Feb 23, 2014; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt (9) poses for a photo during photo day at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Did you know that on a recent visit to Venezuela over the off-season, in the span of twenty days, Gregor Blanco of the San Francisco Giants personally witnessed three robberies? I didn’t know that either until I read the March 10th entry from his blog entitled, White Shark-A Season with Gregor Blanco. Not only that, Blanco revealed that when he was sixteen, he was kidnapped and held with a gun to his head for four hours, until his mother paid the $1,000 ransom.
I also found out that Blanco had a specific question to ask Barry Bonds, when Barry spent some time in the Giants’ spring training complex, earlier this month. Blanco maintained that Bonds “was like a super human playing baseball. He had incredible focus. I just want to know what he was thinking.” He said, “I want to ask him [Bonds] what his mentality was at the plate.”
I liked knowing that Gregor planned to pick Bonds’s brain because that was the plan. Suppose Barry was there to answer questions, and no one asked him any. Suppose Brandon Belt or Brandon Crawford asked the mega-star a question, and Gregor was standing there listening, and something clicked that made Blanco a better hitter. It is one reason I like the former Giants’ heavyweight hitters like Bonds, Jeff Kent (though at a different time than Barry), Randy Winn and Will Clark being in camp. There’s a method to the Giants’ madness.
I have been following White Shark, along with Brandon and Brandon since the beginning of last season. Brandon and Brandon represents the writing of Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford. Each posts about every two weeks or so, and each covers baseball the way only a guy playing the game can cover it. Do you want to know how Belt felt when he went down swinging with the game on the line? He’ll tell you that it’s part of the game, and when he runs out onto the field the next day, he does his best to leave it behind him, because it doesn’t help.
October 31, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford (left) and wife Jalynne Dantzscher Crawford (right) ride in a car during the World Series victory parade at Market Street. The Giants defeated the Detroit Tigers in a four-game sweep to win the 2012 World Series. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
When the Giants played the New York Yankees last September, Crawford wrote about being at Yankee Stadium for the Mariano Rivera tribute. He commented that though he did not know Mariano personally, he knew enough about him to know that he seemed like “the perfect guy to model yourself after…” Brandon went on to talk about the kinds of pitches Mariano threw, and what the usual result was. On a day-to-day basis, I read a lot of commentary on sports from writers who cover their teams, but I never feel I really get to the core the way I do when I tune into the players’ blogs.
The blog represents something that was not an option when I was growing up. Players lived in their ivory towers, and the fans paid reverence from afar. I like knowing what at least three Giants are thinking, on and off the field. Of course they all three include anecdotes about their families, and I like that too. Belt will even give you ongoing reviews of contemporary movies, including his rating.
Each player has a lively “voice” in his writing and humor is constantly present. Blanco presents the additional perspective of a player who must contend with the newness of the American culture and how his family is adapting. I leave a comment each time I stop by, because I blog, and I know that anyone who blogs, checks out the comments.
It’s nice to know that I have the ear of three of my favorite players on the Giants.
Sep 12, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants center fielder Gregor Blanco (7) hits a RBI single to tie the game in the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports