Haylee’s Turn

All the pinch-bloggers have been so good! Unlike the guys, I am not thinking of this as a competition. I’d never even try to beat Brandon at anything! He is soooo competitive. (And Jalynne, I learned yesterday that you have your own competitive streak!)

I’m going to be kind of random and just toss some things out that maybe you’ll find interesting.

I remember after Brandon signed with the Giants, some people in town had this idea that when a guy makes it to the big leagues, he doesn’t stay with his high school sweetheart. They thought , “If you get big-time you’re going to forget about where you came from.’’ Nothing could be further from the truth.

Brandon and I met in eighth grade when he transferred into my middle school. The best friends we had then are still the best friends we have now. One works in the oil fields. A couple are teachers. Another works for his dad. When we’re home in Hudson, which is about 90 minutes from Houston, we hang out at somebody’s house and barbecue and talk and laugh. The guys might play video games. Nothing too exciting. Our lives haven’t changed that much, which I’m really happy about.

But I confess that I had this picture in my head of what life would be like if Brandon made it to the  Majors. I thought, “Oh, that is going to be awesome!’’ I thought I’d be shopping every day and going to the gym and going out to lunch. You kind of think it’s going to be right out of a movie. Some of it’s true. We stay in nice hotels on the road and I definitely shop more than I would if Brandon didn’t have the job he does.

But like Jalynne wrote, we stay pretty busy with packing, moving, settling in, taking care of all the day-to-day business of laundry, car repairs, grocery shopping, hair cut appointments, vet appointments for our dog Lilly. (With two babies, Jalynne’s even busier!) The guys really don’t have time for all that stuff.

During spring training and the regular season, our schedules are built completely around theirs. Brandon always tells me he feels bad about how much time the wives spend just waiting — after games, for their planes to land, for interviews to be over.

I love to cook, so I’m always happy when Brandon can eat at home. Usually he eats at the clubhouse after games because Joe, the chef, is so great. When I do cook, Brandon usually wants chicken spaghetti, a dish his mom taught me to make. It’s noodles, shredded chicken, Velveeta, cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup and Ro-Tel diced tomatoes. It’s sooooo good.

Jalynne talked about the pros and cons, and one of the pros is the group of wives we have here. I love all of them. I’m particularly close to Ali Bumgarner and Nicole Vogelsong. We always sit together in the family section. It’s great because if Brandon is in a slump, for example, I can vent about how he’s being a baby and getting on my nerves! And the other wives aren’t going to think I’m a terrible person. We’re all going through pretty much the same things so we can relate to each other.

Actually Brandon’s easy. We’ve been together for so long and have been best friends for so long that we can talk about anything. I don’t know if everyone can do that. So I feel really lucky.

One other thing about the wives. We do a lot of charity work together. This month we each have to do a “favorites basket,’’ which means putting together a gift basket filled with our husbands’ favorite things. So for Brandon, I’ll put in popcorn, a bottle of Coke, a gift card to the movies (as you know, he LOVES the movies), a few DVDs, some books, the Bible and autographed stuff. Each basket will be auctioned off.

I mentioned Ali Bumgarner. Well, here is a story I hope I never have to live through again.

I was staying with her in Arizona after the team’s season-opening series against the Diamondbacks. (Brandon and I had to move out of our rental, and the Bumgarners still had their house.) Ali and I stayed in Arizona while the guys went off to play the Dodgers in LA. Our plan was to pack up our cars and drive to San Francisco, where we’d meet up with our husbands for the home opener.

Ali and Madison’s rental had lots of land. It was way off in the desert. I had our five-year-old dog, Lilly. One day, I left Lilly at the house with Ali’s dad, and she darted out the door and disappeared into the desert. It was horrible. Lilly is Brandon’s baby. He was in Los Angeles and can’t do anything about it. He was devastated.

Ali and I put signs up everywhere and sent out emails. When Lilly didn’t come back that night, a neighbor told us that not too long ago a pack of coyotes had snatched and killed a chihuahua right off the leash while a guy was walking it.

Another night went by. We kept putting food out. We kept scouring every inch of the property. Nothing.

After the third night, we were sure she was dead. So Ali and I packed the cars early that morning and set out for San Francisco. Three hours into our trip, Ali’s father called. He spotted Lilly in the front yard. But she wouldn’t come to him. Ali’s brother tried to rope her — he’s a champion roper — but he couldn’t get close enough. We turned the cars around and went back to Arizona to track her down.

When I told Brandon, he hopped on the first flight to Phoenix after the Dodgers games that night. The next day was an off day. He got in around midnight. We put out clothes that had our smell on them. We put out more food. We went to bed around 1, setting an early alarm. We wanted to find her before anyone else got up. Lilly might not come to the house if she saw anyone but us.

We got up at 6:30, and Lilly walked into the back yard at 7:15! Amazing. I don’t know how she survived for four days. Probably because she’s so anti-social. She’s snappy with other dogs and won’t go near them. She probably thought the coyotes were dogs.

I’m not sure what Brandon would have done if we didn’t get Lilly back. Sometimes I think he loves her more than me.

One blog reader asked Brandon how we go about finding places to live in San Francisco. It’s not always easy to find a six- or seven-month rental. Most landlords want a year. We always use a Realtor to help us. We look for a place that’s furnished and the utilities are included. It’s a pain to set up accounts for electricity, water, garbage, internet, all that stuff, and then have to cancel all of them six months later and pay a cancellation fee.

As far as players who have school-age children, their wives and children usually stay back home until school is out then spend the summer in the Bay Area. They’ll come out for long weekends and spring break. Or they’ll meet up for a road game. But most of us don’t have school-age children yet.

I’m sure I’m forgetting some interesting things. But I imagine this is more than you ever wanted to know!

Thank you for being so nice to Brandon. I love seeing the Baby Giraffe hats and stuffed animals at the park. It is so cool. I wish we could meet all of you and thank you personally. This has been such an awesome experience here in San Francisco.

And one last thing: Don’t believe everything Brandon writes about me in his blog. I don’t always fall asleep at the movies!

-Haylee Belt

 

 

 

 

By Popular Demand — Jalynne, My Better Half – Brandon Crawford

I know my husband said enough with the pinch-blogging, but he told me some fans have asked if Haylee Belt and I would write about life as the wife of a Major Leaguer. We both agreed. I’m up first. I think Haylee will write tomorrow.

I’m not sure what would be interesting or where to start, so I’ll begin by telling you what we did on the off day Monday. These off-days, especially when they’re during home stands, are so precious. Believe it or not, even though it’s only April, we’ll have just one more off day at home for the rest of the season.

On Monday Brandon and I went for massages in the morning. Just the two of us while my mom took care of our two baby girls. Then we took Braylyn to the park. She loved having us to herself without the distraction of her new sister! Then we had a date night — dinner and a movie (“Noah,’’ which was entertaining). A perfect day.

I don’t go to every game. It’s not easy with the babies, and the truth is I like watching the games on TV. I can be a real fan, yelling and cheering as wildly as I want. I feel like I’m supposed to be a bit more proper when I’m sitting the Giants’ family section.

I was at last night’s game, but I left in the 12th and missed Brandon scoring the winning run! I gave myself a deadline of midnight (like Cinderella, except unlike Cinderella I hurried off because I’m nursing and was about ready to burst). My mom and I bundled up the babies, headed across the Bay Bridge and cheered in the car when Hector drove in Brandon to beat the Dodgers.

We’re living in the East Bay again this season. Our permanent home is in Arizona. We chose that because in baseball you never know where you might be playing. In Arizona, we can be pretty certain about living in one place from at least November to April every year.

We’ve rented four places in four seasons. We get an unfurnished house and furnish it with the few pieces of furniture we keep in storage during the off-season. We live very simply. We still have the couch Brandon’s parents gave us when he was first called up. We have a kitchen table and chairs. We have mattresses. And we have two TVs. Not much else. We put it back in storage at the end of the season and when the next one rolls around, we take it out again and put it in the next rental house.

This is something people might not know about baseball wives. We do a lot of packing and unpacking. A lot. It’s endless. Not just at the beginning and end of the season but road trips throughout the season. I try to make one long road trip a month so we can be together as a family. Our husbands fly on a team charter where their luggage is carried for them from the clubhouse to the plane to the hotel. We fly Southwest with diaper bags and wipes and bottles and clothes and baggies full of Cheerios. Quite the glamorous life, don’t you think?

It IS a wonderful life. An incredible blessing. But like everything there are pro’s and con’s. It’s a beautiful thing that I get to stay home and raise my children. The downside is I can’t teach. From the time I was a little girl, I wanted to be a teacher, and after UCLA I earned my master’s in education at Pepperdine. But if I were to teach, I’d never see my husband. So it’s a little bittersweet.

Sometimes I’m asked if Brandon is different off the field from what they see on TV. Yes and no. He is very funny, which is something I think people have recently discovered about him.  Because he’s so shy and quiet, people sometimes miss his great sense of humor. They hear something really sarcastic come out of his mouth and they’re not sure what to make of it. But I think his humor is coming out through his blog, and the beat writers definitely know this about him.

The things that ARE the same on and off the field: He’s super calm, and he’s super competitive. In the eight years we have been together, I have never heard him yell in anger. He can get frustrated when he’s driving sometimes, but that’s it. Seriously, I’ve never met anyone as easy-going as he is.

Having said that, he wants to win at every game he plays. But so do I. You might know I was a competitive gymnast, and I come from a family of athletes. Brandon and I are fierce adversaries at miniature golf, bowling, video games, whatever. He doesn’t take it easy because I’m a girl, nor would I want him to. If I beat him, I want to beat him fair and square. (And now and then, I do. He’s maddeningly good at just about everything.)

On the field, he cares like no other. He has loved baseball since he could walk. I remember seeing a video of him at a year-and-a-half. He was swinging a whiffle bat at a beach ball, and his dad was switching him from right-handed to left-handed and back again, laying the groundwork for switch-hitting. At a year-and-a-half! He feels so lucky every day he puts on a Giants uniform. How many people get to live their dream as fully as Brandon is living his? He truly loves what he does.

The other day when he hit the walk-off home run, he was like a little kid in a candy store. We weren’t at the game because Braylyn was teething and I was still unpacking boxes. We jumped right off the bed! I sent Brandon a video of Braylyn clapping for him. She is such a daddy’s girl. It’s the sweetest thing. It melts my heart.

When Brandon got home, we celebrated by going out for frozen yogurt. As we sat outside the shop, people congratulated him as they walked past. He’s still so shy that he’s a bit uncomfortable with the attention. But I can tell you he will never take your good wishes for granted. We both know this wonderful time in his life won’t last forever, so we appreciate every moment.

OK, that’s it. Have I gone on too long? Sorry if I have. I want you to know that Brandon and I read every single comment, and we are just blown away — especially with the burst of comments this week! Wow! I wish he could reply but there is just not enough time. Thank you for being there for him every day!

OK, Haylee, your turn!

-Jalynne Crawford

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sex! (Will this headline get me more replies?) – Brandon Belt

I’ve been telling people today, “Yeah, it felt great when I hit that walk-off.’’

That’s the great thing about being a Brandon. Craw hit a walk-off yesterday but it was like I hit it. When one Brandon’s hurting, we’re all hurting. When one Brandon feels good, we all feel good. I didn’t have such a productive day yesterday, but Craw and Hicks carried the Brandon flag. Hicks got a couple hits and made some game-saving plays. So I have to say overall it was a really good day for me.

I want to go to a movie on our off-day today, but there’s nothing too exciting out there. I’m not interested in Draft Day. Sports movies are usually not very representative of real life and they end up being stupid. I don’t want to see Captain America. Maybe we’ll go to Noah or Divergent, though Divergent didn’t get good reviews. Maybe Joe with Nicholas Cage.

The movie I’m waiting for is Neighbors with Seth Rogan and Zac Efron. I think it’s out in May.

If Haylee and I don’t go to the movies, we’ll probably just hang out at home with the dog. Maybe go for a walk. The exciting life of a Major Leaguer.

We really like the place we’re staying. We’re two exits from Walnut Creek in one direction and two exits from Danville in the other. And at the end of our street is a shopping plaza with a supermarket and restaurants. Very convenient.

Wait, I just took a look at Craw’s last two posts. Do you know he has almost 300 replies between the two? Three hundred! That’s got to be some kind of blog record. I’m really proud of my fellow Brandon. Way to go! Of course, he had to ask you to reply so he could beat Hunter’s 90-something replies. I love Craw but he is so competitive it’s almost sad, really. Only somebody colossally insecure would stoop to such juvenile tactics to get readers to post replies (which you can do below; it’s very simple; doesn’t take any time at all). Really, Craw, give it a rest. Just let the best blogger win.

-Brandon B.

Another Day at the Office – Brandon Crawford

I’m still a little damp from Angel dumping the Gatorade cooler on me. I think he got more water on Amy G. than on me.

I’ve watched the replay twice already, I’m not going to lie. I’ll go home and probably watch it again. I might keep it on a loop. Maybe make a GIF for my phone. These don’t happen to me every day. In fact, I have never hit a walk-off home run in my life. Little League, college, minors, anywhere.

I knew it was out as soon as the barrel of the bat hit the ball. You can just tell how it feels and sounds.

Did you like that bat flip? I learned it from Bum the other day on his grand slam. Seriously, though, everybody’s got a bat flip. We call it pimping the home run. (Is that politically incorrect to say?) You give it a little individual style, like a layup in basketball. Not that I have a ton of experience. I bat-flipped only one other time that I can remember. You have to earn a bat flip. I think a walk-off splash-hit in the 10th qualifies.

I dropped the bat, then I thought for a second — with a pang — that it might curve foul.  Luckily it stayed in by about ten feet.

I had faced Brothers yesterday and hit a first-pitch fastball for a double. So in this cat-and-mouse game you play with a pitcher, I guessed that he wouldn’t be throwing me a first-pitch fastball again. He has a good slider, so I thought he’d try to get ahead of me with something like that.

Sure enough, he threw a splitter but it was way outside. OK, now I know he doesn’t have great control of his off-speed pitch. So he’s probably going to come back at me with a fastball. I got into hit mode. And there it was. (Of course if he had thrown a first-pitch fastball and gotten ahead, I would have been kicking myself a little bit.)

I’m not sure there’s a better feeling in baseball than rounding third and your teammates are going crazy at home plate, waiting for you. It’s a little overwhelming, actually. Everybody’s whacking you on the head and grabbing at you. I’ll take it. I’ll take it again on Tuesday. And as many times as I can.

When I walked into the clubhouse after my interview with Amy G, there was great music blaring from the speakers and everybody clapping and yelling. Bochy joked that he was going to start sitting me against righties instead of lefties.

I’ve got to ask Bam how many points I get for my Team Brandon hitting team. A walk-off home run has got to be about 50, at least.

Pretty nice way to go into an off day.

 

-Brandon C.

 

 

 

 

 

Enough with the Pinch Blogging – Brandon Crawford

So Hicks and Hunter fill in for a couple days and suddenly traffic to the blog explodes. What’s that about? Hicks received 38 or so replies to his post, more than twice as many as my last one got! Hunter’s post yesterday got more than 60 replies in the last 24 hours.

            And his post started a Twitter trend — #TogetherWeAreBrandon.

Twitter   hunterpence  Lol the Brandon movement is ...

            I mean, I love the team unity and all that. But it kind of makes Belt and me feel like old shoes. Everybody’s getting their heads turned by the new guys. We weren’t enough?

            Believe, I’m going to count every reply. Not that we’re competitive or anything. The hitting groups Hunter wrote about in his blog are not batting-practice groups. They’re part of Bam-Bam’s new hitting game. Every player gets points for moving a runner over, RBI’s, extra-base hits, etc. The groups compete against each other. The group with the most points at the end of each month wins.

            There were three captains — Buster, Hunter and Pablo — who picked teams, which include the starting pitchers. Buster drafted all three Brandons, so he named it Team Brandon.

            Even before that, though, we kind of had a Team Brandon thing going on. We figured since a lot of guys have special handshakes with each other, we ought to come up with a Brandon handshake because, well, we’re the Brandons. Its hard to get a three-person handshake, but I think Belt came up with it. If you look in the dugout before the game, you’ll see it. We slap hands down and up twice, then once patty-cake style then a chest bump as we say, “Brandon!’’ in a very manly tone.

            We developed this in spring training. You might not know this, but just like we work on getting our swings back and fielding ground balls, we also work on handshakes. I have a different one for almost every guy. A  lot of them are pretty similar. For my handshake with Hunter — which he came up with — we fist-bump then I go to punch him and he catches my hand and I straighten my fingers as if I’m going to jab him in the neck as if we’re in The Matrix.

            Even with the Brandon-Brandon-Brandon handshake, Belt and I still do our own before every game. It’s a fist-bump and then I say a particular string of words to him. I won’t share the exact words. I basically called him a big dumb stupid idiot. It started after a game in which he did really well, and I’ve been saying it to him before each game ever since.

            I still want to tell you about the start of the season and other stuff, but I want to get this posted before the game. Belt and I love #TogetherWeAreBrandon. It’s another way of bringing all of us together — the players and fans, everybody. We take it as a great compliment.

            But, you know, to quote Marvin Gaye, aint nothin’ like the real thing.

-Brandon C.

Another pinch-blogger: Hunter Pence!

Hello, everyone. This is Hunter Pence filling in for Brandon Hicks, or Brandon Crawford, or Brandon Belt, whoever’s turn it is supposed to be.

I’m filling in because — you probably didn’t know this — Hunter is a nickname for Brandon.

My middle name is Andrew, which is Swedish for Brandon. And Pence is English for Brandon. So my actual name is Brandon Brandon Brandon.

You also probably didn’t know that “Tim Lincecum’’ is Dutch for Brandon.

Buster is a nickname for Brandon. Pablo is Spanish for Brandon. Pagan is Puerto Rican for Brandon. Madison is Southern for Brandon. “Bumgarner’’ is — I have no idea what that is. I think it’s Arabic for Brandon.

Pretty much everyone is Brandon. We’re Team Brandon.

Kruk and Kuip have got to get with the program. Brandon’s throwing the pitch to Brandon. When anybody steps into the box, Brandon’s up to bat. The double play combo is Brandon to Brandon to Brandon. (Wait, they already call that one.)

So now if you yell “Brandon,’’  you’ll get everybody’s attention. We’ll all respond because we all became Brandon when the third Brandon arrived. We’re a unit. When we take the field we’re a family of Brandons.

The original Brandons still have some privileges. They have their own really cool handshake. It’s the patty-cake chest-bump Brandon. You need to check that out. (We new Brandons don’t get to do the handshake.)

You might notice the originals all have beards. Beards are part of the ancestral tradition of Brandon-dom.

The rest of us Brandons who also have beards are doing this to honor the Brandon history. Pagan, with his beard, is clearly honoring his Brandon-ness. Posey has not yet matured enough for a beard. He’s still a Baby Brandon.

The original Brandons are all in the same hitting group, which is called, of course, Team Brandon. Buster’s in that group and Timmy. My hitting group is called Laser Swag: Morse, Arias, Perez, Vogelsong and Hudson. It’s a name we all agreed on. The other one is Pablo’s group, called La Guerilla. I think it means gangster or army in Spanish. Or maybe it means Brandon.

-Hunter P.

Pinch-blogging: Brandon Hicks

Hey, everyone. It’s Brandon Hicks. Brandon Crawford’s wife Jalynne came up with the idea that the newest Brandon ought to take over the blog for a day. The other Brandons thought today would be a good day. Great. Right after I strike out three times and make an error. Where were they when I went 2-for-4 with two doubles and two runs against the Dodgers?

I’m a pretty quiet guy, and frankly I didn’t know what a blog was until they explained it. But since my locker is right between them, and since Belt is my throwing partner every day, I figured I’d better do this.

Actually, I’m happy to fill in because it gives me a chance to tell you how unbelievable it was to start for the Giants on Opening Day here at AT&T Park. I didn’t find out until yesterday morning. I was in the lunch room around 8:30 or 9 when Bochy told me I was starting. My adrenaline started to get going. I’d never been in the starting lineup on Opening Day.

My girlfriend is here with me, so it was great to share this with her. She doesn’t know that much about baseball because she hasn’t been around it much. But she thought it was pretty awesome. How could she not? The planes, the fireworks, the screaming fans, the BatKid. I didn’t know anything about the BatKid, so Carl, our conditioning coach, told me how the city basically turned into Gotham City for him last year. That was pretty sweet to have him here yesterday.

I wasn’t nervous to take the field, but I was definitely excited. I just wanted to get that first ground ball to let my emotions calm down a little bit. You want to treat the game like any other game but on Opening Day at a park like this with fans like these, it’s clearly not just any other game. Yesterday was unlike anything I’ve been a part of.

On the double play throw, I rushed it a little bit, didn’t get my feet set and made a bad throw. You feel bad for the pitcher especially when a run scores, but you have to let it go and think about the next pitch and the next play. You have to stay in the moment.

Same with the strike-outs. You have to put them behind you. I was probably a little over-anxious and trying to do too much. It was just one of those days when you get outside your game plan. Today is a new day, so you go out and make the most of it. We play way too many games to worry about one game. You’d have a headache every day.

The most important thing is the team won. It’s the only thing that matters.

Walking back to the hotel after the game was as awesome as the game. Everybody was wearing Giants shirts and hats. The streets and the bars were packed. Everywhere we looked we saw orange and black. I have to say that was really cool.

OK, fellow Brandons, the blog is yours again. Thanks, everybody, for welcoming me. This is an awesome place to play.

-Brandon H.

No Shortcuts in Parenting or Baseball – Brandon Crawford

I’m getting ready to board the team bus to the airport for Opening Day in Arizona. Our home is in Arizona, so Jalynne stayed there with the babies while I came here for the Bay Bridge Series. (Jalynne’s mother has been there since Jaydyn was born.)

Can’t wait to see all of them tonight when we get in. After the Diamondbacks’ series. Jalynne will drive with her mom and the babies to Los Angeles for the Dodgers series, then drive up here for the home opener. Our rental house is pretty much ready because we moved all the furniture in when we were here for FanFest.

About the birth: When Braylyn was born, Jalynne was in labor for 52 hours. It was brutal. Jaydyn was born by scheduled C-section – a hundred times easier. We went in at 7:15 on a Saturday morning, and the baby was born at 9:30. Two hours – and that’s including paper work and surgery prep.

The nurses allowed me to clip the umbilical cord, then they weighed and measured Jaydyn, cleaned her up a little, wrapped her and put her in my arms. I brought her over to Jalynne, who had been awake and chatty through the whole thing. I took that day off and the next. My dad and sister, who where at the hospital, joked that I could just run across to the Giants’ stadium across the street, pinch hit and run back.

Braylyn was a little confused at first about this cute little creature in her life. She gives her little sister kisses then bops her on the head. I think she means just to pat her but she doesn’t have a concept yet of rough and gentle. She’ll jam a pacifier in the baby’s face, like “Here! Take it! You want this!’’

The best description I’ve heard about going from one kid to two is it’s like basketball – you go from playing zone defense to man-to-man. It’s been a little crazy. Jalynne’s got Jaydyn for the most part because she’s breast-feeding; I’ve got Braylyn, who never stops pulling out pots and pans, DVDs, video games. I think she plays with everything in the house except her toys.

Back to baseball: A highlight of spring camp was working with Barry Bonds. I was pretty terrible at the plate the first three weeks of camp but finished strong, and I think at least some of the credit goes to Bonds.

The second day he was in camp, I went to the cage to work on stuff with Joe Lefebvre, the assistant hitting coach. Right when I finished, Bonds showed up. He was talking to Hunter, and I stuck around to listen. Bonds was talking about drills Hunter could do to track the ball deeper. He told him to keep his front shoulder in so it didn’t fly open — which was exactly what I was just working on in the cage.

At some point, Bam-Bam told Bonds about my situation – that I was a really good fielder but needed to hit better. He said the team didn’t want to sit me against lefties, which Bochy did a lot during the second half of last season.

So Bonds talked to me about how it took him three years before he felt he had become a good hitter in the big leagues, mostly because he struggled against lefties. It was kind of cool hearing from Barry Bonds that it was only after his third full season that he thought he became a consistent hitter. This is my third full season.

During Bond’s week in camp, when I wasn’t in the lineup I tried to work with him. Once I took a half a bucket of balls from our new left-handed BP pitcher. Half a bucket is a lot of balls. Bonds stayed at the cage the whole time. He told me to actually aim my front shoulder at shortstop as kind of an exaggerated way to make sure I kept it closed. It was just a drill for BP, but he said to think about it during the game as a reminder.

The first couple games after that, I had two hits off lefties. One was a line drive to left field, which I hadn’t done all spring off a lefty. I broke a bat the next time up, but it was a good swing and the ball got through for a base hit. I broke three bats, in fact, because I was keeping my front shoulder closed so long that I was getting jammed.

It’s still a little uncomfortable, as all mechanical adjustments are, but I’m keeping my shoulder closed now without having to exaggerate it. There are times when I’ll take a swing and think, “Oh, man, I flew open a bit there.’’ The important thing is I’m recognizing when I’m doing it and making the adjustment.

Obviously I have to hit better against lefties this year to help the team. I feel as confident about it as I ever have, given how I’ve been feeling at the plate the last couple weeks. It took Bonds three full seasons to find consistency against LH pitchers, so I guess I shouldn’t have expected I’d get there a whole lot faster.

Can’t wait to get this season started. See you back at AT&T on the 8th!

 

-Brandon C.

Alarming First Night – Brandon Belt

I thought spring training was just for my baseball stuff. Apparently it’s spring training for my living arrangements, too. When we got into San Francisco Wednesday night, I drove to the house Haylee and I rented in the East Bay. The lady we’re renting from told me how to work the alarm system. I had it all written down.

So I unlocked the door, and I punched in the numbers. And the alarm went off. I punched in the numbers again. The alarm kept blaring. I called the alarm company and was shouting over the alarm.

Then the police showed up. I was telling them I was doing the exact thing the landlord told me. I have an alarm system at my own house, so I know how they work.

It kept ringing and soon 30 minutes had passed. It’s after 10 by this point. I decided just to leave and sleep at the team hotel. So I drove back into the city after I had driven all the way out there. The next day we got hold of the company and changed the code. But just to be sure, I went out there yesterday before the game and the alarm worked. Ready for the season!

To answer some questions from last time: I never got to spend time with Barry Bonds. He arrived the day before I go sick and basically was out of commission for five days. I heard great things from other players, so I really hope I get another chance.

No, I never got back to yoga. Just went that once. First, I was sick. Second, the class schedule changed a lot because we had night games.

A reader named Mark left a comment about my language when I played Crawford in a football video game. Mark suggested I didn’t really say, “Oh my gosh! Seriously? No chance! This game’s so stupid.’’

Mark, that is actually the way I talk. I try to keep bad words to a minimum. Sometimes it’s hard because you get so caught up in what you’re doing that stuff just comes out that you wish didn’t. But for the most part I can keep it in check. I don’t want anyone back home see me say that stuff on TV. Especially little kids who watch. Even in the clubhouse, I try to avoid it at all times. I think the only time I do say something is if I get really frustrated with something that happens on the field.

I went through a phase during puberty when I used bad language. I think I wanted to feel older. I wanted to feel cool. But when I got into pro ball, I really watched myself because that’s not something I want people to see me do. They don’t want their kids to hear that stuff. I would not appreciate if my kids, when I have them, see and hear that stuff. It’s part of life, I know. Kids are going to get exposed to it. But I’d rather it not be from me.

Jessica left a message that she tried to bring me a bottle of Olive Garden salad dressing but she wasn’t allowed to bring it into Talking Stick. If there’s one gift that I appreciate, it’s Olive Garden salad dressing. Thanks, Jessica, for the idea. It’s the thought that counts. But here’s the address for AT&T Park – 24 Willie Mays Plaza, San Francisco, CA, 94107, in case you still have it!

You also mentioned about getting a hug from me like you did at last spring training. I’m sorry to say I’m going to lay off the hugging for a little bit. I might have to stop getting real close to people in public altogether because I keep getting sick! I’m not sure if that’s even what’s making me sick, but I never get sick in the off-season. Maybe it’s using everybody’s pens? Should I carry my own pen? I have to ask what other players do. It only takes one sick person to pass along the germs. I’m not a germaphobe but I can’t keep getting sick.  So please don’t take it personally!

What did you think of the new commercials? I think they’re pretty funny. I hope they dispel the impression that I’m always mad about something. My dad gets the same thing. I guess we look like we have a perpetual frown on our faces.

Maybe the commercials might help to show who we are off the field. I swear, I think some people who think we’re just robots and when we’re done with the game they kind of pack us up and load us in our lockers and they come get us the next day. I get these crazy comments sometimes on Twitter. I might tweet something about what I’m watching on TV and somebody replies with “Why aren’t you in the cage working on your hitting right now?’’ It doesn’t bother me but it kind of gives you an idea of the mentality. I guess I should just have compassion for someone who’s just so angry and unhappy.

OK, I have only one movie review.

Bad Words: It’s Jason Bateman’s directorial debut, and I think he did a pretty good job. He plays a guy who’s 40-something. He finds a loophole in the national spelling bee rules where he can actually go and participate. He has a reason for doing it, but in the meantime he basically tries to sabotage the entire thing so he can win. He says some stuff in there that is outrageous, and that’s where most of the comedy comes from. It’s stuff that if someone said it in real life, they’d get in big-time trouble for it. Really politically incorrect. But funny.

Two and a half stars.

I watched 12 Years a Slave again because Haylee hadn’t seen it. It was just as good the second time. This time I was really thinking about the ending, when he’s riding away in the carriage and leaves behind people who spent the rest of their lives in slavery. Haylee liked it, I think, though I didn’t really ask her. She stayed awake through it, so I’d say she thought it was pretty good.

Thanks for reading. Can’t wait to start real games!

-Brandon B.

A Bucket by the Bed – Brandon Belt

I was home sick today with a stomach virus. It came on all of a sudden last night and I’ve been sleeping on and off most of the day. Not fun. But I thought I’d get a post out while I can.

On Monday a lot of reporters asked me about Barry Bonds because I guess he mentioned me by name at his press conference. I haven’t talked to him yet. I just introduced myself at the batting cage. I’m shy by nature so I’m not going to go up to him and start asking questions right away. I listened to him talk to other guys during BP and picked up a few things. Nothing too specific.

But I’ll definitely talk to him. You’re always figuring out some kinks during spring training, so that’s what I’d want to talk to him about. And I’d like to talk to him about how he minimized the down times so you get out of them more quickly. I know I can overthink things. The biggest part of the game sometimes is just getting out of your own way.

Sometimes it just comes so naturally. He talked to a few people today. You kind of listen to him talking to other guys and pick up on stuff for yourself. There was nothing too specific.

​In the field, everything’s going pretty well. But just like you’re getting your rhythm back at the plate, you’re doing the same in the field. Your body wants to speed up because it’s feeling good. You’re real strong from the off-season, so your body wants to do a lot more than it needs to. So you just have to slow yourself down. The more you slow yourself down, the easier the game is.

I work on specific things as they come up. For example, I made a bad throw to third in a game, so that’s what I worked on yesterday. A lot of mishaps in the field just have to do with rushing. You usually have more time than you think. So if you just take your time you’ll usually be OK.

Another thing I always work on in spring is scoops. A coach will throw a bunch of balls in the dirt and I practice handling every kind of bounce.

Getting a good jump on the ball is another thing I work on in the field. Sometimes you create bad hops for yourself by not getting a good jump.The truth is I’m feeling good in the field right now, but you’re never satisfied.

​Most days after practice I hang out with Haylee. Like last spring, we’re sharing an apartment in North Phoenix with Charlie Culberson and his wife, Sarah, and their 18-month daughter Collins. Charlie’s with the Rockies now, but we became good friends during the minor leagues with the Giants. We have a lot of fun with Collins. She runs around stealing your food and wanting a sip out of everybody’s glass. She’s a good baby.

​You might have noticed I did pretty well on my Oscar picks. But did you know that Cleveland closer John Axford picked 18 for 18? How do you do that? (There are 24 categories but he didn’t make picks for all of them.) Pretty amazing. That’s my goal for next year.

​So I’ve seen two movies since my last post.

300: Rise of an Empire – It’s a sequel to “300,’’ about the Spartans fighting the Persians in Ancient Greece, which I remember watching when I was in junior college. I thought this one was good but obviously it’s not going to be as good as the first one. But it was entertaining. Haylee and I went to a 9 o’clock showing and she slept the whole time. She fell asleep in the previews and didn’t wake up until the end.

Rating: Two stars.

Non-stop – Liam Neeson is an air marshal on a plane, and there’s a terrorist on board. The terrorist is going to kill someone every 20 minutes unless they transfer money into his bank account. The terrorist is setting it up so it looks like the air marshal is the terrorist because the account is in his name. You don’t know who the terrorist is until the end. The ending is kind of stupid. I kept waiting for something else to happen.

Rating: 1 1/2 stars.

It’s a pretty bad time for movies right now. I’m not sure what I’ll see next. I’m looking forward to “22 Jump Street’’—the sequel to 21 Jump Street — coming out in June with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum.

OK, got to get some more rest so I’m ready to go tomorrow. Keeping a bucket by the bed. The one essential for a stomach virus.

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