IN THE SPOTLIGHT
He looks pretty comfortable at the dish. Taking hacks with a long, black DeMarini bat with a red tip at the end of the barrel, Simon Farber goes up there with a solid plan of action.
He‚Äôs not going to over-swing. He won‚Äôt be over-matched by too many area hurlers.
He‚Äôs got too much baseball savvy for that.
When Farber steps to the plate and digs in from the left side of the batter‚Äôs box, you can tell that the 6-foot-1, 220-pound Glenbrook South first baseman is a ‚Äúman‚ÄĚ with a plan.
He‚Äôs a tough out. He protects the strike zone. He raps the ball to all fields.
‚ÄúJust looking to put the ball in play,‚ÄĚ Farber says. ‚ÄúJust trying to square it up. And it‚Äôs always good, when you can hit the ball to the opposite field ‚ÄĒ like I did in today‚Äôs game.‚ÄĚ
In four plate appearances in GBS‚Äôs 9-1 win over visiting Vernon Hills on April 12, Farber had three quality at-bats: a run-scoring sacrifice fly to deep left-center field, a line-drive single to left-center and a lead-off walk.
‚ÄúHe gives us quality at-bats,‚ÄĚ says GBS head coach Steve Stanicek, who has seen the veteran rip four doubles so far this season. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs hit into some tough luck this season. But he‚Äôs had good at-bats.
‚ÄúHe struggled in the early part of last season,‚ÄĚ the coach adds. ‚ÄúAnd then, he hit .340 in the second half of the season.‚ÄĚ
Like a lot of his Glenbrook South teammates, Farber, who also pitches, has been a ‚Äúlong-time‚ÄĚ denizen of the diamond. He‚Äôs passed a lot of time playing the national pastime.
A three-year varsity player, Farber did his summer stints with the Glenview Blaze (5 seasons), the Northbrook-based Diamond Dawgz (1 season) and the Illinois Indians (1 season).
All those innings might not have produced a next-level player ‚ÄĒ Farber is not intending to play college baseball ‚ÄĒ but it did put him on a purposeful career path.
A job in baseball ‚ÄĒ possibly in a front office ‚ÄĒ figures to be in his offing. Baseball is his calling ‚ÄĒ in a 21st century sort of way.
Farber, who admits that he‚Äôs been smitten by the game for a long, long time, already has joined a new ‚Äúsect‚ÄĚ of baseball enthusiasts. He‚Äôs been bitten by the sabermetrics bug.
‚ÄúTotally fascinated by sabermetrics,‚ÄĚ he says.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm really into minor league baseball,‚ÄĚ adds Farber, a fan of the Chicago White Sox. ‚ÄúI love trying to figure out, ‚ÄėWho‚Äôs next?‚Äô ‚ÄĚ
He might not be fast on the basepaths ‚ÄĒ ‚ÄúYeah, they pitch-run for me a lot,‚ÄĚ he admits ‚ÄĒ but he quite possibly has a leg up on other so-called ‚Äúsabermetricians‚ÄĚ.
Farber got a jump on the competition, when he did an internship with MLBDailyDish.com last summer. He was a bylined writer for the web site, which specializes in MLB trades, trade rumors, signings, injuries and opinions from the fan perspective.
‚ÄúI love to write,‚ÄĚ he says. ‚ÄúEspecially nonfiction.‚ÄĚ
He‚Äôs also pretty good with numbers. It helps having a dad (Steve) who teaches math at the school.
After he graduates this spring from GBS, Farber will pursue a sports journalism and sports business degree at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
In the meantime, Farber will continue to mix reality with ‚ÄúFantasy‚ÄĚ.
Along with three of his baseball mates ‚ÄĒ Jack Anderson, Conor Nash and Jacob Newman ‚ÄĒ and four other school friends, including Joe Sprowls, Farber is a die-hard Fantasy League player.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm kind of nerdy about it,‚ÄĚ he admits.
‚ÄúMy [Fantasy] team is looking pretty strong this year,‚ÄĚ adds Farber, who is known to stay up late, camp out with his baseball friends and watch West Coast games.
He has yet to take a title. Sprowls won the league in 2017. Anderson, a center fielder who will play baseball at Northern Illinois University next year, won in 2016.
But credit Farber. He hopped on the Paul Goldschmidt ‚ÄĒ all-star first baseman for the Arizona Diamondbacks ‚ÄĒ wagon several years ago.
‚ÄúI chose him in 2015, and I was berated pretty good for picking him,‚ÄĚ Farber says. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm a huge fan of Paul Goldschmidt.‚ÄĚ
He‚Äôs also a huge fan of Brett Weber ‚ÄĒ a behind-the-scenes star for the New York Yankees.
Weber, a Glenbrook South grad who went on to play for the University of Illinois before getting drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 16th round in 1997, is the video coordinator for the American League team.
In fact, Weber, who pitched professional baseball for five seasons (he went 8-4 with a 1.97 ERA for Greensboro in the South Atlantic League in his second minor league season), is known as a video replay guru.
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs in a bunker telling [New York manager] Aaron Boone to go for it,‚ÄĚ says Farber. ‚ÄúHe had one of the best success rates in the league last year.‚ÄĚ
Weber also is pretty good at teaching the game. Farber found that out as a kindergartner, when he attended one of Weber‚Äôs baseball clinics.
Working with Weber was invaluable.
‚ÄúSuch a great mentor,‚ÄĚ Farber says. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs the one that really got me into baseball.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve never been one of those kids who thinks that baseball is boring,‚ÄĚ he adds.
It didn‚Äôt take Stanicek, a former Major Leaguer with the Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies, long to see something in Farber.
‚ÄúHe brought me up sophomore year ‚ÄĒ for defensive purposes,‚ÄĚ says Farber. ‚ÄúI was pretty shocked.‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs paid off.
‚ÄúHis defense has been outstanding,‚ÄĚ Stanicek says. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs a real solid player for us.‚ÄĚ