Stealing Home

Stealing home is something I’ve been hoping to do all season. Everyone knows we’re a team that has to be aggressive to get runs. And, really, what’s more fun or more a test of your base-running skills than stealing home? I’d never done it in the majors. But I did it this winter with my Venezuela team – while the pitcher was still holding the ball. More on that in a minute.

So Monday against the Diamondbacks, Angel Pagan was on first, and I had a good lead off third. Boch and third-base coach Tim Flannery had told me if I ever got in that situation, and the catcher threw to second, I should just go.

Sometimes catchers will bluff. So you have to wait until the ball is in the air. Once I saw the ball leave the catcher’s hand, I took off. Pagan was safe, and because I had such a big lead, the shortstop didn’t even throw home. I scored standing.

So here’s what happened in winter ball. I had three things in my favor. One, it was a left-handed pitcher, so he was facing first base. Two, he never looked at me. And three, he had a pretty slow motion. When a pitcher sets, he has to hold the ball for a second before he throws. So as soon as this pitcher went into his motion, I ran. When he saw me, he fumbled to throw home. Not only did I beat the throw, the pitcher was called for a balk. I would have scored either way.

When I told Flan about it, he raised his eyebrow and said very slowly and deliberately “If you try that here, you had better make it.’’ I don’t think I’ll be doing it any time soon.

As you can tell, I love running the bases. I love the cat-and-mouse strategy, the athleticism, the burst of adrenaline. In Miami on the last road trip, I got caught in a rundown between home and third. It was a 1-1 game in the sixth inning. Melky had hit a hard grounder to the pitcher, I had broken down the line and the pitcher had thrown home. Now I was caught. To be honest, I thought I was dead. So my job at that point is to keep the fielders occupied with me long enough to allow Melky to get to second – in scoring position. We needed a run.

Both the catcher and third baseman were worried about Melky and were taking theirs eyes off me for split seconds at a time. Maybe, I thought, I had a chance. I dove past the third-baseman with a wide slide and slipped my hand under the tag.

Do we practice rundowns? Of course. We practice everything. So over the years, we each develop individual strategies for various situations. Here’s my strategy for run-downs:

Don’t get tagged.

See? It’s a simple game.

 

8 Comments

Just wanted to say that reading a few of your earliest blog posts are a great inspiration for me, as I just started blogging. Continue doing a great job with this on and off the field and even though I’m an A’s fan, best of luck the rest of this 2014 season!

Blanco you’re my favorite i wish i could learn from you it would be awesome to learn to run the bases from you everytime you get on i tell my dad(were both HUGE giants fans) he is going to steal and when you dont i just say next time he will

You are an incredible player and I can’t wait to see you play again!

We’re all so proud of you Gregor!! You are awesome!

You’re a very good and humorous writer and such an inspiration! You’ve helped the Giants so much this year! What was your first time playing baseball like?

I was AT this game. SO COOL. Felt like the entire stadium lost their minds. I was with a Tigers fan at the time, visiting from Detroit. I think you made a fan of her. :D

Gregor, thanks for writing this blog! You clearly have a no-longer-hidden talent for writing. I really love your honest gratitude for what you have and where you’ve landed. We’re so lucky to have you in SF! Love it when you get on base and the Jaws music comes on – your style of playing the game with all that grit and heart and confidence is just so damn fun to watch. I’ve heard you say a lot that the Giants now have three center-fielders and I really think that’s helped us win so much at AT&T Park lately. You guys got speed, good eyes for reading the ball’s trajectory, can hit line-drives and already have a tight team bond. You fellas are like a perfect fielding machine out there and it’s electric! Hope SF can keep the the Pagan-Blanco-Melky outfield together for many years to come – you guys would be legendary.

Gregor! I love reading your posts on here, and it’s a pleasure to get to know you more! Your sense of humor is a blast and it definitely shines through on the blog. I love your game and it’s awesome starting a game with the White Shark batting leadoff!
Good Luck on the rest of the season! Hope to see the team a couple times this season!

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