Friday, June 21, 2013

Irrationally Rational Thinking

CSN Bay Area

So I'm sitting there watching the game last night and the stat in the above picture pops up. My first reaction was, really? The Giants bullpen? They haven't been that strong.

My second reaction is the one that i found funny. "CSN you just jinxed them!" ran through my head. I know, it's totally irrational. But I bet you do it too.

It's preposterous to think that what graphic they put up, or whatever we may say online has any bearing on the game. But we do it anyway. I call it irrationally rational.

I may watch a game to analyze it, but the fan will always come out. I'm totally guilty of it. Last night when this Koehler kid from Miami was holding the Giants hitless through the 5th, I put out the following tweet.

To be fair, I was only half paying attention. Game 7 of the NBA Finals was on. But I gotta fess up. I sent that out knowing full well the Giants didn't have a hit.

Why? Because why shouldn't my tweet from Tampa, Florida jinx this kid?

It's the same with the graphic.

Irrationally rational fandom.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Eric Nathanson
@2outhits on Twitter

Don't forget. Getting a meetup together for August 24. Details here.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Filling In

Lineups from Baseball Reference

Those two lineups are drastically different. It's not what we expected to see in mid June, but here we are.

The lineup on the left is from Game 1 of the 2012 World Series. The one on the right, well that's this past Monday June 17 against the Padres.

Somehow, some way, the San Francisco Giants have been able to stay in the race. The battered and bruised is plenty on this ball club. Angel Pagan, Pablo Sandoval, Marco Scutaro, and even Brandon Crawford have had to take some time to heal.

In the meantime, the Giants are 37-34, only 1.5 games back of Arizona. The whole division is a logjam with only the Dodgers under .500 right now. Yet despite all the hurt, the Giants are in the middle of this race.

So how did they hang on? Contributions from unexpected sources has led the way. So here's my thank you to those that have stepped up since the Giants have hit rough times.

Thank you to Juan Perez. The effort he displayed in his very first game made all of us gasp. There isn't a patch of grass too large for those legs. He's done some mighty fine work out there. Oh, and thanks for not being a slouch with the bat either. A .348 batting average to start a big league career is not shabby at all. Plus quality at bats, and coming through in a clutch situation Tuesday night,

Thank you to Gregor Blanco. Yes I know he is a regular but his role has changed since Pagan went down. He's been the leadoff man for a few weeks now and is consistently getting on base. Not only that, Gregor seems to like hitting in late game situations. He's not afraid to be the center of a rally.

Thank you to Joaquin Arias. The regular back up infielder has been starting almost every day for 3 weeks now. I don't think there is an infield position he hasn't played this year. His bat is coming around lately too. Some line drives are starting to fall, and Arias isn't one to sit there with his bat on his shoulder.

Thank you to Tony Abreu. Another versatile player that has filled in at more than one spot. He can play 3rd or 2nd, or even the outfield if it is really needed. The stats haven't been flashy, but 4 of his 8 hits have gone for two bases. Not a lot is asked of Tony Abreu, and he is handling that workload just fine.

Yes thank you too, Hector Sanchez and Andres Torres. They both have moments that make all fans scratch their collective heads, but both have come through with big hits in the past few weeks. It seems like Sanchez is here to stay, but I wouldn't count on Torres being around as long. Mr. Juan Perez is still playing well when Pagan comes back healthy.

A couple weeks ago I wrote about the tough stretch the Giants are in right now. You can read that here. As a team they have done a magnificent job of weathering the rough parts until all the pieces are back in place.

Things could be a lot worse. They could be the Dodgers.

Eric Nathanson
@2outhits on Twitter

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Reason It All Began

Today is Father's Day. There is no better time to write about my dad than today. If you've been here before you probably know that I grew up outside of Chicago. This summer I will be making the journey to San Francisco and AT&T Park for the first time in my life. I'll share the details at the bottom. 

It's all because of my dad. Meet the man that started it all for me. 

Barry Nathanson was born January 4, 1948 in New York City. This was a golden age for Baseball and he stumbled right in to it. Jackie Robinson had just paved the way for the reason he got hooked. Willie Mays. His father, Alexander, rooted for the Giants and my dad followed suit. 

He was 6 years old when Willie made "The Catch". Dusty Rhodes, Sal Maglie, Monte Irvin were names I knew before Kindergarten. I can still picture the Polo Grounds in my mind as he described it. I see Leo Durocher waving Willie Mays towards the plate when I close my eyes. 

Baseball is the greatest game ever invented, and my father fostered that love for many people. I'm the lucky one, I got to absorb it all up close. The impact that he had on baseball in our local community was bigger than probably even I realize.

Between the ages of 6-15 my dad was the manager of my team 6 times. Five of those we were the Giants. When I wasn't, he still wore a Giants cap in the 3rd base coaching box. Everyone knew of my dad's love. We even won a championship when I was 12 as the Giants. Spraying fake champagne under the lights just might be my top childhood memory.

My dad was a great coach. But he really did so many other things to improve the game in our area. Our local program is not a little league affiliated one. We have one that is run by the parents, for the kids. My dad jumped right in.

We moved one town over when I was 8. It is a much smaller town and has no baseball league. The kids play in the one I had started in. When the league was growing there was talk of shutting out the surrounding towns because it may get over crowded. So what did my dad do? He ran for the Park District of our hometown so that more ball fields would be built and we would be an asset.

He not only got on the board he became President for a good long while. Under him many fields were built on land in our town. He transformed the access players from our area had. So much so that when his first field was used the schedule maker deemed the abbreviation for the field to be BN. Even though the name of the field was Gridley, for the farm that had resided there. My dad deflected the attention. He always did. Personally I thought it was great.

My dad was a dentist. An endodontist to be precise. So the health and well being of us kids was also on his mind. He took it upon himself to write to Major League team doctors to inquire about pitch counts. Then after he presented it to the board of our program, they changed the way we looked at pitching rules. Suddenly smarter things were done to protect young arms.

He hustled to do everything to help grow and spread our program. For years he would be the one getting local advertisers involved. His last few years on the board he was in charge of fields. You could always see him out at 6am on a Saturday dragging an infield or setting up the All Star festivities. He loved it. I love him for it.

There really is more. I could go on and on. My dad is the number one reason I am passionate about baseball and specifically the Giants. I love them because I love him. In 2010 we got to share a championship together. It was long distance, but meant so much. We were never certain that we'd see a Giants World Series win in our shared lifetime.

Unfortunately he didn't get the chance to see the boys of 2012 work their magic. My dad passed away shortly before the season started. I've talked about it here before. 

It's my first time ever going to San Francisco. If my dad's not going to be here anymore, I can't see a better reason to go. I love and miss him very much. He truly made me the man I am today. One day we'll get to watch every Giants game together again.

Eric Nathanson
@2outhits on Twitter