Where does the time go?

Sorry for the delay in writing a new post. You always think you’ll have time for things other than baseball during the season, but your whole life is on the field and in the clubhouse. I have loved reading all your comments … Arriving new last year to this team, I didn’t know what to expect from the fans. Now there’s no doubt that you are behind me and behind this team. And that’s what it’s all about.

But back to trying to figure out where all the time goes during a baseball day.
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I get to the ballpark three or four hours before the first pitch, as most of the guys do. I change out of my street clothes. Go to the trainer’s room for treatment. Take care of business like opening mail, ordering bats or other equipment from Murph, our great clubhouse manager. I talk to reporters if any of them need me for anything. I meet with Dave Righetti, the pitching coach, and Mark Gardner, the bullpen coach, and the pitchers to go over the hitters we’ll be facing. Then I take the field for batting practice.
 
Then for an hour or so before the game, I like to put on my headphones and listen to my iPod, getting myself focused and ready.
   
I needed all the focus I could get for that 13-inning game against the Padres last week. People asked me later how my knees and legs felt from squatting for so long, but during the game I don’t feel any soreness or pain. I’m so focused. I’m running on adrenaline. But I felt it later, needless to say, despite my usual 10-minute soak in a cold tub to rejuvenate the muscles.

Let me tell you, it’s no fun sinking into a cold tub after a chilly night game. But it’s the best thing for a battered body, so you do it.
   
One of the things I loved about that game, other than the fact we won — and that I managed to hit a home run to tie the game, 1-1, in the ninth —  was watching Bochy move the chess pieces. A game like that is where the beauty of a manager comes in.

That kind of game is the true test of a manager. He has to make all those moves to keep his team in the game as each inning goes by. He has to make sure everything’s OK, that we’re not caught short on the bench, that we have the right guys in the right places at the right times. He did an unbelievable job.
   
After a game like that, I can’t sleep. I can’t sleep after a lot of games, actually, even the ones we win. My eyes are open and I’m replaying almost every single pitch in my head. I second-guess myself. Maybe that guy wouldn’t have gotten a hit if I had called something else. Most of the time your mind is going crazy. You know things are going to happen in a game that you have no control over, and you tell yourself that, but I have a tough time letting go. It’s something I should probably work on. Or maybe that intensity off the field is what keeps me so focused on the field.
   
Boch gave me the day off after the 13-inning game to rest my legs, so I got to watch Steve Holm behind the plate. Steve is 28 years old and in the Major Leagues for the first time. He had never played higher than Double-A and suddenly he found himself making the team out of Spring Training, surprising everyone. Steve is such a great, great guy. I love Steve. He listens. He’s always asking questions. We’re always talking in the dugout about the game, whether he’s catching or I am. Neither of us ever feels like we’re out there by ourselves.
   
We talked about his play at the plate in the wild 10-9 game Saturday against the Reds. In the seventh inning, Joey Votto slid in around Steve’s glove even though it looked like the throw got there in time. To people who don’t know catching, it might have seemed that Steve “missed” the tag. But Steve did exactly the right thing.

The throw came to the right side of the plate. So Steve had to be looking to the right side — while the runner was barreling toward the plate on his left. The catcher can’t see the runner. We don’t have eyes in the backs of our heads. So what he has to do, as soon as he catches the ball, is wheel around and slap the glove on the ground where the runner is going to slide.

In Steve’s case, he actually swung around so quickly, he got his glove down a split-second before Votto arrived, and so Votto was about to slide around the glove.
   
A similar thing happened to me in Arizona. Brandon Webb stepped over my glove as I swung around to tag him.
   
(I hope Steve spent more time after the Reds game thinking about the huge double he hit to keep us battling back rather than the play at the plate.)
   
I took a second day off on Sunday to refresh my legs, but I’m back in the lineup tonight against Colorado. I miss being on the field when I take a day off. But as I said in my first posting, this is a marathon, not a sprint, and we have to take care of our bodies so they’re as ready to do battle on the last day of the season as on the first.
   
I remember as a young player, new to the league, I wanted to make my body the strongest it could be. I had seen all the “Rocky” movies and decided to train like him. When I returned to Puerto Rico in the offseason, I worked out by cutting down trees, pulling tractor tires, running in the sand, running the hills. The local people started calling me “caballo loco” 0- crazy horse. I don’t train that way any more, but I know my body has to be in top shape to last through a 162-game season — especially if we have more of those 13-inning nights.
   
Keep writing! I appreciate every minute you spend reading this and every kind word you send my way.
   
I’ll try to check back before we go back on the road Thursday.

15 Comments

Bengie, I can’t speak for the others, but I love reading your blogs and always look forward to the new one. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I never realized how cerebral the role of a catcher was. I like what you said about Bochy here…very classy. Unless your health begins to suffer from sleep deprivation, I don’t think you should worry about over analyzing your games. That tells me we have a devoted catcher and a great leader on our club. I’m glad you realize that we are behind you. By the way, my friends and I call you Mr. Clutch. Good luck to you and keep up the great work!

Bengie, i have to say that there is no better feeling than arriving at Pac Bell park (it will always be that to me), with my wife and newborn son (he was born on 22 Feb 2008) and watching you and our fellow Giants take the field. I like alot of SF Giant fans say “our Giants” because anyone that has been to game, not just when the dodgers are in town, or the yankees, ( although we do like to see you and Jose face off at the plate) you get a sense of pride in the park, the team , the players and the community.

I was never good enough to go past HS ball. But hearing the stories of alot of these young guys, many of whom i am days or months older then, and seeing what they can do.

watching Aaron roll over a ball after diving for it, and then getting beamed in that same area with a 95 mph fastball, and see him stand up and walk to first, and play another 1.5 innings before being replaced.

it is all inspiring, alot of fans were skeptical about not having another Bonds caliber hitter this year. But what his personality did to last years team, it seemed like every game i went to last year, was all about him, ” hey guys, he isnt the only one hitting homeruns, Molina is killing the ball, Feliz is drilling it, Winn and Roberts are solid lead off hitters.

there is more to baseball then hitting HR’s.

case in point, last week my most memorable play wasn’t your walk off HR, it was Bowkers killing of the Cards’ pitching staff, It was you Scoring off of a single, trucking around third, the OF never expected that from you, that never tried to throw you out.

and the look the Bochy gave the third base coach was priceless, and vice versa!!

All i have to say about this years team is Bonds who?

Hey Bengie,
Excellent writing. I appreciate the mix of everyday details and expert ‘how-to’s – like how to blindly tag a runner from the right. Good stuff. Keep it up!

Hey Bengie…nice job on the blog! It’s great to see players take an interest in their fans. Please tell Aaron Rowand that we miss him in Philly! I am still in mourning over here. :o( Looking forward to seeing you guys here over the weekend! Should be a good series. Keep up the great writing and we’ll see you in Philly!

Jenn
http://philliesphollowers.mlblogs.com/

Mr Molina, love your writtings, what about “fan mail” as a topic. I write letters to a lot of baseball players for their autographs, maybe you could tell us how you and or other teammates do or don’t deal with fan mail. For the record I never got the card I sent you back, no worries, still love ya.
Zman

Bengie,

Great stuff! But one little thing: You tossed out Eric Byrnes at second earlier this month. Not Good! Byrnesie says you are the toughest catcher in the league to steal against and you proved it that day. OK, we get the point, no need to make it again! As for Brandon Webb stepping over your glove, with that big horse, I can only say, better over it than on it.

Good luck (except against the Diamondbacks), don’t get injured, and turn your throwing capabilities toward the forces of good by tossing out as many Rockies, Dodgers and Padres as you can, but leave Eric alone. ;+)

ByrnesBlogger1
Down The Left Field Line: Life, Baseball & Eric Byrnes
http://byrnesblog.azsportshub.com

*gasp* Yes! Another great post! I was holding my breath there for a while, but you sure did deliver.

As I told you and your girlfriend in the elevator last year “Your my biggest fan!” (I was a little drunk) I meant to say that “I am YOUR biggest fan”. Keep the posts come’n and I will keep wearing your #.

Your Biggest fan and old buildingmate,

Lucas

P.S. where do I send fan mail to?

Thanks so much for all your info, keep up the great work on the field & keep smack n those homeruns..I’ve been a giants fan for 40 years..love ya Bengie

Bengie,
Thanks for taking the time to write a blog. It’s interesting and insightful. I’m glad that you’re on the team now, but I’ll never forgive you for 2002!

Please shed some light on Darling’s balk call tonight. Video and audio shows him throwing his hands up and calling “Time,” before Lincecum stops his motion. What was his explanation for changing his call, and was it a legit reason? (Don’t discuss if you’ll get fined.)

You may not have been born to hit clean-up, but you’re doing a great job! I love Bengie Ball!

Hello Bengie, I have only read your blog a few times, but I enjoy it. Just so you know, the character we see reading your blog is evident in your play. It’s clear that you love the game and take a lot of pride in managing the staff. The reason I decided to comment is because I played high school baseball with Steve and am a catcher myself. When we played together, he was a shortstop. I couldn’t agree more that Steve is a good guy who also loves the game and takes pride in his play, always trying to get better. I was pumped up to see one of my teammates who I respected as a player so much on the roster. If you get a chance, tell Steve Corey Watts said “hi”. Keep up the good work, bud.

As a newly minted baseball fan (less than a year) I really appreciate your insight and explanations of the inner workings of the game. Very informative! I never understood why people root for one team over another but I think I understand now. The more you watch the more you learn about each player — their strengths, weaknesses, quirks, personalities. The more you know, the more you care. But I still don’t understand those who, when things aren’t all going swimmingly, start to b**** and whine as if they are the ones doing the hard work. I know everyone tries their very best and I am along for the ride wherever it takes me. Thanks for blogging!

Mr. Molina,
Thank you so much for writing these blogs! I was a varsity softball catcher throughout high school, but nursing school takes up all of my time now. Reading your blogs makes me feel like I?m behind the plate again! I love reading about your views on all the plays and what guys should/shouldn?t have done ? keep it coming! Watching the games, I can see that you are right about the team giving 150% this year, win or lose. My heart bleeds for Barry Zito ? I know how hard he?s trying and I wish I could give him some encouragement. As one of his catchers, I sure you?re taking good care of him, but let him know that he still has faithful fans out there!
Mr. Molina, keep up all the hard work and from one catcher to another, take care of those catcher legs! The world is right when you are behind the plate and we don?t want you to miss another play!
~Lauren

Bengie,
It’s great that you are doing this blog, to share with us fans your vast wealth of knowledge as a catcher. I have a particular respect and admiration for catchers…for all that they do–mentally as well as physically. It’s sad to hear you must soak in a cold tub after the games–how excrutiating! Last year, my husband and I saw you at a Giants Dugout store, and we told you that you were one of our favorite players. You were very humble and said you didn’t hear that very often. Well, I’m sure you’re hearing it all the time these days! You are truly living up to the #1 on your back! Your passion and dedication to the game is a great example to all the young players on the team, and it’s great when the t.v. camera shows you in the dugout. It seems like you’re always talking w/ your teammates and teaching them what you know about the game. You and Aaron Rowand are an inspiration in the way you play–you both have a lot of heart, and I truly admire that! Take care of that injury, Bengie, and I look forward to reading more of your insights! Go Giants!

Benjie,
I just stumbled upon this blog and I love it. Such a great idea to have players talk about everyday life in baseball! Following the Giants over the 7 years has been a bit difficult for me, because I’m not really a Giants fan, I’m a people fan. I get attached to players, their dynamic and personalities on and off the field. So when they move on to different teams or retire, it’s hard for me to like the new guy. I can’t just blindly root for a team because they play for my city, I root for the guys I know. So this blog is perfect. You are a fabulous team leader and a stand up guy. I like that. I love hearing about the heart of this team and how dedicated y’all are. I think there’s a really good mix of young talent and veteran experience on this team. I look forward to a hard fought season that will surprise the hell out of all the critics. Keep it up!
Lori

Bengie… I agree with one of the commenters above, I would love to hear your take on the Darling balk call if you can. I still have not seen anyone but Darling himself defend that call. Are we all missing something?

Keep up the great blogging and catching!

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