Athletics

Pitching Ninja details how he helped A's Nathan Patterson gain exposure

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Pitching Ninja details how he helped A's Nathan Patterson gain exposure

Nathan Patterson now is a member of the Oakland A's organization.

If you haven't read his story, here are the details:

Patterson was a free-agent pitcher when his brother, Christian, tweeted out a video of Nathan throwing in a speed pitch challenge during a Colorado Rockies game at Coors Field. 

He hit 96 mph.

One viral video later his dreams of becoming a professional baseball player came true as he signed a minor league contract with the A's. He even quoted A's executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane in a post:

He took to social media to give thanks to friends, family, coaches and a familiar name in the baseball media world: Rob Friedman ... you know him as @PitchingNinja

A huge fan of the throwing guru myself, I wanted to know more about how he helped Patterson get the exposure to make this happen. And he was no stranger to what Patterson was able to do. 

"Nathan's arm action was what jumped out at me," Freidman told NBC Sports California. "He tweeted a video to FlatGround in January, throwing with a cast on. Very easy 95mph."

The account had been around for a while, and Patterson was one of the first video submissions within two weeks of the launch. 

Friedman and Patterson had been DMing one another for a while.

"Lots of colleges were interested, but he really wanted to sign an affiliated deal," Friedman said.

Then, just like the rest of us, he saw the video. He noticed Christian's last name.

"I was like 'Woah,' that dude has a great arm. And I said I remember that arm action and put two and two together from his brother's last name ... it's Nathan Patterson."

It sure was.

Friedman was one of a few, including the trainers and coaches, helping the 23-year-old out. He even had 11-year veteran pitcher C.J. Wilson offering up some advice: 

Wilson saw the original video Patterson submitted to FlatGround back in January.

FlatGroundApp is a new, innovative social media platform that Friedman created so no pitcher is left unseen.

"I just feel my job is to not let players fall through the cracks," Friedman said. "A dude with an arm action like that needs to be playing somewhere ... and not throwing at stadiums for fun. That's why I started FlatGround. Too many players fall through the cracks because of lack of money or they get good later so scouts don't follow them. I want to make sure that doesn't happen."

[RELATED: Pitching Ninja talks favorite A's pitchers]

Mission very much accomplished. It's nice to know social media can be used in a positive, life-changing way.

And once again, congratulations to Nathan Patterson. 

A's legend Dave Stewart describes coronavirus scare, testing process

A's legend Dave Stewart describes coronavirus scare, testing process

Dave Stewart is down 15 pounds, and feeling “about eighty percent” healthy.

All of this part of an illness, which two weeks ago, the former pitcher-turned NBC Sports California A's analyst feared was coronavirus.

“I was very, very much afraid,” Stewart said, who also suffers from asthma.

The 63-year old’s symptoms began while on a baseball business trip in Monclova, Mexico. The return flight to California is when he knew something was wrong, and testing for COVID-19 was imminent.

“Went straight from the airport, to the testing place,” Stewart said. “They didn’t even give me two minutes, rushed me into the tent, put a mask on me. And started the testing.”

That testing, as you might well already know about, is invasive through the nasal cavities.

“Two swabs, up these big tunnels of mine,” Stewart said about the testing process. “They put those things up there, I felt like they were in my brain. One for the flu, the other for the virus.”

Stewart’s breathing and blood pressure were also observed, in addition to an X-ray of his chest region. 

Eight painstaking days later, he received good news: Everything was negative.

But that didn’t stop Stewart from self-quarantining the moment he got home. And for good reason: He has a 93-year old mother and 102-year old step-father.

“If I’m carrying it, and I don’t know it, then I’m responsible for two very elderly people,” Stewart said.

“The people that I could touch, and possibly give this to, and possibly endanger their lives.”

[RELATED: Why Astros serving bans despite hiatus stings for A's fans]

The 1989 World Series MVP is set to resume his role on "A’s Pre and Postgame Live" once baseball resumes. Stewart also was set to have his jersey retired with the A’s on May 23. But that is now inevitably better suited for a later date.

“This is certainly something I can live with, that’s for sure,” Stewart said.

Why Astros' bans ending in 2020 despite MLB hiatus stings for A's fans

Why Astros' bans ending in 2020 despite MLB hiatus stings for A's fans

We're currently in the midst of unprecedented times due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

But sports have faced major setbacks, with postponements and cancellations affecting leagues worldwide. MLB has not played a regular-season game, and the date of Opening Day still is undetermined. And yet, the Houston Astros, who were scheduled to face the A’s this week, might get a small break due to the delay.

Former Houston manager AJ Hinch and ex-general manager Jeff Luhnow’s one-year suspensions would be served this year, whether an MLB season is played or not. 

ESPN’s Buster Olney reported Thursday, citing a source, that MLB will view both Hinch and Luhnow serving their discipline this year in 2020 because the suspensions were tied to the end of the upcoming postseason.

The league also announced the Astros would lose their first and second-round picks in the 2020 and 2021 MLB Draft as part of the disciplinary actions, and they also were fined $5 million. 

Astros owner Jim Crane then took an additional step and fired the two. 

With the A’s originally set to face the reigning AL champions this week in Oakland, it would have created many storylines centered around Mike Fiers.

Fiers was the whistleblower who exposed the Astros of their cheating ways during their 2017 World Series run. This subjected him to much scrutiny from fans, but Fiers also was dubbed a hero to those around the game.

For now, the earliest the season could start is around mid-May. That’s in addition to agreement between the league and the MLB Players Association that states the season cannot begin until there are no bans on mass gatherings, no travel restrictions and medical experts have determined games will not post a risk to the health of teams and fans.

The Astros-A’s series could have been the series that set the tone for the rest of the season across the league

[RELATED: What Canha misses most about baseball during hiatus]

It appears that the tone is different now. Not because baseball hasn’t started yet, but Hinch and Luhnow would be getting a free pass in a way. None of us are playing baseball right now. 

That has Hinch and Luhnow waiting around, just like the rest of us.