“Come see the stars of tomorrow today” has long been the No. 1 selling pitch of minor league baseball. It works because it’s true. The Jacksonville Suns are proof of that.
The Suns are one of the most successful minor league franchises in the country for lots of reasons, a great ballpark and marketing team among them. It also helps that such Hall of Famers as Hank Aaron, Phil Niekro, Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver have worn the Jacksonville uniform. The list also includes Randy Johnson and Larry Walker and a couple of today’s biggest stars, Marlins slugger Mike Stanton (2010) and Dodgers pitching ace Clayton Kershaw (’08).
By the time their careers end, Kershaw may well rank behind only Aaron as the greatest star to hone his game in our city. By some accounts, Kershaw just completed the best pitching month in Major League history, his 6-0 record including a no-hitter. He already has won two ERA titles in his MLB career.
I don’t know if any of today’s Suns are headed for the Hall of Fame, but you never know. Go check them out for yourself.
It’s easy to make fun of the geographical layout of most of today’s college conferences.
Really, does Rutgers and Maryland belong in the Big Ten? Can you wrap your arms around Missouri and the Southeastern Conference? Isn’t West Virginia an odd fit in the Big 12, the land of the 10-gallon hats and cowboy boots? Does Syracuse and Miami really belong in the same conference?
Nothing, however, can match the lowly-ranked Sun Belt Conference – yes, the Sun Belt is considered big boy football – when it comes to geographical lunacy.
Don’t you know fans of Idaho and New Mexico State really get fired up to play Georgia Southern, South Alabama, Troy, Georgia State, Appalachian State, Arkansas State and a couple of directional schools in Louisiana?
At least they’ll earn a lot of frequent-flier miles.
I know I probably come across as something of a nerd when I talk about today’s topic. I really do understand that boys will be boys and sometimes that means doing something dumb. Shoot, I’ve done a few stupid things myself.
But let me get to the point. This is the time of year when football fans and coaches live in fear their players will do something REALLY stupid and wind up in jail or injured. Ah, the dreaded summer down time.
Coaches preach to the players. They plead with the players. They threaten the players. The message is always the same: Be smart; use a driver if you’re drinking alcohol; don’t get into a physical altercation with anyone, particularly a woman.
Still, some players will get in trouble despite all of the advice, support and warnings. I feel bad for the fans and coaches, but I don’t have any sympathy for the players. Behaving themselves for 4-8 weeks may not be easy, but it isn’t that hard.
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