Keep Your Head Down (and Don’t Sit There)
In honor of the September call-ups, Belt and I (and I think Blanco) are using our blogs to remember our own first day in the big leagues and offer advice to the new guys.
When I showed up in the players’ parking lot on a late May day in 2011, there was a camera crew waiting. That was when Showtime was taping “The Franchise.’’ The crew asked if they could follow me into the clubhouse and ask me some questions. I had just flown in from Bakersfield and had been dropped off at the park about a half hour or so before the start of a day game against the Marlins.
I entered the park through the gate in left field instead of going through the inside hallway; the producer said it would look better on TV. I honestly don’t remember anything they asked me.
I walked into the clubhouse and stopped in Murph’s office to check in, and he was all excited about the number he was giving me: 35. I wondered if he thought it was my favorite number. Later I learned the history of some of the shortstops who’ve worn it.
I don’t remember who welcomed me. I don’t remember getting dressed. I don’t remember much about the game. I know there was a point where I thought I was going to have to pinch run, but they went with Chris Stewart instead. The whole day was a blur.
I do remember that it was getaway day, and back then there was a rule that you had to wear a coat, dress shirt and slacks on the plane. No jeans. (Now there’s a looser dress code.) Of course, I hadn’t brought a jacket and slacks. I had only the clothes I had brought for a road trip to Bakersfield. Jalynne flew out and brought me at least a little bit nicer jacket than what I had, and I wore it over a nice shirt and jeans.
Either Belt or Bum told me about the seating protocol on the plane. Don’t go all the way to the back. That’s where the veteran guys sat. You had to earn a seat back there. So stay near the front. And if there aren’t enough rows for everyone to have his own, you’re the rookie, so you’re the one who’s going to double up.
Lucky for me there were enough rows. I sat in Row 26. I have sat in Row 26 every since. Cain was sitting in the row behind me that day, and he’s still sitting in the row behind me. Across the aisle is Zito. So the veteran guys now are sprinkled through the plane, not only in the back. Everybody sits in the same place every flight.
I remember getting to the hotel in Milwaukee after that first flight and finally being able to breathe. I laid in bed in this very nice hotel and thought, “This is a little different from the Bakersfield Days Inn.’’
As for advice:
I’d tell the rookies to keep their heads down and not try to stand out too much. Go with the flow. If an older guy asks you to do something, do it. If you stand out too much and push back, you’re an easy target for getting made fun of. You’re probably going to be summoned to the front of the bus, a hazing of sorts that happens when we’re driving from the airport to our hotel, which is often a 30- or 40-minute ride. Some of the veterans get on the intercom at the front of the bus and call guys up to do something like telling some story about themselves or singing or telling a joke. If you bring attention to yourself as a rookie, you’re going to get tougher questions or be asked to do something more stupid and embarrassing than usual. The veterans called me up only once, and it was actually last year, not my rookie year. (I tried hard to blend in as much as I could.) I recited a YouTube video that had been making the rounds in the clubhouse. It was a hilarious clip of a guy telling a story, and it was really off-color and really funny. The guys liked it.
So far nobody who’s been called up in September has been summoned to the front of the bus.There’s still time.
Some great personal news that you might have read on Twitter – Jalynne tweeted it a few days ago. We’re expecting our second child in March. We’re really excited. Braylyn’s so sweet that I’m kind of hoping for another girl. On this past road trip, Jalynne’s parents sent me a video of Braylyn saying “dada’’ for the first time. I think I played it 50 times. Then of course the first night I saw her, when the Giants arrived in San Diego, she didn’t say it once! Then she said it all day the next day. She says “mama’’ when she needs something. Smart girl.
Hope to see you at the park. Obviously, it’s not been the best season, but we’re all still working hard. We’re going out early today for extra BP and fielding. We’re not throwing in the towel. Hope you don’t either.