Results tagged ‘ Buster Posey ’

The Once And Future King

By: Noah Frank

As a kid
growing up, I remember watching Patrick Roy, goalie for the Colorado Avalanche,
and reflecting upon his last name. Having learned French at an early age, I
recognized his last name as being close to the French word for “king” (roi),
hence his nickname: King Patrick. The rabid baseball fan that I am, I always
saw the same thing whenever the Rookies of the Year were announced in the
acronym for the award: ROY. So this season, when the Giants’ Twitter fan site
@SF_Giants began their ROYPosey hashtag push, I could think of only one thing:

King Posey.

That was a
far cry from my first impression of the young man carrying the burden of all 

the hopes of a long-suffering fan base. I first met Buster Posey at our annual Hot
Stove Dinner
, last February 4th. On a brisk Thursday night in
downtown Fresno, he strolled into 

the banquet room at the Holiday Inn. Clad in
a modest dress shirt and slacks, no tie, a modest sport coat and a closely cropped haircut,
he might as well have been a member of the military on leave. I have stood next
to some of the most imposing legends of the modern era: Randy Johnson, Roger poseyhotstove.jpgClemens, Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi. This kid did not have that same striking
presence as legends like those. He was just that- a kid.

Standing
behind the row of speakers who were seated up on stage that night, I could see
his hands shake under the table as he addressed the crowd. His even, mild tone
was much softer than that of his fellow athletes that night, retired Major
Leaguers Dave Dravecky, Steve Decker and Mark Gardner. One could forgive a
young man in his early 20s for not having the same composure as those twice his
age, much less those with public speaking and minor league managerial
experience. But this was supposed to be the chosen one, not only the offensive
savior but also the overseer of the talented young pitching staff expected to
help push the Giants into contention for a World Championship.

Two months
later came the blitz of a highly anticipated media day and an even bigger
Opening Day. Joining Posey on the media rounds was an even younger, even
greener prospect, fireballer Madison Bumgarner. By now Posey seemed more
comfortable, perhaps more at ease and back in his element wearing a jersey and
cleats instead of street clothes. I guided Bumgarner, Decker and him through
the row of television cameras lining the terrace behind the right-field seats.
He handled himself capably, and with a walk-off win in front of nearly 14,000
fans that night
, the questions that followed were mostly softballs.

The team’s record-setting start certainly helped as well, as the Grizzlies stormed out to
a 32-16 start with Posey on the team. As anyone who works in baseball knows,
though, the season is long and tiresome, and certainly has its ups and downs.
The Giants were off to a good start as well, but questions about their offense
lingered. Suddenly, they dropped five straight, culminating in a weekend sweep
at the hands of the cross-town rival Oakland Athletics
in which they managed just a
single run total, dropping their record to 22-21 on May 23rd. Posey
responded the next day, an off-day for the Giants, by going 4-for-4 against the Memphis Redbirds.

The constant
media pressure will begin to grate on anyone as the season progresses, especially
when you have to answer the same question over and over: “Why aren’t you in San
Francisco yet?” Ever the even-keeled diplomat in front of the camera, he gave
all the right answers. But after that Oakland series, the cries could be heard
all the way from San Francisco. The local beat writer asked me what I thought
the chances were of Posey still 

being a Grizzly when the team returned from its
next road trip, an eight-game swing 

Bumgarner Posey.jpgthrough Salt Lake City and Las Vegas that
would not return them to the Central Valley until June 5th.

“90
percent,” I remember saying. Oops.

That Friday
night the Grizzlies polished off an 8-0 pasting of the Salt Lake Bees to open
that trip, with Posey going 2-for-3 with a walk, a double and an RBI to back
Madison Bumgarner’s 7.2 innings of four-hit, shutout ball. Life was about as
splendid as it could be for a Grizzlies fan, sitting 10.5 games up in first place. About an hour later I received a
text from the Giants’ V.P. of Baseball Operations that Buster was being called
up the next day.

In addition
to being sad about losing Buster from our lineup, I was more worried what the
pressure of a media market the size of San Francisco’s, combined with all the
national attention focused on him, would do to his calm, collected demeanor.
What would happen if he didn’t get off to a good start? How much patience would
an antsy fan base be willing to show for this 23-year-old with just 172 games
of minor league experience?

SI-World-Series-2010.jpgWell, when
you go 3-for-4 with three RBI in your first game, it takes a bit of the
pressure off. Another three-hit game the next day and a record-setting July
later on cemented his place in baseball history as the first Giant to claim
Rookie of the Year honors in 35 years.

Sure, the
expectation was there. Sure, he was named the top prospect in the system, fifth
overall in the minors by Baseball America before the season. But this? All of
this? With a World Series title to boot? I guess that this is what people mean
when they say they have watched someone grow up in front of their very eyes.

I wonder
sometimes how it feels from Buster’s perspective. It must all seem a bit
surreal, like some winding, lucid dream. Judging by how many orange-clad fans
stormed the streets of San Francisco for the victory parade, there are a lot of
people hoping he never wakes up.

(Photo Credit for first two photos: Don Davis; Credit for final photo: Sports Illustrated)

Smaller Stadium, Enhanced Experience

For many natives of Fresno, it comes as quite a shock when they meet people who relocate to the Central Valley from preconceived “nicer” areas. Speaking from the perspective of a Bay Area boy, my response to many when they initially find out where it is I’m originally from is simple: “Fresno has its advantages”. 
As a young adult fresh out of high school, I was eager to take on the responsibilities and freedom that came with leaving the nest. Luckily for me, I was drawn to Fresno through opportunities of higher education. Little did I know that after just over six years in what I now consider home, there would be so many positives to outweigh any disadvantages.
Growing up, baseball was always top of mind. At first thought, moving three hours east to the Valley was only going to put distance between myself and the sport and teams I lived for growing up. With more consideration, the travel was actually going to be more of a baseball blessing than a letdown. 
Like most people in Fresno I was ecstatic at the thought of being able to watch young talented ballplayers before they advanced to the Majors, but took for granted how fortunate I really was. To this day I kick myself for not catching every game in April of 2007. After seeing the career that young Tim Lincecum has put together thus far from the comfort of my unenthusiastic living room, I can only imagine what Chukchansi Park was like as the dominant right hander mowed down opposing hitters in the PCL.
Following the first of back-to-back Cy Young Awards for Big Time Timmy Jim in 2008, I was certain I wouldn’t let another opportunity like that come through Fresno without being a part of it. Even though the circumstances were dramatically in my favor, I made sure I soaked up every bit of the Giants’ most recent highly anticipated prospects to come through Fresno. With Buster Posey breaking into Triple-A midway through the 2009 season, and starting the 2010 season with Madison Bumgarner, we were showered with the gift of future standouts in our own backyard.
Posey.jpg
What some people don’t realize is hat there are always other chances to see future household names, even before they show signs of stardom. A prime example from my experience in Downtown Fresno is the rise of Brian Wilson. After seeing Wilson grind through three seasons with the Grizzlies, he suddenly compiled a record-setting number of saves in San Francisco in the same amount of time he spent in Fresno. While he was just another arm in the bullpen for the Grizzlies from ’05-’07, now he’s captured the attention of millions who “Fear the Beard“.
Although it’s been recognized by some, there are still way too many Fresnans who are unaware of just how much connection the Central Valley had to the 2010 World Series. Not only did the Giants fill a 25-man roster with 15 players who wore a Grizzlies jersey at some point in there career, they were led to a Championship title by a majority of former Fresno Grizzlies.
There still may be several folks who will ask the clueless, “Wait, Matt Cain played in Fresno?” or “Buster Posey was here for two months this season?” questions. However, it would be my guess that the San Francisco Giants’ remarkable run to a World Championship, which sparked an incredible support from communities throughout Northern California, will be many peoples’ equivalent to the Tim Lincecum experience I had just a few short seasons ago. 
Whether a fan of baseball, an admirer of professional athletes, or just someone who wants to be a part of something special, the lesson here is simply not to let the future Giants like Brandon Belt, Darren Ford and Zack Wheeler breeze through Fresno without the chance to watch them play. Staying informed and involved will enhance the big league experiences you’ll encounter down the road.

Baseball Bringing Communities Together

It was instilled in me at an early age that baseball was not only a sport, or a game, but that it served as an event that brought people together at different levels. The togetherness can be experienced on varying degrees: from backyard catch with your family, to a nationally televised event capturing the attention of millions across the country.
As I drove through the streets of San Francisco on Tuesday, October 19th, I couldn’t help but take in the sights of the mid-day energy of the big city environment. The first whiff of the fresh, early-afternoon air had a certain positivity lingering, which only got stronger as we approached our destination.
AT&T Park was surrounded by city blocks draped in orange and black, representing the fellowship of a city and a region brought together by baseball. The enthusiasm radiated throughout the streets, with fans flocking to the stadium to enjoy the game the way many purists would say it was supposed to experienced; during the day, under the natural light of sun. 
After attending nearly all 144 of the Fresno Grizzlies’ home games over the past two seasons– and only a handful of regular season games at the professional level– I couldn’t help but be a fan of what was laid out before me, and truly be thankful for what I was able to experience in my two-year involvement with the Triple-A affiliate of the Giants.
Believe.jpg
To think that just four months ago, I had the privilege of watching the Giants’ most exciting young player, Buster Posey, hone his skills at Chukchansi Park– a stage nearly a quarter of the size of AT&T Park– is remarkable. To translate that into watching guys like former Grizzly Brian Wilson warm up before taking the mound in the ninth inning of the NLCS really puts into perspective the similarities of a minor league park compared to its Major League counterpart.
Having access to a minor league ballpark, to watch an almost equally high-quality level of professional baseball as the Giants is a huge advantage. The ability to watch young players develop into big league stars, just months before they become key contributors to a MLB playoff push, is a rarity. While having the potential NL Rookie of the Year, or a back-to-back reigning NL Cy Young winner may not come through a minor league park on a regular basis, watching them compete for a chance at a World Series ring sure opens your eyes to what kind of future superstars may make a brief appearance in your own back yard.
My experiences in a smaller venue compared to that of Major League Baseball have given me an immense appreciation for what I was apart of during Game 3 of the NLCS in San Francisco. To see how a team on a national arena can draw the support of such a large city sparks the inspiration of how the smaller backdrop of an affiliated team like the Fresno Grizzlies can do the same in their own community.

They Might Be Giants

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last week, you know that the Giants have survived a bizarre, emotionally draining, back-and-forth National League Division Series against Atlanta and are now preparing to face the monster known as the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS. These Phillies have made a late push for Team of the Decade, and could really secure their place in history as a dynasty with another championship in 2010. But first, they will have to get past the Giants’ pitching staff- one comprised mostly of former Grizzlies, including all four in the starting rotation.

101210.jpg

And just what did that rotation do in the Division Series? Oh, I don’t know, only combine to go 2-0 with a 0.93 ERA (3 ER/29.0 IP), walking just five while striking out an absurd 36 over that stretch. Yes, the combination of righties Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain and southpaws Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner picked apart a piece-meal Braves lineup, one that had been decimated by injuries late in the season. Needless to say they will have their hands full with a much more potent Phillies offense, but their collective performance in the first round was pretty amazing.
Consider the fact that Cain was in Fresno in 2005, Sanchez and Lincecum in ’07, and Bumgarner as recently as June 20th of this season. This is the first time Grizzlies fans have really seen the players they used to cheer on in person having an impact in the postseason, at least for the Giants (nothing against Joe Nathan).
And while San Francisco didn’t have much to cheer about on offense, Buster Posey did share the Division Series lead among all National Leaguers with six hits and three runs scored. Plus, Pat Burrell slugged a three-run home run in Game 2, the biggest run-producing hit of the series. He’ll have his chance to shine again against the team that drafted him, and that he played nine seasons for in the Big Leagues.
The NLCS kicks off Saturday night in Philly. Crawl out from under that rock and cheer on your former Grizz, won’t you?

Prospect Watch: Brandon Belt


Ed. Note: This will be the first of (hopefully) many looks into possible members of the 2011 Grizzlies squad. Even with the graduation of Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner, there is still plenty of talent left in the Giants system. The man in the early running for top talent heading into next year? Brandon Belt.

You will
have to forgive him, but this is all a bit new to Brandon Belt. While the
22-year-old has always been a solid player with a good swing, he is suddenly
being touted as the next great Giants prospect, flying up the ranks of the
minor leagues. In just his first professional season, he arrived in Fresno and was
placed in the middle of the lineup of a team fighting for a postseason spot.
While that might be overwhelming for some players just three years removed from
high school, the even-keeled Belt seems up to the challenge.

brandon.jpg

In his
second at-bat in a Grizzlies uniform, against division-rival Sacramento, on the
road, Belt torched a searing line drive to one of the deepest parts of the park
for a solo home run. He would go on to walk three times in the game as well,
scoring three of Fresno’s five total runs.

Just how
Brandon Belt found himself at Raley Field last week is something of a surprise.
The former Texas Longhorn put up solid, if unspectacular, numbers in his two
seasons of Division I ball after transferring from San Jacinto College in
Houston. He had decided not to sign after being selected by the Boston Red Sox out
of high school in the 11th round in 2006, and again passed on an 11th
round selection– this time by Atlanta– in 2007. After his two years at Texas,
the Giants made him a fifth-round selection last year.

Belt did not
log any game time in 2009 after signing, but he did go to minor league
instructional camp, where Giants coaches made a couple of adjustments to his
swing, raising his hands and opening his stance a bit.

“It seems
minor, but it takes time to adjust,” he says of the mechanical changes. “I
worked on it all off-season, so I felt like I was ready once this year started.”

That
certainly showed in his numbers. After batting .383 with a .492 on-base
percentage, 28 doubles, four triples, 10 home runs and 62 RBI in just 77 games
with High-A San Jose, Belt moved up to the pitcher-friendly Eastern League.
There, with Double-A Richmond, he posted a .337 average with 11 doubles, six
triples, nine homers and 40 RBI in just 46 games. That gave him 68 extra-base
hits between the two levels, over which he also stole 20 bases. Belt’s home run
in his first game with Fresno made him just the second player in the minor
leagues this year with 20 doubles, steals and home runs.

Not bad for
a rookie. But perhaps the most impressive part of Belt’s success has been his
ability to hold up all summer. He acknowledges that the hardest part of
adjusting to professional ball has been the length of the season, which
includes more than twice as many games as a college schedule.

“Mentally it
took a while to get prepared for,” he explains. “And now the physical fatigue
starts to set in at the end of the season.”

Although
that season will not include a Major League call-up just yet, it will last a
little longer for Belt, who is due to report to the prospect showcase known as
the Arizona Fall League in a few weeks. With what he’s accomplished this year,
his 2011 season will be looked at under a magnifying glass, by everyone from the
front office in San Francisco to the television analysts at ESPN and writers at
Baseball America. But Belt isn’t
about to put too much pressure on himself.

“I’m not
saying I won’t have goals,” he explains. “I just understand how the game is,
that good and bad things happen. I’m just trying to be as consistently good as
I can be throughout the season.”

The way
things have gone, his next season may well start right here in Fresno.

Day In The Life Of…An Intern

By: Chris Kutz

When the word “Intern” comes to mind, most people think of a
young, nave college kid all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, full of ambition,
slowly eased into the business world by being assigned mundane duties such as
making copies, distributing mail, getting coffee for the entire office, or
anything else that falls under the last line in most job descriptions: “All
other assigned duties.”

Fortunately, my internship with the Grizzlies has
materialized into more than such a role. Sure, there are going to be times when,
as interns, we will be called to do such things as making copies because we are
stuck at the bottom of the totem pole, but it is safe to say we are allowed to
make the most of our own experiences here at Chukchansi Park.

Day in the Life of Graphic copy.jpg

When I step into the office around 10 in the morning
(without the office’s daily dose of caffeine mind you), I try to jump into a
project that was given to me the day before. It gives me an ease of mind
because I know what I need to do immediately while it also helps those hierarchically
above us who are also just getting into the office after a late game from the
night before (Groggy co-workers + energetic but conniving questions of “Do you
have anything for me to do?” = bad start to an always good day). For example,
right now I have been digging deep for some facts about your Fresno Grizzlies
so that we can share them with you via the spanking new video boards at
Chukchansi Park.

(Did you know Brock Bond reached base in 51 consecutive
games last year? That’s longer than some players’ careers! Or that Buster Posey
played all nine positions in one game during his time at Florida State? At the
same time? Ok, that last part was not true but the first one was. Either way, cue
the Chuck Norris-esque websites now, Giants fans, because the legend of Gerald
“Buster” Posey continues to grow.)

Now, I am a baseball junkie, hence interning with a
professional baseball team, so any cool facts/info I dig up about our players are
awesome to me, and I hope the fans find it interesting as well. The research
may become less exciting farther and farther in, but we when I stumble upon
something new, a dose of baseball Red Bull kicks in. Besides, things change on
the fly so often in the office, we all can be working on numerous things at one
time. This can help eliminate potential boredom. 

Other daily duties, specifically on game days, include
creating the pre-game scroll that we roll through on the video board with
statistical leaders in the PCL and on the Grizzlies. I usually start this
around 3 in the afternoon to make sure it’s done with plenty of time before
gates open at 5:30. Also, interesting facts and trends about the team we find go
on the scroll as well. As interns, we help set up the press box food so the
ravenous members of the media upstairs appease their growling stomachs (Lesson
#1 I learned during my first internship last season: Never screw up the food!
You can quickly learn the darker side of others when the spread does not meet
the standards of our entry-level foodies.)

During the game, I work in the video room, operating part of
the video board. A group of us throw up the headshots of players, stats, videos,
music, sponsorships, etc; all following the script laid out to us, trying to
provide the fans with information and entertainment to improve their experience
at the game.

After the game, around 10-ish or whenever the Grizzlies
finally claim victory, I edit some highlights from the game and send it out to the local television stations. This is something new from last year, but it is
very important for us and the news. It helps them have footage for their
telecasts, especially with late-game footage after the cameras have gone back
to station and begin prep for the late evening news. For us, it helps us give
those fans that could not make it out to the game some images and video they
can talk about the next day around the water cooler.

While the whole experience is worthwhile, my favorite part
of the internship gig is interacting with the players while trying to set up
interviews with media. Professional athletes and celebrities are often cast as in-human
because they play a character in our lives. We only see them on TV or on the
internet. Obviously, the Grizzlies are just your everyday human beings (with a
slight increase in baseball-playing ability relative to, say your neighbor);
not characters or robots without simple human interests like you and I. Since
baseball players have downtime, movies and music are always good topics of
conversations, as opposed to last night’s extraordinary (or less-than-ordinary)
performance at the plate.

Since I cannot say I have bad experiences with my internship
(and no, that is not being said because my bosses will more than likely read
this), I will provide insight into the one thing most people are baffled by the
most: the amount of hours put in. If you work for a baseball team, you will
probably be working at least 12-hour days during home games. Now, add eight of
those together for the typical homestand, you can find yourself working almost
100 hours in a week (homestands don’t always conveniently begin on Mondays like
most work weeks.).

A uniform “ugh” usually follows when others hear of so many
hours at work, but for all of us, it’s great because we are working jobs we
like. People work in sports because they want to be there; few, if any, settle
for a job in sports. Sports allow people to find something they are passionate
about and can be creative with. Twelve hours may be seem like more than
necessary, but when we walk into our office and see a baseball field outside,
apathy and boredom quickly disappear like a moonshot soaring into Borchard’s Orchard in left-center.

Catching, Up

By: Noah Frank

So it’s been
a while since our last post, and since then the Grizzlies have done nothing but
go out and notch the best 50-game stretch to open a season in franchise
history
. The team has led by as many as 10.5 games over second place in the Pacific
South Division of the PCL, and had 33 wins against just 18 losses to start
June. Not bad for a team that has seen the post-season only once in its first
12 years as a franchise- the inaugural season, all the way back in 1998.

Just as the
Grizzlies have settled in, so have we over here at Yard Work, getting our 

posey_yardwork.jpg

reinforcements on board in the form of our summer interns. With extra hands on
deck on, we will be bringing you regular updates. Look for the first Drag Kings Mailbag, installments of our Day In The Life Of… series and much more. You, the
fan, will even have a chance to get involved, as we encourage you to tell us
why yours is the Best Seat In The House. Starting in June, we will pick the
Yard Work Fan of the Month each month through the end of the season. We will
feature your story and have a full pictorial and interview with you about your
Grizzlies experience.

Enter to be
the Fan Of The Month via email to info@fresnogrizzlies.com,
with Fan Of The Month in the subject line. You can also send the Drag Kings
your questions to the same email, info@fresnogrizzlies.com,
with Mailbag in the subject line, and Silkee, Jeeves, Patty Melt and The Kid
will answer them in the inaugural edition later this month.

Now, I
promised you two more interviews, so here is the first one.

When I spoke
to Buster Posey in the home locker room at Scottsdale Stadium in the middle of
Spring Training, no decisions had been made yet as to where anyone would start
the season. Posey was just focused on soaking up as much as he could from being
around the Major League pitching staff every day, appreciating the invaluable
experience he was gaining in the process.

When I asked
him if there were any surprise arms to keep an eye on this season, he dropped
an intriguing name on me- not one that I expected. As it turned out, that
pitcher would start the season with Posey in Fresno and actually beat him to
San Francisco this season. The two have since been reunited, with Posey’s
Memorial Day weekend promotion to the Giants. Listen in to find out which
former Grizzly and current Giant Buster had an eye on all the way back in
March.

BusterPoseyInterview.m4a

Miller Time

By: Noah Frank


Well,
I promised I’d deliver it to you, so here it is: our exclusive interview with
Jon
Miller
from the Scottsdale Stadium press box. Listen in as I try not to
stammer too much and let Jon compose and weave his tapestry of language in
regards to everything San Francisco Giants and Fresno Grizzlies-related.

 

Hope Spring(s) Eternal

It’s another beautiful weekend in the Valley of the Sun. Former and future Grizzlies alike are mixed among veterans and the practice fields are full of players as the teams have yet to make their first round of cuts, when they will send players back to minor league camp.

The Giants hold their Spring Training at Scottsdale Stadium, a beautiful complex with a capacity close to that of Chukchansi Park. Of course, the stadium itself is not quite as big (no upper deck), but has a grass berm that stretches across most of the outfield.

Scottsdale Stadium.jpg

On Saturday the house was completely stuffed as the A’s came to town. I know this because the official attendance was exactly 12,000, the fire marshall-mandated capacity at the ballpark. It was a nice preview of this year’s Highway 99 rivalry, as rising prospects from both organizations were on hand. When you look at the depth of both of the organizations, it’s easy to see how Sacramento and Fresno could be battling all year for the PCL Pacific Southern Division crown.
Matt Cain, who won 10 games as a starter for the Grizzlies in 2005, was on the hill for San Francisco Saturday. He was shaky early and dug the Giants in a hole, but the offense pitched in and made things interesting. Buster Posey went 2-for-4 with a walk and an RBI as the team closed the gap to 8-7, but they came up short.
Today’s game sees a Brewers squad very light on Major League talent facing off against Jonathan Sanchez. Former Grizzly Fred Lewis is in left and Nate Schierholtz is in right, in what’s shaping up to be a high-scoring affair with the wind gusting straight out to center field.
Bud Selig literally just stepped into the press box in the middle of me posting this article, and is now addressing the media, so I’m going to sign off for now. More to come in the next week from Arizona including interviews with Cain, Posey and legendary Giants broadcaster Jon Miller.
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.