The Hard Work of Keeping It Simple – Brandon Belt

Playing baseball can be a mysterious thing. I mean, you know how to swing the bat, how to field the ball, how to throw. But there are times  — and often you can’t pinpoint the exact reason – everything is working or almost nothing is working.

Right now for me at the plate, a lot of things are working. To be honest, I’m the most comfortable I’ve been since I’ve been in the big leagues. I’ve hit safely in last 11 games and have four home runs and 12 RBIs in that span.

The difference is that I’m not thinking about anything at the plate except seeing the ball. I’m not thinking about my mechanics. I’m not guessing at pitches. I’m seeing the pitch where it actually is.

It’s what baseball people call simplifying the game. It’s kind of counter-intuitive because you have to work really hard in order to get yourself in the frame of mind to keep it simple. And I’ve worked really hard. Now it’s paying off: I can clear my head of everything except seeing the ball.

And because I’m not swinging at pitches outside the zone, I’m walking more, too.

There is no better feeling in baseball than being able to come through for your team. Last night, the two-run homer in the sixth put us ahead for good in the win against the A’s. But the double on Friday night to tie the game in the ninth is the kind of hit that you always hope for.

Timmy had fought back from a rough first inning and didn’t give up a hit through the next five. And the bullpen gave up nothing. So you really want to do something to make all that work pay off. And we’d had a tough two series in Anaheim and Seattle, so we really needed to get something going.

I remembered that the last time I faced A’s closer Ryan Cook he threw me a couple of sliders. So I knew there was a good chance, with two strikes, I’d get a backdoor slider, and I did. I just tried to get the bat on it and put it in play. It got past the leftfielder and both runners scored. When you just get the bat on the ball, good things can happen.

As for the play at first base in that bad first inning on Friday, it was one of those unfortunate things. As a fielder, you always go through in your mind what you’ll do if the ball’s hit to you. With bases loaded and no outs, I knew if I got a ball to my left, to my backhand, I’d have no chance at a double play, so I’d throw home to get the force. If the ball was hit straight at me or to my right, I’d go to second for the double play.

It was hit to my left, so I purposely stepped over the bag to get the force-out at home. But Sanchy thought I stepped on the bag. So he went for the tag at home and wasn’t able to get the runner. Throwing home for the force-out to save the run was the right play. It was just one of those unfortunate things that Sanchy couldn’t see if I had stepped on the bag or not.

I’ve gotten a little ribbing about my orange shoelaces. I guess they’re kind of bright. They were already on the shoes when they arrived from Under Armour. I didn’t put them on the shoes myself. But I’m going to keep them. Good things seem to happen when I’m wearing them.

The truth is I don’t really pay much attention to what I’m wearing or how I look. I wear my baseball pants kind of old school, just below the knee, but it’s not a real conscious choice. I’ve just been wearing them that way since I was eight years old and never changed.

On our day off on Thursday, I dragged Haylee to the movie theater to see “That’s My Boy’’ with Adam Sandler. It’s not a movie that’s going to wow the critics, but I love Adam Sandler and I laughed through the whole thing. Even Haylee laughed. She hates going to the movies. She’d rather just watch a movie at home. But I love it. When she doesn’t want to go, I’ll just go by myself.

Thanks to all of you who left such nice comments here after the last post about Matt Cain’s perfect game. Through all the ups and downs of the last two seasons, you’ve always been there. The incredible support I’ve gotten here in San Francisco has really helped me deal with the doubts that inevitably creep into your mind when things aren’t going well. For any player, knowing that the fans are behind you gives you a little bit more juice. I’ve read every comment and appreciate each one. I wish I could write back to everyone but there’s just not enough time in the day. But I want you to know how amazing it is to take all your good thoughts onto the field with me.

-Brandon B.

19 Comments

I love reading your blogs, this year and last year!!!

Always enjoy reading your insights and really really happy that the game is turning around for you. Never buy into the people who say negative things bc negative people will always be negative – it’s nothing personal. I also want to say THANK YOU for signing in Seattle – I brought the picture of you and the Baby Giraffe. That was a really awesome experience since we got to sing Happy Birthday to Timmy in his hometown and it also seems as though you guys were more willing to sign at an away game.

Keep up the great work and good luck against the Dodgers!

Hey Brandon!

I scrolled through all of the posts looking for the oldest one, trying to see if there would be a post about the day you and Cody went to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. The only reason I was looking for that day was because it was one o the best days of my life. I was so shocked to see you there, and I think by your reaction, you were just as shocked to see me. I remember coming home and being so mad at myself cause I didnt even ask about your wrist… But now I can obviously tell (even though it’s been a LONG time since then) that you are much much better. Ever since that experience meeting you, and meeting you again at the Grizzlies game, you have became my favorite person to watch on the Giants. You went through some rough spots, but recently you’ve pushed through. Good luck against the Dogers! Can’t wait to watch an awesome game!

Stay. Hot. Baby Giraffe.

How nice to see you addressing your work, both on the file, and at the plate. There’s a bunch of us here where I live that are rooting for you, and really happy you are doing well. Tell people to stop kidding you about the shoelaces. They working. Love to see you guys in there fighting.

Eyyy Brandon! Another great blog entry. Let me just say I enjoy watching your interviews. Lately you seem more comfortable, more talkative I love it! You own those reporters look at choo, all stud like ;D Just want to wish you luck in this Doyer series man how i’m looking forward for the game against Kershaw. Hearing about your little history makes it so much more exciting. Do I hear splash hit? I think I do! That poor odd 61 wants to become an even 62. Think about it ;) haha anyways, won’t be making it to the game I really wanted to go but i’m a poor college student so I’ll watch it on tv. Alrighty, I think that’s all. ‘Signs’ is on tv right now, been a long time since I’ve watched that movie. Good movie. Whatever happened to Joaquin Phoenix? Loved that guy…

Ey Brandon! Another great blog entry. Let me just say I enjoy watching your interviews. Lately you seem more comfortable, more talkative I love it! You own those reporters look at choo, all stud like ;D Just want to wish you luck in this Doyer series man how i’m looking forward for the game against Kershaw. Hearing about your little history makes it so much more exciting. Do I hear splash hit? I think I do! That poor odd 61 wants to become an even 62. Think about it ;) haha anyways, won’t be making it to the game I really wanted to go but i’m a poor college student so I’ll watch it on tv. Alrighty, I think that’s all. ‘Signs’ is on tv right now, been a long time since I’ve watched that movie. Good movie. Whatever happened to Joaquin Phoenix? Loved that guy…

Brandon, my fellow UT alum,

With that batting eye of yours, you’re valuable in the lineup even if you’re not squaring the ball up. After years of low on-base percentage Giants teams in the post-Bonds era, it’s great to have you on the club. Now that you’re smoking the ball? Awesome!

Hi Brandon- You are doing a great job out there and I love your shoelaces :) Keep it going against our enemies in So Cal…love you and all your teammates. Go Giants! We are always with you guys! Say hi to Timmy for me!

I love reading the blog. You have been one of my faves since the first time I watched you play. You are actually one of my first autographs I got. I was so nervous I couldn’t say a thing. I proudly display your autograph in my room even though Andres Torres signed the same ball almost on top of your sig. Hopefully i’ll be able to see you again soon so I can get a re-do and maybe this time I won’t be so nervous. I’m going to keep voting for you every day so you can go to the allstar game. Keep up the great work. Go Giants!

I appreciate the commitment to high socks – it’s a cool look (even if you don’t care yourself!) and I am happy to see players keep it going. Couldn’t be happier that you are finding your groove — it’s really fun to watch a player put the pieces together and see such great results. It makes you think more deeply about baseball and all the factors and adjustments that go into playing on the highest level. That you give us a little insight into the process with the blog is a real treat – thanks, B!

Love reading your blog!
Keep the hot streak going!!

Everytime you come up to bat my dad says “there’s that Brandon kid again… He wears hi pants old school.” It takes a lot for a rookie to win my dad over (he thinks almost no one can live up to the players of his youth) but over the past 2 years you’ve won him over with your drive, perseverance, and most of all your socks. As for me, I’ve been team Belt since you were in the minors. I’ve always believed in you and I’m glad to see you believing in yourself and making things happen. Thanks for brewing such a role model to me and my dad on and off the field. Your positivity, humility, and openness has always impressed me. Thanks for writing this blog and making yourself so accessible to the fans. Your post about the perfet game was so nice. I love that you are still excited and awed by the big guys like Cain even though you are one of them now. I felt so blessed to be at that game after 18 years of bleeding black and orange. Don’t ever change your high socks, and keep believing in yourself the way we believe in you. I’ll be in the audience with my baby giraffe hat tomorrow watching you and the giants tear up kershaw.

Thanks for sharing, Brandon! I love your old school pant style and poor Haylee, I hate going to the movies too! Have a great week and BEAT LA!

Texas forever! :)

Congratulations on your incredible hitting streak!! What was the biggest difference moving from Texas to California? What’s the best part about playing major league baseball? Good luck against the dodgers!!!!

Hey BB! See you at the yard tonite!! Beat LA!!!!!! Keep the blogs flowing, love reading your entries!

Great post again Brandon! I love both your and Crawford’s posts; they’re always so well-written and you guys talk about the things us fans don’t get to see or hear about often. I almost always say that in my comments on your posts, but that’s because it’s true. The stuff that goes on behind the scenes, in the clubhouse and in players’ minds fascinates me.
Congratulations on your recent success! It’s been so much fun to watch. I was at the game on Saturday whe you hit your homer in the Coliseum. It was great to see. Every time you come up to bat I know that you’re going to give a lot of effort into getting on base, and I know you’re going to have a good plate appearance. I was also at the game in Anaheim that Cain pitched, the first one after his perfect game. I was really impressed then too at your discipline at the plate. I think you had 2 walks and 2 hits in that game. I remember thinking how by your third plate appearance you had see only 8 pitches, and all of them were balls. You took your pitches and let the game come to you. I’ve noticed that patience really is the key to your success, and I’m impressed at how patient you can be. Congrats also on your double off of Kershaw tonight, as well as the win. You guys played a great game.
I’ll be at the game on Friday wearing my giraffe hat again. Giants fans are always here to support you. We love you guys and we will always stand behind you no matter what. Congratulations again on all the success you and the team are having. Go Giants! :)

I can really see the focus in your eyes when you are up at bat, it is like your eyes come out clear and fearsome; I would be afraid to pitch to yoou

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