I spent hours after the loss on Friday night just stewing. Not about a loss in April, of course. It’s April, what are you going to do?
No, I was stewing because I am a veteran of the Belt Wars. A noted defender of Brandon Belt across the land and sea. My family crest has a giraffe on it, which is weird because my father is a Belt denier and my mother couldn’t pick him out of a crowd.
Anyway, as those of us on this side of the Belt Wars are aware, Brandon Belt is one of the best first basemen in baseball and still he gets no respect. It’s almost comical.
Even in the big moments, he is quickly turned into the brunt of a joke. The “LOLBelt” factor, if you will. Which, along with the many times he is robbed by AT&T Park itself, feeds into the misconceptions of KNBR callers everywhere. They aren’t just in the Bay Area, you know.
An example: Any time I’m able to convince someone on the other side of the war that Belt is actually very good and gets on base a lot, he is almost assured to strike out three times or get thrown out on the base path during the next game.
To add another level of pain to that, there are some Very Important Things we Brandon Belt fans have anxiously awaited over the last few years.
One of them was Splash #69. We waited almost two years for it, and as expected, it was Belt who delivered it. Inevitably, it was during the NBA Finals, which a majority of people were watching instead. Because of course it was.
I was one of the lucky few who switched back to the Giants broadcast just in the nick of time to catch it and it was glorious.
The jokes were flowing and the Belt love was near peak levels.
Then Denard Span hit Splash #70 just a couple of games later and made it all irrelevant. Because of course he did.
He also hit Splash #71 a couple of months later. Span now has the most recent splash hits and this bothers me. Not because I don’t like him, you see. I’m a fan! And I enjoy splash hits!
But the Splash #69 throne is Belt’s. He earned it. We waited forever for it. He was usurped. We were denied a fair amount of time with an agreed upon “nice” Splash Hits sign. But I digress.
Next, we have the All Star Game. Belt was a fan vote-in candidate and the campaign to get him in came on all fronts. It was an “all votes count” situation, which meant we could vote as many times as we wanted and the most passionate fanbase would win. Belt fans voted literally hundreds of times a day. We wanted this that much.
And we won! He won, really. I was at the game the night where he was announced as an All-Star. One would think he would get the loudest applause - but it was Buster Posey. Because of course it was.
And to top it off, Belt got sick before the fan festivities during the All Star Game and missed most of the action. Because of course he did.
That’s not commentary on his health - that’s more of a comment on his luck.
Which brings us to Friday’s game.
I’ll preface this by saying I didn’t get to watch much of the game - it started well before I left work. I was driving home and listening on the radio, and shortly after I tuned in, Nunez fumbled a play at third - twice - and Matt Cain was pulled for Cory Gearrin. Things seemed grim with the Padres leading 4-1, even with Gearrin’s double play.
But when the bases loaded and Belt was on deck, I pulled my car over so that I could hastily contribute this poorly capitalized content to the world wide web:
Give me a Brandon belt grand slam or give me death— Sami Higgins (@samihiggins) April 8, 2017
Which, to be fair, is generally what I’m thinking in this situation, since he’d never had a grand slam. And for a brief moment, the baseball gods smiled down upon me as I was pulled over on the side of that little country road.
Not one second after I hit send on that tweet did Brandon Belt get his first career grand slam. And I lost my mind, as one does. It was amazing! Exactly the type of hero moment you want for your unsung hero.
Then the George Kontos inning happened, because of course it did, and Grant wrote a whole thing about that and we’re all aware of the situation.
But even in the face of bullpen adversity, Brandon Belt persisted. In his next at bat, he hit another home run!
Let’s do the math on that - five RBIs, a grand slam, two home runs. This was the best game of Brandon Belt’s career, don’t @ me.
Then that creeping fear of the LOLBelt factor started weighing on me.
It would be peak LOLBelt for the Giants to lose this game.— Sami Higgins (@samihiggins) April 8, 2017
I nailed it. Because of course I did. Twice in one night, much like Belt himself.
Brandon Belt deserved better and the Giants are jerks.