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Tag: baseball

When the Most Valuable Player is a dog

hankdog

It’s a wonderful story — what the Milwaukee Brewers did for Hank.

By taking in the stray dog that wandered into their spring training camp in Arizona, and bringing him back with them to Milwaukee, they assured the little bichon frise mix of having food, shelter, medical care and the love of not just a whole team, but hordes of fans.

hankapWhich brings us to part two of the story — what Hank is doing for the Milwaukee Brewers.

As anyone who has rescued a dog knows, you generally get far more out of the deal than you put in.

That’s quickly becoming the case with the Brewers — a team whose fans didn’t have too much to cheer about last season, in terms of wins, attendance, or highly adored superstar players, like the great Hank Aaron, after whom Hank the dog was named.

The summer of 2013 saw the Brewer’s biggest star, Ryan Braun, the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 2011, suspended for most of the season for using performance-enhancing drugs.

hankmerchHank, we’re certain, won’t fall into that trap. And already he has given fans something to feel good about, judging from the turnout at a Hank “meet and greet.” Hundreds lined up to say hello to Hank, or pick up a souvenir from the Brewer’s new line of Hank merchandise.

The Brewers front office is making the most of the fluffy little mutt. As team spokesman Tyler Barnes noted, one couldn’t have dreamed up a more effective publicity stunt.

“I wish I was smart enough to have thought of this as a stunt,” he said at a recent event held to introduce Hank to Brewers fans. Hundreds lined up to meet the dog in the stadium gift shop.

“The Brewers have promised not to exploit Hank, though they didn’t say anything about making a few bucks along the way,” wrote Journal Sentinel sports columnist Jim Stingl. “You know a bobblehead is in his future.”

Some readers of the paper are saying enough with all the Hank coverage:

“Still with these DOG STORIES,” bemoaned one reader. “It’s sad I know more about the happenings of a dog that is a ‘Stray’ then I do of the Brewers and how their Spring Training went. This Dog got more coverage, and still is, then the actual team. And I applaud the Brewers for their great marketing tactic while removing the spotlight from the status of the team and cloud of Braun. Can the Newspaper please report about Baseball and not a dog, millions of dogs everywhere are offended they are not getting the same treatment, and once someone or something is offended things must change.”

We don’t entirely follow the logic toward the end of that reader comment — especially the part about millions of offended dogs. Dogs aren’t spotlight-seekers. That’s just humans.

But the newspaper did, for some reason, feel the need to say, in a blog post, that it might not be reporting on every single thing that happens in Hank’s everyday, non-official, non-Brewer related life:

“That everyday life doesn’t generate stories every day. We’ll have Hank Watch updates when events happen — but there will be days when they don’t,” the post read.

Meanwhile, Hank is living his new everyday life at the home of Marti Wronski, vice president and general counsel for the Brewers, and how often he’ll be making appearances in the stadium is still being figured out.

Wronski said that while ”we’re giving Hank a home … it’s very clear this dog is the fans’ dog.”

hank crowdHank flew to Milwaukee earlier this month on a chartered flight with Brewers executives, and several hundred fans showed up to greet him at the airport, including the mayor of Milwaukee, bearing peanut butter treats, according to the Brewers.

Hank merchandise went on sale last week, including T-shirts, buttons and pennants.

The team is giving a portion of proceeds from those sales to the Wisconsin Humane Society,

(Photos: Hank dozes off during his meet and greet at Miller Park; by Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Hank in Arizona, by Morry Gash / Associated Press; fans line up to meet Hank at Milwaukee’s Miller Park, by Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Puck, yeah: Dog-friendly hockey games

We’ve written a lot about dog-friendly baseball – days (or nights) set aside by Major League and, more often, Minor League teams for fans to bring their dogs to the ballpark.

But dog-friendly hockey matches?

At least three teams have them, including the Charlotte Checkers, an American Hockey League franchise that will be holding its fifth annual Pooch Party this Sunday (March 23) at 1:30 p.m. at the Time Warner Cable Arena.

Tickets for the “Pooch Party” are $15 with $5 going back to Project HALO, a local no-kill animal shelter which focuses on rescuing and adopting stray and abandoned dogs.

The video at the top of this post is from last year’s Pooch Party.

On Sunday, the Checkers will be playing the San Antonio Rampage, another AHL team that holds dog-friendly games. The Rampage claims to hold the dog attendance record — 842 dogs attended their 2012 event, which also featured a “Smooch the Pooch Cam.”

At least one other AHL team, the Milwaukee Admirals has held dog friendly nights.

For the Checkers game, all participants bringing a dog to the game must fill out the Pooch Party liability and registration form. You can print the form out here, complete it and bring it to the Pooch Party entrance, located on Trade Street.

While baseball and dogs strike me as a more natural pairing, I’m all for dogs being allowed into sporting events — even when it’s only once a season, and especially when it’s for a good cause.

My only worry is that, hockey being hockey, the dogs might pick up some bad behavior from watching the humans on the ice.

If so, I would hope their owners take a more proactive role than the referees at this recent semi-pro game did.

The stray that showed up at spring training

hank

A walk-on has joined the Milwaukee Brewers during spring training in Arizona, and there’s a good chance he may go back to Milwaukee with them — as a mascot.

A small stray dog who appears to be a bichon frise, or mix thereof, wandered on to the team’s complex Feb. 17, with an injured tail and other signs he might have been hit by a car.

After team employees took him to a veterinarian for a checkup and a bath, he was brought back to the stadium and has been there almost every day since.

They’ve named him Hank, after baseball great Hank Aaron, who began his career in Milwaukee.

hank3“Yeah, he’s making a pretty big impact, which I’ve got to say is pretty cool,” pitcher Yovani Gallardo told Newsday

Believed to be around 2 years old, Hank was assigned No. 1 for his team jersey, and team reports about him on social media have made a local celebrity.

The team has posted signs in the area reporting the found dog, but no owner has stepped forward yet, and different members of the Brewer’s organization are vying for a chance to adopt him.

Team owner Mark Attanasio said his wife wants to adopt the dog, and some players have voiced a desire to keep him on the roster and have him travel with the team. “We want to do what’s right for the team,” Attanasio said. “I think he’s really an asset.”

Meanwhile, staff members are taking turns housing Hank for the evening.

During the day he watches practice from the stands at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix, or from the dugout, and sometimes he takes to the field.

“Most of the guys here I’m sure we all have dogs back home and not everyone can bring em out because were out were working, pitcher Gallardo told Fox 10 News in Phoenix, “but to have this little guy out here running around with us it’s fun, spring training gets long and this makes us enjoy it a little more.”

(Photos: Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)

A wrestler’s dachshund, a pitcher’s boxer

jeffhardyA professional wrestler’s dachshund has a broken paw, and a major league pitcher is blaming his torn meniscus on his boxer– both injuries apparently the result of some overly enthusiastic play between athlete and dog.

Former WWE Champ Jeff Hardy — that, in case you couldn’t guess, is him to the left — was playing with his dachshund Sophie when she jumped off the back of the couch and landed on the floor.

Hardy and his wife suspected the dog only suffered a sprain.

But after a few days of limping, Sophie was taken to a vet and diagnosed with a cracked bone in her paw, TMZ reported.

sophieShe’s now wearing a splint.

Meanwhile, in the world of real sports, Texas Rangers pitcher Derek Holland had arthroscopic surgery Friday after a run in with his dog.

Holland told ESPN his boxer, Wrigley, bumped him while bounding up the stairs, causing his left knee to hit a step.

The impact tore cartilage in his knee, and he is expected to miss half the season.

“He was running up the stairs and clipped me,” Holland said. “I hit my knee on the step, and if it wasn’t for me grabbing the rail, I might have fallen all the way down the stairs and cracked my head open.”

Decisions, decisions


Dog park or ball park?

Ace and other Winston-Salem area dogs have at least two entertainment options to choose from this Sunday, and unfortunately they overlap.

Tanglewoof,” the long-awaited, much delayed dog park at Tanglewood holds its grand opening Sunday — around the same time that the Winston-Salem Dash has its first “Pups in the Park” baseball game of the season.

What’s a dog to do?

The Tanglewood event kicks off with a blessing of the dogs at 12:45 p.m., followed by an afternoon of presentations on doggie topics ranging from health to agility training.

From 1 to 5 p.m., there will be presentations every 30 minutes, along with vendors offering food and more. Admission is free, but organizers are asking people to bring a donation of food, kitty litter, paper towels or bleach for the Forsyth or Davie humane societies.


The three-acre park, which features small and large dog areas, was built with donations from businesses and private donors. The village of Clemmons pitched in more than $9,000 for plumbing and Forsyth County donated the land in Tanglewood Park. Money was also raised through earlier dog-friendly baseball games held by the Dash.

The minor league team’s first “Pups in Park”  game this season is Sunday at 2 p.m. It’s one of three listed on this year’s schedule. (The other two are June 9 and Aug. 25.)

Pooch passes must be purchased in advance, and written proof of rabies vaccinations are required. (For more information, contact Sarah Baumann at 336-714-6878 or email sarah.baumann@wsdash.com.)

Hurler Buehrle hoped Vick would be hurt

Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle admits he and his wife sometimes rooted for Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick to be injured on the field — as payback for Vick’s mistreatment of dogs.

“He had a great year and a great comeback, but there were times where we watched the game and I know it’s bad to say, but there were times where we hope he gets hurt,” Buehrle told MLB.com. “Everything you’ve done to these dogs, something bad needs to happen to these guys.”

Buehrle’s comments were later removed from the MLB.com article that was published Wednesday, but the author of the article, Scott Merkin, tweeted some of them, according to the Sporting News.

The Buehrles own three dogs and are active in the rescue community.

Of course, Buehrle wasn’t the first person to wish bad things on Vick, who — in addition to teaming up with the Humane Society of the United States to send an anti-dogfighting message — has managed to have mostly good ones come his way since serving 23 months in federal prison for his role in a dogfighting ring.

First there was the Ed Block Hero Award, presented in Baltimore last year. Last week he received the key to the city of Dallas, and this week he was named the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year.

“Even if you are not a dog lover, how can you sit there and make two dogs fight and one is going to die?” Buehrle was quoted as saying. “How could you do that if you are somewhat sane?”

Buehrle’s comments were much tamer than those of political commentator Tucker Carlson, who said in December that Vick should have been executed for his crimes.

Carlson later said he “overspoke.”

That seems to be a common ailment among humans these days.

Skateboarding dog rolls into New York


Tillman, the California bulldog who has been recognized as the world’s fastest skateboarding canine, is visiting New York for Saturday’s “Bark in the Park” — an event where Mets fans can attend a game with their dog.

“He loves New York,” Tillman’s owner, 40-year-old Ron Davis told the Daily News as the bulldog showed off his skills in Tompkins Square Park. “There is a lot of concrete for him to do his thing.”

The four-year-old, 60-pound English bulldog — deemed the fastest skateboarding dog by the Guinness Book of World Records — set the world record in 2009 by rolling 100 meters in 19.6 seconds.

He’s named after the late NFL star and U.S. Army Ranger Pat Tillman.

The fast-rolling bulldog will be among the canines attending the Bark in the Park game at Citi Field, in which the Mets play the Atlanta Braves.

For the event — the successor to “Dog Day at Shea” — the Mets set a limit of 500 dogs, and doggie tickets usually sell out quickly. Human tickets are $40 and doggy tickets are $10.

Profits from the sale of dog tickets and a portion of the human ticket benefit the North Shore Animal League.

Why we like the minor leagues …

Unlike the Minnesota Twins, and all those other Major League teams that don’t generally allow dogs in the ballpark, the Minor League has a little more laid back attitude.

On top of being more likely to have “dog days,” some minor league teams actually help find dogs homes.

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals showcased this seven-month-old beagle mix, named Mona, as an “Iams Adoptable Pet of the Game.” More importantly, when Mona did what comes natural on the field, everyone took it in stride.

Mona went on to find a “forever” home when she was adopted from the Springdale Animal Shelter. Her appearance also led another family who was interested in Mona — but who stood second in line — to adopt two other dogs.

Today’s target: The Minnesota Twins

bullseye

 
Alright, Minnesota Twins. You don’t allow dogs in your new baseball park — named after the Target Corp. So who was that in the box seats behind home plate at your home opener?

Oh, it was Bullseye? The dog Target uses to advertise its chain of discount stores? The one with two red circles painted around her left eye?

That makes it all ok.

NOT!

If dogs are banned, dogs are banned — and it shouldn’t matter how much money her corporate owners have, or even if the stadium is named after the corporation she represents.

If you’re going to allow Target corporate honchos to bring a dog in, you need to allow everyone else as well — and not just those who can afford to buy a $275 box seat behind home plate for their dog. Those in the right field bleachers should be allowed, too.

Bullseye “was there after the [military jet] flyover [and] through the bottom of the first inning,” Chris Iles, a Twins spokesman, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Iles took the opportunity to caution fans against bringing their pets to a game.

“Any type of service animal is allowed, but no other animals,” he said. “That said, given the commitment Target has made to the organization, we made a one-time decision to allow Bullseye, a highly trained and constantly supervised dog, to sit in a seat for a half-inning.”

Baloney.

Lena Michaud, a spokeswoman for Minneapolis-based Target, said Tuesday that Bullseye was in one of Target’s corporate seats merely as “a fun element to commemorate the day. … That was the vein in which it was intended.”

More baloney. (I’d spell it correctly — bologna — but that is not the vein in which it is intended.)

The Twins/Target front offices can spin the situation until the cows come home, but the message has already been received: Rules don’t apply to the very rich, especially those who help pay for your stadium.

On top of rising ticket and concession prices, baseball continues to give blue collar fans, us average mutts, the brush off – becoming ever closer to becoming a game played by the rich for the rich.

How do you think a fan who can no longer to afford to go to a game might have felt sitting at home and seeing a dog in the $275 box seats behind home plate? Sorry, the Twins seem to be saying, we welcome rich people, and their dogs, but you, Joe Sixpack, are just not in our league … And don’t even think of bringing your non-painted dog, that doesn’t have a corporate logo stamped on his eye,  in here.

(Actually, Bullseye’s bullseye is applied by a trainer and makeup artist –  Rose Ordile of Animals of a Different Color — using nontoxic red paint.)

Michaud said there was no commercial shot or marketing strategy surrounding Bullseye’s attendance. The dog sat in a custom-made Twins jersey with her name on the back as well as the number 10 to commemorate the Target Field opening in 2010.

The six-year-old miniature bull terrier’s presence at Monday night’s game was captured via television frame grab off ESPN.

Misdirected wiener injures baseball fan

sluggerrA fan has sued the Kansas City Royals, claiming a hot dog thrown by the team’s mascot, Sluggerrr, struck him in the eye and detached his retina.

According to the lawsuit, filed in Jackson County Circuit Court, John Coomer was attending a night game Sept. 8 at Kauffman Stadium and was sitting about six rows up from the third-base dugout.

During a break in the action, Sluggerrr mounted the dugout and began blasting ’dogs into the stands with an air gun. Then he began throwing food into the stands with his paws, The Kansas City Star reported.

“While doing so, (Sluggerrr) attempted to throw a hot dog into the stands with a throw behind his back,” the lawsuit alleged. “Instead of throwing the hotdog at an arch high into the stands, (Sluggerrr) lost control of his throw, or was reckless with his throw, and threw the hot dog directly into plaintiff, who was sitting a few feet away.”

Coomer says the hot dog struck his left eye and led to a detached retina and cataracts. His medical costs so far exceed $25,000, he says.

(Click here for all of the Wiener Awards.)