It seems nothing has come easy for Ryan Vogelsong. I think sometimes as fans, we forget because for the last two years, he’s been THAT guy. You know, the guy you can count on to enter a game focused. The guy that is lights out. The guy who is leaving it all out on the table. THAT guy.
I think that’s important to remember exactly that as we enter the 2013 season. He’s our fifth starter. And he’s a DAMN GOOD fifth starter. We are lucky to have a fifth starter like Vogey. But sometimes, our pitchers will give up runs. They’ll give up the lead. They’ll struggle with command. They will appear lost. But at the end of the day, there is no one in the world I want to see succeed, no one I feel prouder of than Ryan Vogelsong.
Vogelsong has had some pretty impressive numbers since joining the Giants. In 2011, he posted a 2.71 ERA. In 2012, a 3.37 ERA. In the postseason, he pitched 24.2 innings and had a 1.09 ERA. 1.09. Yeah, that’s not a typo. That’s the real deal.
But this article is not to celebrate Vogelsong’s pitching line. As Giants fans, we’ve been lucky enough to see that the most special thing about Vogey is not his ERA. It’s his sheer determination. It’s his unwavering toughness. It’s how he pitches every pitch like it’s his last and appreciates every ounce of support from his teammates – regardless of whether it’s a postseason game …
… or game 10 of the regular season at Wrigley Field:
This is especially important to keep in mind for games like today when the bullpen is chewed up, everyone is tired, and the team’s third extra innings loss in its last four games has everyone demoralized. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, Vogelsong represents relentless tenacity. In 2011, when Giants fans had little to be excited about and Buster Posey was on the DL, he let us feel things. In the beginning of the season he let us feel hopeful. When he made the All-Star team for the first time in his career, he let us feel proud. And when he kept pushing himself in 2012, all the way into the postseason, he let us believe.
Let’s put it this way – If there’s ever a movie made about one of the pitchers on the Giants’ roster, I hope it’s him.
What a story. Vogelsong has pitched on 15 different teams in three continents over his 14-year career. He’s no stranger to getting cut from teams and dealing with disappointments and hardships. In his second major league start, he blew out his arm and required Tommy John surgery. After a rough 2004, Vogelsong was moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen. And even after settling in with the Giants, he found skeptics amongst his peers. After posting one of the lowest ERAs in the majors (2.36 before the All-Star Break) he was snubbed for a spot in the 2012 All-Star Game.
That’s part of what makes Vogelsong the “Chainsaw Angry” pitcher the Giants and fans have come to know and love. He plays with a chip on his shoulder whether he’s lights out or getting blown up. Because with every pitch, you can tell how grateful he is to play baseball and how much he loves the game.
From a man who thought he would never pitch again in the majors to a respected pitcher who is on the starting rotation of one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, I hope Vogelsong keeps inspiring us.
I’ve noticed that he never looks up when he’s walking off the mound after an inning. I hope that just once he glances up and sees the fans cheering for him. That he hears the crowd chanting, “Vogey! Vogey! Vogey!” That Nicole tells him how many pictures of Chicken Enchiladas she received on Twitter in support of Ryan during the postseason. And that he knows that he is a constant inspiration for those who just don’t think they can come back from whatever difficulties they have in life.
Keep your head up Ryan Vogelsong. You have every reason to.