Life in the Minors
Brendan Sagara

There is no hope of escape
from the Kangaroo Court

With all of the inevitable down time involved in minor league baseball, there are a lot of different ways to pass it.

Considering the four months of games, the pregame hours spent at the yard in the clubhouse or on the field for early work or batting practice, and the hundreds of hours spent on the bus, there seems to be an eternity of time to fill each season.

In our clubhouse or on the bus, there are the usual sights. The card players, the magazine readers, TV watchers, iPod listeners and the guys who seemed glued to their cell phones.

In a sport which requires so much mental focus for such long spans of time, we all need to find ways to laugh and keep it light around the clubhouse. And with so much time spent together, guys often need to learn to enjoy having each other around.

From time to time there are lists put up on the clubhouse wall, keeping track of certain things, just for laughs, of course.

Early in the year, there was a "Jay Pecci Word Count" list, which kept track of our soft-spoken shortstop's spoken-word tally. I believe the count currently stands at 23.

There are also a couple of counts on how many times a couple of our guys eat lunch at certain local restaurants this season.

But one of the most entertaining aspects of our ballclub this season has been our Kangaroo Court.

The Kangaroo Court is not unusual in baseball circles. Guys are turned in by their teammates for various infractions and are subject to fines.

Around here, the fines are usually rather small, thanks to our considerate veterans, who are quite aware of the going rookie salary.

Our vets put together some blank forms and a "Bang Box." It's a taped-up cardboard box, which follows us everywhere throughout the season. The Bang Box is where tattling teammates bust their buddies and fill out a form detailing the infraction, the offender and the witness.

I'm not quite sure who exactly is in charge of the whole thing, but it seems as though our vets, Anthony Iapoce and Curt Lee, are most involved in governing the process.

Anthony, a long-time minor leaguer with considerable Triple-A experience, always makes sure the system runs well. With a voice louder than a foghorn, "Posey" can often be heard "banging" guys at all times of the day and even in the middle of the night from the back of the bus.

The Kangaroo Court usually coincides with payday, so our younger guys can pay up without having to skip a meal.

So far this year, infractions have ranged from the obvious of wearing the wrong hat, belt, or socks during the game, to the ridiculous.

Utility man Alex Taylor was "banged" during our first court for using four adjectives in every sentence. An intelligent and well-spoken guy, Alex is very descriptive in his conversations.

Sitting in our clubhouse, our guys each recited a Webster's Dictionary worthy adjective, one by one, as Alex was made aware of his fine.

Just about everyone in a RailCats uniform has been fair game. Even our manager, Greg Tagert, was summoned to Kangaroo Court for eating a turkey sandwich during a preseason exhibition game.

When our second baseman Curt Lee went down with an ankle injury a couple of weeks ago, he saw fit to walk around with the Bang Box, a handful of bang slips, and a pen just about 24 hours a day. He is trying to do his part for the team by single-handedly reporting every violation.

I'm not sure what he was writing about, but he was scribbling and giggling non-stop during his seven days on the disabled list. During our series in St. Paul, Minn., Curt spent the entire four games sitting in the dugout and filling the box.

The RailCat Bang Box travels with an entourage, with reliever Travis Kerber providing the muscle, to assure the sanctity of the system.

As you can expect, bangs go on about 10 times a day. If a guy breaks the DVD player on the team bus, or forgets to bring his assigned equipment to the field, or wears the wrong jersey on the field, you can bet someone is watching.

And reporting.

And of course, laughing.

Brendan Sagara, a former University of Hawaii-Hilo pitcher, is in his first season as pitching coach for the Gary Southshore Railcats.

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