MLB Trio Create Smooth Path To Futures Game




You can be sure that the testosterone will be plentiful on the field (the natural kind; no steroids jokes please) at AT&T Park during the Futures Game, not to mention the major league festivities to follow.

And yet those 50 cocky young men who gather in San Francisco have three women to thank for all the fun they're having.

Major League Baseball approved the first Futures Game for the 1999 season, and ever since then it has been played on the Sunday before the major league All-Star Game, showcasing some of the best prospects in the game.

And from day one, responsibility for putting it all together has fallen to Sylvia Lind, who now is MLB's senior manager for minor league operations. She has been ably assisted along the way by Pat Scott, senior coordinator for minor league operations.

When the first game barreled toward them like a locomotive, Lind and Scott were just about the only ones working on putting it together. Since then they have added Ana Cariello, senior administrative assistant for minor league and international baseball operations, to their team.

A number of other people help them along the way, but it's these three people who do the bulk of the work, from helping assemble the rosters, to getting all the players and coaches to the game, to making sure no one in the clubhouse is chewing tobacco.

Adventures In Travel

When you get the opportunity to talk to Lind, Scott and Cariello together about the game, as I did, it becomes obvious that the Futures Game is a labor of love for them. It doesn't take long for the reminiscing and laughter to start, and a few of the stories we can actually repeat.

Now if you've been reading this space over the years, you've already heard the stories about the player who changed his plane ticket so he could get more sleep—but neglected to tell anyone about it. You've read about the player who got traded and used his plane ticket to go back to his former minor league home and pack his stuff—without letting his new team know. You may even remember the player who was about to get released—until his organization found out he was going to be invited to the Futures Game. So we won't rehash those stories, and we still won't tell you who the players were.

But how much fun would the 2004 Futures Game have been if outfielder Delmon Young and righthander Clint Everts hadn't been there?

Futures Game participants travel to the game on Saturday (the day before the game), and most arrive by midday. Young, now in the Devil Rays outfield, and Everts, in high Class A with the Nationals, were playing in the South Atlantic League in 2004, and both were flying to the Futures Game in Houston from Savannah, Ga.

Weather delays threw their travel into disarray, however, and they had to scramble to make other plans. Finally they were able to arrange a new flight, getting to Houston late Saturday night, but their equipment was not as lucky. Players get caps and jerseys at the Futures Game, but they bring everything else.

"These guys had nothing, and they were very, very, very sad," Scott said.

Rolling With The Punches

After hours of diligently trying to track down the equipment—and offers from other players to lend them gear—Young and Everts' bags finally arrived as the teams were preparing for batting practice. Scott dashed to the airport and got everything to the ballpark just before the game started.

What was once a crisis is now just a good laugh, just like the memory of Venezuelan players mocking Lind because her Spanish word for "bus" was their Spanish word for "child," creating high comedy when she said, "The bus is leaving."

"We take it all in stride now," Scott said. "A lot of things have happened, hopefully everything that can happen. Now we know how to deal with it."

Lind, who is of Cuban descent, and Cariello, who is Dominican, usually handle the World team, while Scott and whoever she can get to help her handle the U.S. team. Other than the language and the World clubhouse being a little more boisterous, they say the players are pretty much the same, especially in how much being in the game means to them.

"Guys are very appreciative, from the time they're selected," Lind said.

You can contact Will Lingo by sending e-mail to willlingo@baseballamerica.com.