Gregor Blanco begins his final week in a Giants uniform and damned if I’m not a little emotional about it. We’re talking 0.043% emotional, but it’s there — I register it. Gregor Blanco means a lot to a particular era of Giants Baseball... an era that has definitely and emphatically ended, but the most important one in the team’s San Francisco history.
Time passes, people change, and all good things must come to an end, but Gregor Blanco’s joy and presence almost feels eternal. That probably has a lot to do with his role as a part-time player: we don’t expect him to be there all the time, just to be there at all. And now he won’t be.
Of course, his biggest moment with the team was probably a catch he made back in 2012. That was, coincidentally, the same year I began writing for this site. So, yeah, a lot can happen in six years and not all of them positive...
So, while Hunter Pence will claim a huge chunk of people’s hearts and minds over the next seven days, let’s stop to consider that one of the few times the Giants put some faith in a guy with the ability to work a count and draw walks it worked out pretty well for them and they managed to turn a “scrap heap” signing into an important role player during two championship runs. Maybe we should thank Melky Cabrera for this.
If you want to know a little more about Gregor the man, don’t forget to read Doug’s excellent interview with him that was published last month.
“I think it’s really important for me to help any guy that I can,” he said, and as the veteran in the clubhouse, that means teaching guys about the mental side of baseball. It’s all about routines, and work ethic, and respecting the game, and helping build the next generation of Giants stars.
Carmen pointed out in her stump speech for Hunter Pence to win the Willie Mac Award that Pence spends a lot of time with the younger players doing the very same thing. The Giants have been very lucky to find two quality people for the clubhouse and his and Blanco’s absence last year will definitely be felt on a molecular level.
Did Gregor Blanco’s humanity help transform the Giants into a winning franchise? Probably not. Nor did the winning make him seem like a better person. No, it’s merely a wonderful coincidence. That’s often the case when it comes to success and historic eras.