game series is the last thing standing between them and time with their families, and perhaps a trip to winter leagues in the Caribbean or a stint in Asia.

Bulls_finals But still, hey, this time around it really is your last chance to see the Bulls this year. Tonight and Wednesday will wrap up the Bulls' home season at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, with games three through five (if necessary) moving along to Pennsylvania.

And the Bulls are making it worth folks' while, with an email blast from the team on Monday promising that fans attending playoff games will receive "priority seating opportunities" at the two biggest gets of the 2010 Bulls season:

  • Early April's exhibition game between the Durham Bulls and a ragtag group largely composed of Bulls alums known as, oh, the Tampa Bay Rays professional ball club; and,
  • May's "Return to the DAP" game against the Toledo Mud Hens, the first chance the Bulls have had to return to the historic Durham Athletic Park since they departed for the DBAP back in the 1990s.

We've asked the Bulls for more info on how this priority-access thing will work and will provide updates when we know more.

So come on out. For the beer, the funnel cakes, the same old between-inning antics.

Oh, yeah, there's a championship on the line, too.

Your best preview of the series: Adam Sobsey's always-reliable coverage over at the Indy.

Bulls kick off playoffs tonight at home against Louisville Bats

The Herald-Sun takes a nice look this morning at the unusual economics of playoff games in minor league baseball.

In most sports, those are the golden tickets, the prized possessions. Yet in MiLB, so many tickets are allocated to season ticker or mini-plan buyers, or to corporate and group programs -- none of which can factor in ephemeral odds of possible playoff games.

Which means that attendance is low -- currently on track for just 1,500 souls or so watching the kickoff of this year's International League playoffs at the DBAP tonight.

In fact, as noted by the H-S' Neal Offen (who's of late been bringing the best local color and interest to the paper's pages), IL playoff games used to actually make teams less profitable than they would have been if they were done at the regular season's end, what with the cost of chartering flights and all that.

So, what's your excuse? Come on out to the DBAP tonight and catch a Bulls game, would ya?

Tonight's game starts at 7:05pm. The winner of this series will face the winner of the Gwinnett Braves-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees contest in the Governor's Cup.

Downtown creatives break out mallets, balls for First Annual Downtown Croquet tourney

Okbracket3 It was kinda surreal, walking around downtown at lunch today on an errand, only to find a group of perhaps twenty out and about on the grassy site that once held the Woolworth drugstore downtown -- playing croquet along the green wall at the east end of the site.

One of those funky Durham moments you see and kinda wonder, huh, I wonder what that's about?

Turns out it's no accident. It is, in fact, the First Annual Downtown Croquet Tournament, a brainchild it seems of downtown's Flywheel Design studio and well-documented on their blog OK Great. Sez the folks at Flywheel:

The tournament, crafted to encourage creative companies within the downtown area to get out of the office and meet other local creatives, began on Monday and will end Friday with playoff games and a trophy ceremony for the winning team.  Teams of four from Flywheel Design, Fullsteam, Baldwin&, the Durham Performing Arts Center, IAVO Research and Scientific, Original Projects and Ignite Social Media are competing in the tournament.

So far, Fullsteam Brewery has moved on to the second round, along with IAVO R&S (by forfeit against Ogilvy Durham) and the (ringers?) at Flywheel Design.

Check out some of the competition to date. And take note, croquet watchers: Friday's grand finale is apparently moving to the lawn outside the DPAC. The winners should totally get to dance on the Plensa flashlight.


South Durham Little League team vies for state championship

Although we usually tend to set our Bull City baseball sites on the DBAP -- where I was lucky to get to see a come-from-behind win by the Bulls over rival Norfolk last night -- the biggest baseball news this week may just be happening closer to I-40 than I-85.

The reason? Because a South Durham Little League team has made it to the state championship round, an 8-team tournament whose victor will be on the road to Williamsport, Pa. and the Little League World Series next month.


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Because You Asked: What's up with plans for a South Durham YMCA?

Bcr_mailbox BCR reader Evan wrote in a couple of weeks ago to ask this question for our Because You Asked series:

What are the current plans (if any) for a YMCA in SouthWest Durham?  I had heard a while back that they may be planning a Y in SW Durham when they were closing the Lakewood Y but now that it is staying open are there still plans for another Y in SW??

Good question, Evan. And in fact, during the discussions on the Lakewood Y's fate back in 2007, the Durham YMCA Board of Advisors noted their intention to look for a near-term South Durham location for a Y in addition to maintaining the Lakewood facility.

In December 2007, the plans were to look for a small-sized space, likely in a leased storefront location, in anticipation of building a full-service (70,000 sq. ft. or so) Y in South Durham sometime in the future; or as the Y put it at the time, to "position the YMCA for significant expansion in that area."

We're midway through '09; is a South Durham Y on the way for winter? According to Bryan Huffman, executive director of Durham's YMCA branches, the economy among other factors has pushed that date back to an indefinite one.

"It's not directly moving forward with a quick timeline," Huffman told BCR in an interview on Wednesday.

Continue reading "Because You Asked: What's up with plans for a South Durham YMCA?" »

Because You Asked: Why do the DBAP lights stay on all night?

Bcr_mailbag This is the first in what will hopefully become a regular feature at Bull City Rising: "Because You Asked," in which we'll attempt to get to the bottom of a question you've had about life around Durham.

BCR reader Jon wrote in a while back with the following very good question that, truth be told, I don't think he was the only one asking:

I'm wondering if you know what's up with the lights being on all night long at the DBAP. I often am working late and drive by the park at 3 or 4 am. The lights are almost always on. This bugs me--isn't it a huge waste of energy??

Good question, Jon. We too have seen the lights on very late at night, well after pitchers and catchers reported their last strikes, after batters have celebrated their homers (or cried over their double plays grounded into) with a beer and gone to bed, after Adam Sobsey has completed his last magnum opus on the previous night's Bulls game.

So what's up with that? Bulls PR guy Matt DeMargel has the short and sweet answer:

The lights are left on for the cleaning crew. They work overnight to get the stadium ready for the next day’s game.

You know, this actually probably explains why I've heard music coming from the park in the early morning hours, too. Who wants to clean up a ballpark late at night without some tunes?

And dear readers, think twice before the next time you leave that funnel cake plate or Wool E. Bull souvenir cup at your seat. Your action = longer to clean the park = longer use of lighting = more energy use = a baby seal dying, somewhere.

Have a Bull City question you've been itching to know the answer to? Write us at  --Ed.

Meet Frank Stasio (and where's BCR)

Posting's a bit lower than usual right now because yours truly is fighting off a lovely summer cold and am doing my best to juggle work responsibilities outside of sleeping.

Which unfortunately also means that I won't be able to attend a Durham Bulls game tonight in one of the DBAP's skybox suites, with The State of Things host Frank Stasio -- our household's thank-you gift for donating a certain amount to WUNC.

If you're a regular BCR reader and/or commenter -- first email to me at gets two tickets. Note that there's a chance of rain, and if this thing gets rescheduled, I'm totally doing a bad-giver's take back on ya.

Sorry -- taken.

Back with more posting soon.