Minor League Baseball is full of fun gimicks aimed at getting as many people out to the ballpark as possible. They have dollar beer nights, Star Wars nights, and all kinds of strange giveaways. When the Lancaster Jethawks were a Boston Red Sox affiliate, they gave out Big Poppy bobble heads. No, I did not misspell that, they were bobble heads with the body of David Ortiz and the head was a California Poppy, the California state flower.
When it comes to independent leagues, they will often sign former big league greats in order to try and draw a crowd. The Atlantic League has been one of the best at this, as they have featured the likes of Jose Canseco, Tim Raines, and Rickey Henderson. After the 2004 MLB draft, Stephen Drew and Jered Weaver both signed with the Camden River Sharks to gain leverage in negotiating with the big league team that drafted them, Stephen Drew even got in 19 games for Camden. And who can forget the circus that ESPN shoved down our throats when Roger Clemens made a few starts for the Sugar Land Skeeters in 2012?
One thing people may forget about that Skeeters club is they had another pitcher on the staff, one that had pitched his way out of the big leagues, but used his time in Sugar Land to make his way back, Scott Kazmir. There is certainly reason to keep an eye on some of the independent leagues such as the Atlantic League because you never know who the next former stud prospect or solid big leaguer may be primed to make a comeback. Luckily, now you can watch as players try to make their comebacks, as ESPN has announced they will cover all 70 Skeeters home games, plus the leagues All-Star game, and a Roger Clemens celebrity softball game on their streaming platform, ESPN3.
Hopefully there will be no bat yielding brawls like the league saw back in 2007 when Jose Offerman broke a pitchers hand by hitting him with a bat after Offerman got drilled by a pitch. Offerman also hit the catcher in the head with the bat, all but ending the players baseball career.
There are some players that will be worth watching beyond the possibility of a former big leaguer losing his mind, the crazy gimmicks, or a former NBA All-Star, Tracy McGrady, trying to turn himself into a pitcher. I have written before about the painful-to-watch mechanics from T-Mac, and I will certainly put up another post once he makes his first appearance as he has made the club’s pitching staff.
The league will feature another former NBA player, but one who has proved to be a decent pitcher, in Mark Hendrickson. Other notable players include J.R. Towles, Sean Burroughs, Ryan Langerhans, Bobby Kielty, Delwyn Young, Chad Tracy, and a player who will pull double duty as a player and hitting coach for the Long Island Ducks, Lew Ford. Gary Gaetti also carries some name recognition as the manager of the Sugar Land Skeeters.