Commissioner Bud Selig announced today what many had been
expecting--the formation of major league baseball's Junior
Selig said eight teams--the Chicago White Sox, Florida Marlins,
Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, Montreal Expos, Oakland
A's, Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates--will be
removed from the big leagues and instead will vie for the JV
title. "We had to face reality," said Selig. "Most of these
teams have a payroll that wouldn't pay for Kevin Brown's room
service, much less Kevin Brown. I mean, the Twins start the
season $70 million down to the Yankees. Why kid ourselves? These
teams had about as much chance of contending as I have of
nailing Carmen Electra."
The hope is that the new league will spark fan interest again in
clubs that were mathematically eliminated from the pennant races
just after pitchers and catchers reported. "I'm psyched," said
Marlins manager John Boles. "The only way we weren't going to
lose a hundred games was to move the stadium to an undisclosed
All the JV action will be broadcast over De Kalb, Ill.,
public-access cable, with Jayne Kennedy and George Will slated
for the broadcast booth.
"We're looking forward to giving these teams something to play
for," JV commissioner Steve Balboni said. "Let's face it. Only
four or five teams have a shot at the World Series. Baseball has
become as predictable as a Havana city council election. Last
season no team made the playoffs that wasn't among the top 13 in
payroll. Baseball is finally pulling its head out of its ass. Up
to now, everything else it tried was just rearranging deck
chairs on the Titanic."
Naturally, Balboni said, the new league will employ cost-cutting
measures. Players will travel to games utilizing Greyhound's
Ameripass program. All teams will stay at Cubicle by Marriott.
Groupies will be harvested from dropouts of Reno Hooker College.
"Are you kidding me?" said Royals ace Kevin Appier. "I'm going
to win 30 games! Cleveland and Baltimore already signed all the
big freaking sticks! Think I can't punch out Denny Hocking all
Philadelphia, the richest JV team, with a payroll of about $29
million, is the favorite to win the coveted Mario Mendoza Trophy
at the JV Discount World Series in Williamsport, Pa., in
October. Oddsmaker Danny Sheridan, however, refused to handicap
the field. "Personally," he said, "I don't see how any of them
can win it."
Unlike major league baseball, there will be no cash bonus for
members of the JV championship team, but each player will
receive a crystal bowl of cigarette butts and a lime-green teddy
autographed by Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott. The team that
finishes last in the JV each season will be traded for the
champion of the Elks' Class C coed softball league in Enid, Okla.
Reaction from the Haves in baseball was mixed upon hearing about
the new league for the Have-Nots. "Pittsburgh's in it?" said
Yankees ace Roger Clemens. "Hell, I thought Pittsburgh folded
three seasons ago."
"This isn't fair," said a dejected Anaheim Angels slugger Mo
Vaughn. "I bought two houses and a Porsche on White Sox pitching
Senator Ted Kennedy (D., Mass.) decried the move as elitist
corporate thinking: "Why should fans in Miami or Montreal be
deprived of seeing sluggers like Mike McGrewer and Stanley
Balboni put to rest charges that players' self-esteem will be
irreparably damaged from playing in the lesser league. He said
JV rules will require that every player plays at least two
innings of the regulation six-inning games and receives a
certificate of participation at the end of the season--plus a
pizza party. He also said the JV will recognize its heroes with
its Stall of Fame, to be located in the men's room of the
Shoney's in Beaver, Utah.
"By no means is this the end of these players' big league
careers," said superagent Scott Boras, "but it's close."
Opening Day for the junior junior circuit is slated for April 1
in Oakland. It'll be Bat Night--the first 300 fans through the
gates will be asked to donate a bat from home.
The A's announced that Soupy Sales is set to throw out the first
pitch and start on the mound for Oakland.
COLOR PHOTO: DANA FINEMAN/SYGMA