Starting on February 13th at 9 PM, MLB Network will debut their first-ever reality competition series: The Next Knuckler. Five former quarterbacks will be taught how to throw the knuckleball by former Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield, with the grand prize of the show being an invitation to Spring Training with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The show will be hosted by Kevin Millar (ugh), and features cameos from RA Dickey, Charlie Hough, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and 15-year old little leaguer Chelsea Baker. Here's a video preview…
The five former quarterbacks competing are…
-John David Booty (28) from USC
-Josh Booty (37) from LSU, the fifth overall pick by the Marlins in 1994
-Doug Flutie (50) from Boston College
-David Greene (30) from Georgia
-Ryan Perriloux (26) from LSU and Jacksonville State
The only household name among the quintet of competitors is Flutie, who is actually older than both hosts of the show. These guys are all career football players (with the exception of the elder Booty who was a third baseman in the Marlins system), and even though knuckleballers tend to be on the older side of the age spectrum, it's not as if there's a ton of upside potential here.
The scheduling for the show is weird too, with the four episodes airing two per week in back to back weeks (February 13th, 14th, 20th, and 21st). And… that's it? Four episodes? It's not as if anyone is going to be able to get emotionally invested in the show, and I highly doubt that whoever wins even takes part in a Spring Training game with the Diamondbacks… so what's the point? To illustrate how difficult it is to throw a knuckleball by trying to teach it to five semi-known quarterbacks?
This show seems like little more than a bizarre novelty (really, Tim Wakefield teaching Ryan Perriloux how to throw a knuckleball???) and I don't even know what MLB Network is trying to accomplish with it. But it may just be bizarre enough worth checking out.