We’re sharing the space today. SFG Productions taped us playing Madden NFL against each other last week. They’ll show it on an “Inside the Clubhouse’’ segment on Comcast at some point. In the meantime, we got someone to transcribe the audio (at least a lot of it). You might find it totally boring, but it was an easy way to “write’’ a post. We like easy. (Especially Belt. Let’s be honest.)
To set the scene: We’re in an empty suite at Scottsdale Stadium sitting on stools and facing a huge screen. We’re holding PlayStation controllers that neither of us has ever used. Crawford picks the 49ers as his team. Belt picks the Cowboys. Then Belt sets the difficulty level.
Craw: You serious? At least All-Pro.
Belt: All-Pro? No!
[The music comes up. Teams appear on the screen.]
Belt: If you remember, when they played each other in 2012 the Cowboys won.
Craw: This is 2014. Nobody cares about 2012.
Belt: Don’t look at my plays.
Craw: I’m picking my own plays.
Belt: First down, son!
[Then another first down for Dallas. And another.]
Belt: Are you even playing defense?
Craw: I’m pressing buttons still trying to figure it out.
[Dallas scores, PAT good, 7-0]
Belt [Examining the controller to choose defensive plays]: What am I doing here? Oh my goodness.
[49ers receiver eludes Cowboys’ defender for a first down.]
Belt: That’s bullcrap. Everybody knows the Cowboys have the best secondary in the NFL.
[Then the Cowboys stuff 49ers RB Frank Gore.)
Belt: Take a seat!
[Cowboys’ ball. Incomplete pass.]
Announcer: Terrible route!
Belt [glaring at his controller]: This thing is not made for lefties.
[Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo fumbles.]
Belt: Oh my gosh! Seriously? No chance! This game’s so stupid.
Announcer: That was just a terrible job by the offensive player!
Belt: That was just a terrible job by the makers of this game. Romo doesn’t fumble.
[A few minutes later Frank Gore runs for a 49ers touchdown, PAT good, 7-7.]
Belt: Well, we know where the makers of this game are from. They make PlayStations in the Bay Area, right?
Craw: You think that’s what’s going on?
Belt: I know that’s what’s going on.
[Romo fumbles again.]
Belt: Oh my god! OK, I quit. I want to break this thing. You got to be kidding me.
[A few plays later, the 49ers score again, 14-7. Then the Cowboys score, 14-14 at halftime.]
Belt: We’re tied, and I never play and you play all the time. How does that make you feel?
Craw: Not very good, to be honest.
[49ers open second half with a steady drive down the field.]
Craw: You nervous?
[Quarterback sneak for 49ers touchdown, 21-14]
[Crawford laughs. Belt is disgusted.]
Belt: Why are we playing at Candlestick? Did you do this? To give you as many advantages as possible today?
[But soon Dallas scores. Belt wants a timeout before the PAT]
Belt: How do you call a timeout on this thing?
Craw: Why are you calling a timeout?
Belt: [Laughs]: I have to figure out how to do this!
Craw: You going for two?
Belt: Stop looking at my stuff, man!
Craw: I’m looking at the screen to pick a play.
[Belt’s two-point conversion pass fails. Score is 21-20, 49ers]
Belt: What was that? [Laughs]. Go big or go home.
[Belt calls for an onside kick. The ball slips through the 49ers hands, and Dallas recovers.]
Belt: Oh, oh!
Craw [Smiling]: PlayStation’s stupid.
Belt: Oh yes! This is the best game ever!
Craw: The best part is I had no way to control that.
Belt: Yes, you did — catch the ball!
Craw: It was in his hands.
[Incomplete pass for Dallas. Then another.]
Belt: This is the dumbest game I’ve ever seen!
[Then a gain of 9.]
Belt: Fourth and inches!
Craw [Deadpan]: I’m pretty sure he’s going for it here.
[Dallas picks up the first down. Two-minute warning.]
Belt: My palms are sweating.
[First and 10 for Dallas. Incomplete.]
Belt: Oh my god!
Craw: Do you have confidence in your kicker?
Belt: No. I don’t have confidence in myself to make the kick.
Craw: It’s only a 57-yarder from there.
[Complete pass. Third and short.]
Announcer: Third and short is a lot easier than third and long!
Belt: That’s some good insight right there.
[Incomplete. Fourth down.]
Belt: OK, time out so I can freak out. How far am I? Where am I?
Craw: The 32?
Belt: Where’s the wind coming in from?
Craw [Waiting to choose his defensive play]: I’m making sure you’re kicking it before I press the button. You kicking it?
Belt: Yeah, I’m kicking it.
Crawford: Now that I taught him how to kick, he’s a decent kicker.
Announcer: No good!
Belt: Oh my gosh! [Laughing] Did he break his leg? I don’t know what happened! You got to be kidding me!
Craw: [Laughing] Candlestick wind.
Belt: I nailed that.
Craw: I thought you had it.
Belt: This game wins Dumbest Game Ever Award.
[49ers gain 8]
Belt: How do I call a timeout?
Craw: Press that button there.
[Timeout. Then 49ers immediately make a first down].
Belt: That’s it. [He stands, takes off his microphone, puts it on his stool and walks to the door.]
Craw: You have 30 seconds left.
Craw: Actually their defense is probably going to be better now that he’s gone.
Belt: It’s ridiculous. This game is ridiculous.
[Incomplete pass for the 49ers]
Craw: Defense is better without you.
[Belt calls another timeout]
Craw: [Deadpan] Take your timeout on an incomplete pass. That’s a good idea.
Belt: I nailed that kick. Doesn’t make any sense.
Craw: I’m a little embarrassed by how bad I played.
Belt: Yeah, me too. I was a little off today.
[49ers run the ball, and the clock runs out. 49ers win, 21-20.]
Belt: Well, congratulations. EA Sports is in the Bay Area. You win.
Craw: Sore loser.
Not Ready to Pack Up Yet
Hard to believe there are just three games left in the season. Jalynne has pretty much packed up all her stuff. I haven’t done anything. I like going home after games and just relaxing with my two girls. I don’t want to be packing up the apartment. So I’ll do it all next week. We have the apartment until October 15. No reason to rush. Then we’ll drive to Southern California and stay a few days before driving on to Arizona.
Though the road trip was long and we couldn’t wait to get home, we had a great time in New York. Jalynne was with me, then her parents flew in with Braylyn, and my dad and some family friends were there, too. Before everyone else arrived, Jalynne and I went to see Spiderman on Broadway. I don’t recommend it. Then we saw Jersey Boys, where we ran into Bochy and his wife, Sabean and his wife and scout Lee Elder and his wife.
We had dinner at a place near Central Park called Quality Meats. It sounds like a butcher shop but it’s a nice steak restaurant. We liked it so much we went twice.
The first day we were there, the team bus left the hotel at 1 for a 7 o’clock game. That’s way too early. So the next day, I asked Belt if he wanted to try taking the subway. I knew other guys were doing it. He downloaded an app that tells you where to catch the trains and which one to take. So we did that for the Mets and Yankees games. One guy recognized Belt when we were heading to Citi Field. “Hey, take it easy on us tonight,’’ the guy said.
It was cool to be at Yankee Stadium for the Mariano Rivera tribute. I obviously don’t know him personally, but it seems like he’s the perfect guy to model yourself after as a baseball player. It would have been cool to face him. I probably would have broken my bat like everybody else. Rivera throws a cut fastball and a two-seam fastball. If you’re a righty, the ball’s breaking away, so you’re either going to hit it off the end or you’re going to miss it. If you hit it off the end, you’re probably going to break your bat. Against a lefty, it’s the same thing except the pitch is coming inside and it’ll hit the bat near your hands. Against Buster, the pitch looked like it was going to be middle or middle-away, and instead it came boring down in on him and he got jammed. The bat broke into four pieces — and Buster kept them as souvenirs.
I was surprised the other day when reporters were waiting at my locker before the game. They presented me with their annual Good Guy Award. They said they appreciated how open and cooperative I was. A Good Guy Award is always nice wherever it’s coming from.
We have two big vacations planned. In November Jalynne and I are taking a Mediterranean cruise that starts in Barcelona and stops in Cannes, Pisa, Florence, Rome, Venice and Dubrovnik, Croatia. Jalynne’s been to Europe but this will be my first trip. Really looking forward to it. Then we’re spending New Year’s in Park City, Utah, with Jalynne’s twin sister and her husband, and my best friend and his wife. Braylyn’s not going on the cruise, but she’ll be with us in Utah. I’m sure she’s going to love the snow.
I’m going to change my workouts a little this off-season. Last season was so long that I felt I needed to give my body a longer rest. But when I began throwing in December, my arm was really tight. So I’ll start throwing once or twice a week beginning next month then dive into more intense workouts in December. I also want to have a more consistent workout regimen throughout the season. I’m more tired than I should be and I lost 12 pounds over the course of the season, which has never happened before. I think it might be from not working my legs and upper body enough.
Thanks for reading. And thanks for continuing to come out to the ballpark to support us. You don’t know how much it means to all of us.
– Brandon Crawford
Whatever you’ve read about the rookie hazing in Times Square, believe me, it was better. If I was one of the rookies, I’d have hated it. As a bystander it was one of the best things ever.
They were wearing just speedos, cowboy boots, a cowboy hat and guitar. That was it. It was way worse than what we had to do when I was a rookie. We had to wear full body suits—these nylon things that stretched from your toes to the top of your head like the costumes for Blue Man Group. It covered your body but was revealing at the same time. It showed every bump. Not a good look. We were walking around a part of San Diego that was packed with people. I got separated from the group somehow – I think I went into a restaurant to go to the bathroom and they left me.So I was walking by myself in this bright-colored, very revealing body suit. You can imagine the looks I got. It was the most awkward thing ever.
But it wasn’t nearly as bad as this year’s hazing. You wouldn’t believe how many Giants fans were in Times Square. Tons. They recognized the veteran players, and we told them to hang around to see the show. So our guys had a nice big crowd around them.
Their main goal was to find the real-life Naked Cowboy and get their picture with him. So they did that. Then there was the Naked Cowgirl. She was about 80. I’m not kidding you. She was naked except for pasties. That was weird. There were also a couple girls dressed up like Vegas showgirls with nothing on but body paint that didn’t cover up anything. There are an amazing large number of naked people in Times Square.
The rookies had to collect a certain amount of money before they could change into their regular clothes. They played the guitar, did whatever they could to get money. Roger Kieschnick was pretty successful. Heath Hembree was talking to everybody and anybody. I think Johnny Monell and Juan Perez actually enjoyed it. They were really good sports about it.
A lot of the wives made the trip to New York. Haylee and I went to see The Lion King one night after a day game. It was pretty spectacular. The only thing with the Broadway plays – at least the two I’ve been to – is they’re always packed. I can’t stand sitting for two and a half hours and not move. At the movies, I can get up and do whatever I want. But in a Broadway theater, if you’re in the middle of the row, you feel you’re stuck there. The people behind me were tiny and I’m huge, so I was trying to slump down in my seat. So it was feeling pretty cramped. But the show was great.
We ate beforehand at Ted’s Montana Grill, anoutstanding steak house owned by Ted Turner. And we saw him in there! He was sitting right near us. It was like seeing Santa Claus at the North Pole.
Yesterday before the Dodger game back here in San Francisco, Haylee and I ate at Olive Garden. Great as ever. I always pay a little extra now to get alfredo sauce with my breadsticks. I don’t know what I’d do if they stop giving free breadsticks. I go to places for free appetizers. That’s a fact. That’s why I go to Mexican restaurants. You get chips and salsa.
I don’t know how you’re doing in your fantasy football league, but I’m not a happy owner right now. I’m in three leagues, and I’m behind in all of them. I have great players, but they’re playing terrible. They’re not gelling. They don’t have good team chemistry. I’m going to have to call a team meeting. Get these players together and figure something out.
In the Giants fantasy league, I’m 1-2. I reallydidn’t want to be part of the Giants’ league because I was already on two other teams. But I got talked into it. I can be talked into almost anything, by the way. I’m a follower.
On the off day Monday, I saw the movie Prisoners, so here’s the review.
Two families’ daughters get kidnapped, and the whole movie is about the families trying to find these kids. It was two-and-a-half hours long, but there wasn’t a time I was bored because there are twists and turns to keep you interested. And the ending it pretty good. It’s kind of predictable but not completely. Hugh Jackman and Terence Howard are really good. There are some torture elements in the movie, so if that bothers you, you might want to watch out for that. I can see why the torture is in there, though. I mean, if you were in the same situation, what wouldn’t you do to find your kid? Haylee liked it, too, which says a lot because she hates movies.
Three and half stars. Maybe 3.75. But let’s go with 3.5. It loses half a point for the semi-predictability. And at one point there was something in there that they were really beating to death and they needed to move on.
See you at the ballpark for these final few days. We’re finishing pretty strong, I think, and looking forward to a fresh start next spring.
With new guys called up this month, Crawford, Blanco and I are blogging about playing in the Majors for the first time and what advice we have for the rookies.
When we broke camp in 2011, I still didn’t know if I had made the team. To be honest, I was just excited to come here for the Bay Bridge Series. That was pretty awesome. When Bochy gave me the news in his office that I made the Opening Day roster, the Showtime crew was there so I think a lot of people saw how emotional I was. You work your whole life to get to a certain place and you finally make it you don’t really know what to think. It’s just a cool feeling to know the hard work has paid off.
You get caught up in the excitement of everything — and what you don’t realize is that the journey is just beginning.
You realize that now you’ve got to keep performing if you want to stay up here.
My advice would be: Do what you do and be who you are. If you try to do more than you’re capable of doing or be more than you are, you’re going to get yourself in trouble. You can’t be thinking you have to live up to somebody else’s expectations. That’s just counterproductive. The way to play this game is to play within yourself. Listen, they called you up for a reason: You’re good enough to be up here. You have to remember that to keep your confidence. Because once you lose confidence up here, it’s tough.
There are practical things, too, that you have to learn. I know Crawford talked about the unwritten rules about where to sit on the plane. I feel bad for the new guys who don’t know about it and sit in somebody else’s spot and then it gets awkward because that guy has to ask the other guy to move. I could never ask the guy to move. I’d have to go find another place to sit. So I avoid the awkwardness by trying to be the first guy off the bus and onto the plane so I’m already in my spot before the new guys get on. Problem solved.
A few other things: Don’t be the first one to grab food from the post-game spread. Don’t be the first one in the shower, especially after a loss. Just give it a little time. Wait a while. I had no idea about this when I came up. Somebody had to tell me.
And you shouldn’t say much. It’s not exactly “don’t speak unless you’re spoken to,’’ but don’t go crazy. Don’t try to act like a veteran.
I was pretty much clueless about everything. I pretty much did everything wrong. A veteran guy would get a little sarcastic with me and I’d want to say, “If I’m doing something wrong, just tell me. Don’t beat around the bush. If you don’t want me to do something, I won’t do it. Just tell me.’’
It’s great having the new guys in the clubhouse as we play through September. I think we have good baseball left in us. I’m working to carry my performance in August through to the end of the season. Every time I go to the plate, I feel confident I can get a hit. Obviously I know I’m not going to get a hit every time. But I go up believing I can. It kind of changes your whole perspective on things. It reinforces what you already knew, which is you’re good enough to be successful up here. I’ve had the mental aspect for most of the year, and now my mechanics have caught up. It’s something I can take into next year – and do it from start to finish.
Which brings me back to my first advice to the new guys: Be yourself. Believe in yourself. Do what you know you can do.
One quick movie review:
Two Guns: It stars Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington. One works for the DEA and the other works for the military. The Navy, I think. They’re investigating each other. It was a good movie because Denzel Washington is a great actor, and Mark Wahlberg was hilarious. It’s not a comedy, but he was really funny. I can’t remember the plot exactly. I think they’re trying to take down this drug cartel in Mexico. Just go see it.
Three stars (out of four).
In honor of the September call-ups, Belt and I (and I think Blanco) are using our blogs to remember our own first day in the big leagues and offer advice to the new guys.
When I showed up in the players’ parking lot on a late May day in 2011, there was a camera crew waiting. That was when Showtime was taping “The Franchise.’’ The crew asked if they could follow me into the clubhouse and ask me some questions. I had just flown in from Bakersfield and had been dropped off at the park about a half hour or so before the start of a day game against the Marlins.
I entered the park through the gate in left field instead of going through the inside hallway; the producer said it would look better on TV. I honestly don’t remember anything they asked me.
I walked into the clubhouse and stopped in Murph’s office to check in, and he was all excited about the number he was giving me: 35. I wondered if he thought it was my favorite number. Later I learned the history of some of the shortstops who’ve worn it.
I don’t remember who welcomed me. I don’t remember getting dressed. I don’t remember much about the game. I know there was a point where I thought I was going to have to pinch run, but they went with Chris Stewart instead. The whole day was a blur.
I do remember that it was getaway day, and back then there was a rule that you had to wear a coat, dress shirt and slacks on the plane. No jeans. (Now there’s a looser dress code.) Of course, I hadn’t brought a jacket and slacks. I had only the clothes I had brought for a road trip to Bakersfield. Jalynne flew out and brought me at least a little bit nicer jacket than what I had, and I wore it over a nice shirt and jeans.
Either Belt or Bum told me about the seating protocol on the plane. Don’t go all the way to the back. That’s where the veteran guys sat. You had to earn a seat back there. So stay near the front. And if there aren’t enough rows for everyone to have his own, you’re the rookie, so you’re the one who’s going to double up.
Lucky for me there were enough rows. I sat in Row 26. I have sat in Row 26 every since. Cain was sitting in the row behind me that day, and he’s still sitting in the row behind me. Across the aisle is Zito. So the veteran guys now are sprinkled through the plane, not only in the back. Everybody sits in the same place every flight.
I remember getting to the hotel in Milwaukee after that first flight and finally being able to breathe. I laid in bed in this very nice hotel and thought, “This is a little different from the Bakersfield Days Inn.’’
As for advice:
I’d tell the rookies to keep their heads down and not try to stand out too much. Go with the flow. If an older guy asks you to do something, do it. If you stand out too much and push back, you’re an easy target for getting made fun of. You’re probably going to be summoned to the front of the bus, a hazing of sorts that happens when we’re driving from the airport to our hotel, which is often a 30- or 40-minute ride. Some of the veterans get on the intercom at the front of the bus and call guys up to do something like telling some story about themselves or singing or telling a joke. If you bring attention to yourself as a rookie, you’re going to get tougher questions or be asked to do something more stupid and embarrassing than usual. The veterans called me up only once, and it was actually last year, not my rookie year. (I tried hard to blend in as much as I could.) I recited a YouTube video that had been making the rounds in the clubhouse. It was a hilarious clip of a guy telling a story, and it was really off-color and really funny. The guys liked it.
So far nobody who’s been called up in September has been summoned to the front of the bus.There’s still time.
Some great personal news that you might have read on Twitter – Jalynne tweeted it a few days ago. We’re expecting our second child in March. We’re really excited. Braylyn’s so sweet that I’m kind of hoping for another girl. On this past road trip, Jalynne’s parents sent me a video of Braylyn saying “dada’’ for the first time. I think I played it 50 times. Then of course the first night I saw her, when the Giants arrived in San Diego, she didn’t say it once! Then she said it all day the next day. She says “mama’’ when she needs something. Smart girl.
Hope to see you at the park. Obviously, it’s not been the best season, but we’re all still working hard. We’re going out early today for extra BP and fielding. We’re not throwing in the towel. Hope you don’t either.
With kids going back to school, someone suggested Belt, Blanco and I answer the same three questions in our blogs this week.
- What’s the best advice you ever got?
- What do you wish you knew back in high school that you know now?
- If you had never become a pro baseball player, how do you think playing sports as a kid would have helped you in life anyway?
The best advice:
I could say “work hard’’ and “stay in school,’’ but I’m going to be more specific to sports. A coach – I’m sorry I don’t remember which one – told me this when I started high school: “While you’re sitting at home and not working out, there are 10 other guys at your position outworking you.’’ I still think about that, especially in the off-season when maybe I wake up one morning and really don’t feel like working out. I say to myself, “There are 29 other shortstops working out and probably trying to take your job.’’
Talent alone doesn’t get you far in sports. At each level, you realize there are players who are just as good as you or better. Every player in college was the best player on his high school team. Every player in the minor leagues was the best player on his college team. Every player in the Majors was the best player on his minor league team. So how do you not only keep up but get an edge? By outworking everyone else. Taking more grounders, taking more swings, hitting the weights in the gym.
This relates to Question Number 3 about how playing sports as a kid teaches you important lessons that help in all parts of your life. I think working harder than everyone else gives you an edge in whatever you do. Everybody’s competing to move up the ladder. The world is a competitive place. Sports helped me learn HOW to go about being competitive and not just rely on my natural competitiveness. (I had three younger sisters, so I was always competing – for the bathroom more than anything.)
From playing sports I also learned how to stay on an even keel, which is important in everything from raising kids to driving in traffic. That’s a strong part of my game – the ability to wipe off whatever bad thing has happened and go out there the next day. Patience is a part of that, too (which I also learned from having three younger sisters.) Let’s say I go 0-for-20. You have to keep working hard and be patient because you know you’re eventually going to get a hit. You can’t panic. Patience also is important in waiting for your career to move forward. Things are going to happen on your time line.
For example, in 2011, I broke my finger in spring training. I was supposed to go to Triple A but ended up having to stay in Arizona 6 weeks to heal then went to Single A San Jose to rehab. I thought I’d go quickly up to Triple A. But for two and a half weeks, I played in Single A with no word about Triple A. I stayed patient, and one day I got a call from Bobby Evans asking how quickly I could get to Fresno (Triple A). Finally! We were playing in Bakersfield, so it would not be an easy thing to get to Fresno. “Never mind,’’ Bobby said. “We’re flying you out of Bakersfield tomorrow. You’re coming to San Francisco.’’
It was my Major League call-up. You never know what’s in store. One of the best stories along these lines is about Daniel Nava, who started in left field against us Monday night for the Red Sox.
Nava played in high school but didn’t make the baseball team at Santa Clara as a walk-on. So he was the team’s equipment manager for two years. Then he had to leave Santa Clara because he couldn’t afford the tuition and went to San Mateo Junior College. He made the team there and became a JC All-American. Then he was invited back to Santa Clara on a full baseball scholarship for his senior year. He didn’t get drafted so he played for the Chico Outlaws, an independent league team, where he was discovered by a Red Sox scout. The Sox bought Nava’s rights from the Outlaws for exactly $1 (with $1499 extra if Nava was still with the Sox after spring training). He made his Major League debut in 2010, hitting a grand slam on the very first pitch he saw. (He and I are among the six Major League players to hit a grand slam our first time at bat.)
I love his story because it shows that just because success doesn’t come immediately, it can still come – and sometimes in a really big way.
So what do I wish I knew then that I know now?
In baseball, it would be my hitting approach. I’d go up to the plate and just see the ball and hit it. Obviously, I’m smarter now in thinking about what a pitcher is trying to do.
But outside of baseball, I wish I hadn’t worried so much about what people thought of me, especially in seventh grade. I was such an awkward kid – not like Belt awkward, not that bad – but pretty bad. I had acne and took this medication that I guess dried out my skin so bad that my eyebrow hair started to fall out. So not only did I have acne but now my eyebrows were all weird. I look at pictures and can laugh now. But back then I didn’t want to look people in the face or even talk to anyone. I wish I knew then that the acne was going to go away and that my eyebrows were going to grow back. I wish I knew that it doesn’t really matter what other people think. You are who you are. If other people don’t like you because of it, they were never going to be real friends.
I’m kind of re-learning that lesson now. Since I was called up to the Majors, I’m hearing from all kinds of people who want to be my friend. The other day I got a call from this person I haven’t talked to since high school, now all of sudden he wants to hang out. I don’t think so.
Hope at least some of this might be useful to someone out there!
See you at the park.
With kids going back to school this month, Crawford, Blanco and I – your Giants bloggers –are answering three questions this week:
1. What’s the best advice you ever got?
2. What do you wish you knew back in high school that you know now?
3. If you had never become a pro baseball player, how do you think playing sports as a kid would have helped you in life anyway?
OK, Number 1.
One thing my dad used to tell me all the time, “If you’re going to do something, do it right the first time.’’ Don’t jack around or drag it out, whether it was about cleaning the garage or doing schoolwork or playing baseball. He also drilled into me that if you’re going to make a commitment to something you’re going to finish it. You do it 100 percent. So for instance, when I finally made the decision to make those mechanical adjustments up at the plate, I wasn’t going to do it a couple times and if it didn’t work, just give up on it. I’m going to do it ‘til I get it. That really does help when you get into a competitive world. You just have to stick with stuff.
I’ll answer Number 3 next because it’s related to Number 1.
My Dad was a football coach, so I was getting lessons about sports both at home and on the field. One lesson was: Life’s not fair. It’s not going to go your way all the time. Sports is great because it presents you with a ton of problems that you have to face and have to figure out how to overcome.That can help anyone in any walk of life because everybody is going to have problems. You just have to suck it up and figure out a way to get past it. And along the way you’ll realize you’re stronger than you thought. If every time you’re presented with a problem and you shrivel up and go hide, how are you ever supposed to know what you’re capable of doing? The other thing you learn in sports is you can’t go around blaming everyone else for your own problems. The quicker you can look in the mirror the faster you’re going to improve yourself. I’m still working on this myself, to be honest. I want to find somebody to blame sometimes. But eventually I look at myself and figure it out.
Now Number 2.
I was really nervous about going into college and into the real world. I had it in my mind that there would be so much work and so much stuff I might not be able to do. That scared me to death. I wish I knew that what seems scary now is going to be your normal later on. You’re going to learn how to do what you need to do and it will just become second nature.
If I had known that, I probably would have gone to a four-year university right out of high school instead of going to junior college first. I found out the main thing about college is going to class. If you go to class and just do the work, you’re going to be fine. It’s the uncertainty that scares people.
Now on to baseball.
I had forgotten what it’s like to play in the kind of humidity we had in Florida. That’s what I grew up with, but I got to tell you it’s good to be back home in San Francisco. I’m acclimatized to this weather now. That first game in Miami was four hours, and that takes a toll on your body. Even though the field is indoors, you can’t get away from the humidity. We have one more trip to the East Coast, so I’ll make sure I get more rest and stay off my feet as much as I can. And hydrate. At the end of the season, when your body is tiring out anyway, you really have to be conscious about taking care of yourself so you can finish the season strong.
Now to the movie reviews. I got two for you.
Elysium: It was a good movie as far as the action and visual effects. Matt Damon is pretty good, and the story itself is pretty good. In the future they’ve built this thing that’s a perfect sanctuary. All the rich people live there and there’s no cancer or crime or anything. Everybody else is left on earth to fend for themselves and everybody’s poor and there’s lots of crime. It’s about the haves and have-nots, but it goes a little bit overboard. The rich people have no sympathy, no compassion at all to anybody else. I think it’s trying to be a little too political. Maybe it’s not good to admit this, but I just want to be entertained when I go to the movies. If I want politics I’ll watch the news.
We’re the Millers: It stars Jennifer Anniston and Jason Sudeikis. He’s a small-time pot dealer and his boss wants him to pick up a huge shipment of weed and bring it back to the United States. The story is about his journey down there. He pays this fake family to go with him because he figures nobody’s going to think this All-American family is bringing weed back into the States. So they put on this act the whole time. He has a fake daughter who’s like a runaway street kid. Jennifer is the fake wife. And the fake son is a sweet kid who’s a real goody-goody. It’s funny to watch the stuff they encounter and the trouble they get into.
Three stars. (Haley would give it three, too.)
Thanks for reading and for supporting the Giants!
You might not be surprised to learn that Sunday’s game wasn’t the first time I’ve been hit in the head by a pitch. OK, the 90-something-mph pitch hit the brim of my hat Sunday, but it freaked me out for a second because I remember that day in college when a pitch hit me smack on my ear. When I watched pthe TV replay later, I threw off my helmet with both hands and fell to the ground. The next thing I knew I was waking up with the trainers around me. I was out maybe a few seconds.
I had a concussion and a cut ear that required stitches. When I left the hospital, I had to look down at my feet to watch myself walk because I thought I was going to fall over. And I played the next day with a numbing agent on my ear so it wouldn’t hurt when my helmet rubbed against it. It was very dumb to play, but I guess there were no rules about concussions.
That same year I was practicing my bunts with a pitching machine throwing 90. The balls were terrible so they moved all over the place. The ball cut in on me, glanced off the bat and hit me square in the eye. No bone or anything. Just the eyeball. I had a blood clot in my pupil and had to sleep upright for a week so the blood would drain out of my eye.
I feel lucky to have escaped Sunday’s near-hit with just a scare.
It seems good things are happening for me at the plate overall lately. It began in Philly. Bochy sat me for the series (except for one PH appearance) so I could work on some things. For a long time, the Giants hitting coaches here have suggested I move back in the batter’s box so I’d have more time to see and react to the pitch. And to hold the bat in my fingers rather than in my palms. The lighter grip loosens your whole body. But I was stubborn. I’d been successful my whole life with what I’d always done. Then Buster talked to me about it. Several players did, including one from another team. He said, “Hey I was in the same position you were. I changed where I stood in the box and held the bat with my fingers and it made all the difference in the world.’’ And he said it only took a couple days to figure it out. I thought, “OK, I have a couple days.’’
I saw results immediately.
When Bochy put me back in the lineup Friday night in Tampa, I had three hits, one short of the cycle. I saw the ball better, didn’t feel like I was rushing and I wasn’t getting in my own way anymore. I felt I was really tapping into my ability, like I did in spring training. I could just do what I feel I was born to do. What I can do. Even Sunday when I didn’t have a great game, I still saw the ball better and got on base twice. Obviously there’s going to be a little bit of an adjustment period to get consistent, but I’m committed 100 percent to making it work. If I can be consistent, I can be a huge contributor to this team for years to come.
Now for the movie reviews.
“The Conjuring’’: This is a good horror film that’s supposedly based on a true story from the 1960’s or ‘70s, I can’t remember. This family moves into a house that’s demon-possessed. They hire some people who study demonology to come in and try to fix the situation. Sometimes horror films are cheesy and dumb and basically stupid. But this one was done right. It’s genuinely scary — none of those stupid creatures where their hands are turned backward. In “The Conjuring,’’ you’re thinking, “That could be real. I don’t want to sleep by myself tonight.’’ It stars the same guy who’s in all these same kind of movies.. He’s in “Insidious.’’ You know who he is. And Vera Farmiga, the one in “The Departed,’’ is really good in this.
Belt Rating: Three stars.
I had to trick Haley to go see it with me in Philadelphia. She won’t see a scary movie. I told her we were going to go see “Pacific Rim.’’ When we got to the theater and I bought “The Conjuring’’ tickets, she was so mad at me. Soooo mad. Beyond mad. But I had to lie to her or she wouldn’t go with me. She won’t say she liked it, but I think she did. She covered her eyes a lot, but so did I. You’re just waiting for something to leap out.
I think a lot of athletes like horror movies. I have a theory that as athletes we get an adrenaline rush from playing on the field and when you’re not on the field, you have to find another way to get it. Scary movies do it. Roller coasters do it. I draw the line at sky diving and bungee jumping. Never going to happen. I’m scared of heights. Out-of-my-mind scared. I can’t look out the window of a plane. I just can’t stand.
“R.I.P.D.’’: It stars Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges, who plays kind of the same character he did in “True Grit.’’ He’s hilarious. It’s a weird kind of “Men in Black’’movie. It got terrible ratings, but I thought it was a feel-good movie.Yes, it has all this alien, sci-fi crap, but it’s got Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges, both good actors in my opinion. It probably didn’t have enough artistic value for the critics, but it had a lot of entertainment value. I would recommend it. I don’t think you’d be wasting your money.
Belt rating: Two stars.
Haley didn’t see this one. She doesn’t like going to the movies in general. She doesn’t like anything. She’s never even seen “Armageddon’’! Everybody has seen Armageddon. You talk about all these movies that everybody has seen, and she hasn’t seen any of them. Her favorite movie is “Sound of Music.’’ I watched part of “Sound of Music’’ and I about killed myself.
All right, got to get out to BP. See you out here.
It’s boring and a cliché and I feel like I say it all the time — but as players you really do approach a season one game at a time. You can’t worry about what happened before – that we lost three out of four to the Reds and a tough one last night to the Cubs. It doesn’t matter. Today we’re playing another one against the Cubs and we have to win today.
There is so much failure and negativity in baseball – the best hitters fail seven of ten times, etc. etc. – that the ones who make it to the Major Leagues are the ones who have not let failure crush them.
I let go of things pretty well, though that slump I was in for a while challenged my best coping skills. It was difficult because I was doing poorly AND our team was doing poorly. If you’re not doing well but the team’s winning, it’s a lot easier to stay positive. Whatever bad stuff might be going on at the field, I try to let go of it on the ride home. I’ll listen to music. Or I’ll go over what I could have done differently. By the time I walk in the door, I’ve put it all away and am ready to enjoy my family.
Braylyn is seven months old now. For the longest time she was doing The Scoot. She’ll get up on hands and knees and just kind of fall forward. She’d do this over and over, inching a bit farther each time. We called it the Inchworm. We were down in San Diego a couple days before the All-Star break. I returned to the hotel after a game one night and Jalynne said Braylyn had crawled that day. I was thinking, “Sure. She’s just doing the Inchworm.’’
Then, as if she could read my mind, Braylyn promptly crawled across the floor. The Inchworm was gone, just like that. Braylyn hasn’t looked back.
Jalynne is bracing for her first trip without Braylyn. Our families are invited along for our visit to the White House on Monday, so Braylyn is staying with Jalynne’s mother in LA. Jalynne will be with me in Washington, D.C., Sunday and Monday and in Philadelphia Tuesday. She’ll fly back to LA Wednesday. We’re both nervous, even though we know Braylyn will be fine with her grandparents. Still, you worry about how a baby feels when she’s separated from her mom for the first time.
I think this trip to the White House will be more meaningful than in 2011. I wasn’t on the World Series team, so this time I’ll feel more a part of things. Also – that White House trip in 2011 was part of my last road trip of the year (until I returned with rest of the September call-ups). We went from the White House to Philadelphia then Cincinnati. I got sent down in Cincinnati. I’m feeling a little safer this year.
That’s it for now.
I’ll try to post more regularly. Thanks for reading and for always supporting us no matter what. Everyone here in the clubhouse knows how lucky we are to have fans like you.
Haylee made me a great cake for my 25th birthday on Saturday. Chocolate and vanilla. I was so hungry when I got home from the game that night I ate a huge piece while we waited for our pizza to arrive. I love chocolate. I’d have an all-chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream and chocolate sauce. But Haylee’s cake was really, really good. There’s nothing like a homemade cake. I think she spent about two hours making it, so I restrained myself from asking why there wasn’t ice cream.
We had an official birthday dinner Sunday night after the day game. We went to Bobo’s on Lombard and Van Ness. Stopped for a milk shake at a burger joint then went to see the new Tom Cruise movie. Just the two of us. Nice night.
Maybe the cake and milk shake will help put some weight back on me. I only gained back 3 or 4 pounds of the 11 or so that I lost when I was sick at the start of the season. It’s hard to keep weight on during the season, much less gain weight, because you’re playing every day. I’m drinking more protein shakes when I’m at the field, so I’m sure I’ll eventually get back to normal.
Bochy is giving me time off against left-handed pitchers, hoping to help me recapture the good rhythm I had in spring training. I know people make a big deal when you start the season slowly. They look up at the scoreboard and see your average is below .200 and kind of go a little nutty. But as a player you have to ignore the numbers. All you have control over is your current at-bat. You have to approach each one the same way, with the same confidence. You don’t have control over the results. You know that the balls will start to fall and the numbers on the scoreboard will start to creep back up.
This doesn’t mean that you completely ignore your struggles. I’m working with Bam-Bam and Joe in the cage and watching video. But in baseball especially, you have to take the long view. There are still more than five months left in the season. We’ve played only three weeks! So it’s crazy to get all panicky. I’ll be fine.
In the meantime, Crawford is hitting well enough for both of us. He’s seeing the ball really well. He’s so comfortable at the plate. He’s in such a good groove I think he’ll be hitting the ball well for a long time.
It seems to work out that way on this team. When one person’s down, the next guy picks him up. You never know on this team who’s going to be the guy who comes through with the big hit or the big play. Even though I’m scrapping right now, or maybe especially because I’m scrapping, I’m having a great time watching Crawford crush home runs.
Believe me, I’m not excited to be sitting on the bench. Nobody likes sitting. I’d like to play every inning of every game. As long as we’re winning, I’m happy.
I spoke to a group of Little League players before Sunday’s game, and one of them asked if I missed pitching. I grew up as a pitcher. I wanted to be Randy Johnson, another tall lefty. So I said I hoped that someday we’ll be going into the 27th inning and Bochy will be out of pitchers and I’ll get the call. That would be awesome.
Another kid asked what I ate before games. I said, “Anything that’s put in front of me, plus a Red Bull.’’
And someone else wanted to know who was the funniest guy on the team. “Bumgarner,’’ I said, “even though he doesn’t try to be. If you can understand what he’s saying, he’s pretty funny.’’
See you out at the ballpark.