A Crafty Bandit – Q&A with Josh Krowiorz

May 5, 2010

Josh Krowiorz has been a 12-year member of the Manitowoc Bandits organization, serving as an infielder/outfielder since 1998 and manager since 2007.

Wisconsin State League

Josh Krowiorz has been a 12-year member of the Manitowoc Bandits organization, serving as an infielder/outfielder since 1998 and manager since 2007. He has been a very solid player over the course of his time with the Bandits, posting a career AVG of .266 and an OBP of .369. The Manitowoc Bandits Online Content Intern Shawn Wagner had the opportunity to interview Josh about his goals for the upcoming season, the challenges of being a manager, and the games he is looking forward to playing in this year, among others.

Q: What is your personal goal for this season – batting and defensively?
A: Offensively, from a pure numbers standpoint, I’ve always measured my success after the season is over based on whether I hit .300 and whether or not I walked more than I struck out. If I do those things then I know I’m helping the squad and playing to my ability. There are many other offensive barometers on a game-to-game and situation-to-situation basis, such as moving runners over and scoring guys from third, that are just as (if not more) important than year-end numbers.

Defensively the only goal I have is to not hurt the team. I’ve played many positions over my career, so I’m good but not great at any one of them. It helps to have that experience during a long summer season where we may never have the same lineup twice during any given week.

Q: Is there any skill you worked to improve upon this offseason?
A: I’m always working on strength and conditioning in preparation for the next season. But it’s hard to get any baseball-specific work in during the winter, what with living in Wisconsin and having a full-time job. It’s definitely a source of motivation, though, to try to hit the ground running with the kids who have played or coached an entire college season before coming to the Bandits.

Q: What are a few of your goals for the Bandits as a team this season?
A: Our goals each year are to win the NEWBL regular season title, win the NEWBL postseason tournament, and finish in the top half of the WSL.

Q: Is there any specific team weakness you think needs to be improved upon from last season in order for the Bandits to win a championship title again?
A: In less than 2 seasons, we’ve become a very young team again. Last season we had to replace 75% of our pitching from the year before, and this season we’ll be replacing close to 50% of our offense, and 4 of our top 5 hitters. We pieced together a rotation last year and some young arms really picked up the slack at the end of the season. We’ll be looking for those guys to continue to grow and be staples in our rotation, hopefully for years to come. On the offensive side, the challenge will be to identify the pieces to the puzzle of our batting order, and then figure out how best to put that puzzle together.

Q: Is there a team statistic from last year that you would like to see improved?
A: Offensively, we set 6 franchise records a year ago. And a year before that, we set 7 pitching franchise records. So I think it’s reasonable to expect results somewhere in between those two sets of statistics. I do know that we’re going to play hard and aggressive baseball. We’ll earn the runs we score and make the other teams earn theirs.

Q: Looking at recent history, is there a tough team that you gives you trouble year in and year out? If so, could they stand in the way of a championship this year? What are some teams you will be looking out for?
A: In the NEWBL this year it will start with Menasha, since they knocked us out in the first round of the tournament and went on to win the championship last season. A close second is Sheboygan – probably our biggest rival for many reasons. They are in both leagues with us, so each game theoretically counts as two. In the WSL, other than perennial power Lombard, it seems that Oshkosh has really given us problems lately. One thing is certain – there is never an easy game in either of these top-notch semi-pro leagues.

Q: What games are you looking forward to playing in most this season?
A: Personally, I always enjoy the Sheboygan games the most because of the great atmosphere, the implications of those games, our great rivalry, and because they always seem to be close and dramatic games. I played for Sheboygan in 1997 and ’98, winning the WSL title in ’97. It’s a great organization run by great baseball people. They have a tremendous tradition – something that the Bandits would do well to even approach someday.

Q: Any new players you are excited to play with this year?
A: It’s tough to really know what you’re getting with new players before going into battle with them those first couple of weeks. But the anticipation is high for seeing all the guys, new and old, whether they’ve got a spring season under their belt already or not. I’m always impressed with the guys who graduate from college but keep coming back to play with us each summer. This is not a relaxed weekend league. It’s tough, quality baseball that requires a major commitment. Current and longtime Bandits like Greg Herr, Donovan Strouf, Mike Hall, and Nat Richter are the reason that younger players and fans alike have the opportunity to look forward to 3 months of highly competitive baseball each summer in Manitowoc.

What has been so rewarding for you about this sport and organization that you have played 12 seasons with the Bandits?
A: Manitowoc is my hometown, and along with the rest of the Bandits organization, I share a vision and passion for establishing the city and area as one with a reputation for producing quality baseball in the state of Wisconsin. The game of baseball was my first love and I’m lucky to be involved with a club and players that love it as much as I do.

Q: What challenges you the most as a player-manager, and what do you enjoy about the position?
A: Being a player/manager is stressful in and of itself because of the double-duty and responsibility for the team. That stress is compounded by the fact that I live an hour and fifteen minutes from the home park. Driving from Milwaukee almost every night isn’t an ideal situation, but it’s the reality so I cope with it the best I can. Communication can sometimes be difficult because of the distance. And more often than not I won’t have time to warm-up or take batting practice before games. I’m big on preparation so that part is really tough on me. On the other hand, having that 75-minute drive before the game gives the manager in me time to mentally prepare – thinking about the opponent, batting order, pitching situations, etc.

There’s really nothing that isn’t rewarding about being in my position. I take pride in wearing a Manitowoc uniform and leading the team on the field. I enjoy being one of the guys still lucky enough to play competitively with some of my best friends. Baseball is an emotional sport, and very rewarding. For me, it’s hard to think of a better feeling than enjoying a hard-fought win with the guys you just led into battle.

To learn more about Josh, visit http://manitowocbandits.com/player/josh-krowiorz.

by Shawn Wagner – Manitowoc Bandits Online Content Intern

The Wisconsin State League is one of the premier semi-professional/amateur baseball leagues in the mid-west. In operation since 1970, the Wisconsin State League is a highly competitive league that features many of the midwest's top current and former collegiate athletes, as well as many former professional baseball players. Keep up to date on everything happening in the Wisconsin State League by following the league online on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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