Here is yet another reason why minor league baseball rules. The Single A Red Sox affiliate, the Lowell Spinners, have launched a marketing campaign that not only got them on ESPN, but created buzz throughout the entire New England baseball community. The campaign? They would purchase uniforms for any youth league team that changed its name from the Yankees to the Spinners. So for the one-time price of advertising their franchise (seriously, how many other teams are named the Spinners?) the team creates free national advertising, buzz, and swell the pride of New Englanders everywhere. I mean, what a great idea. What kid in New England (outside of Western Connecticut and the pockets of displaced New Yorkers) wants to play for the Yankees? It was bad enough when I was a kid, but considering how the rivalry has intensified since the late nineties, I can think of nothing worse than being ten years old and playing for the Yankees. Marketing Genius. Lowell Spinners, I applaud you and look forward to catching a game or two this summer with the kiddos.
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OFF THE SUBJECT:
Speaking of all things Yankees, Red Sox, minor leagues, and my youth, my thoughts turn to John Flaherty who is trying to win the back-up catcher position for the Red Sox this season. I remember Flaherty back in the 80s when he was with the Pawtucket Red Sox. What I remember most about him is that he was the kindest and most accommodating player I have EVER observed. That summer we went to about 30 PawSox games and at every game Flaherty was the first and last player to sign for the kids who would swarm the dugout. Always polite, always signing, always classy, Flaherty was someone you had to pull for to succeed. That he is still in the major leagues speaks volumes for good karma. For every incident involving Barry Bonds or a similar spoiled jerk, I can think of the unheralded stand-up guys like John Flaherty, Tim Wakefield, Pokey Reese, and countless others who appreciate the opportunity of a lifetime that they have available to them.
Flaherty spent the last few seasons with the Yankees, and while he did not have a great season at the plate (OK, he did not even reach the Mendoza line), he was an integral part of the success of a 95 win team in that he got much deserved credit for assisting Randy Johnson. The Big Eunuch, who struggled mightily on the mound in the first half of the season, was assigned Flaherty as his personal catcher after a conflict with Jorge Posada who could not straighten out his mechanics (Do not even bother asking about the pitching coach: Mel just mixes gin and tonics for Regular Joe). Flaherty worked exclusively with the Big Eunuch and straightened him out until he became his usual dominating self in the second half of the season. The forward-thinking Yankees promptly released Flaherty in a show of support for all his hard work with their $36 million investment. Hey, because the Yankees are about loyalty!
Anyway, John Flaherty is in camp this spring and I am hoping he catches on as the personal receiver for Tim Wakefield. Somehow, I cannot think of anyone in camp I will be rooting more for this spring. Good luck, John, and thanks for all the autographs. You are a class act.
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