Good morning, baseball fans!
One of the highlights of the second half of last season was Brandon Belt, both on and off the field. Belt memorably gave himself the moniker of the “captain” of the team and bought in on the role-play in a way that some professional wrestlers might be envious of. Belt’s season was cut short, unfortunately, due to a fractured thumb that kept him out of the NLDS (and cut his chase for 30 home runs in a season short at 29).
But it was, arguably, one of if not the best season in his major league career. So it was a bit surprising that he accepted the San Francisco Giants’ qualifying offer last fall, avoiding what turned out to be quite a turbulent free agent market.
Now Belt is back with the team, and the Captain shtick carries on. With Belt now replacing Buster Posey as the longest-tenured Giants player (a fact he most certainly is lording over Brandon Crawford even as we speak), he is once again playing up his self-appointed role in the clubhouse.
And while that is an incredibly fun part of the 2021 season that has carried over into this year, the hope is that the on-field fun will carry over as well. Not just for fans, but for Belt himself, who is still hoping to pursue a longer-term deal, preferably with the Giants, now that he’ll be entering a free agency that won’t be hindered by a qualifying offer (or a lockout).
He explained his decision to accept the qualifying offer to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic:
“I wanted to stay with the Giants. That was a huge part of it. It’s been the only organization I’ve been a part of, obviously, and this organization means a lot to me. I wanted to stay here. I think there was a little bit of uncertainty with what was going to happen with the lockout and that definitely played into it, but mainly it was just hard to turn that offer down to come back and play at home.”
Belt also added that he believes that he can maintain his level of production from the 2020 and 2021 seasons. If so, that would put him as a prime target bat next offseason, or prompt the Giants to offer an extension during the season, as they did with Brandon Crawford last year.
There’s something else that came up yesterday. There is a public safety mandate in New York City that requires athletes to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 coronavirus in order to play at venues in the city. If you follow basketball, you may already know about this, as it has already been affecting Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets (see also: man who thinks the earth is flat, but I digress).
Anyway, I won’t get into the details on that one but you can read more about it in this post from the New York Daily News, which also addresses the situation that the New York Yankees and New York Mets are facing due to this.
I bring this up here because it might be an issue for the Giants as well, as their first road trip of the season includes a four-game series against the Mets in New York. At this time, any unvaccinated players would not be allowed to play, due to the public safety mandate.
This situation might change before the season starts if the rich and politically connected team owners are successful in pressuring city officials to either make exceptions or revoke the mandate altogether.
Which, as noted in the piece I linked above, doesn’t sit well with some folks. The SEIU, a major service industry union who supports the vaccination mandate, noted that every worker in the venues where games are taking place had to get vaccinated in order to keep their jobs, and wondered why millionaires think they should be exempted from public safety mandates.
Why, indeed. Anyway, we’ll keep you posted as that series approaches.
How many days until Opening Day?
23, but only two until we have live baseball from spring training!