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Am I a true baseball fan?

Do you like to watch the College World Series? Or high school and little league games? If you answered "yes," then you are a true baseball fan. If not, well, then minor league games are cheaper than major league ballparks. 

In any case, minor league games are not about being cheaper and less talented versions of the real thing. Most games showcase several solid young players and the occasional major leaguer on a rehab assignment. 

I recently attended my first minor league ballgame in a long time (I generally only attend major league games). The Eastern League (AA) game was between the Akron Aeros (Affiliate: Cleveland Indians) and the Norwich Navigators (Affiliate: New York Yankees; a.k.a. the "Gators"). It really was a great time, especially if you are a true baseball fan. 

The showcase talent was 6-foot, 6-inch lefty Brian Rogers, who is currently on the Yankees 40-man roster. He was selected in the 5th round of the '98 Draft out of The Citadel. The 24-year-old Rogers pitched a 2 hitter through 5 innings, after which he gave up 3 runs on 5 hits yet still getting the win. Give him a few more years to develop. Rogers is an up-and-coming star in the organization. As a bonus, Tribe regular 3B Travis Fryman was on a rehab start as the Aeros DH. 

There are dozens of minor league teams all over the country. Each major league has at least 3 minor league or farm teams. Recently, most teams have expanded to 5 and 6 farm clubs to support their organization. If you get the chance, catch a minor league game near you.

Check out www.minorleaguebaseball.com or www.mlb.com as most MLB team pages have links to their farm teams. 



As everyone continues to guess when the Twins will come back down to earth--and I predict that they will not--the real story is in Philly. How in the world are they in first place in the NL East? Where did they come from? The unlikely Phillies, who are 25-17, have a 5-game lead over the Bravos. They have NO BIG NAME STARS. Statically, no one is hitting the cover off of the ball. Second-year outfielder Pat Burrell is leading the team with a .280 BA with outfielders Doug Glanville and Bobby Abreu adding the pop in their lineup each with 7 HRs. They rank 10th in the National League in batting and 2nd in pitching. The key has been solid pitching from a makeshift starting rotation and resurrected closer Jose Mesa converting 11 of 12 save opportunities. SP Omar Daal has jumped out to a 5-0 start with a 3.70 ERA while the rest of the rotation is a putrid combined 12-11 with a 4.26 ERA. As they say, this too shall pass.


Locker Room is written by Michael Skordeles


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