You strike out, scuff back to the dugout and head into the empty locker room, planning to smash a watercooler or sock the red punching bag that hangs from the ceiling. Suddenly you remember you're not alone. Smile—you're on Baseball, Minnesota.
For four months camera crews have been filming a 22-part, reality-based series on the life and times of the St. Paul Saints, an independent minor league team whose cast of characters has included owner Mike Veeck, son of Bill Veeck, and veterans Darryl Strawberry and Jack Morris. Picture MTV's The Real World in cleats. Cameras roll as players select furniture for their apartments, toss back a few at the local hangout, Gabe's, and throw major league tantrums in the locker room.
Designated hitter Kevin Garner was wired for sound throughout a recent game. "I feel like I'm in a circus," said Garner, the battery pack for his microphone sticking out of the back pocket of his baseball pants. His parents, visiting from Michigan, were also miked as they sat in the stands. "They're worried about being boring," said Garner.
That's a genuine concern given the dead air that sometimes fills The Real World. But if things get flat, there is a wacky, Veeckian universe to chronicle at Midway Stadium—a pig that delivers baseballs to the umpire in exchange for dog biscuits, for example—and that should give the show an extra dimension.
The series will not focus on Strawberry or Morris, both of whom joined the team well after the show was in the works. But cameras were rolling last week when Strawberry, who had just signed with the Yankees, stopped at Gabe's for an emotional goodbye. And fX followed Strawberry to Yankee Stadium on Sunday when he returned to the majors. Whether the show also deserves to make the Show remains to be seen.