The hot corner is getting a complete makeover. First, our loveable Kung Fu Panda chose Boston over San Francisco. I thought that was going to be the only heartbreak GIANTS fans would suffer this off-season. Or the biggest one. And then this happened: this morning, on his Facebook page, Tim Flannery, our 3rd base coach–the best there is in the bigs–announced his retirement. Yesterday, when I heard Pablo was defecting to Beantown I wrote a blog entitled “It’s Hard to Say Good-Bye,” and it is hard. The Kung Fu Panda is a fan favorite and a clubhouse favorite–he is not only loved by the fans, but by his fellow players too. It’s a big loss for San Francisco. But, I’m going to come right out and say it–probably at the risk of ticking off the Panda People–it might be hard to say good-bye to Pablo, but it’s not hard to say good-bye to Tim Flannery–it’s downright impossible.
Tim Flannery is a champion. No, I’m not talking about being a World Series Champion–that goes without saying. He is also another type of champion–an advocate, a supporter, a counselor. He is a champion of the entire San Francisco GIANTS organization–I don’t know him personally, but I don’t think it is a secret that he is loyal to the team. It shows in his deeds and actions. He supports Bochy, I don’t think he’s ever publicly disagreed with Bochy–maybe they’ve never disagreed, but that is unlikely, since they’ve worked together for so many years. They’re going to disagree some time–but we’ll never know. His job doesn’t stop at 3rd base coach. Sometimes, before a game, we’ll find him down on the field singing the National Anthem with his friends Bob Weir and Phil Lesh. Other times will find him working with the players as the resident bunting instructor–showing them how to lay down the perfect bunt.
He is a champion of the players–he doesn’t merely send a player down the 3rd baseline to home plate–oftentimes he runs right along with them. While he is running, Kruk and Kuip pipe in with: “my butt’s on the line, my butt’s on the line, my butt’s on the line”–their impersonation of the thoughts running through Flan’s mind when he runs a player home. To relax when the team is away he likes to find an enclosed stairwell where he can sit and play his guitar–he says the acoustics are better in stairwells. Recently he invited Jake Peavy to join him for their rendition of Pancho and Lefty. You can check it out on YouTube:
He is a champion of the fans–evidenced most recently by his Facebook announcement of his retirement–check it out on his Facebook page: Tim Flannery and Lunatic Fringe –it includes a sincere, heartfelt message to the fans. And then there’s Bryan Stow. Remember him? Tim Flannery does. Bryan Stow is the GIANTS fan who was severely beaten in LA in April 2011. He is still working on his recovery. In the meantime, he can’t work and he has enormous medical expenses. Tim Flannery and his band–Lunatic Fringe–were instrumental (pun anyone?!) in raising a ton of money for Bryan Stow I don’t think selfless can even begin to describe our 3rd base coach.
He will be missed. And I’m sorry, Panda People, we’re going to miss him a lot more than Pablo Sandoval. I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’m way more sad to see Flan go. Sabean will find another 3rd baseman–of that there is no doubt. There are 3rd basemen everywhere. But a bunting instructing, National Anthem singing, benefit concert giving, guitar playing 3rd base coach? They only made one–Tim Flannery. When he announced his retirement he said “I just now feel it is the time to send myself home safely.” The selfless part of me–very small part–applauds him and wishes him well, and to always return home safely. The selfish part of me just wants him to stay.
They say no one is irreplaceable. Maybe not. But Tim Flannery comes pretty damn close.