Commissioner Bud Selig announced today what many had been expecting-the formation of major league baseball's Junior Varsity League.
Selig said eight teams—the Chicago White Sox, Florida Marlins, Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, Montreal Expos, Oakland A's, Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates—will be removed from the big leagues and instead will vie for the JV title. "We had to face reality," said Selig. "Most of these teams have a payroll that wouldn't pay for Kevin Brown's room service, much less Kevin Brown. I mean, the Twins start the season $70 million down to the Yankees. Why kid ourselves? These teams had about as much chance of contending as I have of nailing Carmen Electra."
The hope is that the new league will spark fan interest again in clubs that were mathematically eliminated from the pennant races just after pitchers and catchers reported. "I'm psyched," said Marlins manager John Boles. "The only way we weren't going to lose a hundred games was to move the stadium to an undisclosed location."
All the JV action will be broadcast over De Kalb, Ill., public-access cable, with Jayne Kennedy and George Will slated for the broadcast booth.
"We're looking forward to giving these teams something to play for," JV commissioner Steve Balboni said. "Let's face it. Only four or five teams have a shot at the World Series. Baseball has become as predictable as a Havana city council election. Last season no team made the playoffs that wasn't among the top 13 in payroll. Baseball is finally pulling its head out of its ass. Up to now, everything else it tried was just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic."
Naturally, Balboni said, the new league will employ cost-cutting measures. Players will travel to games utilizing Greyhound's Ameripass program. All teams will stay at Cubicle by Marriott. Groupies will be harvested from dropouts of Reno Hooker College.
"Are you kidding me?" said Royals ace Kevin Appier. "I'm going to win 30 games! Cleveland and Baltimore already signed all the big freaking sticks! Think I can't punch out Denny Hocking all year? Please!"
Philadelphia, the richest JV team, with a payroll of about $29 million, is the favorite to win the coveted Mario Mendoza Trophy at the JV Discount World Series in Williamsport, Pa., in October. Oddsmaker Danny Sheridan, however, refused to handicap the field. "Personally," he said, "I don't see how any of them can win it."
Unlike major league baseball, there will be no cash bonus for members of the JV championship team, but each player will receive a crystal bowl of cigarette butts and a lime-green teddy autographed by Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott. The team that finishes last in the JV each season will be traded for the champion of the Elks' Class C coed softball league in Enid, Okla.
Reaction from the Haves in baseball was mixed upon hearing about the new league for the HaveNots. " Pittsburgh's in it?" said Yankees ace Roger Clemens. "Hell, I thought Pittsburgh folded three seasons ago."