Lugnuts Notes: Series at Home vs. the Quad City River Bandits

May 10 thru 13

  • Lugnuts 2 games, Bandits 2 games
  • Lugnuts are 19-18 (.514)
  • Third place, 2.0 games behind the Whitecaps and 1.5 behind the Battle Cats
  • The division’s span has been reduced to 6.0 games

This edition’s for Ria.

The Nuts played a generally successful series against one of the league’s best teams. Another home win would have been nice, but just wasn’t in the cards.

I’ve now seen Carlos Febles enough to begin to appreciate what he brings to the game. He’s really very loud–chatters incessantly on the field. He looks to be a fine fielder, for this level. He’s got good baserunning skills, though not enough baserunning smarts. And he gets hit by pitches regularly (a beanball on Monday, which didn’t seem to faze him, though it bounded into the stands over the visitors dugout).

I don’t think [Pat] Hallmark appeared in any of these games. [Blaine] Mull pitched a fine game on Sunday afternoon.

Has anyone else noticed that the Journal never calls this team the “Nuts”? It’s the Lugs or the Lugnuts, always.

It’s still cold. Somebody tell the weather gods it’s May.

Let’s talk about the umpires

The league’s umpires are professionals. Their employment situation is much like that of the players, and some of the managers: Up or out. Unless they get promoted, they have to look for a new profession. An important difference is that there’s very little turnover at the top of this pyramid, so there’s little real chance that any particular MWL ump will make the big show.

Since the league plays seven games each day, there are seven pairs of umpires:

  • Pat Riley (2)-Dennis Schenkenberger (11)
  • Justin Klemm (3)-Jeff Spedoske* (5)
  • Mark Hutchison (4)-Pat McGinnis* (9)
  • John Lomavaya (6)-Brian McCraw* (10)
  • Bill Haze (15)-Scott Griggs (14)
  • Tim Clougherty (12)-Mark Carlson* (16)
  • Mark Winters (7)-Jon Wolfe* (8)

The gentlemen with asterisks worked in this league last season. Both the specific umpires and the umpire pairings are subject to change as needed. For instance, I didn’t initially have Mr. Klemm’s first name or number because he replaced Mike VanVleet, who has been promoted. Jeff Spedoske’s a local boy. The list seems to be accurate as of today; as I become aware of changes, I’ll modify the copy of the list available from the LugPage.

Here’s how the rulebook describes the umpires’ job:

The league president shall appoint one or more umpires to officiate at each league championship game. The umpires shall be responsible for the conduct of the game in accordance with these official rules and for maintaining discipline and order on the playing field during the game.

Notice this: The job is to control the game. Balls and strikes and all the other technical stuff are just part of controlling the action. This league typically does have umpires I consider technically incompetent; a few of those will learn, and most will wash out. That’s what minor league baseball is about, after all. We also typically have one or two who can’t control the game, either because of apparent character flaws or because they seem intimidated by those older folks (the managers). This is simply unacceptable. I’m certain some outgrow these problems, but the price the fans and players have to pay sometimes is high.

Most of the league’s umps are competent, but most need experience. I’ve always assumed that I’ll disagree with the ump about some calls. When that happens I hiss and boo and holler with the rest of the crowd. If they can’t handle a hostile crowd, they’re learning the wrong job.

But show the guys some sympathy. They’re doing this because they love the game.

One of my regular correspondents is Ria Papageorgiou, who plans to become a major league umpire. She calls the QC club “my beloved Bandits”, and she’s still another of this website’s many unexpected ties to Rice University. We don’t entirely agree about MWL umpires, but we both think the league is wonderful.

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1 Response to Lugnuts Notes: Series at Home vs. the Quad City River Bandits

  1. joel says:

    Ria, of course, was later a Midwest League umpire herself, in 2001, as Ria Cortesio. She spent nine years in the minors, including five years working in the Southern League. It’s fair to count me as a fan.

    At the time I wrote this page Ria was a student at Rice University, and had a front office job with the Astros.

    Carlos Febles would spend six years in the majors, all with the Royals. Frankly, I expected better, but six years is pretty much an average major league career, and for all six years he was pretty much an average major league second baseman. I still remember him pretty much as I described him above.

    The umpire information, I think, doesn’t require further explication. I posted a similar page later in the year, with an updated roster. In some ways, that page was the beginning of the MWLguide website.

    I should perhaps mention that the umpires stopped wearing numbers somewhere along the way. I liked things better when I could look at their sleeves and figure out which was which.

    In the event you’ve just stumbled onto this entry, here’s an explanation of what I’m up to.

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