Welcome to Inside the Giants Clubhouse!
Let me tell you a little about this blog and about me.
I worked for the Examiner and Chronicle for 22 years. I spent about a dozen of those years writing a sports column before moving on to op-ed and news. As the Chronicle scaled back on its staff, I took a buyout in August 2007. I had a book contract to keep me busy, but I also approached Larry Baer, then vice president and now president of the Giants. He hired me to work with the players on strengthening their relationships with the media.
I hadn’t covered sports in a number of years, and I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy being back in a clubhouse filled with rich, young, swaggering stars. The self-centered arrogance of so many pro athletes was, in part, what had persuaded me to leave sports in the first place.
But I was utterly captivated by this group of Giants players. They were intensely competitive and driven but also, almost to a man, down to earth and open. They seemed to like each other. The veterans were generous with the younger players; the younger players allowed the older ones to relive that dream-like excitement of making it to the bigs.
During the 2008 season, I spent time during every home stand in the clubhouse working with the players. I interviewed their friends and families to unearth the stories beyond the field – who they were as fathers and sons, brothers and best friends. The Giants then pitched these stories to reporters as way to help fans get to know the players better.
But the shrinking news hole limited most Giants stories to chronicling what happened in the game, who strained a shoulder muscle, or who was being called up or sent down to Fresno and San Jose.
So a funny thing happened on my way to becoming a media consultant.
I found myself wanting to write about baseball again.
Thus this blog.
I’ll focus in this blog mostly on the stuff I liked best as a sportswriter (and still like best as a reader): the stories that show the human side of the game, the stories that shed light on the behind-the-scenes decision-making, the stories that show the mind-set that sets apart the guys who make it to the pros and the ones who don’t. And of course I’ll include stuff that I just think is interesting.
Barry Zito and Brian Wilson are spending the off-season at Zito’s LA home following the grueling the “P90X” training program. This has been Wilson’s regimen for a while, and Zito, whose locker is next to Wilson’s in the clubhouse, asked Wilson if he’d teach him. The program requires strict, specific meals six days a week. Zito has a nutritionist deliver his meals every day fully prepared. Wilson makes his own.
“My food is hot and I’m already eating, and he’s just getting out the ingredients,” Zito said. “I’m done and downstairs playing video games before he turns the stove on. He gets so mad.”
On Sundays they can eat whatever they want. “Chicken parm, whatever we can get our hands on,” Zito said. “On Monday morning we’re already looking forward to Sunday night.”
Zito shared this last Wednesday night when he was a surprise guest at a “Chalk Talk” for about 125 season-ticket holders. The Giants had set up two couches on a low stage in front of rows of folding chairs inside the Giants clubhouse. The announced guests were GM Brian Sabean, manager Bruce Bochy, managing general part Bill Neukom and moderator Jon Miller.
Zito said he has followed the tough training program pretty easily because he’s so motivated after the past two disappointing seasons.
“Anytime you are brought to your knees in life, you want to crack your head open and let in a new way of doing things,” he said. “I have this new fire in me, so discipline is easy right now.
” It’s been great having Wilson down there with me. It’s always good to have someone in your life that lifts your game. We feed off each other. It’s a great relationship. We push each other.”
If he and Wilson were on the P90X program, Jon Miller asked, what training program did he think Tim Lincecum was on?
“He’s on the genetic freak program,” Zito cracked.
To Zito’s credit, he arrived without handlers or hangers-on. Just him in a pair of jeans, a black T-shirt and a gray horizontal-stripe cardigan. He looked like he had gotten lost on his way to the Student Union. (He, along with Randy Winn, had spent 90 minutes Wednesday afternoon at a Giants party for kids from San Francisco homeless shelters.)
I look forward to the hearing from you. Give me your best thoughts and ideas about what we can do together with this blog.
Coming up in my next post: A look at one of the most exclusive “schools” in the world – a week-long camp last month at AT&T Park for the top Giants prospects.
See you in a couple days.