Beginning next week, MLB Network will begin airing The Next Knuckler, a reality competition series where Tim Wakefield works with a group of former college or NFL quarterbacks in an attempt to make one the next ageless knuckleballer to hit the majors. The show will be hosted by former Wakefield teammate Kevin Millar.
The field: Doug Flutie, David Greene, Josh Booty, J.D. Booty (thought he went by John David Booty?) and Ryan Perrilloux. Greene played at the University of Georgia. Josh Booty (a former Marlins third baseman) and Ryan Perrilloux played at LSU (with Perrilloux later playing for Jacksonville State), and John David Booty played at USC. All had at least a cup of coffee in the NFL. You may have heard of Flutie.
The Next Knuckler is set to premiere at 9 p.m. ET Feb. 13 (weirdly, it's listed at 10 p.m. ET on my DirecTV program guide, but I'll trust the promo for now). Via press release, here's what the competition is about:
Taped at Vero Beach Sports Village, the former Spring Training home of the Los Angeles Dodgers, each episode will feature the contestants learning from Wakefield how to throw this baffling pitch before facing challenges to test the effectiveness of their knuckleball. One contestant will be eliminated from the competition in each episode based on his performance and input from Wakefield and Millar. The winner will earn an invitation to the Arizona Diamondbacks' Spring Training camp and the chance to pitch for the D-backs in a Spring Training game.
Here's the 30-second trailer:
I love the idea, but I wonder if it would be more compelling if they used failed minor-league baseball players or even guys who had good throwing arms but never made it past the high school level?
No offense to Doug Flutie, but it's not as if he's some hard-luck guy in need of a second chance at life or anything. I think R.A. Dickey's story this past season would have been far less heart-warming had he previously been a Pro Bowl quarterback with a Heisman Trophy (like Flutie).
Then again, it's a long shot any of these contestants ever throw even one pitch in the bigs, let alone win a Cy Young.
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