The Pecos League reality series was just shown in its entirety as a marathon on Fox Sports 1. I was asked by someone if my opinion on the league that I’ve written about a few times would change if I watched the show again. So I decided to watch the marathon and ultimately give my own opinion on the Pecos League.
You can read all my posts about the league here:
But here are my TRUE thoughts and opinions on the league and the guys who play in the “Wild West of Baseball” after watching the series again. I had a bit of a different perspective going into it this time. I know a lot of the players on the show and from the teams who played the Triggers that season (2013). I’ve talked to A LOT of players and staff especially while composing my “Pecos League Exposed” post over the last couple of months, so I probably have a more in-depth understanding than the average viewer of the reality show.
First and foremost, the guys who play in the Pecos League LOVE baseball. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that every guy is there for the love of the game. It is one thing that I cannot stress enough. They have such heart and dedication to baseball. The brotherhood that comes from playing in the Pecos League is so strong and unique. They go through so much together just to keep playing the game that they love.
These guys deserve to be recognized. They make the most out of pretty terrible conditions. Having fun and doing what you love is what it is all about for them. The players give up so much just for that slim chance that they will be able to advance their career, delay the real world, and keep playing a child’s game for a little bit longer.
Towns that embrace their teams also deserve credit. It takes a special family or person to open their homes to players as a host family. Providing a safe place to live (rent free), home cooked meals, and support can go a long way. Having fans in the stands supporting the team is also huge. Not every town in the Pecos League is behind the guys. That is obviously hard from a financial standpoint as well.
To the players, (most) managers and staff, and fans, I have the utmost respect for all of you.
With that being said, if the Pecos League is going to call themselves a “professional” baseball league, then they need to start acting like it. They owe that to their players, managers, and staff.
If you promise the players $50 a week, every player should be receiving a paycheck weekly. There are way too many stories of players who never got paid or went weeks without a paycheck just to find that they’re short half the money. That is unacceptable in my opinion. No, it’s not about the money for the players, but you also can’t just fail to pay players what they deserve.
Having “taxi players” that can pay the league just for a spot on a team’s roster isn’t professional baseball either. Professional baseball should be only for guys who earned a shot, not for a player who has paid their way onto a team. For the most part, those players get minimal playing time anyway. The only reason that there are taxi players is basically to provide another source of money to help fund the league. I understand that the league is strapped for cash, but taking advantage of guys trying to live out their dream isn’t very “professional.”
Travel is another huge concern. While there are teams that have buses or vans to transport the players, there are other teams that are forced to drive their own personal vehicles to away games. They even have to pay for their own gas to get there. Every team should be able to provide transportation for their entire team. Professional baseball players have to cram five guys into a car and drive sometimes 10 hours to away games. That is just ridiculous.
The food situation is a bit poor as well. Not being able to provide any food before/after games to players makes the league look bad in my eyes. Why not try to get local restaurants to sponsor nights and provide meals for the players? Maybe they do try, but every player I’ve interviewed or spoken with have said that they rarely are given meals and are forced to buy their own food with the little money that they (may) receive.
Not every player is given a host family. That means that not every player has the chance to get a nice home cooked meal for free. It also means that not every player has a place to stay rent free either. Many players have to take up residence in a hotel and pay for the entire stay themselves. One team did pay to rent out a house for their players. Bt one house for around 30 guys, that’s crazy.
The fields and facilities are poor; most looking worse than high school or even some little league fields. If there isn’t the support of the city, or a field that is adequate enough for a professional baseball team, why continue to play there? If the league cannot find better facilities for these teams, is it really worth it to play at all?
When the league does get money, where does it go? It doesn’t appear to be going back into the league the right way. There are so many rumors swirling around among players about where the money actually goes and how the league is ran. When all your players have doubts, you are doing something wrong.
And finally, the umpires and statisticians can be terrible and often know little about baseball. That is just plain unprofessional. The Pecos League talks about their goal of getting players promoted, but stats are what players rely on to get out of the league.
Higher leagues often look down on Pecos League players because their stats are often skewed or incorrect. That isn’t helping a player advance at all. It is actually hurting them in the long run. The majority of the players that I have spoken to that have advanced from the Pecos League to a higher level of baseball say the same thing – they have to work that much harder because of their Pecos League label. It’s harder for teams to take them seriously after playing there. I have spoken to managers in higher leagues, and they all confirmed these statements.
All in all, I think the Pecos League is a great concept. There are many talented guys that deserve a chance to play baseball and get a shot at advancing their career. It gives these guys something special. But it can be done so much better. If the league wants to continue to be a professional baseball organization, they really need to start acting as such. If there just isn’t enough funds to keep the league running at a professional level, then maybe it is time to fold and stop taking advantage of players’ dreams.
*Note* Any players that still want to tell their story and their experience in the Pecos League, you are more than welcome to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Twitter or Facebook (links are in my “About Me” page.