I’m still getting jabbed about my around-the-horn throw that went between Crawford and Panik and sailed into left field in Cincinnati. They both just stood there. Watched it go by. Making me look like an idiot. I have to catch every ball they throw, no matter where it is. And they can’t move an inch or two? It makes me crazy that when MLB network shows one of our double plays, they cut it off right before I catch it. I don’t know why first-basemen get no credit. Not everybody can do this job.
Actually pretty much anybody can do this job. OK, so that’s probably why.
I returned from the road trip Sunday night to an empty house. I hate it. It’s different when you’re by yourself in a hotel room. But to go home to your house and it’s completely empty, man, that’s brutal. I’ve been sleeping all day basically. On Monday, our off day, Haylee called and said, “You didn’t just get up, did you?’’ I’m not going to tell you what time it was, but I told her there was nothing to do, so why not stay in bed? It really is like a part of you is gone when your wife and kid aren’t there. We played in Houston, near our hometown, so Haylee just stayed there. We have just a three-game homestand before going back out on the road, so it wasn’t worth traveling all the way here. I’ll see her and Greyson next Wednesday. I’ll be so happy. If Greyson’s asleep, I’m waking him up, for sure.
I try to Facetime with him when I’m away, but it’s hard because he tries to eat the phone. He says da-da-da-da-. That’s pretty much the extent of his end of the conversation. But he always smiles when he sees me, so I’m pretty happy about that.
A few of you asked for photos, so here they are.
OK, I’m answering questions today:
What do you and the base runners talk about at first base? In Cincinnati, I asked their shortstop Zack Cozart what happened between last year and this year at the plate. He really struggled last year, and this year he’s hitting almost .300. He said pretty much what I always say: so much of performance at this level comes down to confidence. And the more experienced you get, the more confidence you get. That’s why I was able to stay confident during my slump. I’d been through it before, and I knew it would turn around. A lot of guys at first base this year said, “Congrats on the World Series.’’ I talked to Morse a lot when he was here. He was telling me how awesome it was to be back here and how much he enjoyed his time with the Giants.
Now that Vogey shaved his beard, are you next? No. I feel manlier with the beard. It gives me a better jaw line. So it’s staying.
Losing the ball in the lights on a toss from Casilla? That’s the first time it ever happened on a throw from a pitcher. I think he was testing me. He knew I could catch an easy ball thrown over there, so let’s see what ball I CAN’T catch. So he threw into the lights. Nah, I just think he was trying to be careful in his throw and it just happened to go a little high into the lights. I kind of knew the direction and just threw my glove out there. You can’t catch what you can’t see.
Who do you pal around with? Usually my family’s with me, so we might go to eat with Bumgarner and his wife, Ali. We don’t get a whole lot of time with our families so when they’re with us, that’s who we’re with.
If we’re on the road and the wives aren’t with us, I might go to the movies with Javy and Kontos. We’re the movie guys. I didn’t go to the movies on this road trip, but I watched one on the plane home and went to the theater on the off day (Monday) in Walnut Creek. My reviews are at the end of the blog.
How do you keep pressures on the field from affecting your family life? I’d say at some point everybody goes through a time when something that happens at work affects your home life. But you just try your hardest not to let it. When i go home and see the smile on my kid’s face, and see my wife again, it kind of just makes everything else go away for a while. I’m not going to lie, there are times when I might have snapped at Haylee because of something that happened here at the ballpark. But overall I think I do a pretty good job of separating. I love playing baseball. I love it as much as anything in the world. I just don’t love it more than my family. So I try to keep that in perspective and realize there’s a separation.
What did you do for your birthday? It fell on an off-day, so I did a signing in San Jose for about an hour, then we all hung out with my host mom. It was just a relaxing day. Exactly what I wanted.
Taste in music? I like everything. But I’d have to say my favorite band is Chevelle.
Most embarrassing thing you’ve done? I don’t embarrass easy. Things that might be embarrassing to someone else probably isn’t going to bother me.
Do you hear conversations between the runner and first base coach? I certainly try!
Sequence of getting your rhythm back at the plate? Once you get your mechanics back, power follows. When you’re in a slump, you go back to basics: just getting your bat on the ball. Just getting hits. You start hitting line drives. Then the line drives start to carry a little bit farther and little bit farther. You start getting extra-base hits, and those extra-base hits start turning into home runs. The last past two or three weeks, that’s exactly what happened to me.
Is there a sign when you know you have it all going? When I’m hitting line drives to all parts of the field.
Favorite city to play in? I like St. Louis. I like the ball park. Great atmosphere. I also like playing back home in Texas. That’s always good.
Favorite baseball movie? I loved, when it first came out, The Rookie. That’s right up there with Sandlot and Bull Durham.
Favorite cultural night? I’m still waiting for Texas night.
Whiplash: It’s about this kid who’s a drummer. You can just tell he wants to be the greatest drummer that ever lived. He just has this drive that’s beyond comparison. The story kind of relates to anything in life you’re passionate about. I can relate it to baseball. If you want to be the best, you have to have that drive and just beat yourself up to get there. That’s what he did. There are times in the movie when he’s drumming so much, his hands are bleeding all over the drum set. I’m not saying that’s what has to happen to be the best, but you have be willing to go through hell. You find with a lot of guys in the big leagues. The teacher in that movie is ruthless, but he’s the kind of guy you want because he demands the best. I never had a coach as ruthless as that, but I had a bunch of coaches who wanted the best of out me like that teacher did with his students. I loved the end of the movie. The kid was just going crazy on the drums, putting in one of the best solo drum performances ever. So even though the teacher tried to screw him over, I think the kid couldn’t help but see where it got him.
Grade: A+. I’d watch it again.
Ex Machina: Basically it’s about artificial intelligence. This guy gets chosen to go to this research facility where they’re testing these robots. He wants to see if these robots can pass some kind of test where the human interacting with the machine forgets that that it’s a machine. It’s kind of a thriller-type movie with all these twists. There were moments when I thought, “If it ends this way, I’m not going to be happy.’’ But it had a good ending.
Grade: B+/A- I saw it in Walnut Creek on the off day. I saw by myself, which is the way i like it. Some people get weirded out going places by themselves, but i love it. I’m around people all day, so it’s nice to go by yourself and just enjoy the movie.
Thanks for reading. I might have gone on a little too long today. Sorry!
Keep the questions coming!
Wish we could have kept the win streak going so Willie Mays could have had a happier birthday. But with 10 wins in the last 14 games, we’re climbing out of the hole we dug for ourselves last month.
I didn’t get a hit today, but with my 3-for-3 yesterday my batting average is higher right now than my career average, and somehow I’m leading the team in home runs and RBIs. I’m pretty confident I will not be holding that spot when the season’s over. I know my strength is defense, but I always expect to contribute at the plate, too. I know it’s in me to hit higher than .250.
So, like every hitter in here, I’m always trying to make myself better. So last month, when — despite the home runs — I found myself swinging and missing more than usual, I needed to figure out why. I realized I was getting a lot more off-speed pitches than usual. It started with that first series on the road against the Padres. I had seen mostly fastballs in our season-opening series against Arizona. So when the Padres went with mostly off-speed stuff, I wasn’t really prepared. Then other teams started doing it, too.
Usually, about 60 percent of the pitches I’d see would be fastballs. I knew I wasn’t seeing that many, so I went and looked it up. Sure enough, fewer than 50 percent of the pitches were fastballs.
So I had to adjust. I had to get better at handling off-speed pitches. It’s tough to practice that, though, because in almost every batting practice you’re seeing only fastballs. You can program the pitching machine in the batting cage to throw whatever you want, but I don’t find it really useful. You know the pitch is coming and you can just sit on it. You get into that rhythm, and it’s not realistic. Although . . . having said that, I am sitting on the change-up or curveball more. And if I get a fastball, I can still try to take it.
Chad Chop has helped me get better. He’s one of our batting practice pitchers. He joined the Giants last year, and he’s little younger and stronger than the other ones we have. So I’ve gotten him to mix the pitches up to me. He’ll toss in a change-up or curve among the fastballs. And he’s a lefty. It’s probably why I’m hitting left-handed pitchers better.
Glad to see my fellow Brandon get his rhythm back, as he talked about in his blog post this week. He went 2-for-3 today, crushing a double and triple to the wall, and is 6-for-13 with four doubles and one triple in his last four games. He knows I carried Team Brandon (our hitting group) last month. I told him he had to step up in May. I’m happy I could give him the motivation he needed.
Thanks for coming out to all the games and sticking with us through a rough month. It’s a long season, and I think sometimes people — even in baseball — lose sight of that.
And thanks for reading!
Sorry I haven’t blogged much. When the team’s struggling, and you’re not helping to score any runs, there’s not much to say. You don’t want to sound all cheerful and happy because it wouldn’t be real. But you don’t want to make too much of a dry spell, either, because you know it’s going to pass.
Having said that, few things are worse for a hitter than opening the season and falling almost immediately into a slump. You haven’t built up any numbers yet. There’s no cushion in your batting average to absorb the dip in production. All you see is the dip. So everything just looks brutal. If you slump in the middle of the season, it doesn’t hit your average as hard.
For me, like most players, hitting is all about rhythm. When I get into a good rhythm, I can stay on a good streak for a long while. I was on a great streak coming out of spring training. The groin injury the first week of the season put me on the sidelines for a few days. You never think you’re going to be affected by an interruption like that, but hitting is such a complex thing, physically and mentally. One thing is a little bit off, and suddenly you’re struggling.
But it’s part of baseball. It happens. You know you’ll get out of it. But it’s never as quick as you want. I’m happy to be swinging the bat well again. I’m seeing the ball. I feel good out there. I know if I keep hitting the ball hard enough, good things will happen.
What matters most is that, as a team, we’re turning things around. We’re winning again and climbing up the standings, which all of us knew would happen. It’s in our DNA. And soon we’ll be getting some big guys back — Hunter, Cain, Peavy — and that will be a huge lift.
We have our batting groups again this year, and again we have Team Brandon. There are three groups, and I’m the captain of one of them. So in the draft I’m pretty much obligated to pick Crawford first. I haven’t looked at the standings for April yet, but I know he helped us a lot with his home runs. I’ll keep you posted.
I’m sorry I have no movie reviews. With Greyson, who is now eight months and desperate to start walking already, I’m not going out a lot. I want to spend every minute I can with him. I wanted to go to the movies in Colorado and just never did. I bought I Love You, Man in the hotel. I’ve seen it a hundred times and still think it’s hilarious. But I fell asleep and didn’t finish it. The life of a new Dad, I guess. Haylee and Greyson will go to Houston with me, and Haylee will head to Lufkin for a little while. She will be very happy to get some help from the grandparents.
Thanks for reading. And ask some questions so I have something to write about!
Just like old times. Guest blogging again.
It’s great to be back with all the guys. There’s still sort a Brandon row in the clubhouse — we’re within a couple lockers of each other but not adjoining like in SF. (I am happy to report we have not revived the Brandon handshake. It was not the greatest handshake, as the other Brandons will tell you. In fact, it kind of gives you an uncomfortable feeling when you do it.)
To refresh your memory, I was sent to Triple A in mid-July. I watched the World Series from my home in Galveston, Texas, with my girlfriend and a buddy of mine. We parked ourselves in front of the TV every evening.
I admit it was a little difficult at times. I wished I could have been there and been a part of it. But of course you’re rooting for the guys you battled with earlier in the year. What stood out for me about the team was their fight — their ability to never give up or give in. They had their backs against the wall a lot of times and kept on pushing. That’s just the type of guys that are in there.
I’m really proud to have contributed during the first half of a championship season. There’s a lot of satisfaction in that. Plus, I’ll get a ring, which is every ballplayer’s dream.
When I arrived at camp a couple weeks ago, a few guys did a double take. They didn’t really recognize me. I’ve got longish hair now. I haven’t cut it since last June. Not sure why. I’ve never really had it long, so I thought, “Why not do it now?’’ It kind of got a little curly on me, though.
I’m not comparing myself to Pagan. He’s probably got the best hair on the team. But I might be in Crawford territory. He gave me some of his product the other day to use. It turned out all right. Gave it that wet look he likes before the game.
Here’s our better side . . .
Games haven’t started but there have been 150, maybe 200, people at Scottsdale Stadium just to watch practice. I guess coming off a World Series championship, we should have expected good crowds, but you’re still surprised to get that kind of support. I heard when Madison walked off the mound yesterday after pitching BP, he got a big round of applause. (I wasn’t in that hitting group, so I didn’t have to face him.)
Nori Aoki is in my group, so I’m starting to get to know him a little. His English isn’t very good, though it’s much better than my Japanese. He clearly has a good sense of humor. We’ve been hitting him fourth in the group because we tell him he has the big power. He laughs and says, “Big guy! Big power!’’
I’ve been around new third-baseman Casey McGehee since before camp officially started. We took grounders on the back practice field together. There’s not much a shortstop and third-baseman need to do as far as adjusting to each other. I just need to get a read on what his range is on balls to his left. After just a few ground balls over there, I’ll be able to read it pretty well.
Communication between a shortstop and third-baseman isn’t as involved as between a shortstop and second-baseman. Casey already has asked if I’d give him a head’s up on breaking balls. (From my position, I can see what pitch the catcher is calling, and the third-baseman can’t.) Pablo wanted a head’s up, also, on breaking balls. I alert them by just making a little noise. I don’t know exactly how it affects their positioning, but maybe they’re a little more ready down the line.
People ask if we come into spring training focused on improving any particular facet of our game. I really don’t. The only thing I want to improve, overall throughout the season, is consistency. I’ve had a lot of hot streaks and cold streaks in my career, which happens to everybody in baseball. So it’s a matter of keeping the cold streaks as short as possible.
So how do I do that? That’s the big question, right? I have to recognize more quickly when there’s something I need to change. I went through two bad months last season — July and August — before I realized I my hands were all over the place. I don’t know if I was getting tired or trying to do too much, but I would kind of lose track of where I was holding them from at-bat to at-bat. They’d get too high. Too far back. And I’d get trapped. I wasn’t as direct to the ball.
So in September, I began again to do that little tap on my shoulder, which I did throughout 2013. It reminds me where my hands need to be — lower and closer to my body. And I had a great September.
Everything’s good with the girls. Jaydyn’s walking (she’s almost 1). And Braylyn’s crazy, running around all over the place (she’s 2). She goes to the gym with Jalynne and does some toddler gymnastics. But we think she’s going to be too tall for gymnastics, though. She’s in the 80th percentile of height and weight for her age, so she’s projected to be around 5-feet-8 or -9.
Check in tomorrow or the next day for a special guest blog from the third Brandon. He has a new look, inspired by someone he admires and clearly wants desperately to emulate . . .
Yes, the blog is back.
This was supposed to be posted on Tuesday, but the posting got screwed up and here it is now:
Today was the first official day of spring training. Everyone is here. We had a great team meeting first thing in the morning. Bochy talked and Hunter talked. It If we weren’t already pumped to go after another World Series title, we are now. I love spring training personally. It’s good to see the green grass again and get back on the field and feel it beneath your feet. As much as we all work out in the off-season, nothing gets you into baseball shape like playing baseball.
One of the things we do in the first few days here is sign baseballs, jerseys and photos that the community relations department uses through the season to try to fill all the requests for charitable donations. They set up a bunch of tables in a hallway near the clubhouse and we sit there before or after practice and just sign. I’m in the midst of signing 27 dozen baseballs. Hunter has to sign 43 dozen. The bigger the star, the more baseballs you’re asked sign. Travis Ishikawa said he used to sign one dozen balls. This year he signed 20-something dozen.
We’re also asked to make a few appearances during spring training.
“There’s a barbecue here at the park,’’ Bobby from community relations said as I signed the baseballs, “or an event at the local zoo, but you have to drive out there so it’ll be more consuming.’’
“And a lot cooler!’’ I said. “I’ll do that one.’’
You know what my favorite zoo is? The one in Omaha, Nebraska. They have all these different sections so when you go to see the water animals, it’s like a swamp area with alligators and beavers. It’s low lighting so you feel like you’re in the swamp at nighttime. They have all these little bridges and the animals swimming underneath you. It’s awesome.
Another thing about spring training is you’re back with all your teammates. We saw a lot of guys at FanFest but now we’re really together. And there are more guys. Brandon Hicks! The third Brandon. I was happy to see him back and happy to be able to use our Brandon handshake. It’s a pretty easy handshake. Kind of feminine actually. We tried to make it as awkward as possible.
For whatever reason, spring training also means — for me — watching a lot of Shark Tank. I’m too busy in the off-season to watch, but here it’s like the best thing to watch after practice. It’s kind of Shark Tank non-stop on X-box video. I like the feel-good stories about people who bring stuff in and make a company out of it. I love the brutal honesty the Sharks have with these people. It’s hilarious sometimes. I like rooting against some people and rooting for other people. Haylee hates that I watch it all the time. But she’s just as bad with HGTV. Every time I come home, HGTV is on. She used a lot of the info when we built our house. But we’re done building our house, so I’m not sure why she still needs to watch it.
I did take a break to watch the Oscars, or at least about half of it. I thought it was boring. It took them like an hour and a half to do six awards, and they’re mostly awards nobody cares about. And I wasn’t as interested as I usually am because I didn’t see most of the films because it turns out when you have a baby, you don’t go out as much. That’s my excuse for getting one pick correct — just Patricia Arquette. Me and the academy do not agree on a lot of things.
I saw two movies when I was in San Francisco for FanFest. Here are my reviews.
The Kingsmen: It’s about this secret, kind of James Bond organization. This kid’s dad was a part of it, so they kind of recruited the kid to be a part of it as well. He goes through all these tests and ends up being a spy. It was a less cheesy version of a spy movie in that they didn’t follow the same storylines that most spy movies follow. A more adult version. The acting was great. Samuel L. Jackson had a lisp, though I’m not sure why he found that necessary for the movie. Otherwise there were a bunch of English people.
Jupiter Ascending: Honestly to this day I still have no idea what I watched. It’s about this girl played by Mila Kunis who is a reincarnated Queen of the Universe. Her kids weren’t dead so they could take control of the universe, I guess. Channing Tatum is protecting her so they can get her back to power, I think. Honestly, it was a weird movie. There’s a lot of detail in it. It was very confusing. They colonize planets. It was a forgettable movie. It really was. Pretty cool special effects, that’s about it. I think it would have been kind of a cool movie if you knew what was going on.
Finally, just want to say how happy we all are that Bochy is fine and back on the field. He’s the leader. He’s the guy who gets the best out of his ballplayers. We’ve got to have him at the reins if we want to go out there and win another championship. He’s the one who sets the tone. That’s why, I think, when new guys like Casey McGehee and Nori Aoki show up, they fit in so quickly. The rookies, too. They figure out real quick we have a pretty special bond in this clubhouse. Everyone fits in, which is why we’ve been so successful.
OK, Hunter is giving me a hard time about getting back to signing baseballs. He’s been flying through his. So I’m diving back in. Then heading home. Shark Tank is cued up and waiting.
So where was I? Oh, right. August 13. We were 4.5 games behind the Dodgers. We had lost five in a row before finally beating the White Sox.
A lot has happened since then.
You might have seen it.
Belt, Gregor Blanco and I stopped blogging when the team was struggling so much mid-season. And then we started to win. Not that blogging had anything to do with anything. But we figured we’d just focus on winning and, well, you know the rest.
Now that the season is over, and I’ve had a month to rest — sort of (more on that later) — I’m blogging again.
First, I’m really happy for Bum getting SI’s Sportsman of the Year. I haven’t read the story yet, but I hear he sounds a bit like Paul Bunyan. Bum apparently tells the tale of hacking up a snake during spring training last year and finding two baby jackrabbits inside it still alive. I had heard Hunter tell that story when MLB network asked us to do our best impression of Bum. The story was so outrageous I assumed Hunter had made it up. I guess not. Only Bum.
Nothing fazed him the entire postseason — so much so that it was almost kind of weird after Game 5 of the World Series. He had just thrown a complete game shutout in the WORLD SERIES and it was like, “Oh, just another day.’’ Like it was the Diamondbacks in June. I think I was more excited than he was. During the season, you’d see him give a fist-pump after a third out every once in a while. I don’t remember any of that in the World Series.
One thing that wasn’t in the SI story was Bum’s obsession with his hair during the postseason. Every day he was scheduled to pitch, or if there was going to be introductions, you’d know it just by the way his hair looked when he walked into the clubhouse. It was all curly and perfect. His wife Ali gelled it and scrunched it at home then sprayed it to keep it in place. You could whack Bum on the back and he wouldn’t bat an eye, but don’t go anywhere near the hair. He was real sensitive.
I’m also really happy for Joe Panik getting the Gibby (Greatness in Baseball Yearly) Award for his diving stop and glove flip to me at second for the double play in Game 7 of the World Series. I’ve probably watched the replay 50 times. It’s on a commercial on MLB network, so that was a few dozen times right there. And I watched it on MLB.com’s Statcast. It shows that Joe went 18.5 feet to get the ball and flipped it to me in .83 seconds. I released it in .77 seconds and threw it 72 mph to get Eric Hosmer at first. Pretty cool information that we usually don’t see. And pretty cool for me just to relive it.
I’m at home in Arizona now. We spent about a week after the season in the Bay Area with my family then spent time in LA with Jalynne’s family and took Braylyn to Disneyland for the first time. (We bought a season pass, so there is more Disneyland in my future. We’re going again in a week to take my niece.) We were back in the Bay Area for Thanksgiving then finally settled back into our house in Arizona — without either set of grandparents or siblings to help with the girls.
As tired as I was at the end of the World Series — mentally as much as physically — let me tell you that two children under two years old is more exhausting than baseball. They’re nonstop. Our first week in Arizona, I was drained every day. Jalynne managed to schedule them to nap at the same time, so we have a small window of time in the middle of the day to catch our breath.
I took a month off from working out and started up again about a week ago at the Giants minor league facility. I did pretty light workouts but was still ridiculously sore the next day.
I haven’t seen many guys since the season ended, but I’ve been in touch more with Javy Lopez than anyone because we’re co-owners in Fantasy Football. Now that I think about it, just about all contact I’ve had with guys is about Fantasy Football. I think we’re all taking a break from baseball in general. It will be starting up again soon enough. Right now is time for family.
We’ll be spending Christmas in LA with Jalynne’s family. Christmas is a lot different when you have kids – way more fun. Hope all of you have great holidays with your families and friends. Thanks for reading and for all the amazing support you gave us through the entire season. Loved seeing everyone at the parade. I promise to post again soon! And I’ll try to get Belt back on here, too!
That seventh inning was like a burst of pent-up hits. Last few games, we’ve been battling back but haven’t gotten that big hit to put us over the top. Of course, it would be Angel to do it today — the guy we’d been missing. He got the big two-run single, then we piled on. People say hitting is contagious. I don’t know why that would be. It’s a weird baseball thing that really seems to be true.
I had a front-row seat to the play at home that got White Sox manager Robin Ventura tossed from the game. I was on deck when Gregor was tagged out for what would have been the second out of the seventh. Bochy challenged the call. The officials in New York decided Blanco was safe. They said the catcher blocked the plate, a violation of the new catchers’ rule.
I’m glad the call went our way, of course, but I think they have to change the rule. I know I’m not alone in this. The White Sox catcher just had his leg blocking the plate — something that’s allowed at every other base. It shouldn’t be illegal at home. It’s part of baseball. It’s one thing if he had his entire body there. But you should be able to have your leg.
If a catcher is completely off the plate while he waits for the throw, he has to catch the ball then reach back for the tag. As a middle infielder, I know how hard that is. In Pittsburgh, I was covering second on a steal. I caught the ball, reached out and put my glove in front of the bag, expecting the runner to slide into it. But he did a kind of swim move with his arm and maneuvered around the tag. I still probably got him, but he was called safe.
So what’s happening at home is more guys are sliding head first, or more accurately hands first. For a catcher, it’s hard to reach back and tag a guy when his arms can be doing all kinds of maneuvers to avoid the tag.
I’m sure the rule will be revisited and probably changed this off-season. But of course I’m glad it helped us today.
We almost broke through with a big inning last night, too. We had three straight hits in the ninth. Then the second baseman makes that spectacular double-play on Panik’s ground ball. Given my struggles at the plate, I was glad to come through with a single to tie the game, especially against their closer and down to my last strike.
But I must say I was glad not to face Chris Sale again. He’s one of the best pitchers I’ve ever seen. He’s like 6-6 and 150 pounds, just arms and legs. And he throws from way down here so it seems that every pitch is going behind me. His slider breaks about three feet. He starts the game throwing around 96 to 98 mph. He throws his change-up to lefties, too, which not a whole lot of guys do. He is so tough. To be honest, I’d put him right up there with Kershaw.
It’s nice to go into our off-day tomorrow on a high note (unlike our off-day on Monday . . . ) I will be at the Bayview YMCA in San Francisco from 12 to 1:30 supporting their Red Cross blood drive. Joaquin Arias will be there, too. Jalynne’s brother, Jeremy Dantzscher, works for the Red Cross in Southern California. He knows somebody here helping with the blood drive, and when he heard Joaquin was going over there, he asked if I’d go too.
Thanks for reading! Hopefully you’ll have a post from Belt soon. I know he’s been having tests to figure out why he’s still having concussion symptoms. I’m not having nearly as many laughs without my locker mate here. Hope he’s back soon.
August 13, 2014
I know the last two days against the Dodgers haven’t shown it, and we’re dealing with injuries to key guys, but we feel really strong starting the second half of the season. That 14-inning game in Philadelphia told you everything you need to know about this team: We battle. It’s kind of our signature since at least the 2012 post-season. Whether we’re struggling through a few-week stretch or a six-hour game, we fight.
I was happy to get that double in the top of the 14th to put us ahead. But I would have been happy with anybody getting a hit at that point. I received a lot of the credit after the game, but Buster’s home run in the ninth to tie the game was just as big or bigger than mine. Papelbon hadn’t given up a home run all season. And the bullpen was awesome — eight innings and they gave up only one run.
I’ve joked — well, I’m actually kind of serious — about wanting to pitch sometime in a game. But I knew Bochy had to go with Colvin or Blanco if the Phillies had tied it up in the bottom of the 14th and we went to the 15th. There were no position players left on the bench, so Timmy — who pitched the 14th — would have had to stay in the game and play the field. There’s no way Bochy could let me pitch and put Timmy at shortstop. He’d have to play in the outfield, so that meant either Colvin or Blanco would have to pitch. Luckily, it didn’t come to that.
You might have read about the virus or whatever that’s been lingering in the clubhouse for what seems like months now. I’ve had it at least a month if not more, and it’s finally gone. I think Miami shook it out of me. Or maybe it was the All-Star break. I spent the break very quietly, as I mentioned I would in my last post. I saw my grandma one day. Another day we went to Buster’s to hang out and let the kids play. Braylyn, who’s a year and a half, is still a little new to playing with other kids because she hasn’t had many opportunities. But she was good with Buster and Kristen’s twins, who are three. Javy and Renee Lopez were also there with their two kids — their son is almost two and their daughter is four, I think. (I’m not good at guessing ages.) Braylyn would go play with something and want to play by herself. Then she’d join the other kids. She loved the pool. Buster grilled up some hot dogs and hamburgers. It was just a really great, relaxing summer day. When you have so few off days, you really appreciate each one, especially the ones that aren’t crammed with errands and appointments.
So since have some down time during All-Star break, I’ve been feeling much better at the plate. My first at-bat in Miami was maybe my best at-bat all season. I stayed in against Eovaldi for 10 pitches before hitting a two-run homer on the 11th pitch, a 97-mph fastball. I was happy to fight off some pretty good pitches then square up like that. I hit balls hard in the series even if they didn’t translate into hits all the time. When I feel like that at the plate, I know the hits will start to come.
Playing the Dodgers this weekend got me thinking about my favorite Dodgers-Giants memories from when I was a kid. I kind of remember the Brian Johnson game in 1997 when he hit the game-winning home run in the 12th inning to sweep the Dodgers and move into a tie for first place. I’m pretty sure I was at Candlestick for the game that day, but I was really young so I don’t remember it well.
The moment I really remember from the Dodgers-Giants rivalry is kind of unusual. It was a single at-bat. Bonds was facing Cy Young winner Eric Gagne. It was early in the 2004 season. The Dodgers were ahead 3-0 in the ninth. One out. Runner at first. I was at the game with my dad. Gagne was throwing 100 mph fastballs, one after another. Every player not on the field hung over the dugout rails watching power against power.
Bonds fouled the first pitch past the Dodgers dugout.
Then he took a called strike inside — 99 mph.
Ball inside — 100 mph.
Foul into the stands behind the plate.
Towering foul into McCovey Cove off a 101-mph fastball.
Then Gagne threw another fastball — 100 mph this time. Bonds hit it into the center field bleachers.
I thought, “Wow.’’ Bonds just kept battling. The Giants lost, but I’ll never forget that at-bat.
(Full disclosure: I looked up the exact pitch sequence. I didn’t remember every single pitch.)
What’s your favorite Giants-Dodgers moment?
July 27, 2014
With the All-Star Game tonight, I was thinking about how I watched it as a kid. I was a huge Giants fan, but also a baseball fan in general. I liked seeing the players line up before the game because back then, before Twitter and MLB network, I didn’t necessarily know who had made the team.
I was one of those kids who collected all the players’ cards. I’m sure they’re all still at my parents’ house. My dad has plenty of cards and memorabilia that he hasn’t thrown away, so I’m sure he hasn’t thrown away mine. He collected cards from football, baseball, some basketball. He has a boxing glove signed by Muhammad Ali, a Joe Montana football, a lot of cool stuff he got signed at card shows.
That was a big thing for us, the card shows. I’d go with my dad even when I was really young. My dad tells the story of Gaylord Perry holding me as a toddler while my dad took a picture.
It’s kind of funny now going to those cards shows and being one of the people who are signing. The shows are a lot different now. My dad said he’d sit there and talk to a guy for a while because nobody else would be around. Now there’s so much security. They put us in the chairs and tell people no pictures except while we’re signing. They want to get as many people through as possible.
I hope people know it’s not the players refusing to take photos or take time to chat. It’s the people holding the event wanting it to move quickly. So it’s changed a bit since I was going to the shows with my dad. But it’s so cool just to be there and sign stuff for people who want my autograph. It’s cool to think my card might be in a kid’s binder or box.
For me, it’s still kind of amazing seeing Will Clark here in the clubhouse so often, and hitting with Barry Bonds in spring training, and seeing Willie Mays almost every day. I was able to get Mays to sign my dad’s copy of Sports Illustrated from 1970 with Mays on the cover for getting his 3,000th hit. And my dad got to sit with Willie McCovey for a few innings in spring training this year. He doesn’t get real excited about things, but he seemed pretty excited about that.
Thinking about the cards, I remember reading Sports Illustrated for Kids in elementary school. Every issue had nine cardboard cards that you tore out of the magazine. I collected those like I collected every other card. They’d have athletes from other sports — swimmers, basketball players, gymnasts. Years and years later, I was talking with Jalynne and she mentioned the name of a gymnast she knew through her sister (who was an Olympic gymnast). The name sounded familiar to me. Then I remembered.
“I think I have her card!’’
I’m sure I’ll watch the All-Star game tonight because I know we’ll be home. Other than visiting my grandparents in Lincoln (near Sacramento), we’re just hanging out and relaxing during the break. I didn’t watch the home run derby last night. What’s the point if Bum’s not in it? Jalynne leaves tomorrow for LA so she’ll be with her parents during our road trip. The team leaves for Miami Thursday morning.
See you at the park when we return. Thanks for reading.