With its long A.M. bus rides to mid-day, split-squad games at small ballparks and the uneven mix of fresh-faced prospects and veteran camp invitees, spring training in Florida is not quite "the show."
Just ask "Minor League Guy."
What happened to St. Louis Cardinals minor league outfielder Oscar Taveras during the broadcast of a Grapefruit League game in Port St. Lucie between the Cardinals and New York Mets seems like the sort of comic indignity reserved for ballplayers in movies like Bull Durham. Fittingly, Taveras never scored and the game ended in a 6-6 tie.
The identity of Taveras, anointed as the No. 2 prospect in the Cardinals' farm system by Baseball Prospectus, remained a mystery to the FoxSports Midwest broadcast team over the weekend even as he stood at third base in the top of the ninth inning as the go-ahead run. The announcers weren't the only ones on hand who drew a blank, the graphics team decided to have some fun with the situation and simply referred to Taveras as "Minor League Guy."
SBNation St. Louis identified the pinch-runner wearing No. 91 as Taveras, a player who the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently profiled. In Derrick Goold's story, the scouting director who signed Taveras described him as a player "who sells tickets in the future," presumably when he has a sub-90 number on his back and is playing at Busch Stadium.
In a memorable scene from Bull Durham, career minor leaguer Crash Davis waxes rhapsodic about the wonders of reaching the major leagues.
"You never handle your luggage in the show, somebody else carries your bags. It was great. You hit white balls for batting practice, the ballparks are like cathedrals, the hotels all have room service, and the women all have long legs and brains."
In the show, the local announcers and broadcast partner also know your name.
A spokesman for FSN Midwest promised as much in his apology.
"Our apologies to Oscar Taveras. He's the Cardinal's top hitting prospect, so we expect to be identifying him as a 'major league guy' in the next few years."