Finishes, flights and frogs – Brandon Crawford
Just got done with our workout at AT&T. Everyone looked pretty good considering we got in to SFO around dawn. Jalynne and I got back to Walnut Creek – where we are now staying with friends; the lease on our rental was up – around 7 a.m. I fell right to sleep and woke up around noon. Practice began at 4.
We had checked out of our rooms yesterday afternoon (after another visit to Chipotle for lunch) and the team and staff watched about half the Cardinals-Nationals game in a hotel ballroom. Then we boarded the charter plane, waiting out the final innings until we knew for certain where we were going. The pilots apparently were anticipating D.C.: the TV screen at our seats showed a map with our route: a line heading east. Jalynne and I followed the play-by-play of the game on her cell phone. But by the ninth, half the team was draped over Matt Cain’s seat to watch the telecast of the game on his iPad. We were hollering and cheering like every other baseball fan in America.
When the Cards completed their amazing comeback, a huge cheer went up through the whole plane. We were heading home.
Except we weren’t, at least not right away. Mechanical problems kept the plane on the ground another 2 1/2 hours. While Jalynne stretched (uncomfortably, given that she is seven months pregnant) across the seats with her head on my lap, I played games on the little TV screen then watched The Matrix.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far about the postseason: Between our series, the Cardinals last night, the Yankees-Orioles game, the A’s coming back to win Game 4 against Detroit — anything can happen at any time by any player. For us in Game 5, you wouldn’t expect Gregor Blanco and me to be the guys to start the key rally – Gregor with a single and me with an RBI triple – but that’s what seems to happen.
It not only was my first hit of the postseason, it was the first time I had hit a ball with any pop. When it got past Votto, I felt a great sense of relief. Then when I got to third, I was pretty fired up. You want to contribute. I had heard from guys like Theriot and Huff that in the postseason it’s not about the number of hits or plays you make, it’s the timing of them – coming through when it really matters.
That catch I made in the eighth inning is another example of timing. I can make catches like that all season and they don’t mean a whole lot. But at that moment – with one runner on and nobody out – making the catch is big. It really matters.
One thing I’ll remember from that inning, of course, is Buster’s grand slam. The hit itself was epic but something happened that I had never seen before. With bases loaded and two strikes on Buster, the crowd – a sold-out stadium of 44,000 people were on their feet, roaring and waving red rally towels. Then Buster swung – a huge, fat, swing that rocketed the ball out of the park. The entire crowd fell suddenly and completely silent. It was unbelievable. You could hear the ball hit off the scoreboard. It was one of the weirdest things.
It happened again at the end of the game. Down by two, the Reds had two on and two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Again, the crowd roared. Then: Strike three. Silence. It was so quiet that we almost didn’t know how to react. It was like, “Oh yeah, three outs. We won.’’
I have a confession to make: I didn’t know we were supposed to wear the same clothes the second and third game in Cincinnati that we wore the first game. I happened to wear the same jeans to the second game, so I wore them again the third game. That was my contribution. But we had another good luck charm.
During the first few months that Jalynne and I were dating, I traveled to Cuba with the USA team. We went to a flea market in Havana where I bought a necklace for her with a little frog on it. She says when she wears it that I have a good game or the team wins. After the first two losses in San Francisco, she said, “I forgot to wear the frog!’’
She brought it to Cincinnati and hasn’t taken it off.
Thanks for reading!