Friday, June 20, 2008

Former SCL CEO Toole pleased so far with Playing for Peanuts

Original plans for the Playing for Peanuts story, currently the headliner on the main site, included an interview with former South Coast League CEO Jaime Toole.

Locating Toole turned out to be a little more difficult than expected. Rather than hold the story any longer, the story was published without his comments.

The Dugout did reach Toole earlier today, talking by phone for about 20-minutes.

“I like it,” said Toole, who is currently working as a marketing consultant. “I think John (Fitzgerald) did a nice job. It gives a pretty accurate portrayal of what it’s like on the road and I think the overall tone of the show has been positive.”

Toole added that he isn’t concerned about being portrayed in a bad light when the show delves into the controversial suspension/retraction of South Georgia manager Wally Backman.

“I’m not worried about it,” Toole said. “As long as it’s true to the actions that happened, then I’ll be OK with it.”

In the surprise moment of the conversation, Toole said he and some others are attempting to buy the assets of the South Coast League. He thought the initial demographic research the league conducted yielded positive data. The Southeast, he believes, can still support an independent league.

Just don’t look for them to return to Anderson, S.C., Albany, Ga., or any of the other previous SCL cities.

“When you suspend operations, you almost suspend all the hope of the vendors we were working with,” Toole said.

Toole still seemed proud of his work with the SCL, pointing out more than once that the league sent 15 players to affiliated baseball.

According to Toole, the league finished its lone season $750,000 in debt which, he said, “wasn’t insurmountable.”

If he had to do it over again, Toole would have concentrated more on the hiring processes for team front office personnel. He said the rapidity with which they needed to staff six teams caused the league to rush the process of filling those slots.

Toole suggested his potential new league would have an age limit, which would allow the league to lower costs by keeping players' salaries down. Cost would also likely prohibit the hiring of big-name coaches like Backman or Cecil Fielder, who took over an SCL team midway through the season.

Overall, the conversation was pretty interesting. The Dugout has no real way of confirming most of Toole’s facts, but there was no immediate reason to challenge his assertions, either. One statement he made intending to pump-up the SCL was pretty funny, though.

“You’d be surprised how many people don’t realize the league is not playing this year,” he said.

The Dugout doesn’t know how many people that is, but it’s certainly less than the amount of people who never knew the league existed.

The tarp incident: The latest episode of Playing for Peanuts, which aired tonight in Florida, featured the grounds crew’s inability to pull the tarp, which was mentioned in the main story. Watched the show with a couple of people who hadn’t seen Peanuts before. They found that scene laugh-out-loud funny. The episode ended with Backman getting tossed, which should make next week’s show a must see.

Coming attractions: The Dugout also talked with people from CSS, which broadcasts the show in the Southeast via Comcast Cable. Intended to add their opinions of the show on this blog, but it grew a little long. Look for it tomorrow.

And, yes, a blog or perhaps even a full story about last night’s experience in ambidexterity during the New York-Penn League’s game between Staten Island and Brooklyn is in the works. Likely deluged by media requests today, the league office wasn’t answering phones. Here's a look at the switch hitter vs. switch pitcher video:

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