Yesterday was an awesome day. For a lot of reasons. I made the All-Star team, a dream come true. Actually I never really dreamed it. Earning a starting job on a Major League team was the dream. The All-Star team is something I can’t even put into words.
But it turned out the main emotion I felt yesterday wasn’t excitement, though I felt plenty of that. What I felt more than anything was gratitude.
I couldn’t believe how many people messaged me that their thumbs were about to fall off from voting for me. I couldn’t believe how hard Becky Biniek in the Giants’ social media department worked to keep reminding the fans to vote. I couldn’t believe how many of my teammates tweeted out #VoteBelt.
I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it all.
But I was thinking yesterday about one person more than anyone else.
When we got word – in a text from Ali Bumgarner – that I’d made the team, I was driving back from lunch in Lafayette with Haylee and Greyson. Haylee immediately started crying. I knew it wasn’t just that she was happy for me. It was about all the hard times and hard work and the doubts and the load she has had to carry so I could achieve my dream.
I got a little misty watching her cry because this has been about both of us every step of the way. This doesn’t happen if she’s not with me. I’m not being cheesy. It’s the truth.
It’s not easy being a baseball player’s wife. It’s not like she can do whatever she wants. She’s working constantly, getting everything ready when we travel, organizing our moves, renting houses, doing charity stuff, putting up with me when things aren’t going well. Everything. She makes sure I don’t have to worry about anything off the field.
This is a very public job, and I know how tough it was for her to read and see some of the mean things people said about me over the years. It hurts her. I don’t think everybody can put up with that. I really don’t. But she’s strong, mentally strong. She can take a lot of crap and come out on the other side, looking even better than before.
She’s always there for me when I’m feeling down about something. She knows me so well. She’s there to dig me out of whatever hole I get myself in. When I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, she was there to show it to me. She can say stuff to me that no one else can say. She tells me the truth even when I might not want to hear it. She’s the one who keeps me grounded.
Haylee and I have known each other since high school. She had no idea what was in store for her when we started dating. It’s amazing to me that she has stuck with me through all the years of ups and downs. If it were me, I don’t know if I could have hung in there. You’re staying in there for somebody else. She’s not getting anything out of this other than “your husband achieved his dream’’. It’s selfless. She might be the most selfless person I know. I feel pretty selfish in comparison.
So when she got emotional in the car yesterday, I knew it was because it’s been such a long road and because this amazing gift of going to All-Star Game was for both of us, together, not just me.
On the other hand, Greyson didn’t really care. Wasn’t impressed at all.
Still shaking my head about the Warriors last night. Amazing. We know a little about playing in the postseason with our backs against the wall. Really inspiring to watch.
I want to finish up random notes from the last road trip.
Big Bad Bum in San Diego: As soon as Bum struck out Wil Myers for the last out of the inning, I bolted for the dugout because I was leading off. As I’m running in, the field crew is coming out to drag the field, and the crowd suddenly erupts. I’m thinking, “Man, they really like the field crew here.’’ Then I see the dugout emptying. I still don’t really know what happened. Just another day at the ballpark with Bum on the mound.
Swinging away: There are certain things you remember in detail when you play ball. They’re usually the things that don’t happen very often. One of those is swinging on 3-0 counts, which I did in the same game as the Bum-Myers dust-up. I’ve swung on 3-0 counts only five times in my ML career.
The first time was against Johnny Cueto in 2011. I flew out to left. I didn’t swing on 3-0’s for the next three years, ’12, ’13 and ’14. Last year, I swung three times – for two home runs and a double. And in San Diego, I hit a home run. I’m now 4-for-5 on 3-0 counts.
How do I decide to swing or not? The pitcher, the score, where base runners are, who’s hitting behind me.
In San Diego, the situation was: runners on first and third, one out, nothing-nothing game, and a pitcher – Colin Rea — I had never faced but had watched video on. He’s not a guy who has a huge sinker or anything like that, so I wasn’t too concerned about grounding into a double play. He’s a guy who will occasionally elevate his fastball — something you can hit a fly ball off of. So I figured even if I didn’t get all of it, I’d still get a sacrifice fly and score the runner the third. Bum was on deck. Yes, he’s a good-hitting pitcher, but he’s a pitcher. I wanted to do what I could to get the run in myself. I looked for Rea to throw me a fastball, which he did — though it was a borderline ball four. And since I was ready for it, I got it out.
So I don’t know if this stuff is at all interesting to most people, but for those who wonder about our thought process, I’ll share why I swung away the other three times.
Last year, against Jordan Zimmerman, the situation was 2 outs, nobody on, and a light-hitting batter coming up behind me. If I took the walk, there’d be two outs with me on first. I’m not a big basestealer, so somebody was going to have to hit a double to get me home from first. So I went for it. I had never really hit Zimmerman well in the past, but I knew he was going to come after me with fastballs. He doesn’t want to walk anybody. Sure enough, I got an up-and-in fastball and hit it out.
It was a similar situation against Kyle Lohse, also last year. Two outs, runner on first. We’d need an extra base hit to score the runner. Lohse was another guy who, for the most part, was going to come right after you. He doesn’t want to walk me and put a runner on second base with two outs. So I thought it was a good time to swing away. Maybe I’d hit one in the gap and score the runner from first. I hit a HR to center.
The next one was against the Dodgers. Belt was on second with two outs. Mike Bolsinger, a right-hander, was on the mound. We had a right-handed batter after me, so Bolsinger was pitching around me to get to him. I had just taken a couple good curve balls, so I sat on another one and hit a double.
Having said all this, I know if I swing at a 3-0 pitch and ground out, some people will howl – “Why are you swinging on 3-0??’’ But at least you’ll know why.
A Day at the Zoo: Kristen Posey arranged for players and families to go to the San Diego Zoo when we were there. Buster and Kristen’s son, Lee, who is four years old, came into the clubhouse after a game at AT&T the other day.
“Lee, how’d you like the zoo?’’ I asked him.
He lit up. “Yeah! The giraffe drooled on my head!’’
Love that kid. Fits right in with the rest of us.
Thanks for reading. Go Warriors!
There’s a lot to catch up on. Let’s start with music.
During batting practice last week in San Diego, the Padres – or at least whoever’s in charge of pregame music – had a little fun. The first day of the series, as soon as their own BP ended, the edgy, rappy music stopped. Suddenly, when we took the field, it was all boy bands, ‘90s pop, teeny-bopper pop.
I was smiling because it seemed like they were trying to mess with us. I was standing out at short stop and thinking, “They don’t know what they did. They’re locking me in.’’ They don’t know that we like this stuff. Or at least I do. I hit a home run that night.
The second day of BP, it was all Enya. If you haven’t heard her, the songs are like massage music — for batting practice, it was kind of rough. The third day, they played stuff like “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’’ and “It’s Raining Men’’ –kind of girl-power music.
So did we return the favor when they played in SF this week? No, because to be honest I don’t think the music has anything to do with how you play during the game. BUT . . . if I were going to mess with them . . . since it seems they don’t like that ‘90s pop, I’d probably throw on the Sneaky Awesome playlist we listen to every day. Except it really wouldn’t be messing with them because they’d realize they actually like it.
Now that we’re two months into the season, every now and then I run out of ideas of what to play in the clubhouse. So I’ll ask around. Bum and Belt are never afraid to give me a song. Belt’s tastes are all over the place. He’s like me in that way. He’ll go from “I Knew You Were Trouble’’ by Taylor Swift to a punk-rock-scream song by System of a Down to rapper Rick Ross to Luke Bryan.
Bum’s been surprising. He’s requested Rihanna and “Sugar’’ by Robin Schulz. He’s liked the Drake song I’ve put on recently. Not what you’d expect from “Fire on the Mountain’’ Bum.
I have other random things to share, which I will. But I’m going to post this and finish the rest in a little while.
By the way, pretty good week so far all around, isn’t it? Happy flight to Denver yesterday.
I’m writing this before the game. I’m saying this up front because if you’re reading this after the game you won’t be wondering why I didn’t mention my four home runs or my unassisted triple play. Usually the blog doesn’t post right away so I never know when you’re going to see it.
Let’s get yesterday’s game out of the way. I have never seen a week like we just had, with those two horrific innings, giving up 12 runs one day and 13 a few days later. I’m seeing all these guys at the plate last night getting one hit after another and I’m thinking, “You couldn’t get that many hits in batting practice!’’
If you think it’s torturous watching on TV or from the stands, it’s worse when you’re on the field and wanting to do everything you can to help the pitcher get out of this. As a defense, we failed our pitchers. We made some mistakes that were pretty embarrassing for everybody. I didn’t get a scoop off a throw in the dirt that I felt I should have gotten. Every time the defense makes even a small misstep in an inning like that, morale gets a little bit lower. You can’t seem to stop the bleeding.
But the truth is when we came into the dugout after that inning, we still felt we could win, as crazy as that sounds. We felt, “Let’s see if we can keep chipping away.’’ Crazier things have happened.
Let’s hope tonight goes better. With Bum on the mound, I like our chances.
On another note, did you see Samardzija break his bat over his knee? I asked Samardzija if it hurt, and he said when it breaks you don’t really feel anything. I think he was implying that if it DOESN’T break, you’re in for a long night of ice packs and Advil.
The only time I broke a bat intentionally slamming it on the ground was after a strikeout. I knew enough to be conscious of where I slammed it — you can’t do it on grass, obviously. Still, I had no idea if it was going to break. But I needed it to break. I’d look like a complete wuss if it didn’t. I was very happy with my effort. I didn’t get the oohs and aahs Samardzija did. In fact, no one said a word about it when I came back to the dugout.
I was reduced to asking how it looked.
“Pretty good,’’ one guy said.
I also asked Samardzija if there was a trick to breaking the bat.
“You’ve got to bring your leg up as fast as you bring your bat down,’’ he said. Then he looked at me and said there was one more thing: “You gotta be committed to it.’’
That’d be my problem. I’d be completely committed at first. Then as soon I started to bring the bat down, I’d bail out and end up breaking my leg.
But it would be so cool to do it. Maybe the next time I crack a bat at the plate – I mean when the bat is good and cracked, like almost dangling – I’ll finish it off by snapping it over my knee.
Next blog: A review of The Jungle Book. Oh, I’ll give it to you now. I walked out. Super boring. The kid wasn’t totally not believable. A kid growing up in the jungle would be a lot tougher than that guy. Haylee and I lasted an hour.
Let me know if you go see the Captain America: Civil War movie. It looks awesome.
So Crawford and Belt are handing over their blog to me for a day. Apparently they had to vote on it. Crawford was fine. Belt wasn’t so sure. But he ended up giving 1 percent approval, which he explained made for a 51 percent majority vote.
It’s funny the impressions you have of players when you’re playing against them. A week or so into spring training, Matt Cain came up to me and said, “You didn’t think we were like this, did you?’’
He was right. When I was with the Nationals, I thought the Giants were a very serious group of guys, that they didn’t have as much fun as a lot of other teams. They seemed a little tight, like they did everything by the book.
It’s the complete opposite. This team has a very dry sense of humor. A guy like Cain, who has his game face on when he’s pitching, is actually a real jokester. He’s always sending me funny text messages, just messing with me. I never thought Buster had much personality, but in the clubhouse he’s always joking around. I would never have expected that. Crawford is sneaky funny. He’ll throw a jab here and there, catch you off guard.
That’s what makes this team who they are, why they’ve accomplished what they’ve accomplished. They’re serious on the field and lighthearted off it.
My locker is next to Hunter’s so I’ve had more intense talks with him than with anyone else. We talk about competing, about being a winner, about having that mindset. He’s very analytical when it comes to stuff like that. He’s a deep thinker. The other thing about Hunter is how much he cares about his teammates as people. He’s always checking in with me and making sure everything’s going OK in my world, that my head’s where it needs to be. I appreciate that.
The other thing you can’t really appreciate until you actually become a Giant is the energy at this ballpark. Opening Day – I’ve never, ever seen anything like it. Craziness. Pandemonium. Just unreal. Walking in from center field with all those kids was awesome. We walked around the stadium and fans were giving us high-fives. I didn’t know much about the Giants-Dodgers rivalry. Man, this is the real deal, which made Opening Day all the more fun and crazy.
Here’s a photo of my mom with a Giants fan on Opening Day.
And what a game. As Boch said, it was like two games in one. What I noticed in the dugout was how calm everyone was during all the three-up, three-down innings. There wasn’t a hint of panic. We just chipped away and before you knew it the momentum switched to our side and we just took off. What I loved was how many different ways we attacked, from Kelby’s perfect bunt to Hunter’s grand slam. This is a seriously dangerous lineup.
One question I get a lot is about my batting stance. My front (right) foot is turned so far inward that my heel is almost facing the pitcher’s mound. I do that because my body instinctively wants to pull the ball instead of staying squared up. So I turn my foot to keep my front hip from flying open. That’s my thinking anyway. I’m always tinkering with my swing. I didn’t have a lot of coaching growing up. I’d go to the batting cage and critique myself. I’d try a bunch of things until something felt right. When I was really little, I imitated Darryl Strawberry. I had a VHS tape of him with his high leg kick. He’d kind of drop his hands as his leg came up. I’d do that with my little plastic bat and my little plastic ball.
My mom, Wanda, and my stepdad, Stan, are out here this weekend from Tampa. So is one of my best friends, Wallace, plus an aunt from New York and her daughter who lives near Sacramento.
They went sight-seeing before coming to the games. Here’s my mom with Wallace on the left and my stepdad on the right some where in the city.
Believe me, I could hear all of them cheering every time I came up to bat. After the game on Opening Day, we went to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory on Union Square. People aren’t recognizing me much, but this morning, as soon as I got into my Uber car, the driver said, “You’re our lead-off hitter, aren’t you?’’
I like how he phrased that: Our leadoff hitter. I’m getting the sense that being a San Francisco Giants is like being part of a family.
OK, Belt, you have the blog back. By the way, just heard about the new contract. Dinner’s on you in Colorado.
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!