10/27/10 1:42 PM ET
Seaver pulling for Ryan's Rangers to win it all
By Marty Noble / MLB.com
No rift, no rancor and, goodness knows, no attorneys. This World Series-inspired split is quite amicable. Now a resident of Northern California, Nancy Seaver is caught up in all that is swirling around the Giants. She attended the National League Championship Series games. Her husband, the Hall of Famer Tom, is NoCal born and bred. But he has no allegiance to the team he watched as a kid at The Stick.
Seaver is rooting for his longtime buddy, fellow Hall of Famer and president of the Rangers, Nolan Ryan. And more than that, he is intrigued by the prospect of Cliff Lee vs. Tim Lincecum.
"I want to stay home and watch it on TV, so I can see the pitching," he said Monday night from his vineyard home two hours from AT&T Park and all the hubbub. "This World Series has a chance."
That almost cryptic sentence needs no additional words if it comes from the lips -- and heart -- of the little old winemaker up there in Calistoga. Seaver considers pitching an art form, has since the days Nancy was in the seats of Shea Stadium and he was on its mound or, as he considered it, his studio. "It's been a while since we've had "pitchers'" World Series, he said. An uncommon touch of excitement was evident in his 65-year-old voice.
Seaver enjoys his own product -- GTS (for George Thomas Seaver) is a rich cabernet. He enjoys a good meal and impressionist art. Give him a Lee vs. Lincecum, though, and he'll put down his glass -- after a toast to Rube Walker, his pitching coach with the Mets -- move closer to the screen and take in all that Game 1 promises. The mechanics, the choice of pitch, the location and speed of each pitch, the strategy behind the decision to throw it and the results.
Few who will witness L vs. L will see it through an equivalent prism. Before The Freak delivers to Elvis Andrus, Seaver will have determined the WCS for each starter, the worst-case scenario; that is, he will have identified which batter in each batting order is the one he wouldn't allow to beat him. Then he'd plot his strategies toward his objective, how he will pitch those who will precede Josh Hamilton. Or maybe he'll decide it's Vladdy Guerrero. Seaver didn't always see the peril others saw. Others didn't think -- as he did -- two innings ahead.
His baseball viewing is limited these days. Seaver keeps current via box scores, devours them each day. If his preferred newspaper runs its boxes in narrow columns, he may know the Rangers' No. 3 hitter as "JHmltn" and the Giants' DH as "KFPanda." By the third time through each lineup, he will know the strengths, tendencies, preferences and weaknesses of each batter.
"I am excited," he said, emphasis on the verb. "I'm ecstatic for Nolan. This is so delightful, pitching on both sides and my friend is in charge. It tickles me pink. My neighborhood might not like it, but I have to pull for Nolie. We're brothers. People say, 'The worst mistake the Mets ever made was trading Tom Seaver.' Right. The worst mistake was trading him. You don't trade that arm. He was a once-in-a lifetime athlete."
Seaver hasn't spoken with Ryan recently.
"He doesn't like me messing up things. I'll just sit here and pull for him and we'll talk after it's over," he said. "I have so much respect for him. He's so confident in his decisions. He's done so much in his life after the game -- the ranch, he bought a bank in his hometown. It's a great American story.
"And now he's salvaged a franchise and got his team in the World Series. And they pitch deep into games. You know, there's a connection there, putting the game in the hands of your starter and leaving it there and the success they're having. It's wonderful and encouraging. We're getting back to the way it should be.
"You know, Nolan is one of the brightest guys. He was pitching in the Minor Leagues when he was -- what? -- 17 or 18. He wasn't a college kid. But he had a wisdom and a way of figuring out how to be successful. It's pure Americana -- what a person can do with thought and perseverance. I think pitching helped him in that way. He found what it took to be successful and extrapolated from there to other endeavors.
"It might be like learning to grow grapes."
Seaver has had multiple careers as well, sandwiching his three Cy Young Award seasons and the introduction of GTS around television work for CBS, ABC, the Yankees and Mets.
"I'm not sure Nolan and I ever saw all this coming," he said. "But it's true that successful people can succeed in other areas.
"That's what Nolan has done. You can tell there's something right in the Rangers now. Everyone's pulling in the same direction. And Nolie there's with [wife] Ruth, and they're deciding what that direction to pull in. It's not a small thing. Ruth has something to do with what's going on down there. She is a force, too. That's why I enjoy seeing them sitting together on television."
Seaver noted Ruth Ryan's resemblance to Grace Kelly. The late actress married a prince, he was told. "So did Ruth," Seaver said.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.