When you hear the word "baseball", what do you think of?
Do you think about the Mitchell Report?
What about a walk-off grand slam?
Chances are, very few people think about their favorite pitcher from the Savannah Sand Gnats, their hero from the Toledo Mud Hens, or the thrill of watching the Triple A All-Star Game up close and in person.
The photo above is at Howard Johnson Field in Johnson City, Tennessee—home of the Johnson City Cardinals: the Rookie Appalachian Affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.
I bet that you never knew that a man named Curt Smith, who was the first baseman for Johnson City, hit .378 for them in the 2008 season.
He has now moved up to the Single A level and is now playing for the Palm Beach Cardinals in Palm Beach, Florida.
I also bet that you never knew that he was picked in the 39th round of the June 2008 First-Year Player Draft (1,175 overall).
Ordinary people have no clue how demanding the MILB is.
For class Triple A, the schedule is physically and mentally demanding.
For example, the Charlotte Knights, the Triple A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, has a schedule that is unbelievable.
In the month of June this season, the Knights will visit the following cities in order: Toledo, Ohio; Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania; Pawtucket, Rhode Island; and Buffalo, New York.
All that, and they get one off day.
Yes, they stay within the same general area, but could you imagine just getting one off-day per month?
If you are still not convinced, imagine the transportation.
Could you imagine going all over your region in a bus?
However, we can shed some light on the subject.
Most of the lower minor-league classes are non-alcoholic communities. So, you can actually bring your five-year-old child to the game. Or, you can go to the baseball diamond without running the risk of being drenched in beer, which is a big plus.
So the next time a minor-league baseball game comes to your town or community, I encourage you to go. Hey, what could it hurt? You just might get a first glimpse of the next Derek Jeter.
P.S.- All of us at Bleacher Report would like to wish every player in the minor league system the very best of luck.