April 26 thru 29
- Timber Rattlers 2 games, Lugnuts 1 (1 rainout)
- Lugnuts are 12-11 (.522)
- Third place, 1.5 games behind the Whitecaps. The division’s spread has reached 3.5 games.
My imaginary audience lives in Lansing and knows something about baseball, but less about the Midwest League. My mail tells me that some of my readers fit that profile. I also get lots (yes: lots) of mail from friends and acquaintances of the players. I ask the friends to indulge me, this episode, while I talk about the League’s scheduling practices; there’s nothing about the players here. (Next time. I promise.)
These four-game sets are pretty much the league norm. Each league team plays eight games against each of the teams in the “other” divisions, which essentially dictates that games be scheduled in parcels of four (four home, four away; one series in each half-season). For consistency’s sake, the “local” teams are usually also parceled in fours, though it’s fairly common for the series to move between parks in mid-set. (We’ve already seen this.) Nonetheless the Lugnuts begin their existence with an odd single-month schedule.
The league’s longest road trip, I learn from Baseball America, is between Lansing and Burlington. The trip between Lansing and Cedar Rapids is about the same length. So is Lansing to Appleton. Well, our guys have done all of those trips, and come home between. I suppose they’ve become fairly familiar with the bus. At least they’ve got the longest rides over with. This is not the common practice. In general, a trip to Cedar Rapids or Burlington includes a stop in another Iowa ballpark, and a trip to the Fox Cities is via Beloit or Rockford. It’s cheaper that way. And the bus rides are shorter.
There’s a problem with this scheduling practice. It’s difficult to make up a game if you call it off, unless the teams involved are in the same division. The league generally reschedules rained-out games to later in the same series, but since the rainout in the Wisconsin series was the last game, that isn’t possible. Inasmuch as the Lugnuts aren’t scheduled to play any closer to Appleton than Beloit for the entire remainder of the summer, a makeup game in Wisconsin will be difficult to schedule. That’s why the game was marked “cancelled” in some listings. We’ll see what actually happens.
I’m not about to take sides in the Lugnuts dispute with the Royals about playing in the cold. It’s not a “silly” dispute; the concerns are legitimate. Both sides have their reasons, and understand the other’s reasons. Probably this will pass.
Personally, I want some warmth, and some sunshine. It’s been winter far too long.