Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Resurgence Of Chris Young

So the Giants are 3-0 in the preseason. Yay.

This record shows how meaningless the preseason is. The Giants haven't exactly lit it up with their first team players and instead of have relied on exciting - if not quite significant - comebacks to win all three times. Undrafted free agent wide receiver Corey Washington, from Newberry College, has caught the game-winning TD pass in all three games.

Of course, Washington isn't listed as a starter. In fact, he's hardly a lock to actually make the team, as he is listed as a fourth-string receiver, which explains why he's in the game at the end to catch the game-winning passes.

TigerBlog watched the end of the Giants-Colts game the other night. It was 26-0 Indianapolis when TB put the game on; the Giants won 27-26. Had this been a regular-season game, it would have been an epic comeback, an all-time comeback.

Instead, it was a bunch of guys trying to make the team.

Eli Manning - TigerBlog's favorite current pro athlete who did not go to Princeton and a two-time Super Bowl MVP - went 1 for 7 for six yards. Ryan Nassib, who has no chance of starting over Manning, went 11 for 15 for 158 yards and the game-winner to Washington.

When the game ended, it dawned on TigerBlog that he had watched more football than baseball since the start of the 2014 baseball season.

Seriously. He'd watched less than one quarter of one preseason football game, and that was more time spent watching football than baseball.

Thinking back to the 2013 baseball postseason, TB hardly watched any of it, and he can't remember watching any of the World Series.

There was a time he'd watch the Atlanta Braves on TBS pretty much every night. Then TBS went away from showing Braves games, and TB got more into lacrosse anyway. Lax? He's watched lots of it on TV.

Had you told TigerBlog 25 years ago that he would watch way more lacrosse and soccer on TV than baseball in a summer, he wouldn't have believed it.

TigerBlog hadn't even checked the Major League standings all season until last week. And what did he find?

The Kansas City Royals are in first place? How did that happen? And the Orioles are 7.5 games in front in the AL East? Again, who knew?

TigerBlog doesn't really have a favorite baseball team. He prefers rooting against the Yankees. He figured the Yankees were right in the thick of it, but it's not looking good for them in Derek Jeter's last season, as they are unlikely to catch the O's and are in fourth place in the wildcard race, three games back of three teams - the A's, the Tigers and the very surprising Mariners.

TigerBlog is all on board the Mariners' bandwagon now. For starters, BrotherBlog lives in Seattle, and TB went to a Mariners' game last summer when he was there.

And of course, there is Chris Young. TB clicked on Grantland yesterday and was greeted by a big picture of Chris Young.

Actually, all pictures of Young are basically the same. He has the same exact look on his face, with his lips tightly pressed together and all of his muscles straining on each pitch. He looks like he just jumped out of an airplane or something like that.

Young is having a great season with the Mariners, and this on the heels of a nightmarish stretch that saw him have 2012 wiped out by injury and 2013 spent in the minors.

After shutting out the Tigers for six innings Sunday, Young is 12-6 on the year for the Mariners, who are 67-57, largely because of their great pitching. The story on Grantland details Young's resurgence largely in the context of sabermetrics, which TigerBlog both understands and doesn't really love.

Yes, they are great predictors of success, way more than the traditional stats. Yes, a team would have be dumb not to embrace them.

No, TigerBlog doesn't love what they've done to sports, which will never be as cut-and-dry as a math test, where it's either right or wrong. Much of the beauty of sport is the intangible side, which can't be measured in advanced analytics.

Still, TB admits they do a pretty good job of explaining the success of a 6-10 pitcher who can barely break 85 on the gun. That 6-10 pitcher used to play basketball and baseball at Princeton, and he remains one of TB's all-time favorites to ever wear orange and black.

Actually, TB's belief is that Young is pretty much every Princeton fan's favorite. There haven't been too many athletes who have come through here who seemed to be as well-liked as Young. 

One of the most startling things in the story on Grantland was that Young is 35 years old. How is that possible?

When TB thinks of Chris Young, he'll always think of what might have been had he competed his final two seasons, instead of signing a professional baseball contract. And first, he'll think of the time Young put a very, very small TigerBlog Jr. on his shoulders on the side court at Jadwin so TBJ could dunk.

Young has had a very successful career in Major League Baseball. The Grantland story suggests that he's a leading contender for the AL Comeback Player of the Year Award.

And, of course, he's a major reason why his team is in the thick of the wildcard race.

TB is rooting hard for the Mariners.

If they get to the postseason, TB might actually watch it.

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