Preparing for a game

A great game against the Rockies yesterday. Timmy pitched
unbelievable — he’d get my vote for Cy Young, that’s for sure. And it was
great when I returned to the dugout after my home run only to see Pablo
Sandoval hit one out on the very next pitch.

This kid is the real deal. I love this guy. He wants to win games, and
that’s what I’m about. And he wants to learn. He’s always asking me
questions about what to do in different situations, and he listens. I talk to
him not just about playing baseball but about being an adult. Be humble. Be
polite. Be a human being first, a Major League ballplayer second. But he
really doesn’t need that advice because he’s already a really nice kid.

It was tough to lose the two games to the Rockies after winning five in
a row. Jamie, my girlfriend, thinks I take the losses too hard. I lay in bed at
night and recreate the game a dozen times, going over and over what we
could have done differently, how we could do better tomorrow.

She’s always trying to take my mind off the game, which I appreciate
because you can drive yourself crazy. So we play these marathon sessions of
Boggle. I think I tied her once in about 250 games. She gets 30 or 35 points
in a game, and I get about 7. But every new game, I think I’m going to win.
Maybe that’s why I made it to the Majors — I always believe I’m going to
win. We also walk from our house in the Marina to Crissy Field with our
dog, Chico. I love throwing the ball to him and watching him run around.
Jamie and my two daughters took Chico to the ballpark for Dog Days of
Summer and sat in the bleachers with him. Everybody, including Chico, had
a great time.

Now that school has started, I see my daughters only on the weekends
when we’re in San Francisco. Otherwise, they’re in Yuma. If there is one
downside to baseball, it’s being away from your family. It’s something you
never get used to.

Somebody asked me about my pregame preparation. So I’ll take you
through what I do before the first game of a series. That’s when there is the
most work because we’re refreshing our memories about the players we
have already faced during the season and learning about the new players we
haven’t seen. (The subsequent games in the series don’t require quite as
much homework.)

If it’s a 7:15 p.m. game, I usually arrive to the ballpark around 2. I go
into the hot tub for about 10 minutes to warm my body. Then I go to the
trainer for treatment on whatever body part is sore — there is always
something, and usually more than one thing. I’ve been taking a pounding on
my glove hand from foul tips. My hands look like they belong to two
different men. The fingers on my glove hand are about one-and-a-half times
as thick as the ones on my throwing hand, and they’re a different color —
more red than brown. The knuckles look like misshapen knots on a tree. I’m
guessing I have at least two fractures, but they’ll have to wait until the end
of the season to heal – not that there is really much to be done anyway. They
just have to left alone.

As you might imagine, I have bruises all over my body from pitches
and foul tips that didn’t make it into my glove. One constant sore spot is the
tendinitis in my right heel. Every day before games, the trainer treats it —
and other problem spots — with ultrasound to get more blood circulating to
the area.

After the training room, I go the video room, which has monitors for
all the players and coaches to use. Danny Martin on the Giants staff does a
great job of putting together clips of every hitter and pitcher on the opposing
team. I can look at all the recent at-bats of every player on their team. I can
watch them just against righties or just against lefties. I can watch what they
have done on certain pitch counts. It’s amazing the information that is
available to us.

I follow this up by studying the thick packet of charts and statistics
that breaks down the tendencies of each batter — the paper version of what I
had just been watching on video. I can see which pitches most often get a
particular batter out on particular counts. And I can see which pitches they
tee off on in different situations.

Then I check my mail, listen to my phone messages and maybe
watch a little TV before going to a meeting for the pitchers and catchers
at 3:30. With Rags, Bochy, Gardner and the other coaches, we go over all
the hitters. Then I eat — maybe a grilled ham-and-cheese sandwich and a
Diet Coke — then get dressed for stretching and batting practice. After that,
I’ll have another meeting with the starting pitcher. We’ll go over the
opposing team’s starting lineup. A half-hour before the game, I’ll run a
little and throw the ball around to keep loose.

Then it’s “Let’s go!”

11 Comments

Again I have to say thank you for taking the time to blog for us. I look forward to the new blogs (not quite as much as I’m looking forward to being at the park next Sunday though), I love the insight you give us. :0)

Kim

Hi Bengie!

Thanks for the updated blog. You seem to be 100% heart, so it doesn’t surprise me that you take losses too hard. That’s just who you are… and I appreciate it. I’m glad that you can get your mind off of it for awhile with Boggle though. How funny!
Keep up the great work and I’m excited to get to see you play in a few weeks vs “the blue team”. 🙂
Oh… and I’d give Timmy my vote for Cy Young as well!!

Good luck tonight!
–Sue

Ooo… almost forgot — welcome to the bigs Pablo! We’re diggin’ you too! Stay strong and stick with Bengie — he’ll show you how to do it right!!

–Sue

Bengie, im not sure if theres no time in your daily routine to, or if its just a concious choice that, for your sanity, you choose not to, but sometimes, i wish there are times that you could sit down and rewatch your games.

Thats not “constructive criticism”. Im not saying it so you’d improve. Because guess what Bengie, you can’t improve THE BEST.

Im saying it, because I wish you could see with your own eyes, and hear with your own ears, how much San Francisco, the fans and staff, and the entire sport of baseball, respect and LOVE you.

I’ve tried to pin what it is about you that is so awe-inspiring. Perhaps it’s how hard you’ve worked, and do still work every day, to be here, maybe it’s your family values and how you strived to be a good influence for your brothers, and how you look back on days in the park with your Pop, and how you miss your girls every single day, maybe it’s your mindset on youngsters, and how you think HELPING them to become better instead of trying to prove to everyone including yourself that you’re already better, maybe it’s the package in a whole. But Mr. Molina, you have made a HUGE impression upon those who watch a game, or the religiously never miss a game in a season, we L.O.V.E you.

One specific game I wish you couldve watched just passed this week, and we werent even into the game yet. Kruk and Kuip were doing their Pre-Game show, and were talking about the 5 game streak that has seemed to magically lift the spirits and hopes of the players. In my mind, though Im almost ALWAYS in agreement with with Mike and Duane, I said to my dad, “Wins may be spirit-raisers; but our team wouldn’t be as joyful, hopeful and fresh in spirit if it werent for Bengie. He seems to be the bow on the gift; he pulls it ALL together.”

Obviously more than just one person thinks this; because Mike followed my thought directly with “You know partner, I think not only wins can raise this team up. I really think guys like Bengie Molina, Omar Vizquel, they bring this team UP. It’s almost unexplainable how down a team can be after one bad inning, one bad game; but when youre sittin’ next to a guy like Bengie in that clubhouse, even if he’s down too, everything seems to be like “Okay, it’s gonna be okay.”

I almost broke into tears; I hope you can cherish yourself the way we cherish you. You’re more than one of THE best players in the Majors. You’re considered one of the best MEN in the world.

I came to the park the other day. MAtt’s game, against the Rockies. Before the game I came up and stood next to the dugout and help my “We Love Bengie” sign up to you and couldnt even think of any words to say; it’s like standing in front of the President. What do you say? To a man that deals with SO much, with SO much class, and still holds that quality and loveablilty about him, that you just want to hug and thank?!?

So on behalf of that day when not one word came to my mind;

THANK YOU, BENGIE.

Bengie, you’re a real example of a winner, and a great example of leadership for your teammates. Success is always a measure of dedication and attitude, and your example of playing through the physical challenges, always having that positive attitude going into every game, and “expecting” that WIN, is providing the mental fuel for a winning team. I can tell your heart is in the game and every loss is a bitter disapointment, but it’s obvious you never quit, even after the last out. That’s a real winner!

Keep up the good mentorship of those youngsters, the ones that listen will eventually help the dream come true.

You’re doing an awesome job. Keep up the great work.

John & Carol

Bengie, Thanks for updating your blog. You are a dedicated person to your family, the team, and the fans. You always give it your all on the field and you do all that you can to help your team win. Kruk and Kuip the other night started calling you “Big Money” and called Pablo “Little Money.” I think this is a perfect example of how dedicated you are to helping your fellow teammates succeed and taking them under your wings. Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing your family pics with us!

kek onds karnalito aki chekando el blog bro ,,,, ke grandes estan las ninias,,,,,,te manda saludos los plebes el tey tontin y el jona jajajajaja kuidate ya sabes ke eres el kaballon

Bengie…. WHOOHOO!!
Congratulations on a great game tonight! Your new nickname should be “Wheels”… haha Couldn’t be happier for you and your personal best RBIs. You rock!! I’m guessing you’ll sleep well tonight. The smile said it all.

Great game!
Sue

Jamie may have a point, you don’t take the losses hard, you don’t seem to take them at all! You haven’t done all this work to play and loose, so there must be a lesson in there, somewhere to learn.Inning: 1Sorry this got so long, I’ll try to break it up a little and hopefully it will seem a little shorter! Inning: 2One great thing about the game of baseball is that until the very last second of the very last out, you always have a fair chance to win. True it may seem improbable in the moment, but the stats prove it happens all the time. The one thing that every situation has in common is that the players never believed they had lost the game. It may sound simple or even like mere wordplay but, in the moment, it can sometimes be the hardest thing ever. Inning: 3The catcher is the anchor of the entire defense. He’s the only player that can see the whole field the whole time. He’s got to keep up with everybody’s stats as much as his own. In the ideal game, he’s the one that catches every pitch thrown, and even then it is almost totally up to him to keep everybody else engaged, focused, enough in the moment to complete the ideal game, which ironically can be just as hard to believe. Again, the stats prove it does happen. Inning: 4But in the not so ideal games, where people start leaving to “avoid the rush”, when it seems like nothing good can possibly happen, when it seems like if can’t get worse and it does, it is still up to the catcher to defend. That’s when the stats and probabilities defeat a lot of players before they ever take a swing. That’s when the ropes really stress and you depend on the weight of your anchor to keep you grounded. That’s why you have an anchor.Inning: 5San Francisco is a city that seeks the truth. Whether that be personal truth, or scientific truth, or spiritual truth, or a societal truth, or professional truth, makes no difference, we honor the quest. In real life the true picture can be very complex, and more often than not, totally unfair. It can lead us to try and say it ain’t so, and it takes a special kind of person to remind us that it’s about the journey, not the destination. A person that calls us to believe that we will find the tunnel and the light, unless we decide to quit looking. A person who believes that we are defeated when we stop learning from the losses and the victories. A person who insists that every step is taking us somewhere, teaching us something.Inning: 6Bengie Molina fits SF like a glove. It feels like an honor to me to watch you paint each game with a patience and creativity that is all your own, yet leave so much room on the canvas to encourage the team, because it is the team that wins the game of baseball, not the players. We watch you all learn and grow, and then we go out and we learn and grow. The only way we learn is to admit we have more to learn. You started having fun figuring out how to win from the very first moment you stepped into Giants uni and we enjoy every second! Every man on the team adds major league skills and a brand new history but, let’s just say, not everybody truly considers this home. And I would be shocked to see them sitting in the next booth at dinner, walking in the park, or zipping past in a minicar, or blogging about it as if you have lots of free time ever feel like typing! Well you’re just one of the neighbors and that’s really amazing.Inning: 7The only way to win at Baseball is to play the ball until the very last second. Once you quit you’re not playing and you can’t win. And unlike in life, you will always win if you do play the ball. To me that’s what makes it fun, the possibilities are literally endless! But doing it professionally means you care about it enough to lay in bed at night and imagine the possibilities, probably for as long as you can remember. When I look back, I don’t really think of the wins and losses as much as the fun, the skill, we had playing out each journey. A true treasure.If anybody feels like singing, now is your chance!Inning: 8I sincerely hope that sometime around Thanksgiving maybe, when the bones are on the mend and the swelling goes down, Jamie will clobber you again, and then finally get some sleep in the bed with the boyfriend!Inning: 9Oh and one more thing, in my humble opinion, I’d much rather see you run another 9 years than any 90 feet. Play ball!

Bengie, Hey man….it’s been a while since I last saw you in Anaheim! I was so looking forward to having lunch together but lost contact! Congratulations on your second Willie Mac award! My 10 year old son and I follow your career as close as we can. He is a catcher, pitcher and plays third as well. You are his favorite player in the bigs and he sooooo wants to meet you sometime! I would love that too as you are a tremendous role model for the kids. Thanks for the blog site, the updates and all the pictures. You are a wealth of information and positivity! Maybe you could send an email so we can exchange contact info and catch up!? God Bless! Steve Gay, AWC….1990, 1991

I remember those Colorado games last summer. Those were very entertaining to watch. – bay area native (colorado transplant)

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