Alarming First Night – Brandon Belt

I thought spring training was just for my baseball stuff. Apparently it’s spring training for my living arrangements, too. When we got into San Francisco Wednesday night, I drove to the house Haylee and I rented in the East Bay. The lady we’re renting from told me how to work the alarm system. I had it all written down.

So I unlocked the door, and I punched in the numbers. And the alarm went off. I punched in the numbers again. The alarm kept blaring. I called the alarm company and was shouting over the alarm.

Then the police showed up. I was telling them I was doing the exact thing the landlord told me. I have an alarm system at my own house, so I know how they work.

It kept ringing and soon 30 minutes had passed. It’s after 10 by this point. I decided just to leave and sleep at the team hotel. So I drove back into the city after I had driven all the way out there. The next day we got hold of the company and changed the code. But just to be sure, I went out there yesterday before the game and the alarm worked. Ready for the season!

To answer some questions from last time: I never got to spend time with Barry Bonds. He arrived the day before I go sick and basically was out of commission for five days. I heard great things from other players, so I really hope I get another chance.

No, I never got back to yoga. Just went that once. First, I was sick. Second, the class schedule changed a lot because we had night games.

A reader named Mark left a comment about my language when I played Crawford in a football video game. Mark suggested I didn’t really say, “Oh my gosh! Seriously? No chance! This game’s so stupid.’’

Mark, that is actually the way I talk. I try to keep bad words to a minimum. Sometimes it’s hard because you get so caught up in what you’re doing that stuff just comes out that you wish didn’t. But for the most part I can keep it in check. I don’t want anyone back home see me say that stuff on TV. Especially little kids who watch. Even in the clubhouse, I try to avoid it at all times. I think the only time I do say something is if I get really frustrated with something that happens on the field.

I went through a phase during puberty when I used bad language. I think I wanted to feel older. I wanted to feel cool. But when I got into pro ball, I really watched myself because that’s not something I want people to see me do. They don’t want their kids to hear that stuff. I would not appreciate if my kids, when I have them, see and hear that stuff. It’s part of life, I know. Kids are going to get exposed to it. But I’d rather it not be from me.

Jessica left a message that she tried to bring me a bottle of Olive Garden salad dressing but she wasn’t allowed to bring it into Talking Stick. If there’s one gift that I appreciate, it’s Olive Garden salad dressing. Thanks, Jessica, for the idea. It’s the thought that counts. But here’s the address for AT&T Park – 24 Willie Mays Plaza, San Francisco, CA, 94107, in case you still have it!

You also mentioned about getting a hug from me like you did at last spring training. I’m sorry to say I’m going to lay off the hugging for a little bit. I might have to stop getting real close to people in public altogether because I keep getting sick! I’m not sure if that’s even what’s making me sick, but I never get sick in the off-season. Maybe it’s using everybody’s pens? Should I carry my own pen? I have to ask what other players do. It only takes one sick person to pass along the germs. I’m not a germaphobe but I can’t keep getting sick.  So please don’t take it personally!

What did you think of the new commercials? I think they’re pretty funny. I hope they dispel the impression that I’m always mad about something. My dad gets the same thing. I guess we look like we have a perpetual frown on our faces.

Maybe the commercials might help to show who we are off the field. I swear, I think some people who think we’re just robots and when we’re done with the game they kind of pack us up and load us in our lockers and they come get us the next day. I get these crazy comments sometimes on Twitter. I might tweet something about what I’m watching on TV and somebody replies with “Why aren’t you in the cage working on your hitting right now?’’ It doesn’t bother me but it kind of gives you an idea of the mentality. I guess I should just have compassion for someone who’s just so angry and unhappy.

OK, I have only one movie review.

Bad Words: It’s Jason Bateman’s directorial debut, and I think he did a pretty good job. He plays a guy who’s 40-something. He finds a loophole in the national spelling bee rules where he can actually go and participate. He has a reason for doing it, but in the meantime he basically tries to sabotage the entire thing so he can win. He says some stuff in there that is outrageous, and that’s where most of the comedy comes from. It’s stuff that if someone said it in real life, they’d get in big-time trouble for it. Really politically incorrect. But funny.

Two and a half stars.

I watched 12 Years a Slave again because Haylee hadn’t seen it. It was just as good the second time. This time I was really thinking about the ending, when he’s riding away in the carriage and leaves behind people who spent the rest of their lives in slavery. Haylee liked it, I think, though I didn’t really ask her. She stayed awake through it, so I’d say she thought it was pretty good.

Thanks for reading. Can’t wait to start real games!

-Brandon B.

A Bucket by the Bed – Brandon Belt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: Two stars.

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

Rating: 1 1/2 stars.

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

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

Are You Ready For Some Football? – Belt and Crawford

We’re sharing the space today. SFG Productions taped us playing Madden NFL against each other last week. They’ll show it on an “Inside the Clubhouse’’ segment on Comcast at some point. In the meantime, we got someone to transcribe the audio (at least a lot of it). You might find it totally boring, but it was an easy way to “write’’ a post. We like easy. (Especially Belt. Let’s be honest.)

To set the scene: We’re in an empty suite at Scottsdale Stadium sitting on stools and facing a huge screen. We’re holding PlayStation controllers that neither of us has ever used. Crawford picks the 49ers as his team. Belt picks the Cowboys. Then Belt sets the difficulty level.

Craw: Rookie?!

Belt: Yeah.

Craw: You serious? At least All-Pro.

Belt: All-Pro? No!

[The music comes up. Teams appear on the screen.]

Belt: If you remember, when they played each other in 2012 the Cowboys won.

Craw: This is 2014. Nobody cares about 2012.

Belt: Don’t look at my plays.

Craw: I’m picking my own plays.

Belt: First down, son!

[Then another first down for Dallas. And another.]

Belt: Are you even playing defense?

Craw: I’m pressing buttons still trying to figure it out.

[Dallas scores, PAT good, 7-0]

Belt [Examining the controller to choose defensive plays]: What am I doing here? Oh my goodness.

[49ers receiver eludes Cowboys’ defender for a first down.]

Belt: That’s bullcrap. Everybody knows the Cowboys have the best secondary in the NFL.

[Then the Cowboys stuff 49ers RB Frank Gore.)

Belt: Take a seat!

[Cowboys’ ball. Incomplete pass.]

Announcer: Terrible route!

Belt [glaring at his controller]: This thing is not made for lefties.

[Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo fumbles.]

Belt: Oh my gosh! Seriously? No chance! This game’s so stupid.

Announcer: That was just a terrible job by the offensive player!

Belt: That was just a terrible job by the makers of this game. Romo doesn’t fumble.

[A few minutes later Frank Gore runs for a 49ers touchdown, PAT good, 7-7.]

Belt: Well, we know where the makers of this game are from. They make PlayStations in the Bay Area, right?

Craw: You think that’s what’s going on?

Belt: I know that’s what’s going on.

[Romo fumbles again.]

Belt: Oh my god! OK, I quit. I want to break this thing. You got to be kidding me.

[A few plays later, the 49ers score again, 14-7. Then the Cowboys score, 14-14 at halftime.]

Belt: We’re tied, and I never play and you play all the time. How does that make you feel?

Craw: Not very good, to be honest.

[49ers open second half with a steady drive down the field.]

Craw: You nervous?

Belt. No.

[Quarterback sneak for 49ers touchdown, 21-14]

[Crawford laughs. Belt is disgusted.]

Belt: Why are we playing at Candlestick? Did you do this? To give you as many advantages as possible today?

[But soon Dallas scores. Belt wants a timeout before the PAT]

Belt: How do you call a timeout on this thing?

Craw: Why are you calling a timeout?

Belt: [Laughs]: I have to figure out how to do this!

Craw: You going for two?

Belt: Stop looking at my stuff, man!

Craw: I’m looking at the screen to pick a play.

[Belt’s two-point conversion pass fails. Score is 21-20, 49ers]

Belt: What was that? [Laughs]. Go big or go home.

[Belt calls for an onside kick. The ball slips through the 49ers hands, and Dallas recovers.]

Belt: Oh, oh!

Craw [Smiling]: PlayStation’s stupid.

Belt: Oh yes! This is the best game ever!

Craw: The best part is I had no way to control that.

Belt: Yes, you did — catch the ball!

Craw: It was in his hands.

[Incomplete pass for Dallas. Then another.]

Belt: This is the dumbest game I’ve ever seen!

[Then a gain of 9.]

Belt: Fourth and inches!

Craw [Deadpan]: I’m pretty sure he’s going for it here.

[Dallas picks up the first down. Two-minute warning.]

Belt: My palms are sweating.

[First and 10 for Dallas. Incomplete.]

Belt: Oh my god!

Craw: Do you have confidence in your kicker?

Belt: No. I don’t have confidence in myself to make the kick.

Craw: It’s only a 57-yarder from there.

[Complete pass. Third and short.]

Announcer: Third and short is a lot easier than third and long!

Belt: That’s some good insight right there.

[Incomplete. Fourth down.]

Belt: OK, time out so I can freak out. How far am I? Where am I?

Craw: The 32?

Belt: Where’s the wind coming in from?

Craw [Waiting to choose his defensive play]: I’m making sure you’re kicking it before I press the button. You kicking it?

Belt: Yeah, I’m kicking it.

Crawford: Now that I taught him how to kick, he’s a decent kicker.

Announcer: No good!

Belt: Oh my gosh! [Laughing] Did he break his leg? I don’t know what happened! You got to be kidding me!

Craw: [Laughing] Candlestick wind.

Belt: I nailed that.

Craw: I thought you had it.

Belt: This game wins Dumbest Game Ever Award.

[49ers gain 8]

Belt: How do I call a timeout?

Craw: Press that button there.

[Timeout. Then 49ers immediately make a first down].

Belt: That’s it. [He stands, takes off his microphone, puts it on his stool and walks to the door.]

Craw: You have 30 seconds left.

[Belt leaves.]

Craw: Actually their defense is probably going to be better now that he’s gone.

[Belt returns.]

Belt: It’s ridiculous. This game is ridiculous.

[Incomplete pass for the 49ers]

Craw: Defense is better without you.

[Belt calls another timeout]

Craw: [Deadpan] Take your timeout on an incomplete pass. That’s a good idea.

Belt: I nailed that kick. Doesn’t make any sense.

Craw: I’m a little embarrassed by how bad I played.

Belt: Yeah, me too. I was a little off today.

[49ers run the ball, and the clock runs out. 49ers win, 21-20.]

Belt: Well, congratulations. EA Sports is in the Bay Area. You win.

Craw: Sore loser.

Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford playing Madden NFL on Sony Playstation in Scottsdale Stadium

Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford playing Madden NFL on Sony PlayStation in Scottsdale Stadium

Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt playing Madden NFL on Sony Playstation in Scottsdale Stadium

Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt playing Madden NFL on Sony PlayStation in Scottsdale Stadium

Hair Club for Men – Brandon Crawford

Jalynne and I are back home. Everything’s fine. We’re hanging out with Braylyn and having a nice quiet day. I’ll take a few minutes for a short post.

We have a team meeting most days before practice. Bochy goes over the schedule and stuff like that. It is also the time we get to know guys who are in big league camp for the first time. Bochy summons two each morning to introduce themselves. They give their name, position, where they’re from and what they like to do.

Then they get questions from the rest of the team. You can’t imagine the ridiculous questions. They make me uncomfortable. Guys will bait the new player by asking him to name his current favorite song. The player will say what it is.

Then: “OK, now sing it.’’

That’s when I think, “Oh, I’m so glad I’m not up there right now.’’

In my first big-league camp in 2010, the hardest thing I had to answer was Brian Wilson asking why I cut my hair. I had reported for physicals the day before and had pretty long hair. Later that day I got it cut because it was Big League camp and I didn’t want to come in with ridiculous long hair. So Wilson asked me why I cut it.

“Um, I don’t know,’’ I said. “I thought it was a good idea.’’

That was the toughest question. I was lucky.

It’s a fun clubhouse again this year, so Mike Morse fits right in. He’s like a combination of Ryan Theriot, Mark DeRosa and Hunter. He likes to have a good time and has a good sense of humor. He’s also a great storyteller. (I won’t share any here for a variety of reasons.) But as I saw in our first game yesterday, he’s pretty intense on the field and in the dugout. That’s the Hunter part of him.

Morse, Pagan and I are in the same BP group. It quickly became known as the Good Pelo Group. Pelo is Spanish for hair. Who has the best hair? It’s not for me to say. But if you asked Pagan, he definitely would say himself. I think Morse would probably say me. Angel spends way more time on his than I do on my mine, by the way. He puts in his products and smoothes his hair really carefully into this Mohawk kind of thing. I just put gel in and put a hat on. I’m not sure what Morse does.

Then the other day Belt joined our BP group and messed up the Pelo thing. We told him yesterday if he wanted to stay he had to grow his hair.

I hear Belt is doing yoga. It’s almost worth getting up early to see that in person. Almost. But not quite. I like yoga. I don’t like 6:15 a.m. yoga.

Back to the field tomorrow. We have a split squad: here against the Brewers, at Phoenix Municipal against the A’s. Let’s hope Morse draws the Brewers. Not sure he’s ready to see Reddick again just yet.

-Brandon C.

The Envelope Please . . . – Brandon Belt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

​Hope to post again soon.

-Brandon B.

Family, Then Baseball – Brandon Crawford

It’s nothing serious – dehydration from a stomach bug – but Jalynne had to spend last night(Tuesday) in the hospital. She’s less than two weeks from giving birth, so the doctors are being extra cautious. They hooked her up to an IV, and she told me to go home.

​“You have a game tomorrow,’’ she said. “Go home and get a good sleep.’’

“It’s a spring training game,’’ I said.

Even if it were a regular-season game, I’d still stay, especially knowing that Braylyn was in good hands with our close friends. Family comes first, no matter what you do for a living.

I slept on one of those hospital cots next to Jalynne’s bed. They are not the most comfortable things. Even so, I know I slept better being there than going home and worrying about her. This morning, the doctors said she was doing well but they needed to continue the IV drip.

I went to the ballpark, which happens to be right across the street from the hospital, and kept in touch all day by text and phone.  After I came out of the game, Jalynne texted that the doctors want her to spend another night. So I’m going home to play with Braylyn for a little while , then will go back to the hospital. I think I’ll bring my own pillow.

Lucky for me we have an off day tomorrow. Good timing.

I hope all this doesn’t sound worse than it really is. Everything’s fine. If it wasn’t, would I be taking the time to blog right now?

I have more stuff to share but I’ll do it next time.

Thanks for reading.

-Brandon C.

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

"Dustin Hoffman, eat your heart out"

“Dustin Hoffman, eat your heart out”

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

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

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

Photos from Commericals Day 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Brandon B.

As I Was Saying … – Brandon Crawford

I can’t believe how fast this off-season is going by. It’s been three-and-a-half months since I posted – way too long, I know. But I have excuses.

In my last post, I told you about a 12-day cruise through the Mediterranean with Jalynne planned for mid-November. It was my first time in Europe and got to see Barcelona, Rome, Venice, Cannes, Pisa, Dubrovnik. If I had to pick a city, I’d say I enjoyed Rome the most. So much history. You go to the Colosseum and can imagine 50,000 people – more than the capacity of AT&T — packing the place to watch gladiators and whatever other events they had there. You walk through the ancient ruins of the Forum and it’s like a movie set. And it’s right in the middle of the city.

I had a funny experience in Florence. Jalynne and I were walking across the Ponte Vecchio, a famous stone bridge on the Arno River. We asked an American girl if she would take our picture. She did. When she handed back the camera, she said, “By the way, are you Brandon Crawford?’’ It turned out she and her family were from the Bay Area. So Jalynne took a photo of them with me. Small world.

On the last day of the cruise, Jalynne and I celebrated our second anniversary. We had a really nice, relaxing day out at sea. But that night a storm hit, rocking the ship with huge waves and 100 mph winds. I have to tell you, it was scary. Jalynne, who was almost six months pregnant at the time,was especially happy to get back on solid ground and fly back home to Braylyn, who turned one a few weeks later on December 18.

We hosted a combination first-birthday party/Christmas celebration at our house in Scottsdale on December 22 for our families. There were 25 people! My immediate family plus my grandparents, and Jalynne’s immediate family plus a cousin. Plus husbands, wives, kids and significant others (including Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole, my sister’s boyfriend). Luckily Jalynne’s parents arrived a few days early to help with the cooking and setup. The weather was perfect for tables outside.

For New Year’s week we went to Park City, Utah, with Jalynne’s twin sister and her husband, my best friend and his wife, and my brother-in-law’s best friend and his girlfriend. It was the first time Braylyn had seen snow and she didn’t know what to make of it. We went dogsledding, snow-mobiling and snowshoeing. I didn’t join the others when they hit the ski slopes. I don’t know if skiing is prohibited in my Giants’ contract, but it’s just not a smart thing for me to do.

All the rest of the time, I’ve been working out at the Giants’ training facility with Cain, Romo and some minor league players. It’s great because our strength and conditioning coach and trainer are there. They can supervise the workouts and take care of all our aches and pains so nothing interrupts our preparation for the season.

I ended up finishing third in the Giants fantasy football league. Javy Lopez was my partner, so we talked almost every Sunday. I’ve kept in touch, mostly by text, with all the guys I played against through the football season, including Belt. He was 10-3 in the regular season; I was 6-7. But somehow I made it to the playoffs – and I beat him in the first round. Roger Kieschnick came in first with Romo and Hunter as his partners. Barry Zito came in second and Timmy fourth.

I’m a huge Niners fan, so last Sunday we had Dan Runzler and his wife Michelle and Jalynne’s brother Johnny over to the house to watch thegame. Not sure what we’ll do this Sunday for the Seattle game. We probably should have the same people. Don’t want to mess with our luck.

I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of you at FanFest, which is just around the corner. It will be great to be back in San Francisco, if only for the weekend. Then spring training. Jalynne’s due in March, smack in the middle of training camp. As Ron Wotus said on the phone the other day, we ought to plan the delivery to coincide with roadtrips to Surprise or Goodyear . . .

Just saw this afternoon that Clayton Kershaw signed a new contract with the Dodgers. As I said on Twitter: 7 more yrs . . . yayyyy . . .

Thanks for reading. Let me know how you’ve been spending your off-season. And what’s your one prediction for the 2014 season, other than a skinny Panda?

-Brandon C.

Not Ready to Pack Up Yet by Brandon Crawford

Not Ready to Pack Up Yet

Hard to believe there are just three games left in the season. Jalynne has pretty much packed up all her stuff. I haven’t done anything. I like going home after games and just relaxing with my two girls. I don’t want to be packing up the apartment. So I’ll do it all next week. We have the apartment until October 15. No reason to rush. Then we’ll drive to Southern California and stay a few days before driving on to Arizona.

Though the road trip was long and we couldn’t wait to get home, we had a great time in New York. Jalynne was with me, then her parents flew in with Braylyn, and my dad and some family friends were there, too. Before everyone else arrived, Jalynne and I went to see Spiderman on Broadway. I don’t recommend it. Then we saw Jersey Boys, where we ran into Bochy and his wife, Sabean and his wife and scout Lee Elder and his wife.

We had dinner at a place near Central Park called Quality Meats. It sounds like a butcher shop but it’s a nice steak restaurant. We liked it so much we went twice.

The first day we were there, the team bus left the hotel at 1 for a 7 o’clock game. That’s way too early. So the next day, I asked Belt if he wanted to try taking the subway. I knew other guys were doing it. He downloaded an app that tells you where to catch the trains and which one to take. So we did that for the Mets and Yankees games. One guy recognized Belt when we were heading to Citi Field. “Hey, take it easy on us tonight,’’ the guy said.

It was cool to be at Yankee Stadium for the Mariano Rivera tribute. I obviously don’t know him personally, but it seems like he’s the perfect guy to model yourself after as a baseball player. It would have been cool to face him. I probably would have broken my bat like everybody else. Rivera throws a cut fastball and a two-seam fastball. If you’re a righty, the ball’s breaking away, so you’re either going to hit it off the end or you’re going to miss it. If you hit it off the end, you’re probably going to break your bat. Against a lefty, it’s the same thing except the pitch is coming inside and it’ll hit the bat near your hands. Against Buster, the pitch looked like it was going to be middle or middle-away, and instead it came boring down in on him and he got jammed. The bat broke into four pieces — and Buster kept them as souvenirs.

I was surprised the other day when reporters were waiting at my locker before the game. They presented me with their annual Good Guy Award. They said they appreciated how open and cooperative I was. A Good Guy Award is always nice wherever it’s coming from.  

          We have two big vacations planned. In November Jalynne and I are taking a Mediterranean cruise that starts in Barcelona and stops in Cannes, Pisa, Florence, Rome, Venice and Dubrovnik, Croatia. Jalynne’s been to Europe but this will be my first trip. Really looking forward to it. Then we’re spending New Year’s in Park City, Utah, with Jalynne’s twin sister and her husband, and my best friend and his wife. Braylyn’s not going on the cruise, but she’ll be with us in Utah. I’m sure she’s going to love the snow.

          I’m going to change my workouts a little this off-season. Last season was so long that I felt I needed to give my body a longer rest. But when I began throwing in December, my arm was really tight. So I’ll start throwing once or twice a week beginning next month then dive into more intense workouts in December. I also want to have a more consistent workout regimen throughout the season. I’m more tired than I should be and I lost 12 pounds over the course of the season, which has never happened before. I think it might be from not working my legs and upper body enough.

          Thanks for reading. And thanks for continuing to come out to the ballpark to support us. You don’t know how much it means to all of us.

          – Brandon Crawford

Naked Cowboys and Body Suits

Whatever you’ve read about the rookie hazing in Times Square, believe me, it was better. If I was one of the rookies, I’d have hated it. As a bystander it was one of the best things ever.

They were wearing just speedos, cowboy boots, a cowboy hat and guitar. That was it. It was way worse than what we had to do when I was a rookie. We had to wear full body suits—these nylon things that stretched from your toes to the top of your head like the costumes for Blue Man Group. It covered your body but was revealing at the same time. It showed every bump. Not a good look. We were walking around a part of San Diego that was packed with people. I got separated from the group somehow – I think I went into a restaurant to go to the bathroom and they left me.So I was walking by myself in this bright-colored, very revealing body suit. You can imagine the looks I got. It was the most awkward thing ever.

​But it wasn’t nearly as bad as this year’s hazing. You wouldn’t believe how many Giants fans were in Times Square. Tons. They recognized the veteran players, and we told them to hang around to see the show. So our guys had a nice big crowd around them.

Their main goal was to find the real-life Naked Cowboy and get their picture with him. So they did that. Then there was the Naked Cowgirl. She was about 80. I’m not kidding you. She was naked except for pasties. That was weird. There were also a couple girls dressed up like Vegas showgirls with nothing on but body paint that didn’t cover up anything. There are an amazing large number of naked people in Times Square.

​The rookies had to collect a certain amount of money before they could change into their regular clothes. They played the guitar, did whatever they could to get money. Roger Kieschnick was pretty successful. Heath Hembree was talking to everybody and anybody. I think Johnny Monell and Juan Perez actually enjoyed it. They were really good sports about it.

​A lot of the wives made the trip to New York. Haylee and I went to see The Lion King one night after a day game. It was pretty spectacular. The only thing with the Broadway plays – at least the two I’ve been to – is they’re always packed. I can’t stand sitting for two and a half hours and not move. At the movies, I can get up and do whatever I want. But in a Broadway theater, if you’re in the middle of the row, you feel you’re stuck there. The people behind me were tiny and I’m huge, so I was trying to slump down in my seat. So it was feeling pretty cramped. But the show was great.

​We ate beforehand at Ted’s Montana Grill, anoutstanding steak house owned by Ted Turner. And we saw him in there! He was sitting right near us. It was like seeing Santa Claus at the North Pole.

​Yesterday before the Dodger game back here in San Francisco, Haylee and I ate at Olive Garden. Great as ever. I always pay a little extra now to get alfredo sauce with my breadsticks. I don’t know what I’d do if they stop giving free breadsticks. I go to places for free appetizers. That’s a fact. That’s why I go to Mexican restaurants. You get chips and salsa.

​I don’t know how you’re doing in your fantasy football league, but I’m not a happy owner right now. I’m in three leagues, and I’m behind in all of them. I have great players, but they’re playing terrible. They’re not gelling. They don’t have good team chemistry. I’m going to have to call a team meeting. Get these players together and figure something out.

In the Giants fantasy league, I’m 1-2. I reallydidn’t want to be part of the Giants’ league because I was already on two other teams. But I got talked into it. I can be talked into almost anything, by the way. I’m a follower. ​

​On the off day Monday, I saw the movie Prisoners, so here’s the review.

Two families’ daughters get kidnapped, and the whole movie is about the families trying to find these kids. It was two-and-a-half hours long, but there wasn’t a time I was bored because there are twists and turns to keep you interested. And the ending it pretty good. It’s kind of predictable but not completely. Hugh Jackman and Terence Howard are really good. There are some torture elements in the movie, so if that bothers you, you might want to watch out for that. I can see why the torture is in there, though. I mean, if you were in the same situation, what wouldn’t you do to find your kid? Haylee liked it, too, which says a lot because she hates movies.

Three and half stars. Maybe 3.75. But let’s go with 3.5. It loses half a point for the semi-predictability. And at one point there was something in there that they were really beating to death and they needed to move on.

​ See you at the ballpark for these final few days. We’re finishing pretty strong, I think, and looking forward to a fresh start next spring.

-Brandon B.

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