The annual Boise Hawks exodus to the province of British Columbia has gone off without a hitch in 2011 – unless you account for a pair of losses on the field and the weak American dollar cutting a hole in the pockets of the 33 members of the travel party (picture is of the team racing to board the bus on Monday night)
A slump is exactly what the squad is in right now – having lost five of their last six games, including three in a row, with offensive woes plaguing the team. The Hawks have not recorded an extra-base hit since Paul Hoilman clubbed a two-run homer on Sunday in the first inning, a span of 34 1/3 innings. Boise now ranks dead last in the Northwest League in home runs, doubles, triples, extra base hits, and slugging percentage – although the pitching staff has done an admirable job keeping the team in games with a 4.10 ERA.
Kudos to Yao-Lin Wang last night – despite giving up three LONG home runs to Vancouver hitters, the youngster from Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) attacked hitters all night, finishing with a career-high nine strikeouts. The total equaled the most by a Boise pitcher since Jeff Antigua fanned 11 Eugene Emeralds in 2009 (Austin Kirk and Cam Greathouse each struck nine men in 2010).
The Hawks are short-handed in Vancouver, as a pair of players did not make the trip North. Reserve infielder Travis Garcia did not have a passport to get across the imaginary line between the countries, while catcher Yaniel Cabezas (who had been the Hawks hottest hitter of late) is a defector from Cuba and cannot cross international lines. Both players are in Mesa to stay fresh and will rejoin the team in Spokane on Monday. That, coupled with injuries to Hector Mayora (rotator cuff stiffness) and Joe Zeller (shoulder strain) – the Hawks have just 24 healthy bodies and just one reserve available as a position player.
ACROSS THE BOARDER: Year in and year out, crossing the U.S.-Canadian border has been a struggle for the Hawks, whether it be a long line of buses, players with records that folks don’t know about, or players who do not have their documentation in order. This year, trainer Bob Grimes had a system in place – using a CD case that had every member of the travel party’s passport and documentation in it. He and Hal (our trusty bus driver) got off the bus and in less than 30 minutes, we were singing “Oh Canada”. It was an all-timer.
THE FUNGO: Most people know of a fungo as the long-skinny bat that coaches use to hit ground balls during batting practice, but the Canadians front office has taken it to new levels. The C’s have unveiled the biggest hot dog I’ve ever seen – a two-foot long dog called, yes, the Fungo, on a bun that resembles a loft of french bread. It is a heart-attack waiting to happen, though KBOI-2’s Troy Oppie pounded one down in less than 10 minutes.
Speaking of Troy – it was fun to have the Boise media on the road with us, getting a chance to see what we all do on the road…I think the thing that he wasn’t aware of was all the things that trainer Bob Grimes actually does – trainer, traveling secretary, chef…
IS OUR MONEY WORTHLESS: You used to come to Canada and it was fun – one would get $1.40 or more for the U.S. Dollar and businesses wanted greenbacks…not anymore. You must have Canadian money at any food establishment, as the dollar is worth just 93 cents in Canada – and if you go to a bank to exchange, they’ll even tack on a $3.00 surcharge (in Canadian) to the transaction. Gonna be eating at the park the rest of the way.
CUBS NEWS: The Cubs have finally signed a Top-15 draft pick, as Zeke DeVoss, a speedy outfielder from Miami, the third-rounder from 2011, has signed and debuted in Mesa (albeit as a second-baseman)…also, promotions have happened in the minors – as Matt Szczur has headed to Daytona, Jae-Hoon Ha to Tennessee, and both Ryan Flaherty and Brett Jackson to Iowa…also kudos to Russ Canzler, who was named MVP of the AAA All-Star Game after mashing a three-run homer to help the International League to victory.