Brandon Belt. Baby Giraffe. Tearful boy debuted in the preview clip of The Franchise. Giants front office punching bag. YEP. I WENT THERE. I have a lot of feelings where Brandon Belt is concerned. Bay Area Sports Guy said on Twitter Tuesday and again on his blog yesterday, that he thinks Belt won’t be a Giant next season. I tend to agree and I’ve had this little nagging thought at the back of my mind since September that this would be the case.
It’s hard to deny that Belt struggled when he was in San Francisco. He had a few moments of shine, hitting huge homeruns (Houston, oh Houston) when we really needed them, but most of his ABs were a practice in frustration. For him, for the team, and for us. He couldn’t connect. He swung too late or too early or at pitches that were clearly not good pitches. As his frustration grew, his popularity grew. It was a strange phenomenon. He went from being Brandon Belt the kid who keeps coming and going to Brandon Belt the baby giraffe and we all love him no matter what. I was fortunate to see him play in September (as evidenced by all of the pictures I took of him, even when he was just standing there doing nothing because BRANDON FREAKING BELT YOU GUYS), and everyone was excited about him. If memory serves, he had a pretty unimpressive series against the Dodgers in September (like the rest of the team), but most of the people around us were still cheering him on (unlike O-Cab, who most people scorned). We all wanted to see him succeed because he endeared himself to us during The Franchise. A tall, gangly kid from Texas who shows a lot of emotion when he finds out he made the bigs? SIGN ME UP. Name a baby giraffe after him? EVEN BETTER.
One of my favorite pictures from the Dodgers series: I was snapping a few shots of Belt awkwarding his way across the outfield as he warmed up and then someone in a baby giraffe hat walked into the shot. It’s so meta.
Brandon Belt, for whatever reason, did not hold the favor of Bochy and/or Sabean for very long. He went back and forth between SF and Fresno more times than I can count during the 2011 season, and it shook his confidence. There’s no doubt that it did. And the treatment of Belt by the front office can be summed up pretty well by a dream I had in August.
In my dream, Bochy and Sabean forced Belt to play a new position every inning, which means he played every single position during one game. The last position he was forced to play was pitcher. As in, he was our closer. In the dream I was watching the game at home and the camera focused in on his face as he stood on the mound, drenched in sweat and struggling to find some kind of energy or strength within himself to finish the game. And then he just started crying. Understandably. The kid was exhausted; his skin was gray, his eyes were hollow and sunken into his face, and he just couldn’t handle the pressure anymore.
The dream really disturbed me and every single time he was at the plate after I had that dream, my heart just broke for him all over again. It still bothers me to think about the dream and when I hear about the “nice” things Bochy and Sabean are saying about Belt’s performance in DR, I remember that dream and shake my head. I don’t want Brandon’s days with the Giants to be numbered. He’s a good ball player. He’ll be a better ball player in the future. But our failed season is not his fault.