Results tagged ‘ Brandon Crawford ’
I’m still a little damp from Angel dumping the Gatorade cooler on me. I think he got more water on Amy G. than on me.
I’ve watched the replay twice already, I’m not going to lie. I’ll go home and probably watch it again. I might keep it on a loop. Maybe make a GIF for my phone. These don’t happen to me every day. In fact, I have never hit a walk-off home run in my life. Little League, college, minors, anywhere.
I knew it was out as soon as the barrel of the bat hit the ball. You can just tell how it feels and sounds.
Did you like that bat flip? I learned it from Bum the other day on his grand slam. Seriously, though, everybody’s got a bat flip. We call it pimping the home run. (Is that politically incorrect to say?) You give it a little individual style, like a layup in basketball. Not that I have a ton of experience. I bat-flipped only one other time that I can remember. You have to earn a bat flip. I think a walk-off splash-hit in the 10th qualifies.
I dropped the bat, then I thought for a second — with a pang — that it might curve foul. Luckily it stayed in by about ten feet.
I had faced Brothers yesterday and hit a first-pitch fastball for a double. So in this cat-and-mouse game you play with a pitcher, I guessed that he wouldn’t be throwing me a first-pitch fastball again. He has a good slider, so I thought he’d try to get ahead of me with something like that.
Sure enough, he threw a splitter but it was way outside. OK, now I know he doesn’t have great control of his off-speed pitch. So he’s probably going to come back at me with a fastball. I got into hit mode. And there it was. (Of course if he had thrown a first-pitch fastball and gotten ahead, I would have been kicking myself a little bit.)
I’m not sure there’s a better feeling in baseball than rounding third and your teammates are going crazy at home plate, waiting for you. It’s a little overwhelming, actually. Everybody’s whacking you on the head and grabbing at you. I’ll take it. I’ll take it again on Tuesday. And as many times as I can.
When I walked into the clubhouse after my interview with Amy G, there was great music blaring from the speakers and everybody clapping and yelling. Bochy joked that he was going to start sitting me against righties instead of lefties.
I’ve got to ask Bam how many points I get for my Team Brandon hitting team. A walk-off home run has got to be about 50, at least.
Pretty nice way to go into an off day.
So Hicks and Hunter fill in for a couple days and suddenly traffic to the blog explodes. What’s that about? Hicks received 38 or so replies to his post, more than twice as many as my last one got! Hunter’s post yesterday got more than 60 replies in the last 24 hours.
And his post started a Twitter trend — #TogetherWeAreBrandon.
I mean, I love the team unity and all that. But it kind of makes Belt and me feel like old shoes. Everybody’s getting their heads turned by the new guys. We weren’t enough?
Believe, I’m going to count every reply. Not that we’re competitive or anything. The hitting groups Hunter wrote about in his blog are not batting-practice groups. They’re part of Bam-Bam’s new hitting game. Every player gets points for moving a runner over, RBI’s, extra-base hits, etc. The groups compete against each other. The group with the most points at the end of each month wins.
There were three captains — Buster, Hunter and Pablo — who picked teams, which include the starting pitchers. Buster drafted all three Brandons, so he named it Team Brandon.
Even before that, though, we kind of had a Team Brandon thing going on. We figured since a lot of guys have special handshakes with each other, we ought to come up with a Brandon handshake because, well, we’re the Brandons. It’s hard to get a three-person handshake, but I think Belt came up with it. If you look in the dugout before the game, you’ll see it. We slap hands down and up twice, then once patty-cake style then a chest bump as we say, “Brandon!’’ in a very manly tone.
We developed this in spring training. You might not know this, but just like we work on getting our swings back and fielding ground balls, we also work on handshakes. I have a different one for almost every guy. A lot of them are pretty similar. For my handshake with Hunter — which he came up with — we fist-bump then I go to punch him and he catches my hand and I straighten my fingers as if I’m going to jab him in the neck as if we’re in The Matrix.
Even with the Brandon-Brandon-Brandon handshake, Belt and I still do our own before every game. It’s a fist-bump and then I say a particular string of words to him. I won’t share the exact words. I basically called him a big dumb stupid idiot. It started after a game in which he did really well, and I’ve been saying it to him before each game ever since.
I still want to tell you about the start of the season and other stuff, but I want to get this posted before the game. Belt and I love #TogetherWeAreBrandon. It’s another way of bringing all of us together — the players and fans, everybody. We take it as a great compliment.
But, you know, to quote Marvin Gaye, ain’t nothin’ like the real thing.
Hello, everyone. This is Hunter Pence filling in for Brandon Hicks, or Brandon Crawford, or Brandon Belt, whoever’s turn it is supposed to be.
I’m filling in because — you probably didn’t know this — Hunter is a nickname for Brandon.
My middle name is Andrew, which is Swedish for Brandon. And Pence is English for Brandon. So my actual name is Brandon Brandon Brandon.
You also probably didn’t know that “Tim Lincecum’’ is Dutch for Brandon.
Buster is a nickname for Brandon. Pablo is Spanish for Brandon. Pagan is Puerto Rican for Brandon. Madison is Southern for Brandon. “Bumgarner’’ is — I have no idea what that is. I think it’s Arabic for Brandon.
Pretty much everyone is Brandon. We’re Team Brandon.
Kruk and Kuip have got to get with the program. Brandon’s throwing the pitch to Brandon. When anybody steps into the box, Brandon’s up to bat. The double play combo is Brandon to Brandon to Brandon. (Wait, they already call that one.)
So now if you yell “Brandon,’’ you’ll get everybody’s attention. We’ll all respond because we all became Brandon when the third Brandon arrived. We’re a unit. When we take the field we’re a family of Brandons.
The original Brandons still have some privileges. They have their own really cool handshake. It’s the patty-cake chest-bump Brandon. You need to check that out. (We new Brandons don’t get to do the handshake.)
You might notice the originals all have beards. Beards are part of the ancestral tradition of Brandon-dom.
The rest of us Brandons who also have beards are doing this to honor the Brandon history. Pagan, with his beard, is clearly honoring his Brandon-ness. Posey has not yet matured enough for a beard. He’s still a Baby Brandon.
The original Brandons are all in the same hitting group, which is called, of course, Team Brandon. Buster’s in that group and Timmy. My hitting group is called Laser Swag: Morse, Arias, Perez, Vogelsong and Hudson. It’s a name we all agreed on. The other one is Pablo’s group, called La Guerilla. I think it means gangster or army in Spanish. Or maybe it means Brandon.
I’m getting ready to board the team bus to the airport for Opening Day in Arizona. Our home is in Arizona, so Jalynne stayed there with the babies while I came here for the Bay Bridge Series. (Jalynne’s mother has been there since Jaydyn was born.)
Can’t wait to see all of them tonight when we get in. After the Diamondbacks’ series. Jalynne will drive with her mom and the babies to Los Angeles for the Dodgers series, then drive up here for the home opener. Our rental house is pretty much ready because we moved all the furniture in when we were here for FanFest.
About the birth: When Braylyn was born, Jalynne was in labor for 52 hours. It was brutal. Jaydyn was born by scheduled C-section – a hundred times easier. We went in at 7:15 on a Saturday morning, and the baby was born at 9:30. Two hours – and that’s including paper work and surgery prep.
The nurses allowed me to clip the umbilical cord, then they weighed and measured Jaydyn, cleaned her up a little, wrapped her and put her in my arms. I brought her over to Jalynne, who had been awake and chatty through the whole thing. I took that day off and the next. My dad and sister, who where at the hospital, joked that I could just run across to the Giants’ stadium across the street, pinch hit and run back.
Braylyn was a little confused at first about this cute little creature in her life. She gives her little sister kisses then bops her on the head. I think she means just to pat her but she doesn’t have a concept yet of rough and gentle. She’ll jam a pacifier in the baby’s face, like “Here! Take it! You want this!’’
The best description I’ve heard about going from one kid to two is it’s like basketball – you go from playing zone defense to man-to-man. It’s been a little crazy. Jalynne’s got Jaydyn for the most part because she’s breast-feeding; I’ve got Braylyn, who never stops pulling out pots and pans, DVDs, video games. I think she plays with everything in the house except her toys.
Back to baseball: A highlight of spring camp was working with Barry Bonds. I was pretty terrible at the plate the first three weeks of camp but finished strong, and I think at least some of the credit goes to Bonds.
The second day he was in camp, I went to the cage to work on stuff with Joe Lefebvre, the assistant hitting coach. Right when I finished, Bonds showed up. He was talking to Hunter, and I stuck around to listen. Bonds was talking about drills Hunter could do to track the ball deeper. He told him to keep his front shoulder in so it didn’t fly open — which was exactly what I was just working on in the cage.
At some point, Bam-Bam told Bonds about my situation – that I was a really good fielder but needed to hit better. He said the team didn’t want to sit me against lefties, which Bochy did a lot during the second half of last season.
So Bonds talked to me about how it took him three years before he felt he had become a good hitter in the big leagues, mostly because he struggled against lefties. It was kind of cool hearing from Barry Bonds that it was only after his third full season that he thought he became a consistent hitter. This is my third full season.
During Bond’s week in camp, when I wasn’t in the lineup I tried to work with him. Once I took a half a bucket of balls from our new left-handed BP pitcher. Half a bucket is a lot of balls. Bonds stayed at the cage the whole time. He told me to actually aim my front shoulder at shortstop as kind of an exaggerated way to make sure I kept it closed. It was just a drill for BP, but he said to think about it during the game as a reminder.
The first couple games after that, I had two hits off lefties. One was a line drive to left field, which I hadn’t done all spring off a lefty. I broke a bat the next time up, but it was a good swing and the ball got through for a base hit. I broke three bats, in fact, because I was keeping my front shoulder closed so long that I was getting jammed.
It’s still a little uncomfortable, as all mechanical adjustments are, but I’m keeping my shoulder closed now without having to exaggerate it. There are times when I’ll take a swing and think, “Oh, man, I flew open a bit there.’’ The important thing is I’m recognizing when I’m doing it and making the adjustment.
Obviously I have to hit better against lefties this year to help the team. I feel as confident about it as I ever have, given how I’ve been feeling at the plate the last couple weeks. It took Bonds three full seasons to find consistency against LH pitchers, so I guess I shouldn’t have expected I’d get there a whole lot faster.
Can’t wait to get this season started. See you back at AT&T on the 8th!
With kids going back to school, someone suggested Belt, Blanco and I answer the same three questions in our blogs this week.
- What’s the best advice you ever got?
- What do you wish you knew back in high school that you know now?
- If you had never become a pro baseball player, how do you think playing sports as a kid would have helped you in life anyway?
The best advice:
I could say “work hard’’ and “stay in school,’’ but I’m going to be more specific to sports. A coach – I’m sorry I don’t remember which one – told me this when I started high school: “While you’re sitting at home and not working out, there are 10 other guys at your position outworking you.’’ I still think about that, especially in the off-season when maybe I wake up one morning and really don’t feel like working out. I say to myself, “There are 29 other shortstops working out and probably trying to take your job.’’
Talent alone doesn’t get you far in sports. At each level, you realize there are players who are just as good as you or better. Every player in college was the best player on his high school team. Every player in the minor leagues was the best player on his college team. Every player in the Majors was the best player on his minor league team. So how do you not only keep up but get an edge? By outworking everyone else. Taking more grounders, taking more swings, hitting the weights in the gym.
This relates to Question Number 3 about how playing sports as a kid teaches you important lessons that help in all parts of your life. I think working harder than everyone else gives you an edge in whatever you do. Everybody’s competing to move up the ladder. The world is a competitive place. Sports helped me learn HOW to go about being competitive and not just rely on my natural competitiveness. (I had three younger sisters, so I was always competing – for the bathroom more than anything.)
From playing sports I also learned how to stay on an even keel, which is important in everything from raising kids to driving in traffic. That’s a strong part of my game – the ability to wipe off whatever bad thing has happened and go out there the next day. Patience is a part of that, too (which I also learned from having three younger sisters.) Let’s say I go 0-for-20. You have to keep working hard and be patient because you know you’re eventually going to get a hit. You can’t panic. Patience also is important in waiting for your career to move forward. Things are going to happen on your time line.
For example, in 2011, I broke my finger in spring training. I was supposed to go to Triple A but ended up having to stay in Arizona 6 weeks to heal then went to Single A San Jose to rehab. I thought I’d go quickly up to Triple A. But for two and a half weeks, I played in Single A with no word about Triple A. I stayed patient, and one day I got a call from Bobby Evans asking how quickly I could get to Fresno (Triple A). Finally! We were playing in Bakersfield, so it would not be an easy thing to get to Fresno. “Never mind,’’ Bobby said. “We’re flying you out of Bakersfield tomorrow. You’re coming to San Francisco.’’
It was my Major League call-up. You never know what’s in store. One of the best stories along these lines is about Daniel Nava, who started in left field against us Monday night for the Red Sox.
Nava played in high school but didn’t make the baseball team at Santa Clara as a walk-on. So he was the team’s equipment manager for two years. Then he had to leave Santa Clara because he couldn’t afford the tuition and went to San Mateo Junior College. He made the team there and became a JC All-American. Then he was invited back to Santa Clara on a full baseball scholarship for his senior year. He didn’t get drafted so he played for the Chico Outlaws, an independent league team, where he was discovered by a Red Sox scout. The Sox bought Nava’s rights from the Outlaws for exactly $1 (with $1499 extra if Nava was still with the Sox after spring training). He made his Major League debut in 2010, hitting a grand slam on the very first pitch he saw. (He and I are among the six Major League players to hit a grand slam our first time at bat.)
I love his story because it shows that just because success doesn’t come immediately, it can still come – and sometimes in a really big way.
So what do I wish I knew then that I know now?
In baseball, it would be my hitting approach. I’d go up to the plate and just see the ball and hit it. Obviously, I’m smarter now in thinking about what a pitcher is trying to do.
But outside of baseball, I wish I hadn’t worried so much about what people thought of me, especially in seventh grade. I was such an awkward kid – not like Belt awkward, not that bad – but pretty bad. I had acne and took this medication that I guess dried out my skin so bad that my eyebrow hair started to fall out. So not only did I have acne but now my eyebrows were all weird. I look at pictures and can laugh now. But back then I didn’t want to look people in the face or even talk to anyone. I wish I knew then that the acne was going to go away and that my eyebrows were going to grow back. I wish I knew that it doesn’t really matter what other people think. You are who you are. If other people don’t like you because of it, they were never going to be real friends.
I’m kind of re-learning that lesson now. Since I was called up to the Majors, I’m hearing from all kinds of people who want to be my friend. The other day I got a call from this person I haven’t talked to since high school, now all of sudden he wants to hang out. I don’t think so.
Hope at least some of this might be useful to someone out there!
See you at the park.
With kids going back to school this month, Crawford, Blanco and I – your Giants bloggers –are answering three questions this week:
1. What’s the best advice you ever got?
2. What do you wish you knew back in high school that you know now?
3. If you had never become a pro baseball player, how do you think playing sports as a kid would have helped you in life anyway?
OK, Number 1.
One thing my dad used to tell me all the time, “If you’re going to do something, do it right the first time.’’ Don’t jack around or drag it out, whether it was about cleaning the garage or doing schoolwork or playing baseball. He also drilled into me that if you’re going to make a commitment to something you’re going to finish it. You do it 100 percent. So for instance, when I finally made the decision to make those mechanical adjustments up at the plate, I wasn’t going to do it a couple times and if it didn’t work, just give up on it. I’m going to do it ‘til I get it. That really does help when you get into a competitive world. You just have to stick with stuff.
I’ll answer Number 3 next because it’s related to Number 1.
My Dad was a football coach, so I was getting lessons about sports both at home and on the field. One lesson was: Life’s not fair. It’s not going to go your way all the time. Sports is great because it presents you with a ton of problems that you have to face and have to figure out how to overcome.That can help anyone in any walk of life because everybody is going to have problems. You just have to suck it up and figure out a way to get past it. And along the way you’ll realize you’re stronger than you thought. If every time you’re presented with a problem and you shrivel up and go hide, how are you ever supposed to know what you’re capable of doing? The other thing you learn in sports is you can’t go around blaming everyone else for your own problems. The quicker you can look in the mirror the faster you’re going to improve yourself. I’m still working on this myself, to be honest. I want to find somebody to blame sometimes. But eventually I look at myself and figure it out.
Now Number 2.
I was really nervous about going into college and into the real world. I had it in my mind that there would be so much work and so much stuff I might not be able to do. That scared me to death. I wish I knew that what seems scary now is going to be your normal later on. You’re going to learn how to do what you need to do and it will just become second nature.
If I had known that, I probably would have gone to a four-year university right out of high school instead of going to junior college first. I found out the main thing about college is going to class. If you go to class and just do the work, you’re going to be fine. It’s the uncertainty that scares people.
Now on to baseball.
I had forgotten what it’s like to play in the kind of humidity we had in Florida. That’s what I grew up with, but I got to tell you it’s good to be back home in San Francisco. I’m acclimatized to this weather now. That first game in Miami was four hours, and that takes a toll on your body. Even though the field is indoors, you can’t get away from the humidity. We have one more trip to the East Coast, so I’ll make sure I get more rest and stay off my feet as much as I can. And hydrate. At the end of the season, when your body is tiring out anyway, you really have to be conscious about taking care of yourself so you can finish the season strong.
Now to the movie reviews. I got two for you.
Elysium: It was a good movie as far as the action and visual effects. Matt Damon is pretty good, and the story itself is pretty good. In the future they’ve built this thing that’s a perfect sanctuary. All the rich people live there and there’s no cancer or crime or anything. Everybody else is left on earth to fend for themselves and everybody’s poor and there’s lots of crime. It’s about the haves and have-nots, but it goes a little bit overboard. The rich people have no sympathy, no compassion at all to anybody else. I think it’s trying to be a little too political. Maybe it’s not good to admit this, but I just want to be entertained when I go to the movies. If I want politics I’ll watch the news.
We’re the Millers: It stars Jennifer Anniston and Jason Sudeikis. He’s a small-time pot dealer and his boss wants him to pick up a huge shipment of weed and bring it back to the United States. The story is about his journey down there. He pays this fake family to go with him because he figures nobody’s going to think this All-American family is bringing weed back into the States. So they put on this act the whole time. He has a fake daughter who’s like a runaway street kid. Jennifer is the fake wife. And the fake son is a sweet kid who’s a real goody-goody. It’s funny to watch the stuff they encounter and the trouble they get into.
Three stars. (Haley would give it three, too.)
Thanks for reading and for supporting the Giants!
There’s no explaining what’s going on right now. Usually what’s contagious is winning. Like what we did last year. What the Cardinals did the year before. A few guys start going good. Then a few more guys. And soon everybody in the lineup is a threat to break the game open at any time. I don’t know the science behind it. Maybe you’re feeding off each other’s energy. All I know is the domino effect exists because we’ve lived it.
But I’ve never seen the flip side, what’s been happening the last few weeks.
The truth is we actually feel as confident as ever. I was 0-for-whatever when I went up to the plate in the ninth inning with Homer Bailey throwing a no-hitter. I was certain I was about to break it up. Absolutely sure. Well, you know how that turned out.
The point is we’re as confounded as you are. We had a hitter’s meeting with Bochy and Bam-Bam in Colorado. We’re doing everything we can. I watched video of myself comparing recent at-bats to ones earlier in the season. I noticed I was lifting my hands too high during my load, which caused my shoulders to go up, which meant I used my shoulders to swing instead of my hands. I worked on it and felt better at the plate in Cincinnati. My first at-bat there I hit a line drive into center. I thought, OK, finally! I thought it was a double. I’m rounding first, look over and see Choo running it down. Another 0-for day.
That’s baseball. When it’s not going well, it’s really not going well.
Very glad to get a hit yesterday to break the streak, but obviously we need to string a few together.
Away from the field, I take a break from the game by playing PSP. Of course, I’m playing the MLB game. I don’t keep precise track of my record in PSP but I have not lost 10 of the last 11. Baseball is a lot easier when all you have to do is push a button.
I also relaxed on our off day in Colorado by going to see “This Is The End’’ with Belt and Kontos.They’d already seen it but thought it was so funny they wanted to see it again. It was hilarious. A good escape for a few hours.
We have Bum on the mound today against the Dodgers. It’s amazing that as bad as we’ve been going we’re still only five games out of first. Anyone can win this division. It’s going to be a great second half with everyone contending.
A lot of people ask me about Puig. As a fan, which I still am, you always like to see players like him. He reminds me a lot of Mike Trout. He even runs like him. I was on the bench (when I jammed my fingers sliding into second) when he had his first at-bat against us. He swung what looked like a protection flick on a change-up to send the ball foul. I thought, “Wow, that’s going pretty far for flicking it foul.’’ Then it sailed fair into the stands for a home run. I was like, check that guy’s bat. I couldn’t believe it.
I could do without seeing any more of that in person this season. He can save it for Arizona and Colorado and San Diego.
I’ll end this by telling you we’re working as hard as ever. We’re as confident as ever. And there’s still half a season left to play. We have too many great players to continue the way we have. This is the same team that was so good at making comebacks last season and earlier this season. You can’t make a comeback unless you’ve fallen behind. Time for the comeback.
I’ll be watching from the dugout today, only the second time this season I’ve done that. And the first time because of an injury. When I jammed my right-hand index and middle fingers trying to steal second yesterday, I couldn’t tell right away if I could still play or not. The trainers said they weren’t broken, so I went back out for the start of the next inning. Good thing nothing came to me. The pain had arrived full force. When Cain struck somebody out and we were throwing the ball around the infield, I had to chuck a palm ball to Scutaro. I couldn’t use either finger.
It kind of bothers me that some people said it wasn’t a good idea for me to be sliding headfirst. I’ve been sliding headfirst my entire life. And I’ve never been hurt until now.
There’s a good reason why I and so many other players slide headfirst. When you’re going full speed, your body is leaning forward. So the fastest way to reach the bag is to build on that momentum by diving forward – rather than leaning back to slide feet first. Also, if you have to change direction to avoid a tag, you can maneuver more easily with your hands than your feet.
I looked at the tape afterward to see how I jammed my fingers this time when I had never done it before. Like most runners, I slide with my hands open and fingers up – like a “halt’’ gesture — so that my palms hit the edge of the bag. On the tape, it looked like the fielder brought his glove down onto my two fingers before I reached the base, so they jammed into the side of the bag. Bad luck.
Maybe I’d consider holding my batting gloves in my hands, essentially creating fists, so my fingers wouldn’t be exposed. But I think the natural reaction when you’re sliding is to reach out with your hands, so I’d probably end up just dropping the batting gloves.
My prognosis is “day to day.’’ We can’t afford another injury in this lineup. But between yesterday and today there’s been no improvement. I hope the healing process kicks soon, like in the next few minutes. In the meantime: ibuprofen.
Just a note on facing my sister’s boyfriend in Pittsburgh. As you might have read, my sister Amy has been dating Pittsburgh’s rookie pitcher and former Number 1 draft pick Gerrit Cole since they were classmates at UCLA. So she was at the game when he made his Major League debut against us last week. So was Jalynne, Jalynne’s mother and Gerrit’s family and friends. Amy tried to be neutral as she possibly could. She told me the Giants could win the other two games of the series, but she wanted Gerrit to win his debut. Which he did. The first time I was up, he broke my bat with a 97-mph fastball up and in. But I got a hit off him later.
After the game, Gerrit’s parents hosted dinner at a steakhouse across from the park. He was very professional, not gloating or anything. He’s not like that. When I showed up at the restaurant, I had a gift for him: my broken bat, signed.
Hope to see you at the park. Hope I’m in the lineup.
I didn’t do much on my off days on Monday or yesterday. Just relaxed. But Jalynne and I had a great time two Sundays ago at my friends’ wedding.
Getting there, however, was an adventure.
The ceremony was scheduled for 6 p.m. We had a 1 p.m. game at AT&T. I figured I’d have plenty of time to make it to Wente Vineyards in Livermore. Cain had been solid the last month or so, and when he walked three of the first four batters, I thought, “Oh, no.’’
The game went three hours and thirty-seven minutes. When we made the final out, it was already close to 4:45.
I bolted into the clubhouse. Didn’t put any ice on my arm. Went straight into the shower. Got dressed. Went to my car, where I had my tux. Iwas a groomsman. (I didn’t want to put the tux onin the clubhouse. Would have been embarrassing.)
I drove to Livermore, probably breaking a few traffic laws on the way. I had let one of the other groomsmen know I would probably be there right around six. He said they’d drag their feet (not that any wedding starts on time anyway).
I pulled up at 5:58, got somebody to park my car for me and went in with my tux on a hanger. I had about four guys helping me get dressed with all the tux stuff. I was ready by 6:10.
Then we waited on the girls. A shocker, I know.
It was an awesome wedding. I’ve known the groom, Matt, since high school. He was the best man at my wedding. And I’ve known Ali, the bride, since middle school.
Jalynne and Braylyn were there, plus my mom and two of my sisters. They had a photo booth with a bunch of props like hats and wigs. We got into the spirit of things, and Jalynne tweeted out a photo of us being ridiculous.
Now to baseball . . .
I thought I’d share a few thoughts on facing a knuckle-baller like R.A. Dickey. I’ve been asked why a good knuckle-baller can make Major Leaguers look like fools. It’s because you have no idea where the pitch is going. I’ve always heard that when you face a knuckle-baller you look for pitches that are up because they’re going to fall into the zone for a strike. The ones that look like strikes are going to drop, so you don’t want to get suckered into swinging.
Dickey, though, can throw a harder knuckleball that just stays high. You think it’s going to drop, so you swing, and you end up flailing at a pitch sailing over your bat. But he also throws a knuckleball that drops straight down. He throws one that drops and goes away. And he throws one that drops and goes in. You have no idea where any of them are going.
You might have noticed that the Jays’ starting catcher didn’t play. I’m sure it’s because he doesn’t even know what the ball’s going to do most of the time. They put a backup catcher in there who’s more experienced – and who uses a huge glove like a first-baseman’s glove to wrangle in the pitches.
Dickey kills you with his different speeds, too. No matter what the speed, the pitch looks exactly the same coming out of his hand. Against us, he threw from 66 to about 78. That’s a 12-mph difference on the same pitch. Pretty rough as a batter. Think of a guy throwing a fastball at 88 and then 100. That just doesn’t happen.
So my mindset going up against him? I’m still trying to figure it out. I don’t have a hit off him yet.
I was asked, too, about going to the mound on Wednesday in the second inning with a runner on first. What was I talking to Zito about?
Zito had pointed to Scutaro, which indicated that if Zito fielded a comebacker, he expected to throw to Marco, not me, at second. It’s important that a pitcher establishes who’s going to take the throw so he knows who to look for. Otherwise, he could throw it to the wrong guy and the ball ends up in center field.
You might think it would be simpler to always have me take the throw on a comebacker to avoid confusion and to maximize our chances of turning the double play. But sometimes I’m positioned toward third base – for a right-handed pull hitter, for example — and might not be able to get to the bag quickly enough. So the pitcher will let us know he’ll be looking for the second-baseman to take the throw.
In the situation Wednesday, Rasmus was coming to bat. A lefty. But because he’s hit Zito to the opposite field a few times, I moved more to the right than I normally would for a lefty. So Ziti pointed to Marco, figuring he would be in a better position to take the throw.
I went to the mound to tell Zito that I was fine to take the throw, that I wasn’t over too far. If there had been a particularly fast runner at first, then maybe I’d want Marco to cover. But that wasn’t the case. We quickly got it straightened out and I returned to my position.
Rasmus flew out to Hunter, as it turned out. But you have to make sure everybody on the field is on the same page on every single detail. One error, as we all know, can break open an inning.
OK, now that you’re all nodding off, I’ll stop here. I love all the inside baseball stuff, but I’m sure not everyone else does. Thanks for reading it.
See you at the park when we get back.
P.S. I tried to think of a good answer to island girl’s question in the comments section about prom and graduation, but I really don’t have any interesting stories. (I did not give the valedictory speech, in case you were wondering.)
I just got off the phone with Ryan Theriot. The guy really makes me laugh. He’s home in Baton Rouge and keeps in touch pretty regularly. He had looked at the box score and saw I was still hitting well. He didn’t notice the errors.
“Three in the last three games,’’ I told him. “Kind of weird. I had three errors total before that.’’
They were all kind of dumb errors. On a steal attempt, the ball tipped off my glove because I tried to be too quick on the tag. The runner was probably safe anyway, so it was just dumb.
On a cutoff throw, I tried to see where the runner was at first. I took my eye off the ball at the last second, it tipped off my glove and the guy went to second. Another error.
Then yesterday on a double play, I didn’t think Zito was looking at me as he ran to cover first. I was trying to hold onto the ball, but it was already too late and I threw it 20 feet from first base. Another error.
Theriot and I were talking about what’s worse –the booted grounders or the weird, easily preventable errors. I think weird ones are worse because you just want to kick yourself. A ground ball might take a bad hop and there’s not much you can do about it.
Anyway, it was great to talk to Theriot and be able to see at least a little humor in the stupid stuff you still find yourself doing sometimes – even after you’ve played baseball for so long.
Having said that, I’m going out now to take extra ground balls before batting practice.
It was great to get home last night. The plane was maybe a little quieter than usual, but we’re not a team that pouts or panics. It’s May. We have three-quarters of the season left. Once in a while you just don’t play good baseball. Midway through last season, we had that terrible road trip, losing five of six games to Washington and Pittsburgh, I think. Then we came out the second half and did what we did.
And remember we took three of four from Atlanta. That was just a little over a week ago. It’s just the way baseball goes sometimes.
When we landed at SFO, I rode the team bus to the park, picked up my car then crossed the bridge to pick up Jalynne and Braylyn at the Oakland Airport. They came in from LA where they were visiting Jalynne’s parents. The timing was perfect. Braylyn was fussing a little when they got off the plane. When she saw me, she broke into a big smile.
Nothing better than that. Puts everything in perspective.