Results tagged ‘ Brandon Crawford ’
Some of you might have seen Jalynne’s instagram a few days ago of the sonogram: We’re expecting our third child. Jaydyn has no clue what’s going on, but Braylyn understands there’s a baby inside Mommy’s tummy. Or at least she pretty much understands. When you ask her who’s in there, she says, “Baby Buzz!’’ (She’s been kind of obsessed with Toy Story lately.)
She’s funny, though, because when Jalynne told her that she had been in Mommy’s tummy, she seemed kind of appalled. She was like, “No, Mama!’’
The baby is due in mid-January, right around my birthday. We’re all really happy and excited.
I’m still smiling about being part of the All-Star Game. It was an honor, first of all — something that no one can ever take away from you. You grow up playing the game and being on Little League All-Star teams, and then you make it to the MLB All-Star team — representing the San Francisco Giants, your hometown team. I don’t dwell too much on the unbelievable good fortune I’ve had, but I couldn’t help it this week. Playing with the Giants. Winning two World Series Championships. And now playing in the All-Star Game. Even I couldn’t dream that big.
Besides being an honor, the All-Star Game was one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had. When you play against guys, you form an impression of what they’re like. Then you get to spend a little time together and you sometimes see another side. For instance, Adrian Gonzalez. I could never get a read on him because he never really talks to you at first base, unlike some other first basemen. But I talked to him a bit in Cincinnati and he seemed like a really good guy. He was loose and having a great time in the dugout.
So was Kershaw. When the first-base umpire called a foul ball against us, Kershaw yelled in a high-pitched voice, “C’mon, Jerry! That was fair!’’ Then he turned to Dee Gordon next to him and in his own voice said — real loud — “Yeah, Dee! You tell him!’’ He was really funny, which is not what I think of him when I’m standing in the batter’s box.
A.J. Burnett is another one. He has this angry face when he’s pitching and so he doesn’t come across as the nicest guy. But as soon as we crossed paths in Cincinnati, he introduced himself and his sons. He couldn’t have been nicer. After the game, even though everyone was kind of rushed with packing up and figuring out where the buses were, he made a point of coming up to me. “Hey, nice to meet you. Good luck the rest of the way,’’ he said. “Remember I’m coming after you.’’ We both smiled: He hadn’t forgotten my home run off him earlier this year.
During batting practice, I introduced myself to Kris Bryant because we hadn’t played against each other yet, and I talked to guys like A.J. Pollock and DJ LeMahieu who don’t really talk much when you play against them.
Bum was great. He was actually a little social butterfly. He went around talking to everybody. He was especially giving Kershaw a hard time. It started the first moment they saw each other and didn’t stop.
My only regret is that I didn’t get more autographs. The clubbies set out boxes and boxes of baseballs that we all signed. Every player received one signed ball, and you could buy more. I bought six National League and six American league balls. But I wish I had gotten certain individual guys to sign balls. I have a display case in my house here in the Arizona with balls signed by future Hall of Famers (or just really good players). I started it a few years ago when we played the Yankees in New York and I got one of the clubbies to get autographed balls from Jeter and Rivera for me. (That’s how players usually get other players’ autographs: tip a clubbie to do it. It could be weird if you just walked up to somebody.) I was thinking after I left Cincinnati that I should have gotten Pujols, Trout and Harper while I was right there with them. Once a fan, always a fan.
Another thing about the All-Star Game: They actually played our walk-up music. That surprised me. I noticed it with Bryce Harper in the first inning because I remembered his walk-up music from just playing them in Washington. Then when I walked up to the plate, I heard mine. That was pretty cool.
Two other cool things:
One, my dad made a last-minute decision to fly out to the game. He had been my coach on Little League All-Star teams, so it was great that he was there. And he flew home with us on the Giants’ charter.
Two, my sister Amy finally could root for both me and her boyfriend, Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole, at the same time. During the workout on Monday, Gerrit told he was going to propose to her. He showed me the ring and described his plan to surprise her the day after the All-Star Game. I guess he nailed it because Amy looked pretty surprised in the photos she tweeted out on Wednesday. I’m really happy for them.
We flew back to San Francisco right after the game. Jalynne, the girls and I got to our house in the East Bay at around 5:45 Wednesday morning. Jaydyn, of course, woke up at 9. So we didn’t get much sleep. We flew early in the evening down to our house in Arizona, where I had a great night’s sleep.
I’m looking forward to starting the second half of the season, so I guess I have to put the All-Star Game behind me. But I’ll tell you this: I wouldn’t mind going back.
Rough series in Miami. We never seem to play the Marlins very well. I’m not sure what it is. A lot of people asked me about Carter Capps, the Marlins reliever who drags his foot off the rubber before he throws the pitch. And he throws 100. I’ve hit against him twice and seen six pitches, all strikes. I swung at five. Didn’t make contact once. It’s hard to pick up the ball. In my last at-bat, I swung at two sliders that I think bounced in front of the plate. His strange delivery is legal, I’m told, because he doesn’t push off again after he leaves the rubber. It’s all arm. I don’t know how you learn to pitch like that or how stressful that must be on an arm.
One of the things that’s special about this Giants team — and you’ve heard me say this before — is no matter how things are going for us, we stick together. Staying connected is really important for the type of guys we have on this team. For instance — and I’m not sure when it started — but before every game I shake hands or fist-bump every player and coach on the team, including the relievers heading out to the bullpen. We have all kinds of crazy handshakes. One isn’t even a handshake. Shawon Dunston, one of our coaches, once came up to me and clapped me simultaneously on the chest and back, so that’s our thing now, with him saying, “Let’s go, Barry Larkin!’’ (his nickname for me.) You have to be a little cautious with the starting pitcher, especially if it’s Vogey. I might give him just a light fist tap, which he’ll accept with a kind of “don’t bother me’’ look. (I have no crazy handshake with Buster. He’s not into it.)
The point is we make an effort to remind each other that we’re in this together. On the road, when we have time for dinner, a bunch of us end up going out together. I’m sure we’ll do that tomorrow night for July 4th. We play here at 11 a.m. so we have plenty of time to meet for dinner. No definite plans yet but usually somebody will start inviting people and it ends up being most of the team. Maybe even Belt will come. Sometimes he goes off on his own to a movie without telling anyone. We’ll probably watch fireworks from the hotel.
Answers to your questions!
When you are on the road, who watches the kids when you and Jalynne go out? Do you have help on the road? The only time we’ll go out is if family comes with us to watch the girls. But even then, usually we don’t go out. Jalynne brings the girls so I can see them, which means I want to have dinner with them. Jalynne’s twin sister, Janelle, and her husband and baby joined us in Miami because we had an off day there on Monday. But we all ate together. Jannelle and her family are going to move in with us this month and stay for the rest of the season to help with the girls and keep Jalynne company.
Do you guys eat out every meal, or do they feed you in the clubhouse when you are on the road? They feed us in the clubhouse — and we eat out. Depends on the time of the game. Today we have a 6 p.m. game, so I went to the mall next to the hotel for lunch with Buster. Then we’ll eat something in the clubhouse after the game.
Any outstanding restaurants you would recommend? Capitol Grille is always a good spot. There’s one of those in almost every city we go to, it seems. The truth is I’m not very picky.
I saw on Strickland’s Instagram that Heston bought a bottle of Blue Label for everyone on the team after his no-hitter. . . . Are you a big whiskey guy? Blue Label is definitely a treat for a whiskey fan. I’m not a big drinking guy in general. I’ve never tried Blue Label, but I might have to now for Heston. Cain got us watches for his perfect game in 2012. It’s nice of the pitchers to acknowledge us.
How early are players supposed to get to the park before the game? For a 7:15 game I get to the park at 2:15 so there’s time to get treatment in the training room and work out before batting practice, which is around 4:30.
Did Morse get any flack for his plaid jacket? He doesn’t really surprise us with any of his outfits, so I don’t even remember the plaid jacket.
Has Jalynne ever taught you some gymnastics moves? With some of the amazing plays you make at shortstop, I joke that, “Well, his wife was a gymnast at UCLA, he probably picked up some moves.” lol! She’s told me the names of a couple of the moves that look like something I’ve done on the field. She didn’t teach me any of them, though.
Do you, Belt, and Panik (I suppose Duffy too!) hang out at all outside of games/practice? Seems like you three are pretty close, especially with the Crawnik infield, chemistry-wise. We’re all close, and we do go out on the road when there’s time. I’m not sure it adds to our chemistry. Marco Scutaro and I had great chemistry and we never hung out off the field. I think we all know each other pretty well just by being teammates. Maybe we hang out because we’re all in the same age range, though somebody reminded me earlier this season that I’m oldest of the infielders. I’m 28. Belt’s 27, Joe’s 25 and Duffy’s 24. And Buster’s 2 months younger than me.
I was curious of how you got to the Oracle Stadium so fast after just finishing a game, get cleaned up, drive over. Good maneuvering through traffic.
How did you get so good at hitting? Did the Giants recommend any batting mechanics changes when you were coming up the farm system? Is there a Giants Way for hitting? There were definitely a lot of recommendations, which happens with anybody who struggles in the minor leagues. I’m sure even Buster got recommendations a couple of times, though nothing drastic, I’m sure. But I got plenty. I changed my batting stance a few times, for example. You just kind of have to find what works for you. You piece everything together and just make it your own because there’s no single approach that works for everybody. There’s no Giants Way. The coaches are really good at recognizing that every player is different, every swing is different.
I use video to watch pitchers before facing them. You can look at a scouting report and see he’s got a fastball, slider, change-up. But you want to see what his pitches are doing. And you want to look at what he throws in different situations. Once the game starts, you don’t think about it a whole lot. You just kind of react. But at least you have a better plan going in.
I also watch my own at-bats sometimes, though at this point there isn’t anything drastic I’m going to see. Every now and then you’ll see something small you need to adjust. Fortunately there hasn’t been a whole lot of that this year. Recently, though, I’ve been doing something that Bam-Bam found on film that I didn’t see. It’s great to have another set of eyes.
Can you confirm Baggs’ statement about Belt never wearing a protective cup?
It’s true. Not all players wear cups. Most outfielders don’t because they don’t get ground balls that are going to take a bad hop. The infielders who don’t wear them either REALLY trust their hands or they’ve never been hit there.
I’ve always wondered if the bat boys traveled with you? No. The home team provides bat boys.
Was the team surprised that there seemed to be as many Giants fans as there were Mariner fans when you played in Seattle? Yes, we were really surprised. We never get that kind of applause in batting practice — even at home! We were walking out to stretch and getting a standing ovation from half the crowd. It was crazy. We don’t go to Seattle very often so maybe all the Giants fans in the area came out.
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!
You remember the first day of school when you were a kid? (If you’re a kid reading this: Remember September?) You have new stuff, right out of the box. Shirts, shoes, backpack, notebook.
It’s kind of the same at the start of the season.
My new cleats arrived Monday, two days before we left Arizona. They’re not just new cleats, though. I got to design them. I have a Nike contract so they give me money to use however I want on their Nike site. So I’ve designed my own shoe. It’s surprising how many color and pattern choices go into designing a shoe.
There’s the top of the shoe, the sides, the back, the swoosh, the sole, the tongue, the laces. You can choose a color for your number and name on the side. In the past, the only option was solid colors but this year they have a graphic option. I don’t know how to describe it so I’m including a photo here of my home shoe (left), road shoe (middle) and batting practice shoe (right).
MLB says the shoe has to be 51 percent black. I know these don’t necessarily look like there’s 51 percent black but that’s just because the orange stands out so much.
Usually you need just two pairs of cleats in a season since you’re alternating road and home. I might make more, though, because it’s pretty fun. I might make a pair that has more black since we have the black jerseys this year.
I have a new glove, too, which I’ve been using all spring. This one came out of the box already pretty broken in. That happens sometimes. It arrives and you can play catch right away. Other times they’re really hard. Do I use the same glove all season? If it’s doing its job, it’ll stick around.
I also get new batting gloves. The manufacturer sent me four different color combos, three of each, so I have 12 pairs. They’ll send me more throughout the season. How long does a pair of batting gloves last? Depends on how well you’re hitting and how fast they tear. If you’re hitting well, and there’s a hole in them, you stick with them.
We had a great time at the Play Ball lunch today at the Hilton. Here’s a photo of the table set up for Belt, Justin Maxwell, Jean Machi and me. That long line in the background? That’s all the people waiting for Buster and Madison.
We did get some people in our line, though.
I think the strangest thing I signed was the lining of a guy’s sports coat. That was a first. I should have taken a picture of that.
Thanks for reading!
In the clubhouse. The topic: TV binge watching.
Belt: You ever seen Walking Dead?
Crawford: You’ve asked me that, like, a hundred times.
Belt: I ask everybody so I don’t know who I asked.
Crawford: You’ve told me to watch that already. But I probably won’t.
Belt: It’s not really about zombies. Once you get into it, it’s the drama about them staying alive. The zombies are always going to be a part of it but it’s kind of like an outside thing.
Crawford: Is it like Zombieland?
Crawford: Then I’m not watching it.
Belt: I liked Zombieland, too. Everything was about the zombies in Zombieland. You seen Orange is the New Black?
Crawford: I’m on Season 1.
Belt: At first, I was thinking, I don’t get this show. Then I really liked it.
Crawford: The first episode I watched, I thought, Oh, this could be pretty interesting.
Crawford: Gross. I watched a few more episodes and watched all of them. Way better than zombies.
Belt: I’m telling you, I was totally opposed to watching Walking Dead, too. Everybody was telling me about it. They couldn’t shut up about it. So I watched two or three episodes and I couldn’t stop. I love binge-watching. I love it to death. I hate it when it’s over.
Crawford: I know.I want to watch, like, three episodes in a row. But I find that I’m much more tired at night now than I was in the past. Nine o’clock comes around, I’m ready to go to bed. Unfortunately the girls aren’t ready.
Belt: This off season (the first with a baby), we were in bed every night at 8. I didn’t go to sleep but we were in bed watching TV. Just enjoying the entertainment. It’s so great.
Crawford: Jalynne and I will watch Breaking Bad if we’re actually both awake and the girls are asleep. We’re on Season 2. It’s kind of our new “together’’ show because at the end of last year we finished three shows all around the same time: Always Sunny in Philadelphia, How I Met Your Mother and Dexter.
Belt: I started watching Dexter all over again. I think it’s a genius show — about a serial killer who kills serial killers! What can get better than that?
Crawford: I think it’s interesting how many shows nowadays have, like, the main character doing bad things but in a good way. Like you’re rooting for the bad guy, kind of.
Belt: The lesser of two evils.
Crawford: He can’t help himself from killing so he kills bad people.
Belt: Right, without his code he would be a straight-up serial killer. He’s just lucky he got that code when he was young.
Crawford: Breaking Bad, he’s producing meth to make money for his family. Which, I feel like he has a good amount of money already in Season 2, so he could have stopped.
Belt: All I’m watching right now is Walking Dead so I can’t binge.
Crawford: You’re caught up?
Belt: Yeah. It sucks.
Crawford: When I was down in the Dominican (rookie league), they showed Law and Order, CSI and Lost. One episode a week. They had it on repeat. So for week a straight they had one show on reruns. and the next week they’d do another episode.
Belt: Man, that’d really suck.
OK, now that we re-read this, it is totally boring. It was an experiment. Doesn’t work. But thanks for reading it if you got this far! We probably won’t have another blog post until we get to San Francisco. See you there.
Today’s post is an actual combo Brandon & Brandon blog. We decided to turn on the tape recorder and share with you a conversation between the two of us in the clubhouse. (Saves us from writing anything.) We flipped a coin to see who’d transcribe the tape. We won’t say who lost, but the tape was subsequently fobbed off on a Giants’ staffer who volunteered to do it, mostly to stop a particular someone’s whining and pleading for best two-out-of-three.
Belt: It would have been awesome to be in the lineup today with Will Ferrell playing, wouldn’t it? (Neither Brandon was in the lineup and didn’t make the trip to Glendale for the game.)
Crawford: Would it have been cool to see him? Yeah. But it’s a road game. I’m not disappointed not to go.
Belt: I don’t know if we’d get to talk to him that much, anyway.
Crawford: What would you have said?
Belt: I’d give him some tips on how to be funny. How to act little bit. Nothing as far as baseball goes, I don’t think.
Crawford: What’s your favorite Will Ferrell movie?
Belt: Just your normal ones. Old School. Step-Brothers. Talladega Nights. A lot of people like Elf.
Crawford: Anchorman’s a classic.
Belt. Anchorman! Yes! That’s up there at the top. But Stepbrothers is probably my favorite. It’s so stupid, but it’s hilarious.
Crawford: Step Brothers is all right. Not the best.
Belt: Step Brothers is one of those movies I can watch over and over. Like Tombstone. SuperBad.
Crawford: Elf is better than Step Brothers.
Belt. No, it’s not!
Crawford: Stranger than Fiction?
Belt: That’s the one I was trying to think of. It’s terrible!
Crawford: It’s better than Step Brothers.
Belt: No, it isn’t! Step Brothers is hilarious.
Crawford: Are we going to stay catch partners? (They were catch partners Wednesday when Crawford played in the field for the first time this spring. Last year Crawford’s catch partner was Pablo.)
Belt: I can’t remember who mine was last season. Hicks, before he left. I don’t know what I did after that. I had a concussion for a while. I don’t remember a lot.
Crawford: You threw with Joe (Panik).
Belt: That might be right. I can’t remember.
Crawford: I think he’s playing catch with McGehee. Probably so you wouldn’t ask him again.
Belt: You know I’m really tired right now, and I slept late today. Is that weird? I am like extremely dead.
Crawford: Did you have cherry juice?
Belt: I should have.
Crawford: I don’t believe it wakes you up. For me, it makes me more tired.
Belt: It’s got like 64 cherries in it, and it’s gross. But it’s supposed to give you energy. I didn’t drink it today. I need a Red Bull right now. I haven’t had a Red Bull in like six days.
Crawford: There are a bunch of sugar-free ones in the kitchen that are terrible for you.
Belt: it’s the sugar ones that are bad for you.
Crawford: I thought you were on a nutrition kick.
Belt: So I can’t have Red Bull? Why not?
Crawford: It’s bad for you.
Belt: What are the long-term effects of Red Bull?
Crawford: I don’t know.
Belt: Exactly! So you can’t say anything bad about it.
Crawford: You might develop super powers.
Belt: Yeah! I could!
Crawford: You might actually get wings.
Belt: I could get in the hot tub and spill it and go back in time. It’s possible.
Crawford: Where’d you go?
Belt: I like today. I wouldn’t go anywhere.
Crawford: Go to the future.
Belt: Yeah, I’d go to the future. Go a hundred years into the future and see where we are.
Crawford: Where WE are?
Belt: No — well, we might be alive because they might have the technology by then to bring you back to life.
Crawford: Or maybe the Red Bull will keep you living that long.
Belt: Maybe if I drink Red Bull my whole life I’ll be a thousand years old.
Crawford: Good point.
Tomorrow in Part II: Binge TV.
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 . . .
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!