Saturday, December 19, 2015

Thoughts on Ryan Vogelsong

I've written a lot about Ryan Vogelsong over the past 5 years.  Hopefully this won't be the last time I write about him, but it might be for awhile.  Vogey's magical 5 year run with the Giants officially came to an end with the announcement of his free agent contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the only other major league team he has ever played for and which also happens to be in his home state of Pennsylvania.

You all know the story as well as I do, so I am not going to bore you with a chronological review of one of the more remarkable stories in Giants and MLB history.  Instead, I will relate one game that will always stand out in my mind as a microcosm of Vogey's Giants career then review a few highlights.  It was his first season in 2011, when I was still trying to figure out what he was all about and still trying to figure out if he was for real or not.  I don't remember all  the details of the game, so I may not get the story exactly right.  I am going to tell it as I remember it.  It was a road game in either Cincinnati or St. Louis, but I think Cincinnati.  It was a brutally hot day game at the end of a long road trip.  The whole trip had been steamy hot and the Giants were wilting.  The bullpen was overworked and the Giants needed a starter to get deep into the game, a seemingly unlikely event under the conditions.

Ryan Vogelsong started the game and had a rough first two innings, throwing a lot of pitches and giving up a run or two.  His uniform was already soaked and it looked like he might have no more than 1 or 2 more batters left in him.  He had set up his "office" in the corner of the dugout with his water bottle and spot for his glove on a towel.  He quickly ducked into the clubhouse to change his shirt then stood at his "office" continuing to towel off and gulp water.  He had a LOOK on his face.  I will never forget that LOOK.  The Giants were able to extend their half of the inning long enough for him to cool off.  Voglesong came back out and proceeded to pitch inning after inning.  I don't remember if the Giants won the game or not.  I just know that Vogey saved the bullpen and it sure FELT like they won the game! That was one of the gutsiest pitching performances I've seen as a Giants fan and we've see a lot of those over the past 5 seasons.

Now, some highlights:

The story of how Vogey was offered a minor league contract by the Dodgers and begged his VWL catcher, Guillermo Rodriguez to put in one more word for him with the Giants because he didn't want to be a Dodger.  Man, THAT story never gets old!

The first Standing O as he came off the field after another Better Than Quality Start at AT&T Park with his wife, Nicole, in the crowd in tears.

Bruce Bochy naming him to the All-Star team in 2011 then inexplicably not letting him pitch.

16 consecutive Quality Starts in 2012.

Going 3-0 while allowing just 3 ER in 24.2 IP in 4 postseason starts in 2012 including 2 elimination games.

The Rally Enchiladas!

A total of 9 postseason appearances with the Giants winning all 9 of those games.

Asking Brandon Belt, "What are you doing?!" when Belt obliviously sat in Matt Cain's bench spot during Cainer's Perfect Game.  Belt replying, "I don't know!"

The nickname "Vogelstrong."

The flaring nostrils.

The 2011 Willie Mac Award.

And here's what makes me happiest about Ryan Vogelsong's tenure with the Giants.  You know, a lot of players make a whole lot of money in this game, but a lot more leave the game with nothing.  Nothing!  If anyone deserves to get some financial security from the game, it's Ryan Vogelsong and his family.  The Giants signing him to that minor league contract in 2011 enabled Vogey to earn almost $20 M by the time he finishes his current contract with the Pirates.  He was also one of the original investors in the Marucci sports equipment company which gives him additional financial security.

Lastly, I do hope, when his playing career is finally over, Ryan Vogelsong takes time to write down his story.  I still think it would make a very nice movie.


  1. Good post. Vogey was one of my favorite Giants. My favorite memory of Vogey was game 3 of the 2012 WS getting Miguel Caberra to pop out with the bases loaded in the 5th inning and the Giants went on to win the game 2-0. Good luck to him with the Bucs. Agree that his story would make a great movie.


  2. First, the book then the movie. I think all Giants fans love what Vogie brought to the team - an indomitable spirit. He is a great part of Giants history. I would hope when Ryan hangs it up he comes back to the bay area. We love Ryan.

  3. Good Giant. Game 2 of the Cards series, the Scutaro-Holiday game. 7 innings, 4 hits, 2 walks, 4 Ks. They had us on the ropes the first couple of innings, he settled in the 4th, Gints got back in it. That was coming off the 5 inning gut out elimination game in Cinci. Vogey reminded me more of Mike Krukow than any other Giant pitcher, a guy who got the most out of his talents, left it all out there, and was just plain gutsy.

    I have a feeling we'll see him sometime in the fall. And I also have a feeling we'll see him back in the French Vanilla later on. Good Giant.

    1. Great comp! Vogelstrong is the Krukow of this era! Like Jackie Robinson at the end of his career eetirng rather than reporting to the Giants, Vogie did an old school solid and earned my respect for turning down the Fodgers for a minor league deal...and then following up in 2011-2012! Fair Winds and Following Seas Ryan!

      Let's Go Giants!

  4. Surprised to see JC Perez sign with the Cubs. I thought he already re-signed with the Giants. I guess Darren Ford is the emergency center fielder.

  5. Great Giant. Amazing pathway.

    I remember 2011, World Series afterglow burning bright. And I remember thinking, wow, Vogie took that long crazy trip to finally come back home, and he just, JUST missed it. He just missed the good times. The insanity. The trophy, the rings, the champagne, the crazy adoration. He was killing it out there on the mound, and everything else was just going off the rails '11. I felt so badly for him, because, damn, he missed it.

    And then...

    Love an underdog story with a happy ending.

  6. Baggarly mentioned him as a successor to Rags in the future. I hope it happens. Vogey as pitching coach, Torres coaching third. That'd be fun.

  7. I like Vogelsong as more of a personal inspiration. When times get tough and my business struggles and I just want to throw in the towel, I just think about what he endured and, ultimately, accomplished.

  8. ill let the vid speak for from 4:32...makes me tear up every time

    ryan, nicole and ryder, will always be a part of the giants family