As another baseball season is about to descend upon us, there’s a scourge you must be aware of that is partially responsible for the state of MLB today. While the CBA was a small step toward progress, we still are dealing with far too many teams diving for the bottom without worrying about the water pressure, and even more teams that are content to just flow with the tide instead of hitting the gas on the speedboat (too many aquatic metaphors? Yeah I’m a little lost, too). They are not solely to blame, but they are a reason that teams face too little scrutiny for moves to simply lower payroll. They are the salve that front offices seek. They are the Prospect Perverts, and you must be aware of them.
At the base, it is not their fault, at least not to start. They are sufferers of baseball Stockholm Syndrome. You see, as teams like the Cubs and Astros about 10 years ago whittled their teams down to nothing, there was nothing else. The only thing to provide hope, the only way to make it through a summer of nothingness at the MLB level was to follow the kids in the minors. They promised a better day. Something that would make it all worth it. They were the oasis in the desert of 100 losses.
But see, the Cubs and Astros way worked, and everyone became convinced this was the only way, though it has not been the only way to find yourself with a parade. And with the greater access to info and highlights provided by Twitter and other outlets such as MILB TV, suddenly everyone was Billy Beane heading out to Fresno to see his prospects and blowing off the Major League roster.
And everyone’s fascination with those in the minors, the next wave instead of the current one, has allowed too many teams to see not nearly enough backlash from money-slashing transactions. Just this week, Austin Meadows, who could have helped any number of teams, and his $4 million salary was moved from Tampa to Detroit for what looks to be a nothing player. But far too many fans of other teams who could have used, or outright needed Meadows, were complimentary for their side’s inaction because they had to protect their precious prospects. They were General Jack D. Ripper haranguing Capt. Mandrake about impurifying their precious pipeline. We must not lose our essence, Mandrake!
And this happens all the time. Some team gives up at the deadline or during the winter meetings and strips their roster of any player making more than pocket lint or anywhere in the neighborhood of free agency, and there’s more than enough fans, bloggers, and media types to applaud the haul of grade-schoolers that came in return. Because hey, those grade schoolers may be something one day, right? They’re certainly cheaper, and then everyone salivates at the salary that could be used when they make it to the Majors on other players. Except it won’t, because everyone is focused on the prospects.
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No fan should care about any player in the system before Double-A, and even then it’s dicey. Should said prospect tear up Double-A, then it’s ok to be curious. But nothing counts until it’s at the Major Leagues. And only occasionally checking in on minor league stats is acceptable. Otherwise, you’re trying to get hired by a MLB team and you’re not going to.
So how do you recognize your Prospect Pervert? Let me help:
- Any use of the term “hit tool.” It’s not a tool unless he’s holding a drill. Dude can hit, and that’s it.
- Any one who posts footage of a minor leaguer taking batting practice. In reality, this is a cry for help.
- Any mention of an 80-point scale. And 80-point scale is dumb and was only crated to be different. Either 10, or 100, or shut the fuck up.
- Any dissection of a pitcher’s motion. This kind of analysis is best left to Johnny and Tara.
Avoid anyone exhibiting these signs. They have placated front offices that have ruined your favorite team. And they’ll allow that front office to do it again, should enough of those prospects turn into actual stars and make your team good. No one should be placated by the acquisition or holding onto of teenagers. Numbers in Arkansas or Grand Rapids don’t matter, and you shouldn’t care. There’s enough going on in the world to burden yourself with.
Ah, but Prospect Perverts are not exclusive to baseball. Hockey has this problem too. You may find on your timeline or wanderings through the internet of someone raving about a goal in Hockey Allsvenskan in Sweden. They’re usually Red Wings fans, as they were the original Hockey Prospect Perverts. Which was strange, because they became that when they were good. Ken Holland told everyone they liked to over-ripen their players in the AHL before calling them up. Turns out Tomas Jurco just sucked.
But it’s not just Wings fans. You can find any manner of hockey fan pointing out someone’s goal total at Bemidji State or how this kid has thrown up 167 points against the confused and immobile children of the QMJHL who apparently never learned the French word for “positioning” or “defense.” That kid will eventually rise to the NHL to score eight goals a season and there will be enough fans who slobbered over his junior stats to scream, “If only he got power play time!” Dear reader, power play time would not help.
These are not your friends. They will not help your love of your team. They will not enhance your fandom. They are the enemy, They excuse too much. They justify too many actions. They are the Prospect Perverts, and you need to avoid them.