Best of 2022 (Page 4)

The Best of 2022 Awards. Innovation, variety and creativity shine in this year’s look at the Best in Game Operations and Entertainment.

Best Team Operations:

Which team is doing the best job in their game operations and game presentation. We level the playing field by considering budget constraints to minor league teams. Consider creativity, value to fans, overcoming sport and budget limitations, quality of presentation, and attention to detail.

Winners: Dallas Stars – Savannah Bananas – Atlanta Braves

When we talk on the podcast and at the Water Cooler about the same teams all year long for their excellent executions, interesting promotions, engaging entertainers and clever contests it’s a good chance they are in running for Best Team Operations.

This year there were about a dozen teams who fit that profile.  Three rose above the rest, the Atlanta Braves, Savannah Banana and Dallas Stars.

Dallas has already been mentioned in the awards for an excellent promotion and a memorable scoreboard feature.  Both are reflective of the quality of operation of the Stars in general.  The team is full of on-brand innovations and engagements like their Green Carpet Walk to start the season.

Stars players, coaches and front office walk the Victory Green Carpet Walk presented by Volkswagen to add to the aura of the event.

The Atlanta Braves also shined with a great stable of winning entertainers and promotions.  Of course their Beat the Freeze (4 time Promotion of the year winner here) is a signature element.  But they also have a top shelf entertainers like Organist Matthew Kaminsky and a rising-star mascot in Blooper.

They team has paired on-field success with high-quality entertainment to create an outstanding experience for Braves fans.

And, of course, the new industry standard for creativity and fun is the Savannah Bananas.  Unique in virtually every regard, the team has turned a run-down Grayson Stadium with no scoreboard into center stage for sports entertainment.  Their staff is tasked with creating a dozen or MORE new elements EACH GAME…and the rise to that creative challenge nightly. The Bananas have carved out windows to entertain and coaxed players into show in a way no one short of the World Famous Harlem Globetrotters can touch.

Now the team is branching out for a national tour with its Banana-ball innovations, riding a wave of social media love and multiple ESPN specials and features.

If you are in need of creative inspiration or just a good laugh, the Savannah Bananas continue to be the team to watch.

Looking for more Savannah Banana insight?  We have several features on the team and their recent industry-leading executions:

  • Recap: Totally Bananas Creativity – Zack Frongillo is a classically trained dancer who is helping the Savannah Bananas break the internet. We recap our Huddle Call with Zach and look at their totally Bananas take on creativity.
  • February 2021 Party in the Back Podcast – Savannah Bananas owner Jesse Cole joins the Party in the Back podcast. Jesse is the author of “Find Your Yellow Tux” and the engine behind the fun for minor league baseball’s wildest show. The Bananas have sold out every game since their first season and now have a waiting list in the thousands. Plus Rob Wicall on Kid’s Day promotions and fan cutouts.
  • He Picked the Best Person to Introduce Himself – This player thoughtfully considered his walk up music and even who is the best person to introduce his at bat…
  • Bananas Change the Game – Bunting sucks. ‘Why don’t we ban it?’ plus 8 more rules that helped the Savanah Bananas change the game. Read more on Banana Ball.
  • Andy is coming to Savannah – Bananas hit the deck in an effort to protect Andy from knowing they are alive and to entertain the Banana faithful.
  • Find Your Yellow Tux by Jesse Cole – Jesse Cole digs into how doing business differently can lead to your most rewarding successes, on the field and in life.

Honorable Mention: LAFC – Saint Paul Saints – Chicago Bulls


Another team pairing on-field success with a high-level of operations was LAFC.  This 2022 MLS champion created a winning and memorable experience for fans, with an eye on younger millennials. This focus helps define the show and and brand while creating entertainment with younger sensibilities in mind.

Adding to the vibe is a level of LA-glitz and glamor, often connecting celebrity into the showcase.

One reoccurring element features a live falcon who released  pre-game by an honorary falconer (usually a celebrity or community figure). The first honorary falconer was actor Will Ferrell, who is one of the teams minority owners.

Saint Paul Saints

One benefit of the Saints shift to Class AAA MILB was a higher-profile for their top-level Fun.  The team has long been a pioneer in off-beat, gut-busting entertainment.  While some teams have been reined in a bit with the new parent club structure, the Twins were well aware of their crosstown competitors style and have embraced it.

The Saints continue to innovate with fun on and off the field.  Best of 2022 Group the Ushertainers are an example of the unique innovations the club offers, along with a long list of incredible and memorable promotions like Duck Duck Gray Duck, an epic food fight and even a promotion that simulated birth in a race complete with a giant birth canal and stroller.

It continues to be a wild ride from a team who just knows how to do FUN.

Chicago Bulls

The Bulls don’t have a show they have an Entertainment Network.  Lead by annual Best Mascot Candidate Benny the Bull, the Luvabulls, Incredibulls, Elevator Dunk Team, C.B. Flippers, Bucket Boys and Bulls Kidz round out a stable of top level entertainment groups that keep Bulls game fresh and entertaining.

Also receiving votes Golden State Warriors, Hartford Yard Goats, Hudson Valley Renegades, Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp and Fort Wayne Komets.

Category Winners:

Listen to the Best of 2022 Audio Round Table discussing all the categories and winners with out panel of Jon Cudo, Amanda Greco, Rich Meyers and Benjamin Hill. – December 2022 Party in the Back Podcast

Congratulations to the Best of 2022

Since 2007 the Best of award winners will receive The Golden Steagle™ Bobblehead trophy to commemorate their award. You can get the full history of the award on the Best of Awards page, including video from The Colbert Report where Stephen Colbert proclaims that receiving a award is “the Big Time.”

Winners may use the “Best of 2022” logo and “The Golden Steagle™” award designation in their promotional material or web site.

Winners will receive an award and letter from If you receive any publicity or post the award announcement on your website, please let us know.

Thanks to our panel for helping sort through all the great submissions and for sharing their time and insight.

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