Monday, June 02, 2008

"Playing for Peanuts" offers an entertaining look at South Coast League

Flipping trough the channels yesterday The Dugout came upon a show called "Playing for Peanuts" on Comcast's CSS network.

The crew spent last season following the South Coast League's South Georgia Peanuts, a team that by almost any measure was clutching to the bottom rung of the baseball ladder. Other than being led by former big league player and psuedo-major league manager Wally Backman, the Peanuts appear to be an utterly unremarkable group of guys.

That’s what makes the show so interesting.

Part of the fun of watching lower level independent games is seeing kids who are taking their last shot at the game. From the brief episodes aired Sunday, there are several players worth routing for.

The ballplayers are cast against the backdrop of what will likely be shown to be the wonderfully dysfunctional – and now defunct (OK, suspended) - South Coast League.

Opening day set the tone. Cameras were present at the home of the Charlotte Redfish when the parachutist attempting to deliver the inaugural game ball crashed into the outside of the outfield wall. Midway through opening night the lights in the ballpark go dark. After they are finally re-fired and the Peanuts finish off the Redfish, players head for the showers only to find there are no towels.

In an interview likely shot the following day, the Charlotte general manager somehow says with a straight face something to the effect of: If forgetting towels was the biggest problem we had, I’ll take it.

Yeah, pay no attention to the crashing parachutist and the blackout.

The Dugout is hoping to talk with director/producer John Fitzgerald, who also produced the Irish national baseball team documentary “The Emerald Diamond,” in the coming weeks.

In the mean time, keep an eye open for “Playing for Peanuts.” CSS in South Florida seems to be using the show as a filler when college softball and baseball games run short or get rained out.

A preview for an upcoming episode shows a grounds crew lining the batters box with chalk being poured from a paper cup. If nothing else, the foibles of the South Coast League alone should make viewers feel better about their jobs.

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