It’s being reported today that Theo Fleury was going to throw out a pitch and potentially play in a game for the Calgary Vipers of the sub-sub-sub-sub-sub professional Golden League. Apparently, running a concrete sealing business isn’t enough for ol’ Theo, and that having pitches lobbed underhand to him in front of a handful of reporters is more of a gentlemanly way to spend a Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m really fortunate because it’s a good story,” Fleury said. “It’s a real good story—from where I was to where I am today. I just have so many great people in my life that support all the crazy ideas that I have.”
Now, we have no problems with this on the surface. Professional baseball players are routinely beaten in footraces by bat boys, stadium ushers and the occasional toddler. Playing a 783 game season in the sun and collecting a cheque in the process should be the dream of any child seeking a career in sports. Why take pucks to the beans for the Avalanche when you could be the DH for the Rockies for 14 seasons and never break a sweat in the process? We get it.
What we don’t get is why Fleury would get involved with the gong show that is the Vipers, even if its only for an afternoon? You see last week, these same Vipers made headlines around the world—if you can believe it—for trading right-hander pitcher John Odom to the United League’s Laredo Broncos for a shipment of bats. That’s right, a live human being for ten baseball bats. Apparently you can call up a minor league baseball GM and say “How ‘bout ol’ Hutchens there in centre field? We’ve got ten slightly used Louisville Sluggers with your name on it if you can find it in your heart to part ways with the old boy.”
You’re better than this, Theo. You don’t need to lower yourself to these sorts of publicity stunts. You want to play baseball? Fantastic! Go to tryouts of any minor leagues—Golden League included—and the reporters will follow. But don’t do it like this. You are an Olympic Gold Medalist. You’ve won the Stanley Cup for heaven’s sake!
But the trade got us thinking, where was this kind of creative thinking when Kevin Lowe was looking to move Raffi Torres last year? Ten Nike one-piece sticks for ol’ Raff Daddy? Doesn’t seem like the worst trade to us.