Giants fans have a unique relationship with Ryan Vogelsong. Not a single year in the last five years has every fan been on board with Vogelsong at the same time. Well, maybe one time. In 2012, with the team’s back against the wall, Vogelsong pitched his heart out against the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series to force a deciding Game 7.
Outside of that single game, fans have always been assuming that the season they watched #Vogelstrong pitch would be his final season as a Giant. Every offseason, fans expected the Giants to move on from the former homegrown pitcher who had given it everything he had and probably didn’t have anything left.
And every season, the Giants kept bringing him back. After 2014, and a second World Series Championship, fans expected Ryan to ride off into the sunset with his wife Nicole and his family. However, Ryan wanted to pitch in 2015, and the Giants fans got on the radio and made it known that we should move on.
I never understood this logic. Even this offseason, Vogelsong would give us a veteran to spot start, be used as a long man and even a possible late inning guy at times. That job, at the moment, will go to someone from the Giants farm system. Chris Heston, who threw a no-hitter last season against the eventual NLCS champion New York Mets, is the favorite to win the job, so the competition would be legitimate and it’s possible Vogelsong wouldn’t make the team. That is why he has looked this offseason for a new home, despite telling fans and the front office that he wanted to return.
This week, Vogelsong found a home, signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates on a one-year deal. It’s an opportunity for one of the greatest pitchers in San Francisco Giants playoff history to try to make one more postseason.
No Giant ever wore a bigger heart on his sleeve than Ryan Vogelsong. And whenever Rags retires, I suspect I know who will replace him.
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) December 19, 2015
As a Giants fan, I am sad that Vogelsong will not be able to finish his career in San Francisco. As a Ryan Vogelsong fan, I am thrilled that he has found an opportunity to start for one of the best teams in baseball.
Last offseason, when there were reports that Vogelsong had signed with the Houston Astros, I wrote Ryan an open letter on my blog to share with him how much he truly meant to the fanbase, regardless of what some fans had said each offseason:
Dear Ryan Vogelsong,
Thank you for giving your heart and soul to the San Francisco Giants for the last four years. What an incredible journey it took to come back to the franchise where it all started. What an even more incredible last four years. Two world championships, a Willie Mac award and an All-Star appearance. Through all the ups and downs, you continued to put in the hours and give everything of yourself for this team. The best thing about your time in San Francisco is that when the team needed you most, you performed. Your postseason record will go down in history as one of the best ever in the history of the franchise. Fans will always remember you for that. And that will make you forever a fan favorite.
I am so happy for you to find a team where you will have the opportunity to pitch every fifth day. I know that opportunity might not have been possible with the Giants in 2015. Here’s hoping you are able to continue to pitch for as long as you want. One day, you will have a plaque outside AT&T Park for all of your success in orange and black. Fitting you found another team in orange to play for. Good luck in Houston. You will forever be a champion and forever a Giant.
The fan base
When news broke about Vogelsong heading to Houston last offseason, longtime Giants broadcaster and former pitcher Mike Krukow said, “The one thing you want as a player is to be remembered, and San Francisco will never forget Ryan Vogelsong.”
Now, a year later, with five seasons in the books in San Francisco, the same feelings still apply.
Fans may have had a hard time seeing what the Giants continued to see in Ryan over the last five seasons, but what I saw was a guy willing to give everything he had for his team, his teammates, and this fan base. Fans should be so lucky to have a pitcher like Ryan Vogelsong on their team for half a decade, willing to take the ball every fifth day no matter what, and pitch with everything he’s got for as long as he can.