Friday, November 23, 2007

MLB Launches Recruitment Campaign To Replenish "Dangerously Low" Supply Of Hard-Nosed, Backup Catchers

New York, NY (Nov. 22) - Citing its supply of hard-nosed, backup catchers as being "dangerously low," Major League Baseball unveiled a new recruitment campaign designed to replenish the dwindling number of second-string backstops.

"If you're a catcher low on actual baseball talent but with a never-say-die attitude, we want to take a look at you," Commissioner Bud Selig said in announcing the aggressive new campaign.

MLB screened for reporters a new 30-second commercial that it hopes will lure catchers who have no chance of ever being a consistent starter into the life of a hard-nosed backup. Entitled "Every Team Needs A Second Catcher," the campaign's TV spot features today's current crop of hard-nosed backups waxing eloquent about the joys of their job.

"I thought my career was over when I realized I couldn't hit better than .220," says Todd Pratt, a career backup. "But then I decided my lack of baseball skills wouldn't stop me from realizing my dream," Pratt continues in the spot, which includes fellow backups talking about the benefits of their lot in life.

Some of the things cited in the campaign that MLB hopes will successfully solicit new members to the hard-nosed backup catcher brotherhood are: playing only once every nine days (keeps body fresher longer); anything you contribute offensively is a bonus; fans appreciate the way you hung in there gamely in that last collision at the plate; and hot chicks will still find you attractive, because they can be duped into thinking that you're the starter and an All-Star-caliber player.

"We know this country is positively crawling with marginally-talented, hard-nosed catchers who hit for sh*t but aren't afraid to get their uniforms dirty," Selig said. "And now we make this public plea: we need you in Major League Baseball, and soon."

The ranks of hard-nosed backup catchers began declining in the late-1990s, according to a report released by Selig.

"Unfortunately, gone seem to be the days of the likes of Bill Plummer, Duffy Dyer, and Marc Hill," catching analyst Mitch Hunter said in the wake of Selig's announced recruitment campaign. "The 1970s were the 'Golden Era' for hard-nosed backups. For some reason, MLB has been unable to keep this awful yet necessary category of player adequately stocked. This campaign may seem desperate, but it is what it is."

Baseball, according to its latest research, is running dangerously low on mostly untalented, yet hard-nosed backup catchers like the Tigers' Vance Wilson, shown tagging out someone who's a far better player than he is

Hunter pointed to Detroit Tiger Vance Wilson's season-long elbow injury in 2007 as a huge blow to the hard-nosed backups' relevance to baseball. "Wilson is a throwback," Hunter said of the Tigers backstop, who Hunter praised for his "questionable hitting talent but seemingly excellent defensive skills and his ability to give the impression that he works well with pitchers." Hunter said that baseball can "ill afford" to lose someone of Wilson's mediocre stature next season.

The campaign will focus itself on the low minor leagues and junior colleges, and might even expand to the high school level, depending upon how serious the dearth of hard-nosed backup catchers is deemed.

Also named as "concerns" but not urgent -- at this time -- are MLB's supply of scrappy, good field/no hit middle infielders, spot pitching starters, and thinking man's players. Also being monitored are players' managers and "guys who just want to win."

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