The term "professional baseball player" can be applied a few ways. As long as money is sort of exchanged and at least part of the money goes from one person to the person calling themselves a "professional baseball player", well, you have the makings of a pro.
So keep that bit in mind. The Pecos League is a reality show premiering on May 13th on FS1. I would encourage you as a baseball fan to watch it if only to maybe better appreciate the fact that you're a baseball fan and not a baseball player.
The vibe of the show is definitely something along the lines of "The Real Bull Durham of Southern Colorado" and if you've ever talked to a person that plays baseball or minor league baseball or even adult league baseball and you hear some of their stories of the kinds of things they do when they aren't playing baseball, then you have a relatively good idea of what to expect with The Pecos League. Your idea of The Pecos League might be even better if you've been to a city that has a nickname like The Jackalope Capital of the World or The Cutting Horse Capital of the World or, in the case of our heroes of The Pecos League, The Sex Change Capital of the America.
That's right, Axion, we are following the Trinidad Triggers of Trinidad, Colorado as they embark on what they believe to be their very very very very very very very last shot at ever making it to the Major Leagues. As several players describe in the premier, you have the big leagues, the various minor league levels you've all heard of, several levels of independent levels, "50 feet of shit" and then the Pecos League.
I got to watch the first two episodes of The Pecos League and it's remarkable to me that you can get this much love for the game, this much dream chasing, this much good heartedness, this much small town weirdness and (for lack of any better word) this much douche-baggery in a single television show.
Yes. These guys are a bucketful of pure young baseball player complete with all the young cockiness of guys who were the best baseball players in their respective high schools, but with extra large chips on their shoulder and the vague awareness that nobody's really paying attention other than the fact that they get their fifty dollar a week paychecks. As they describe it, all they get are their weekly checks, a promise that the team will help them find host families to live with during the season, a jersey and a cap. Bring your own baseball pants.
Which isn't to say there isn't some talent. You could see how a little more of something or another might get them at least into an independent league past the "fifty feet of shit". The first episode shows an almost no-hitter with a pitcher wanting to somehow prove to his college coach that he's not a loser. More often than not, you hear the sentiment that the guys have something to prove even though they're proving it in the middle of nowhere to a town that only seems mildly interested in what they're up to. Even the Triggers manager, for as much as he obviously wants the team to succeed and win, apparently is the manager by virtue of getting bored with his old job (as a corporate attorney) and really liking baseball.
So is it worth watching? I'd say yes. There are some cringeworthy moments that come with severely unpolished professional ballplayers. The word f_g__t gets used (bleeped) liberally during an online trash talking back and forth the Triggers have with the rival Train Robbers of Las Vegas. At one point, a Triggers player comments casually about how fat the girls are in Trinidad. At another point, a member of a host family casually mentions that his dog has never seen a black person before. The guys (all 25 and under or so) do a lot of douchey "guy" stuff.
The team and town continually remind them all not to curse, drink, smoke around their families and at the ballpark. I mean, they're told not to curse on the field even. That doesn't stop them from basically cursing, drinking and smoking wherever else they can do such a thing, while willfully ignoring the Peter Pan-like futility of avoiding just becoming a grownup and getting a job that pays more than minimum wage. It's like just staying in this world of "professional" baseball can allow them to be goofy jocks forever. When Annie Savoy said in Bull Durham,"The world is made for people who aren't cursed with self awareness," she might have been talking about the world of and immediately surrounding the Pecos League.
But still, they're likable guys and that definitely comes across in the first couple episodes. The stories end up being funny. The weird situations (like not having a grounds crew during spring training) all end up being the stories that you'd expect to hear from a real life Bull Durham and they're true, which is always nice.
I'll look forward to the rest of the season and root for the guys knowing full well that they probably won't be showing up in a Major League uniform any time soon. But still... A man can dream can't he?