Off the Top: SF Giants Entries

June 16, 2012

A Pitcher's Perfect Game is a Team Effort

Tuesday night Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giant’s pitched a perfect game (no hits, no walks, nor errors, and no runs). This was the first perfect game by a Giant in the 130 years the club has been around. Cain’s 14 strike out tied the best perfect game of Sandy Kolfax, so 2 of the 22 best perfect games ever.

But it Takes a Team

One of the most amazing moments in this perfect game was in the 7th inning when the Giants’ Gregor Blanco made an amazing play on the Astros’ Jordan Schafer’s smash drive to center field. There was a whole lot of amazing and special in his play, but the most amazing bit came in his talking about the play the following day.

From yesterday’s article Cain bak at work as Giants revel in perfecto Gregor Blanco talks about his talk with Cain after the game and Cain’s deep appreciation of that catch that saved the perfect game…

Right fielder Gregor Blanco spoke at length about his remarkable seventh-inning catch of Jordan Schafer’s drive to the center-field warning track.

Blanco refused Cain’s offer to reward him for his impossible grab. “He asked me what I wanted – a watch, a car, a house,” Blanco said, prompting laughter from reporters. “I said, ‘No man, we’re a team. I’m always there for you.’” Having the chance to make such plays is its own reward, Blanco said. “I work hard, and it’s great to have a moment like this in my career,” he said. “I’m enjoying this, enjoying the moment, and I’m just thankful to the Giants for the opportunity.”

Blanco repeated that he didn’t think he could run down Schafer’s drive. It wasn’t false modesty.

This understanding of team is fantastic. (I do love Matt Cain’s gesture of reward, and Matt’s hat tip to Gregor just after the play as it was pure class and grace.) It is a great thing when many moving parts come together like this. When each member is looking out for the team and supporting those who are having a shining moment reach their best.

This, is what it is all about!

May 7, 2012

Baseball and Sports Open One's Eyes to the Exceptional

Tonight (Sunday the 6th of May) was a good evening if you are a baseball fan. There were some great games that are out of the norm. It seems that there are quite a few extra inning games this year, but two of my favorite teams, the San Francisco Giants and the Baltimore Orioles both took their games into extra innings. The Giants game started 3 hours after the Orioles game and yet they ended within a minute or so of each other. With the Giants going into the 11th inning to get a walk off single to win and the Orioles won in the 17th after a 3 run home by Adam Jones put them ahead in the top of the inning.

Looking for the Exceptions

One of the announcers for the Boston Red Sox and Orioles game that went to 17 innings had said he met a friend of his who brought his kid to the game and the announcer said to the kid, “I hope you get to see something special today”. That is a big part of the fun of baseball, and sport in general from a spectator’s vantage, it is the exceptions and the things that are special. It is also a great way to pick up the norms and customs in a culture (Gunther Barth’s “City People” is a great book on human social interactions and how the the social norms are found and set in cities includes the baseball stadium as one of the core elements for enculturation and social interaction with others). But, the understanding of norms and exceptions while watching a game being played with skill is where one learns to see the world. Sports fans stick out in the workplace, whether they are male or female as they often see things differently. They look for the exceptional and often look to see hints of things that stand out.

It is that seeing a world for the norms and the exception to appreciate them, but also to look to emulate them. This really is the standout out trait quite often for the deep fans. It is also the weaving of the story before your eyes and the potential for a great ending. But, it is also watching the unexpected player, or even the expected player, do something far from the norm and maybe even spectacular.

Tonight’s Orioles and Red Sox 17 inning gem had two unusual pitchers as the winning and losing pitchers, in that neither was a pitcher. The winning pitcher, Chris Davis is the Orioles designated hitter and occasional first baseman. He went to bat eight times tonight and didn’t get one hit. But he was called on to pitch in the 16th inning and stayed on in the 17th as there were no more relief pitchers available and Buck Showalter the Orioles Manager put him on the mound to pitch. This is exceptionally rare. What was rarer was Davis did rather well and in the two innings he struck out two batters. Really amazing.

Two Summer’s back when my dad was on in his last weeks another amazing game took place. It was the ninth inning and two outs with Armando Galarraga pitching a perfect game up to that point. All Galarraga needed was one last out. he pitched and the ball was hit and thrown to first base ahead of the runner and the umpire called the runner safe, a hit. The perfect game gone, but it was the wrong call. The manager argued his case and the replays clearly showed the runner was out and Galarraga should have the perfect game (there have only been 21 perfect game pitched in all of recorded major league baseball). The umpire Jim Joyce stuck to his call as that is what he saw as the runner safe. The game was over minutes later with the final out with Galarraga getting the win, but not the perfect game.

Following the game the Jim Joyce went off field and looked at the replay and realized he made the wrong call. He went to find Galarraga and apologize and admit he made the wrong call. This was gut wrenching for Joyce, who is known for getting the hard calls right so often. But, the humility and deep showing of humanity in Joyce reaching out admitting he was wrong and feeling horrible as his call stood between perfection and it incredible rarity. Hearing this story choked me up (I had watched the end of the game and was in awe). I called my dad and told him about it, but he was medicated and not really able to share in it. The thought of the game and story of it is something I still get choked up with, because it is utterly amazing.

With an eye to the exceptional I hear designers talk with the same alertness, as well as others in various other professions. Quite often the best of any field have this same focus and often they see the world much the same way. Often when you sit and get to know them the stories of games watched come out where something amazing happened or something out of the ordinary. They have learned to look for that and keep their eyes and mind open and attentive to just that the seeds of exceptions starting and the desire to see it this time, the one time will they see the exceptional happen, as it happens.

September 17, 2004

August 23, 2003

Bobby Bonds passes

Bobby Bonds dies. He was one of my early sports heros, along with Willie Mays and Willie McCovey. He was able to coach his son, Barry, and got to watch him dominate the game like no other. Bobby was a San Francisco Giants as well as a New York Yankee, California Angel, Chicago White Sox, Texas Ranger, Cleveland Indian, St. Louis Cardinal and the Chicago Cub. He will always be remember a Giant in my eyes.

March 31, 2003

Smells like Giants in the Spring breeze

It is time for daily Giants box scores and recaps. This is a wonderful thing, particularly the day after we had snow.

October 24, 2002

Rob gets it right

I missed an important call last night, Rob was calling my cell phone from the SF Giant game just after they won the fourth game of the World Series. It was nearly 13 years ago when Rob and I had tickets to the sixth game of the Earthquake series, which is a game they never played. Rob learned his lesson and picked up tickets earlier in the series. Nicely done. I found my cell phone buzzing in my jacket pocket at midnight letting me know I had missed a call. How I would have loved to get that call. I need a phone that knows when to ring loudly even when I have it set to vibrate.

September 21, 2002

MLB Internet failure

Major League Baseball's online game audio has been a failure this year for me. My favorite team is the Giants. In years past I have been able to listen to games off the Internet. I paid my money this year to do the same and in June I stopped having the ability to listen to games. After four e-mail attempts from the MLB form I have not heard one responce as to why MLB would take my money and not have brains to fix the problem or to even have customer service respond to the e-mail. I finally can see my account online, but it does not show I paid for the full season, or any part of it. MLB seems to be incompetent at getting it right. I am one very angry fan that still loves my team, but can not stand the incompetence or poor communication skill MLB has shown this season. Since MLB took over all the teams sites the service and quality has gone down dramatically. If you consider paying next year, look at other options as the MLB Internet option may just steal your money.

March 2, 2002

Wax on, wax off, crack. What the..., that is Jeff Kent of the SF Giants breaks his arm washing his car.

February 22, 2002

Phil the groundhog was wrong as it is Giants with full team in camp already.

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