I’m still getting jabbed about my around-the-horn throw that went between Crawford and Panik and sailed into left field in Cincinnati. They both just stood there. Watched it go by. Making me look like an idiot. I have to catch every ball they throw, no matter where it is. And they can’t move an inch or two? It makes me crazy that when MLB network shows one of our double plays, they cut it off right before I catch it. I don’t know why first-basemen get no credit. Not everybody can do this job.
Actually pretty much anybody can do this job. OK, so that’s probably why.
I returned from the road trip Sunday night to an empty house. I hate it. It’s different when you’re by yourself in a hotel room. But to go home to your house and it’s completely empty, man, that’s brutal. I’ve been sleeping all day basically. On Monday, our off day, Haylee called and said, “You didn’t just get up, did you?’’ I’m not going to tell you what time it was, but I told her there was nothing to do, so why not stay in bed? It really is like a part of you is gone when your wife and kid aren’t there. We played in Houston, near our hometown, so Haylee just stayed there. We have just a three-game homestand before going back out on the road, so it wasn’t worth traveling all the way here. I’ll see her and Greyson next Wednesday. I’ll be so happy. If Greyson’s asleep, I’m waking him up, for sure.
I try to Facetime with him when I’m away, but it’s hard because he tries to eat the phone. He says da-da-da-da-. That’s pretty much the extent of his end of the conversation. But he always smiles when he sees me, so I’m pretty happy about that.
A few of you asked for photos, so here they are.
OK, I’m answering questions today:
What do you and the base runners talk about at first base? In Cincinnati, I asked their shortstop Zack Cozart what happened between last year and this year at the plate. He really struggled last year, and this year he’s hitting almost .300. He said pretty much what I always say: so much of performance at this level comes down to confidence. And the more experienced you get, the more confidence you get. That’s why I was able to stay confident during my slump. I’d been through it before, and I knew it would turn around. A lot of guys at first base this year said, “Congrats on the World Series.’’ I talked to Morse a lot when he was here. He was telling me how awesome it was to be back here and how much he enjoyed his time with the Giants.
Now that Vogey shaved his beard, are you next? No. I feel manlier with the beard. It gives me a better jaw line. So it’s staying.
Losing the ball in the lights on a toss from Casilla? That’s the first time it ever happened on a throw from a pitcher. I think he was testing me. He knew I could catch an easy ball thrown over there, so let’s see what ball I CAN’T catch. So he threw into the lights. Nah, I just think he was trying to be careful in his throw and it just happened to go a little high into the lights. I kind of knew the direction and just threw my glove out there. You can’t catch what you can’t see.
Who do you pal around with? Usually my family’s with me, so we might go to eat with Bumgarner and his wife, Ali. We don’t get a whole lot of time with our families so when they’re with us, that’s who we’re with.
If we’re on the road and the wives aren’t with us, I might go to the movies with Javy and Kontos. We’re the movie guys. I didn’t go to the movies on this road trip, but I watched one on the plane home and went to the theater on the off day (Monday) in Walnut Creek. My reviews are at the end of the blog.
How do you keep pressures on the field from affecting your family life? I’d say at some point everybody goes through a time when something that happens at work affects your home life. But you just try your hardest not to let it. When i go home and see the smile on my kid’s face, and see my wife again, it kind of just makes everything else go away for a while. I’m not going to lie, there are times when I might have snapped at Haylee because of something that happened here at the ballpark. But overall I think I do a pretty good job of separating. I love playing baseball. I love it as much as anything in the world. I just don’t love it more than my family. So I try to keep that in perspective and realize there’s a separation.
What did you do for your birthday? It fell on an off-day, so I did a signing in San Jose for about an hour, then we all hung out with my host mom. It was just a relaxing day. Exactly what I wanted.
Taste in music? I like everything. But I’d have to say my favorite band is Chevelle.
Most embarrassing thing you’ve done? I don’t embarrass easy. Things that might be embarrassing to someone else probably isn’t going to bother me.
Do you hear conversations between the runner and first base coach? I certainly try!
Sequence of getting your rhythm back at the plate? Once you get your mechanics back, power follows. When you’re in a slump, you go back to basics: just getting your bat on the ball. Just getting hits. You start hitting line drives. Then the line drives start to carry a little bit farther and little bit farther. You start getting extra-base hits, and those extra-base hits start turning into home runs. The last past two or three weeks, that’s exactly what happened to me.
Is there a sign when you know you have it all going? When I’m hitting line drives to all parts of the field.
Favorite city to play in? I like St. Louis. I like the ball park. Great atmosphere. I also like playing back home in Texas. That’s always good.
Favorite baseball movie? I loved, when it first came out, The Rookie. That’s right up there with Sandlot and Bull Durham.
Favorite cultural night? I’m still waiting for Texas night.
Whiplash: It’s about this kid who’s a drummer. You can just tell he wants to be the greatest drummer that ever lived. He just has this drive that’s beyond comparison. The story kind of relates to anything in life you’re passionate about. I can relate it to baseball. If you want to be the best, you have to have that drive and just beat yourself up to get there. That’s what he did. There are times in the movie when he’s drumming so much, his hands are bleeding all over the drum set. I’m not saying that’s what has to happen to be the best, but you have be willing to go through hell. You find with a lot of guys in the big leagues. The teacher in that movie is ruthless, but he’s the kind of guy you want because he demands the best. I never had a coach as ruthless as that, but I had a bunch of coaches who wanted the best of out me like that teacher did with his students. I loved the end of the movie. The kid was just going crazy on the drums, putting in one of the best solo drum performances ever. So even though the teacher tried to screw him over, I think the kid couldn’t help but see where it got him.
Grade: A+. I’d watch it again.
Ex Machina: Basically it’s about artificial intelligence. This guy gets chosen to go to this research facility where they’re testing these robots. He wants to see if these robots can pass some kind of test where the human interacting with the machine forgets that that it’s a machine. It’s kind of a thriller-type movie with all these twists. There were moments when I thought, “If it ends this way, I’m not going to be happy.’’ But it had a good ending.
Grade: B+/A- I saw it in Walnut Creek on the off day. I saw by myself, which is the way i like it. Some people get weirded out going places by themselves, but i love it. I’m around people all day, so it’s nice to go by yourself and just enjoy the movie.
Thanks for reading. I might have gone on a little too long today. Sorry!
Keep the questions coming!
Wish we could have kept the win streak going so Willie Mays could have had a happier birthday. But with 10 wins in the last 14 games, we’re climbing out of the hole we dug for ourselves last month.
I didn’t get a hit today, but with my 3-for-3 yesterday my batting average is higher right now than my career average, and somehow I’m leading the team in home runs and RBIs. I’m pretty confident I will not be holding that spot when the season’s over. I know my strength is defense, but I always expect to contribute at the plate, too. I know it’s in me to hit higher than .250.
So, like every hitter in here, I’m always trying to make myself better. So last month, when — despite the home runs — I found myself swinging and missing more than usual, I needed to figure out why. I realized I was getting a lot more off-speed pitches than usual. It started with that first series on the road against the Padres. I had seen mostly fastballs in our season-opening series against Arizona. So when the Padres went with mostly off-speed stuff, I wasn’t really prepared. Then other teams started doing it, too.
Usually, about 60 percent of the pitches I’d see would be fastballs. I knew I wasn’t seeing that many, so I went and looked it up. Sure enough, fewer than 50 percent of the pitches were fastballs.
So I had to adjust. I had to get better at handling off-speed pitches. It’s tough to practice that, though, because in almost every batting practice you’re seeing only fastballs. You can program the pitching machine in the batting cage to throw whatever you want, but I don’t find it really useful. You know the pitch is coming and you can just sit on it. You get into that rhythm, and it’s not realistic. Although . . . having said that, I am sitting on the change-up or curveball more. And if I get a fastball, I can still try to take it.
Chad Chop has helped me get better. He’s one of our batting practice pitchers. He joined the Giants last year, and he’s little younger and stronger than the other ones we have. So I’ve gotten him to mix the pitches up to me. He’ll toss in a change-up or curve among the fastballs. And he’s a lefty. It’s probably why I’m hitting left-handed pitchers better.
Glad to see my fellow Brandon get his rhythm back, as he talked about in his blog post this week. He went 2-for-3 today, crushing a double and triple to the wall, and is 6-for-13 with four doubles and one triple in his last four games. He knows I carried Team Brandon (our hitting group) last month. I told him he had to step up in May. I’m happy I could give him the motivation he needed.
Thanks for coming out to all the games and sticking with us through a rough month. It’s a long season, and I think sometimes people — even in baseball — lose sight of that.
And thanks for reading!
Sorry I haven’t blogged much. When the team’s struggling, and you’re not helping to score any runs, there’s not much to say. You don’t want to sound all cheerful and happy because it wouldn’t be real. But you don’t want to make too much of a dry spell, either, because you know it’s going to pass.
Having said that, few things are worse for a hitter than opening the season and falling almost immediately into a slump. You haven’t built up any numbers yet. There’s no cushion in your batting average to absorb the dip in production. All you see is the dip. So everything just looks brutal. If you slump in the middle of the season, it doesn’t hit your average as hard.
For me, like most players, hitting is all about rhythm. When I get into a good rhythm, I can stay on a good streak for a long while. I was on a great streak coming out of spring training. The groin injury the first week of the season put me on the sidelines for a few days. You never think you’re going to be affected by an interruption like that, but hitting is such a complex thing, physically and mentally. One thing is a little bit off, and suddenly you’re struggling.
But it’s part of baseball. It happens. You know you’ll get out of it. But it’s never as quick as you want. I’m happy to be swinging the bat well again. I’m seeing the ball. I feel good out there. I know if I keep hitting the ball hard enough, good things will happen.
What matters most is that, as a team, we’re turning things around. We’re winning again and climbing up the standings, which all of us knew would happen. It’s in our DNA. And soon we’ll be getting some big guys back — Hunter, Cain, Peavy — and that will be a huge lift.
We have our batting groups again this year, and again we have Team Brandon. There are three groups, and I’m the captain of one of them. So in the draft I’m pretty much obligated to pick Crawford first. I haven’t looked at the standings for April yet, but I know he helped us a lot with his home runs. I’ll keep you posted.
I’m sorry I have no movie reviews. With Greyson, who is now eight months and desperate to start walking already, I’m not going out a lot. I want to spend every minute I can with him. I wanted to go to the movies in Colorado and just never did. I bought I Love You, Man in the hotel. I’ve seen it a hundred times and still think it’s hilarious. But I fell asleep and didn’t finish it. The life of a new Dad, I guess. Haylee and Greyson will go to Houston with me, and Haylee will head to Lufkin for a little while. She will be very happy to get some help from the grandparents.
Thanks for reading. And ask some questions so I have something to write about!
It’s really disappointing to be out of the lineup right when the season gets started. I won’t be out for long, but missing any time at all is so frustrating because all you’re thinking during the off-season and especially spring training is, “How do I get ready for Opening Day and the new season? What can I do to get better?’’ You can’t wait to get back out there.
I still got butterflies on Opening Day down here in Arizona. I imagine I’ll feel them again for the home opener on Monday. Maybe you think at this point in our lives, playing in the Major Leagues, we’d get kind of jaded to it all. But you don’t. It’s still a huge deal. You’ve been waiting four-and-a-half months. You’re so raring to go and so excited that you have to learn how to calm yourself down and clear everything out of your head.
You do that by going back to basics. As a little kid you’re always told to keep your eye on the ball, and that’s basically what it is. When you have a lot of stuff cluttering your mind, that’s when you get yourself in trouble. You need to go out there and be free and easy both mechanically and mentally. It’s something I really worked on this spring.
One thing that really helps: Having a seven-month-old baby. You cannot be in a bad mood around that kid. It’s awesome. He’s just loves being alive every day. He’s a lot like me as a kid. You might not know it now, but I was kind of goofy growing up. You can ask some of the guys I played with in the minors. I was goofy. And Haylee’s just like me. So we expect Greyson to be the same way.
I have faith that this little setback is just that. It’s no fun watching a game from the dugout when all you’ve been thinking about is being on that field. I’m feeling good and know I’ll be back in the lineup very, very soon. No movie reviews until then!
You remember the first day of school when you were a kid? (If you’re a kid reading this: Remember September?) You have new stuff, right out of the box. Shirts, shoes, backpack, notebook.
It’s kind of the same at the start of the season.
My new cleats arrived Monday, two days before we left Arizona. They’re not just new cleats, though. I got to design them. I have a Nike contract so they give me money to use however I want on their Nike site. So I’ve designed my own shoe. It’s surprising how many color and pattern choices go into designing a shoe.
There’s the top of the shoe, the sides, the back, the swoosh, the sole, the tongue, the laces. You can choose a color for your number and name on the side. In the past, the only option was solid colors but this year they have a graphic option. I don’t know how to describe it so I’m including a photo here of my home shoe (left), road shoe (middle) and batting practice shoe (right).
MLB says the shoe has to be 51 percent black. I know these don’t necessarily look like there’s 51 percent black but that’s just because the orange stands out so much.
Usually you need just two pairs of cleats in a season since you’re alternating road and home. I might make more, though, because it’s pretty fun. I might make a pair that has more black since we have the black jerseys this year.
I have a new glove, too, which I’ve been using all spring. This one came out of the box already pretty broken in. That happens sometimes. It arrives and you can play catch right away. Other times they’re really hard. Do I use the same glove all season? If it’s doing its job, it’ll stick around.
I also get new batting gloves. The manufacturer sent me four different color combos, three of each, so I have 12 pairs. They’ll send me more throughout the season. How long does a pair of batting gloves last? Depends on how well you’re hitting and how fast they tear. If you’re hitting well, and there’s a hole in them, you stick with them.
We had a great time at the Play Ball lunch today at the Hilton. Here’s a photo of the table set up for Belt, Justin Maxwell, Jean Machi and me. That long line in the background? That’s all the people waiting for Buster and Madison.
We did get some people in our line, though.
I think the strangest thing I signed was the lining of a guy’s sports coat. That was a first. I should have taken a picture of that.
Thanks for reading!
In the clubhouse. The topic: TV binge watching.
Belt: You ever seen Walking Dead?
Crawford: You’ve asked me that, like, a hundred times.
Belt: I ask everybody so I don’t know who I asked.
Crawford: You’ve told me to watch that already. But I probably won’t.
Belt: It’s not really about zombies. Once you get into it, it’s the drama about them staying alive. The zombies are always going to be a part of it but it’s kind of like an outside thing.
Crawford: Is it like Zombieland?
Crawford: Then I’m not watching it.
Belt: I liked Zombieland, too. Everything was about the zombies in Zombieland. You seen Orange is the New Black?
Crawford: I’m on Season 1.
Belt: At first, I was thinking, I don’t get this show. Then I really liked it.
Crawford: The first episode I watched, I thought, Oh, this could be pretty interesting.
Crawford: Gross. I watched a few more episodes and watched all of them. Way better than zombies.
Belt: I’m telling you, I was totally opposed to watching Walking Dead, too. Everybody was telling me about it. They couldn’t shut up about it. So I watched two or three episodes and I couldn’t stop. I love binge-watching. I love it to death. I hate it when it’s over.
Crawford: I know.I want to watch, like, three episodes in a row. But I find that I’m much more tired at night now than I was in the past. Nine o’clock comes around, I’m ready to go to bed. Unfortunately the girls aren’t ready.
Belt: This off season (the first with a baby), we were in bed every night at 8. I didn’t go to sleep but we were in bed watching TV. Just enjoying the entertainment. It’s so great.
Crawford: Jalynne and I will watch Breaking Bad if we’re actually both awake and the girls are asleep. We’re on Season 2. It’s kind of our new “together’’ show because at the end of last year we finished three shows all around the same time: Always Sunny in Philadelphia, How I Met Your Mother and Dexter.
Belt: I started watching Dexter all over again. I think it’s a genius show — about a serial killer who kills serial killers! What can get better than that?
Crawford: I think it’s interesting how many shows nowadays have, like, the main character doing bad things but in a good way. Like you’re rooting for the bad guy, kind of.
Belt: The lesser of two evils.
Crawford: He can’t help himself from killing so he kills bad people.
Belt: Right, without his code he would be a straight-up serial killer. He’s just lucky he got that code when he was young.
Crawford: Breaking Bad, he’s producing meth to make money for his family. Which, I feel like he has a good amount of money already in Season 2, so he could have stopped.
Belt: All I’m watching right now is Walking Dead so I can’t binge.
Crawford: You’re caught up?
Belt: Yeah. It sucks.
Crawford: When I was down in the Dominican (rookie league), they showed Law and Order, CSI and Lost. One episode a week. They had it on repeat. So for week a straight they had one show on reruns. and the next week they’d do another episode.
Belt: Man, that’d really suck.
OK, now that we re-read this, it is totally boring. It was an experiment. Doesn’t work. But thanks for reading it if you got this far! We probably won’t have another blog post until we get to San Francisco. See you there.
Today’s post is an actual combo Brandon & Brandon blog. We decided to turn on the tape recorder and share with you a conversation between the two of us in the clubhouse. (Saves us from writing anything.) We flipped a coin to see who’d transcribe the tape. We won’t say who lost, but the tape was subsequently fobbed off on a Giants’ staffer who volunteered to do it, mostly to stop a particular someone’s whining and pleading for best two-out-of-three.
Belt: It would have been awesome to be in the lineup today with Will Ferrell playing, wouldn’t it? (Neither Brandon was in the lineup and didn’t make the trip to Glendale for the game.)
Crawford: Would it have been cool to see him? Yeah. But it’s a road game. I’m not disappointed not to go.
Belt: I don’t know if we’d get to talk to him that much, anyway.
Crawford: What would you have said?
Belt: I’d give him some tips on how to be funny. How to act little bit. Nothing as far as baseball goes, I don’t think.
Crawford: What’s your favorite Will Ferrell movie?
Belt: Just your normal ones. Old School. Step-Brothers. Talladega Nights. A lot of people like Elf.
Crawford: Anchorman’s a classic.
Belt. Anchorman! Yes! That’s up there at the top. But Stepbrothers is probably my favorite. It’s so stupid, but it’s hilarious.
Crawford: Step Brothers is all right. Not the best.
Belt: Step Brothers is one of those movies I can watch over and over. Like Tombstone. SuperBad.
Crawford: Elf is better than Step Brothers.
Belt. No, it’s not!
Crawford: Stranger than Fiction?
Belt: That’s the one I was trying to think of. It’s terrible!
Crawford: It’s better than Step Brothers.
Belt: No, it isn’t! Step Brothers is hilarious.
Crawford: Are we going to stay catch partners? (They were catch partners Wednesday when Crawford played in the field for the first time this spring. Last year Crawford’s catch partner was Pablo.)
Belt: I can’t remember who mine was last season. Hicks, before he left. I don’t know what I did after that. I had a concussion for a while. I don’t remember a lot.
Crawford: You threw with Joe (Panik).
Belt: That might be right. I can’t remember.
Crawford: I think he’s playing catch with McGehee. Probably so you wouldn’t ask him again.
Belt: You know I’m really tired right now, and I slept late today. Is that weird? I am like extremely dead.
Crawford: Did you have cherry juice?
Belt: I should have.
Crawford: I don’t believe it wakes you up. For me, it makes me more tired.
Belt: It’s got like 64 cherries in it, and it’s gross. But it’s supposed to give you energy. I didn’t drink it today. I need a Red Bull right now. I haven’t had a Red Bull in like six days.
Crawford: There are a bunch of sugar-free ones in the kitchen that are terrible for you.
Belt: it’s the sugar ones that are bad for you.
Crawford: I thought you were on a nutrition kick.
Belt: So I can’t have Red Bull? Why not?
Crawford: It’s bad for you.
Belt: What are the long-term effects of Red Bull?
Crawford: I don’t know.
Belt: Exactly! So you can’t say anything bad about it.
Crawford: You might develop super powers.
Belt: Yeah! I could!
Crawford: You might actually get wings.
Belt: I could get in the hot tub and spill it and go back in time. It’s possible.
Crawford: Where’d you go?
Belt: I like today. I wouldn’t go anywhere.
Crawford: Go to the future.
Belt: Yeah, I’d go to the future. Go a hundred years into the future and see where we are.
Crawford: Where WE are?
Belt: No — well, we might be alive because they might have the technology by then to bring you back to life.
Crawford: Or maybe the Red Bull will keep you living that long.
Belt: Maybe if I drink Red Bull my whole life I’ll be a thousand years old.
Crawford: Good point.
Tomorrow in Part II: Binge TV.
Just like old times. Guest blogging again.
It’s great to be back with all the guys. There’s still sort a Brandon row in the clubhouse — we’re within a couple lockers of each other but not adjoining like in SF. (I am happy to report we have not revived the Brandon handshake. It was not the greatest handshake, as the other Brandons will tell you. In fact, it kind of gives you an uncomfortable feeling when you do it.)
To refresh your memory, I was sent to Triple A in mid-July. I watched the World Series from my home in Galveston, Texas, with my girlfriend and a buddy of mine. We parked ourselves in front of the TV every evening.
I admit it was a little difficult at times. I wished I could have been there and been a part of it. But of course you’re rooting for the guys you battled with earlier in the year. What stood out for me about the team was their fight — their ability to never give up or give in. They had their backs against the wall a lot of times and kept on pushing. That’s just the type of guys that are in there.
I’m really proud to have contributed during the first half of a championship season. There’s a lot of satisfaction in that. Plus, I’ll get a ring, which is every ballplayer’s dream.
When I arrived at camp a couple weeks ago, a few guys did a double take. They didn’t really recognize me. I’ve got longish hair now. I haven’t cut it since last June. Not sure why. I’ve never really had it long, so I thought, “Why not do it now?’’ It kind of got a little curly on me, though.
I’m not comparing myself to Pagan. He’s probably got the best hair on the team. But I might be in Crawford territory. He gave me some of his product the other day to use. It turned out all right. Gave it that wet look he likes before the game.
Here’s our better side . . .
Games haven’t started but there have been 150, maybe 200, people at Scottsdale Stadium just to watch practice. I guess coming off a World Series championship, we should have expected good crowds, but you’re still surprised to get that kind of support. I heard when Madison walked off the mound yesterday after pitching BP, he got a big round of applause. (I wasn’t in that hitting group, so I didn’t have to face him.)
Nori Aoki is in my group, so I’m starting to get to know him a little. His English isn’t very good, though it’s much better than my Japanese. He clearly has a good sense of humor. We’ve been hitting him fourth in the group because we tell him he has the big power. He laughs and says, “Big guy! Big power!’’
I’ve been around new third-baseman Casey McGehee since before camp officially started. We took grounders on the back practice field together. There’s not much a shortstop and third-baseman need to do as far as adjusting to each other. I just need to get a read on what his range is on balls to his left. After just a few ground balls over there, I’ll be able to read it pretty well.
Communication between a shortstop and third-baseman isn’t as involved as between a shortstop and second-baseman. Casey already has asked if I’d give him a head’s up on breaking balls. (From my position, I can see what pitch the catcher is calling, and the third-baseman can’t.) Pablo wanted a head’s up, also, on breaking balls. I alert them by just making a little noise. I don’t know exactly how it affects their positioning, but maybe they’re a little more ready down the line.
People ask if we come into spring training focused on improving any particular facet of our game. I really don’t. The only thing I want to improve, overall throughout the season, is consistency. I’ve had a lot of hot streaks and cold streaks in my career, which happens to everybody in baseball. So it’s a matter of keeping the cold streaks as short as possible.
So how do I do that? That’s the big question, right? I have to recognize more quickly when there’s something I need to change. I went through two bad months last season — July and August — before I realized I my hands were all over the place. I don’t know if I was getting tired or trying to do too much, but I would kind of lose track of where I was holding them from at-bat to at-bat. They’d get too high. Too far back. And I’d get trapped. I wasn’t as direct to the ball.
So in September, I began again to do that little tap on my shoulder, which I did throughout 2013. It reminds me where my hands need to be — lower and closer to my body. And I had a great September.
Everything’s good with the girls. Jaydyn’s walking (she’s almost 1). And Braylyn’s crazy, running around all over the place (she’s 2). She goes to the gym with Jalynne and does some toddler gymnastics. But we think she’s going to be too tall for gymnastics, though. She’s in the 80th percentile of height and weight for her age, so she’s projected to be around 5-feet-8 or -9.
Check in tomorrow or the next day for a special guest blog from the third Brandon. He has a new look, inspired by someone he admires and clearly wants desperately to emulate . . .
Yes, the blog is back.
This was supposed to be posted on Tuesday, but the posting got screwed up and here it is now:
Today was the first official day of spring training. Everyone is here. We had a great team meeting first thing in the morning. Bochy talked and Hunter talked. It If we weren’t already pumped to go after another World Series title, we are now. I love spring training personally. It’s good to see the green grass again and get back on the field and feel it beneath your feet. As much as we all work out in the off-season, nothing gets you into baseball shape like playing baseball.
One of the things we do in the first few days here is sign baseballs, jerseys and photos that the community relations department uses through the season to try to fill all the requests for charitable donations. They set up a bunch of tables in a hallway near the clubhouse and we sit there before or after practice and just sign. I’m in the midst of signing 27 dozen baseballs. Hunter has to sign 43 dozen. The bigger the star, the more baseballs you’re asked sign. Travis Ishikawa said he used to sign one dozen balls. This year he signed 20-something dozen.
We’re also asked to make a few appearances during spring training.
“There’s a barbecue here at the park,’’ Bobby from community relations said as I signed the baseballs, “or an event at the local zoo, but you have to drive out there so it’ll be more consuming.’’
“And a lot cooler!’’ I said. “I’ll do that one.’’
You know what my favorite zoo is? The one in Omaha, Nebraska. They have all these different sections so when you go to see the water animals, it’s like a swamp area with alligators and beavers. It’s low lighting so you feel like you’re in the swamp at nighttime. They have all these little bridges and the animals swimming underneath you. It’s awesome.
Another thing about spring training is you’re back with all your teammates. We saw a lot of guys at FanFest but now we’re really together. And there are more guys. Brandon Hicks! The third Brandon. I was happy to see him back and happy to be able to use our Brandon handshake. It’s a pretty easy handshake. Kind of feminine actually. We tried to make it as awkward as possible.
For whatever reason, spring training also means — for me — watching a lot of Shark Tank. I’m too busy in the off-season to watch, but here it’s like the best thing to watch after practice. It’s kind of Shark Tank non-stop on X-box video. I like the feel-good stories about people who bring stuff in and make a company out of it. I love the brutal honesty the Sharks have with these people. It’s hilarious sometimes. I like rooting against some people and rooting for other people. Haylee hates that I watch it all the time. But she’s just as bad with HGTV. Every time I come home, HGTV is on. She used a lot of the info when we built our house. But we’re done building our house, so I’m not sure why she still needs to watch it.
I did take a break to watch the Oscars, or at least about half of it. I thought it was boring. It took them like an hour and a half to do six awards, and they’re mostly awards nobody cares about. And I wasn’t as interested as I usually am because I didn’t see most of the films because it turns out when you have a baby, you don’t go out as much. That’s my excuse for getting one pick correct — just Patricia Arquette. Me and the academy do not agree on a lot of things.
I saw two movies when I was in San Francisco for FanFest. Here are my reviews.
The Kingsmen: It’s about this secret, kind of James Bond organization. This kid’s dad was a part of it, so they kind of recruited the kid to be a part of it as well. He goes through all these tests and ends up being a spy. It was a less cheesy version of a spy movie in that they didn’t follow the same storylines that most spy movies follow. A more adult version. The acting was great. Samuel L. Jackson had a lisp, though I’m not sure why he found that necessary for the movie. Otherwise there were a bunch of English people.
Jupiter Ascending: Honestly to this day I still have no idea what I watched. It’s about this girl played by Mila Kunis who is a reincarnated Queen of the Universe. Her kids weren’t dead so they could take control of the universe, I guess. Channing Tatum is protecting her so they can get her back to power, I think. Honestly, it was a weird movie. There’s a lot of detail in it. It was very confusing. They colonize planets. It was a forgettable movie. It really was. Pretty cool special effects, that’s about it. I think it would have been kind of a cool movie if you knew what was going on.
Finally, just want to say how happy we all are that Bochy is fine and back on the field. He’s the leader. He’s the guy who gets the best out of his ballplayers. We’ve got to have him at the reins if we want to go out there and win another championship. He’s the one who sets the tone. That’s why, I think, when new guys like Casey McGehee and Nori Aoki show up, they fit in so quickly. The rookies, too. They figure out real quick we have a pretty special bond in this clubhouse. Everyone fits in, which is why we’ve been so successful.
OK, Hunter is giving me a hard time about getting back to signing baseballs. He’s been flying through his. So I’m diving back in. Then heading home. Shark Tank is cued up and waiting.