The York Revolution’s signing of little person Dave Flood in the hopes he can turn into a legitimate pinch-hitter may not be a huge stretch in terms of baseball strategy, but it does have the potential to backfire on the independent team.We’re all for a good gimmick to bring attention to a baseball team, and over the weekend the York Revolution (independent; Atlantic League) provided one, signing 3-2 (yes, that’s three feet, two inches tall) Dave Flood to a tryout contract in the hopes he can make the team as a designated pinch hitter.
Why someone so small as a designated pinch hitter?
A press release sent from the team quotes Nate Silver as saying someone who can deliver a sure walk per game would be more statistically valuable than Albert Pujols. While we have some serious reservations about that — especially on the box-office level — we do see some strategy involved here. The smaller the batter, the smaller the strike zone. That was abundantly shown by the legendary Eddie Gaedel, who walked in his only MLB at-bat after Bill Veeck signed him to a contract and worked the system to allow the little person to bat in a real game. In his book, "Andy Roddick Beat Me With a Frying Pan," Todd Gallagher argues for the presence of little people on baseball rosters, saying the sure walk would be a great benefit to a team. And Gallagher quotes MiLB official Tim Purpura as saying he would have signed a little person to a contract when he was Houston Astros GM if baseball’s rules had allowed it. (We’re guessing he’s not so eager to endorse the independent-baseball move here, though.)
Of course, baseball people like to flap their gums a lot. But how serious is the Revolution about this "experiment"? Not very, we think. For starters, the team signed a high-profile personality to the contract; Flood happens to be 44 years old and has a pretty decent day job. (The Rev is also selling him as having a former affiliation with the Tampa Bay Rays. Nice touch.)
Despite statements to the contrary, we’re not so sure Flood would give up a very solid radio gig to play for $1,000 a month or so as a designated pinch hitter. And despite some positive comments from Revolution players in the press, we’re not entirely sure most players would thrilled about potentially being shown up by a designated little person. So we’ll see whether Flood actually has a chance to make the team coming out of spring training, or if this was a sideshow designed to give the team some headlines in a busy time of the year.
But that’s OK. Little people win, the Revolution wins, Todd Gallagher will see if his theory works in real life, and fans get to see something new.
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