Results tagged ‘ SF Giants ’

Naked Cowboys and Body Suits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Brandon B.

On The Silver Screen – Brandon Belt

The good thing about the rainout in Cincinnati is that we got to come back to San Francisco earlier. Nothing like landing at SFO and riding the bus back to the ballpark after a miserable road trip. Haylee was still out of town visiting family back in Texas. And Bumgarner’s wife, Ali, wasn’t back yet either. So me and Bum had a date.

We took scooters down the Embarcadero to the Ferry Building. He hasn’t gotten his scooter yet, so he rode Haylee’s little baby-blue one. He looked cute. He’s huge and the scooter is tiny. He had to hunch way over to reach the handlebars. We went to Gott’s but the line was too long. So we went to a great Mexican place on Howard – and I can’t remember the name! They’re always so nice to us. I’ll pass it along when I remember.

As usual, I saw a few movies on the road. There’s a little movie group now, so I don’t go alone as much. It’s mostly Kontos, Javy, Hunter, Crawfordand me. When you’re on the road, you can go a little stir crazy because it’s just room/baseball field, room/baseball field. So you want to just get out of your room. If we have an off day, we’ll plan what we’re going to see. Otherwise, it’s just whoever’s around when you’re thinking about going.

In Colorado on the off day, I went to see “This Is the End’’ again with Crawford and Kontos. There’s a part in there that might be the funniest movie scene ever, though it might just be funny to guys. I don’t know. I can’t really describe it tastefully. But it’s between Danny McBride and James Franco. They’re yelling back and forth at each other, and you literally start laughing at the beginning and it goes on for at least a minute and you’re laughing so hard for at least a minute straight and it hurts. I laughed so hard I could barely breathe and tears were coming down my face and I almost fell on the floor. I’ll say this: It’s about what guys sometimes do when they’re by themselves and the result of what happens when they do that. I’ll leave it at that. It is just so original. I wish I could find it on YouTube and play it on a loop all day.

That scene is right up there with a scene in “Wanderlust’’ with Paul Rudd and Jennifer Anniston. It’s the one where Paul Rudd is talking to himself in the mirror. I pretty much consider those the funniest scenes of all time.

In Cincinnati I went with Kontos and Hunter to see a film of stand-up comic Kevin Hart. And on Thursday when I got home I saw “The Heat’’ with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. I think this is Melissa McCarthy’s best movie. Better than Bridesmaids. Haylee got home Friday before our game, and she wasn’t real happy when I picked her up at the airport and told her that I went to see it without her — even though she had told me it was okay. I think she was just grumpy about leaving her family and so it probably wasn’t the best time to tell her I had seen the movie. She’s fine now.  

It was great to see Bum pitch so well yesterday and get us the win. Obviously we really needed it. It’s not like we were in this dungeon of doom and we were never going to get out of it. But it’s not been very fun the last few weeks. There’s no doubt in this clubhouse, though, that we can win the World Series with this team. You realize you’re going to have times when you’re not playing well. Everything usually averages out — as bad as this is, we plan on having a run where we’re just as good on the other side.

 When you see a light at the end of the tunnel, like we did with our win yesterday, then things start to click. You don’t know who it’s going to be to get it going. Last year, somebody different stepped up every day. Yesterday it was Bum.

Who’s it going to be today?

Thanks for reading!

 -Brandon B.

Time for the Comeback – Brandon Crawford

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.

-Brandon C.

Fifty-four More Outs – Brandon Crawford

You never know how important a play might be until the game plays itself out. You can’t know in the second inning, for example, that nailing Prince Fielder at the plate would be so huge. The way we were hitting and scoring in Game 1, one run for the Tigers would have been pretty meaningless. But as it turned out, we couldn’t afford to give an inch tonight.

​I’m sure you saw the play. With Fielder on first, Delmon Young doubled down the left field line. I ran out to take the cutoff. Seeing Fielder round third base, Gregor fired the ball in. It sailed over my head. All I was thinking was, “I hope Marco’s there.’’

​He was. He took the throw, spun and fired it home to Buster, who put down the tag and got Fielder.

​After the game, reporters asked me if that’s how the play is drawn up. It is. We practice it in spring training. I go deep for the cutoff, and the second baseman follows behind me in case the throw is high or comes in on a short hop, and the third baseman covers third in case the runner tries to return to the base.

I still don’t know if Gregor overthrew the ball or if he meant to go to Marco. I’m sure I’ll find out in tomorrow’s paper. It doesn’t matter. It worked.

​That’s how things have been going for us. Things seem to be breaking our way.

​But it’s not luck. OK, maybe a little luck. But mostly I think you make your own luck. For example, usually if we haven’t scored a run through six innings, we’d be pressing. We could press ourselves right out of the game. But I didn’t see any of that. We were relaxed, confident that, with the way Bum was pitching, he’d keep them off the scoreboard. He had more life on the ball than his last outing and he was hitting all his spots. We wouldn’t need a lot of runs to win.

​When I went up to bat with the bases loaded in the seventh and no outs, neither team had scored yet. I wanted to keep my approach as simple as possible, the way I would with two strikes. Don’t try to do too much. The infielders were playing normal depth, so it seemed they were conceding the run at home if I put the ball in play. That surprised me considering the strength of our bullpen.

When I grounded the ball to second base, I thought, “Oh no, double play.’’ Then: “OK, that will do.’’

Hunter scored from third, putting us up 1-0.

​In retrospect, to be perfectly honest, I wish I had been more aggressive up there. Smyly, their pitcher, had nowhere to put me. He was going to have to throw strikes. But I didn’t know him. I might have faced him in Double A a couple years ago. I didn’t know what he was going to throw.

​In any event, it’s probably the most productive out(s) I’ve ever made. The run put us ahead for good.

​A lot of reporters have been asking about our defense. I’m really glad it’s getting some recognition. I think it’s been a key to our success. Our defense has been good the whole second half of the season. Our pitchers get some credit for that. They’ve been awesome. We know where to position ourselves defensively because we know our pitchers are going to hit their spots.

​We need two more wins. Fifty-four outs.

But as you know we’re not accustomed to being ahead in a series. This is a new experience.

​I like it.

​My whole family is traveling to Detroit. Mom, Dad, my three sisters and Jalynne’s parents. The players, wives and staff have to be at the park tomorrow morning at 8:30 to board the buses to the airport. I know it will be a happy flight (made happier by the five different kinds of little cakes Barry Zito’s wife Amber has been making and sharing with everyone).

​Maybe the next time we’re back in San Francisco, it will be for a parade. Is it bad luck to say that? But that’s how it feels. We feel we’re on a major roll, like nothing can stop us.

​Of course, Cincinnati probably felt the same way.

​OK, I take back the parade comment.

​One game at a time. One out at a time. One pitch at a time.

​It’s worked for us so far.

 

-Brandon C.

A big night on the biggest stage! – Brandon Belt

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.

 

-Brandon B.

Clear skies and RBIs – Brandon Crawford

I’m in the hotel room with Jalynne resting a little before I walk over to the ballpark at around 2:30. Last night was as frustrating a game as you can have. We had pitching, defense and offense – but we simply couldn’t get the hits when we needed them. It’s crazy to have 12 runners on base and score only one run.

But you’re going to have games like that. And you have to forget them.

We’re all sharing information with each other in the dugout about the pitcher: How’s Lohse’s slider today? Is the ball sinking more than usual? Can you pick up his changeup? I especially ask other left-handed hitters what they saw at their at-bat because that’s probably what I’ll see, too.

Before my first at-bat, either Pablo or Angel said Lohse threw him a backdoor slider or cutter. So with the count 3-2, sure enough I got a backdoor slider. If I hadn’t had that in my mind, I probably would thought the pitch was going outside and taken it for a called third strike. Instead, I was able to foul it off. I walked on the next pitch.

All those little things can really count.

I was happy to get two hits yesterday after getting robbed twice Monday night at our park, particularly on that line drive to short in the second inning. Jalynne retweeted a tweet from Alex Pavlovic: “Brandon Crawford just found out what it’s like to hit a ball to Brandon Crawford.’’

I thought that was funny.

The rain delay seemed like it would never end. I was walking around, eager to keep playing. I couldn’t sit still. I ate a Nutrigrain bar and drank some water. I wandered into the trainer’s room and sat around talking to the other guys in there. I went back to the clubhouse and watched TV. But the TV was showing the same video that was on the scoreboard outside: a review of the Cardinals’ 2011 championship season. Wilson and Mota and I think Timmy were playing dominoes. (There haven’t been many dominoes games this season because Wilson and Mota weren’t around.)

So I walked out to the dugout to check out the weather and the field. The dugout was packed with camera men and the grounds crew and TV reporters. Erin Andrews pulled me aside for a short interview, asking me how we were passing the time and what we were hearing about resuming the game. Then Theriot came out and joined me on the bench. We sat there the rest of the time, talking to whoever was around. Better than watching Cardinals’ highlights.

After the game, I went to dinner with Jalynne and my dad, who flew in for the series. Peter Magowan came over to say hi and introduced himself to my dad, which was really nice.

We’re all looking forward to seeing Timmy on the mound today. We’re confident that if we keep playing the way we’re playing, the hits will start to fall when we need them. The Cardinals are a tough team. A lot like us. You can never count them out.

Just like you can never count us out.

Thanks for reading.

-Brandon C.

Dead Batteries and Broken Zippers – Brandon Belt

Last week was a great week all around – a sweep to start the second half of the season and before that a trip back home for the All-Star break.

Haylee and I spent the first day back in Texas just hanging out with our parents. Then on Tuesday there was a little bitty get-together at the Barbecue House, which I told you is one of my favorite restaurants in Nacogdoches. It was just my grandma, my mom’s sisters and my coach from Little League. Sure enough, Maw-Maw had a stack of cards for me to sign as soon as I walked in.

Then I watched the All-Star game with some buddies, cheering for our guys like any other fan. They definitely represented the Giants very well. Matt Cain faced a brutal line-up of the best hitters in the American League, and he just shut them down. And Melky getting the MVP – I was so happy for him because he works sooo hard. He’s definitely somebody I look up to. And Pablo getting the triple and Posey scoring a run. It was awesome all around.

Of course when you’re around your friends and family, they want to know what guys are like personally off the field. It’s an easy answer for me because every guy on the team is a good guy.

So after writing about how I always wear my baseball pants old-school, I showed up for a game with long pants that covered my socks. “Kristen’’ and “Claire’’ called me on it in the comments section. Here’s the story. I have two pairs of old-school pants that come down to just below my knees. One of them has had a broken zipper for a while. So I had been wearing the same pair of pants every game. Then the zipper broke on that one. So I had to go grab a pair of Bumgarner’s pants and throw those on. Murph, the clubhouse manager, got the zippers fixed and had my pants back in time for the next game.

Obviously, I should get things fixed more promptly. Like my shaver. I told you last time that I hadn’t shaved in a week because my shaver broke. I was going to get a new one during our last road trip back east. I didn’t. So I went another week. I had a back-up razor but the batteries were dead. Finally I got batteries and shaved the night before the All-Star break. Back home in Texas, I was able to go out and find the shaver I’ve always had, the Peanut.

Another question from the comments: My pregame routine. After we take BP, we’re in the clubhouse for about an hour and a half. So right before the game, I’ll go in the batting cage behind the dugout and hit a few balls to get loose. Then on the field I’ll stretch my legs and upper body. Then I throw with Crawford. Most of us throw with the same guys every game. (If one or the other of us isn’t in the lineup, the other one will find somebody else to throw with.) Then I’ll do a couple sprints and I’m ready for the game.

Thanks, Dave Edlund, for telling me you fished my first home run of 2012 out of McCovey Cove. (And to your friend Greg for grabbing the next one.) The one I’d really like back is the first Splash Hit of my career (from last season). That would be pretty cool. If the person who has that ball wants to negotiate an exchange, I’m open.

Thanks, as always, for reading and for leaving your comments and questions. Wish us luck in Atlanta and Philly

-Brandon B.

Big News from the All-Star Break – Brandon Crawford

I spent the All-Star break in Los Angeles with Jalynne and her family. We relaxed for a couple of days. Then on Wednesday she had a doctor’s appointment.

We found out we’re having a girl.

We’ve chosen a name but we’re not telling people yet.

It didn’t matter to me whether we were having a boy or a girl, just that the baby is healthy, which she is. We’re both really happy and excited about being new parents – and relieved that between Jalynne’s family and mine we’ll have plenty of support and advice.

We took in a movie (“Spiderman”) and watched the All-Star Game to see my teammates. (I turned it off when they left the game.) It was great to see our guys show what they can do, especially after all the talk about our fans stuffing the ballot box.

It’s funny that Jessica asked in the comments section, “What’s with the batting gloves in the back pockets?’’  It’s something I’ve done since high school. But I stopped doing it three weeks ago, thanks to Ryan Theriot and Matt Cain.

They decided one day to take away what they called my “flare.’’ They thought I had too much extra stuff going on with my uniform  – the gloves in the back pockets, the wrist bands, the longer-sleeve shirt under my jersey. They took the items from my locker and hid them in a different locker. It was funny for a few days then I was like, “OK, give them back.’’

They did, but I decided to stick with the non-flare look. I haven’t put the gloves back in my pockets, and I wore the longer-sleeve shirt for the first time Friday night because it was so cold. The wrist tape stays, however, because it’s not a fashion statement but an injury-preventer.

Another recent change: My walk-up songs.

Actually they’ve changed a few times in the last few weeks. My walk-up songs for most of the season were Eminem’s “Writer’s Block’’ and Drake’s “Lord Knows.’’ I’d switch them back and forth. But I was lining out a lot, just having bad luck. So when I lined out a couple more times during a series last month, I thought, “Screw it. Time to change something up.’’

So I drastically changed it at the end of June. I went with Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger’’ and Katy Perry’s “Part of Me.’’ I got an RBI hit the first game and I’ve been hitting well for a couple weeks now. I think maybe they relaxed me a little. (The way this works is we tell media relations man Matt Chisholm before the game what we want and he relays the information to the public-address people, who download it from iTunes.)

Then I switched back to rap on Friday. I figured the second half of the season called for new music.

Another reader, mlcwriters, asked if we hear what’s shouted at us from the stands. You try not to, particularly if it’s something bad. You hear something negative and you can start to think, “Man, that was a bad play.’’ In baseball, it’s so important to forget about the bad stuff and move on, so the last thing you want is to be reminded of a mistake you made in the last inning. Of course, you hear the big chants. When they’re for us, they fire us up. When we’re in other ballparks and the chant is for the opposing team, it just sounds like noise.

Another question from comments section: What do you want to be called from the stands? “‘Brandon’ is hard to yell out . . .  need nickname,’’ Mindy writes. I can’t make up my own nickname. That’s lame. My teammates call me Craw, Crawford, Crawdad. But I think you should make up a nickname and let me know. (I try to ignore people who call me John Stamos. So definitely don’t go there.)

Rebecca asks whether I get stopped in public for autographs and photos. All the Giants’ players do, and our guys, maybe more than most, appreciate all the support we get from our fans. So we try to be as responsive as we can. But it’s tough when we’re with our families or friends at a restaurant. We still want to be able to go to dinner with our wives and just have a nice quiet dinner. My advice is to ask for the autograph when the player is leaving the restaurant. They’ll appreciate that you let them enjoy their personal time.

See you at the park. Thanks for reading and keep sending in questions.

-Brandon C.

 

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