Every day or at most every couple of days, I set aside my responsibilities as a father and all my work as an artist and a writer to create the entries on this blog. It costs me time and, arguably, money.
So, recently I’ve wondered why I do it at all. Today, I want to answer that question as an attempt to invite you, dear reader, to read, follow and engage with me.
I do this because I love the Giants and I love to write. I think I have novel ideas about the state of play and the team itself, that are NOT being expressed in the social media realm. I express them on the radio as “M.T.” and on this blog, and in tweets @giantsbaseballc as an attempt to get my two cents in sure, but more, hoping to improve the team and the discourse.
I’ve been a fan of the Giants longer than many of the current fans I read on twitter have been alive. As a 47-year-old, my view is informed by three decades of watching this team, not just the four years since we won our first World Series in SF. I’m no bandwagoner.
Coincidentally, one of my high school friends married into the Magowan family in 1994, so I was lucky to be able to meet Peter and his family and to be a part of the Giants family in a small way, too. I’ll never forget running into Peter Magowan out in front of the park on a gray day in November of 2010. He was just walking on King street toward the parking lot with his brief case in his hand. I looked up and said, “Peter.” (stupidly … I mean I should have said, “Mr. Magowan” .. I was just taken aback ’cause he was standing right in front of me). I’d only met the guy once 15 years earlier, but he stopped, remembered me by name and had a thrilling chat with my son and I about our deliriously exciting World Series win. It felt like we were part of the family.
The same happened in 2012 when SFG productions asked my son and me to participate in the “Together We’re Giant” campaign, following us through the NLCS and World Series games. When they were done editing it, we were amazed to find we were the first people fans hear and see in the critical episode. That was so cool. Our episode even won an Emmy!
So I do this because I want the team to win, but because I believe that can only happen if the fan base is smart, analytical and keeps a high tenor to the discourse. I believe I occasionally make avant-garde analysis in an attempt to push the team and our fans toward a deeper, more nuanced view. I’ll just give you one example fans from 2010 may remember.
In the summer of 2010, when Jeremy Affeldt was blowing starts, I went on a radio and text campaign to praise and push for the employment of Javier Lopez in all of Affeldt’s would be starts until Affeldt could rectify whatever was wrong. I did this loudly, as M.T., and for a time was the only one doing it in early July of that year. I have recordings of the first times I went on KNBR to discuss this.
Mychal Urban picked it up and gave me some air time. The discussion picked up steam … and we all know what’s happened since. The two lefty relievers compliment each other perfectly. Affeldt used the push of Lopez to improve. Instead of competing they worked together. It’s one of the reasons I use a quote from Lopez as this blog’s tagline: “focused on the relentless flow of the positive river.”
Of course, I am not so narcissistic as to believe I changed team chemistry or team management. I do believe however that a lot of fans discussing it may have helped let it seep into staff ideology.
I try to do this kind of thing all year long, to come up with a way we aren’t looking at it or that’s different somehow and push it into the discourse. It’s fun and makes me feel like I am part of the collective will of our team, our fans. I am occasionally provocative and just plain wrong. It’s an inevitability of trying to be avant-garde, to think outside the box. This turns a lot of people off on twitter and elsewhere. But it’s like a prototypical swing-for-the-fences guy … lotsa homers, lotsa strikeouts.
In my opinion, in recent times, the quality of coverage of the Giants has been significantly reduced by the demands of a sportstainment complex that seeks to equate all fans – bandwagoners and old-timers, fans who know little about the game and those with lots of knowledge, the young and the old.
All of this takes place in the social media realm in a very commercially driven way … so diversity of coverage has dropped and reiteration of the same (sometimes banal) points goes on ad nauseum.
The very language of coverage has changed so much that Henry Schulman, whom I admire, has changed his style to suit the social media demands. The beat writer changing good, journalistic, analytical language for petty, social media chit-chat is only one example of something I lament and last year, it got me in trouble.
I went out drinking with some friends who bought too many rounds, more than I usually indulge in. I came home and read one of Schulman’s particularly offensive stretches into what he obviously must do as the beat reporter to keep followers in this new era, and foolishly, I berated him and tweeted that he “only had his job because of the Giants.”
This was misinterpreted by him and others as a critique of his fine work and I paid a price socially (social medially?) for it. People thought I was mean-spirited. IN FACT THAT WAS NOT WHAT I MEANT AT ALL.
What I mean, and I really, really wish Henry would understand this, is that the San Francisco Giants in 2010 saved the SF Chronicle. They were forced to fire and lay off dozens of people. They were going to shutter the paper … close it down.
Then … the Giants went on the epic tear we now celebrate as our first World Series victory in San Francisco. The team saved the paper.
That is what I meant.
I tweeted it, and taken out of context (granted coupled with my criticism of Henry’s work being reduced to inane social media blather), it read all wrong.
I don’t think I owe Henry any more apologies than I have already exchanged with him, but I never got to explain what I meant, that I hate when he is forced to do stupid work to stay “social.” Of course, I appreciate Schulman when he does great work, I have for a decade. I simply meant he and the rest of the workers at his paper are lucky they still have a place to go to work, and it is in large part due to the Championship team that sold papers all summer and autumn of 2010. Their winning ways help to this day.
From the Comcast producers’ ideas of spending so much time covering people’s hats, outfits and behavior in the stands, to the utterly pathetic non-baseball blather of Gary and Larry on KNBR, much of the coverage that seeks to mollify the half-interested under an umbrella of “social-ness” has gotten base and/or way too social, and so it’s often unreadable or unlistenable to me. I enjoy it sometimes of course, but I long for something … else.
So I do this because I want coverage like the kind I produce here: text driven, summative, analytical, long form, which takes critique seriously; instead of the sycophancy of a social media insider’s crowd. I think there is way too much glad-handing and empty critique. The result is that all of the coverage is filled with social media asides, petty complaints about irrelevancies, catty chat, and, increasingly, less baseball analysis and discussion.
As an aside, I do credit Marty Lurie, who joined us only recently – 2010 – and whom at first, I disagreed with considerably more than I do today. He is a true fan of the game and it is a pleasure to talk about it with him … most days 😉 … I hate when you are dismissive of my wilder suggestions, Marty, but I get it, you’re a lawyer.
I wrote this in 2012 about my experiences with Marty Lurie.
So I am writing this for people who agree with me about some of these complaints or attitudes, if you will, and who seek another positive, but honest fan’s perspective. I don’t mean to condescend or to be naive or to offend.
Recently I offended a twitter follower and Giants fan simply by suggesting a statistical response to her single word critique of Bruce Bochy. He pulled a pitcher and she wrote “WHY???”
I replied that the next batter was particularly good against lefties and so management probably was looking to odds. I listed the batting stats in the reply. I was just trying to provide a stat that might explain the skipper’s actions.
What I received in return for this was vitriol and accusations that I was condescending to her. It was totally uncalled for and very representative of what I hear on the radio more and more, and read on twitter, FB and elsewhere. It’s over-emotional, with way too much “homerism” and often devoid of perspective.
I know for a fact I’ve been a fan of the team longer than this particular person has been alive. In fact, I suppose I am on twitter just so I can find some other way to relate to younger people.
But I was just trying to contribute, to take the conversation to another level. I asked her why she had me on blast … and got a loud, defensive reaction. We unfollowed each other promptly afterward. I don’t think I need to apologize, but I will here, since you know who you are. I hope we can re-follow one another someday and this explanation of my somewhat eccentric methods helps to explain my approach.
I just don’t like the way the new media is affecting coverage of the game. I’m old school, I guess. The beauty of a blog is that I can do whatever I want here. … so I have been.
But it takes a lot of time, and unlike Henry, Kruk, Kuip, Dave, Jon, Alex, Baggs, Marty, Haft, BASG, Brisbee or the others I enjoy, I’m not being paid for my efforts. That’s not a plug, just a fact … I don’t seek to make money from this blog … I seek to be taken seriously as an analytical voice in the Giants community. It’d be nice to be invited to contribute.
I am disappointed in much of what I read and hear and see, so I want a place were I can write and re-read the season with analysis that’s leaner and more focused on the overall trending of the team. My own view.
Here I must say guys like Henry, Kruk, Kuip, Dave, Jon, Alex, Baggs, Marty, Haft, BASG and Brisbee are all good at a lot of things. That’s why I read and listen and have read and listened to them all so often, but the overall language, in general, is changing in a way that doesn’t make it enjoyable to a guy like me.
I know there are fans out there who, like me, think of the players as numbers and positions more than personalities; who like to indulge in aggressively calculated second-guessing and deeper analysis of management decision-making; who like to READ longer sentences, more poetic and prosaic approaches to the game itself.
If so, that’s who this blog is for.
I really hope you will join me, but if not, that you will pass this address on to someone else who might. It would be comforting to know there are at least a few out there who like looking at the game for the game it is, talking positively about opponents when they make good plays or perform well; admiring the state of play; and being capable of critique while supporting the Giants as fans and analysts.
Maybe this is all just a long-winded way of saying I don’t think my stuff is working the way everybody else’s is. But I think I am also saying, I don’t really want or expect it to. I’m not a kid-journalist trying to get a job. I’ve already had careers as a sports journalist, a news correspondent, a published author, a collected artist. I’m in mid-career. This is a labor of love for me to try to get back something I miss. If you miss it too, please join me.