The MLB Network is getting into the reality TV game with a solid concept called "The Next Knuckler." Former major leaguer Tim Wakefield will attempt to teach the knuckleball to five former NCAA quarterbacks — most notably 1984 Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie, who is 50 years old — and the winner will get to pitch in a spring training game with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Former major league third baseman Josh Booty of LSU, along with his brother John David Booty of USC, are among the the other contestants. David Greene, who played for Georgia, and Ryan Perrilloux, who played for LSU, also will give it a twirl.
Because of his age, Flutie would seem to be the longest shot of the group and the most gimmicky. He's been overlooked and counted out before, which is part of his appeal. But what if he makes it — even for a spring game? But the winner probably is going to come from among the others:
My money is on Booty — Josh Booty, that is. Did you know he was born Joshua Gibson Booty — Josh Gibson! — so maybe he is destined for greatness in baseball after all? None of the other contestants even have college baseball experience. Booty's time with the Marlins, while considered a failure by some because it lasted only 30 plate appearances, could help him here. And he's not too old — 37 — to learn the pitch in earnest.