An updated edition of my book, “Giants: Where Have You Gone,” is available now. It’s a where-are-they-now book of former San Francisco Giants players and managers that my college friend Matt and I originally wrote in 2005.
The newly revised edition includes two new chapters, one on the World Series championships of 2010 and 2012 and the other on All-Star second baseman Jeff Kent and his post-baseball career as a reality TV star on the CBS show, “Survivor.”
It was fun to interview Kent, particularly since I’m a Survivor fan. (Yes, I still watch after all these years). I followed the 2012 fall season intently. As the season progressed, I rooted for him unabashedly, while taking mental notes of his strategic moves and performance on challenges since I knew I wanted to interview him for the book.
Fortunately, he agreed to a phone interview in December, which I’ve turned into a Q&A for the book. Kent admits that he wasn’t known as the most sociable guy in a baseball clubhouse, but he was incredibly social on Survivor. And he was incredibly nice, personable and funny during my 35-minute phone conversation with him.
For example, at the end of the phone call, I told Kent that that my brother purchased an autographed baseball bat of his at a silent auction fundraiser in San Francisco in 2000 or 2001. And that today, my brother keeps it in his living room, and if burglars ever break into this house, he’s going to grab the bat and start whacking at them.
Kent laughed and said, “You tell him to hit them in the sweet spot.”
The updated book is available on Amazon in hardcover, as an e-book, or as an audio book. Here’s the link.Read More
I learned a lesson. Never in the media section of an event blurt out loudly, “I think I am going to get coffee.” Next thing I know people within earshot were spinning around, asking if I was going to Starbucks and could I please get them a tall, non-fat latte and a tall, decaf Americano?
The only cool thing was one of them ended up paying for my coffee since I was gopher boy. Heh.
Here are some photos I took from the World Series parade:
Lou Seal arrives on stage.
Giants radio announcers Jon Miller and Dave Flemming emcee the festivities.
The crowd at Civic Center.
A happy fan who waited hours for the parade to reach the steps of City Hall.
From behind the media tent.
Buster Posey speaks.
The team rallies together one final time.Read More
I reached my gate at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport, minutes before my flight began boarding. It was early Sunday morning. I was pre-coffee but awake, excited for my plans for the day: fly into San Francisco, have lunch and then head to AT&T Park for the first game of the National League Championship Series between my beloved Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals.
All the seats at the gate were taken, so I strolled up to the dozens of travelers standing in an open area. I stopped next to a friendly-looking guy wearing a Giants cap.
“Hey, you going to the game?” I asked.
He looked up from his smartphone and said, “Yeah, both games.”
It turns out he had a more ambitious plan than me: Upon landing at 12:35 p.m., his friend would pick him up from SFO and drive him directly to Candlestick Park for the Niners’ game, which starts at 1:25 p.m. Sometime in the second half, he’d leave the football game early and take a taxi to AT&T Park for the Giants game.
I told him that was awesome. We talked some more. It turns out he was a Bay area native, too, now living in Dallas. Phoenix was just a stopover for his Sunday buffet of sports. After reminiscing about the 2010 World Series championship and what it meant to us as lifelong Giants fans, it was time to board. I gave him a head nod – and that was that.
About nine hours later, I was at the upper deck concourse at AT&T Park. It was around the third inning and time for another beverage. While heading back to my seat with drink in hand, I heard a loud, “Hey there!”
I stopped, turned to my left and looked at the guy barking at me. I didn’t recognize him.
“You are here!” he yelled.
It was the guy at the airport. No way!
“Heeyy! You made it to the game!” I said, laughing.
“You did, too,” he said as he raised his beer.
We clinked our plastic cups together in Giants solidarity and went about our merry way. And that was that.
What were the chances of running into each other at a ballpark with 42,000 people? Pretty darn near impossible. But it was a cool moment.
I quickly snapped this photo at the Giants’ spring training opener last week as I was leaving in the 9th inning. I didn’t realize until I looked at the picture later that the little Brian Wilson fan has the mohawk and The Beard going and the tiny Tim Lincecum fan has Timmy’s flowing, long locks going. Too cute.
As San Francisco Giants pitcher Jonathan Sanchez tossed the team’s first no-hitter in 34 years, and 30,000 fans at AT&T Park screamed in ecstasy, I sat in a Palo Alto parking lot, listening to history on the car radio with mixed emotions. I was happy, but also distraught. That’s because five hours earlier, I had given away my tickets to the game.
That week in July, I had driven 800 miles from Arizona to California. And twice that week, I had already driven the 50 miles from San Jose to San Francisco to catch two games. So when Friday rolled around, after all that previous driving that week, I just couldn’t stomach driving up to the city again for a third game — and to see a guy with a 5.30 ERA to boot.
So my brother found a friend to take the tickets off my hands. And when he did, I actually joked, “What’s Sanchez going to do? Throw a no-hitter?” And then I said: “Watch him give up 4 runs in the first, and I’ll be glad I didn’t make the drive up.”
That evening, I stayed in the San Jose area. My wife dragged me to a tech party, and every half an hour, I “watched” the game with MLB.com’s real-time pitch-by-pitch application on my BlackBerry. When Sanchez tossed three no-hit innings, I texted my brother, half-joking that Sanchez was throwing a no-hitter. Then the 6th inning, seventh inning and eighth inning came, and still no hits. By that time, I had stopped being social at the party, and just stared at my BlackBerry. Thank goodness I had a drink in my hands.Read More
Three weeks ago, my brother emailed me the same message he always sends when he’s in a book store. “Hey, I was just at Borders,” he wrote. “Just gave your book bigger play!”
That means rearranging the baseball section of the bookcase, where he grabs copies of my Giants book, pushes the others out of the way, and then puts mine back in with the front cover facing forward. Then he takes a picture of his handiwork with his BlackBerry and emails it over to me.
Just this past week, I learned that my cousin Clarence does the same thing when he’s at a Sacramento Barnes and Noble near his workplace.
I love my family. They go to the book store, buy whatever it is they’re looking for – the latest bestseller, a magazine, maybe a cup of joe – then they go and see if my book is in stock, and if it is, they give it some love.
The problem with this redecorating is that you can get caught doing it. That was the case two Decembers ago when Little M was in a San Jose Barnes and Noble, where the book was actually on the aisle tables at the front of the store. Prime real estate, yes, but apparently not prime enough for Little M because she impulsively began to move my book from the back of the table to the front. And as she was doing so, an employee – who was right to be alarmed – asked what in the world did she think she was doing?
“My dad wrote this book and I just wanted more people to be able to see it,” she told the employee.
Amazingly enough, the employee accepted that answer and let her do her thing.
This is guerrilla marketing at its best.
The hardcover came out in 2005. And the paperback, which was slightly updated, came out in 2007. I’m just happy the book has had such a long shelf life.Read More
One of the treats of living in Arizona is near year-round baseball. Here’s the Giants’ Kevin Frandsen getting a hit off the Yankees’ Phil Hughes in a mid-November Arizona Fall League game in Scottsdale. I shot this half-minute video with my tiny digital camera, assuming Frandsen would do something good with his at-bat, and he did!
I should have taken my own advice. On my family’s Web site where we sell our Giants’ season tickets, I had written this to entice people to buy baseball tickets from us: “Bring a mitt. Foul balls come our way.”
Last Wednesday, sure enough, a foul ball came my way. A line drive, hit hard, screamed toward me from several hundred feet away like a heat-seeking missile. My initial thought was: holy sh–. It’s coming my way!
So I stood.
And in those three or four seconds, I had these frenzied thoughts:
I can catch it!
Wait, it’s going to hurt!
But I can catch it!
The ball was above me. I knew I had to reach high above my head and jump a little for the ball to hit square on my palms. Should I reach out and touch someone, or in this case, something? I was at AT&T Park, after all. But did I really want to hurt my hand, maybe break it, for a stupid foul ball?Read More
I hate this time of year, and I’m not talking about the weather. It’s been nearly three months since the World Series and another two months before the 2008 baseball season starts. I’ve been jonesin’ for baseball big time, so what do I do? Go nuts the last few weeks, buying tickets to six spring training games as teams in the Cactus League open up ticket sales to the public.
About ten years ago, when I flew into Arizona for ballgames in March, I loved lying in the grass beyond the outfield fences and stretching out. But now I’ve become a snob and like to get as close to home plate as possible. And that’s why I love the Milwaukee Brewers. Their fans seemingly never go to their games, so you can always get seats right behind home plate. (Score!)
Two years ago, during the World Baseball Classic, when Team Japan played a practice night game against the Brewers, my brother and I just strolled into the ballpark, bought tickets, and were three rows behind home plate. We were so close to Ichiro on the on-deck circle that we could hear the velcro rip as he put on and adjusted his elbow pad.
Off the field, this offseason provided us another round of mindnumbing steroids news — Barry heading to court, the Mitchell Report, the Congressional hearing and the Clemens saga. We get it. Steroids is bad. Yes, the last 20 years of baseball statistics are a joke. But the sport has tried to clean up its act and instituted stringent testing three years ago, so let’s move on people.
Major League Baseball’s Web site has a countdown to Feb. 14, the day pitchers and catchers report to spring training. As I write this, it’s 18 days, 21 hours, 28 minutes and 2 seconds.
Play ball, already, dammit.Read More
My San Francisco Giants book was recently republished in paperback, so the publisher had me do a few radio interviews this month to publicize it. Last Sunday night, while being interviewed live on a sports radio show, everything was going well until the host asked me a question I couldn’t possibly answer. The question was something like: “How would you compare Juan Marichal’s pitching style with other Hall of Famers like Sandy Koufax?”
I had one or two seconds to comprehend the question, realize I had no answer, and to come up with an answer. My insides churned. So what did I do? I told him the truth. I recall laughing into the phone and saying, “Well, I wish I could answer that, but I can’t because I wasn’t alive when they pitched. Maybe you would be a better person to answer that for me?”
He had to answer his own question. The guy threw me a curveball and I hit it right back at him!Read More