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April 1, 2014 - Frontier League (FL) - Joliet Slammers News Release

Joliet, Ill. - A joint story from the teams of the Frontier League of Professional Baseball sparked a heated debate on social media outlets as the first-ever, league-wide April Fool's joke threatened the change to a 1-1 count to start every at bat in 2014.

With Major League Baseball on the warpath to shorten games with such tactics as sending strongly worded letters to slow pitchers,limiting walk-up music to 15 seconds and adding instant replay to somehow speed up games, the Frontier League brought the discussion back to the forefront with a league-wide April Fool's Joke.

"The game of baseball is about as perfect as you can get," said Joliet Slammers General Manager Chris Franklin. "It was certainly interesting to see the reaction from our loyal fans, our players (who we didn't clue in on the joke) and others around the country as people simply do not want core principles of their game altered, and we don't either."

Founded in 1993, the Frontier League has sent over 1,200 players to affiliated baseball and that includes an incredible 41 players since Opening Day 2013. The list of 25 players who made it to the big leagues contains current major leaguers Steve Delabar of the Toronto Blue Jays, Joe Thatcher of the Arizona DiamondBacks and Tanner Roark of the Washington Nationals. The Frontier League boasts three alums that earned All-Star recognition in The Show including Brandon Donnelly, George Sherrill and Steve Delebar and three former players with World Series Rings in Donnelly with the Angels in 2002, Josh Kinney with St. Louis Cardinals in 2006 and Justin Christian San Francisco Giants in 2012.

"The fact remains that the Frontier League is the preeminent professional baseball league for developing young talent in the country and, thankfully, silly things like our 'proposal' yesterday would never even be brought to the table at one of our league meetings," Slammers General Manager Chris Franklin continued. "The Slammers have sent a total four players to affiliated baseball in the last year. We clearly have a commitment to the game of baseball and getting our players to the next level."

While some people figured it out right away, there were several hints were embedded in the original story. The phrase "Happy April Fool" can be found if you combine capitalized words from the release. The word "April" appears as you would expect it to be written, but the phrase becomes clear along with the unusual capitalization of "Happy" in paragraph two as well as the word "Fool" towards the end of paragraph four. A 4/1 vote is also not a coincidence and neither is the "research" of Deputy Commissioner Steve Tahsler showing that 41% of all plate appearances with at least three pitches advance to a 1-1 count.

"The Frontier League - and especially minor league baseball - is all about fun after all," Franklin added. "We hope that even if we fooled you that you'll share a chuckle with us today and crack at least a little bit of a smile, because that's what we're all about. Fun is everything to us, and there are a lot more smiles and laughs waiting for all of our fans at all of our great stadiums this summer. See you at the ballpark!"

The Joliet Slammers presented by ATI Physical Therapy play at Silver Cross Field in downtown Joliet, Illinois, and are members of the professional, independent Frontier League. The Frontier League is a 14-team league entering its 22nd season of play in 2014. Opening Night at Silver Cross Field is set for Friday, May 16th. Tickets are available now by calling the Slammers office at (815) 722-BATS or by visiting www.jolietslammers.com.

FRONTIER LEAGUE PROPOSES QUICKER GAMES, GROUNDBREAKING RULE CHANGE

Joliet, IL - The Frontier League of Professional Baseball announced today an industry leading rules change designed to speed the pace of baseball games and add to the excitement enjoyed by fans. "We are Happy to announce the approval of this innovative decision by a 4/1 vote of our rules committee," said League Commissioner Bill Lee. "While all of the owners in the league still need to confirm this amendment at the annual meeting in April, we're confident we have the votes to take a leading role in putting Frontier League fans first in professional baseball."

Beginning with the 2014 season, each turn at-bat will begin with a 1-1 count already in place. The proposed rule change is intended to speed the pace of play and deliver more excitement for fans. "Fans don't want to watch hitters take pitches, they want to see the ball in play and action on the field," declared Kyle Kreger, General Manager of the Normal CornBelters and a member of the rules committee. "Red Sox/Yankees games have become notorious for being four hour marathons, that's simply too long to be of interest and enjoyable to the average fan."

Not everyone is sold yet however, Jamie Bennett, manager of the defending champion Schaumburg Boomers and the manager's representative on the rules committee is in the minority opposing the rule. "As a former pitcher, I know first-hand the need for a pitcher to be able to manipulate a pitch sequence to Fool a batter with an out pitch," Bennett explained.

"We've done our homework on this, it wasn't a decision we took lightly," reassured Josh Schaub CEO of the Joliet Slammers and rules committee chairman. "Through analysis by two baseball statistics companies, we've learned that we'll take an average of 22 minutes off the time of a 9-inning game. Seeing the results of the study sold me." Frontier League Deputy Commissioner Steve Tahsler added, "Based on my research, over the last four seasons, 41% of the plate appearances that advanced to the third pitch, did so with a 1-1 count."

The Frontier League Owner's Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 3, 2014 in Indianapolis at which time the rules committee will present their recommendation to the league. A simple majority of the 14-team league, with a tie-breaking vote in the hands of Commissioner Bill Lee, will determine the outcome.

The Joliet Slammers presented by ATI Physical Therapy play at Silver Cross Field in downtown Joliet, Illinois, and are members of the professional, independent Frontier League. The Frontier League is a 14-team league entering its 22nd season of play in 2014. Opening Night at Silver Cross Field is set for Friday, May 16th. Full, partial, and group tickets are available by calling the Slammers office at (815) 722-BATS or by visiting www.jolietslammers.com.


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