Chiefs Take Field Against The Odds
by Jeff Kramer - Wednesday, April 9th, 2014
We’re lucky to have the Chiefs, especially this time of year. Where else can you buy a beer that gets colder with each sip?

Twitter attacks. Snow and ice cleared from the field by prisoners. Another loss. Our reward for surviving the cruelest of winters has finally arrived. It’s baseball season again in Syracuse.

Maybe, just maybe, this year will be different. A strange new feeling of hope prevailed on Opening Day last week in the Crater by the Ley Creek Transfer Station. It was evident from the start when I sauntered into the souvenir shop and noted an absence of Resentment Beams radiating from behind the counter.

“Are any of you related to the Simones,” I inquired of the pleasant young women staffing the shop.

“No!” they answered brightly.

“Then I’m buying a Chiefs hat!” I said.

We laughed and laughed.

There’s some history there. Years ago I attended a lecture given by Chief’s then-General Manager John Simone at the Whitman School of Management. In a column that followed I hinted at the irony of a Chief’s exec addressing impressionable college students on the subject of marketing and promotion. I mean, let’s face it: The Simones couldn’t market medicated pads to a roomful of hemorrhoid sufferers.

After that I always felt a chill every time I entered the gift shop. God, how those people can hold a grudge, which we were reminded of last week when The Family unleashed a classy Twitter attack on the new ownership. Tweeted Simone’s sister Wendy Shoen: “To the back stabbers who helped get the NEW group to the top, you must be so proud of yourselves! Have a day that you are deserving of.”

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Still heeding the orders of their old boss, the team lost 4-1. That means fans can use their ticket for free entry to another Chiefs game in April or May. Who says April is the cruelest month? Now it’s May too.

Just joking. We’re lucky to have the Chiefs, especially this time of year. Where else can you buy a beer that gets colder with each sip?
Sometimes the best action on the field has nothing to do with the players, as was the case on Opening Day when the Chiefs double-downed on their mascots. In addition to stalwart Pops — the creepy old train conductor who looks like the stuff Amber Alerts are made of — and the iconic Scooch, management brought in two temp workers for the first weekend: Reggy the Purple Party Dude to work with Mango the Monkey. Things got very interesting in the latter (read: boring) innings when Reggy used (or appeared to use) a giant hand pump to inflate Mango. With Mango sprawled face face-down on the third-base line, Reggy, who is vaguely rooster–like, pumped vigorously from behind, prompting Mango to swell with what I dearly hope was only air. “That looks like an unnatural act,” I said to my seat-mate, Onondaga County Judge Joseph Fahey. Judge Fahey offered no rebuttal. Sources say he has taken the matter under advisement.

Mascot Chief

Anyway, after the game Scooch and Pops stopped by Suite 304 where Mayor Stephanie Miner’s husband, Jack Mannion, was winding up his annual Opening Day bash. I took the opportunity to thank them for their service. Scooch and Pops, not Jack and Stephanie. Having appeared in costume myself a time or two, I know that such work often doesn’t get the respect it deserves. People forget there’s an actual human being inside those costumes. True, it’s probably a damaged, low-functioning human being, possibly with a criminal record and issues with drugs and alcohol. But  human being nonetheless. Both Scooch and Pops thanked me by nodding eerily and shaking my hand. Then I asked what the hell was going on with Reggy and Mango earlier on the field. Again the two didn’t speak, but Pops made the universal gesture for copulation with his giant blue mitts.

Contact Brandon Massey at Brandon@syracusechiefs.com to plan your child’s birthday party at the ballpark. A mascot visit is included.

Logo Logorrhea

As I noted somewhere on this page, I proudly purchased a new Chief’s hat on Opening Day. Alas, the logo hasn’t changed with the new ownership, but it should. The steaming train bursting out of a “C” for Chief’s makes sense conceptually but it has never popped visually.  For now I am so elated about the changeover in management that I’m willing to walk around in a hat that looks like one of my Chihuahuas threw up on it. But derailing the logo for something sharper should be a top priority. In the event CNN asks me to brainlessly speculate about what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, I wanna look good.

Crack Management

Jeff Kramer. CHIEFS - Opening Day 2014

Columnist Jeff Kramer models the latest in cycling attire. (Michael Davis Photo | Syracuse New Times)

People think I’m odd for, among other things, riding my bike all over town in almost  any weather. But it works for me. It especially works for me at Chief’s games. I avoid the annoyance of paying $5 to park in a lot that is usually empty. At those rare games that do draw big crowds I zip in and out of the stadium almost effortlessly, avoiding the traffic that made County Exec Joanie Mahoney late to Opening Day.  But there are risks as I increase my, um, exposure to motorists. For that reason I have started wearing Chums brand athletic suspenders during my bike commutes. They do a fine job of keeping my cycling pants right where they belong and sparing the innocent people of Syracuse unwanted views of what geologists refer to as The Great Onondaga Rift.  Remember, when you’re feeling a little low, your best friends are Chums.

Ever hear of Ping Bodie?

Neither had I until he was mentioned in a Baltimore Oriole’s broadcast I watched the other night. Ping, a former New York Yankee, challenged Percy The Ostrich to a spaghetti eating contest on April 3, 1919. Ping won. The ostrich not only lost, it died after it could not answer the bell for a 12th bowl of pasta. If you have an idea for a publicity stunt that I should do at a Chiefs game that does not involve the death of a giant bird or mammal, contact the Rosamond Gifford Zoo.

Stuff for the Rail

“It beats work.” — Mayor Stephanie Miner at Opening Day after being asked if she finds baseball boring.

Baseball Trivia Question:

Who is the only player to score more than 2,500 times in his career?

Answer:  Bill Clinton

Number of performance enhancing drugs needed to write this column:

9

Helpful Vegetable Prep Tip

WTF happened to lima beans?