Jerry Carter: Show the VBL the money
Cuba Gooding Jr made the most out of one of the greatest lines in the history of sports movies when he shouted to Tom Cruise “show me the money” in “Jerry McGuire” a lifetime ago.
The line was incredibly well written, but it was Gooding’s creativity that took it to the next level, possibly giving the four words a place in the history of the intersection of sports and Hollywood.
It’s with that thought that I want to put pen to paper in my efforts to assist the politicians that are currently trying to pass legislation that would breathe life back into Minor League Baseball teams that are still trying to dig their ways out of a fiscal hole created by the lost season due to COVID.
While I might be the least political person out there, this story touched a subject near and dear to me. The romance of baseball at all levels below The Show, as the cool kids call the Major Leagues, and yes, I said romance. To some people the line of “for the love of the game” is just a line, but to me it’s what makes the game so special.
The marketing, the creativity and all of the labor put into the game at the lower levels is something that I simply marvel at on a daily basis. Having spent a couple of decades covering the game for local newspapers and later getting involved in the actual running of summer league baseball, I have always respected the amount of effort it takes to put on a ballgame from start to finish.
While most folks attend a ballgame to watch the action inside of the white lines, I have always been driven by all the workers, who are often volunteers at the lower levels. The people will never be the stars of the night, yet they show up night after night and give the game 100 percent effort.
The initial story caused me to want to get involved in this effort, so I set out to visit all of the diamonds in our state to have conversations with anyone that would listen about drumming up support for the clubs in Norfolk, Richmond, Lynchburg, Fredericksburg and Salem. Those are five official MiLB ball clubs.
The number listed in the article was nine, because the four Appalachian League teams that call the Commonwealth home were included. My heart goes out to the folks in Danville, Bluefield, Bristol and Pulaski that all received the demotion from being part of the minors to now hosting summer league ball clubs. Each one of them is trying to both dig out of the hole created by the lost season and the task of having to remarket themselves at a different level.
Turning back to the romance of the game I mentioned earlier, I found myself thinking about my first Llve in regards to the sport. It was during my time playing the role of sportswriter for Mike Petry at the Northern Virginia Daily that I first learned of the Valley Baseball League. After five seasons of reporting on the games and the towns for the paper, I decided to take my work to the next level by creating a feel good blog to be able to just have the ability to give the VBL even more love.
The VBL is a homegrown group of people that anyone could rally around. The time involved in running one of these non-profit organizations goes almost year around, and there is very little fanfare for the hard-working people that make it happen.
The need for there to be money made available for minor league baseball to continue is real, and I am thrilled to attach my efforts to the cause, but mine comes with one condition. Any money given to MiLB simply must include the Valley Baseball League. The VBL checks all of the boxes being placed in front of them, and I believe that a one-time helping hand could guarantee the league’s existence for another 20 years.
I know that there are hundreds of leagues out there that could use similar assistance, but I can’t speak for them. But in regards to the VBL I will shout from the mountaintops, “show them the money,” in my best Cuba Gooding Jr. voice. Just mail the check to New Market care of Bruce Alger.
Find a way to let the people that need to know that you want to jump on the VBL bandwagon – plenty of good seats available.
Story by Jerry Carter