The 2013 season has started and, to be honest, it seems to be flying by already. It’s hard to believe it’s already been almost three weeks since my last blog entry on opening day.
The 2013 campaign for the Stockton Ports has started quite well. Through the first 18 games, we have a record of 12-6. Our season began with a seven-game home stand. We swept the first four games against Bakersfield, then took one of three from San Jose. We then began our first road trip of the year, playing the same two teams on the road. We went to Bakersfield and took three of four from them on their home turf, then took one of three again from the Giants in San Jose. And in our last four games at home, we played well, taking three of four from Modesto at Banner Island Ballpark.
For someone who has never been to California before, I was looking forward to getting on the road and seeing other places around the state. I had heard differing opinions on Bakersfield but, all in all, I thought it wasn’t a bad place to play. The stadium is an old historic ballpark, which didn’t have a big press box or full stadium seating like we are fortunate to have at home in Stockton. Dusty Robinson, who is from Bakersfield, had all his family and friends at our games to support him and the Ports. Being born and raised in the Southeast, the closest I have ever been to playing at home in professional baseball has been seven hours away. So I can only imagine the thrill it must have been for him to play in his hometown at a place he grew up going to games at. I think the team played some great baseball on the road at Bakersfield. We lost just one game but we were in a position to win that one, so we have to feel good about the way we played during the series.
After our four-game series at Bakersfield, we actually traveled back to Stockton for our series in San Jose. San Jose is about eighty miles from Stockton and, in minor league baseball, any road game which is under a hundred miles away from your hometown is considered a “commuter.” Commuter trips mean that you travel back and forth from your home city each day to the opposing stadium to play games. While it is nice to sleep in your own bed each night, it also is a grind physically and mentally since you have to travel to and from the opposing city back to your hometown each and every night.
Having never been to the Bay Area before, I didn’t know what to expect in regard to the weather. I became aware as soon as we arrived that we would need extra layers for each night game. The outside temperature really wasn’t that unbearable; however, the constant wind each and every night made it seem a lot chillier than it really was. San Jose has a good club, with some solid bats in their lineup and power arms on their pitching staff. There is a certain amount of rivalry that takes place for us, even in the minor leagues, being members of the two Bay Area teams. We definitely don’t want to lose any games to anyone, but especially not to the Giants, the other team in the Bay Area.
After our series against San Jose, we returned home for a four-game series against Modesto. We lost game one, but were able to take the next three from the Nuts. We played some pretty solid baseball in all facets of the game and feel good about building some momentum going into our first off day. We saw a dominating pitching performance by Drew Granier, who struck out 10 batters in his outing against Modesto. Max Muncy continued to swing a powerful bat, slugging a few more home runs and taking his season total to 8 through 18 games. Antonio Lamas almost always seems to hit the ball on the barrel and has really been a huge part of our success. It really is a lot of fun to come to the yard each and every day and see guys perform at such a high level.
As for myself, I continue to work towards becoming more consistent every time I am fortunate enough to get the chance to pitch. One thing that is preached to us is executing each and every pitch, and that is something I strive to do every time I toe the rubber. The biggest thing is not getting ahead of yourself and just controlling what you can control. Preparation is crucial, and we are fortunate to have a pitching coach in Jimmy Escalante who always ensures that we have all the information we need in terms of scouting reports, etc. to put us in a good situation to be successful every time we go out there. Something that we are working towards as a pitching staff is not only pitching to our strengths but also being able to exploit the hitters’ weaknesses. A slogan that we have is that we want to become “big league pitchers, not minor league throwers.” To do so we have to develop big league habits and pitch off our fastball and get ahead in the count.
On a separate note, I would like to acknowledge and remember the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. Too often we get caught up in everything going on in our lives and forget just how precious and fragile life is. We are fortunate to live in a great, strong country which has shown time and time again the ability to persevere through adversity and come back from tragedies like this even stronger. Watching the ceremony before the Red Sox game was quite moving for me. Seeing the emotion the players, fans, law enforcement and government officials displayed during the ceremony was a moment I won’t soon forget. It’s amazing how the game of baseball has a way of bringing people together from all walks of life.
As the season continues, I hope that we continue to improve each and every day we come to the park. After our off day, we go back on the road again for three games at Visalia and then three games at High Desert. I am excited to see more of California, but even more so to continue the season and take the ball every time I get the opportunity. This team is a great group of guys and we enjoy coming to the park each and every day. There is something to be said for team chemistry, and we certainly have a good time playing the game we love. As always, I am still thankful to have the opportunity to chase my dream!
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Seth Frankoff was born in Raleigh, North Carolina and attended the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He was drafted by the A’s in the 27th round of the 2010 draft. We look forward to having Seth keep us posted throughout the season on how life is going down on the farm for him, his wife, his dog, and the Stockton Ports! You can follow him on Twitter @frankoff34