Ed. Note – after posting this, Sam Coonrod was placed on the injured reserve list to end the season, I wish him the best of luck with his strained shoulder and a good offseason
Last year, Sam Coonrod was a promising talent on a very bad San Francisco Giants team. This year, he is an emotionally and mentally unstable element of a struggling bullpen, who loses control of his volatile fastball and command exactly when it’s needed most.
In-between, Covid-19 struck and racial unrest over police brutality nationwide reached an explosive tipping point after the death of unarmed, supine George Floyd, suffocated by the knee of police on his neck in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Athletes, in particular – and across all sports, all over the world – were “woke” by this outrage, which unified them to join together in protest in a myriad of ways.
If you don’t know, Sam Coonrod is a home-grown Giant: we drafted him in the fifth round of the 2014 MLB draft, when he debuted in Cactus League. We raised him in our system – he’s played for the San Jose Giants, The Richmond Flying Squirrels and the Sac Rivercats. We paid for his Tommy John surgery and rehabilitation in 2018; and we brought him up to the show for the first time last year.
And in 2019, it looked like all that investment in Sam Coonrod had paid off. As per wiki:
“On May 26, 2019, he was called up to the major leagues for the first time and made his debut that day in the eighth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He retired the side in order, getting a flyout to left field, a groundout to first base, and a strikeout.
“On July 23, 2019, Coonrod earned the first win of his major league career by pitching the 13th and final inning of a 5-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs. It was Coonrod’s fifth career appearance and his fifth inning pitched.
“With the Giants in 2019 he was 5-1 with a 3.58 ERA in 33 relief appearances in which he pitched 27.2 innings”
Years of investment and effort by Sam Coonrod and the San Francisco Giants looked to be blooming into a quality reliever with starter potential. He vultured wins with hard-throwing dominance.
And that is how we came to this crazy season of rock-and-roll-rules baseball amidst Covid and cities exploding into protest with Sam Coonrod in our ‘pen. With Major League Baseball agreeing that Black Lives Matter and that players and the league should be encouraged to express that opinion. #BLM
On Opening Day of the shortened, 60-game season, the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers were to be featured in prime time. There were two games played on Opening Day: The Nationals played the Yankees and the Giants went down to Chavez Ravine to play the Bums.
MLB gave the teams a long black ribbon players on both sides jointly held as they kneeled, uniting all the players in an expression of support for the Black Lives Matter Movement. Every player and coach on the Nationals and Yankees knelt and held the ribbon before the game in a moment of respect and protest.
It was amazing and truly wove baseball into American society at that moment. Even if MLB hadn’t participated before in social projects against police brutality, the optics were Jackie-Robinsonian in stature. It was a promise to be more aware.
In the later game, Sam Coonrod was the only person to stand during the protest, and thus the only player in all of baseball not to partake in this totally unprecedented expression of social protest on behalf of Black lives lost unjustly at the hands of police. After the game, Coonrod told reporters:
“I’m a Christian so I just believe that I can’t kneel before something besides God.” (guess he’s never weeded a garden or knelt to pick up a child) and added, “I just can’t get on board with a couple things I’ve read about Black Lives Matter, how they lean towards Marxism, and … they said some negative things about the nuclear family. I just can’t get on board with that.”
Kapler and the Giants, in the true spirit of freedom of expression and the soul of San Francisco supported his desire to stand. “The one thing that we said is we were going to let people express themselves,” Kapler said. “We were going to give them the choice on whether they were going to stand, kneel or do something else. That was a personal decision for Sam.”
Now, I am well known among what few friends I have left (most of whom were lost because of my stubborn unwillingness to change) as a person who believes profoundly in standing up for what you believe in. I am exceptionally clear in understanding Coonrod’s decision.
But, I am 53 years old, and have been around the world seven times and have been watching baseball since 15 years before Sam Coonrod was born.
His was a poorly-informed decision.
It is arguably unrelated, in fact that’s probably what most would say. But I believe in circular energy. And sadly, Sam Coonrod has had a wildly inconsistent 2020 season.
He beaned a Mariner in the head with a 99mph fastball, has numerous blown innings, most recently in the last two Giants losses, directly the result of Coonrod blowing the save.
It all culminated in last night’s debacle, in which he entered the bottom of the seventh and final inning with a 5 – 3 lead, only to let two on and give up a walkoff three-run homer to Trent Grisham. at Oracle. In a critical game in the stretch run.
This morning, we are all waking up to the dull ache of what happened last night in the ongoing story of Sam Coonrod in 2020.
In their role as suicide prevention, KNBR has put up this piece:
Why The Giants Stuck With Sam Coonrod
which explains in clear terms the decision-making, which is HEAVILY informed by the facts:
* this was game number 58 out of 60!
* of a crazy season with few planned breaks and a couple of unplanned ones
* was the tail of a double-header in which the much-used ‘pen nearly blew the first game
* which btw, we hadn’t even won ONE 7-inning game yet
* It was a choice between Coonrod and Wandy Peralta, and Kapler made the call
Sam Coonrod seems to have been caught in a public expression that has affected him profoundly without any plan, based on a reaction to a plan, that was at-best a half-baked attempt to catch up to the moment by baseball. And it seems to be affecting his work, which requires coolness under intense pressure.
Many thoughts run through my mind thinking about Sam Coonrod this morning.
But when I calm down and look at it as a mature person, I wish only good will toward Sam. I think I understand him. I hope he knows he can always walk back any public stance on the voyage. It won’t reflect badly on him as a Christian or an athlete or an American.
But more importantly, he isn’t judged by the fans who are hoping we make the playoffs and #BeatLA as anything … except as a relief pitcher. For us, the San Francisco Giants.
We helped you get to this point and hope we can help you get your focus back on pitching, more than we care about where you fit socially amongst our squad. You are a Giant. You are here because you belong. You can bounce back and we will support you.
You know what, kid? If we get in and we go down to face the Bums in the Ravine and you deliver a moment that defines a win? … you watch how fast this crowd will forget last night.
It was a bummer.
But go pray to Christ and ask his advice.
My guess is he’ll tell you to focus on what you do best.
Let’s Go Giants!
Beat the Pads!
Get in the playoffs so we can beat the Bums!