Standing a Little Taller, Literally and Otherwise – Brandon Crawford

I loved giving Pablo a hard time when I had more home runs than he did.

“Yeah,’’ he’d say, “talk to me in September.’’

I had to get my shots in while I could.

It’s great hitting home runs, believe me. I had four all last season and have three already this year. But to tell you the truth I take just as much pride in laying down a crucial sacrifice bunt, like the one last night in the ninth inning.

Sacrifice bunts might not get the scoreboard flashing and the water spouting, but they are noticed by your teammates. They know you did your job and that it was a key to winning the game. My job last night was to move Torres into scoring position, just as in the fourth game of the World Series it was to move Theriot into scoring position. In each situation, the next batter got a hit that scored the runner. If the runner is still at first, he doesn’t score.

OK, so laying down the sac bunt isn’t as much fun as getting the winning hit. You’re not in the newspaper the next day or on the highlights that night. But you know what you did. Last night, after everyone punched Belt in the ribs a few times, my teammates congratulated me on the bunt. I point this out to make the point that winning is a team effort. When you stop playing as a team, you stop winning.

I was really happy for Belt getting the big hit after scuffling the way he has. He was definitely due for a good rip.

People have been asking me why I’m hitting better this year. I made an adjustment in the spring. Former Fresno manager Steve Decker, who’s now the organizational hitting coordinator, was in the batting cage with me down in Arizona. I was warming up as I usually do by hitting off the tee, and Decker was placing the balls on the tee. I think I’ve written about my routine before, about how I position the tee in nine different locations so I practice my swing as if the pitch were in different locations – high, middle, low, inside, over the plate and outside.

Later during batting practice, Decker told me to swing as if I were hitting off the tee at its highest point. That meant I stood taller. My hands were higher. My front shoulder, which usually turned in toward the plate, now stayed more stationary. It was a simpler and shorter approach. It allowed me to have a flatter swing, so I got more backspin, which meant the ball had more of an upward trajectory.

Soon after that, Hunter and I were working on our hitting in Scottsdale while most of the team were playing on the road.

“You’re getting your hands up really well,’’ Hunter said.

We talked about mechanics and why this tweak made a difference.

And it has. I would not have hit an opposite field home run, as I did in Milwaukee, with my old stance.

In Chicago, a group of us went out to dinner – Affeldt, Buster, Hunter, Nick Noonan, Bumgarner, Javy, a couple more, I can’t remember everybody. (Belt didn’t go. He went to the movies by himself. He claims he didn’t know about it.) One of the highlights of any meal is watching Bum eat. It’s entertaining to marvel at the amount and the speed.

When it was time to pay, we considered the old “throw your credit card in’’ game. I quickly pulled an old hotel key-card and tossed it on the table. But in the end, Buster and Hunter split the bill. The one advantage to making less money is you don’t pick up too many checks. But I got Starbuck’s for Buster one day. I think we’re even.

Jalynne, Braylyn and I are flying down to San Diego right after the game tomorrow. We’re going to spend the off day at Sea World with Jalynne’s sister and her two little daughters. I don’t know how much Braylyn will appreciate the killer whales and sea otters, but I know she’ll enjoy herself. She lights up at the smallest things these days. I hated to leave her today to go to the ballpark because she was laughing at everything and having such a great time. Glad she and Jalynne will be on this road trip!

-Brandon C.

30 Comments

Thanks for helping my fantasy team! Haha
It’s nice to see you do well on the field, thanks for the post!

You are one of the high points of the team these days, but I”m sure that isn’t news to you.
Also admire the time you spent with your fans at Scottsdale Stadium this Feb. That is a bit rare these days now that you guys are “celebrities”. Nice that you know you are a ball player first celebrity second.
Best wishes to you and your lovely family!

Reblogged this on THE LIGHTER SIDE OF SPORTS and commented:
Brandon Crawford has been like a pot of gold for my San Francisco Giants! He is performing exceptionally and seems to appreciate where he is in his career and in his life. What makes it even more special I’m sure is that he grew up wanting to play for this team. He is living that dream-big time!

Terrific post! I really enjoyed the description of how your improved your “mechanics”. Hitting a baseball well looks so easy, but it really is one of the most complicated achievements in ANY sport. Your story helps explain that.

I also like what you said about the bunt. Yes, it’s true that you won’t get on the highlight reel, but the true fans are VERY aware, and really appreciate it. Glad your teammates let you know it too. (As it turned out, I was only able to watch the 9th inning last night, and what a magical inning it was! Without your bunt, Torres might have only advanced to 2nd on Belt’s long drive, and then who knows what would have happened… it could have ended up being a nail-biting 12- or 13-inning game. I still like to think the Giants would have won. )

Moreover, this wasn’t just any bunt: it was YOUR BUNT that set up Belt to be the hero of the game. Probably we’ll all look back on last night as a turning point for him (as these past few days have been for Posey as well). Without your bunt, Belt’s drive would have been very nice, but not significant.

Go Giants infield!!!

I love watching you play, and I like your stories. This is a wonderful age for a little one-they just light up at everything. And it gets better :) Have fun here and in San Diego. I’ll be watching.

Lil Gluckstern’s comment reminds me: did you hear Dave Flemming’s description (can’t remember when, but recently on KNBR) of your terrific response to the girl who asked you whether women would be able to play Major League Baseball someday? He said that he was going to elbow you if you answered the wrong way… but you didn’t! (He said that his two daughters often ask him why there aren’t any female play-by-play announcers. Good question!)

- Laura

I consider both of you Brandons to be “my boys,” probably because I’m old enough to be your mother! :) I’m so happy that you are hitting well this year – amazing what a small adjustment can do! Thank you for all the insights you give about the game. It makes me appreciate it even more. And let me know if you ever need a substitute grandma!

So glad you are hitting so much better this year. It did my heart good to see you…..omg…..you just hit a triple as I was typing this! …..doing so well. I have to rub it in my boys’ faces cause they didn’t think you had it after your first games last year. My younger son had a bracelet made for me with your name and number on it. It’s very cool and original. I’ll be wearing it to the game tomorrow. Hope it brings good luck.

I’m really happy to see that you’re doing so well! I’m a huge Brandon B and Brandon C fan and you make me proud to wear #35. I’ve been working on a lot of hitting this year too. I play high school softball and I’ve been trying to extend beyond infield hits (I’ve got more glove than power). Our first game was supposed to be tonight but the fields are essentially mud puddles so it looks like we’ll have to make up the first week and play 8-9 games next week rather than our normal 5-6. Nevertheless I’m excited for both my season and yours and I can’t wait to see where my Giants end up this year.

Am glad u r having fun every where u go. Thanks for sharing these with us. Take care always and enjoy your day off

Awesome game last night! In a 162 game season, a team is going to lose a lot of games. My criteria for a “successful” game is that we get the tying run to the plat in the lat innings. Getting the home run in the ninth, after your triple in the eighth meant a great success. You guy never give up. I really like what you wrote about sac bunts. It’s what makes the Giants the team it is. Keep on writing!

So when you hit a big triple like last night or a homer…what goes through your mind while you’re running the bases. Your face is so calm and serious but you gotta be thinking “Helllyyyyaaa”

Surprisingly Brandon, the weather right now in SF is better than SD..you’ll need a sweatshirt for Sea World tomorrow..it is overcast today in SD..see you at Petco (A T & T South) this weekend, GO Giants!

Loved the blog as usual! As a big Giants fan like other fans, it’s great to read and hear how “normal” you guys (like Belt) are and you guys are just average guys playing baseball as a career. You two are so humbling and laid back. I love it! That’s why whenever you two are on the field or at bat, I cheer like crazy like the other thousands of fans. Like last nights game, I was so ecstatic to have the opportunity to witness Belt’s 2-run homerun. I screamed my head off jumping hysterically up and down (my boyfriend laughed of course). My 1st graders asked me today, “What happened to your voice Ms Fortes?” I said “oh you know, I went to the Giants game” :) You and Belt are going to continue to being great ball players. I completely agree with you that the game is a team effort. I love San Diego, I lived there for 5 years. Have lots of fun with you family! There’s so much to do there and great places to eat. One place I HIGHLY recommend to go try is Phil’s BBQ. Best ribs. EVER! Yelp it ;) look forward to watching your games and cheering the Brandons and the rest of the team on!
-Jill Fortes (fellow East bay resident who hates SF traffic as well hahaha)
PS thanks for so much for answering my twitter question! I was so happy haha

Fn to watch you play Brandon. Please watch The Cove documentary, you will never go to Sea World again. The original trainer for Flipper is very compelling. Don’t watch with your kid.

You guys all seem like you’re so much fun to hang with! It’s one thing I like about the Giants. I was at the game against COL when you hit the HR that helped the comeback…awesome! Should have been at today’s game but mom-in-law went to hospital last night so we have to meet with her doctor. Safe travels to SD!

Did you have lunch at Morucci’s in Walnut Creek yesterday? Could have sworn I saw you there!

At its best, baseball is more than just a sporting endeavor, it’s an opportunity for grace and drama, a chance for us to lose ourselves into something greater. That something is more than it would be if you weren’t in the game. It’s more than just your sublime athleticism: the respect you bring to the game and other players, the love you give your family, the appreciation you show to your fans, the charity you do off the field, it all makes you the ideal ball player for us fans: a surrogate father/brother/son/self. Please keep writing, whether or not it’s in the blog, because you have far more to offer than “just” a golden glove and more runs than Pablo.

Your sacrifice bunt meant a lot to us yesterday! We see lots of improvement and growth this season with your hitting! In September I believe you and Panda will have just as equal amount of HOMERUNS lol ;) other than that KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK Professor. We islanders love ya!

Great job! Keep it up! I completely agree with this statement you made; “When you stop playing as a team, you stop winning.” That’s why y’all are such a great team, because you play as a team! Keep it up! GO GIANTS! :)

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Brandon, I am so glad for you and your family! It does my heart good to see that your good energy is bringing you blessings on and off the field! You and our Giants are a true example of ‘getting it right!’ GO GIANTS!

Thanks for your recent post. Our family loves the Giants! My son and I got to see your home run on Wednesday -it was awesome. You look a lot like my oldest son Noah so I always root for you! So nice you got to spend the day with your family. time goes super fast and your baby will be all grown up before you know it. Take care and go Giants!!

Hey Brandon! great hitting last night! My hubby is lovin it u r on his fantasy team most of the sf boys r! looking forward to being at the game in philly in july!

You’re doing great, Brandon. Don’t worry – Giants fans are smart fans, and we notice and appreciate small ball contributions, too. Try to get a vid of Bum vaccuming up his dinner sometime and post a link!

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I love reading these posts! I’m a college softball player, so getting into the mind of a baseball player for a change is pretty cool. Keep that bat and glove going Brandon, you’re doing awesome! Can’t wait to see how you guys do this year. Go Giants!!!

Hey Brandon – what is that weird pad thing that you’ve started wearing on your left hand when you are batting? Is it something to help you grip the bat? Just curious. Whatever it is, I think it’s working! Congrats on your awesome offensive performance so far this season!

I love watching you guys. One of the hardest working teams in baseball. When I’m not watching my Cubs play, I sneak in a Giants game. Problem is since you guys are on the west coast, The games are on late here in Canada. Keep up the good work!

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