MLB Network's reality show The Next Knuckler concluded last week with former LSU quarterback and Marlins third baseman Josh Booty winning the competition, and an invitation to Spring Training with the Arizona Diamondbacks. One problem: the Marlins still hold the rights to Booty according to Fox Sports.
How'd we get here? Well, when Booty retired from baseball in 1999, he was placed on Miami's retired list, giving them the first shot at Booty if he wanted to come back. Apparently, both MLB and the Diamondbacks never realized that Booty retired from the Marlins 14 years ago. That's right: both the league and one of their teams didn't remember who Booty, the fifth overall pick in the 1994 draft by the Marlins and a former top 25 prospect in baseball, was. And it's not as if Booty never played in the majors, either. He logged 30 plate appearances with the Marlins from 1996 to 1998, and has a World Series ring from his role on Miami's 1997 championship team.
In reality shows, situations like this are more common than you think. Bellator Fighting Championships sued the UFC in August of 2010, alleging that one of the fighters on The Ultimate Fighter (Jonathan Brookins) had an exclusive contract with Bellator. Roy Nelson was sued by Square Ring Inc, owned by Roy Jones Jr, for his participation on TUF as well. Despite both of those lawsuits, you'd expect more out of MLB, considering that the involved player is someone that, while not a household name, has some name value outside of the football bubble.
But what will happen with this situation? Well, if Booty impresses enough to make Arizona's Opening Day roster, the Marlins can take him back and send no compensation whatsoever to the Diamondbacks. Considering how loaded with pitching the Diamondbacks are this spring and the nature of a reality show featuring washed up athletes trying to throw a knuckleball, him making the roster seems like the longest of longshots, and this will be all for naught. But if it does happen and Booty ever throws a single pitch for the Marlins or the Diamondbacks or whoever, it'll be one of the most surreal, ridiculous journeys in MLB history.