The 2013 campaign continues for the Stockton Ports, and we’re now already over a quarter of the way through the season. We’ve had some streaks where we’ve played extremely well and others where things just haven’t gone our way. But as I’ve been told time and time again, being able to maintain an even keel is paramount in the success of a ballplayer as well as a team. And this team, through it all, has shown a real knack for being able to remain positive and come to the park with a plan to get better each and every day.
Since my last entry, we’ve continued to play extremely well at home. I’m not quite sure exactly what it is about Banner Island Ballpark, but we continue to win lots of games at home. Maybe it’s sleeping in your own bed, familiarity with the ballpark, great fans, etc. But for whatever reason, we always seem to be in a good position to win when we’re the home team. We’ve seen some outstanding performances the past couple of series, with Drew Granier and Tanner Peters both racking up double-digit strikeout performances on the mound. Tanner, in fact, had a perfect game going through five innings last week. And as a bullpen guy, it’s great to see your starters have success for multiple reasons. One, it doesn’t tax the ‘pen when they’re able to go deep into games, and two, when a starting pitcher goes out there and dominates, he exposes the other teams’ weaknesses, which we in turn can try to exploit when we follow them into the game.
Our outfielders continue to chase balls down in the outfield and make plays for us. It seems like almost everyday Myrio Richard or Dusty Robinson makes a diving catch. And in one of my recent outings, Bobby Crocker made an outstanding catch in the 9th inning to bring back a home run ball for an out. These kinds of things mean the world to a pitcher and to a team. Guys busting their tails out there and giving it their all makes a huge difference and is greatly appreciated.
Having now spent more than a month in California and in the Cal League, I feel like I’m starting to get acquainted with the state and the league. Since I last wrote, we have traveled to Modesto, Visalia, High Desert and Lancaster. And I really enjoy getting the opportunity to go on the road and see different places. The California League is referred to as a hitters’ league, and High Desert and Lancaster are notorious as the toughest places to pitch in the league. As a pitcher, you are always trying to keep the ball down to induce ground ball outs but, in places where the ball really flies, you have to be especially conscientious about it.
While the elements may not always be in your favor, the difference between success and failure is really more of a mental battle, especially in this league. If you go out there too worried about giving up a home run, then it most likely is going to happen. But going out there with confidence and a plan of keeping the ball down and executing pitches will always set a pitcher up with a good chance to be successful. As I have been told countless times by my coaches in the organization, “Control what you can control.” There are a lot of factors that go on that we have no influence or control over, but what we can control is our preparation, game plan and execution.
Throughout the course of the season, players are going to have good games and bad games. One thing that’s important to remember is that it’s not one particular game or outing that defines you; it’s a whole body of work. As one of my former managers told me, “You aren’t evaluated over a bad outing. You’re evaluated on your ability to bounce back your next outing and get the job done.” As a player, it’s important not to dwell on things because this game will beat you up in a heartbeat if you let yourself do that. It is important to learn from past performances, both positives and negatives, but not to over-analyze. The beauty of baseball is that, whether it’s a good game or a bad one, tomorrow is a new day and a new game. The important thing to do is to take advantage of your opportunities, work hard to become more consistent, and get better each and every day.
Having the opportunity to play this game is a blessing and a great honor. That being said, the season is a grind and every player has to have something to keep them motivated and on the right path. For me, my faith in God and my wife and family help me to stay grounded and focused on what I am trying to do. I had the opportunity to watch an ESPN E:60 piece on former Oakland A’s catcher and current Mets’ farmhand Landon Powell last week. Landon, who is from my hometown of Apex, North Carolina and who went to my high school a few years before me, has always been a role model to me as far back as I can remember. His work ethic was something that I always felt separated him from others, and I tried to replicate that same kind of work ethic in my game.
Landon persevered through multiple health issues in his career to make it to the big leagues and spent parts of three seasons with our team in Oakland. He went through the toughest thing in his life this past offseason in losing a child, a daughter named Izzy. I can’t imagine what it must be like to go through that, but to see him still remain positive and strong in his faith as well as driven to get back to the big leagues is such an inspiration to me. It goes to show you that we all have so much to be thankful for. For me, I am thankful to have a supportive wife, a great family and, as always, thankful to have the opportunity to still play the game I love.
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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. You can follow him on Twitter @frankoff34