Everyone knows about Hunter’s speeches in the clubhouse. But when he crashed into the bullpen fence face-first to save a run in Arizona, there’s nothing that gets your teammates more fired up than that. You see what the guy’s willing to do, and everybody’s energy is suddenly ramped to the next level.
Oh, and he went 4-for-5 with a walk and scored four runs in the 12-inning win. A big reason we’re winning is having a healthy Hunter who’s on a hot streak. He’s making plays on defense. Scoring runs. Driving in runs.
And he’s doing his clubhouse thing, too. Even after we were shut out in Colorado that first day, he’s still smiling and happy in the clubhouse. That’s pretty amazing. Personally, I’m so ticked off after we lose there’s no way I can smile. An hour or so later, I can wipe the loss away and think about the next game. But right afterward? Not a chance.
But Hunter is ALWAYS positive. No one’s ever seen anything like it. In the clubhouse before the game, he’s dancing and getting fired up and yelling something weird. I don’t know if he’s psyching himself up or trying to get other guys up. Probably both. After the game, when we win, he has started to kind of make it like a party. He got these special mugs for guys and does toasts and celebrates.
Especially through the rough times, you need someone like Hunter who reminds you how much you love the game and how good we are when we play as a team.
We were happy, of course, to gain ground on the Dodgers and the Wild Card in Arizona but what mattered most was that we played good team baseball. Good defense. Hit well. Pitched well. Do that, and the wins will come.
I was pretty pumped about nailing a runner at home for the first time this season. It’s one of my favorite things to do, especially when the third-base coach thinks you can’t. It’s funny because before the game my arm was feeling particularly weary, as everybody’s arms and legs start to feel toward the end of the season. I said to our strength coach Carl Kochan, “Just watch. This will be the day I get an opportunity to throw home from deep in the gap.” Sure enough.
When it happened, I thought, “I’m just going to throw this as hard as I can and as far as I can.’’ You’re told either to throw a long hop to the catcher or get it to him without a hop. Of course it ended up being a short hop, but Buster made a great pick on it and kept the game tied.
Another way we come together as a team and try to have fun with our fantasy football league. We booked a room in the hotel restaurant while we were in Colorado, and we set up a draft board with all the stuff from a kit you can buy online that has magnetic name plates for the 300 top NFL players.
We have 12 teams this year: Javy and me. Romo. Dave Groeschner, our trainer. Gearrin and Brad Grems, our clubhouse coordinator. Derek Law and Tony Reale, our physical therapist. Parker and Kontos. Flemming and Kuiper. Belt. Samardzija. Dr. Akizuki, our orthopedist. Blanco (who was rehabbing in Arizona and made his picks online). And Joe Panik and Matt Duffy. (Duffy Facetimed on Joe’s laptop. It was great to see him.)
Here’s my team with Javy:
The team is a little unusual in that three of our first six picks weren’t in our starting lineup this weekend. Two guys are suspended and another is not a starter yet.We still won Week 1.
How’d your fantasy team do?
I’ve finally gotten out to see a few movies lately. I went to two over the weekend with Haylee and saw two on the last road trip.
Bad Moms: Haylee and I got to the theater late and had to sit in the front row. So already it wasn’t great. But the movie was freaking hilarious. It’s about the moms’ jobs and their interactions with the kids and trying to overcome the judgment from other moms. It was pretty crude at times. They basically had these moms talking like you’d expect from a group of guys. One of the actresses — I can’t remember her name but she’s in Stepbrothers, a red-headed woman, Catherine something – she was absolutely hilarious. I laughed my butt off pretty much the entire movie. Haylee liked it a lot, too. The best part was the woman in the theater who you could hear laughing like every five seconds. She thought this was the funniest thing she had ever seen her entire life. And that made it even funnier for me.
Rating: B-plus. It’s the funniest female comedy I’ve seen. Better even than Bridesmaids. Actually maybe it’s an A.
Sausage Party: Haylee didn’t want to go see it, and I talked her into going. She’s like, “It’s a cartoon and it’s probably going to be stupid.’’ I said, “Yeah, probably, but stupid can be funny.’’ It’s from the guys who made Superbad and all those movies. Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride. Kristen Wiig was in it. I was kind of excited to see it, but it was brutal. As in terrible. Awful. But all they did was make a bunch of cartoon food cuss a lot. It’s set in a grocery store and the food wants to get out because they think they’re going to heaven when they’re picked and taken out of the grocery store. They call it the Great Beyond. When they get picked, they go out there and learn they’re getting eaten by people and getting slaughtered and basically going to hell. It’s kind of a funny premise. Like there are German bratwursts who want to kill all the juice. Kristen Wiig is a bun, and she has a boyfriend who’s a wiener. But we walked out after an hour. I didn’t laugh hardly at all, and I love comedies.
Rating: F. This might be my first F, though I might have given The Jungle Book an F, I can’t remember.
Jason Bourne. I saw it on the road with Kontos, Osich and Chad Chop. It’s the only Jason Bourne movie I’ve ever seen. I didn’t care for it too much. I like the Mission Impossible movies better. Not much else to say.
Suicide Squad. Cain and I went when we were in Washington. The story’s about these villains who form a super-hero type group to defeat bigger evils. It’s a Marvel comic and it’s set in the same place as Batman and Superman. It’s really cheesy. Very corny dialogue. It was supposed to be a Guardians of the Galaxy type movie, and it wasn’t even close to that. Guardians of the Galaxy is way better. It had a good cast—Will Smith, Margot Robbie, the guy from Jack Reacher. A lot of guys I’ve seen before. And Jared Leto was the Joker. He was a good Joker, but I heard he was weird during the filming, that he stayed in character even when they weren’t shooting. Cain thought it was pretty stupid.
Rating: C-. Maybe D actually.
That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. Let me know what movies I should see next. And let me know if you think Haylee will like it.
Also wanted to give a shout out to Dillon O’Leary and his family from Pleasanton who I met yesterday before the game. Keep battling.
This is baseball in a nutshell.
I landed in the record books with seven hits on Monday night.
The day before, I went 0-for-4.
The day after, I went 0-for-4.
Try to make sense of it and you’ll go crazy.
I began the game using the same bat I’d be using the whole road trip. The way I’d been hitting during the road trip, there was absolutely no indication that bat had so many hits in it. Though I guess I could look at it another way: the bat had plenty of hits left because I sure hadn’t used up too many.
I remember being pretty happy with my first hit on Monday night, a two-strike squib in the second inning that Dee Gordon couldn’t make a play on. I don’t get too many infield singles, so it felt like a gift.
My second hit was a lead-off double over the first-base bag. Again a little lucky. A few inches to the right and it’s foul.
I struck out my third time up.
Then, down 5-1 in the seventh, I got a two-hopper between first and second in the five-run rally that put us ahead 6-5.
We fell behind again, 7-6, and in the eighth I jammed a blooper into right field that tied the score at 7. I thought Giancarlo Stanton had a chance to dive and catch it, so I lucked out again a bit there.
Now it’s the 11th inning. Buster’s on first, no outs. I get two strikes, foul twice, then hit a line-drive single up the middle. That’s when Buster tried to eat third base. I was worried at first then he got up and, other than a little embarrassed, he looked fine. So of course I thought it was pretty funny — until I heard that he had jammed his finger. And that scrape on his chin was pretty bad.
(But Buster had a sense of humor about it. In the clubhouse after the game, I saw him on his phone watching it on the MLB app and he was laughing to himself. MLB network showed it in slow-motion on TV and we all got laughing. His finger was still hurting, though, and he sat out the next day.)
So that was my fifth hit. I’d never had five hits in a game before. I’d only gotten four a couple times. So I’m thinking this is pretty cool. And I figured that was it. We were already in extra innings, so I probably wasn’t going to get another at-bat, much less another hit.
But the game slogs into the 13th and I hit a triple to right.
Six hits. Crazy.
Now we go to the 14th. Belt and Buster get on base. Two outs. Here I come to the plate. I’m no statistician, but with six hits already, I know I’m not going to get a hit. I’m due – overdue – to make an out. I’m thinking, “It’s too bad it’s me in this situation. This kind of sucks for us.’’
The Marlins had just brought in Andrew Cashner to pitch. I’d done fairly well against Cashner. I know what he has. But of course I don’t know how he’s going to pitch me here. First pitch is a ball. Then I get a slider up the middle that I drive into center. And we go ahead, 8-7.
After the game, after watching all the replays of Buster’s face-plant, a reporter told me that seven hits in a game is rarer than a perfect game. I shared this information almost immediately with Matt Cain. He was a bit defensive, pointing out that every starting pitcher has a chance to get a perfect game but rarely does, while most batters never even have the chance to get seven hits.
Well, I don’t care. I’m pretty thrilled with it. I’m never going to get the home run record or career hits record, but I’ve been incredibly lucky in the record-book department. I’m one of just six players to hit a grand-slam in my first Major League game. And I’m the first shortstop in baseball history to hit a grand slam in a post-season game (2014 Wild Card game against the Pirates).
It’s crazy to think that in the whole history of the game, you’re among such a small group of people who accomplished a particular feat.
However puffed up I might have been feeling on Monday, I was humbled on Tuesday with the 0-for-4. That’s the game. Always humbling you.
I think I’ll blame it on giving the bat to the Hall of Fame. Maybe it still had some juice in it.
MLB has to authenticate all your stuff from the game on the day it happens, so they were in the clubhouse that night. They authenticated my bat, gloves, helmet, jersey and cleats. I’m keeping the jersey and the cleats. The jersey just because I want it. And the cleats because they’re the only ones I have and want to use them the rest of the season.
I think I’m getting the lineup card, too.
I know right now it might not look like that 14-inning win is the turning point in our season. But I think it still might prove to be the moment we look back on. We had to grind it out – Bochy in the hospital, Pence with his black eye, Buster with his scraped face and jammed finger. As Jon Miller said, we looked like a poster from the Civil War.
We were feeling pretty great that night though we were completely exhausted. You couldn’t help but look around the clubhouse and think, I’ll take my chances with these guys any day.
When I heard today that Matt Duffy was traded, my heart kind of just dropped. I was hoping it wasn’t true. You get really tight with guys in this business. This is the first time someone I’m really close to had gotten traded. I’m disappointed I won’t be playing alongside him anymore. He’s a fierce player and a really good person.
But I know the Giants have to look at the big picture: How do we give our club the best chance to win? I don’t envy the guys in the front office having to make these decisions. I’m guessing this one was particularly tough.
There’s getting around the fact that the human aspect of professional baseball can really suck sometimes.
The upside for Duffy is that Tampa really wanted him, so he’ll play and he’ll shine.
I’m sorry to see Susac leave, too, especially because he grew up a Giants fan like I did and has always been with the Giants. But he’ll get a chance to start, so I’m happy for him.
I like what I’ve seen so far of Eduardo Nunez. He’s shown us a lot in the short time he’s been with us. He gives us some speed on the bases that we haven’t really had.
Boch called a team meeting last Friday to remind us that this pretty awful rough patch is just that: a rough patch. The world isn’t coming to an end. We’re still in first place. We still have one of the best records in baseball. No team is going to go 140-20. The Cubs went through their rough patch before the All-Star break. We’ve gone through ours after. It happens to every team every season.
It happened to us in 2014. I remember we were slumping and picked up Jake Peavy but didn’t make any big moves right at the trade deadline. We called up some guy named Matt Duffy from Double A. That was our big move. It all worked out pretty well.
There were some moments during the past couple weeks I hope never to see again. Like my three-error game in New York. In my entire life, even going back to Little League, I’ve never had three errors in a game. They were weird plays that had me throwing off balance, getting a weird grip on the ball to throw home, throwing a bit off to first base on a double play.
I thought it couldn’t get any worse – until Friday night against the Nats.
Bases loaded, no outs, eighth inning, down by 3 runs. I’m at the plate – the team’s RBI leader. I’m feeling good, excited, such a great opportunity. Then whack – a line drive, triple play, inning over. Seriously?
That was one of the most deflating moments I’ve ever been a part of. If there has been a worse one, I can’t think of it.
After the game, we were sitting around staring at each other and wondering, OK, what else can happen? That really was the lowest of the low points. We were finding so many ways to NOT score runs during this terrible stretch. Surely we had exhausted all the possible ways of not scoring.
The tide had to turn. Our luck had to change. At some point it would be our turn again to enjoy a few breaks.
Yesterday we scored two runs on two errors. At this point you look for any sign the tide as turned. Those two runs are good enough for me.
Thanks for reading and for showing us such great support every day.
See you after the road trip.
Yesterday was an awesome day. For a lot of reasons. I made the All-Star team, a dream come true. Actually I never really dreamed it. Earning a starting job on a Major League team was the dream. The All-Star team is something I can’t even put into words.
But it turned out the main emotion I felt yesterday wasn’t excitement, though I felt plenty of that. What I felt more than anything was gratitude.
I couldn’t believe how many people messaged me that their thumbs were about to fall off from voting for me. I couldn’t believe how hard Becky Biniek in the Giants’ social media department worked to keep reminding the fans to vote. I couldn’t believe how many of my teammates tweeted out #VoteBelt.
I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it all.
But I was thinking yesterday about one person more than anyone else.
When we got word – in a text from Ali Bumgarner – that I’d made the team, I was driving back from lunch in Lafayette with Haylee and Greyson. Haylee immediately started crying. I knew it wasn’t just that she was happy for me. It was about all the hard times and hard work and the doubts and the load she has had to carry so I could achieve my dream.
I got a little misty watching her cry because this has been about both of us every step of the way. This doesn’t happen if she’s not with me. I’m not being cheesy. It’s the truth.
It’s not easy being a baseball player’s wife. It’s not like she can do whatever she wants. She’s working constantly, getting everything ready when we travel, organizing our moves, renting houses, doing charity stuff, putting up with me when things aren’t going well. Everything. She makes sure I don’t have to worry about anything off the field.
This is a very public job, and I know how tough it was for her to read and see some of the mean things people said about me over the years. It hurts her. I don’t think everybody can put up with that. I really don’t. But she’s strong, mentally strong. She can take a lot of crap and come out on the other side, looking even better than before.
She’s always there for me when I’m feeling down about something. She knows me so well. She’s there to dig me out of whatever hole I get myself in. When I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, she was there to show it to me. She can say stuff to me that no one else can say. She tells me the truth even when I might not want to hear it. She’s the one who keeps me grounded.
Haylee and I have known each other since high school. She had no idea what was in store for her when we started dating. It’s amazing to me that she has stuck with me through all the years of ups and downs. If it were me, I don’t know if I could have hung in there. You’re staying in there for somebody else. She’s not getting anything out of this other than “your husband achieved his dream’’. It’s selfless. She might be the most selfless person I know. I feel pretty selfish in comparison.
So when she got emotional in the car yesterday, I knew it was because it’s been such a long road and because this amazing gift of going to All-Star Game was for both of us, together, not just me.
On the other hand, Greyson didn’t really care. Wasn’t impressed at all.
When you play 162 games, plus games in the spring and postseason, you find yourself developing pre-game routines. For me, and I think for most guys, it’s not about superstition, like wearing the same socks during a winning streak. It’s about getting your brain into a battle mindset.
Having a routine saves you a lot of energy. You don’t have to figure out a new way every day to switch off normal-life mode and turn on focus-and-fight mode.
I’ll take you through my pre-game routine and mindset.
I start to feel the change on my way to the ballpark, whether I’m driving myself to AT&T or taking a taxi or the team bus to a ballpark on the road. My body and brain know a game will be happening in a few hours. It’s like the dogs in that experiment – what was that guy’s name? Pavlov?
So at that point I’m feeling some anxiousness. For a 7:15 game, I’ll get to the park around 2:30. When I step into the clubhouse, my demeanor gets more serious. I’m having fun with my teammates, but I’m not as goofy and loose as I am at home. I’m enjoying myself, but my body and brain know the clubhouse is my place of work.
As the game gets closer, I’m feeling more intensity. I just get going. I used to feel the intensity and restlessness way too much, and I had to learn how to calm myself down.
I did this in a few ways. I stopped – or at least I try really hard to stop – worrying about results. I can’t control them anyway. What I CAN control is how much I prepare. So I make sure I do everything possible to feel as prepared as possible mentally and physically. If I know I’ve done everything I can do – take extra fielding or batting practice, get my sleep, eat well, go over the defensive charts — I’m going to feel confident and more relaxed.
After BP, I eat, stretch, open mail, etc.
As teammates start to pull on the game uniform, I wait. I stay in my practice uniform or in a T-shirt and shorts.
About 30 minutes before the game, I change into my game uniform. By then, everyone else is already dressed.
Putting on my game uniform is the final step in getting into full battle mode. It’s like putting on armor. For a few minutes, I sit quietly in front of my locker. I’m not having conversations. My mind is focused on what I need to do to help us win. I’m thinking about my approach at the plate: Keep it simple, stay within yourself, see the ball and hit the ball. I try to keep myself from getting too caught up in the opposing pitcher’s strategy. Don’t overthink it.
But soon I have to start moving. Once the uniform is on, my brain and body are on red-alert to play. I want to get going. I might expend a little energy taking some cuts in the batting cage behind the dugout. I might walk to the dining room and grab something to drink. I want to just get out there and play. It drives me nuts to just sit at that point.
I’ve been doing this same routine, more or less, since I was in the minors. It keeps me calm, gets me focused and energizes me for another game of a very long season.
Thanks for reading. . . And thanks for all the All-Star votes! It really means a lot to see and hear about the efforts to get the vote out. I feel really lucky to play for the best fans in baseball.
(Movie reviews soon.)
Still shaking my head about the Warriors last night. Amazing. We know a little about playing in the postseason with our backs against the wall. Really inspiring to watch.
I want to finish up random notes from the last road trip.
Big Bad Bum in San Diego: As soon as Bum struck out Wil Myers for the last out of the inning, I bolted for the dugout because I was leading off. As I’m running in, the field crew is coming out to drag the field, and the crowd suddenly erupts. I’m thinking, “Man, they really like the field crew here.’’ Then I see the dugout emptying. I still don’t really know what happened. Just another day at the ballpark with Bum on the mound.
Swinging away: There are certain things you remember in detail when you play ball. They’re usually the things that don’t happen very often. One of those is swinging on 3-0 counts, which I did in the same game as the Bum-Myers dust-up. I’ve swung on 3-0 counts only five times in my ML career.
The first time was against Johnny Cueto in 2011. I flew out to left. I didn’t swing on 3-0’s for the next three years, ’12, ’13 and ’14. Last year, I swung three times – for two home runs and a double. And in San Diego, I hit a home run. I’m now 4-for-5 on 3-0 counts.
How do I decide to swing or not? The pitcher, the score, where base runners are, who’s hitting behind me.
In San Diego, the situation was: runners on first and third, one out, nothing-nothing game, and a pitcher – Colin Rea — I had never faced but had watched video on. He’s not a guy who has a huge sinker or anything like that, so I wasn’t too concerned about grounding into a double play. He’s a guy who will occasionally elevate his fastball — something you can hit a fly ball off of. So I figured even if I didn’t get all of it, I’d still get a sacrifice fly and score the runner the third. Bum was on deck. Yes, he’s a good-hitting pitcher, but he’s a pitcher. I wanted to do what I could to get the run in myself. I looked for Rea to throw me a fastball, which he did — though it was a borderline ball four. And since I was ready for it, I got it out.
So I don’t know if this stuff is at all interesting to most people, but for those who wonder about our thought process, I’ll share why I swung away the other three times.
Last year, against Jordan Zimmerman, the situation was 2 outs, nobody on, and a light-hitting batter coming up behind me. If I took the walk, there’d be two outs with me on first. I’m not a big basestealer, so somebody was going to have to hit a double to get me home from first. So I went for it. I had never really hit Zimmerman well in the past, but I knew he was going to come after me with fastballs. He doesn’t want to walk anybody. Sure enough, I got an up-and-in fastball and hit it out.
It was a similar situation against Kyle Lohse, also last year. Two outs, runner on first. We’d need an extra base hit to score the runner. Lohse was another guy who, for the most part, was going to come right after you. He doesn’t want to walk me and put a runner on second base with two outs. So I thought it was a good time to swing away. Maybe I’d hit one in the gap and score the runner from first. I hit a HR to center.
The next one was against the Dodgers. Belt was on second with two outs. Mike Bolsinger, a right-hander, was on the mound. We had a right-handed batter after me, so Bolsinger was pitching around me to get to him. I had just taken a couple good curve balls, so I sat on another one and hit a double.
Having said all this, I know if I swing at a 3-0 pitch and ground out, some people will howl – “Why are you swinging on 3-0??’’ But at least you’ll know why.
A Day at the Zoo: Kristen Posey arranged for players and families to go to the San Diego Zoo when we were there. Buster and Kristen’s son, Lee, who is four years old, came into the clubhouse after a game at AT&T the other day.
“Lee, how’d you like the zoo?’’ I asked him.
He lit up. “Yeah! The giraffe drooled on my head!’’
Love that kid. Fits right in with the rest of us.
Thanks for reading. Go Warriors!
There’s a lot to catch up on. Let’s start with music.
During batting practice last week in San Diego, the Padres – or at least whoever’s in charge of pregame music – had a little fun. The first day of the series, as soon as their own BP ended, the edgy, rappy music stopped. Suddenly, when we took the field, it was all boy bands, ‘90s pop, teeny-bopper pop.
I was smiling because it seemed like they were trying to mess with us. I was standing out at short stop and thinking, “They don’t know what they did. They’re locking me in.’’ They don’t know that we like this stuff. Or at least I do. I hit a home run that night.
The second day of BP, it was all Enya. If you haven’t heard her, the songs are like massage music — for batting practice, it was kind of rough. The third day, they played stuff like “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’’ and “It’s Raining Men’’ –kind of girl-power music.
So did we return the favor when they played in SF this week? No, because to be honest I don’t think the music has anything to do with how you play during the game. BUT . . . if I were going to mess with them . . . since it seems they don’t like that ‘90s pop, I’d probably throw on the Sneaky Awesome playlist we listen to every day. Except it really wouldn’t be messing with them because they’d realize they actually like it.
Now that we’re two months into the season, every now and then I run out of ideas of what to play in the clubhouse. So I’ll ask around. Bum and Belt are never afraid to give me a song. Belt’s tastes are all over the place. He’s like me in that way. He’ll go from “I Knew You Were Trouble’’ by Taylor Swift to a punk-rock-scream song by System of a Down to rapper Rick Ross to Luke Bryan.
Bum’s been surprising. He’s requested Rihanna and “Sugar’’ by Robin Schulz. He’s liked the Drake song I’ve put on recently. Not what you’d expect from “Fire on the Mountain’’ Bum.
I have other random things to share, which I will. But I’m going to post this and finish the rest in a little while.
By the way, pretty good week so far all around, isn’t it? Happy flight to Denver yesterday.
I’m writing this before the game. I’m saying this up front because if you’re reading this after the game you won’t be wondering why I didn’t mention my four home runs or my unassisted triple play. Usually the blog doesn’t post right away so I never know when you’re going to see it.
Let’s get yesterday’s game out of the way. I have never seen a week like we just had, with those two horrific innings, giving up 12 runs one day and 13 a few days later. I’m seeing all these guys at the plate last night getting one hit after another and I’m thinking, “You couldn’t get that many hits in batting practice!’’
If you think it’s torturous watching on TV or from the stands, it’s worse when you’re on the field and wanting to do everything you can to help the pitcher get out of this. As a defense, we failed our pitchers. We made some mistakes that were pretty embarrassing for everybody. I didn’t get a scoop off a throw in the dirt that I felt I should have gotten. Every time the defense makes even a small misstep in an inning like that, morale gets a little bit lower. You can’t seem to stop the bleeding.
But the truth is when we came into the dugout after that inning, we still felt we could win, as crazy as that sounds. We felt, “Let’s see if we can keep chipping away.’’ Crazier things have happened.
Let’s hope tonight goes better. With Bum on the mound, I like our chances.
On another note, did you see Samardzija break his bat over his knee? I asked Samardzija if it hurt, and he said when it breaks you don’t really feel anything. I think he was implying that if it DOESN’T break, you’re in for a long night of ice packs and Advil.
The only time I broke a bat intentionally slamming it on the ground was after a strikeout. I knew enough to be conscious of where I slammed it — you can’t do it on grass, obviously. Still, I had no idea if it was going to break. But I needed it to break. I’d look like a complete wuss if it didn’t. I was very happy with my effort. I didn’t get the oohs and aahs Samardzija did. In fact, no one said a word about it when I came back to the dugout.
I was reduced to asking how it looked.
“Pretty good,’’ one guy said.
I also asked Samardzija if there was a trick to breaking the bat.
“You’ve got to bring your leg up as fast as you bring your bat down,’’ he said. Then he looked at me and said there was one more thing: “You gotta be committed to it.’’
That’d be my problem. I’d be completely committed at first. Then as soon I started to bring the bat down, I’d bail out and end up breaking my leg.
But it would be so cool to do it. Maybe the next time I crack a bat at the plate – I mean when the bat is good and cracked, like almost dangling – I’ll finish it off by snapping it over my knee.
Next blog: A review of The Jungle Book. Oh, I’ll give it to you now. I walked out. Super boring. The kid wasn’t totally not believable. A kid growing up in the jungle would be a lot tougher than that guy. Haylee and I lasted an hour.
Let me know if you go see the Captain America: Civil War movie. It looks awesome.
So Crawford and Belt are handing over their blog to me for a day. Apparently they had to vote on it. Crawford was fine. Belt wasn’t so sure. But he ended up giving 1 percent approval, which he explained made for a 51 percent majority vote.
It’s funny the impressions you have of players when you’re playing against them. A week or so into spring training, Matt Cain came up to me and said, “You didn’t think we were like this, did you?’’
He was right. When I was with the Nationals, I thought the Giants were a very serious group of guys, that they didn’t have as much fun as a lot of other teams. They seemed a little tight, like they did everything by the book.
It’s the complete opposite. This team has a very dry sense of humor. A guy like Cain, who has his game face on when he’s pitching, is actually a real jokester. He’s always sending me funny text messages, just messing with me. I never thought Buster had much personality, but in the clubhouse he’s always joking around. I would never have expected that. Crawford is sneaky funny. He’ll throw a jab here and there, catch you off guard.
That’s what makes this team who they are, why they’ve accomplished what they’ve accomplished. They’re serious on the field and lighthearted off it.
My locker is next to Hunter’s so I’ve had more intense talks with him than with anyone else. We talk about competing, about being a winner, about having that mindset. He’s very analytical when it comes to stuff like that. He’s a deep thinker. The other thing about Hunter is how much he cares about his teammates as people. He’s always checking in with me and making sure everything’s going OK in my world, that my head’s where it needs to be. I appreciate that.
The other thing you can’t really appreciate until you actually become a Giant is the energy at this ballpark. Opening Day – I’ve never, ever seen anything like it. Craziness. Pandemonium. Just unreal. Walking in from center field with all those kids was awesome. We walked around the stadium and fans were giving us high-fives. I didn’t know much about the Giants-Dodgers rivalry. Man, this is the real deal, which made Opening Day all the more fun and crazy.
Here’s a photo of my mom with a Giants fan on Opening Day.
And what a game. As Boch said, it was like two games in one. What I noticed in the dugout was how calm everyone was during all the three-up, three-down innings. There wasn’t a hint of panic. We just chipped away and before you knew it the momentum switched to our side and we just took off. What I loved was how many different ways we attacked, from Kelby’s perfect bunt to Hunter’s grand slam. This is a seriously dangerous lineup.
One question I get a lot is about my batting stance. My front (right) foot is turned so far inward that my heel is almost facing the pitcher’s mound. I do that because my body instinctively wants to pull the ball instead of staying squared up. So I turn my foot to keep my front hip from flying open. That’s my thinking anyway. I’m always tinkering with my swing. I didn’t have a lot of coaching growing up. I’d go to the batting cage and critique myself. I’d try a bunch of things until something felt right. When I was really little, I imitated Darryl Strawberry. I had a VHS tape of him with his high leg kick. He’d kind of drop his hands as his leg came up. I’d do that with my little plastic bat and my little plastic ball.
My mom, Wanda, and my stepdad, Stan, are out here this weekend from Tampa. So is one of my best friends, Wallace, plus an aunt from New York and her daughter who lives near Sacramento.
They went sight-seeing before coming to the games. Here’s my mom with Wallace on the left and my stepdad on the right some where in the city.
Believe me, I could hear all of them cheering every time I came up to bat. After the game on Opening Day, we went to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory on Union Square. People aren’t recognizing me much, but this morning, as soon as I got into my Uber car, the driver said, “You’re our lead-off hitter, aren’t you?’’
I like how he phrased that: Our leadoff hitter. I’m getting the sense that being a San Francisco Giants is like being part of a family.
OK, Belt, you have the blog back. By the way, just heard about the new contract. Dinner’s on you in Colorado.