Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ejections, Schedule among Big SL Issues

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ejections, Schedule among Big SL Issues

Article excerpt

Byline: JEFF ELLIOTT

As the teams approach the conclusion of the first half, Southern League president Don Mincher is happy about developments in the circuit.

Mincher oversees league operations from his home office in Huntsville, Ala., while the administration of the day-to-day business affairs is handled from the Marietta, Ga., league office. Mincher has been president since 2000, when he gave up ownership of the Huntsville Stars.

"Everything is going very smooth so far," Mincher said. "The [Mississippi] Braves are pretty strong in this [South] division. I've seen them, and they keep putting out good prospects.

"But never discount the artistry of [Suns manager] John Shoemaker. He's an amazing person in the minor-league system, how he leads young men. I know Mississippi isn't discounting anyone, especially Jacksonville. Somehow, Shoemaker always has the Suns there at the end."

One of the problem areas that Mincher has dealt with in the first two months pertains to the new rule throughout professional baseball in which a player can be assessed a strike if he steps out of the batter's box without first requesting a time-out from the home-plate umpire. Rulings have caught several players by surprise, including some who have been called out on strikes when they violated the rule with two strikes in the count.

"A lot of times, you swing and miss, you're thinking about that, and you step out without thinking," Mincher said. "We've had six or seven incidents of that happening, including the one really bad, violent incident in Huntsville where the player went a little crazy after he was called out.

"I think it's going to take two or three years to get this rule instituted to where the players are used to it. The umpires have been told they can't warn the batter not to step out. They have to call a strike."

The league's schedule has come under fire this season, with South Division first-half contenders Mississippi and Jacksonville not scheduled to face each other in this half. Should the teams tie for the first-half title, the champion of will be determined the first time the teams meet in the second half on July 17 in Mississippi. …

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