Jeremy Affeldt was walking to the ballpark this afternoon when I caught up with him on his cell. During the winter, and on some off days during the season, Affeldt goes into high schools to talk with kids about what it means to be a leader, how to articulate a vision for their lives, how to make choices that lead to success.
So he seemed like the perfect guy to put the Giants’ winless road trip in perspective. In a text after the game last night, he had joked he would talk to me tomorrow “if we don’t hang ourselves first.”
He sounded more upbeat this afternoon.
“Last night it was like, ‘How fast can we get on this plane and get home?’ ” Affeldt said. “You try to figure out what’s going on – what are the things you can control? What can you fix? You have to focus on what you have to do to get better.
“I faced four lefties and gave up three hits. I’ve got to get lefties out. And I’ve got to get the first guy out I face. I’ll talk to Rags and Gardy (Righetti and Gardner) to figure out why I’m not getting my two-seamer in on lefties. Something’s wrong with my mechanics.
“Each of us has to be honest with ourselves. You can’t lie to yourself. You’ve got to work hard and get better at whatever’s not working for you.
“At the same time, you have to see the big picture and not panic. You’ve got to know that every team goes through tough times, and hopefully for us, we’re just facing it in the beginning of the season. Boston and Cleveland are starting slow, too.
“Baseball’s weird, man. Look at the Marlins. They were 20 games out at the half and won the World Series. The vets need to make the rounds and remind the young guys to keep their heads up, to keep pumped up because it’s a long season and we’ve got a long way to go.
“Fans need to know that we need them to get behind us, man. Really behind us. This is when we need a ton of support. It puts pressure on the opposing team when the home fans are cheering, and it makes it a lot easier for the opposing team when our own fans are booing us.
“This has not been fun. It’s been really frustrating. But we’re not panicking. There’s nobody on this team that’s just out there collecting a paycheck. We’re out there trying to pitch. We’re trying to hit. We’re working hard. It’s going to happen.”
He arrived at the park and headed into the clubhouse and we said good-bye. Maybe Affeldt will get a chance tonight to face a lefty, and he will have figured out whatever wasn’t working for him.
And maybe that will be a start. There are, after all, 153 games left to play . . .