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Barons post season bound: Win first half of Southern League
The Birmingham Barons are headed to the playoffs after clinching the first half divisional championship. Last week’s win over the Jacksonville Suns landed the Barons their 10th playoff appearance in the last fourteen years.
Not only has a new Regions Field helped benefit the organization, but a solid team with talent has allowed the 2013 Barons to relish in a remarkable first half run. This season is home to a lot of firsts for the team and a lot of firsts for Barons manager, Julio Vinas. It is the first year of Regions Field, Julio Vinas’ first year to manage Birmingham and Vinas saw the birth of his first child early into to the season.
“It’s a great experience; we’ve got a special group of guys here,” Vinas said. “They’re playing great baseball, and it’s fun to be part of and be associated with the Barons. There’s a lot of talent on the team and we’re united as a team which is really important, everyone’s always pulling for each other.”
Team unity can be hard to establish at the minor league level due to players wanting to move and be called up to the major leagues. Player development is a key asset to achieve in order to be given the chance to play at the highest level, and it begins with understanding the professional baseball game at this level.
“Player development always comes first. We would love for the guys to get to the big leagues, but you also want to teach them how to win at the same time. Be honest with them and be straight up with them, let them know where they stand, especially the back-up players, make them feel part of everything, as well. Usually you get a good chemistry going when that happens,” Vinas said of his coaching philosophies.
Even though the Barons have clinched a playoff berth by winning the Southern League’s first half championship, there is still a second half to be played.
“Well, I said it would be fun to win the first half, so it would be fun to win the second half,” Vinas said smilingly. “Obviously it’s a great thing for us, we’ll have home field advantage and we’ve got the team to do it.”
Regions Field has been a staple to the city and to the Southside since opening in April and has remarkably averaged over 5,000 fans per home game.
“It’s an incredible place to play at, it’s a beautiful field. Everything’s clicked for us this year, it’s just been incredible,” Vinas added.
The Barons will look to add to their five Southern League championships. The organization has won championships in 1983, 1987, 1989, 1993, and 2002. The first and second half champions of the Southern League’s north and south divisions makeup the four playoff spots come September.
The Barons are back at home this week with a home stand against Huntsville. The game times are as followed: Tuesday 7 p.m. (50-cent hotdog night), Wednesday 11 a.m., Thursday 7 p.m. (Thirsty Thursday), and Friday 7 p.m. (Jared Mitchell bobblehead night).