Focus On: This is where the studs come together

I’ve been around baseball enough to know Minor League ball is naturally fickle.

One day you have a pitcher, and the next day the same number is for a catcher from Venezuela.

But the Boise Hawks have made so many roster and staff changes this season before first pitch that they’re seeming less like a baseball team and more like the drumming credits for Spinal Tap.

Menudo has had more stability of members.

So, I naturally wanted to talk to Franklin Font and his staff about how they’re approaching this season.

Font simply said, “Last week I got the call that I was going to manage, and now I’m here. I’ve been here before, and we’re going to practice and work on development like any other time.”

You can’t fault Font for his approach. His title is, after all, interim manager. There’s no telling how long that “interim” might be. But his respect for manager Casey Kopitzke after the family tragedy that has unfolded is truly remarkable.

Font said he hasn’t talked to Kopitzke, but has left a voicemail, like all the coaches on the staff, expressing his condolences.

Out of respect, that’s as far as I’ll address that matter.

What has come out of the situation, however, is what I consider the real story. You have Font managing with a staff full of experience and personality. In fact, his minor league field coordinator, Dave Bialas was Font’s manager for the Cubs’ AA affiliate in 2001.

Bialas told me, “I have no doubt this team is in good hands. Font has managed. (Hitting coach Ricardo) Medina has managed. These guys know our system. They know what we want.”

Bialas said the unique vast quantity of players from Mesa (the Cubs Rookie League affiliate) is going to help the coaching staff more than any bond the coaches already have.

While the fact that only three draftees will be on the opening-day roster may sound bad, the fact that the players NOT drafted have played together since spring training is a note that can’t be missed.

The team is already steps ahead in chemistry.

At the time I had talked to Bialas, he and the staff had only been able to talk to the team a couple times. But I was interested what a man with his experience would tell me about the guys Boise fans will be cheering on.

That’s when Bialas told me something that hasn’t left my mind since.

As a writer, I’ve come to appreciate any comment an athlete or coach can give me that I can use in my own writing and make myself sound brilliant.

Bialas said, “These guys aren’t just baseball players. These guys are studs. When they were in high school, they were the studs at their high school. If they were in college, they were the studs in their college. It doesn’t matter where they came from, they were the studs. This is where the studs come together.”

So I’m going to leave you with his words.

This is minor league baseball, and the chemistry of the team will never be complete. Players will get called up, sent down and cut, but that has been true since farm systems came into existence, and the Boise Hawks have been an incredibly successful organization.

Why is that? The answer lies in the players that come through this town.

It’s because Boise is where the studs come together.

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