Results tagged ‘ Brandon Belt ’
I rode my new scooter to the park for the first time today. I think now four of us have them – Timmy, Hunter, Sergio and me. Joe, our team cook, customizes them with paint and decals. He brought mine to the park yesterday, and it looks awesome. It’s orange and black with the number 9. (Haylee got a scooter, too. Hers is baby blue and I think it also has my number on it.)
I didn’t ride it home last night because it was really cold, and two of my best buddies from Texas are visiting San Francisco for the first time. So I put the scooter in my truck and drove with them back to the apartment.
So the inaugural ride was this afternoon. The scooter has an electric motor with a Turbo button (which means about 25 mph at top speed). So I was hauling butt down the Embarcadero to the park. Well, hauling butt as much as you can when you’re riding on the sidewalk. I don’t like riding in the street if I don’t have to. To be honest, I don’t know if scooters are even allowed on the sidewalk. I’m just going to keep going until somebody stops me. The only thing I get nervous about on the sidewalk is going over bumps. The scooter has shocks, but I slow down when there’s a bump. I’m afraid I’m going to flip me over the handlebars.
So yesterday was a big day for me overall — got my new scooter and went 4-for-5 with a homer in a decisive win. We needed a lift after that brutal road trip. Before the game, though, everything in the clubhouse was pretty normal. This team doesn’t panic. We put losses behind us. We knew if we just refocused, we could easily get back on track. And that’s what happened.
I felt locked in from the moment I got to the field. It was a weird feeling. Maybe I was pumped up about my scooter. I was completely comfortable in the batter’s box. I don’t know why it happens, but sometimes you just feel like that. Once you feel good in the box, then it’s just about swinging at strikes. I was able to get pitches I wanted and put them in play.
On my homer, I felt like I crushed it. But you can never be sure how far the ball is going to go in this park – at least when you hit it to right-center. If I had hit it to straight right field, I’d know it was gone. But there’s a blanket out there. The wind just blows in and can stop a ball in its tracks. The wind patterns are so weird. The flags in center field can be blowing straight out toward the bay. But when I’m standing at first base, I’ll feel the wind blowing at my back the whole game. So you never know.
I felt really good about my fourth at-bat. I already had three hits, including the home run. So psychologically you might relax a little. You know you’ve already had a good day. But I wanted to make sure I didn’t give in. I stayed as locked in as I had been the previous three at-bats. And I was locked in on the fifth at-bat, too. I hit it solid, but he made a good pitch and the ball died at the warning track.
I was particularly happy to have a good night with my buddies Matt and Justin in the stands. We played ball together in high school. They’re supposed to leave on Saturday, but I told them if I keep hitting, they’re staying the rest of the year.
Vogey stopped by the clubhouse a little while ago and said the surgery on his finger this morning went well, so that was good news. We all felt awful for him last night. He was pitching so great and then breaks his finger. He’ll be back, of course. That guy is so tough and competitive. He works so hard.
OK, enough for now. Thanks for reading. And wave if you see a tall guy on a black-and-orange scooter hauling butt (cautiously) down the Embarcadero.
Just to clarify my blog mate’s last post about me missing dinner with the guys in Chicago. (He seemed skeptical about my claim that I didn’t know about it.) I knew about it, but I didn’t know when and where. I was in my room waiting for someone to text me. When no one did, I went to the movies.
I saw “The Place Beyond the Pines’’ with Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, which is a great movie if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s a little dark, but I like dark movies. You might not peg me as an independent-film kind of guy, but I’m a fan. Since I can’t get Haylee to see them, I go by myself on the road.
I know she’d like a lot of the movies if she’d just go with me. So it was funny the other night when she dragged me to a restaurant she wanted to try, Epic on the Embarcadero. She knows how I am about new restaurants. I reluctantly agreed to go. And I loved it. Haylee was thrilled.
“See?’’ she said. “You have to try new things. You might find you like them.’’
“That’s how I feel about you going to the movies with me!’’
She laughed and said she’d go to more movies.
Our season itself has been like a Hollywood script. It’s crazy how our games are going. Every one of them seems to be a heart-stopper. Not to the players, though, to be honest. When we were in the dugout after the Dodgers rallied back Friday and Saturday – and again yesterday – there was never a doubt in our minds we would win.
If we give up a bunch of runs, you don’t hear guys in the dugout saying, “OK, we’ve got to get our butts in gear!’’ We just go about our business. We stick to the game plan. We know what we have to do.
We talk about “synergy’’ a lot. We focus our energy on the guy in the spotlight at that moment. We genuinely believe that guy is going to come through – and it usually happens! It’s crazy. I don’t even know if I believe in all that stuff, but it’s amazing how often it works. It’s just that positive attitude that gets us through a lot of games. You don’t know who it’s going to be. But someone usually comes through in the clutch.
When Quiroz was up Saturday, I don’t think anyone was necessarily thinking he was going to get a walk-off home run. We were all focusing our energy on him getting on base and getting the train in motion. Then you hope the next person gets on, and the next. Then all you need is a blooper to win the game. We really try to keep it as simple as that.
When Q hit the home run – only the third homer in his Major League career — it was awesome. Everybody was so happy for him. He’s a real positive guy. Real easy-going. He’s always rooting for everybody else, so it’s easy to root for him. For us to have walk-off home runs two nights in a row was pretty awesome.
I keep thinking back to the Milwaukee game on April 16. We were down 9-3 and battled back to score five runs. We didn’t give up. We don’t care what the score is. We didn’t win, but I remember how relentless we were. That’s what this team is about. We keep on going out there and battling.
The sweep of the Dodgers this weekend had to be one of the most entertaining series in baseball this season. I wish I could have contributed more at the plate, the way I did in Arizona last week. But that’s the way it goes. Sometimes it’s your moment. Sometimes it’s somebody else’s moment.
As long as we keep winning. That’s all that matters.
Haylee made me a great cake for my 25th birthday on Saturday. Chocolate and vanilla. I was so hungry when I got home from the game that night I ate a huge piece while we waited for our pizza to arrive. I love chocolate. I’d have an all-chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream and chocolate sauce. But Haylee’s cake was really, really good. There’s nothing like a homemade cake. I think she spent about two hours making it, so I restrained myself from asking why there wasn’t ice cream.
We had an official birthday dinner Sunday night after the day game. We went to Bobo’s on Lombard and Van Ness. Stopped for a milk shake at a burger joint then went to see the new Tom Cruise movie. Just the two of us. Nice night.
Maybe the cake and milk shake will help put some weight back on me. I only gained back 3 or 4 pounds of the 11 or so that I lost when I was sick at the start of the season. It’s hard to keep weight on during the season, much less gain weight, because you’re playing every day. I’m drinking more protein shakes when I’m at the field, so I’m sure I’ll eventually get back to normal.
Bochy is giving me time off against left-handed pitchers, hoping to help me recapture the good rhythm I had in spring training. I know people make a big deal when you start the season slowly. They look up at the scoreboard and see your average is below .200 and kind of go a little nutty. But as a player you have to ignore the numbers. All you have control over is your current at-bat. You have to approach each one the same way, with the same confidence. You don’t have control over the results. You know that the balls will start to fall and the numbers on the scoreboard will start to creep back up.
This doesn’t mean that you completely ignore your struggles. I’m working with Bam-Bam and Joe in the cage and watching video. But in baseball especially, you have to take the long view. There are still more than five months left in the season. We’ve played only three weeks! So it’s crazy to get all panicky. I’ll be fine.
In the meantime, Crawford is hitting well enough for both of us. He’s seeing the ball really well. He’s so comfortable at the plate. He’s in such a good groove I think he’ll be hitting the ball well for a long time.
It seems to work out that way on this team. When one person’s down, the next guy picks him up. You never know on this team who’s going to be the guy who comes through with the big hit or the big play. Even though I’m scrapping right now, or maybe especially because I’m scrapping, I’m having a great time watching Crawford crush home runs.
Believe me, I’m not excited to be sitting on the bench. Nobody likes sitting. I’d like to play every inning of every game. As long as we’re winning, I’m happy.
I spoke to a group of Little League players before Sunday’s game, and one of them asked if I missed pitching. I grew up as a pitcher. I wanted to be Randy Johnson, another tall lefty. So I said I hoped that someday we’ll be going into the 27th inning and Bochy will be out of pitchers and I’ll get the call. That would be awesome.
Another kid asked what I ate before games. I said, “Anything that’s put in front of me, plus a Red Bull.’’
And someone else wanted to know who was the funniest guy on the team. “Bumgarner,’’ I said, “even though he doesn’t try to be. If you can understand what he’s saying, he’s pretty funny.’’
See you out at the ballpark.
No batting practice today so I have a little time to blog.
I went to bed last night thinking about getting the ring today. I woke up thinking about it. I could hardly sleep, to be honest with you.
When we get that ring, then it’s official: We’re world champions. I know that raising the flag on Friday was kind of the official moment. It was awesome running out from center field and watching the video of the postseason highlights. I could watch that all day. Every time I see it Ithink, “How in the world did we pull that off?’’ I still don’t know. Winning six elimination games still blows my mind.
But the ring is the thing for me, the day I’ve really been waiting for all off-season. It’s something tangible for each one of us. Something we’ll have for the rest of our lives no matter how far from San Francisco or baseball we might get.
I think I’ll wear it two weeks in a row before I put it away. Then I’ll just wear it when I’m wearing nice clothes. I’m afraid I’ll leave it somewhere. I don’t plan on taking it to the ballpark or the gym or any place where I’d have totake it off. (Remember I left my wedding ring in the cup holder of my truck in Lufkin?) I don’t know where I’ll keep it but it will be somewhere very safe.
This season Haylee and I are living in San Francisco about a mile from the park. Probably less than a mile, actually. Madison and Ali were already living there and told us about it. We’re close enough to the park that I’m thinking about getting one of those stand-up electric scooters that Hunter has. Now Timmy and Sergio have them, too. I want to get one for Haylee, too, so we can ridearound the city together.
We loved Walnut Creek but some nights I’d get home so late that by the time I drove from the park, ate and wound down, it would be really late and I felt I wasn’t getting enough sleep. I am not a morning person at all, so I hope being in the city will allow me to have better sleeping habits.
I made it to Olive Garden at the Stonestown Mall the other night. It was awesome. I had the Tour of Italy like always and Alfredo sauce for the breadsticks. James our waiter was second to none. The whole staff knew we were coming because someone at Olive Garden had made the arrangements. So after dinner I took pictures with everyone who worked there and with fans, too. I’ll post them on twitter.
It was good for me to eat a lot because I lost 11 pounds while I was sick. I weighed 229 when I left Scottsdale and weighed 218 yesterday. I hardly ate for four or five days when I had that stomach bug and what I DID eat just came right back out. I feel like I have a lot more energy now.
And even though I don’t have a hit yet, I feel I’m swinging the bat well. Yesterday I hit two balls right on the nose but they didn’t fall in. Last year if this had happened, I wouldn’t have handled it as well. But now I know eventually the balls will drop in. I have a lot of confidencefrom playing a full season last year and having such a strong spring. I have the ability now to just breathe up there and slow the game down when things aren’t going my way.
Last night, Haylee and I walked down to the Embarcadero after dinner in San Bruno. We took a picture in front of the bridge. Then we stopped for a milkshake so I could load up on some more calories. I’m working out really hard, too. Haylee had to wait about an hour and a half after the game for me to finish up my postgame workout before going home. She was the very last person in the family room when I finally got out there. It’s not easy being the wife of a baseball player. But don’t tell her I said that.
I’m going to be miked for the ring ceremony for the Giants’ video crew. I don’t know why. I’m about the most boring person they could pick. I never say anything. And if I do, it’ll probably be something embarrassing.
Next time you hear from me, I’ll be the proud owner of an actual World Series ring. It’ll be awesome.’
Below: In the dugout before the ring ceremony.
Some of you might have seen an unusual tweet from me two days ago.
“I want to compliment you @channingtatum, you got a rockin bod in Magic Mike #winkyface”.
People tweeted back that they hoped I had gotten hacked. Someone told me I was weird. “You’re not wrong,’’ I tweeted back. Someone else wondered if Haylee had taken my phone and written it. She immediately tweeted that she had nothing to do with it. For an hour, I couldn’t explain my tweet. That was part of the bet.
This was the brainchild of my warped locker mate, Gary Brown. He bet he could beat me in miniature golf. No problem. I was the king of the windmills. Then I lost. I figured he’d make me tweet that he was the new king and I bowed to him. Instead he came up with Channing Tatum.
So when the hour was up and I tweeted out the explanation of the bet, not a single person tweeted back. Where was everybody? They only saw the Channing Tatum tweet but not my explanation? Great.
I’m getting this post done in the clubhouse after today’s game. Not a great outcome obviously. But spring is when you really focus on working on improving your game as an individual and as a team. I had my fourth home run and seventh RBI in the last seven games. I feel completely comfortable up at the plate right now. The best I’ve felt in a while. Everything’s clicking.
What’s different? I think a few things. Now that I’ve been in the majors a little while, I’m better at figuring out how the pitchers are trying to set me up. Their job is to mess with your timing. As soon as you think you know what they’re going to throw, they do something else to trip you up. Now I’m thinking more along with them and I’m not fooled as much.
I also think my off-season work is paying off. I worked with my high school on strengthening my forearms and my core. The forearms help you hit for power, and your core helps just about everything.
I didn’t start the spring so well. And the thought crossed my mind that maybe I’d never get a hit again. But what’s different now is that the negativity disappears as quickly as it arrives. Now I know I’ll come out the other side. I went through some dark baseball hell for a while when I first came up to the majors. Those struggles now give me confidence. You learn to believe in yourself no matter what happens because you’ve seen yourself battle through it.
I think that’s why sports is so important for kids. Where else do you get these kinds of lessons about failure and struggle and resilience? I learned that things aren’t always going to go my way, whether it’s on the field or in the rest of my life. You have to be mentally tough. My dad drilled that into me. I didn’t do such a great job of that sometimes when I first got to the majors. Sometimes you have to be dragged to your lowest point before you figure out how to believe in yourself and fight.
A few other good things are happening, too. My truck is supposed to arrive today or tomorrow from Texas. It should have been here a while ago but there was trouble with the shipping company blah blah. Haylee and I have had to share her car, which we drove to Arizona. I take the car to away games, which leaves her stranded in North Scottsdale. So she will be very happy to have her car all to herself again.
And yesterday Haylee gave me a new wedding band. We had seen it in a store here in Scottsdale. I liked it but told her I’d never buy it for myself. The next thing I know she’s giving it to me as an early birthday present. (My birthday is next month.) It’s very cool but not flashy. It has a bunch of tiny greenish garnet stones that refract the light and give off a nice sparkle.
My original wedding ring is in the cup holder of my truck parked at my house in Lufkin. I take it off when I work out and leave it in the cup holder. In the rush of leaving for Arizona, I forgot all about it. Good deal for me. Now I have a better one.
That’s it for now. Thanks, as always, for reading. I’ll keep you posted on a rematch with Gary Brown. Maybe ping-pong this time. Or basketball. I have a few inches on him. I’m open to suggestions.
I just finished working out in the weight room after practice and am now sitting down in our lunch room for steak, salad and orzo with roasted red peppers. We eat pretty well here. That’s one of the things you love about big-league camp when you’re first invited. The food is way better than it is down in the minors. I remember my first big-league camp, which wasn’t too long ago, and thinking how great it was that someone else cleaned my spikes and hung up my uniform real neatly in my locker every day.
I have an ice pack on my back but it’s nothing serious. I think I’m still stiff from driving 17 hours in one day from Texas to Scottsdale last week. We left Hudson at 6 a.m. last Monday and arrived around 10 pm. Arizona time. I drove 16 of the 17 hours. Halee took over around Amarillo so I could sleep for an hour. But I like driving because I like to be in control. I think it’s a guy thing. This year, we took a slightly different route, going through Holbrook in northeastern Arizona because on the map it looked a lot shorter. But it goes through high plateau country which at this time of year was covered in a foot of snow. The temperature was about 10 degrees. We ended up practically crawling along the icy roads for the last few hours of our trip. Not what we were expecting.
Our Yukon SUV was packed mostly with our clothes because we moved out of the small house I bought when I first turned pro. We did the vacuum-pack thing so all our clothes were shrunk into these flat little packs. We’re moving soon into the house we bought in 2011 that my dad has been renovating for us. It should be ready by June or July. In the meantime, my brother’s girlfriend is renting our old house.
We also brought pillows and bedding and what is, to me, maybe the most essential sleep aid: my big box fan. I can’t sleep without the hum of the fan. It is especially useful right now because we’re sharing an apartment in North Phoenix with former Giants Charlie Culberson and his wife. And they have a newborn baby. They get up at last twice a night with the baby, and I don’t hear a thing. It’s great to share a place with them. The baby is so cute, and we sometimes cook for each other and all eat together.
We’re not sure yet where we’re going to live in the Bay Area. We loved Walnut Creek but I think I want to be closer to the city. The drive to Walnut Creek is only 30 minutes but it felt like forever after a long game.
It is so much fun to be back with everybody. Usually in spring camp you spend a lot of time introducing yourself to new people. There’s some of that, of course, because we have 70 guys in camp. But mostly we were going around hugging everybody because almost the whole team is back. It’s so much fun to be with everyone again and to back out on the field against live pitching.
Hope to see you down here or back at AT&T.
Thanks for reading.
Yes, finally a new post! Sorry for not writing anything for so long. A lot going on. Today, for example, I’ll be Grand Marshall at the annual Christmas Parade in Lufkin. I imagine there might not be as many people as the World Series parade in San Francisco. Players from the 2010 World Series had told me what the parade was like and I had seen photos. But nothing prepares you for the real thing.
It’s so big and overwhelming that you can’t wrap your head around it. I still can’t describe it to people here at home. They didn’t get to see the parade and Civic Plaza celebration on TV like people back in the Bay Area, so they have no idea how massive it was – the people hanging on light posts, sitting on the roofs of bus shelters, leaning out of office windows. Confetti everywhere. I couldn’t believe how many Giraffe hats and Giraffe signs we saw. One of my favorite sightings was a pack of people with Hunter Pence’s face on sticks with those huge bug eyes. Hilarious.
Haylee and I got a little extra attention because the driver of our convertible was 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. When I first saw him, I thought, “What in the world is going on?’’ I don’t know how I got him. I told him I was a Cowboys fan. I probably shouldn’t have done that.
SFG Productions, the Giants’ in-house production team, had me wearing a tiny camera on my chest to record the whole day. On the bus from AT&T to the start of the parade, I tried to get Bumgarner to say something incriminating but he never did.
The World Series championship has really changed my life here in Texas. Last year during the off-season, people had kind of heard of me. But because they almost never saw the Giants on TV, they didn’t really know much about what I did. I could go anywhere without anyone looking twice. This year, though, with the playoffs and World Series on national television, suddenly everywhere I go people come up and talk to me, which I really enjoy. They ask if winning the World Series was a dream come true. Yes, I tell them, it was. Then they want to see the ring. Where’s the ring? I tell them I’ll get it the first or second game of the season. I’m being asked to speak at churches and civic groups. I’m donating signed bats and balls to different charities. My wife’s cousin wants me to go to Dairy Queen with Buster Posey and get in a commercial for their double-meat hamburger called the “BeltBuster.’’ Not sure the BeltBuster is included in the Giants’ training and nutrition guide.
Haylee and I got back to Texas on the Friday after the parade. The following Monday, the Hudson school district held a huge celebration in the elementary school gym with students from first grade to 12th. Then at night, they opened it up to the entire community of Hudson, about 3,000 people. Pretty much everybody. I couldn’t believe. I saw people I hadn’t seen in years. It gave me a chance to thank everyone for supporting me through some tough times this season. They truly helped me more than they could ever know.
Then two days later there was another celebration at the Expo Center in Lufkin. And today the parade.
Next weekend Haylee and I and two friends are going to Las Vegas to attend the American Country Awards, which is airing December 10 on Fox. I met someone from Fox during the postseason and she invited us to the show. We’re huge country music fans – and we’ve never been to Vegas. So we’re making a long weekend out of it.
Another thing Haylee and I are doing is building a house in Hudson. Actually, my Dad is building it, so we’re saving money. We hope to move in by the end of next season. Now that I’m getting a bonus from the World Series, I’m adding a second story to the garage for my Man Cave with a pool table, a couple TVs for football and a big couch. And we’re probably going to put in an outdoor kitchen for barbecuing. And I want a big shower in the master bedroom. Haylee’s in charge of every other decision.
I’m not good at keeping in touch with my teammates, but there’s been a lot of group texting between Haylee, Ali Bumgarner, Windy Pagan and Nicole Vogelsong, so I’m not completely out of the loop.
The big news really is that 1.) I’m finally on Twitter (@bbelt9). I love it. I go on Twitter binges. You might regret ever following me. And 2.) I got the karaoke machine I wanted. I told my parents that’s what I wanted for Christmas but could they get it for me now? They got me one, and now we’re going to jam out all weekend. My favorite karaoke song is Bohemian Rhapsody. Second favorite is Friends in Low Places. Haylee loves karaoke, too, so we do duets sometimes. The best karaoke duo is Angel and Windy Pagan. They sang at a restaurant in San Diego this season and killed. All the girls were going crazy for Angel.
As you can tell, I’m having a great time. But you might be happy to know that I haven’t forgotten about baseball. I started my off-season training yesterday. We follow a program from our conditioning coach. Workout #1 was legs. Today I can hardly walk.
OK, I think I’ve brought you up to date. Not sure I’ll blog too much in the off-season. Twitter is easier! But I’ll be back at FanFest in February and spring training. Already looking forward to both!
So that’s pretty much what everybody expected, right?
Seriously, it seems that every time we go up against a guy we know is going to be really tough, we step up and do really well. We did it with Kershaw, for one example. And tonight it was Verlander,
That’s kind of our M.O. The tougher the situation, the better we play. We dug holes for ourselves in the NLDS and NLCS and suddenly played out of our minds.
We get two outs – and suddenly we start racking up hits and runs. I’m curious to know how many runs we’ve scored in the postseason on two outs.
I was on a team like this at the University of Texas in 2009. We didn’t have the big-name talent, but we had chemistry – whatever that is, I really don’t know. All I know is it exists. On that UT team, we’d fight really hard with two outs. We’d never give in. We’d be down by a ton of runs, and we kept fighting. We overachieved and finished second in the nation that year.
That’s how this team is. Pelea, right?
The truth is I was really excited to go up against Verlander. I had watched him on TV and studied video. He doesn’t seem to have any flaws, which explains why he’s the reigning MVP and Cy Young winner. But I think every hitter wants to test himself against the best pitchers.
Still, all the preparation in the world guarantees nothing once you’re in the box and facing the pitcher himself. Between innings Bam-Bam watched video of Verlander’s pitches so far. He told me he was throwing a lot of fastballs. I went up looking for a fastball my first time up, and of course got a changeup. You just have to adjust on the fly. I hit it OK, flying out to center. My second at-bat, I was down 0-2 and worked him for a walk. I was pretty proud of that.
Why did we hit so well against him overall? We hit some pitches that maybe he missed a bit. But we also hit very good pitches in the zone. Our lineup showed a lot of discipline, waiting for mistakes and being aggressive when we saw one.
I loved having a close-up view of Zito tonight. He was great. When he missed a pitch, it was never over the plate. He missed outside the zone. He was just so locked in. He’s intense and focused but not so much that you can’t talk to him in the dugout. As a first-baseman, I sometimes can pick up on what runners are doing as far as trying to steal. So I talked to him about that. And I talked to him about what sign I’d give him to indicate I wanted him to throw over. He’s always so steady.
Of course the story of the night was Pablo. It’s just unbelievable what he did. The first home run, he had two strikes and hit the next pitch – a high strike that he had to get on top of. He back-spinned it out of the park. He hit the second home run on a tough down-and-away pitch and just crushed it. The third one was probably the best pitch he had all night.
Some people might think he just swings and he’s simply talented enough to hit the ball a long way. But he puts himself in favorable situations. He’ll get himself into hitter’s counts. He’ll work the pitcher. It’s not luck. There’s a method to his madness.
I’m heading home, or more accurately I’m walking back to the hotel. I wonder if cars will still be honking their horns and if people will still be going crazy. I hope so.
See you tomorrow, and thanks for reading.
You had to figure this would go to Game 7. With these two teams, there was little doubt. You can tell that the Cardinals believe that no matter what happens, in the end they’re going to win. We do, too. So it had to go to seven.
Everyone keeps asking why we keeping winning when our backs are against the wall. We really believe in ourselves, and it’s crazy how much that helps us, as cheesy and corny as that sounds. And obviously we don’t buckle under pressure, thanks in great part to our veteran nut jobs, who keep everyone loose in the dugout. Wilson, Hensley, Theriot, Pablo, they’re always doing something crazy to break whatever tension might be building. Pablo was dancing gangnam style along with the video on the scoreboard. As a young guy who’s new to the postseason, I take cues from the veterans. If they stay loose in the highest-pressure situations, then I’m not going to get worried either.
After struggling at the plate for a few games, I was really happy to get a triple to lead off what turned out to be a big second inning. I had two strikes. After striking out twice in recent games on called third strikes, I knew I had to expand my strike zone. I couldn’t take a called third strike if it was close. Carpenter threw a fastball that stayed over the plate and I was able to drive it to center field.
Of course my next at-bat I struck out looking. Carpenter was beating me up with off-speed pitches then threw a fastball that started at my hip then came back to catch the inside corner. It’s frustrating, but at some point you have to give their pitchers credit; they got a lot of us tonight on called third strikes.
I felt good, though, to finish the night with two hits that contributed two runs. In the postseason, with the adrenaline on full-throttle, I’ve had to remind myself to slow the game down. I have a pre-at-bat ritual that helps with this. While I’m on deck, I focus on my breathing, which slows my heart rate and helps me focus on being in the moment. Pence bats ahead of me, so I watch his at-bat as if I’m batting, swinging at pitches to lock in on my timing. Then before I step into the box I take a deep breath. I don’t step up to the plate until I’ve completely finished the breath.
I’m learning a lot during this postseason, things that nobody can teach you. You have to experience it for yourself. For example, you have to figure out how to take care of yourself when there are so many more demands on your time. There’s so much more media. And at every game, unlike during the regular season, there are family and friends you want to spend time with.
And the games are so intense. You’re focusing so hard. You’re all in emotionally. It can really drain you. I was surprised how exhausted I was after Game 5 in Cincinnati. I just crashed.
In St. Louis, I felt like I didn’t have any down time. Usually I get a little time alone when I walk to the park. But our hotel was right across the street, so I didn’t even have that. So I’m learning that I have to carve out time to rest and regenerate. It’s tough when you’ve been raised to be polite and friendly. But I see now why players can seem selfish at times. You really have to draw some boundaries or you’ll be so tired you won’t be 100 percent for the games.
I’m also learning about money. That might sound kind of stupid because money is money. But I never had any before now, and Haylee and I are still figuring out what it means to have what we have. I’ve always been a tightwad, either by nature or necessity, not sure which. And I still am even though I guess I don’t have to be. I was thinking about this during the postseason because, with family and friends around, we’re going out to eat more than we usually would. I’d rather eat at Chipotle or Chili’s than at a nice restaurant. Part of that is just getting served more quickly, but part of it is feeling uncomfortable spending money on the kinds of restaurants that other players go to all the time but still seem really expensive to us. It still drives me crazy, for example, to buy a bunch of groceries and then leave town before we eat everything and stuff goes to waste. Figuring out when and whether and how much to spend is a good problem to have, believe me. I know that. But it’s the kind of thing you never think about when you become a big-leaguer.
OK, that was kind of random.
We can’t wait to get to the park tomorrow. We’ll be here around 12:30 or so for BP, etc. I hear it’s supposed to rain. I hope it doesn’t, of course, but we’ll manage no matter what happens. We’re locked in. and we’re having a blast. We know the fans are, too. You can’t believe how loud it is on the field. It’s unbelievable.
Let’s keep it going!
We’re getting ready to go to the ballpark where we’ll take buses to the airport. I love that our wives can go with us. We don’t have to make separate travel arrangements and worry about all the logistics. And it saves us money, too – which still matters to the younger guys.
Haylee and I moved out of our rental in Walnut Creek and now are staying in a hotel in San Francisco. I walked to the park for the first two games and it was like there was a carnival in town. It felt a little like going to a college football game. Everybody’s in orange-and-black. There’s an excitement in the air. I’m kind of recognizable because I’m pretty tall, but I walked with my hood up and tried to blend in so I could just enjoy the atmosphere. (The only disappointment was no fly-over before the game. I love the fly-overs.)
Last night’s win was great all-around. Vogey was the Vogey we’ve seen all year. He pitched his butt off. The bats came alive, the defense was strong as usual. I haven’t heard anything about Marco yet this morning. I’m sure we’ll learn more when we get to the park. He’s a huge part of the team, but if he can’t play, we have Theriot. So we’ll be in good shape. I didn’t see the slide because I was looking to catch Marco’s throw.
There’s a lot to talk about from the game, but I thought I’d give you a little insight about something a little more obscure – catching foul balls. I made a catch in the third inning that was far up the right-field line where there’s an indent past a VIP box. Those kinds of plays illustrate how important it is to know the quirks and characteristics of a park. I learned that from Will Clark and J.T. Snow. You learn about a park in different ways. You roll a ball down the line to see how it breaks. You watch the way the wind pushes fly balls. You take note of the configuration so you’re aware of how much room you have in foul territory.
With high foul balls, the first thing is to get some sense of where the ball’s going as soon as it comes off the bat. Then you head there as fast as you can. And then the biggest thing: Find the rail.
Last night I knew I had more foul territory to play with because of that indent. I’m told a fan had his glove outstretched while I was trying to catch it. I didn’t see him. But if he did interfere, I don’t think I’d be mad because if I was a fan I’d do the same thing. It would be awesome to catch a playoff ball.
A few innings later, I caught a ball that really was probably the second-baseman’s ball. But I had a bead on it and, more important, I have a bigger glove than any of the other infielders. It’s a glove made for catching, so theoretically I have a greater chance of catching. That’s why you see first-basemen catch so many infield flies.
One of my favorite moments of last night’s game was watching Aubrey Huff score from second base on Theriot’s single in the sixth. He looked like he was running with a trailer hitched to his back. We all give him a hard time about his speed. When he got to the dugout and everybody was high-fiving him, I took the opportunity to give him a turkey tap, which he didn’t like too much. (I’m not describing what a turkey tap is but you can google it.)
Ok, that’s it for now. This should be a pretty happy flight today. A little different from when we headed to Cincinnati in the NLDS.
Thanks for reading!