It’s really disappointing to be out of the lineup right when the season gets started. I won’t be out for long, but missing any time at all is so frustrating because all you’re thinking during the off-season and especially spring training is, “How do I get ready for Opening Day and the new season? What can I do to get better?’’ You can’t wait to get back out there.
I still got butterflies on Opening Day down here in Arizona. I imagine I’ll feel them again for the home opener on Monday. Maybe you think at this point in our lives, playing in the Major Leagues, we’d get kind of jaded to it all. But you don’t. It’s still a huge deal. You’ve been waiting four-and-a-half months. You’re so raring to go and so excited that you have to learn how to calm yourself down and clear everything out of your head.
You do that by going back to basics. As a little kid you’re always told to keep your eye on the ball, and that’s basically what it is. When you have a lot of stuff cluttering your mind, that’s when you get yourself in trouble. You need to go out there and be free and easy both mechanically and mentally. It’s something I really worked on this spring.
One thing that really helps: Having a seven-month-old baby. You cannot be in a bad mood around that kid. It’s awesome. He’s just loves being alive every day. He’s a lot like me as a kid. You might not know it now, but I was kind of goofy growing up. You can ask some of the guys I played with in the minors. I was goofy. And Haylee’s just like me. So we expect Greyson to be the same way.
I have faith that this little setback is just that. It’s no fun watching a game from the dugout when all you’ve been thinking about is being on that field. I’m feeling good and know I’ll be back in the lineup very, very soon. No movie reviews until then!
You remember the first day of school when you were a kid? (If you’re a kid reading this: Remember September?) You have new stuff, right out of the box. Shirts, shoes, backpack, notebook.
It’s kind of the same at the start of the season.
My new cleats arrived Monday, two days before we left Arizona. They’re not just new cleats, though. I got to design them. I have a Nike contract so they give me money to use however I want on their Nike site. So I’ve designed my own shoe. It’s surprising how many color and pattern choices go into designing a shoe.
There’s the top of the shoe, the sides, the back, the swoosh, the sole, the tongue, the laces. You can choose a color for your number and name on the side. In the past, the only option was solid colors but this year they have a graphic option. I don’t know how to describe it so I’m including a photo here of my home shoe (left), road shoe (middle) and batting practice shoe (right).
MLB says the shoe has to be 51 percent black. I know these don’t necessarily look like there’s 51 percent black but that’s just because the orange stands out so much.
Usually you need just two pairs of cleats in a season since you’re alternating road and home. I might make more, though, because it’s pretty fun. I might make a pair that has more black since we have the black jerseys this year.
I have a new glove, too, which I’ve been using all spring. This one came out of the box already pretty broken in. That happens sometimes. It arrives and you can play catch right away. Other times they’re really hard. Do I use the same glove all season? If it’s doing its job, it’ll stick around.
I also get new batting gloves. The manufacturer sent me four different color combos, three of each, so I have 12 pairs. They’ll send me more throughout the season. How long does a pair of batting gloves last? Depends on how well you’re hitting and how fast they tear. If you’re hitting well, and there’s a hole in them, you stick with them.
We had a great time at the Play Ball lunch today at the Hilton. Here’s a photo of the table set up for Belt, Justin Maxwell, Jean Machi and me. That long line in the background? That’s all the people waiting for Buster and Madison.
We did get some people in our line, though.
I think the strangest thing I signed was the lining of a guy’s sports coat. That was a first. I should have taken a picture of that.
Thanks for reading!
In the clubhouse. The topic: TV binge watching.
Belt: You ever seen Walking Dead?
Crawford: You’ve asked me that, like, a hundred times.
Belt: I ask everybody so I don’t know who I asked.
Crawford: You’ve told me to watch that already. But I probably won’t.
Belt: It’s not really about zombies. Once you get into it, it’s the drama about them staying alive. The zombies are always going to be a part of it but it’s kind of like an outside thing.
Crawford: Is it like Zombieland?
Crawford: Then I’m not watching it.
Belt: I liked Zombieland, too. Everything was about the zombies in Zombieland. You seen Orange is the New Black?
Crawford: I’m on Season 1.
Belt: At first, I was thinking, I don’t get this show. Then I really liked it.
Crawford: The first episode I watched, I thought, Oh, this could be pretty interesting.
Crawford: Gross. I watched a few more episodes and watched all of them. Way better than zombies.
Belt: I’m telling you, I was totally opposed to watching Walking Dead, too. Everybody was telling me about it. They couldn’t shut up about it. So I watched two or three episodes and I couldn’t stop. I love binge-watching. I love it to death. I hate it when it’s over.
Crawford: I know.I want to watch, like, three episodes in a row. But I find that I’m much more tired at night now than I was in the past. Nine o’clock comes around, I’m ready to go to bed. Unfortunately the girls aren’t ready.
Belt: This off season (the first with a baby), we were in bed every night at 8. I didn’t go to sleep but we were in bed watching TV. Just enjoying the entertainment. It’s so great.
Crawford: Jalynne and I will watch Breaking Bad if we’re actually both awake and the girls are asleep. We’re on Season 2. It’s kind of our new “together’’ show because at the end of last year we finished three shows all around the same time: Always Sunny in Philadelphia, How I Met Your Mother and Dexter.
Belt: I started watching Dexter all over again. I think it’s a genius show — about a serial killer who kills serial killers! What can get better than that?
Crawford: I think it’s interesting how many shows nowadays have, like, the main character doing bad things but in a good way. Like you’re rooting for the bad guy, kind of.
Belt: The lesser of two evils.
Crawford: He can’t help himself from killing so he kills bad people.
Belt: Right, without his code he would be a straight-up serial killer. He’s just lucky he got that code when he was young.
Crawford: Breaking Bad, he’s producing meth to make money for his family. Which, I feel like he has a good amount of money already in Season 2, so he could have stopped.
Belt: All I’m watching right now is Walking Dead so I can’t binge.
Crawford: You’re caught up?
Belt: Yeah. It sucks.
Crawford: When I was down in the Dominican (rookie league), they showed Law and Order, CSI and Lost. One episode a week. They had it on repeat. So for week a straight they had one show on reruns. and the next week they’d do another episode.
Belt: Man, that’d really suck.
OK, now that we re-read this, it is totally boring. It was an experiment. Doesn’t work. But thanks for reading it if you got this far! We probably won’t have another blog post until we get to San Francisco. See you there.
Today’s post is an actual combo Brandon & Brandon blog. We decided to turn on the tape recorder and share with you a conversation between the two of us in the clubhouse. (Saves us from writing anything.) We flipped a coin to see who’d transcribe the tape. We won’t say who lost, but the tape was subsequently fobbed off on a Giants’ staffer who volunteered to do it, mostly to stop a particular someone’s whining and pleading for best two-out-of-three.
Belt: It would have been awesome to be in the lineup today with Will Ferrell playing, wouldn’t it? (Neither Brandon was in the lineup and didn’t make the trip to Glendale for the game.)
Crawford: Would it have been cool to see him? Yeah. But it’s a road game. I’m not disappointed not to go.
Belt: I don’t know if we’d get to talk to him that much, anyway.
Crawford: What would you have said?
Belt: I’d give him some tips on how to be funny. How to act little bit. Nothing as far as baseball goes, I don’t think.
Crawford: What’s your favorite Will Ferrell movie?
Belt: Just your normal ones. Old School. Step-Brothers. Talladega Nights. A lot of people like Elf.
Crawford: Anchorman’s a classic.
Belt. Anchorman! Yes! That’s up there at the top. But Stepbrothers is probably my favorite. It’s so stupid, but it’s hilarious.
Crawford: Step Brothers is all right. Not the best.
Belt: Step Brothers is one of those movies I can watch over and over. Like Tombstone. SuperBad.
Crawford: Elf is better than Step Brothers.
Belt. No, it’s not!
Crawford: Stranger than Fiction?
Belt: That’s the one I was trying to think of. It’s terrible!
Crawford: It’s better than Step Brothers.
Belt: No, it isn’t! Step Brothers is hilarious.
Crawford: Are we going to stay catch partners? (They were catch partners Wednesday when Crawford played in the field for the first time this spring. Last year Crawford’s catch partner was Pablo.)
Belt: I can’t remember who mine was last season. Hicks, before he left. I don’t know what I did after that. I had a concussion for a while. I don’t remember a lot.
Crawford: You threw with Joe (Panik).
Belt: That might be right. I can’t remember.
Crawford: I think he’s playing catch with McGehee. Probably so you wouldn’t ask him again.
Belt: You know I’m really tired right now, and I slept late today. Is that weird? I am like extremely dead.
Crawford: Did you have cherry juice?
Belt: I should have.
Crawford: I don’t believe it wakes you up. For me, it makes me more tired.
Belt: It’s got like 64 cherries in it, and it’s gross. But it’s supposed to give you energy. I didn’t drink it today. I need a Red Bull right now. I haven’t had a Red Bull in like six days.
Crawford: There are a bunch of sugar-free ones in the kitchen that are terrible for you.
Belt: it’s the sugar ones that are bad for you.
Crawford: I thought you were on a nutrition kick.
Belt: So I can’t have Red Bull? Why not?
Crawford: It’s bad for you.
Belt: What are the long-term effects of Red Bull?
Crawford: I don’t know.
Belt: Exactly! So you can’t say anything bad about it.
Crawford: You might develop super powers.
Belt: Yeah! I could!
Crawford: You might actually get wings.
Belt: I could get in the hot tub and spill it and go back in time. It’s possible.
Crawford: Where’d you go?
Belt: I like today. I wouldn’t go anywhere.
Crawford: Go to the future.
Belt: Yeah, I’d go to the future. Go a hundred years into the future and see where we are.
Crawford: Where WE are?
Belt: No — well, we might be alive because they might have the technology by then to bring you back to life.
Crawford: Or maybe the Red Bull will keep you living that long.
Belt: Maybe if I drink Red Bull my whole life I’ll be a thousand years old.
Crawford: Good point.
Tomorrow in Part II: Binge TV.
Just like old times. Guest blogging again.
It’s great to be back with all the guys. There’s still sort a Brandon row in the clubhouse — we’re within a couple lockers of each other but not adjoining like in SF. (I am happy to report we have not revived the Brandon handshake. It was not the greatest handshake, as the other Brandons will tell you. In fact, it kind of gives you an uncomfortable feeling when you do it.)
To refresh your memory, I was sent to Triple A in mid-July. I watched the World Series from my home in Galveston, Texas, with my girlfriend and a buddy of mine. We parked ourselves in front of the TV every evening.
I admit it was a little difficult at times. I wished I could have been there and been a part of it. But of course you’re rooting for the guys you battled with earlier in the year. What stood out for me about the team was their fight — their ability to never give up or give in. They had their backs against the wall a lot of times and kept on pushing. That’s just the type of guys that are in there.
I’m really proud to have contributed during the first half of a championship season. There’s a lot of satisfaction in that. Plus, I’ll get a ring, which is every ballplayer’s dream.
When I arrived at camp a couple weeks ago, a few guys did a double take. They didn’t really recognize me. I’ve got longish hair now. I haven’t cut it since last June. Not sure why. I’ve never really had it long, so I thought, “Why not do it now?’’ It kind of got a little curly on me, though.
I’m not comparing myself to Pagan. He’s probably got the best hair on the team. But I might be in Crawford territory. He gave me some of his product the other day to use. It turned out all right. Gave it that wet look he likes before the game.
Here’s our better side . . .
Games haven’t started but there have been 150, maybe 200, people at Scottsdale Stadium just to watch practice. I guess coming off a World Series championship, we should have expected good crowds, but you’re still surprised to get that kind of support. I heard when Madison walked off the mound yesterday after pitching BP, he got a big round of applause. (I wasn’t in that hitting group, so I didn’t have to face him.)
Nori Aoki is in my group, so I’m starting to get to know him a little. His English isn’t very good, though it’s much better than my Japanese. He clearly has a good sense of humor. We’ve been hitting him fourth in the group because we tell him he has the big power. He laughs and says, “Big guy! Big power!’’
I’ve been around new third-baseman Casey McGehee since before camp officially started. We took grounders on the back practice field together. There’s not much a shortstop and third-baseman need to do as far as adjusting to each other. I just need to get a read on what his range is on balls to his left. After just a few ground balls over there, I’ll be able to read it pretty well.
Communication between a shortstop and third-baseman isn’t as involved as between a shortstop and second-baseman. Casey already has asked if I’d give him a head’s up on breaking balls. (From my position, I can see what pitch the catcher is calling, and the third-baseman can’t.) Pablo wanted a head’s up, also, on breaking balls. I alert them by just making a little noise. I don’t know exactly how it affects their positioning, but maybe they’re a little more ready down the line.
People ask if we come into spring training focused on improving any particular facet of our game. I really don’t. The only thing I want to improve, overall throughout the season, is consistency. I’ve had a lot of hot streaks and cold streaks in my career, which happens to everybody in baseball. So it’s a matter of keeping the cold streaks as short as possible.
So how do I do that? That’s the big question, right? I have to recognize more quickly when there’s something I need to change. I went through two bad months last season — July and August — before I realized I my hands were all over the place. I don’t know if I was getting tired or trying to do too much, but I would kind of lose track of where I was holding them from at-bat to at-bat. They’d get too high. Too far back. And I’d get trapped. I wasn’t as direct to the ball.
So in September, I began again to do that little tap on my shoulder, which I did throughout 2013. It reminds me where my hands need to be — lower and closer to my body. And I had a great September.
Everything’s good with the girls. Jaydyn’s walking (she’s almost 1). And Braylyn’s crazy, running around all over the place (she’s 2). She goes to the gym with Jalynne and does some toddler gymnastics. But we think she’s going to be too tall for gymnastics, though. She’s in the 80th percentile of height and weight for her age, so she’s projected to be around 5-feet-8 or -9.
Check in tomorrow or the next day for a special guest blog from the third Brandon. He has a new look, inspired by someone he admires and clearly wants desperately to emulate . . .
Yes, the blog is back.
This was supposed to be posted on Tuesday, but the posting got screwed up and here it is now:
Today was the first official day of spring training. Everyone is here. We had a great team meeting first thing in the morning. Bochy talked and Hunter talked. It If we weren’t already pumped to go after another World Series title, we are now. I love spring training personally. It’s good to see the green grass again and get back on the field and feel it beneath your feet. As much as we all work out in the off-season, nothing gets you into baseball shape like playing baseball.
One of the things we do in the first few days here is sign baseballs, jerseys and photos that the community relations department uses through the season to try to fill all the requests for charitable donations. They set up a bunch of tables in a hallway near the clubhouse and we sit there before or after practice and just sign. I’m in the midst of signing 27 dozen baseballs. Hunter has to sign 43 dozen. The bigger the star, the more baseballs you’re asked sign. Travis Ishikawa said he used to sign one dozen balls. This year he signed 20-something dozen.
We’re also asked to make a few appearances during spring training.
“There’s a barbecue here at the park,’’ Bobby from community relations said as I signed the baseballs, “or an event at the local zoo, but you have to drive out there so it’ll be more consuming.’’
“And a lot cooler!’’ I said. “I’ll do that one.’’
You know what my favorite zoo is? The one in Omaha, Nebraska. They have all these different sections so when you go to see the water animals, it’s like a swamp area with alligators and beavers. It’s low lighting so you feel like you’re in the swamp at nighttime. They have all these little bridges and the animals swimming underneath you. It’s awesome.
Another thing about spring training is you’re back with all your teammates. We saw a lot of guys at FanFest but now we’re really together. And there are more guys. Brandon Hicks! The third Brandon. I was happy to see him back and happy to be able to use our Brandon handshake. It’s a pretty easy handshake. Kind of feminine actually. We tried to make it as awkward as possible.
For whatever reason, spring training also means — for me — watching a lot of Shark Tank. I’m too busy in the off-season to watch, but here it’s like the best thing to watch after practice. It’s kind of Shark Tank non-stop on X-box video. I like the feel-good stories about people who bring stuff in and make a company out of it. I love the brutal honesty the Sharks have with these people. It’s hilarious sometimes. I like rooting against some people and rooting for other people. Haylee hates that I watch it all the time. But she’s just as bad with HGTV. Every time I come home, HGTV is on. She used a lot of the info when we built our house. But we’re done building our house, so I’m not sure why she still needs to watch it.
I did take a break to watch the Oscars, or at least about half of it. I thought it was boring. It took them like an hour and a half to do six awards, and they’re mostly awards nobody cares about. And I wasn’t as interested as I usually am because I didn’t see most of the films because it turns out when you have a baby, you don’t go out as much. That’s my excuse for getting one pick correct — just Patricia Arquette. Me and the academy do not agree on a lot of things.
I saw two movies when I was in San Francisco for FanFest. Here are my reviews.
The Kingsmen: It’s about this secret, kind of James Bond organization. This kid’s dad was a part of it, so they kind of recruited the kid to be a part of it as well. He goes through all these tests and ends up being a spy. It was a less cheesy version of a spy movie in that they didn’t follow the same storylines that most spy movies follow. A more adult version. The acting was great. Samuel L. Jackson had a lisp, though I’m not sure why he found that necessary for the movie. Otherwise there were a bunch of English people.
Jupiter Ascending: Honestly to this day I still have no idea what I watched. It’s about this girl played by Mila Kunis who is a reincarnated Queen of the Universe. Her kids weren’t dead so they could take control of the universe, I guess. Channing Tatum is protecting her so they can get her back to power, I think. Honestly, it was a weird movie. There’s a lot of detail in it. It was very confusing. They colonize planets. It was a forgettable movie. It really was. Pretty cool special effects, that’s about it. I think it would have been kind of a cool movie if you knew what was going on.
Finally, just want to say how happy we all are that Bochy is fine and back on the field. He’s the leader. He’s the guy who gets the best out of his ballplayers. We’ve got to have him at the reins if we want to go out there and win another championship. He’s the one who sets the tone. That’s why, I think, when new guys like Casey McGehee and Nori Aoki show up, they fit in so quickly. The rookies, too. They figure out real quick we have a pretty special bond in this clubhouse. Everyone fits in, which is why we’ve been so successful.
OK, Hunter is giving me a hard time about getting back to signing baseballs. He’s been flying through his. So I’m diving back in. Then heading home. Shark Tank is cued up and waiting.
So where was I? Oh, right. August 13. We were 4.5 games behind the Dodgers. We had lost five in a row before finally beating the White Sox.
A lot has happened since then.
You might have seen it.
Belt, Gregor Blanco and I stopped blogging when the team was struggling so much mid-season. And then we started to win. Not that blogging had anything to do with anything. But we figured we’d just focus on winning and, well, you know the rest.
Now that the season is over, and I’ve had a month to rest — sort of (more on that later) — I’m blogging again.
First, I’m really happy for Bum getting SI’s Sportsman of the Year. I haven’t read the story yet, but I hear he sounds a bit like Paul Bunyan. Bum apparently tells the tale of hacking up a snake during spring training last year and finding two baby jackrabbits inside it still alive. I had heard Hunter tell that story when MLB network asked us to do our best impression of Bum. The story was so outrageous I assumed Hunter had made it up. I guess not. Only Bum.
Nothing fazed him the entire postseason — so much so that it was almost kind of weird after Game 5 of the World Series. He had just thrown a complete game shutout in the WORLD SERIES and it was like, “Oh, just another day.’’ Like it was the Diamondbacks in June. I think I was more excited than he was. During the season, you’d see him give a fist-pump after a third out every once in a while. I don’t remember any of that in the World Series.
One thing that wasn’t in the SI story was Bum’s obsession with his hair during the postseason. Every day he was scheduled to pitch, or if there was going to be introductions, you’d know it just by the way his hair looked when he walked into the clubhouse. It was all curly and perfect. His wife Ali gelled it and scrunched it at home then sprayed it to keep it in place. You could whack Bum on the back and he wouldn’t bat an eye, but don’t go anywhere near the hair. He was real sensitive.
I’m also really happy for Joe Panik getting the Gibby (Greatness in Baseball Yearly) Award for his diving stop and glove flip to me at second for the double play in Game 7 of the World Series. I’ve probably watched the replay 50 times. It’s on a commercial on MLB network, so that was a few dozen times right there. And I watched it on MLB.com’s Statcast. It shows that Joe went 18.5 feet to get the ball and flipped it to me in .83 seconds. I released it in .77 seconds and threw it 72 mph to get Eric Hosmer at first. Pretty cool information that we usually don’t see. And pretty cool for me just to relive it.
I’m at home in Arizona now. We spent about a week after the season in the Bay Area with my family then spent time in LA with Jalynne’s family and took Braylyn to Disneyland for the first time. (We bought a season pass, so there is more Disneyland in my future. We’re going again in a week to take my niece.) We were back in the Bay Area for Thanksgiving then finally settled back into our house in Arizona — without either set of grandparents or siblings to help with the girls.
As tired as I was at the end of the World Series — mentally as much as physically — let me tell you that two children under two years old is more exhausting than baseball. They’re nonstop. Our first week in Arizona, I was drained every day. Jalynne managed to schedule them to nap at the same time, so we have a small window of time in the middle of the day to catch our breath.
I took a month off from working out and started up again about a week ago at the Giants minor league facility. I did pretty light workouts but was still ridiculously sore the next day.
I haven’t seen many guys since the season ended, but I’ve been in touch more with Javy Lopez than anyone because we’re co-owners in Fantasy Football. Now that I think about it, just about all contact I’ve had with guys is about Fantasy Football. I think we’re all taking a break from baseball in general. It will be starting up again soon enough. Right now is time for family.
We’ll be spending Christmas in LA with Jalynne’s family. Christmas is a lot different when you have kids – way more fun. Hope all of you have great holidays with your families and friends. Thanks for reading and for all the amazing support you gave us through the entire season. Loved seeing everyone at the parade. I promise to post again soon! And I’ll try to get Belt back on here, too!
That seventh inning was like a burst of pent-up hits. Last few games, we’ve been battling back but haven’t gotten that big hit to put us over the top. Of course, it would be Angel to do it today — the guy we’d been missing. He got the big two-run single, then we piled on. People say hitting is contagious. I don’t know why that would be. It’s a weird baseball thing that really seems to be true.
I had a front-row seat to the play at home that got White Sox manager Robin Ventura tossed from the game. I was on deck when Gregor was tagged out for what would have been the second out of the seventh. Bochy challenged the call. The officials in New York decided Blanco was safe. They said the catcher blocked the plate, a violation of the new catchers’ rule.
I’m glad the call went our way, of course, but I think they have to change the rule. I know I’m not alone in this. The White Sox catcher just had his leg blocking the plate — something that’s allowed at every other base. It shouldn’t be illegal at home. It’s part of baseball. It’s one thing if he had his entire body there. But you should be able to have your leg.
If a catcher is completely off the plate while he waits for the throw, he has to catch the ball then reach back for the tag. As a middle infielder, I know how hard that is. In Pittsburgh, I was covering second on a steal. I caught the ball, reached out and put my glove in front of the bag, expecting the runner to slide into it. But he did a kind of swim move with his arm and maneuvered around the tag. I still probably got him, but he was called safe.
So what’s happening at home is more guys are sliding head first, or more accurately hands first. For a catcher, it’s hard to reach back and tag a guy when his arms can be doing all kinds of maneuvers to avoid the tag.
I’m sure the rule will be revisited and probably changed this off-season. But of course I’m glad it helped us today.
We almost broke through with a big inning last night, too. We had three straight hits in the ninth. Then the second baseman makes that spectacular double-play on Panik’s ground ball. Given my struggles at the plate, I was glad to come through with a single to tie the game, especially against their closer and down to my last strike.
But I must say I was glad not to face Chris Sale again. He’s one of the best pitchers I’ve ever seen. He’s like 6-6 and 150 pounds, just arms and legs. And he throws from way down here so it seems that every pitch is going behind me. His slider breaks about three feet. He starts the game throwing around 96 to 98 mph. He throws his change-up to lefties, too, which not a whole lot of guys do. He is so tough. To be honest, I’d put him right up there with Kershaw.
It’s nice to go into our off-day tomorrow on a high note (unlike our off-day on Monday . . . ) I will be at the Bayview YMCA in San Francisco from 12 to 1:30 supporting their Red Cross blood drive. Joaquin Arias will be there, too. Jalynne’s brother, Jeremy Dantzscher, works for the Red Cross in Southern California. He knows somebody here helping with the blood drive, and when he heard Joaquin was going over there, he asked if I’d go too.
Thanks for reading! Hopefully you’ll have a post from Belt soon. I know he’s been having tests to figure out why he’s still having concussion symptoms. I’m not having nearly as many laughs without my locker mate here. Hope he’s back soon.
August 13, 2014
I know the last two days against the Dodgers haven’t shown it, and we’re dealing with injuries to key guys, but we feel really strong starting the second half of the season. That 14-inning game in Philadelphia told you everything you need to know about this team: We battle. It’s kind of our signature since at least the 2012 post-season. Whether we’re struggling through a few-week stretch or a six-hour game, we fight.
I was happy to get that double in the top of the 14th to put us ahead. But I would have been happy with anybody getting a hit at that point. I received a lot of the credit after the game, but Buster’s home run in the ninth to tie the game was just as big or bigger than mine. Papelbon hadn’t given up a home run all season. And the bullpen was awesome — eight innings and they gave up only one run.
I’ve joked — well, I’m actually kind of serious — about wanting to pitch sometime in a game. But I knew Bochy had to go with Colvin or Blanco if the Phillies had tied it up in the bottom of the 14th and we went to the 15th. There were no position players left on the bench, so Timmy — who pitched the 14th — would have had to stay in the game and play the field. There’s no way Bochy could let me pitch and put Timmy at shortstop. He’d have to play in the outfield, so that meant either Colvin or Blanco would have to pitch. Luckily, it didn’t come to that.
You might have read about the virus or whatever that’s been lingering in the clubhouse for what seems like months now. I’ve had it at least a month if not more, and it’s finally gone. I think Miami shook it out of me. Or maybe it was the All-Star break. I spent the break very quietly, as I mentioned I would in my last post. I saw my grandma one day. Another day we went to Buster’s to hang out and let the kids play. Braylyn, who’s a year and a half, is still a little new to playing with other kids because she hasn’t had many opportunities. But she was good with Buster and Kristen’s twins, who are three. Javy and Renee Lopez were also there with their two kids — their son is almost two and their daughter is four, I think. (I’m not good at guessing ages.) Braylyn would go play with something and want to play by herself. Then she’d join the other kids. She loved the pool. Buster grilled up some hot dogs and hamburgers. It was just a really great, relaxing summer day. When you have so few off days, you really appreciate each one, especially the ones that aren’t crammed with errands and appointments.
So since have some down time during All-Star break, I’ve been feeling much better at the plate. My first at-bat in Miami was maybe my best at-bat all season. I stayed in against Eovaldi for 10 pitches before hitting a two-run homer on the 11th pitch, a 97-mph fastball. I was happy to fight off some pretty good pitches then square up like that. I hit balls hard in the series even if they didn’t translate into hits all the time. When I feel like that at the plate, I know the hits will start to come.
Playing the Dodgers this weekend got me thinking about my favorite Dodgers-Giants memories from when I was a kid. I kind of remember the Brian Johnson game in 1997 when he hit the game-winning home run in the 12th inning to sweep the Dodgers and move into a tie for first place. I’m pretty sure I was at Candlestick for the game that day, but I was really young so I don’t remember it well.
The moment I really remember from the Dodgers-Giants rivalry is kind of unusual. It was a single at-bat. Bonds was facing Cy Young winner Eric Gagne. It was early in the 2004 season. The Dodgers were ahead 3-0 in the ninth. One out. Runner at first. I was at the game with my dad. Gagne was throwing 100 mph fastballs, one after another. Every player not on the field hung over the dugout rails watching power against power.
Bonds fouled the first pitch past the Dodgers dugout.
Then he took a called strike inside — 99 mph.
Ball inside — 100 mph.
Foul into the stands behind the plate.
Towering foul into McCovey Cove off a 101-mph fastball.
Then Gagne threw another fastball — 100 mph this time. Bonds hit it into the center field bleachers.
I thought, “Wow.’’ Bonds just kept battling. The Giants lost, but I’ll never forget that at-bat.
(Full disclosure: I looked up the exact pitch sequence. I didn’t remember every single pitch.)
What’s your favorite Giants-Dodgers moment?
July 27, 2014