February 29th, 2012

My Name is Sean, and I Have An Obsession.

No it’s not like the people you see on TLC who can’t stop brushing their teeth, or collecting Cabbage Patch Kids, or anything that compels me to appear on a fascinating cable TV show. But I do have an obsession… baseball. It’s something I grew an affinity for at a very early age, and unlike the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it never wore off. In fact, it has only intensified as the years (or seasons perhaps) have passed.

My first memory of baseball, albeit a vague one, is from 1989, the last time the Oakland Athletics won the World Series (As I’m constantly reminded by suddenly boastful San Francisco Giants fans). I started kindergarten about a month or so before the Battle of the Bay began when the A’s and the Giants met for the first time ever in the Fall Classic. Understandably so, everyone was rather excited about it here in the Bay Area. What was fascinating to me at the time was the fact that everyone was choosing sides, suddenly neighbors were adversaries, colleagues were opponents, everyone had a horse in the race. Of course at the time I didn’t necessarily have a complex understanding of the fan dynamic surrounding me, but I was put in a situation where I too had to take a side.

My father grew up in the greater Los Angeles area and moved up to northern California in the 1970′s, he was an imported Dodgers fan. So naturally he wasn’t about to move to the Bay Area and start rooting for the mortal enemy of the team he grew up with. Thus my fandom of the A’s was born, years before I was.

Back to my kindergarten class, again the memory is vague, but I recall my teacher asking the class who they were rooting for. It seemed like every kid in the class raised their hand when asked if they wanted the Giants to win. When the A’s were mentioned with the same question? Just me. Or at least that was how it felt. All my best friends were Giants fans, I was the weirdo who liked that other team in the East Bay. That team who had won 3 straight World Series titles 15 years prior, that team who was the defending American League Champions, that team who should have been the defending World Series Champions if it hadn’t been for Kirk @#$%&%# Gibson and Orel Hershiser. That didn’t matter though, the Giants were more popular, and I was the baseball outcast, who would ultimately have the last laugh.

As years went by and I grew up, my understanding of the game grew with me. After the years of the Bash Brothers faded into the past, Rickey Henderson was off on his journey throughout Major League Baseball, all those players I had emulated while playing baseball with my Dad had moved onto greener pastures (or at least other pastures), I feel that my true appreciation for the game took hold. The A’s were flat out miserable during the 90′s, in ways that make the current situation in Oakland seem optimistic in many ways. Mike Oquist, Dave Telgheder, Brent Gates, Eric Fox, Steve Ontiveros, and lest we forget Ariel Prieto were some of the many “marquis” names to don the white cleats during those lean years. But I still loved them. I witnessed some putrid games during that time, but I came back for more. I sat in amazement as the monstrosity that came to be known as Mount Davis was erected. Not the kind of amazement that you might experience on your first visit to Disneyland, but the kind of amazement where you’re thinking “I can’t believe they’re doing this.”

In the early 2000′s the A’s finally experienced a renaissance with the emergence of Billy Beane’s supposed genius and the Moneyball methodology. I was proud that I had stuck through the miserable 90′s to see them bounce back. But it brought me to the 3rd stage of my baseball life, true understanding.

I had begun to dabble in fantasy baseball, which at the time had been primarily done using old fashioned methods of (gasp) writing numbers down and keeping track of stats yourself. I recall a rotisserie league draft my Dad participated in which took something like 8 or 9 hours to complete, I had no interest in that kind of thing just yet, but I still for some reason recall one of the players excitedly proclaiming his pick to be “BOBBY BONILLAAAAAA!!!” The things that stick in your memory block are certainly curious sometimes. Anyway, with the development of the internet and the migration of fantasy sports into the digital age I decided to give that a try. It was at that point that I began to understand not only who the good players, the bad players, and the elite players were, but why they were. The stats are the lifeblood of the game of baseball. Without an understanding of what those numbers really mean, I think it’s impossible to have anything beyond a casual interest in the game. Sabermetrics changed everything, for me, for Billy Beane, and for all the baseball nerds out there.

I want to make something perfectly clear though, as I begin to develop this blog I want people to know that while I do appreciate the value of statistical analysis, I think there are some things that simply cannot be evaluated, or predicted by the numbers. I have always felt that sometimes you just have to sit and watch a guy play, and if you know what you’re seeing, you can determine if they are the real deal. So I will most definitely refer to the box scores and the many resources available online for research, but I will definitely not be using those numbers as a crutch. If I slip into any of that kind of nonsense, I can only hope that someone will call me out on it.

So what is this blog all about anyway? It’s about what ever happens in the world of baseball. For people like me, this is the holiday season. For me this year, Christmas Day is March 28th when my Athletics battle the Seattle Mariners from Tokyo. I say this knowing full well that they will more than likely draw Felix Hernandez in game 1, which usually equals a shutout, but that’s okay, because baseball will be back.

It’s not a news blog, I assume pretty much anything I write about will be known to the masses already through the seemingly infinite news sources surrounding the game. But I will give my honest opinions about what I see happening and what I think may happen next all around the baseball world. I can certainly not proclaim to be the Nostradamus of MLB blogging. I placed a $20 bet on the A’s winning the 2011 World Series, envisioning a run to the promise land much the same way the Giants won the 2010 title (worst day of my life), we all saw how that turned out. But I will certainly not be shy about taking a stab at predicting the future and if by some chance I nail it, I’ll have evidence that I called it.

I will also look to build a podcast that may serve as a companion to the blog, a blogcast if you will. I have a background in radio broadcasting at Sonoma State University and would very much like to meld that background with my new venture of blogging.

I suppose that will about do it for this little (more like long winded) introduction. Now everyone has an idea where I’m coming from. I may skew in the direction of the A’s from time to time as the season dictates, but make no mistake, anything and everything is fair game in this blog.

Now you all know the nature of this obsession, but rather than cure it, I hope you all will embrace it with me. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.

I guess my blog is a leap year baby. Look forward to celebrating its first birthday on February 29, 2016!

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