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 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.
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
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!