Author Archives: kramskorner

About kramskorner

Columnist and PodCast Host for the Award Winning Horn and Bell Blog from the NoiseNation. Follow @Kram209 for news about the IronPigs, Phantoms, and SteelHawks. Also news about the Velodrome and RollerGirls.

A Whole New Team

Well, not really.  But, maybe…maybe the IronPigs could use some fresh blood…

Enright -- Photo Cheryl Pursell

Enright — Photo Cheryl Pursell

ICYMI, our friend from the 209–Barry Enright–was released by the Phillies organization yesterday.  This came following a poor outing Thursday night where he yielded some very hard hit balls.  He’s had a couple of those outings this year–as well as some very good ones.  As I said in a preview when he was signed this past winter, Barry is a fly-ball pitcher who needs to live on the corners and trust his “stuff.”  However, lately he’s gotten too much of the plate several times, and maybe didn’t have his best stuff, and a very good hitting Syracuse team is going to make any pitcher pay for those mistakes (just ask Sean O’Sullivan after last night, huh?).  The Phillies organization thought that it might be better for Barry to hook on somewhere else if he wasn’t going to get a look with the big team this season.  Don’t forget, Barry had a couple really nice outings, too, not to mention a couple that were squandered by the bull pen.  And, he can handle a bat.  Section 209 at Coca Cola Park is a long way from area code 209, but we kind of adopted him as our own up there, and we wish him well.

Clete Thomas  Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Clete Thomas
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Today brings a couple more moves:

OF Clete Thomas and INF Freddy Galvis return from the DL, where each had been mending from broken bones suffered on the left-half of Coca Cola Park.  Thomas from ribs he broke diving into the left field wall (and he batted after…) and Galvis from a broken clavicle suffered after tripping on Maikel Franco trying to get a foul ball behind third base.

Freddy, from Spring Training.  Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Freddy, from Spring Training. Photo: Cheryl Pursell

To make room on the roster, INF Edgar Duran and RP Tyler Knigge were sent to Reading.  Duran played reasonably well, but was a liability at the plate sporting .171.  Knigge had been pitching lights-out at one point–he rose to the brink of my confidence ratings and looked to be knocking on the door of the Majors.  However, he has had a few really bad outings in a row.  My hope is that it’s something minor which can be corrected with some additional work in Reading, and that we’ll have him back soon. I hope that he’s not injured in some way.

Also assigned to the IronPigs today was LHP Jo-Jo Reyes.  He had been pitching in Korea (2-7, 6.55) this season, and has 70G of Major League experience.  He’s 29 years old.  He’s also a veteran of the International League having accumulated 16-10, 3.01, in 58 games, 47 starts.  It’s unclear whether he will be used as a starter or out of the bull pen, but with the addition of Buchanan and the loss of Enright we’re back at 5 starters.  I imagine he’ll be used to help eat up some innings with the doubleheaders on tap, and from there it will depend on if Buchanan and/or Marquis are needed in Philadelphia.  Reyes had been signed on 7/9, but had been in Clearwater on the IronPigs DL nursing an injured Velandia.  I had not heard any reports of his pitching there, so we’ll have to get a look to see what we have.

Tonight starts the first of two days of double-headers.  It seems that as good a team as Syracuse has, they cannot get control of their weather up there.  I bet Brundy is just thrilled with this.  I bet the only thing he hates worse than a two-game series is a two-double-header series.  But, perhaps the ‘Pigs can use their new players and the adversity of the 4-games-in-two-days to steal a game or two from the powerful Chiefs.

I worry somewhat, that the loss of a couple really good clubhouse guys–Susdorf and Enright–will cause the team to spiral even worse than what the last two days showed.  Those were veteran guys–fan-friendly too–who could be a stabilizing force.  It doesn’t look like it’s going to be our year, but still, we would like to see a competitive team down the stretch and not go completely in the tank (see also: 2010).  But, ultimately, I think Thomas and Galvis are established and talented players who will help, and any potential trades from Philadelphia could open up an opportunity for playing time from any player on the AAA roster.  It behooves them to continue to play hard and play winning baseball as much as possible.  Finally, we might also see the return of Chris Bootcheck from Reading, who had a nice outing the other day, and MAG who has been dominant in Reading’s ‘pen.  We should be OK.


See you at the park, maybe later,



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Update on the July 1 Trip/Fundraiser

Markie with the first pitch

Markie with the first pitch


Things are a little crazy around here, and content a little slow to show up in “post” form.  However, while a complete report with pictures and story (as it’s etched in my mind…) are still forthcoming, I wanted to update everyone on the fundraiser portion of the project:

Today, a donation of $750.00 was mailed to the Choroideremia Research Foundation on behalf of the NoiseNation Fan Group and Angels for Mark.  The $750 was short of my goal of $1000.00; however, it was more than the amount contributed from the sponsors–so I feel like we gained something from the time and effort from this project.  Plus, we had a lot of fun, supported our team, and raised awareness for a good cause.

The trip and the project in general could not have happened without assistance from a whole “team” of people.  First, I’d like to thank the sponsors:

Digital Cloud Company:  An excellent source for communications services in the digital age.  There is no better source for business phone service–and more.

Philly Pretzel Company:  The only quality pretzels available at Coca Cola Park.  Please support them at their stands in Right Field and on the Third Base Line.  Also, stop by the club hallway on the way out to get a snack for the drive home!  They’ll have a retail location down by the arena soon, too!

Westgate Optical:  Quality eye care and eye wear products in Bethlehem for over 40 years.

The T-Shirts:

I’d like to thank NoiseNation Dan for the design, and Diamond Sportswear for the printing and finishing.  Extra T-Shirts at the conclusion of the project were given to the Angels For Mark Group for use in their continued fundraising and awareness campaign.  Several T-Shirts were provided to the sponsors, as well, for advertising purposes.

The Trip:

I’d like to thank the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders for their support, and ticket manager Robert McLane for his assistance with the ticket package.  As always, a thank you to Cheryl Pursell for the photos–more to be posted here soon–which will create a lasting memory of the day–as well as for the goodies for the tailgate party beforehand.  Another thanks to Dan for resurrecting the “oinK” sign for our use that day.  Thanks to Matt Provence and Jon Schaeffer for their support on the radio.  A shout-out to players who supported us:  Tyler Henson, Steve Susdorf, Jim Murphy and Cody Asche in particular–but there are others going forward, who may be involved with future projects.  And Ethan Martin, who threw a ball over to us at the end of the evening.

The Nation:

We’re ALL Noise Nation–thanks to everyone who purchased a shirt.  A project like this cannot happen without lots of good friends–even those who couldn’t make the game or wouldn’t wear the shirt.  It’s all about having some fun and doing some good along the way.  Your support is not taken for granted and does not go unnoticed.

The Marks:

One last thing–there will be other fundraisers and events to come:  It doesn’t end with our little project.  Please support the Angels for Mark group if you can.  But even if you can’t, please say ‘hello’ to Mark, Markie, and the whole DeVoe family if you see them around the park.  They are wonderful folks, and great baseball fans.


See you at the park,


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IronPigs Head to Break with Win

“Don’t mind telling you i get a little mad 
To get a [hit] … takes all the time I have 
Don’t misunderstand me 
I’m not getting soft 
All i want is a couple days off “

–Huey Lewis and the News


Let’s say you just worked 135 days straight.  Oh, but you had five days off–never more than one at a time.  That’s a grind, right?  Well, that’s the Minor League player’s work schedule from March 1 to mid-July.  As fans, we may find it difficult to get to all 72 home games in the schedule; keep in mind for every home game there’s another game on the road.  Plus the travel and the workouts and all the other obligations.  Major League guys seem to get one day off every week or so, but the MiLB guys have to grind it out a little more.  Now, it’s the break, and we wish the ‘Pigs Players safe travels, and peace and relaxation for the next three days.

The ‘Pigs go into the break on a semi-high note with a 5-2 win in Louisville.  The win concludes their 10-game road trip at 4-6.  Not what we needed for a team that’s now in second-to-last place 11 games back of Syracuse.  On the trip, they seemed to find ways to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory.  A couple games where the hitting wasn’t there.  A couple where one of the bullpen guys gacked it up.  A time or two where a starter couldn’t go deep enough–not effectively anyway.

But now they’re off–and on win.  After seeing Grady Sizemore go to the Phillies, and Steve Susdorf leave the team, they’ve got that win, and something to look forward to.  In today’s game, Jason Marquis was scratched due to a “tight back.”  I was afraid he was exercising an opt-out.  Perhaps it was a “veteran” injury.  After all, it was termed “minor.” We’ll see, I guess.  But, the game must go on, and that meant a bull-pen game.  They’ve had their struggles on this trip, to be sure, but Jeremy Horst took the ball to start the game, and Martin, Neris and Garcia each pitched two innings each to keep the Bats (Louisville, that is) at bay.  Tyler Henson went 4-for-4 with a double.  Castro went 3-for-5, and Murphy and Canzler each had 2 RBI on a day they were playing without Franco.  Maikel was making his way to the Futures Game in Minneapolis to represent the World team.  Phillies SS prospect JP Crawford is there for the USA team, as well.

What’s on tap now?  Well, 11 games might be too much to overcome for a division title.  I guess you never know in the Minors, but it would be a bit of a long-shot.  We can look forward to a couple familiar faces returning, though.  OF Clete Thomas and SS Freddy Galvis should be back soon.  SP David Buchanan is already back, with Cliff Lee set to resume his spot in the Phillies’ rotation.  Who might be up from Reading in the second half?  You never can tell, but we could see MAG (Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez).  We could also see Chris Bootcheck and/or Matt Tolbert return.  Veteran Jake Fox is there, too, and could be a AAA guy at a moment’s notice.  One or both catchers could be back from Philly, as they decide whether to take the easy route and option Cam Rupp, or expose Koyie Hill to waivers via DFA first.  At the end of the month, the Phillies may make some deals, which could get some of our guys to the Bigs, or could land us some high-level prospects.  We’ll just have to wait and see, I guess.

So here we go.  Enjoy the All Star festivities, both MLB and AAA.  Perhaps we’ll see you at the park Wednesday for the ticket holder picnic.  I’ll certainly be there Thursday and Friday for the games against first-place Syracuse.  Then, it will be time for me to get a few days off.

News still to come from me about the Scranton trip, the fundraiser part, and some bonus pictures from Jim.

Stay tuned,


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Filed under Kram's Korner - From the Club Level, Lehigh Valley IronPigs

Checking in With the Phantoms: 96 Days Until the Home Opener

Two and a half years ago I wrote this post about hockey coming to Allentown.  Now, it’s less than 100 days until the home opener.  I’ve already signed my season ticket contract and picked up my promotional gift (two of the nicest left-handed hockey sticks I’ve ever seen).  Concerts are being scheduled, and there will be some pre-season games prior to the October 17 home opener.  It’s getting close folks.  You don’t believe me?  Take a look at this –at the time of posting, that live cam is showing the seats being installed in the main bowl, and some of the risers–the first 5 or 6 rows for hockey–in place.

Here’s another peak at the season ticket seating for hockey:

hockey seating

Image from the Phantom’s web page. Anybody ready for Kram106? I’ll be sitting near the top of 106, just across the aisle from the jokers who are paying more to sit in 105. There are approximately 21 rows in each section for hockey, with the first five or six on risers. I’m unsure about the rows for the upper level.

In case you missed it, concerts and events are already being scheduled.  The opening event will be the ’70s rock band the Eagles, on September 12.  Here’s the full list, as of this writing:

Friday, September 12: Eagles

Monday, September 15: Cher

Tuesday, September 16: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Friday, September 26: Rascal Flatts

Friday, October 3: Harlem Globetrotters

Friday, Saturday, October 10-11: Professional Bull Riders

As near as I can tell, tickets are still available to all of these events.  Tickets for the Eagles are getting low, however, plenty of the VIP, and “Platinum” seats upwards of $450.00 each are still available.  Here’s what the concert seating map looks like–at least for Tom Petty:

ppl concert seating

From the PPL Center Ticket Page. I’ll be sitting in 205 as it kept shutting me out when I was trying to purchase floor seats–and that was six minutes into the pre-sale. Whatev. They were cheaper up top.

Here are some nuggets I learned at my ticket signing for the Phantoms this week:

  1. There are a butt-load of season ticket holders.  The seat map for hockey is tremendously full.  They are currently selling partial season ticket packages only to those on the waiting list–they haven’t even started public sales of those yet, let alone single-game tickets.  They don’t have the most season tickets in the league, but there are motivational signs throughout the ticket office promoting that as a goal for the ticket staff.  Impressive.  If you’re thinking about season tickets you’d better get moving.  And tickets in the expensive “club” section are almost gone.  So much for letting them talk me into upgrading…
  2. The seats are nice.  I was able to see the regular seats, the club seats, and the suite seats.  All very nice.  Of course, the club seats are slightly bigger and could be a bit more apart.  The suite seats are bigger yet.  But, not tremendously so.  I had to ask to figure out which were which, in fact.  Very nice padded seats, all.  They all seem nicer than the Wells Fargo Center seats in Philly.
  3. They are thinking about sound.  Arenas can be horrible places for concerts sometimes because of the acoustics.  Metal and concrete reflect sound like crazy, and it’s difficult to get a pleasing auditory signal to the concertgoers.  They’ve already thought about that, and strategies are being implemented to assist with the sound quality.  One of the Brooks brothers is a huge concert fan, I understand, and this has been a point of emphasis.  We’ll see how they do, but it was encouraging to hear that they’re already thinking about it.
  4. The season ticket package includes 38 home dates, 2 preseason games, and 2 playoff games, for a total of 42 games.  In the event that the team doesn’t play in the playoffs, the two extra games will be credited towards the following season.  Most season ticket holders have a 3-year or 5-year contract. The price is locked in for the first two, with an increase of no more than 3% for the third year.  It’s unclear when the pre-season games will be for this first season, or whom they will be against.  Any chance of a Flyers exhibition?  We’ll see.  I would guess one would be the weekend before–perhaps Columbus Day–and one during that week.
  5. The final schedule should be out in August.  There will be very few mid-week games.  Most will be Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.  There will be the occasional mid-week tilt over the holiday periods of Thanksgiving, Christmans, and New Years.  A couple extras will be sprinkled in, but count on mostly weekends.
  6. They know the ticket process for concerts is not perfect.  The hockey side isn’t completely in control of it, and the promoters, and the bands themselves have a lot of say in how things are done.  Phantom’s STH do get some pre-sale ability–but then, the “Cyber Club” of the arena does, too (just sign up!).  It’s not clear if one group or the other has access to better seats–they are chosen for you during the purchasing process.  Personally, I did very well with my Eagles tickets (I think…) as I used my American Express (promoter) pre-sale code.  I did much less well with Tom Petty, using the Phantom’s code.  I have no idea if this is a coincidence or a computer problem or what.  I don’t know how many concerts I’ll go to down there, but we’ll try to keep up with info that we hear and learn.


Now, let’s take a look at how the Phantoms are doing with those things I suggest so many months ago:

  1. Invest in Parking and Travel Solutions:  According to the Morning Call, there has been a traffic study in and around the arena district and with respect to the parking lots.  In addition, there will be an “app” for your smart phone to help you find parking (just try looking at that while you drive!  Kidding.  Have your passenger do it!)  I did see a parking map, for the first time, the other day in the print version of the newspaper.  I believe it was in regards to this study with this article  but the image is nowhere to be found now.  We’ll update going forward.  I believe the bottom line is, that there will be enough parking, and the flow from the many points of access will be tolerable.  The key will be getting cars into those spots that are available. The city and the team are concerned and working on it–and don’t have their heads in the sand (or elsewhere) at this juncture.  It’s a start, but I’m telling you they need to continue to work on it.  On my way downtown to sign for my ticket plans the other day, I made four wrong turns, almost plowed into two mini-vans which were parked in the middle of the street for no apparent reason, and almost drove off the closed portion of the eighth street bridge.  And, this was with the benefit of a satellite-guided navigation system in my car, and full daylight.  I admit it’s not my best thing–and construction in the area was part of the problem–which will hopefully be concluded somewhat before September 12.
  2. Concerts:  They’ve already exceeded my expectations for the amount and quality of the acts they will be able to book.  Good for them, and I hope it continues.
  3. A co-tenant:  The SteelHawks are the number one candidate.  I wrote about it earlier today, here.  I wouldn’t mind seeing indoor soccer or a D-League NBA team, too.  I won’t be in for Lacrosse, probably.
  4. Make it NICE:  Everything I see tells me that they are.  I am hopeful.
  5. Good A/V:  Everything I’ve heard is good.  We’ll see.
  6. Family Friendly:  I think so.  A number of the restaurants downtown should have some kiddo possibilities, especially before and after matinee games and events.  I felt OK walking around downtown the other day when I was down there exploring.  Yes, it was daytime.  And, yes, I am somewhat oblivious at times.  But I’m hopeful, here, too.
  7. Keep the Philly Connection:  They have, and then some.  First, with the introduction of Chickie’s and Pete’s as the sports restaurant.  Then, in case you missed it, they’ve worked in cooperation with the Reading Royals and the Philadelphia Flyers to make the Royals their AA-level partner.  Read more about it here.
  8. Realignment:  Yup.  It was announced this past week. The Phantoms will play in a division with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (Penguins), Hershey (Capitals) and Binghamton (Senators), in addition to Norfolk (Anaheim).
  9. Concessions:  TBD.  But, with the number of new eateries downtown, I don’t think I’ll be going hungry at games.
  10. Group Sales:  The do have a couple of special group areas, including one right on the ice where you can watch the players enter.  They also have some other spots blocked off for group sales.  They’ll be OK–they have enough season ticket holders on three- and five-year deals to get things rolling even without a ton of groups.
    Just a snap--the yellow seats are 3-year plans and the blue ones are 5.  Red ones are unknown.

    Just a snap–the yellow seats are 3-year plans and the blue ones are 5. Red ones are unknown.


  11. Conventions and Meetings:  Well, already we have Globetrotters (basketball exhibition) and Bull Riding (rodeo, prob similar setup to some X-games stuff) so there’s that.  I’m sure they’ll find stuff.  Need to develop a quality reputation with the parking and the facility itself–as well as the comfort of the performers–though.
  12. Vuvuzelas:  We’ll see.  It will be interesting to see the kind of atmosphere they promote.  I wonder how raucous it will be.  It will be interesting…

See you at the arena,

Kram 106




Filed under Kram's Korner - From the Club Level, Phantoms Hockey

SteelHawks Lose Championship, Look Forward to the Future

The Lehigh Valley SteelHawks couldn’t complete a magical road-run to the Championship, losing in Nashville last night 64-43 in the league’s final game.  They began the game a bit flat, at one time down 24-4.  Just like the whole season, though, they battled back and closed to within a touchdown several times.  The offense, though, just wasn’t made to come from behind by that much–and forced into that role ultimately made enough mistakes to prevent a come-from-behind victory.  The 12-2 Nashville Venom were the better team all season and certainly showed it yesterday.

But the SteelHawks competed.  QB Shane McSweeney played very well over the past few games as the SteelHawks made their run.  He was filling in for the suddenly-retired All-PIFL Adam Bednarik.  The Defense was lead by outstanding lineman Larry Ford and All-League DB/KR Dwayne Hollis.  They were a fun team to watch this past season, and we certainly wish them well as a franchise, going forward.

And the future certainly is bright–if a bit uncertain–for the established local professional football team.  It’s been a foregone conclusion that the team will move into the beautiful new arena in Allentown for next season.  However, as I understand, nothing is official yet.  To that end, I have some thoughts.

First, let’s take a look at the arena move, good and bad:

  1. Fans:  The arena may make checking out a game more palatable to a number of fans who may not have had the opportunity yet.  The antiquated Stabler Arena is no great place to visit, and not so comfortable for fans.  On the other hand, some established fans may not wish to battle the downtown traffic and parking which will be a problem for all events there–on some level.  While they may attract new fans, they will have to battle to keep some of the old ones, too.
  2. Additional Revenue:  Parking won’t be free downtown, we all know that.  And, the SteelHawks won’t get a piece of it–it’s Allentown’s.  But, I’d hope the ‘Hawks would get a piece of the concession game–including beer sales.  I’d also hope the SteelHawks could get a small corner of the Phantoms’ team store to sell merchandise–expanding to the concourse as needed on game days.  Additional revenue for the team may allow for some franchise stability, player recruitment and coaching, and promotion.  Better game day experience => More fans => More advertising => More revenue =>Better game day experience.  It will build on itself.  But, as I said, some things may be a little more difficult.  Parking, and perhaps higher rent, and the need for additional game-day staff and facility expenses (ie: new field).
  3. The Partnership with the Phantoms:  Phantoms management has already mentioned the possibility of one or two fellow-tenants for the PPL Arena.  Indoor soccer, indoor lacrosse, and minor league basketball have all been mentioned.  However, all of those leagues overlap with hockey quite a bit.  And, they all want the weekends for games.  It can be done, as it is in places like Syracuse and Rochester and Norfolk.  However, the PIFL schedule starts just as hockey is ending, and provides for additional arena event nights throughout the early summer.  The partnership is as close to perfect as you can get.  The SteelHawks play a maximum of one game per week which can easily be scheduled around trade shows and concerts and graduations and other arena events.


A couple of background things:  I admit I was skeptical about indoor football.  I also admit that I was wrong.  The pace of the game and the quickness of the scoring make for a very exciting evening.  I also admit that I HATE Stabler Arena.  I don’t like the seating.  I don’t like the concessions.  I don’t like that I can’t enjoy a beer during the game.  It’s not comfortable.  It’s 1980’s technology.   Access and parking are about the only good things it has.

So, given the move is imminent, let me a few suggestions going forward.  If I was General Manager Mike Clark, here’s what I would do–or try to do–to get ready for next season in the Arena:

  1. Put a good team on the field:  The SteelHawks have done this already–fielding a competitive team the past couple seasons.  However, I think it’s even more important with the move.  A winning team will build buzz in the community.  Just like other minor-league teams, though, anyone really good will probably have the opportunity to move up either to the AFL (Arena Football League, above the PIFL) or even an NFL camp.  Depth is also a key–having some guys who can be called on to fill roster spots if needed.  Work hard on recruiting, and talent.
  2. Find good local talent, if possible:  If the local community recognizes names from previous High School Football games, they might be more likely to come out and check a game.  Adam was a particular example of this.  Reach out to former HS stars to see if they are interested in playing following their college careers.  Also, if these guys are local, it can be easier to get them on board if they are needed to fill the roster spot of a player who moves up or gets injured.
  3. Take advantage of the Arena features (“Sell Those Groups”):  The new arena will have more group areas, and luxury boxes and the like.  Selling groups is a key way to fill a stadium or arena.  Just ask the IronPigs–playoff games and exhibitions without groups in attendance are usually noticeably less-well supported.  Most luxury boxes will be owned, but some may be able to be rented out on a game-by-game basis.  There’s a group area near the field where the players enter which will be good to sell.  In addition, with the larger space, sections can be set aside for certain things:  Set aside a “family” section with no alcohol sales.  Set aside a peanut-free section.  Set aside a section of “cheap seats” for the Noise Nation. ;-)  Set aside sections for the other groups, especially the youth teams.
  4. Partner with local youth leagues:  I know they’ve tried to do this already somewhat, but it’s a great source of fans and groups.  Have youth exhibitions prior to the game and at half-time.  Let the youth leagues sell tickets as a fundraiser–football teams always need money. (Other minor league teams do this:  Sell a block of tickets to the team at a low “bulk” price.  They then re-sell them at a higher price and keep the profits for their club.  It’s a win-win.)  And, as long as you have that turf set up, if you can’t get youth football, give soccer clubs and lacrosse clubs a shot at the half-time exhibition, if there’s not another arena tenant willing to work with them.
  5. Promote at other arena events:  This may be difficult to negotiate, but even a little bit might go a long way.  Every Phantoms game and concert and trade show should have some information available to promote the team and the games.  Even if it’s just a small kiosk or some banners.  Anything you can do to let everyone know that you’re a tenant there, too.  You know, a championship banner in the rafters might look nice… :-)
  6. Sell that gear!  As I mentioned above, a small corner of the team store with a jersey, T-Shirt and hat for sale every day of the year, will help promote the team.   Even if you have to turn the profits over to the Phantoms as rent.  Additional quality items on sale game days, as well, of course.
  7. A new field:  I was watching an AFL game on TV the other day, and there they were gluing the field down between plays.  I guess it’s not just us.  A nice quality field will make the games more fun to watch and safer for the players.  Advertising is a necessity, of course, and a partnership with another “turf” tenant like soccer or lacrosse may be necessary.  Or, just charge them rent…  Or, get the Arena to buy the field, and then THEY can charge rent and you won’t have the overhead.  And for the love of all that’s good in sports:  PLEASE, no electric blue or red or yellow or black turf.  Please just green.  My retinas thank you.
  8. Create an event:  Here’s an idea.  The Phantoms and the City of Allentown should be on board for the buzz it will create:  Have a SteelHawks game the same day as a Phantoms game.  Hear me out, now:  Let’s pick a Sunday near the end of the Phantom’s season.  They’ll have a matinee at 1:30 or so.  Arena management has said that they like 24 hours to cover the ice for an alternate event, but that it can be done much quicker if need be, with additional man-power.  Have a SteelHawks game in the evening following the hockey matinee.  Keep folks downtown, and allow them to patronize the restaurants and hang out in the arena to watch the changeover, and all that.  You might have to get creative with the ticketing for that part.  An “event” like this will create buzz and a transition from hockey season to indoor football season.  If the City really wants to get on board, close some of the nearby streets and create a “fest”-type Spring atmosphere in late March or early April.
  9. Tap in to the Phantom’s ticket base:  This can be a little tricky as well.  However, the Phantoms have LOTS of season ticket holders.  Trust me, I saw them (more on that later).  The ability to market to these folks who are already accustomed to coming downtown to the arena should be explored.  Even if it’s only a tag on the end of an email, or one email promo per season, or whatever.  A discount for Phantoms season ticket holders would also be a way to tap in.  Advertise on the Phantom’s web site.  All that stuff.
  10. Keep the party going:  Some of the stuff the SteelHawks do is really cool, and I hope they continue.  The on-field meet and greet following the games, and the “after parties” that have been held–all cool.  And, they can be continued in downtown Allentown.  There will be plenty of venues for the after-parties–or just dinner–following games.
  11. Get the PIFL to do better with the schedule:  I understand there are difficulties with franchises coming and going, but let’s not have 5 away games in a row again.  Or 5 home games for that matter.  If need be, consider other nights for the games if the weekends get too difficult to schedule.  NFL plays on Thursday and Monday. High school football is on Friday.  All these nights could be used for games, as well as plenty of Saturday and Sunday afternoons when the kiddos can come out.  And don’t even get me started on the officials.  Please, PIFL, do better.
  12. Promote the parking:  I’ve already said this a ton of times about the Phantoms.  There are real concerns about parking and traffic downtown.  The SteelHawks will have the benefit of a whole season of hockey and concerts under their belt before the 2015 team takes the field.  Still, make parking and traffic maps VERY available both on the web site, via mailings, in advertising, and the like.  Don’t minimize it–make sure that folks who need help finding their way downtown to park will be able to.
  13. Make use of the technology:  The new arena will have state-of-the art video and sound capabilities.  Use them to their maximum potential for replays and promos and whatnot.  Look at the way IronPigs games have changed since their inaugural season in 2008:  no more small town “swing it like an iron pig.”  All big-town flash and energy.  It plays well here.  Use it.


The indoor football is a fast-paced exciting game, played by outstanding and enthusiastic athletes.  It’s been successful in this area, and I look forward to it getting even better in the seasons to come.  Best wishes to the Clarks and the SteelHawks family as they move into a new era for the team–I hope.

See you at the arena,


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Filed under Kram's Korner - From the Club Level, Phantoms Hockey, Steel Hawks

Farewell, Steve Susdorf

We’ve been here before.  But, this one’s a bit different.

Steve Susdorf is a professional hitter. Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Steve Susdorf is a professional hitter.
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

“It can happen to you
It can happen to me
It can happen to everyone eventually

As you happen to say
It can happen today
As it happens
It happens in every way”


Part of our “mission” around here is to help folks get to know the players better.  “It’s more fun when you know who you’re cheering for” is part of my mantra.  But, in the world of Minor League sports, it means a lot of saying “hello” and a lot of saying “good-bye.”  And this one is a bit different.

In the short history of the IronPigs, since 2008, we’ve said good-byes to our favorite players before.  We said good-bye to Andy Tracy and Josh Fields at the end of seasons–when we knew change was coming and that rosters would inevitably turn over.  We said good-bye to Richie Thompson in the middle of the season, but with the consolation that he was getting the call to the Majors and realizing a goal that he’d been working toward for years.  We said good-bye to Jermaine Mitchell in the middle of the season, but we hadn’t known him for very long.

Now, we say good-bye to Steve Susdorf.  He’s been a member of the IronPigs family for the past three years, and one of the most consistent performers on the field.  He got the opportunity to play for the Phillies for a few games last season.  He has a .299 batting average, lifetime, in the Minor Leagues.  He had the best average of any IronPig this season, with over 150 at-bats.  And, ….

Well, there are baseball reasons.  And we’ll miss his production on the field and his contribution to the team. And we understand that sometimes this is about the Phillies and not about the IronPigs.  But this one is different because of the guy, too.  I think:  Steve has an appreciation for people that goes far beyond baseball.  Whether you’re a billion-dollar first baseman on rehab, or a schmuck who goes to too many IronPigs games, or a regular fan, or a Pastor or a parishioner, or a refugee–it doesn’t matter…. Steve has time for you.

A recent story:  Cheryl and I were recording some video pieces recently, before a home game.  I had wandered across the dugout to say hello to IronPigs radio producer Mark Perlman-Price.  As we concluded, and I stepped away, Steve appeared and said hello before I had an opportunity to say anything.  He easily could have waited for me to say something or for me to approach him.  He could have darted by and gone about his work.  After all, I was in his workplace, and it wasn’t an appropriate time for an interview or socializing.  But, he had time….

He had time, too, at a recent Saturday night Tiki/Trough party, to stop and say hello to DiPro, and Junior and myself.  He was with his wife Kelsey, and there were other players and wives and girlfriends around, but he seemed just as comfortable saying hello to us and spending a moment.

If you like, go back through our archives and re-watch the interviews and the “Day of DiPro” and all of that.  Or, better yet, click on this link to read more about Steve’s work in Haiti in the offseason:

Here are some pictures from our archives.  We wish Steve well, of course, and we know he can hit.  He could land with an MLB team or an Independent team–but we know he’ll hit.  We also know he’ll touch lives wherever he lands on life’s journey.  His faith will guide him and everything will be OK.  I think Steve’s mission on this planet goes far beyond baseball, and the Horn and Bell Blog wishes him well and supports him in his life’s work, wherever that road may lead, baseball and beyond.  And if I’m not mistaken, there’s another auction scheduled for August 2, to benefit the Church in Haiti.  I hope that the IronPigs will continue with the auction as planned. I know we’ll be happy to support it.


photo: Cheryl Pursell

Steve Susdorf:  "All he does is hit..." (c) Cheryl Pursell

Steve Susdorf: “All he does is hit…”
(c) Cheryl Pursell

Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Susdorf Photo: DiPro

Photo: DiPro


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Confidence Meter: IronPigs Bull Pen

I’ve been mostly Bull-ish on the Pigs pitchers this season, but lately I’m wavering. Let’s see where the relievers stand on Independence Day:

Luis Garcia: 92
It could be even higher, but he has put some guys on base lately and he’s had some spectacular failures with the big team. I’m a little uneasy. But only a little.

Tyler Knigge: 90
He’s performed more than admirably lately including some leverage situations. The last poor outing I recall was after he pitched 4+ innings in two days.

Cesar Jimenez: 88
He’s had a couple hiccups. I still believe in him.

Phillipe Aumont: 68
He’s had a couple really nice outings until tonight. But when it goes wrong it does so spectacularly. Wild pitches and walks to go with plenty of hits.

Jeremy Horst: 65
It feels kinda shaky even with some of the better innings. I hope he can get it back.

Hector Neris: 63
He’s had a couple really bad outings lately, following some strong work. I hope he’s OK.

Ethan Martin: 40
I believe in him and I believe in his talent. He’s got to get his mojo back.

The confidence meter reflects my current feeling about their performance. Of course it is fluid and subject to change with each outing, and subjective in nature.


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