Sad morning, baseball fans.
As has already been reported on this site, Brandon Belt is both a Forever Giant, and a Giant no more. Belt signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, who officially announced it yesterday. I’ve been in a bit of a daze since the announcement. It’s one thing to expect every year for nearly a decade that your favorite baseball player might get traded, but something altogether different when they actually leave.
I’m sad. Sadder than when Buster Posey retired unexpectedly. After all, Posey got to end a storied career with the San Francisco Giants on a high note and get his moment in the sun in front of the fans. He got to play for the team that drafted him his entire career. And even before he became part of the ownership group, it was always assumed that he’d be back in one way or another.
Belt was never even awarded the Willie Mac Award, so unlike a long list of our favorite players over the years, we won’t have a ready-made excuse to see him back at the ballpark outside of reunions, maybe.
This is just one more reminder to appreciate your favorite players while you can because you never know when you’ve watched them play their final game for the team.
There will be some arguing that it was time to move on, pointing to his age and history of injuries. That’s their debate to have. For me, what makes baseball compelling are the people we root for. Our favorite players that play the game. As a kid, it was Barry Bonds that drew me in and compelled me to keep watching. When he left, it was Tim Lincecum. When he left, it was Brandon Belt. You can say a lot of things about Brandon Belt, but you can’t say he wasn’t compelling.
Not only was he one of the biggest (and sometimes only) contributors during some truly aggressively mediocre to awful seasons after the championship era, he was just a really likeable guy. And man, did he have some of the best commercials. The dingers were fun too. And I’ll miss watching him pick a ball that would have been dropped by most of the guys that will end up replacing him.
I’ll miss the banter about the size of his shoes on the broadcasts, the fake machismo with which he delivered some of his corniest jokes, his aggressively middle of the road opinions on food, his willingness to always just kind of be his own goofy self, and a long list of other things that made him so much fun to root for.
And it really sucks, in my opinion, that a team that let Buster Posey and Matt Cain (and likely eventually Brandon Crawford) play out their entire careers here was so willing to just send Belt on his way after 12 seasons. Per reports, there was no effort put forth on the part of the team. No real attempt made. And I get that that’s just part of the game, but it feels crummy.
I know it’s not that they couldn’t afford him. They were willing to pay Carlos Correa $350 million before that whole circus got started. And then they didn’t exactly go on a spending spree after it fell through. Meanwhile, Belt signed for $9.3 million. Roughly half of what he was making in 2022. Reports are that he wanted to come back and the Giants weren’t interested.
The dichotomy of Belt entering the field on a boat in a captain’s hat on Opening Day of 2022 only to end the year without an offer from the team that he called home his entire career just feels off-putting to me. Another off-putting brick in the wall of discordance that has been this offseason for the Giants.
And it might not feel that way to you, and that’s okay. We all enjoy different aspects of the game and this is just mine. Baseball is a comfort for me. As someone on the spectrum, there’s a comfort for me specifically in the familiarity of the faces and voices and routine of it all. It’s what drew me to the game as a child and has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. I never fell in love with the numbers or strategies, I loved rooting for people I like. And man, I really like Brandon Belt. And I’m sad.
Let’s be sad together.
Amazing clip of Bruce Bochy telling Brandon Belt he made the team in 2012— KNBR (@KNBR) January 11, 2023
"If you need a beer, grab a beer." pic.twitter.com/HuqL4tTlkN
In preparation for this day, which I had hoped would never come, I wrote a parody of Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind” six years ago, when the Belt trade hype was really at a fever pitch. I’ll spare you the recording, but I thought I’d share the lyrics. I’ve had them saved since 2017 in a Google Doc titled “Ode to Brandon Belt.”
Goodbye Brandon Belt
Though we never deserved you at all
You had the grace to hold your tongue
When KNBR callers called.
They crawled out of the woodwork
When baseballs hurt your brain
They blamed you for everything
And put an LOL on your name
And it seems to me you’ve lived your life
As a case for robot umps.
Never doing too much when they messed up
You just took your lumps
And I would have liked to have seen you
Call your own strikes and balls
You knew your strike zone better,
Than any umpire will at all.
You gave us a grand slam and a homer
But your team managed to lose that game
Your name was synonymous with bad luck
And you never did complain
Even when you homered
Some fans still wanted to pounce
All the haters had to say
Was how you never do it when it counts
Well it seems to me, you’ve been unsung
As a playoff hero of lore
Saving us in the 18th inning
When we wanted to snore
And in Washington they fear you
More than Strickland fears Bryce
Remember Splash 69?
Man, that sure was nice.
Goodbye Brandon Belt
You kept those shoulders slumpy til the end
While we fought in the Belt Wars
Against our families and our friends
Goodbye Brandon Belt
From the girl that watched you from just beyond first base
The night her grandpa died
She was comforted by your face
And it seems to me you did just fine
No matter what they say
You got on base a lot
Even if all they did was complain.
And I would have liked to see you
In black and orange til the end
But you’re moving on now
Good luck to you, my friend.