On Z, and a mysterious balk

We’re in Philadelphia,
about to start a three-game series against the first-place Phillies.

Obviously a lot happened during the final days of our homestand,
the biggest news being Barry Zito’s reassignment to the bullpen. Tonight would
be his usual turn in the rotation and instead Pat Misch will take the mound for
his first start of the season.

It’s hard to know what to think about Z going to the
bullpen. We’ve just got to go with it and understand that moves are made to put
us in a better position to win. We have no control over the decision. We have
to just try to understand it as much as we can.

What we can do is make sure Z knows we’re right behind him
100 percent no matter what happens. Right now his mind is probably going crazy
with this situation. So we pretty much have given him his space and haven’t
said much to him. But later, when things settle down a bit, every time I talk
to him I’ll let him know we’re behind him, that this is a team effort and we’ll
all get through this together.

I remember going through a really tough time in 2001 when I
was so low I wondered if I could even play anymore. I had a right hamstring
injury that put me on the DL for two months. I wanted to prove that I could
play the entire season every single year – and then running to third base one
day in May of 2001 I heard a pop and I could barely take another step. It was
such a setback because I was in just my second full season in the Big Leagues.

I let myself get really down for a while. Then I realized
that the best way to deal with failure and adversity is to face it. Face what
you’re doing and tell yourself you’re struggling now but it’s not forever. You
have to face each day with a positive mind.

Rafael Palmeiro gave me the best advice about how to deal
with slumps and setbacks. Maybe you’re not swinging well. You don’t know what’s
going on. He told me, “Hey, it doesn’t matter how bad you feel, how horrible
you’re going. Every time you step to the plate, you tell yourself you’re the
best guy out there. You’re the man. That guy can’t get you out.”

I figured, if that’s the approach of Hall of Fame caliber
guys, then that’s what I’d do too. Every day after that – which was early in my
career, 2001, 2002 maybe – every single day, I take a positive mind onto the
field. I tell myself, “You’re better than that guy on the mound. He can’t touch
you.” You give credit to him when he gets you out, but until then you don’t
give him anything.

I think the same approach applies in lots of aspects of
life. If you have a problem and you’re not feeling good, you don’t go into work
or school all mad and make everybody else miserable. If you let your mind tell
you that you’re horrible, you’re going to be horrible. If you let your mind
tell you you’re going to fail, you’re going to fail. Ninety-five percent of
life is about your mind. It dictates what you’re going to do and what you’re
going to be.

I learned this lesson on the baseball field, but I use it in
raising my two girls. I use it in my personal relationships and my business
dealings. If you go out there expecting to succeed – expecting not only to
succeed but to be the best – you give yourself a really good shot at succeeding
and maybe even being best.

Sounds pretty simple, but of course it isn’t. If it were
that simple, Z would be on the mound tonight starting against the Phillies. He
has so much heart and so much desire that I know he’ll get through this. It
will take all of us – the coaches, the staff, his teammates. He’s going to be
great again. I don’t have any doubt.

The other news from the home stand was the balk call against
Tim Lincecum.

Here’s what happened. . There was a runner on third, and we
had a play called for Tim to throw over there at that moment. I saw Timmy was
in a windup instead of the stretch. He can’t throw to third from the windup. I
immediately called time-out. But obviously Tim was already started, and he
stopped as soon as I called time. The ump also called time then he suddenly
called a balk.

I told the ump he called timeout, too, and he said he never
called it. Of course, the TV replays show clearly he DID call it, and that’s
why Timmy stopped. He didn’t stop because he was trying to deceive the runner –
which is the whole reason behind having the balk rule. So it definitely should
not have been a balk.

It was a horrible way to lose a game. We were all really
angry about it. It’s just not a way to lose a game. If we lose by getting our
butts kicked, OK. But you never want to lose like that.

But it’s over now and we have to just think about the
Phillies tonight.

In my next blog, I’ll answer the questions you have asked.
Thanks again for reading and writing and being such great, supportive fans.

9 Comments

I just love this blog. You do a great job Bengie Molina. I especially enjoyed reading about the runners and how they
get around the catcher’s tag.

I feel bad about Tim Lincecum’s loss. I know that you have his
back!

Good luck in Philadelphia!

I love reading your blog Bengie, it’s so cool to hear about what is going on in players minds and in the dugouts. Keep up the great writing.
My favorite so far was the post about pitcher psychology. It reminded me of the time Sanchez was paying too much attention to the runner on first, and you told him not worry about it. On the next pitch the runner went and you threw him out by a step or two. I’m sure Sanchez will never doubt you again.
Thanks for everything, and let Zito know that this fan is behind him too.

Lewis
Go Giants!

You have the perfect mind set for baseball and life in general. I use your same philosophy to my own life. I’m in my second year of college right now and every time a test rolls around I see everyone around me freaking out and thinking they aren’t gonna do good, I try not to do that. I just relax and tell myself everything is going to be fine and so far it has been. Zito will come out of this, he has just got to tell himself that it’s just a slump these things happen and that he has just got to work at it and everything will be fine.

And about Lincecum’s “supposed” balk. I was screaming at the TV, all my roommates were looking at me like I was crazing but it was so obviously a bogus call I couldn’t just sit there. And to lose a game off a call like that, I can’t even imagine how you guys must have felt.

You guys are doing great this season, keep up the good work on the feild and here in the blogosphere!

Aubrey
http://vizquellover.mlblogs.com

I look forward to reading your blog! I love that you are so willing to share your thoughts with the fans the way you do, that you allow us to see a little piece of you. Thank you for that. It sounds really cliche I’m sure but you have been my favorite Giant since the day you first stepped on the field in the black and orange. You give it all you have in every game and that to me is what makes you the best.

Hi Bengie.
Your philsophy on baseball and life in general helped me. As a junior in high school, I face a lot of stress with the testing. When a test comes around, I’m nervous, whether or not I study. After a bad physics test grade, I felt by giving up on the subject and had a bad attitude to go along with it. After reading your blog, I realized that if I continue my anger or nervousness, I would not move forward and stay on the same spot, thus furthuring the problem. I now know that I must retrace my steps, see what gone wrong, and fix it.
You should tell this to Barry Z. next time you see him.
About the baulk, that was definetly not a baulk. It was sad to see the Giants lose the game this way. I’m sure you guys were able to build off from it.
Have fun on the field.
-Alina

Just having the mindset that you are the best is just perfect. You become unstoppable in your own game. That is enough to keep going every single day. Until the day I can’t do the things I love, I’ll keep doing them, and that is how everyone should feel.

This Z situation is just crazy. I know he will work it out, because you don’t just lose great stuff like that, I’d just like to see him get some relief action, but I’m sure thats coming.

I almost kicked my t.v. over when the ump called that ridiculous balk. I saw exactly what you described happen, and I was baffled. My buddy was listening to the game on the radio, and he told me that he had never heard Joe Morgan so angry, ever. I feel for you guys on that one, but you guys will just come back and dominate every team you play.

Hope you’re having a good Cinco De Mayo on your off day. Take care and good luck out there, man.

-Jeff

Hey Bengie,
This is my first season being a die hard Giants fan. I always watched a game whenever I could but since my dad and I got the DirectTV package, I can follow you guys wherever you go (I live in MT). Anyways it is really cool that you write on here and let the fans know what is going on. I also think your mindset and outlook on life is really cool as well. Good luck!
-Jared

Hi Bengie,

I can’t thank you enough for this blog. The behind the scenes of what’s going on with the team is great. I’m really enjoying the insight that your blog brings to the fans. I was at the Lincecum game, that was unbelievable. We were in the K bleacher seats pitching a fit.
We’ll be there again Friday night making noise. Good Luck in Pittsburgh!

Polly

Dear Bengie-

A friend of mine and myself noticed an amazing pattern while watching Barry Zito pitch against Houston a few starts ago.

We noticed that he started kicking his right leg high midway through the fourth or fifth inning. And whenever he did this, the hitters had a much harder time hitting the ball and he seemed to get a much higher velocity.

Conversely, when Zito had a lower leg kick that game, he got knocked around a bit, his speed was slower and he got the ball up.

There were only about 7 or 8 pitches that game where he had a nice, high leg kick. And whenever his leg did NOT go above his waist, it was never a great pitch.

This correlation was not universal, but it was an extremely strong one. Almost always a very high leg kick equaled a great pitch and a low leg kick was never a great pitch.

Big fans of his say that during his Cy Young year with the As, he was famous for his very high kick.

Any thoughts on this pattern?

Thanks!

Matt Dubuque

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