Archive for the ‘ Belt ’ Category

A Bucket by the Bed – Brandon Belt

I was home sick today with a stomach virus. It came on all of a sudden last night and I’ve been sleeping on and off most of the day. Not fun. But I thought I’d get a post out while I can.

On Monday a lot of reporters asked me about Barry Bonds because I guess he mentioned me by name at his press conference. I haven’t talked to him yet. I just introduced myself at the batting cage. I’m shy by nature so I’m not going to go up to him and start asking questions right away. I listened to him talk to other guys during BP and picked up a few things. Nothing too specific.

But I’ll definitely talk to him. You’re always figuring out some kinks during spring training, so that’s what I’d want to talk to him about. And I’d like to talk to him about how he minimized the down times so you get out of them more quickly. I know I can overthink things. The biggest part of the game sometimes is just getting out of your own way.

Sometimes it just comes so naturally. He talked to a few people today. You kind of listen to him talking to other guys and pick up on stuff for yourself. There was nothing too specific.

​In the field, everything’s going pretty well. But just like you’re getting your rhythm back at the plate, you’re doing the same in the field. Your body wants to speed up because it’s feeling good. You’re real strong from the off-season, so your body wants to do a lot more than it needs to. So you just have to slow yourself down. The more you slow yourself down, the easier the game is.

I work on specific things as they come up. For example, I made a bad throw to third in a game, so that’s what I worked on yesterday. A lot of mishaps in the field just have to do with rushing. You usually have more time than you think. So if you just take your time you’ll usually be OK.

Another thing I always work on in spring is scoops. A coach will throw a bunch of balls in the dirt and I practice handling every kind of bounce.

Getting a good jump on the ball is another thing I work on in the field. Sometimes you create bad hops for yourself by not getting a good jump.The truth is I’m feeling good in the field right now, but you’re never satisfied.

​Most days after practice I hang out with Haylee. Like last spring, we’re sharing an apartment in North Phoenix with Charlie Culberson and his wife, Sarah, and their 18-month daughter Collins. Charlie’s with the Rockies now, but we became good friends during the minor leagues with the Giants. We have a lot of fun with Collins. She runs around stealing your food and wanting a sip out of everybody’s glass. She’s a good baby.

​You might have noticed I did pretty well on my Oscar picks. But did you know that Cleveland closer John Axford picked 18 for 18? How do you do that? (There are 24 categories but he didn’t make picks for all of them.) Pretty amazing. That’s my goal for next year.

​So I’ve seen two movies since my last post.

300: Rise of an Empire – It’s a sequel to “300,’’ about the Spartans fighting the Persians in Ancient Greece, which I remember watching when I was in junior college. I thought this one was good but obviously it’s not going to be as good as the first one. But it was entertaining. Haylee and I went to a 9 o’clock showing and she slept the whole time. She fell asleep in the previews and didn’t wake up until the end.

Rating: Two stars.

Non-stop – Liam Neeson is an air marshal on a plane, and there’s a terrorist on board. The terrorist is going to kill someone every 20 minutes unless they transfer money into his bank account. The terrorist is setting it up so it looks like the air marshal is the terrorist because the account is in his name. You don’t know who the terrorist is until the end. The ending is kind of stupid. I kept waiting for something else to happen.

Rating: 1 1/2 stars.

It’s a pretty bad time for movies right now. I’m not sure what I’ll see next. I’m looking forward to “22 Jump Street’’—the sequel to 21 Jump Street — coming out in June with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum.

OK, got to get some more rest so I’m ready to go tomorrow. Keeping a bucket by the bed. The one essential for a stomach virus.

The Envelope Please . . . – Brandon Belt

(Sorry I didn’t get this posted until today. Pretend it’s still yesterday.)

I could talk about my two hits today in the first game of spring. That felt pretty good.

​But because the Academy Awards are on Sunday, I thought I’d share my picks so you can win the pool at your Oscar party.

Best Actor: No question it’s Matthew McConaughey. He was awesome in Dallas Buyers Club. It’s the best performance of his career.

Best Actress: I’m picking Amy Adams because I think she’s a really good actress but I wasn’t blown away by her performance in American Hustle. And I didn’t see Blue Jasmine or that Osage County movie because it looked stupid. And Sandra Bullock was being Sandra Bullock and I didn’t really like Gravity. Getting lost in space is my biggest fear. I would never go into space. I think Bam-Bam’s stupid if he does it. That fear comes just ahead of being burned alive. I heard it takes 15 minutes to burn alive. Actually I have to say I’m probably more afraid of a mid-airplane crash and plummeting out of the sky. So that’s ahead of being burned alive. Lost in space, mid-air crash and being burned alive. That’s my order.

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto. He was so good you completely believed his character. The best part of Dallas Buyers Club was the acting. I was hooked on all the characters the whole way through.

Best supporting baseball player: Adam Dunn, who plays the bartender when Matthew McConaughey meets Jared Leto. (I just read that he’s actually going to the Academy Awards.)

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence. She’s great.

​Best Picture: My top three are Lone Survivor, Twelve Years a Slave and Dallas Buyers Club. It’s really a toss-up, but I’m going with Twelve Years a Slave in part because I like historical movies.

​I think I’ve told you before that during the season I am not a morning person. I have a reputation of being a grouch in the morning. So you might be surprised to know I was at the park for a yoga class at 6:15 a.m. on Tuesday. I had to get up at 5:30. The truth is that during spring training I become a morning person because all our games are during the day. I go to bed by about 10. Sometimes I have to force myself to go to bed that early, but I’m really working on getting better sleeping habits.

​This is the first year we’ve had yoga classes. They’re on Tuesdays and Fridays at 6:15 for any player or staffer who wants to come. Tuesday was my first class. There were probably a dozen of us there. I hope to get to the Friday class, too. My lower body is not the most flexible lower body on the team. So I’m hoping to loosen those muscles.

I did yoga once before, two years ago at a Giants conditioning camp in January. So I was a little familiar with it and did better than I thought I would. Hunter was behind me, so I couldn’t see him. I’d say Gary Brown was the best of the guys I could see. But I held my poses a little longer than he did. So I’d have to say I dominated.

​I don’t get too deep into the mind-body part of yoga. I’m from East Texas. We don’t do stuff like that.

I’m trying to eat better, too, this year. Mostly it’s about having a good eating schedule – regular meals and snacks instead of hauling in the food in two meals. Instead of my energy going way up and plummeting, I’m hoping to be more even throughout the day.

And I’m cutting back on Red Bulls. I’m not giving them up altogether but I’m not going to drink them just out of habit. I’ll have one only when I really need a boost. Like this morning. I woke up and didn’t feel real great. So I had one. It was great. I love opening it up and smelling it. I get energy right away just from the smell.

​Tomorrow we have a day off, which I’ll spend with Haylee. Our wives stay at home all day waiting for us to get there. So if we have a little time to spend with them, that’s what we’re going to do.

​Hope you got to see the highlight of today’s game. Look for it on YouTube or somewhere if you haven’t. Josh Reddick made maybe the best catch of the year. Maybe the best I’ve ever seen in person. Mike Morse – robbed twice. But it’s good to get your bad luck out of the way now.

​Hope to post again soon.

-Brandon B.

Does My Butt Look Big in this Dress? – Brandon Belt

"Dustin Hoffman, eat your heart out"

“Dustin Hoffman, eat your heart out”

I’m writing this – dictating actually – before the media show up to interview us, an annual thing the day before FanFest. But I flew into the Bay Area a few days early for two reasons: To find a house to rent in the East Bay for the season, and to shoot commercials for the Giants.

First, the house. Haylee and I lived in an apartment near the ballpark last year. We couldn’t have our dog. It wasn’t that dogs weren’t allowed. But Lilly is awful. She has bad separation anxiety, and when we leave her alone she screams at the top of her lungs for about an hour straight. We can’t share a wall with anybody when Lilly’s with us, so she stayed with my parents. But in the offseason I had a midlife crisis about my dog. She’s a mutt that, if I had to guess is a beagle/dachshund/rat terrier mix with kind of a squatty, feet-turned-out stance of a basset hound. I love my dog, and I realized if I kept leaving her in Texas during the season, I’d miss three-quarters of her life and that made me really sad. So we’re going to find a house with a yard this season.

As for the commercials, I’m convinced the Giants sit in a room and say, “How can we humiliate these players when they get here?’’ Or maybe just, “How can we humiliate Brandon?’’ Then they come up with the worst things possible. I had to dress up like a giraffe. I had to dress up like a fan with a big mustache and look like a lumberjack. And I had to dress up like a Gamer Babe. I wore baseball pants under the dress but it was still very tight. Of course it showed my big butt. And the front part wasn’t as loose as you’d want it to be. In the commercial I was sitting then standing and it’s not like you have time to adjust yourself. I hope they have a good editor. At least I got to sit with a bunch of fans, who are in the commercials. That was the best part.

Photos from Commericals Day 1

You will notice when you see me that I now have facial hair. I started growing it in November with my buddies back home. Mine got really thick and bushy – not like Sergio or Brian Wilson – but I got to the point where it was bothering me. So I trimmed it. And I cut my hair. It doesn’t stick straight up any more. I’m going for the grown-up look.

I worked out hard during the off-season. Right now I’m as strong as I’ve ever been at this point in the year. I always want to do better than I did the previous year in all aspects of my game but also in weight-training. I’m definitely heavier – most of it’s good weight but if you live in Texas, you know some of it’s Mexican food. I got back into the batting cage after New Year’s, working mostly off a tee. You’re basically laying down a base for spring training so you feel ready to dive right in. This off-season seemed really long, and for the past few weeks I’ve really been feeling the itch to get back on the field.

The highlight of the off-season was moving into our house, which my dad has been renovating for us. We’ve been living with Haylee’s parents, who are great, but it’s really nice to have our own place.

I have a room above the garage that I guess you’d call a man cave. It has three televisions to watch all the football games, a pool table, a kitchenette and these really, really comfortable beanbag-type chairs called Lovesacs. I use to go into the Lovesac store and sit on the chairs and wish I had one. Now I have two.

I can’t end this without a few quick movie reviews.

American Hustle: Haylee didn’t like it a whole bunch. Not a lot of action going on. Not a lot to get your blood flowing. But I thought it had a good plot. Two-and-half stars (out of four).

Wolf of Wall Street: You can pretty much watch a porn movie and that’s what you got. There was a good movie underneath it all but it was so over-the-top and explicit that the story was just lost. After a while you’re like, “Move on, we get it.’’ They could have cut out an hour of the movie and it would have been a lot better. One-and-a-half stars.

Anchorman II: I’d heard mixed reviews on it. I know people who did not like it at all and people who said it was OK for a sequel. I absolutely loved it. I laughed the entire time. I love every single one of those characters, especially Will Farrell and Paul Rudd. They’re two of my favorite comedy actors. Three stars.

Captain Phillips:  It was kind of long and there were times I got a little bored, but overall I liked it a lot. Two-and-a-half.

Ride Along: Kevin Hart plays the main character. It’s a cop movie where this guy wants to marry the cop’s sister. So the cop says you can ride a long with me and if I think you’re worthy I’ll give you my blessing. It was pretty good. Not the best movie, but you’re entertained enough. Two stars.

Gravity: It was nice and short, maybe 90 minutes, and it keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. Three stars.

Twelve Years a Slave: Really, really good. I went to see it late at night by myself because Haylee didn’t want to see it. It was my favorite movie of the off-season. Great story. You’re rooting the whole time for the guy to get out of that situation he was in. It was pretty tough to watch at times, but that’s what made it so good. You felt like you were there. Three-and-a-quarter stars.

Just to let you know, I hardly ever think a movie is four stars. Tombstone is definitely four stars. I’d say The Place Beyond the Pines is almost four stars. Also Macgruber gets almost four stars. I laugh my butt off every time I see it.

OK, off to catch up with the media. Hope you’re coming out to the park for FanFest tomorrow. It’s a really cool event for the players because we get to meet fans face-to-face.

I’ll check in again during spring training. Thanks for reading.

-Brandon B.

On The Silver Screen – Brandon Belt

The good thing about the rainout in Cincinnati is that we got to come back to San Francisco earlier. Nothing like landing at SFO and riding the bus back to the ballpark after a miserable road trip. Haylee was still out of town visiting family back in Texas. And Bumgarner’s wife, Ali, wasn’t back yet either. So me and Bum had a date.

We took scooters down the Embarcadero to the Ferry Building. He hasn’t gotten his scooter yet, so he rode Haylee’s little baby-blue one. He looked cute. He’s huge and the scooter is tiny. He had to hunch way over to reach the handlebars. We went to Gott’s but the line was too long. So we went to a great Mexican place on Howard – and I can’t remember the name! They’re always so nice to us. I’ll pass it along when I remember.

As usual, I saw a few movies on the road. There’s a little movie group now, so I don’t go alone as much. It’s mostly Kontos, Javy, Hunter, Crawfordand me. When you’re on the road, you can go a little stir crazy because it’s just room/baseball field, room/baseball field. So you want to just get out of your room. If we have an off day, we’ll plan what we’re going to see. Otherwise, it’s just whoever’s around when you’re thinking about going.

In Colorado on the off day, I went to see “This Is the End’’ again with Crawford and Kontos. There’s a part in there that might be the funniest movie scene ever, though it might just be funny to guys. I don’t know. I can’t really describe it tastefully. But it’s between Danny McBride and James Franco. They’re yelling back and forth at each other, and you literally start laughing at the beginning and it goes on for at least a minute and you’re laughing so hard for at least a minute straight and it hurts. I laughed so hard I could barely breathe and tears were coming down my face and I almost fell on the floor. I’ll say this: It’s about what guys sometimes do when they’re by themselves and the result of what happens when they do that. I’ll leave it at that. It is just so original. I wish I could find it on YouTube and play it on a loop all day.

That scene is right up there with a scene in “Wanderlust’’ with Paul Rudd and Jennifer Anniston. It’s the one where Paul Rudd is talking to himself in the mirror. I pretty much consider those the funniest scenes of all time.

In Cincinnati I went with Kontos and Hunter to see a film of stand-up comic Kevin Hart. And on Thursday when I got home I saw “The Heat’’ with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. I think this is Melissa McCarthy’s best movie. Better than Bridesmaids. Haylee got home Friday before our game, and she wasn’t real happy when I picked her up at the airport and told her that I went to see it without her — even though she had told me it was okay. I think she was just grumpy about leaving her family and so it probably wasn’t the best time to tell her I had seen the movie. She’s fine now.  

It was great to see Bum pitch so well yesterday and get us the win. Obviously we really needed it. It’s not like we were in this dungeon of doom and we were never going to get out of it. But it’s not been very fun the last few weeks. There’s no doubt in this clubhouse, though, that we can win the World Series with this team. You realize you’re going to have times when you’re not playing well. Everything usually averages out — as bad as this is, we plan on having a run where we’re just as good on the other side.

 When you see a light at the end of the tunnel, like we did with our win yesterday, then things start to click. You don’t know who it’s going to be to get it going. Last year, somebody different stepped up every day. Yesterday it was Bum.

Who’s it going to be today?

Thanks for reading!

 -Brandon B.

Winning, Movies and Haylee’s Hillbilly Adventure – Brandon Belt

It’s great to take two of three from the Padres and make up ground. The Marlins are coming in next, and even though they don’t have a great record, they’re not a team we can take lightly. Since nobody in our division has taken off with the lead, now’s a good time for us to make a move. When we get everybody back in the lineup, that will be a boost right there.

I did my usual movie binge on the road. On our off day in Pittsburgh, I saw two movies back to back. I saw “Purge,’’ which was disappointing. And “Now You See Me,’’ which was really good. I saw “Star Trek’’ on another day. I’m saving the Jonah Hill/Seth Rogan movie for the next road trip.

Other than seeing movies and playing baseball, I basically slept. When we’re back east, I’m awake all night and sleeping during the day. I guess it’s the time change. I don’t adjust well. I can play just fine, but my sleeping is all off. Three nights in a row, I fell asleep around 7 in the morning. I watched TV all night — movies, sitcom reruns like Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, Frasier. I keep watching and watching and I never get tired of them.

Haylee met up with me in Atlanta after spending time with Ali Bumgarner in North Carolina. She texted me a video of her driving a backhoe. I don’t know if they were building something or planting something. Looked like she was just digging a hole. It was just funny listening to her and watching her try to do it. “I don’t know what this thing does! I forgot how to do it!’’ But actually it looked like she did a good job.

She also rode a horse. I don’t know if she had ever ridden one before, to be honest with you. Other than that, I have no idea what else she and Ali did. All kinds of hillbilly stuff is my guess. But I think they had a good time.

My dad came to Atlanta. He drove up with some of his co-worker buddies. So we hung out with them. We had night games, so we went out afterward. Which was great. Less time to kill later on watching TV.

Tonight I’m attending a dinner with Haylee and a few teammates at the park here for AT&T. I think Crawford, Affeldt and Lopez will be there, too, and Bochy. It’s always better to go to these events after a win. We’re much better company.

-Brandon B.

Benihana, Roller Coasters and The Bachelorette – Brandon Belt

We’re flying to Arizona this afternoon for the start of a long road trip. Haylee’s flying out today, too, but she’s going with Ali Bumgarner to Ali’s home in North Carolina while we play in Arizona and Pittsburgh. When we go to Atlanta, Haylee and Ali will drive down and meet us there.

 

So I’ll probably spend this afternoon at the new Star Trek movie. There’s an unbelievable theater next to our hotel in Phoenix, the AMC Esplanade. They serve food and have these big recliner seats. You could go to sleep if you want to. There’s a movie called The Purge I hope I can see this weekend. It takes place in the future, and for a 12-hour period everything is legal, even murder. So people are pretty much bunkering in their houses trying not to get killed. It sounds pretty interesting because you just don’t see something like that very often. When a movie comes out and it’s just not the norm, I want to see it.

 

On our day off Monday, I went with Haylee to Great America in Santa Clara. I’m a big roller coaster guy. Haylee’s not nearly as enthused about it as I am, but she goes. Afterward, we had dinner at Benihana with my host mom from when I played in San Jose. I always have a good experience there. It’s fun watching them flip the shrimp and the other food. I want them to flip the egg in my mouth. I didn’t ask but wish they did it. I love edamame, so I get that as an appetizer. I don’t do sushi. My wife and host mom get that all the time. I get the beef, fried rice, no mushrooms, lots of onions.

 

Afterward we went home and watched The Bachelorette. It’s just the second week, so we’re still sorting out our favorites. There’s a guy called Reality Steve who predicts the winners and gets it right every time. I’m sure he has someone on the show who tells him who wins. I’m waiting for him to come out with his predictions so I don’t have to watch the rest of the show. OK, that’s not true. I always tell myself I’m not going to watch it, then I do and end up liking it then watching it again. So it’s a vicious cycle.

 

I like The Bachelor more than The Bachelorette because I’d rather watch a bunch of girls going after a guy than a bunch guys going after a girl. But I happen to really like this Bachelorette, Desiree. I liked her when she was on the Bachelor. She was my favorite. She’s sweet as can be. I love sweet girls. I married a sweet girl.

 

Guess I should get a little baseball stuff in here, too. It was great getting the pinch-hit double in St. Louis. When you come through like that, you’re happy you helped the team out. We needed the win. And it gave a win to the starter, which is an added bonus.

 

I’ve gotten better at pinch-hitting. The key is to stay in the game mentally while you’re on the bench for two or more hours. What I do is go through at-bats with a teammate. I’m physically in the dugout, of course, but I’m mentally at the plate. I might be looking for a first-pitch fastball. If it’s not, I lay off it. Then I continue to the next pitch: What am I looking for now? Basically have the at-bat with the batter, thinking along with him strategically. I’ll also watch at-bats on TV to see what the pitches look like straight on. It keeps you in the game. Then when I think I’ll be going in, I take some swings and stretch to get my body loose.

 

All you can do while you’re on the bench is to prepare as much as you can. When I was standing on second base after the double, I thought, “Thank goodness I did something to help the team.’’

 

Heading off to the ballpark to ride the bus to the airport. I’ll let you know how The Purge is if I get to see it. I have a good feeling about this road trip. For one thing, we don’t face R. A. Dickey.

 

-Brandon B.

New Wheels – Brandon Belt

I rode my new scooter to the park for the first time today. I think now four of us have them – Timmy, Hunter, Sergio and me. Joe, our team cook, customizes them with paint and decals. He brought mine to the park yesterday, and it looks awesome. It’s orange and black with the number 9. (Haylee got a scooter, too. Hers is baby blue and I think it also has my number on it.)

 

I didn’t ride it home last night because it was really cold, and two of my best buddies from Texas are visiting San Francisco for the first time. So I put the scooter in my truck and drove with them back to the apartment.

 

So the inaugural ride was this afternoon. The scooter has an electric motor with a Turbo button (which means about 25 mph at top speed).  So I was hauling butt down the Embarcadero to the park. Well, hauling butt as much as you can when you’re riding on the sidewalk. I don’t like riding in the street if I don’t have to. To be honest, I don’t know if scooters are even allowed on the sidewalk. I’m just going to keep going until somebody stops me. The only thing I get nervous about on the sidewalk is going over bumps. The scooter has shocks, but I slow down when there’s a bump. I’m afraid I’m going to flip me over the handlebars.

 

 

So yesterday was a big day for me overall — got my new scooter and went 4-for-5 with a homer in a decisive win. We needed a lift after that brutal road trip. Before the game, though, everything in the clubhouse was pretty normal. This team doesn’t panic. We put losses behind us. We knew if we just refocused, we could easily get back on track. And that’s what happened.

 

I felt locked in from the moment I got to the field. It was a weird feeling. Maybe I was pumped up about my scooter. I was completely comfortable in the batter’s box. I don’t know why it happens, but sometimes you just feel like that. Once you feel good in the box, then it’s just about swinging at strikes. I was able to get pitches I wanted and put them in play.

 

On my homer, I felt like I crushed it. But you can never be sure how far the ball is going to go in this park – at least when you hit it to right-center. If I had hit it to straight right field, I’d know it was gone. But there’s a blanket out there. The wind just blows in and can stop a ball in its tracks. The wind patterns are so weird.  The flags in center field can be blowing straight out toward the bay. But when I’m standing at first base, I’ll feel the wind blowing at my back the whole game. So you never know.

 

I felt really good about my fourth at-bat. I already had three hits, including the home run. So psychologically you might relax a little. You know you’ve already had a good day. But I wanted to make sure I didn’t give in. I stayed as locked in as I had been the previous three at-bats. And I was locked in on the fifth at-bat, too. I hit it solid, but he made a good pitch and the ball died at the warning track.

 

I was particularly happy to have a good night with my buddies Matt and Justin in the stands. We played ball together in high school. They’re supposed to leave on Saturday, but I told them if I keep hitting, they’re staying the rest of the year.

 

Vogey stopped by the clubhouse a little while ago and said the surgery on his finger this morning went well, so that was good news. We all felt awful for him last night. He was pitching so great and then breaks his finger. He’ll be back, of course. That guy is so tough and competitive. He works so hard.

 

OK, enough for now. Thanks for reading. And wave if you see a tall guy on a black-and-orange scooter hauling butt (cautiously) down the Embarcadero.

 

-Brandon B.

Hollywood Endings – Brandon Belt

Just to clarify my blog mate’s last post about me missing dinner with the guys in Chicago. (He seemed skeptical about my claim that I didn’t know about it.) I knew about it, but I didn’t know when and where. I was in my room waiting for someone to text me. When no one did, I went to the movies.

 

I saw “The Place Beyond the Pines’’ with Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, which is a great movie if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s a little dark, but I like dark movies. You might not peg me as an independent-film kind of guy, but I’m a fan. Since I can’t get Haylee to see them, I go by myself on the road.

 

I know she’d like a lot of the movies if she’d just go with me. So it was funny the other night when she dragged me to a restaurant she wanted to try, Epic on the Embarcadero. She knows how I am about new restaurants. I reluctantly agreed to go. And I loved it. Haylee was thrilled.

 

“See?’’ she said. “You have to try new things. You might find you like them.’’

 

“That’s how I feel about you going to the movies with me!’’

 

She laughed and said she’d go to more movies.

 

Our season itself has been like a Hollywood script. It’s crazy how our games are going. Every one of them seems to be a heart-stopper. Not to the players, though, to be honest. When we were in the dugout after the Dodgers rallied back Friday and Saturday – and again yesterday – there was never a doubt in our minds we would win.

 

If we give up a bunch of runs, you don’t hear guys in the dugout saying, “OK, we’ve got to get our butts in gear!’’ We just go about our business. We stick to the game plan. We know what we have to do.

 

We talk about “synergy’’ a lot. We focus our energy on the guy in the spotlight at that moment. We genuinely believe that guy is going to come through – and it usually happens! It’s crazy. I don’t even know if I believe in all that stuff, but it’s amazing how often it works. It’s just that positive attitude that gets us through a lot of games. You don’t know who it’s going to be. But someone usually comes through in the clutch.

 

When Quiroz was up Saturday, I don’t think anyone was necessarily thinking he was going to get a walk-off home run. We were all focusing our energy on him getting on base and getting the train in motion. Then you hope the next person gets on, and the next. Then all you need is a blooper to win the game. We really try to keep it as simple as that.

 

When Q hit the home run – only the third homer in his Major League career — it was awesome. Everybody was so happy for him. He’s a real positive guy. Real easy-going. He’s always rooting for everybody else, so it’s easy to root for him. For us to have walk-off home runs two nights in a row was pretty awesome.

 

I keep thinking back to the Milwaukee game on April 16. We were down 9-3 and battled back to score five runs. We didn’t give up. We don’t care what the score is. We didn’t win, but I remember how relentless we were. That’s what this team is about. We keep on going out there and battling.

 

The sweep of the Dodgers this weekend had to be one of the most entertaining series in baseball this season. I wish I could have contributed more at the plate, the way I did in Arizona last week. But that’s the way it goes. Sometimes it’s your moment. Sometimes it’s somebody else’s moment.

 

As long as we keep winning. That’s all that matters.

 

-Brandon B.

How to Recognize a Good Restaurant – Brandon Belt

Salad dressing. That’s how you know you’re in a good restaurant. (Or if it’s TexMex, salsa.)

If you follow me on twitter (@bbelt9), you already know my favorite salad dressing is at Olive Garden with their unlimited salad and bread sticks. You might be surprised to know that not everyone thinks Olive Garden is one of America’s best restaurants. I’ve discovered that people in San Francisco hate chain restaurants with a passion. I come from a small town, and the way we knew we were in a city is if it had an Olive Garden. Then Lufkin got one six or seven years ago. I’ve been ordering the Tour of Italy ever since – lasagna, alfredo and chicken parmesan.

Even on the road, I’m opposed to trying new restaurants. If the food isn’t very good, my whole night is ruined because I could have gone to Olive Garden.

Back to salad dressing.

Lots of restaurants have kind of the same food so a restaurant that has really good salad dressing sets itself apart. So that’s how you know it’s a good place. House of Prime Rib had great salad dressing, so that’s my favorite in San Francisco.

When I tweeted about Olive Garden’s salad dressing, the restaurant sent me a message saying they wanted to send me free salad dressing. I tweeted that this was probably the best day of my life.

Haylee and I had a good time socializing with teammates in Arizona. Nick Noonan and his fiance bought a condo right before we broke camp. They had no furniture but invited people over anyway. It was a BYOC party – Bring Your Own Chair. It’s really nice getting together with guys off the field. I’m happy Nick’s here in San Francisco. He has a great chance of making the roster on Opening Day.

Tune into 95.7 on Monday afternoons. I’ll be talking to Bucher and Townie every week at 4:30. And I’ll be doing interviews with Amy G. on the Comcast website.

Thanks for reading!

Hope to see you at the park. Or at Olive Garden.

-Brandon B.

Tilting at Windmills – Brandon Belt

Some of you might have seen an unusual tweet from me two days ago.

“I want to compliment you @channingtatum, you got a rockin bod in Magic Mike #winkyface”.

People tweeted back that they hoped I had gotten hacked. Someone told me I was weird. “You’re not wrong,’’ I tweeted back. Someone else wondered if Haylee had taken my phone and written it. She immediately tweeted that she had nothing to do with it. For an hour, I couldn’t explain my tweet. That was part of the bet.

This was the brainchild of my warped locker mate, Gary Brown. He bet he could beat me in miniature golf. No problem. I was the king of the windmills. Then I lost. I figured he’d make me tweet that he was the new king and I bowed to him. Instead he came up with Channing Tatum.

So when the hour was up and I tweeted out the explanation of the bet, not a single person tweeted back. Where was everybody? They only saw the Channing Tatum tweet but not my explanation? Great.

I’m getting this post done in the clubhouse after today’s game. Not a great outcome obviously. But spring is when you really focus on working on improving your game as an individual and as a team. I had my fourth home run and seventh RBI in the last seven games. I feel completely comfortable up at the plate right now. The best I’ve felt in a while. Everything’s clicking.

What’s different? I think a few things. Now that I’ve been in the majors a little while, I’m better at figuring out how the pitchers are trying to set me up. Their job is to mess with your timing. As soon as you think you know what they’re going to throw, they do something else to trip you up. Now I’m thinking more along with them and I’m not fooled as much.

I also think my off-season work is paying off. I worked with my high school on strengthening my forearms and my core. The forearms help you hit for power, and your core helps just about everything.

I didn’t start the spring so well. And the thought crossed my mind that maybe I’d never get a hit again. But what’s different now is that the negativity disappears as quickly as it arrives. Now I know I’ll come out the other side. I went through some dark baseball hell for a while when I first came up to the majors. Those struggles now give me confidence.  You learn to believe in yourself no matter what happens because you’ve seen yourself battle through it.

I think that’s why sports is so important for kids. Where else do you get these kinds of lessons about failure and struggle and resilience? I learned that things aren’t always going to go my way, whether it’s on the field or in the rest of my life. You have to be mentally tough. My dad drilled that into me. I didn’t do such a great job of that sometimes when I first got to the majors. Sometimes you have to be dragged to your lowest point before you figure out how to believe in yourself and fight.

A few other good things are happening, too. My truck is supposed to arrive today or tomorrow from Texas. It should have been here a while ago but there was trouble with the shipping company blah blah. Haylee and I have had to share her car, which we drove to Arizona. I take the car to away games, which leaves her stranded in North Scottsdale. So she will be very happy to have her car all to herself again.

And yesterday Haylee gave me a new wedding band. We had seen it in a store here in Scottsdale. I liked it but told her I’d never buy it for myself. The next thing I know she’s giving it to me as an early birthday present. (My birthday is next month.) It’s very cool but not flashy. It has a bunch of tiny greenish garnet stones that refract the light and give off a nice sparkle.

My original wedding ring is in the cup holder of my truck parked at my house in Lufkin. I take it off when I work out and leave it in the cup holder. In the rush of leaving for Arizona, I forgot all about it. Good deal for me. Now I have a better one.

That’s it for now. Thanks, as always, for reading. I’ll keep you posted on a rematch with Gary Brown. Maybe ping-pong this time. Or basketball. I have a few inches on him. I’m open to suggestions.

-Brandon B.

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