Wednesday, July 06, 2011

How I Helped the Giants Win Their 2010 World Championship

Baseball is a sport that attracts obsessives like me.  Whether it be wearing lucky items of clothing (like a red thong), eating boiled chicken for a meal before every game you play (Wade Boggs did that), or avoiding touching the foul lines as you go on and off the field, there are many customs and superstitions that players and fans follow in order to win.

Here is my short story about how I helped the Giants win their 2010 World Championship.

It's All in THAT T-Shirt

Over the years, I would notice whenever the Giants would win when I wear a particular article of clothing.  Whether it be a particular set of clothing I wore to work or play, I would notice what wins and try to wear that piece of clothing as often as possible.  I know it does not work, but I do so anyway.

I never found any piece of clothing that was that successful, so I would rotate through all my clothes and not wear anything in particular, except for my t-shirts that had Hall of Famers on them (Mays and McCovey), which, while not excessively successful, I felt that they won more often than not.

Last season, as with most seasons, I could not find THAT lucky piece of clothing that would lead to Giants wins. Until, that is, around mid-season, when I found out that this give-away t-shirt that the Giants gave away to Spanish speaking fans (my sister happen to have gotten one and gave it to me) worked like a charm.  The team would usually win when I wore it.

I called it my Gigantes t-shirt and while I didn't particularly care for the design (and my wife detested it), once I noticed that the Giants would win when I wore it, it started slowly but over time I would save it for what I thought were key games and more often than not, the Giants would win.  I would say the win rate was around 80-90%.  Eventually, I found another t-shirt that I had that also had Gigante on it (my sister got me an Orlando Cepeda signed t-shirt) and started wearing that in my rotation and that didn't change anything, the Giants were winning with both t-shirts.

Now, my wife likes clean clothing, plus in the South Bay, where it is very hot during the summer, it is hard not to sweat up a storm, so I would wear it once and pray that my wife does the laundry soon, so that I could wear it again.  I let her into the secret during the playoffs and she lovingly accommodated me as much as possible so that I would have my shirts to wear.  I don't recall losing one game during the playoffs while wearing those t-shirts (plus HOF shirts when not available).  And that is how I contributed to the Giants winning their first Championship in SF.

Epilogue

Unfortunately, Gigante doesn't work anymore, at least not like it did last season, so it is in semi-retirement.

But by May, I figured out a new "winning" t-shirt:  my Giants World Championship t-shirt with a picture of the actual ring design on the cover.  That recent win streak?  My wife is now allowing the re-wear of clothing if it didn't get too dirty, so I was re-wearing the t-shirt and then my wife happened to do the laundry that day, so I had it for the following two games.  It has been winning about 80-90% of the games on the day I wear it, and I will continue wearing it until it don't "work" anymore.

What are your superstitions that you do to support your team?

9 comments:

  1. I have a Matt Cain #43(his rookie number) shirt that I always wear if I attend a game or SJ Giants game in person. Since I've started doing that, both the Giants and and little Giants usually win when I attend a game.

    I started my blog in December of 2009 because I basically got run off the sfgiants.com message board for being too optimistic about the Giants future. Since then, I have posted a Game Wrap and Down on the Farm segment every single game. Believe me, I am convinced beyond doubt that starting that blog was THE good luck charm the Giants needed. I'll keep doing it at least until they are eliminated, hopefully sometime in, oh, maybe 2020!

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  2. I rotate through 5 jerseys for luck. If a jersey produces a win, it goes to the next game unwashed. If it looses, it's out, one of the other five takes it's place. I don't have a superstition or system for choosing the jersey to wear after a loss, I just go by feel. My away jersey was with me a lot during the 06,07,08 seasons, so I don't bring it out much these days. I recently put a WS patch on it as well as the new away patch in an attempt to wash away some of the losses on it!

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  3. Thanks for sharing! I honestly thought there would be more stories, I do think baseball does lend itself to these rituals because there are so many games.

    DrB, I have to agree, your blog is definitely the good charm the Giants needed!

    Funny how similar our stories are. I felt the need to blog because I didn't see a lot of what I was thinking out there.

    And I was similarly run off of MCC for being too optimistic about the Giants and supportive of Sabean, especially. I got a rep there for being that, Goofus used to ask for me to provide some positiveness whenever a particular thread got too negative.

    I have no problem being different, I've been different all my life, but at some point you just tire from repeating the same argument, only to a different person, over and over and over again. My blog became my refuge so that I can minimize my explanations.

    The funny thing is that I don't consider myself that much of an optimist. Sure, I'm more the half full type of personality, but the way my brain works, I try to see all angles of a situation, so I'm aware of how badly things can get if things go wrong.

    I think I "fell" into the role of the optimist because I saw so much negativism, that I just focused on pointing out the good in the situation that people were missing, because obviously they saw the negative too. It was gradual and something I didn't noticed until later.

    That is why I have tried for a number of years now to point out in my comments that I do see the negative in the situation, it is just that I disagree about the relative importance of that negative aspect, that I think the positives outweigh the negative.

    But I've found that the Naysayers are just too inflexible to see both sides of the argument. They are wedded to the opinion that Sabean must go and dig themselves in deeper with each comment they post.

    I'm ready to cut rope on Sabean when I think he's making moves that ruin what I think will be the core of the Giants success going forward. GMs are hired to be fired. I just think he has done a good job overall thus far with his re-build.

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  4. I just don't think mistakes are good reasons to fire someone. That is what is wrong with society today, people feel that you can't make a mistake or you get fired. People need to be able to take risks and not have that held against them.

    That is why you get all these hand holders and shepherds in business today, they just want to keep the boat moving without rocking it, they aren't real leaders.

    And boat rockers aren't real leaders either, they are just doing that for effect.

    Real leaders focus on the core competencies of their organization while keeping in mind what is necessary for success in their business. In baseball, the most recent research shows that it is pitching and fielding, not offense.

    And specific research shows that it is a strong strikeout pitching staff, paired with a strong closer, that provides competitive advantage to your team when it makes it to the playoffs.

    So it makes all the sense in the world to pile up a lot of great pitching, particularly since that allows your team to become more efficient in winning by enabling it to win even with a subpar offense.

    Even the best offenses in history still required at least an average defense (pitching and fielding) to make the playoffs. The best pitching, however, makes the team significantly much more efficient at winning that you can have one of the worse offenses in the NL and still win 90 games.

    So the first steps you do is built that super pitching staff, first the rotation and closer, then picking up the relievers, which are easily to trade for with teams. Then you add to the offense enough that you can win with that defense.

    Fans complain about the losses but forget that the same great pitching allows the team to win a lot of games in the end result. This is the third season where the Giants are on pace to win 90 games, even with crappy offense. When will they understand?

    And baseball is a zero-sum game, you want better hitting, you have to give up pitching. Hitting does almost nothing for you in the playoffs, whereas good pitching definitely help.

    Any business investing in assets that does not help you succeed while getting rid of assets that does help you succeed (which in the MLB means winning in the playoffs) are being sub-optimally managed.

    And that is basically what I feel the Naysayers are advocating. They need the offense to soothe their feelings of nervousness, but that just reduces the odds of the Giants winning it all.

    I would rather just maximize the odds of the Giants winning it all. And I think pitching does it.

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  5. And where the Naysayers see mistakes, I see taking a calculated risk in hopes of a reward.

    I'll discuss a few examples that stick to my mind that seems to repeat in the Naysayers' minds.

    First, broadly, I see the Giants signing their free agents mostly as a way to appease fans. The best strategy would have been to not sign anyone while they were losing and just suck it up and earn great draft picks.

    Complain as the Naysayers will, many of the signings were of the best players available. I think the Giants would have gotten more flack for not doing anything with their money, which is what I would have done, than signing the players they did. They took risks in hopes of reward, and many of them were failures, I agree.

    They did this because they knew that sitting on the money would cause the crowds to dwindle greatly and they need the crowds to support the mortgage. The owners took a huge personal financial risk by paying for constructing AT&T and keeping the Giants here.

    So they did what I viewed as logical: they spent the money. One can argue whether they spent the money wisely - mostly not - but they did that to keep the fans attending, so I don't blame them for that. Plus, people forget that most alternatives weren't any better. Sure, Durham didn't work out, but it would have been worse had we kept David Bell, and horrible if we went with anybody else.

    Again, in any case, they often spent for players who were the best available for the money the Giants had available.

    They took risks in free agency and failed there, I agree that this was bad. Though I would note that I think most teams have a number of bad signings too, so the broader question might be whether free agents should be signed by teams or not, perhaps they might be better off not signing anybody but their own young players. In any case, I think what they did in other areas make up for that.

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  6. Now the trades that usually get put up as examples of how stupid Sabean is.

    Hillenbrand is one I see a lot. The Giants needed production at 1B if they were to have any chance of getting into the playoffs that season. He's not the greatest hitter, but he was a good hitter.

    I also see the Ryan Garko trade noted as well. Again, they needed to do something, so they took a risk.

    I am sure there are others, but those come quickest to mind.

    To my view, these and most others were risks worth taking given the needs of the time. It was also not much of a risk because they gave up a player or prospect who they did not think would be successful going forward. They have a keeper list and thus are willing to trade anyone not on that list. That is the M.O. of any trade he has made.

    They at least tried to make something happen, but the Naysayers don't appear to tolerate risk well.

    Also, a lot of the complaining I have seen over the years revolve around one of the last guys on the roster, how Sabean has to be stupid to have that guy on the roster.

    Again, it is a matter of scale, why care that deeply about the last guy on the roster. Focus on the top guys on the roster, you know, the guys that Sabean put (and more importantly kept) on the team. The vitriol and passion I see them show about this last guy on the roster should instead be better focused on the best players on the roster. Which Sabean happen to obtained and kept for the team.

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  7. So the key to me here is not to focus on the ones that fail - again, this culture of you can't fail - but to look at the overall picture and see what he has gotten in trade, draft, and free agency, and whether they have helped the team more than it has hurt the team.

    Jeff Kent, Jason Schmidt, Rob Nenn, Livan Hernandez, Ellis Burks, Kirk Rueter, Randy Winn, Freddy Sanchez, tons of great relievers, plus pickups for free, like Andres Torres, Santiago Casilla, Ryan Vogelsong, Scott Eyre, among others.

    So what that a trade don't work if you are giving up what you consider to be nothing, a non-keeper? I would argue that Hillenbrand and Garko was the best available for the prospects that the Giants were willing to trade. So the question then becomes do you want to mortgage the future just to maybe get into the playoffs that season?

    Would you really want the Giants to trade away a good prospect, like Cain or Lincecum or Bumgarner, just to make a last gasp try to win that season, with no guarantee that it would improve your chances of doing anything in the playoffs? Plus cost you plenty in the future, since these are your keepers.

    The only real trade that hurt the Giants is the Joe Nathan trade, that I can think of.

    I don't consider Liriano a huge loss, because he was and has been an injury waiting to happen. You cannot efficiently or effectively manage a team that has a key player that you are counting on to win with disappearing for months and seasons at a time.

    He's what I would call the baseball equivalent of Michigan J. Frog from the great Looney Tunes cartoon. He's great when he is able to perform, but most of the time you are aggravated when he doesn't perform. And you are left flapping in the wind with no alternative when he is unable to perform.

    They have also been pretty good at picking up players via the draft. Complain all you want about position players, but that is a result of focusing all your first round draft picks on pitching for a long time. And what pitching they picked up: Cain, Lincecum, Bumgarner. Not many GMs (none, really, that I can think of) have that on their resume. Plus all the other pitching later, Sanchez, Wilson, Romo. Plus there are Wheeler and Surkamp, both looking pretty good.

    Tack on Posey and Belt, and it looks like Brown and Panik are looking good, and that is a great record to have in the draft, I think.

    Good drafting, good trades (based on losses, I think Sabean has a much better record than Beane, who have lost Tim Hudson, Ethier, and CarGon for nothing much in return), but poor free agency signings. Overall, a great package.

    Sure, if we didn't sign so and so, we could do doing more with the money. Well, one thing these people cannot come up with is, who the Giants could have signed instead. You mean like Chone Figgins? Jason Bay was another player I saw Naysayers drool over.

    It is easy to point the finger at Sabean's failures, because it is a matter of public record, but if these people would look through what they have written over the years, they will see that their ideas were not that good in the first place. Starting first with all the pitching they were willing to trade away to get hitting, but there were a lot of clunkers that they proposed to sign as well, as well as draft choices. Lots were upset over Bumgarner and Posey, and many were dumbfounded by Lincecum when much more pitcher's physiques like Daniel Bard, ironically a reliever now, was there for the taking.

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  8. That's really funny OGC. Not only am I generally not an optimist, I generally lean more toward pessimism in most of my analyses. What I do, though, it try to alway stay focused on the long term. At some point, Brian Sabean convinced me that HE had changed his focus from the short term, build around Bonds, approach to a more long term approach of building through the draft and farm system. Once I became convinced of that, nothing else really mattered. I wanted to see what the end result was going to look like.

    Most fans on those other message boards and blogs claim to be looking long term, but the only thing most of them could see was Sabean's last bad trade, or bad FA signing. No matter how many times or ways you tried to explain that he was on the right long term track, they just couldn't see it.

    Anyway, it seems like we've gotten a small group of blogs that read each other's stuff and a small community of readers and commenters that have seen the light and enjoy the focus on the fundamentals of building a team for the long haul.

    Keep up the great work!

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  9. Ha, that is funny DrB.

    I agree that there was a change, but a more subtle change. I view it more as Sabean was following Magowan's orders to build around Bonds until allowed to view things more long term, at which point the Giants let go of Bonds.

    Still, Sabean held onto his prized prospects all during the Bonds era, until they clearly failed, at which point he felt free to trade them, Ainsworth, Williams, Foppert. As you astutely noted in your post on AWF, he's been trying to build a great rotation, but it wasn't until recently that the luck with their health turned. And he kept onto Cain and Lowry as well, then Lincecum, Sanchez, Bumgarner.

    But yes, it wasn't until the Giants gave up on trying to win with Bonds did they switch over to more of a long-term view.

    And I am of total agreement, I want to see what the end result was going to look like. Which is why I was for the two year extensions and not, as some would think I would, appoint him GM for life. We saw the potentially good future, but was cautiously optimistic.

    Exactly, they just focused on the latest bad anything that Sabean had done, and that was that, they just couldn't see.

    I agree, it is a nice community building up.

    Thanks, right back at you, I enjoy reading your posts every day! You have done a great job of encouraging discussion and bringing in Giants fan into our sphere of optimism about the future. And, of course, great work writing your blog too!

    ReplyDelete

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