Levine: Staying alive in the independent leagues

From SABR member Zachary Levine at Baseball Prospectus on May 2, 2014:

The Atlantic League is back, and with it, the comers-back, the hangers-on, and the other bizarre stories that make the premier independent league so much fun have returned.

Last year, I went through the rosters and found my 15 favorite names and stories—mostly recognizable names to major-league fans. They were spread out across the Northeast and one Texas outpost, either trying to restart something or keep the passion for the game alive years after the Show got away from them.

Some of last year’s names are still in action, but this year’s list includes 10 new names you haven’t heard in forever or big names at the end of their run, plus a few bonus entries sprinkled in here and there.

10. Clay Hensley, Sugar Land Skeeters
The Atlantic League is littered with relief pitchers trying to harness some small-sample success and find their way back. Brian Burres is coming to a ballpark near you. Jeremy Accardo, too. Wilson Valdez as well, if you’re willing to count him as a reliever. None of those guys made my top 10, but Hensley—the guy who’s not trying to find his way back—does.

Hensley, a seven-year veteran who played his high school and college ball in the Houston area, signed with the suburban Houston club. He was named the starting pitcher, faced one batter, walked off the mound and retired.

It would have been a great mic drop except, as we learn in this recap, the guy reached on an error. How do you not make that play? How do you deny the guy his third of an inning and just leave him hanging the rest of his life with that weird 0+?

A perfect end turned perfectly awkward.

Read the full article here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=23451

Related link: Join us for SABR 44 in Houston this summer (July 30-August 3, 2014) to see a Sugar Land Skeeters game

Originally published: May 2, 2014. Last Updated: May 2, 2014.