Life of a minor leaguer: “drugs, booze and cheap motels”

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That’s how Australia’s news.com.au describes life for baseball’s minor leaguers to its readers who are, presumably, not terribly familiar with baseball. Thing is, they cite the “drugs, booze and cheap motels” in an effort to paint the life of minor leaguers as a bad thing. Hell, compared to the fact that they’re not paid a living wage and are treated like heads of cattle, the drugs, booze and cheap motels are the best part!

But really, the story isn’t wrong. It’s just kinda funny to read about things we think of as common described by outsiders. Especially when they use phrases like “as foreign as a Frenchman,” which I am TOTALLY gonna steal from this guy and use again sometime soon.

Anyway, prepare yourself for the worst

Booze

Baseball players drink, partly because they don’t always need to be the most athletic specimens in the world of pro sports, but also to pass the time. These guys play up to 160 Games in a season in the Majors or 140 games at minor league level. That’s six games a week for six months. Each night, win or lose, their adrenalin is pumping. A beer or two or seven or eight helps.

No team spirit

Baseball, like cricket, is a team sport that is largely about the sum of individual performances rather than a bunch of guys working together as in the football codes. But it’s off the field that you really feel that lack of spirit, especially at minor league level. Guys in the minors would trample their best mate to get a promotion to the Majors.

Most players in a minor league club barely know each other’s names, let alone hang out together. There are exceptions, but for the most part it is a lonely, selfish mini-universe where the ethos of “one for all, all for one” is as foreign as a Frenchman.

This, right here, is the sport’s secret shame.

Cheap soulless hotels

All those games means a whole bunch of road trips. And road trips mean seedy hotels. At minor league level, a Holiday Inn is like the Hilton. More likely you’ll end up staying in some three star dump on a highway between Crapsville Illinois and Dumpsburg, Arkansas.

I am tired of seeing Crapsville, Illinois dumped on like this. Sure, it was a pretty bad scene in Crapsville 10-15 years ago, but since then they opened up Crapsville Brewery, which makes a great IPA and they turned the old Crapsville Metalworks factory into loft apartments. Really, Crapsville is now like the Brooklyn of the greater Armpit City, Illinois metro area.

Dumpsburg, Arkansas is awful, though. Just a wretched place.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.