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Carlos Santana is a pretzel wrapped in an enigma

I love talking baseball.

When I was a young lad of five or so (give or take, my memories are hazy), I became a baseball fan. I hadn't gone to a big league game yet, but I had listened to several games on the stoop in my front yard in Avon Lake, Ohio. Those summer nights were glorious.

Baseball was a conversation piece back then, long before the visual stimulation that would come with my first game.

I loved talking baseball then.

I love talking baseball now.

I love sharing what I love about the game, and enjoy the quirky stats that make it a daily fortune cookie for me. I never know what the hell I'm going to open up from day-today, and week-to-week.

Some fortunes I love, and pocket. Some fortunes I hate, and leave on the plate when I pay the bill. But it all sticks with me. I love being right, don't mind being wrong, and love the in between that makes baseball the best sport in the world.

I've "covered" baseball over the past 15 years with no pretense. When I started my first blog, it's because I moved away from the great city of Cleveland, and lost my daily source of sports' talk. North Carolina's weather is great, but it's major league baseball isn't.

That's when I started following the minors, and while I could wind my way through all the people I've met and talked to about both the Indians and just the game itself, it would take away from the point of this piece, and the podcast in which it fronts.

The tale of the game of baseball is always a lot more complicated than liking or hating a player, as well as the stats that the player produces. Which gets me to the point of this.

What's frustrated me over the past several years has been the dialogue regarding one Carlos Santana. I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I understand the depth of his brilliance, but will counter that by saying that I trust the opinions of a lot of people I would consider friends who are firm believers in how good he is.

What I know now is that he wasn't the player I thought he was going to be when the Indians traded for him. That's not anyone's fault but my own. While I can dive into the depths of statistics with anyone, that's not my forte, nor is it my first order of business.

I love to watch. I love to talk. I love to just be around the game.

With Santana, that's taken me down a lot of paths, and I have no problem hopping tracks. I have no problem with fans "who know less than me" saying that he doesn't hit 30 homers. I have no problem with someone telling me that average doesn't mean a thing. I have no problem saying that I see value in both, and for a variety of different reasons.

Let's walk down a rabbit hole of sorts.

A good friend of mine retired from the service a couple of years ago, and we recently sat down and had a beer while talking baseball. Somehow, the conversation turned to his tours of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the people that were initially in charge of him, and ultimately, who he was in charge of.

I'll never forget what he said that day, and it has driven me with regards to baseball.
"I've had leaders that believe that only certain intel is important. They disregard everything else, and focus on that intel. That's not always the wrong way to look at things, but if you miss something, it can really turn into a clustermuck."
He didn't say clustermuck.

It's how I look at the game of baseball. Filters are good, but you still have to filter. That's who Carlos Santana is to me. He's a player who I love to filter through it all. It makes me want to roam through the history of the game to find more players like him, and not just the baseball reference similarity scores.

I admittedly don't appreciate Carlos as much as my good friend Mike Hattery does, who wrote a fantastic piece on him this past week here at EHC. I know I appreciate him a lot more than most regular Indians' fans.

I loved when they moved him to the two-hole, because I had called for it a year or two ago (yeah, it's documented). I love the banter that he could be the lead-off hitter, with Kipnis moving to the two-hole.

Why?

It would probably be awesome, and I've always been the guy that likes to throw spaghetti up on the wall, to see what sticks.

The unique piece to baseball takes me back to those days on my stoop in Avon Lake. There were nights when half the neighborhood would be sitting in my front yard, listening to Joe Tait and Herb Score paint the pictures of those really bad Indians' teams.

The girl next door loved Buddy Bell, because he was "groovy."

(god I'm old)

My Dad loved Andre Thornton, because of all the thunder that he brought.

My best friend Danny liked Ray Fosse, because "Pete Rose plowed him over."

I was always a Buddy Bell guy, and still am, but I was intrigued with this youngster with the long-hair that started playing in center named Rick Manning, because he was fast, and had some power too.

I also liked Charlie Spikes, but that had a lot to do with the cool red bat I got on bat night, with his name on it.

Everyone had a reason, and everyone loved sharing it. Some takes were valuable, and some were ridiculous. Some were right, and some were wrong.

I loved it all. I loved the picture that it painted of the team I loved, and still do.

Fast forward to today, and not much has changed for me, other than the venue in which I "talk" baseball.

Prior to today, I wasn't a fan of talking about Carlos Santana, because it consistently pissed someone off, one way or another. If I say he's good, I get "he doesn't...." If I say he's bad, I get "he isn't..."

Honestly?

There are stats that back both, depending on which body of Carlos Santana's work you are looking at, and I'm just going to be okay with that.

In the end, I love Carlos Santana. I love that he's a damn pretzel, wrapped in an enigma. I love that I wrote what some would say (on both sides) is an incredibly flawed piece on Carlos back in December.

I love that there are moments in which he makes a defensive play and I think, "He's going to be great defensively," and then he isn't.

I love that he can walk four times in a game, hit two power-gap doubles in another, and watch a couple of third strikes in yet another.

I love that people can call him a top 25 hitter, and I love that people can call him the worst hitter on the team (he's not).

Why?

I like talking baseball, and folks, there isn't a player that gets talked about more than Carlos.

So why do I love him so much?

C'mon, is there anyone more fun to follow than @TheRealSlamtana?
I do take the game of baseball seriously, but I'll never take myself serious enough to think I'm always right. There's really not much in life that is that definitive.

Being a teacher has taught me that.

Being a husband has definitely taught me that.

Being a father has taught me that.

Being right is often just a matter of situation.

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