FTN’s Guide to the Offseason
Now that both the 2011 Great Lakes Loons and MLB seasons have come to an end, we all have a lot of time to kill before Opening Day 2012. To help you get through the lack of baseball this winter, Loons blog From the Nest is excited to equip you with 25 ways to keep your offseason more baseball-focused.
1. Clean and Box Your Cleats – The end of a long baseball season is usually met with a little house-keeping, and you’ll want to make sure that you shine those shoes of yours so that they don’t rust over the long Michigan winter. After cleaning, box them up for extra protection. With the right kind of care, those doubles you hit last year may become triples by next summer.
2. Mark Your Calendar for Opening Day – Turn the calendar to April 2012 and bust out a big red magic marker, because it’s time to make a hard circle around Monday, April 9, which marks the first Great Lakes Loons home game of the 2012 season. For the full Loons schedule, click here.
3. Rent Baseball Movies – If you can’t be outside playing baseball, you can at least be dreaming you are. Hunker down on a sofa this winter and live vicariously through Kevin Costner or Charlie Sheen by re-watching some of the classics.
4. Go Find a Real Loon – The loon, or Gavia Immer, is a water-dwelling bird that is often spotted by boaters. See if you can track one down and take a photo of the creature for us.
5. Predict the 2012 Loons Roster – This task isn’t as tough as it may seem. The 2012 Loons team will be a combination of the 2011 Ogden Raptors team, accessible here with stats, a few Dodgers draftees making their professional debut, and about seven guys from the 2011 Loons team. Mix it together, call it your own, and then check back on Opening Day. Eventually From the Nest will make our predictions, but that will likely be in March or so.
6. Attend an Offseason Event at Dow Diamond – Though the Loons will be in Arizona this winter, their summer home will be hosting several events throughout the offseason. The ballpark already hosted the Great Lakes Bay Brew Fest (10/1), but many more fun events are coming up. The ACS Sci-Fest is right around the corner (11/5), while events likely to be announced later will be the Boat and Golf Expos in spring, as well as amateur baseball prior to the Loons season. Another option would be to donate blood at Michigan Blood’s donation center here at the park (open T, Th, F from 9am-4pm). If you can’t make any of those, create your own Dow Diamond event by contacting Dave Gomola at 837-6146. Accommodations can be made for weddings, receptions, lunches, conferences, business meetings and more!
7. Destroy a Baseball – There are many layers to a baseball, and tearing it down to its smallest part might just surprise you. I’m not promising a tootsie roll at the center, but it’s still kind of cool. Kids should seek adult supervision when using tools of palm-sized destruction.
8. Spend Some Time on YouTube – Did you know highlight videos of the Great Lakes Loons home games are available on our YouTube channel? Kill some late night’s by reminiscing about the days of summer at Dow Diamond. A few favorite videos have to be ‘The Sleepover’, ‘The Funky Feather’ and of course ‘Rall E Camel’.
9. Learn ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’ on Piano – You already know the words, take your love for baseball’s timeless ditty to the next level by learning it on the ivory. Or any instrument for that matter.
10. Pick up some Loons Winter Wear – It’s going to get cold this offseason, we all know that. But just being mentally prepared isn’t going to keep you warm in February. The Loon Loft at Dow Diamond has an assortment of Loons jackets ready to keep you warm for winter while sporting your favorite team’s logo. The store will reopen for your winter needs on November 28th. Until then, shop the Loon Loft online.
11. MLB the Show – Play franchise mode with the Los Angeles Dodgers on MLB the Show and try to win the World Series with all of your favorite former Loons: Clayton Kershaw, Dee Gordon, Jerry Sands, Rubby de la Rosa and more. You can even expedite the call-up process for Loons players you’re ready to see in the show.
12. Meet up in Big D – Where can you see Peter Gammons and Buster Olney share the same hotel as Breakin’ BBoy McCoy and Reggy the Purple Party Dude? Or where can you get loads of free promotional team swag, but even more resumes? The answer: Baseball’s Winter Meetings, which takes place this year from December 5-8 in Dallas. A few of the Loons staff members will be making the trip to scout out new promotions and entertainment for next season as well as meet some of the several young professionals looking to break into the business. Come join us in Dallas and, if you would like, stay late for MLB’s Rule 5 Draft.
13. Buy a pack of Big League Chew – Hasn’t it been awhile?
14. Organize a Wiffle Ball Game – Before it’s too cold, celebrate the ol’ ball game by gathering a handful of friends for a quick game of wiffle ball. For the more committed, play a best of seven series, but make it more interesting by playing in seven different locations. Sure you can play on a nearby sandlot, but sometimes large auditoriums work just as well. Or parking lots. Get creative and swing away!
15. Apply for an MBF Grant - If you are a part of a non-profit organization based in the Great Lakes Bay Region that serves young people and/or promotes amateur sports, consider applying for a Michigan Baseball Foundation grant. MBF, a 501(c)3 non-profit charity that owns and operates Dow Diamond, has awarded a total of $405,698 in grants over four years to deserving non-profits. MBF will begin taking grant applications on November 15. Application forms will be accessible on Loons.com come November. Call Patti Tuma at 989-837-BALL for more information about MBF.
16. Bake Baseball Cookies – That’s right! Play catch with your mouth after using Chef Erik’s baseball cookie recipe: In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Whisk together dry ingredients in a separate bowl, and add a little at a time to butter mixture. Mix until flour is completely incorporated and dough comes together, then cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours. Once you can’t wait any longer for cookies, preheat your oven to 350°F. Roll to desired thickness and use a circle cookie-cutter. Bake on ungreased baking sheet for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove. When the cookies are cool and ready for icing, use an old butter container or similar round object to outline the arc for the seam of a baseball. If you want, get creative with your icing decisions and use different colors for the seams, though I’d also make a few with red seams for grandpa. And then there you have it! “They’re little baseballs!”
17: Condition Your Voice to say ‘Loooooooooons’ like Jerry – Loons Public Address Announcer Jerry O’Donnell trains all offseason long, voicing radio spots and drinking warm tea, to keep his voice in tip-top shape for the Loons season. How else can one man say ‘Looooooooooooooooooooooons’ so well? Try it for yourself at home, but remember to breathe.
18. Scour your Baseball Card Collection for Loons Coaches - Half the battle will be locating these relics amongst all the other cardboard boxes that insulate your garage, but once you locate your stash, thumb through your sets for gems like Danny Darwin, Chuck Crim, Lenny Harris and Lance Parrish.
19. Catch the Loons in Training - Baseball stops at Dow Diamond in the offseason, but the Dodgers keep our Loons busy with the game in Arizona during the winter months. Take a trip to Camelback Ranch in the fall to watch future and former Loons participate in the instructional league or travel out during the spring for baseball’s Spring Training. Fly MBS!
20. Write Lou E. Loon a Letter! – Lou loves fan mail, especially carefully drawn portraits of everybody’s favorite bird using forest green and ruby red crayons. Mail to Dow Diamond .
21. Try out to be an Anthem Singer – If you know the words to the National Anthem and have the voice of a songbird, then do we have a spot for you! Each year, the Loons host talent try-outs to become a pregame national anthem singer. The tryouts, usually billed as ‘Mid-Michigan’s Got Talent’ will take place in February. Interested readers should keep checking Loons.com for details.
22. Find the ‘Who’s On First’ Cache – Located at N 43° 36.524 W 084° 14.090. That’s all I can say.
23. Attend a High School Baseball Game – Either as parents or alumni, football and basketball receive the majority of our high school sports viewing, but it doesn’t have to be that way. How about organizing an all-school assembly that features a pep rally for the baseball team? Perhaps one day. For now though, start small, take a spring afternoon off and go support your local high school baseball team.
24. Report Your Progress – If you complete any of these easy baseball-related to-dos, please be a #SocialLoon and let us know about it on Facebook (Great Lakes Loons) or twitter @greatlakesloons. Seriously, I want photos of destroyed baseballs, real-life loons, baseball cards and more! Send. Send. Send. Which reader can be the first to complete them all?
25. Unbox Your Cleats – When you get to this item, the winter will be over and baseball will be here! Enjoy your clean cleats and the summer ahead! And as always, Dive In!