It’s been great to be in contact with a lot of you through Twitter (@bcraw35). Sorry to have disappeared from the blogosphere. But I’ve been busy relaxing. It’s taken up most of my time. It’s one of my favorite things, and I’m good at it.
I’m exaggerating but not much.
Today, actually, I visited Casa Colina, a rehabilitation hospital in Pomona. It’s where Jalynne’s father, John, recovered from the traumatic brain injury he suffered in Australia during the 2000 Olympics, where Jalynne’s sister Jamie was competing on the U.S. gymnastics team. A bus ran a red light and hit the taxi John and his oldest daughter Jennifer were riding in. She had minor injuries, but he suffered a fractured skull, bruised brain, two collapsed lungs, fractured left wrist, bruised vertebra and trachea injury. He was in a coma for a week. It was five weeks before he was stable enough to leave the hospital in Sydney. Then he put in18 long months of rehab at Casa Colina.
I visited Casa Colina last season during the All-Star break and, like then, I came away today in awe of the courage and perseverance of people dealing with tragedy. I met men today who had been injured in Afghanistan. One had been shot in head. I met a teenaged-looking kid in a wheelchair who can’t talk and can barely move his hands. Yet he managed to give me a thumb’s-up for the World Series. I was glad Jalynne’s father came with us. He’s a great example of the power of the human mind and spirit to heal. The brain injury prevents him from driving or working, but otherwise you’d never know what he went through.
I love Jalynne’s parents like my own. We’re living with them in Southern California for the time being. They had an extra room where they’re helping us set up the nursery for the baby, who’s due in a little over a week. We have the crib, changing table, playpen. Our plan is to spend Christmas Eve down here then drive up Christmas day to spend time with my family in Pleasanton. We’ll probably stay five or six days there. In mid-January, I’ll go to Arizona for conditioning camp. Then there’s FanFest in early February. Then spring training. Then Opening Day!
I’m learning that when you keep playing through the last game of the World Series, the off-season can go by pretty quick. So that’s why I’m relaxing really hard, trying to cram as much in as possible between movies and miniature golf. And now I’m working out, too. There’s no getting around the fact I’m in a physical business. I took two weeks off after the parade then got back into the gym.
The highlight of the off-season so far was the getaway to Ojai Sunday through Tuesday of this week. Jalynne and I stayed in a resort there to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. Major relaxing.
I was thinking about what an amazing 12 months it’s been. I married my best friend. Became the starting shortstop on the team I rooted for as a child. Won the World Series. Rode in a ticker-tape parade through my home city (with my parents and three sisters in the trolley in front of Jalynne and me). And I’m about to become a father.
Not sure I want 2012 to end.
Except that 2013 looks like it will be a pretty good one, too. We’ll have the baby. Almost all of my Giants’ teammates will be back. And I get to play in the best ballpark in the world with the best fans. Life is good.
Yes, finally a new post! Sorry for not writing anything for so long. A lot going on. Today, for example, I’ll be Grand Marshall at the annual Christmas Parade in Lufkin. I imagine there might not be as many people as the World Series parade in San Francisco. Players from the 2010 World Series had told me what the parade was like and I had seen photos. But nothing prepares you for the real thing.
It’s so big and overwhelming that you can’t wrap your head around it. I still can’t describe it to people here at home. They didn’t get to see the parade and Civic Plaza celebration on TV like people back in the Bay Area, so they have no idea how massive it was – the people hanging on light posts, sitting on the roofs of bus shelters, leaning out of office windows. Confetti everywhere. I couldn’t believe how many Giraffe hats and Giraffe signs we saw. One of my favorite sightings was a pack of people with Hunter Pence’s face on sticks with those huge bug eyes. Hilarious.
Haylee and I got a little extra attention because the driver of our convertible was 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. When I first saw him, I thought, “What in the world is going on?’’ I don’t know how I got him. I told him I was a Cowboys fan. I probably shouldn’t have done that.
SFG Productions, the Giants’ in-house production team, had me wearing a tiny camera on my chest to record the whole day. On the bus from AT&T to the start of the parade, I tried to get Bumgarner to say something incriminating but he never did.
The World Series championship has really changed my life here in Texas. Last year during the off-season, people had kind of heard of me. But because they almost never saw the Giants on TV, they didn’t really know much about what I did. I could go anywhere without anyone looking twice. This year, though, with the playoffs and World Series on national television, suddenly everywhere I go people come up and talk to me, which I really enjoy. They ask if winning the World Series was a dream come true. Yes, I tell them, it was. Then they want to see the ring. Where’s the ring? I tell them I’ll get it the first or second game of the season. I’m being asked to speak at churches and civic groups. I’m donating signed bats and balls to different charities. My wife’s cousin wants me to go to Dairy Queen with Buster Posey and get in a commercial for their double-meat hamburger called the “BeltBuster.’’ Not sure the BeltBuster is included in the Giants’ training and nutrition guide.
Haylee and I got back to Texas on the Friday after the parade. The following Monday, the Hudson school district held a huge celebration in the elementary school gym with students from first grade to 12th. Then at night, they opened it up to the entire community of Hudson, about 3,000 people. Pretty much everybody. I couldn’t believe. I saw people I hadn’t seen in years. It gave me a chance to thank everyone for supporting me through some tough times this season. They truly helped me more than they could ever know.
Then two days later there was another celebration at the Expo Center in Lufkin. And today the parade.
Next weekend Haylee and I and two friends are going to Las Vegas to attend the American Country Awards, which is airing December 10 on Fox. I met someone from Fox during the postseason and she invited us to the show. We’re huge country music fans – and we’ve never been to Vegas. So we’re making a long weekend out of it.
Another thing Haylee and I are doing is building a house in Hudson. Actually, my Dad is building it, so we’re saving money. We hope to move in by the end of next season. Now that I’m getting a bonus from the World Series, I’m adding a second story to the garage for my Man Cave with a pool table, a couple TVs for football and a big couch. And we’re probably going to put in an outdoor kitchen for barbecuing. And I want a big shower in the master bedroom. Haylee’s in charge of every other decision.
I’m not good at keeping in touch with my teammates, but there’s been a lot of group texting between Haylee, Ali Bumgarner, Windy Pagan and Nicole Vogelsong, so I’m not completely out of the loop.
The big news really is that 1.) I’m finally on Twitter (@bbelt9). I love it. I go on Twitter binges. You might regret ever following me. And 2.) I got the karaoke machine I wanted. I told my parents that’s what I wanted for Christmas but could they get it for me now? They got me one, and now we’re going to jam out all weekend. My favorite karaoke song is Bohemian Rhapsody. Second favorite is Friends in Low Places. Haylee loves karaoke, too, so we do duets sometimes. The best karaoke duo is Angel and Windy Pagan. They sang at a restaurant in San Diego this season and killed. All the girls were going crazy for Angel.
As you can tell, I’m having a great time. But you might be happy to know that I haven’t forgotten about baseball. I started my off-season training yesterday. We follow a program from our conditioning coach. Workout #1 was legs. Today I can hardly walk.
OK, I think I’ve brought you up to date. Not sure I’ll blog too much in the off-season. Twitter is easier! But I’ll be back at FanFest in February and spring training. Already looking forward to both!