Tuesday, February 14, 2023

On the Beat With the Savannah Bananas

The Savannah Bananas have entertained baseball fans since debuting in 2016. After starting play in the Coastal Plain League (a summer collegiate league), the Bananas made a big change after last season, announcing they would only be playing “Banana Ball” starting with the 2023 season.

What exactly is “Banana Ball?” Some of the unique rules include:

  • Batters aren't allowed to leave the batters box
  • There is no bunting.
  • There are no mound visits.
  • There is a two-hour time limit on each game.
  • Foul balls caught by fans are outs.
  • Batters are allowed to “steal” first base on a wild pitch or passed ball

There are other more complicated, but just as fun, rules, such as “sprints,” formerly just walks. After a fourth ball, the defense must throw the ball to every fielder, except the pitcher, before they can attempt to make a play on the batter who advances at his own risk. There are several other innovations and I'm guessing more will come to fruition in the future.

Players are also allowed, even encouraged, to create their own bits, like behind the back catches, flips and other such actions. It's all about entertaining the fans. Attendance shows the fans are highly entertained. Sellouts are regular events wherever the Bananas play. 

Make no mistake though. This is real baseball. The Bananas want to win every game. They just want to make it extra fun for everyone. The Bananas are similar to basketball's Harlem Globetrotters, without the repeated routines, but with ore focus on the actual sport.

The Bananas open their season this Friday, Feb. 17 against the Party Animals. Sort of like the Trotters play the Generals, the Bananas regularly play the Party Animals. The big difference is the Party Animals are not supporting characters in the show. They play to win. The teams also play other teams during the season, too, as they travel across the country exposing all to Banana Ball.

Today, I interviewed shortstop Ryan Cox, also known as the “trickstop” of the Bananas for his style of play. Cox played ball at a high level before joining the Bananas in 2022. Ryan explained a lot of the rules and hijinx involved.

Next I talked to rookie outfielder Vinny DeRubeis. A lifelong ballplayer like Ryan, Vinny's career was derailed with a serious eye injury that left him with vision in only his right eye. Vinny discussed his comeback, as well as his thoughts on the Bananas from a rookie's perspective.

It was fascinating learning about the Bananas. Both players gave interesting insight, yet I also feel I have just scratched the surface of fun with the Bananas.

I took away two big points from these interviews. Although Banana Ball is different (and maybe even wacky at times), the Bananas and the Party Animals play real baseball.

The other takeaway is the positivity. From my first contact with the tam through talking with Ryan and Vinny, the positive feeling is palpable and contagious.

The Bananas play in Milwaukee late in the season and I plan on being there to witness Banana Ball firsthand. Until then, I will follow the team and provide recurring coverage here on The Every Day Fan. 

Check out the interviews at On the Beat With Ryan Cox and On the Beat With Vinny DeRubeis. Also, go to TheSavannahBananas.com. Also check my recurring coverage of the Bananas and other sports here, GlobalTravelerUSA.com and TheEveryDayFan.com.

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