So Crawford and Belt are handing over their blog to me for a day. Apparently they had to vote on it. Crawford was fine. Belt wasn’t so sure. But he ended up giving 1 percent approval, which he explained made for a 51 percent majority vote.
It’s funny the impressions you have of players when you’re playing against them. A week or so into spring training, Matt Cain came up to me and said, “You didn’t think we were like this, did you?’’
He was right. When I was with the Nationals, I thought the Giants were a very serious group of guys, that they didn’t have as much fun as a lot of other teams. They seemed a little tight, like they did everything by the book.
It’s the complete opposite. This team has a very dry sense of humor. A guy like Cain, who has his game face on when he’s pitching, is actually a real jokester. He’s always sending me funny text messages, just messing with me. I never thought Buster had much personality, but in the clubhouse he’s always joking around. I would never have expected that. Crawford is sneaky funny. He’ll throw a jab here and there, catch you off guard.
That’s what makes this team who they are, why they’ve accomplished what they’ve accomplished. They’re serious on the field and lighthearted off it.
My locker is next to Hunter’s so I’ve had more intense talks with him than with anyone else. We talk about competing, about being a winner, about having that mindset. He’s very analytical when it comes to stuff like that. He’s a deep thinker. The other thing about Hunter is how much he cares about his teammates as people. He’s always checking in with me and making sure everything’s going OK in my world, that my head’s where it needs to be. I appreciate that.
The other thing you can’t really appreciate until you actually become a Giant is the energy at this ballpark. Opening Day – I’ve never, ever seen anything like it. Craziness. Pandemonium. Just unreal. Walking in from center field with all those kids was awesome. We walked around the stadium and fans were giving us high-fives. I didn’t know much about the Giants-Dodgers rivalry. Man, this is the real deal, which made Opening Day all the more fun and crazy.
Here’s a photo of my mom with a Giants fan on Opening Day.
And what a game. As Boch said, it was like two games in one. What I noticed in the dugout was how calm everyone was during all the three-up, three-down innings. There wasn’t a hint of panic. We just chipped away and before you knew it the momentum switched to our side and we just took off. What I loved was how many different ways we attacked, from Kelby’s perfect bunt to Hunter’s grand slam. This is a seriously dangerous lineup.
One question I get a lot is about my batting stance. My front (right) foot is turned so far inward that my heel is almost facing the pitcher’s mound. I do that because my body instinctively wants to pull the ball instead of staying squared up. So I turn my foot to keep my front hip from flying open. That’s my thinking anyway. I’m always tinkering with my swing. I didn’t have a lot of coaching growing up. I’d go to the batting cage and critique myself. I’d try a bunch of things until something felt right. When I was really little, I imitated Darryl Strawberry. I had a VHS tape of him with his high leg kick. He’d kind of drop his hands as his leg came up. I’d do that with my little plastic bat and my little plastic ball.
My mom, Wanda, and my stepdad, Stan, are out here this weekend from Tampa. So is one of my best friends, Wallace, plus an aunt from New York and her daughter who lives near Sacramento.
They went sight-seeing before coming to the games. Here’s my mom with Wallace on the left and my stepdad on the right some where in the city.
Believe me, I could hear all of them cheering every time I came up to bat. After the game on Opening Day, we went to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory on Union Square. People aren’t recognizing me much, but this morning, as soon as I got into my Uber car, the driver said, “You’re our lead-off hitter, aren’t you?’’
I like how he phrased that: Our leadoff hitter. I’m getting the sense that being a San Francisco Giants is like being part of a family.
OK, Belt, you have the blog back. By the way, just heard about the new contract. Dinner’s on you in Colorado.
Hunter and Buster pulled me aside during batting practice Wednesday morning, the second day of full camp.
“We’re falling asleep listening to this,’’ Buster said. The music from the stadium speakers was like the soundtrack to a Lifetime movie.
“We need something with some edge,’’ said Hunter, who’s obviously not a guy into calm, soothing music.
As the clubhouse DJ, I went to work. That night Chad Chop, assistant DJ (and batting practice pitcher/replay advisor), came over to my house, and we spent a few hours poring over the 2500 songs on my laptop. We put together two playlists, each about two hours long so we can put them on shuffle and have a different mix every day.
One is The Edgy Playlist.
It’s pretty much what you’d think. Lots of rap and hip-hop, including older stuff from Dr. Dre and Tupac. We debuted The Edgy Playlist Thursday during BP. Big difference. It’s not that we’re working harder. We’re already working hard. But the right music just lifts you up. One song on the list has been a favorite in the clubhouse for a while, “The Hills’’ by The Weeknd. I don’t think I ever played a song as liked by everyone as that one. Buster and Bum both love it. Hunter Strickland now works out to it. I’ve been a big fan of The Weeknd since I first heard him in 2011.
We call the other list The Sneaky Awesome Playlist (Chop’s great title).
It has songs that when you first hear one, you’re like, “C’mon, Justin Bieber?’’ But you know every word. You think you’re too cool for NSync’s “Tearin’ Up My Heart,’’ but we all grew up with that song and can’t help singing along. I, for one, am comfortable enough to admit I like this music. Remember, I’ve had walk-up songs by Katy Perry, Ellie Goulding and, yes, Justin Bieber. (Tell me you don’t like “Sorry’’ or “What Do You Mean?’’.) Now, having said that, I’m not ready to blast the Sneaky Awesome list during BP yet. We’re easing guys into it in the clubhouse. Some are complaining, but they’ll come around.
I’m including both lists at the end of the blog. (Parents: some songs aren’t suitable for kids, so check them out before playing them in the car.)
As for my walk-up song, I’m pretty sure I’m going with a song by Future whose title I can’t include here. Not family-friendly. I love it for the beat, not the lyrics. Here’s a link to an instrumental version, which is what you’ll hear at the ballpark. The part I’m using starts at the 27-second mark. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZEKHQtTqjc
Big Pimpin’ by Jay-Z
The Hills by The Weeknd
No Flex Zone by Rae Sremmurd
Ride wit Me by Nelly
Put On by Young Jeezy
Hotline Bling by Drake
Lay Low by Snoop Dogg
Berzerk by Eminem
Still D.R.E. by Dr. Dre
California Love by 2Pac
Party Up (Up in Here) by DMX
Juicy by The Notorious B.I.G.
What You Know by T.I.
Shook Ones, Pt. II by Mobb Deep
The Next Episode by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg
All About U by 2Pac, Fatal, Nate Dogg and Snoop Dogg
Holidae In by Chingy
Work Hard, Play Hard by Wiz Khalifa
Power by Kanye West
Still Not a Player by Big Pun
Cinderella Man by Eminem
I Luv It by Young Jeezy
Superstar by Lupe Fiasco
Remember My Name by Maino
If I Can’t by 50 Cent
Let’s Ride by The Game
Hustlin’ by Rick Ross
In da Club by 50 Cent
Let’s Go by Trick Daddy
My House by Flo Rida
Trap Queen by Fetty Wap
Thong Song by Sisqo
Sneaky Awesome Playlist
In the Night by The Weeknd
Sorry by Justin Bieber
Talking Body by Tove Lo
Cool for the Summer by Demi Lovato
Black Space by Taylor Swift
On My Mind by Ellie Goulding
Can’t Feel My Face by The Weeknd
Chandelier by Sia
This Is How We Do by Katy Perry
We R Who We R by Ke$ha
Slow Down by Selena Gomez
Larger Than Life by Backstreet Boys
Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) Kelly Clarkson
Sexy and I Know It by Ghetto Superstar
C’mon by Ke$ha
You Know You Like It by DJ Snake & AlunaGeorge
Lights by Ellie Goulding
Bad Blood by Taylor Swift
We Found Love by Rihanna
Something in the Way You Move by Ellie Goulding
Tik Tok by Ke$ha
Love You Like A Love Song by Selena Gomez and The Scene
Applause by Lady Gaga
Disturbia by Rihanna
Boom Clap by Charli XCX
Dark Horse by Katy Perry
Die Young by Ke$ha
Pop by NSYNC
Paryt in the U.S.A. by Miley Cyrus
What Do You Mean? By Justin Bieber
Too Close by Alex Clare
Blow by Ke$ha
Bum by Ellie Goulding
Blow Me (One Last Kiss) by PINK
Lean On by Major Lazer & DJ Snake
I’m an Albatraoz by AronChupa
I Took a Pill in Ibiza by Mike Posner
No Scrubs by TLC
Last night, with the new contract signed and delivered, I celebrated at the House of Prime Rib with Jalynne, my mom, my agents Joel Wolfe, Josh Persell, Rich Aude and Joel’s wife and daughter. (My dad had to work.) No champagne. Nothing extravagant. For me, the most important thing — whether it’s work or a night out — is the people I’m with.
That’s why this contract extension means so much. The money is great, don’t get me wrong. But now I know for the next six years I’ll be around the best guys in baseball — Buster, Joe, Matt, Bum, Hunter, the list goes on. Hopefully Belt will work out an extension, too. The no-trade clause was a big deal for me. I wanted to know I wouldn’t be going anywhere. By the end of the six years, Buster and I will have played ten years together. I can’t imagine a better guy to go through a career with.
We have something really special going on here, and the front office — namely Bobby Evans and Brian Sabean — is making sure this core group stays together to win more World Series Championships.
I said this in the press conference today: I’m living a dream beyond my imagination. It’s not only that I’m playing for my hometown team. But I have the two things I think everyone wants in whatever career they’re in: You’re around great people, and you have the opportunity to do great work.
Part of that work is giving back to the community. When you’re as fortunate as I am, I feel strongly there’s a responsibility to give back. So I’ll be getting more involved in the Giants Community Fund and Junior Giants. I’ll help to build or rebuild a field here in the Bay Area so kids will have a safe, clean place to play. I’m going to buy season tickets that will go to kids who otherwise couldn’t attend a Giants game. As a father myself, my focus is on helping kids, though I’ll continue the Craw Claw that helps Casa Colina, a brain-injury rehabilitation hospital.
We’ll also start looking to buy a house in the East Bay now that we know we’ll be here. We’ve always rented apartments or houses.
I have to say this week has been the most amazing week of my life career-wise. It began when Jalynne and I flew to New York last Monday. On Tuesday, we attended the Major League Baseball Alumni Association gala where they present Heart & Hustle Awards. The alumni association chooses a player from each team then vote on an overall winner, which was Anthony Rizzo this year. Brooks Robinson is the president of the association, so it was really cool to meet him.
On Wednesday we went to dinner with Joe Panik and his fiance, Brittany, to a great steakhouse called Quality Meats. Joe had never been, so I felt good about showing him a new spot in his own backyard. We went afterward to see Aladdin on Broadway. The movie was better, or at least I thought so. It was one of my favorite Disney movies as a kid. Then we went for frozen yogurt in Times Square.
Thursday we walked around Central Park, bought the girls some gifts in Times Square and had dinner with my agent.
Friday there was a lunch for the Gold Glove winners, the Rawlings guys, the award presenters and past winners and George Lopez, the host for the awards dinner later in the night. I sat next to Greg Maddux, who is a great guy.
The awards dinner was at The Plaza, where we were staying. Ozzie Smith presented my award. Jalynne and I sat with Salvador Perez and his family and Alceides Escobar and his family. The whole experience was pretty amazing.
And it got better: Right around that same time, I found out the contract extension was about to be finalized.
Now here I am on a Wednesday afternoon in November, a week before Thanksgiving, with so much to be grateful for. Jalynne and I are flying back home to Arizona today. Jalynne’s parents had been watching the girls and drove them yesterday to Arizona, so they’ll be there when we arrive.
Then we’ll be driving next week to Big Bear in SoCal to celebrate Thanksgiving with Jalynne’s family. We’ll go home for a bit then drive to Los Angeles, where we’ll celebrate Braylyn’s birthday on December 18, there, drive back up here to the Bay Area for Christmas with my family.
We’ll be driving everywhere because by then Jalynne won’t be able to fly. She’s due in late January. We already know it’s a boy. We’re naming him Braxton. I came up with the name. Jalynne and I chose the babies’ names while were still in college.
So happy I’ll be spending the next six years with all of you. Thank you for everything you do during the season. You make being a Giants player the best job in the world.
Happy Early Thanksgiving!
Even though we’re not going to the playoffs, it’s still been a really positive season for our team. When you think that, with the injuries we had, that we weren’t out of it until the last week of the season, that’s pretty good. It says two things: We battled like we always do, and the future of the Giants is in good hands.
Look how many young guys came in and contributed at time when we weren’t sure what we were going to do. Duffy, of course. He filled a really big hole at third. In any other season, he’d be hands-down choice for Rookie of the Year. It says a lot about how much respect he has in the clubhouse to be voted the Willie Mac Award winner.
I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised to see another skinny kid, Kelby Tomlinson, play the way he’s been playing. With very little experience, he has turned into a good second-baseman. And he’s able to put the bat on the ball and hit line drives. That’s what we needed with Joe going down because he’s a similar type player.
And there’s the most unexpected contributor of all, Trevor Brown, who was third in the depth chart behind Susac and Sanchez, who both got hurt. To step up and be reliable back there behind the plate when he hardly knows any of our pitchers, that says a lot about him. Leake credited him the other night in his first shut-out. And he’s had some huge hits, particularly the two-out double against Greinke. Greinke doesn’t give up two-out doubles, but apparently Trevor was not informed. Like all the young guys, he has a quiet confidence about him. He kind of walks around like he’s been here, but not in a cocky way. And he’s a Bruin, so obviously that’s a good thing.
I just had my meeting with Bam-Bam and Steve Decker, our two hitting coaches. They meet with every position player at the end of the season to summarize the year from an offensive standpoint and look at what you should work on in the off-season. You know it’s going to be a nice meeting when you have career highs in almost every offensive category. With one game left to play, I have 21 home runs, more than doubling my previous high of 10. I have 84 RBIs (previous high, 69). I finally have more than 500 at-bats (even though I played fewer games). I had 499 in 2013 but got hurt before I could reach 500. I also had fewest errors of my career.
Bam-Bam and Decker were cheerleading for me to win the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove this season. I must admit it’s pretty exciting just considering the possibility.
After tomorrow’s final game of the season, Jalynne and the girls and I will hang out here for five to seven days see my family and grandparents. We’ll drive to Southern California to see her family then fly to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for a week or so.
I think, though, we’re going to Disney first, the day before go to Jackson. Now I have nothing against Disney, but we spent three off-days there this season. Three. I’ve had plenty of Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo. But Jalynne loves Disney. Loves it. I wouldn’t be surprised if we go again when we get back from Jackson. Good thing we don’t live in LA. We’d be subletting a room in Chip ‘n Dale’s Treehouse.
In any event, we’ll drive from LA to our home in Arizona, stay there until Thanksgiving. We’ll meeting Jalynne’s family in Big Bear for the holiday. Then back to Arizona and up here for Christmas with my family.
I’m looking forward to lots of time with Jalynne and the girls. And giving my body a rest. And watching football. I probably won’t write during the off-season. But who knows?
Thanks for all your questions and kind comments through the season.
As you might have heard, I’m sitting out today and probably tomorrow. I have a tight oblique on my left side that happened last night in the sixth inning. I swung hard and missed, striking out for the third out of the inning. I felt the tightness when I threw during infield warmup. I knew this feeling: I had a strained oblique on the right side in the last game of 2013 but didn’t come out of the game. I took another at-bat and made it worse.
So when I went into the dugout at the bottom of the inning last night, I told the trainers who told Bochy who took me out. I hope a few days of rest and treatment will get me back in the lineup. It’s really bad timing. We need every single guy against these tough NL Central teams. We’re grinding it out every day. Given how dinged up we’ve been, we’ve managed to stay close to the Dodgers. Believe me, nobody’s panicking.
I hate to sit out when the team needs me. And I’ve been feeling so great at the plate. At some point I’ve got to get that 20th homer. It’s been ridiculous. The ball I hit off Scherzer to the Yahoo sign was about a foot from going over. I hit double two days later that was so close to going out they had to look at the replay. In St. Louis, I hit a fly-out with the fielder’s back against the wall, then a double off the bottom of the left field wall. In Pittsburgh I got robbed by Marte making a spectacular play. Then there was the ground-rule double that would have been a home run here in AT&T, and you can’t say that very often.
Whatever I’ve lost in home runs, I’ve gained in doubles.I have 29, three above my career high. I’m going to surpass all my career-highs in hitting except triples. I only have 4. But I’ll take the home runs. It really is as fun as it looks. Any person who’s hit a home run, even in Little League, knows that great feeling of running around the bases. And even more important it’s helping the team score runs.
Speaking of home runs, Barry Bonds was at the park yesterday. He talks to various players while we’re taking BP. When I hit a few pop-ups, he reminded me not to drop my back shoulder. But what I really appreciated was him telling me how much he enjoys watching my defense. He said he played against, and with, a lot of good shortstops and said he admired the mental side of my game as much as what I do physically. He said that combination doesn’t come around too often. It’s a great compliment coming from anybody, but coming from him it’s even more meaningful. He mentioned Omar Vizquel, Ozzie Smith, Shawon Dunston, Barry Larkin and the shortstop I looked up to as a kid, Royce Clayton. That’s a pretty good group to be compared to.
I like that Bonds shares his hitting knowledge with us when he’s here, but nobody has been a greater influence on the increase in my power at the plate than Hensley Muelens — Bam-Bam — our hitting coach. I don’t think he gets enough credit for what he’s done. He likes us to be aggressive, and that’s one very specific thing I’ve been pretty good at this year. I’m taking aggressive swings and trying to hit the ball hard.
Bam-Bam and I have done a bunch of different drills in the batting cage throughout the year, and we’ve found a couple that we like. One is to take swings with just my top hand (the right hand). Then with just my bottom hand. Bam-Bam with will feed me balls or I’ll hit off the machine. Then I’ll hit with both hands. It gets each hand working the right way individually so when you put them together it’s going to feel even stronger.
Also Bam-Bam is probably the most easy-going and calm of all our coaches, which I think is huge for us. In past years, when we haven’t hit well and everybody was getting stressed, he was the same calm guy. That’s nice to get from a hitting coach when you’re struggling and trying to find something. I think that’s why we don’t panic as hitters.
OK, let me answer of a few of your questions.
During a pitching change, when the infielders are all standing together, what do we talk about? It could be anything. It might be as simple as, “Bum looked good today.’’ Although if Bum looked good, there wouldn’t be another pitcher coming in. We might talk about a few small things about the game that we really don’t even need to tell each other, but we’re standing there and filling the time. Sometimes, if it’s been a rough game, we don’t say anything. But we stand together anyway because I guess we just want to have company while we’re waiting because there’s nothing else to do.
I’ve also been asked why position players go to the mound when Righetti or Bochy are talking with the pitcher. It’s usually if there are runners on base. We’ll ask where Wotus wants us positioned — all the way, halfway, all the way back? We usually look in the dugout for the sign but often Bochy or Righetti can tell us. I also want to listen to their plan for the next couple of batters. For example, if Bum’s pitching and there’s a righty up and a runner on first and less than two outs, I’ll want to know: Are they going to be throwing cutters in and soft? If so the righty is probably going to pull it to the left side of the field — toward me, in other words. So I’ll let Bum know the second-baseman will be covering second on a comebacker to him. If he’s going to be throwing hard and away, the hitter more likely will hit to the right side, so I’ll tell Bum that I’ll be taking the throw. I want to have a better idea of what the batter is more likely to do so I can better position myself.
What’s the make model of my glove? Rawlings with an H web. I’ve used Rawlings since I was drafted.
Someone asked about how painful it is when we’re hit by foul tips at the plate because we usually don’t show we’re in pain. For me, I don’t show a whole lot of emotion for anything, whether it’s a good play, a bad play or I’m in pain. But I remember a foul tip in the 11th inning in Atlanta in July 2012. I fouled a cutter off my knee cap and I dropped to the ground like I’d been shot. It felt numb for a second, and I thought, “What did I do?’’ Bochy and the trainers came running out. I knew there was nobody left on the bench, and I had to stay in. I got back up and the knee felt OK. The next pitch was almost exactly the same, and I hit a three-run homer and we ended up winning.
Here it is:
Another question: What would you trade me for a Pujols-autographed ball? My answer: A Brandon Crawford autographed ball.
I’ll end with sharing my and Jalynne’s excitement about finding out we’re having a boy. I’m happy the girls will have a brother — and that I’ll have a comrade in our house of girls! And here’s how exciting the life of a Major Leaguer is. On our day off Monday, Jalynne and I got out of the house while the girls were napping (my mother-in-law watched them). We stopped to have a sandwich for lunch, then we went grocery shopping. But believe me, with all our travel and the long days away from my family, it really is exciting to hang out with Jalynne no matter what we’re doing.
Thanks for reading. Keep sending us all your good energy. We need it!
Back in the day The Catch meant Joe Montana to Dwight Clark.
Before that The Catch meant Willie Mays.
This is the modern day The Catch.
People might say I look stupid, but I’d like to call that play athletic. That was an athletic play by the first baseman. My teammates said the same thing. “You are such an athlete out there!’’ they said, though I think they were being sarcastic.
What happened was, I misread how hard the ball was hit. So I was getting ready to jump and I realized the ball wasn’t there yet, so I was turning and turning and finally I went up on one leg. Wotus said I looked like I was part of the Russian ballet.
I caught it, and that’s all that matters. But in truth, I felt so stupid that I just got the giggles. I couldn’t stop laughing. I saw it on the big screen right after. It was just as bad as I thought. I was all sprawled out. My legs all over the place. But . . . I caught it.
Remember those signs from a few years ago that said, “Keep Brandon Awkward’’? There you go. Done.
It just so happens that Melissa wrote in to share her own awkward moment. She went to shake hands with someone who put out his fist for a fist bump. She ended up grasping the guy’s fist. Melissa, I’ve done that many times. It’s even better when you do it on purpose to people. Then it’s funny. And if you didn’t do it on purpose, act like you did. You go in for the fist bump then you open your hand for the fist hug.
Another question from the comments: Am I stressed in left field? No, not really. Our left field is a little tricky because the wind blows so much, but I don’t get too stressed about it. I’m capable of making the plays out there. Nobody expects me to make the really good plays, so if I do it, it’s great! The truth is I’ve made some pretty good plays out there. I even surprise myself sometimes. If I played out there all the time, I think I’d be just fine.
Another question: Was I bummed I wasn’t part of turkey tap scandal at the White House? Well, they stole the idea from me, so I think I’m part of every single one. I get plenty in, so it’s OK.
It was fun but very busy playing in Texas. You want to see everybody and talk to everybody you can. I feel bad if I don’t get to everybody. We organized about 25 tickets for a bunch of people — I put that off on Haylee. I don’t have time. And there were a lot of people who didn’t ask for tickets who came to the games.
It’s been awhile since a lot of those people had seen Greyson, so he was way more the focus of attention than I was. He’s moving around so much now, so it was great having lots of people to take care of him.
He’s not walking yet but he is a major crawler. He loves dog food. We’ve had to put the dog food in the pantry because he likes to grab it and eat it. When he found out where we’d put it, he went right to it, so we always have to make sure the pantry door is closed tight. He’ll take a big handful and try to shove it in his mouth, but so far we’ve always caught him. I tasted it to see what he’s so excited about. It’s really bland. But I think he just wants to chew on something.
Other than the dog food, he’s awesome.
He’ll be a year old in two weeks. He loves the show Mickey Mouse Clubhouse so I think we’ll have a Mickey Mouse party for him in the family room at the field. Every time the Mickey Mouse Club theme song comes on he’s moving and smiling. I downloaded it to my phone so I can play for it. I hope we can get our moms out from Texas for the party. Got to have the grandmas here!
We just bought him a new toy, a tunnel that leads to a pool of plastic balls. It’s in the living room with the rest of the toys. It’s like an amusement park in there. I’m trying to post a video but it’s not working. I’ll do it when I figure it out.
Thanks for reading — keep the questions coming!
Some of you might have seen Jalynne’s instagram a few days ago of the sonogram: We’re expecting our third child. Jaydyn has no clue what’s going on, but Braylyn understands there’s a baby inside Mommy’s tummy. Or at least she pretty much understands. When you ask her who’s in there, she says, “Baby Buzz!’’ (She’s been kind of obsessed with Toy Story lately.)
She’s funny, though, because when Jalynne told her that she had been in Mommy’s tummy, she seemed kind of appalled. She was like, “No, Mama!’’
The baby is due in mid-January, right around my birthday. We’re all really happy and excited.
I’m still smiling about being part of the All-Star Game. It was an honor, first of all — something that no one can ever take away from you. You grow up playing the game and being on Little League All-Star teams, and then you make it to the MLB All-Star team — representing the San Francisco Giants, your hometown team. I don’t dwell too much on the unbelievable good fortune I’ve had, but I couldn’t help it this week. Playing with the Giants. Winning two World Series Championships. And now playing in the All-Star Game. Even I couldn’t dream that big.
Besides being an honor, the All-Star Game was one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had. When you play against guys, you form an impression of what they’re like. Then you get to spend a little time together and you sometimes see another side. For instance, Adrian Gonzalez. I could never get a read on him because he never really talks to you at first base, unlike some other first basemen. But I talked to him a bit in Cincinnati and he seemed like a really good guy. He was loose and having a great time in the dugout.
So was Kershaw. When the first-base umpire called a foul ball against us, Kershaw yelled in a high-pitched voice, “C’mon, Jerry! That was fair!’’ Then he turned to Dee Gordon next to him and in his own voice said — real loud — “Yeah, Dee! You tell him!’’ He was really funny, which is not what I think of him when I’m standing in the batter’s box.
A.J. Burnett is another one. He has this angry face when he’s pitching and so he doesn’t come across as the nicest guy. But as soon as we crossed paths in Cincinnati, he introduced himself and his sons. He couldn’t have been nicer. After the game, even though everyone was kind of rushed with packing up and figuring out where the buses were, he made a point of coming up to me. “Hey, nice to meet you. Good luck the rest of the way,’’ he said. “Remember I’m coming after you.’’ We both smiled: He hadn’t forgotten my home run off him earlier this year.
During batting practice, I introduced myself to Kris Bryant because we hadn’t played against each other yet, and I talked to guys like A.J. Pollock and DJ LeMahieu who don’t really talk much when you play against them.
Bum was great. He was actually a little social butterfly. He went around talking to everybody. He was especially giving Kershaw a hard time. It started the first moment they saw each other and didn’t stop.
My only regret is that I didn’t get more autographs. The clubbies set out boxes and boxes of baseballs that we all signed. Every player received one signed ball, and you could buy more. I bought six National League and six American league balls. But I wish I had gotten certain individual guys to sign balls. I have a display case in my house here in the Arizona with balls signed by future Hall of Famers (or just really good players). I started it a few years ago when we played the Yankees in New York and I got one of the clubbies to get autographed balls from Jeter and Rivera for me. (That’s how players usually get other players’ autographs: tip a clubbie to do it. It could be weird if you just walked up to somebody.) I was thinking after I left Cincinnati that I should have gotten Pujols, Trout and Harper while I was right there with them. Once a fan, always a fan.
Another thing about the All-Star Game: They actually played our walk-up music. That surprised me. I noticed it with Bryce Harper in the first inning because I remembered his walk-up music from just playing them in Washington. Then when I walked up to the plate, I heard mine. That was pretty cool.
Two other cool things:
One, my dad made a last-minute decision to fly out to the game. He had been my coach on Little League All-Star teams, so it was great that he was there. And he flew home with us on the Giants’ charter.
Two, my sister Amy finally could root for both me and her boyfriend, Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole, at the same time. During the workout on Monday, Gerrit told he was going to propose to her. He showed me the ring and described his plan to surprise her the day after the All-Star Game. I guess he nailed it because Amy looked pretty surprised in the photos she tweeted out on Wednesday. I’m really happy for them.
We flew back to San Francisco right after the game. Jalynne, the girls and I got to our house in the East Bay at around 5:45 Wednesday morning. Jaydyn, of course, woke up at 9. So we didn’t get much sleep. We flew early in the evening down to our house in Arizona, where I had a great night’s sleep.
I’m looking forward to starting the second half of the season, so I guess I have to put the All-Star Game behind me. But I’ll tell you this: I wouldn’t mind going back.
Rough series in Miami. We never seem to play the Marlins very well. I’m not sure what it is. A lot of people asked me about Carter Capps, the Marlins reliever who drags his foot off the rubber before he throws the pitch. And he throws 100. I’ve hit against him twice and seen six pitches, all strikes. I swung at five. Didn’t make contact once. It’s hard to pick up the ball. In my last at-bat, I swung at two sliders that I think bounced in front of the plate. His strange delivery is legal, I’m told, because he doesn’t push off again after he leaves the rubber. It’s all arm. I don’t know how you learn to pitch like that or how stressful that must be on an arm.
One of the things that’s special about this Giants team — and you’ve heard me say this before — is no matter how things are going for us, we stick together. Staying connected is really important for the type of guys we have on this team. For instance — and I’m not sure when it started — but before every game I shake hands or fist-bump every player and coach on the team, including the relievers heading out to the bullpen. We have all kinds of crazy handshakes. One isn’t even a handshake. Shawon Dunston, one of our coaches, once came up to me and clapped me simultaneously on the chest and back, so that’s our thing now, with him saying, “Let’s go, Barry Larkin!’’ (his nickname for me.) You have to be a little cautious with the starting pitcher, especially if it’s Vogey. I might give him just a light fist tap, which he’ll accept with a kind of “don’t bother me’’ look. (I have no crazy handshake with Buster. He’s not into it.)
The point is we make an effort to remind each other that we’re in this together. On the road, when we have time for dinner, a bunch of us end up going out together. I’m sure we’ll do that tomorrow night for July 4th. We play here at 11 a.m. so we have plenty of time to meet for dinner. No definite plans yet but usually somebody will start inviting people and it ends up being most of the team. Maybe even Belt will come. Sometimes he goes off on his own to a movie without telling anyone. We’ll probably watch fireworks from the hotel.
Answers to your questions!
When you are on the road, who watches the kids when you and Jalynne go out? Do you have help on the road? The only time we’ll go out is if family comes with us to watch the girls. But even then, usually we don’t go out. Jalynne brings the girls so I can see them, which means I want to have dinner with them. Jalynne’s twin sister, Janelle, and her husband and baby joined us in Miami because we had an off day there on Monday. But we all ate together. Jannelle and her family are going to move in with us this month and stay for the rest of the season to help with the girls and keep Jalynne company.
Do you guys eat out every meal, or do they feed you in the clubhouse when you are on the road? They feed us in the clubhouse — and we eat out. Depends on the time of the game. Today we have a 6 p.m. game, so I went to the mall next to the hotel for lunch with Buster. Then we’ll eat something in the clubhouse after the game.
Any outstanding restaurants you would recommend? Capitol Grille is always a good spot. There’s one of those in almost every city we go to, it seems. The truth is I’m not very picky.
I saw on Strickland’s Instagram that Heston bought a bottle of Blue Label for everyone on the team after his no-hitter. . . . Are you a big whiskey guy? Blue Label is definitely a treat for a whiskey fan. I’m not a big drinking guy in general. I’ve never tried Blue Label, but I might have to now for Heston. Cain got us watches for his perfect game in 2012. It’s nice of the pitchers to acknowledge us.
How early are players supposed to get to the park before the game? For a 7:15 game I get to the park at 2:15 so there’s time to get treatment in the training room and work out before batting practice, which is around 4:30.
Did Morse get any flack for his plaid jacket? He doesn’t really surprise us with any of his outfits, so I don’t even remember the plaid jacket.
Has Jalynne ever taught you some gymnastics moves? With some of the amazing plays you make at shortstop, I joke that, “Well, his wife was a gymnast at UCLA, he probably picked up some moves.” lol! She’s told me the names of a couple of the moves that look like something I’ve done on the field. She didn’t teach me any of them, though.
Do you, Belt, and Panik (I suppose Duffy too!) hang out at all outside of games/practice? Seems like you three are pretty close, especially with the Crawnik infield, chemistry-wise. We’re all close, and we do go out on the road when there’s time. I’m not sure it adds to our chemistry. Marco Scutaro and I had great chemistry and we never hung out off the field. I think we all know each other pretty well just by being teammates. Maybe we hang out because we’re all in the same age range, though somebody reminded me earlier this season that I’m oldest of the infielders. I’m 28. Belt’s 27, Joe’s 25 and Duffy’s 24. And Buster’s 2 months younger than me.
I was curious of how you got to the Oracle Stadium so fast after just finishing a game, get cleaned up, drive over. Good maneuvering through traffic.
How did you get so good at hitting? Did the Giants recommend any batting mechanics changes when you were coming up the farm system? Is there a Giants Way for hitting? There were definitely a lot of recommendations, which happens with anybody who struggles in the minor leagues. I’m sure even Buster got recommendations a couple of times, though nothing drastic, I’m sure. But I got plenty. I changed my batting stance a few times, for example. You just kind of have to find what works for you. You piece everything together and just make it your own because there’s no single approach that works for everybody. There’s no Giants Way. The coaches are really good at recognizing that every player is different, every swing is different.
I use video to watch pitchers before facing them. You can look at a scouting report and see he’s got a fastball, slider, change-up. But you want to see what his pitches are doing. And you want to look at what he throws in different situations. Once the game starts, you don’t think about it a whole lot. You just kind of react. But at least you have a better plan going in.
I also watch my own at-bats sometimes, though at this point there isn’t anything drastic I’m going to see. Every now and then you’ll see something small you need to adjust. Fortunately there hasn’t been a whole lot of that this year. Recently, though, I’ve been doing something that Bam-Bam found on film that I didn’t see. It’s great to have another set of eyes.
Can you confirm Baggs’ statement about Belt never wearing a protective cup?
It’s true. Not all players wear cups. Most outfielders don’t because they don’t get ground balls that are going to take a bad hop. The infielders who don’t wear them either REALLY trust their hands or they’ve never been hit there.
I’ve always wondered if the bat boys traveled with you? No. The home team provides bat boys.
Was the team surprised that there seemed to be as many Giants fans as there were Mariner fans when you played in Seattle? Yes, we were really surprised. We never get that kind of applause in batting practice — even at home! We were walking out to stretch and getting a standing ovation from half the crowd. It was crazy. We don’t go to Seattle very often so maybe all the Giants fans in the area came out.
Let’s catch up on a few things now and I’ll answer questions in the next post. I’m hoping to get this out before game time. There’s no batting practice but I’ve already been out in left field taking field practice. I’m starting out there today. The baseball commissioner is coming to the clubhouse before the game for a short Q&A. So not sure I’ll get this finished.
First, Greyson. He now has six teeth with two more coming. He’s eating more real food. We went to Chik-Fil-A yesterday and we gave him a little bit of chicken. He loves chicken. He loves applesauce. I’m not sure we’ve found something he doesn’t like. We give him one of our french fries now and then. If you don’t give him something we’re eating, he gets mad at us. So we have to give him what we’re eating. I know — great parenting strategy. I don’t do it if we’re at home. I just let him get mad. But if we’re at a restaurant, I’m like, “Here take anything you want. Just be quiet.’’
I haven’t written since I hit Gregor Blanco with a ball. I still feel terrible about it. I can’t believe it even happened. Outfielders are running through all the time when we’re throwing the ball around the infield. Gregor usually looks in at me, and sometimes he’ll catch the ball on his way to the outfield. Or he’ll wait for me to throw then run through. For some reason he didn’t look in, and for some reason I threw the ball thinking he was through, and it just hit him.
Oh, I can’t tell you how terrible I felt. I had flashbacks about when it happened to me. He shook it off and played. But he told me later he felt dizzy and didn’t want to say anything because he didn’t want me to feel worse than I already did. That was nice of him, but I want HIM to be OK. We had a day off the next day and the day after that, Gregor came up to me in batting practice and asked, “How did you feel when you had your concussion?’’
Well, that’s a sign right there. You know he doesn’t feel right. I said, “You need to tell the trainer, so he can properly treat you for this.’’ A concussion is something you don’t want to mess around with. It’s your brain. You take another shot to the head after you’ve had one concussion and bad stuff can happen. Just to make sure, I went to the trainer myself. I just wanted to make sure they knew something was going on with him and he needed to be checked. So he went through the tests, and they realized he did have a mild concussion. I hated that so much. Fortunately, it didn’t take him too long to get back.
I hate to admit I did it one other time in my life. Little League practice. I was playing shortstop and taking relays from the outfield. I just turned around and chucked it home, and I hit my best friend in the head. He was halfway to home plate. He was fine — although we didn’t pay much attention to concussions back then. He had a big knot on his head. I think I’ve reached my lifetime limit on hitting others in the head and getting hit in the head myself.
Jurassic World. I watched it after we got to Seattle last week. A group of us — Maxwell, Duffy, Romo, I think — had all planned on going at 9. But I had something to do, so I went by myself at 10. I had asked Chad Chop (our batting practice pitcher and video replay analyst) if he wanted to go but he said, “No, it’s the same thing they did before.’’ He was right. I thought I was going to love it because I love Chris Pratt. He’s one of my favorite actors. I loved him in The Five Year Engagement. That’s a sneaky-funny movie. So Chris Pratt is still pretty funny in Jurassic World, but the overall acting wasn’t very good. Maybe it was the writing. There was a lot of cheesy writing in there. The story is they have this theme park based on their dinosaurs where fans can kind of interact, like in a petting zoo for the baby dinosaurs. The main part of the story is they made an animal with a genetic mutation. Basically if they put this hybrid animal next to a T-Rex, you can’t tell the difference. But supposedly it’s bigger and has more teeth. And of course this thing gets loose and it’s running through the park filled with 20,000 people. It’s just the same plot they’ve done before. Nothing different. Completely predictable. You knew the guy and the girl were going to make out at some point, and they did. You knew they were going to catch this animal, but that people were going to get eaten along the way. Towards the end, I thought, “Is this all that’s going to happen? I’m bored.’’ It’s a really lazy script.
Spy: This was a much better movie. I really like Melissa McCarthy, except in Tammy — I walked out of that one. But everything else she’s really funny. In Spy, she’s a spy’s assistant back in the office looking at satellite video and saying “There’s people coming down this hallway, so take that hallway,’’ telling him what to do. The spy ends up dying out in the field, and she goes out and does all this spy stuff. At first I thought they were trying too hard to be funny. Then it got better as the movie went on. Jason Statham is hilarious in this movie. I didn’t even know he was funny. He always does the action movies. I was pleasantly surprised.
Thanks for reading. Next post: Answering your questions.
I started this post yesterday and didn’t get back to it. So I’ll try to finish this morning and see if it can get posted before game time. (I don’t post them myself.) Day games after night games are kind of rushed. Always such a fast turnaround. You sleep and then you’re back on the freeway heading again to the park. BUT . . . it’s great weather today, a sell-out crowd and we’re playing baseball. No complaints.
I’m a huge Warriors fan, and Jalynne and I were lucky enough to go to the game Sunday night. Getting a hold of tickets isn’t the easiest thing, but my agent used to work with Bob Meyers, the Warriors’ GM, so that was my connection. We raced over to Oakland after our game and got there around 5. It was cool to get kind of the VIP treatment. We parked in the special access lot — pulling in right behind Floyd Mayweather. At the security entrance, he was waiting for his whole posse to get together, so he told Jalynne and me to go ahead of him. Pretty cool.
We had great seats — directly across from the Warriors bench, 20 rows up. It was fun just to be a fan — to be one of the watchers instead of a guy being watched. Curry has to be the most fun athlete I’ve ever watched. What impressed me about him is what impresses everyone about Curry — his quick ball handling, his vision on the court and then how quick his shot is — it’s unbelievable. When you don’t think he’s able to get a shot off, he not only gets it off, he makes it.
And then LeBron. I don’t know if people grasp how big he is if you’ve only seen him on TV. He’s so big and he’s so quick. I think that’s why he’s able to make things look so easy. He’s able to back you down, but if give him too much room, he can blow by you, too, because he’s that quick. At one point I looked up at the scoreboard stats and he had something like 8 assists, 20 points and 8 rebounds — he almost had a triple double at halftime! And everyone else on the team had zero assists.
We’ll be on a plane to Seattle tonight during the game. I hope we land in time to watch the second half. We’ll all have our iPads and headsets on while we’re riding the bus to the hotel. Let’s hope they clinch tonight.
OK, should we talk turkey taps? Seems to have attracted a bit of attention after our White House visit and Matt Duffy doubled over. It was from a sneak attack by Cain, who landed the punch as he passed by. Some people who saw it on TV thought it was me because I was standing next to Duffy. I’d have to have really flexible Inspector Gadget arms to reach Duffy. And the evidence is stacked against Cain. When Morse was here, Cain gave him a little reach-around on camera. I put a clip of it on Twitter. He and Belt lead the team in turkey taps. It happens a lot when there’s a big group because you can’t really tell who’s doing it. I do get Belt a lot, but he’s gotten better at blocking it, so it’s not so fun anymore. Why do we do it? I don’t know. We have a lot of characters on this team who like to keep things fun and relaxed.
Turkey tap aside, it was really an honor to go to the White House again. Not many people get to go inside and meet the president. We took a train to Philly after that. I wish we could travel more by train. We had a chartered train to Philly, which means we had a whole train to ourselves. I think it was four or five cars. One car was for players who didn’t have their wives on the trip. Another car for players with their families, then the dining car and the coaches up font.Unlike flying, as soon as everybody boards the train, we leave. On a plane, it seem like it’s an hour before the plan takes off. I’m sure it’s making sure the plane is safe, but it was a nice break to take the train. We took it from Philly to New York, too.
In New York, Jalynne and I decided to see a play on the off day, Monday, but not many theaters are open on Mondays. We went to Phantom of the Opera along with Chad Chop and his wife, and Hunter and his girlfriend. Hunter had made dinner reservations for all of us but when we found out it was a 20 minute drive there and 20 minutes back — and theater was just a five-minute walk from our hotel — the Chops and Jalynne and I decided to play it safe and just grab dinner nearby so we wouldn’t be late for the show. We ended up having pizza across from the theater. We’re not picky, so it was perfect for us. In New York, you’re supposed to get pizza anyway.
We had a hitters’ meeting before the game today. Nobody’s freaking out. It’s baseball. It’s a long season. We’ll get it going. This happened last year in June, too. Everybody wasn’t hitting all at the same time. Last year ended up all right.
Thanks for reading. Next blog: I’ll answer your questions. Keep them coming