Life After The Catch

Life has been a little different since my catch in Matt Cain’s perfect game. A lot more people recognize me on the street and around the park. Almost everybody asks me the same questions: How did I make the catch, and how did it feel? It’s really cool to have people appreciate what I did. It makes me want to do something like that again, another play that people will always remember.

I was talking yesterday on the phone with my friend Martin Prado from the Braves, where I played from 2008 to 2010. He’s also from Venezuela. We were just catching up on our families and things like that. Then he says, “I want to ask you something. How did you make that catch?’’

I laughed. I said, “I don’t know. Seriously I don’t know. I ask myself the same question.’’

Even a couple of umpires talked to me about it. So that’s pretty different for me.

What isn’t different is how I go about my work every day. That’s the key to everything. Talent gets you only so far. If you didn’t know that before getting to the big leagues, you learn it quickly up here. The best players – the ones who stay the best for a long time – are the ones who keep working hard.

I get to the park around 2 or 2:30 for a 7 o’clock game. I change clothes then do some running on the field – sometimes sprints, sometimes just a jog to stretch out my legs. I’ll ride the stationary bike. Then in the weight room, I work mostly on my core muscles, doing crunches, that kind of thing. Then I spend 30 to 40 minutes in the indoor batting cage.  Lately I’ve work with Bam-Bam, our hitting coach, on hitting the ball on the ground and staying away from pop-ups. I’ve also returned to using a pitching machine that can throw 102 mph. I used it in spring training and was hitting really well. Then I got away from it during the season because I thought, “I want to save my bullets for the game.’’

But when my bat went cool, I added it back into my pregame routine. Trying to hit pitches coming at you at 102 mph hour sharpens your eye. When you see a 95-mph fastball in a game, it looks much slower and you’re more likely to get your bat around on it.

There’s also a psychological reason to work really hard every single day. It gives you confidence. You feel strong. You feel ready. So much of this game is played out in your head. If you know you are in peak shape, that no one out there has worked harder than you have, you feel that there isn’t anything you can’t do.

Having said that, when we had an off day last week, I just wanted to chill. On the last off day, my wife and I took the kids to Santa Cruz, which was fun but exhausting. This time, I said, “Hey honey, let’s just stay here. Let’s relax and watch movies and play with the kids.’’ It felt good.

There was a comment from a mom that her son was in the backyard pretending to be me. Wow, that’s so amazing. I remember growing up and imitating Chipper Jones and Kenny Lofton and Ken Griffey. I’d try to run the bases like Rickey Henderson. I wanted so much to be in the major leagues. I always tell kids if they really want something, they should keep dreaming because it’s possible.

But you have to work hard and leave a lot of things behind like parties and drinking and girls. When I was growing up, I played with a lot of guys who had really good talent but they never made it to pro ball. They got too involved in stuff off the field. They’d asked me, “Hey, why don’t you hang out?’’ I’d say, “I just want to go play baseball and run and get better.’’

And look where I am now.

The guys I really like to watch now are Rafael Furcal and Jose Reyes because they play the game hard every single game. They’re aggressive hitters and runners. But now that I play with Melky, he’s the guy I look up to the most. I watch how he goes about his business. He’s an unbelievable player. I’d like to be the kind of player he is.

The person who has influenced me the most, though, is my mother. She didn’t graduate from high school, but she never stopped educating herself. She worked in a bank and eventually became a high-level manager. She’s an example to everyone she knows, not just me. Because of her, I try to be someone people can look up to.

So when I hear that there are some kids who want to be like me, I’m really humbled. That’s part of the reason you do this. I want kids to believe that playing sports is a way to live a positive life. There are a lot of bad things on the streets, and sports gives them an alternative.

So if I contribute in some way to kids wanting to play sports, that’s awesome.

 

14 Comments

What an amazing role model for our children! You bring such positive vibes to our Giants!! So Glad you are part of it. Go Giants!! 1st Place Baby!!!

Keep being the amazing role model that you are! Your comment about working hard and not going out drinking etc. is such a huge statement! Thank you, beingbs mothervof teo young boys… That mean a lot! I was sad when Cody, Andres and everyone else left but with the amazing players we got in their place how can us fans be sad? I love the Giants and I love the team we have this year! Thank you Blanco & Go Giants!!

muchas gracias for your hard work, dedication and a great team player. it’s also fun watching you, melky and pagan celebrated at the end of each game and the special handshake. could you share on how that came about? thanks.

i’d like for you to be a lifelong Giant, Gregor. I hope Sabean offers you an extension!

I like you more and more with each game and each blog post, Gregor. I say this every time I comment, but I’m so glad you’re a Giant. :)

Blanco you are the best you’re everything i want to be when i grow up a fast(really fast) great defensive player and also you can hit one out to you still have power your not only speed. Blanco you’re the best keep working hard man.

You are an inspiration to all … good motivational hardworking athlete always working to improve and, an even better person. Your catch reminds me of the Willie Mays catch … it will always be remembered. Much Healing Blessings to You and Your Family

White Shark is JAWS in the outfield!

I really admire your work ethic. It’s inspiring. I’m much more determined to keep up with my studies and do well in college. Thank you for the blog posts. Keep them coming!

Dear Mr. Blanco: I am sure that if you did not have baseball talent, you would
have led a positive life. Maybe you would have been a doctor, or lawyer, or educator!

That story is amazing and your one of the few players that are humble enough to take the time to write these kinds of things! Just the fact that no matter what, you were waving up at us today above the arcade shows how appreciative you are of where your at! Keep up the good work!

Awesome!
Thank you for being such a hard-working player
It is fun to watch you play!

Gregor, you are so fun to watch and I pull for you everyday. It’s guys like you that make me love my team so much. Giants and guys like you are the only thing that can bring a tear to my eyes when watching!!

Thank you for sharing your life with us. Sounds like you have a great mom, and clearly the apple did not fall far from the tree, you sound like you have learned a lot of great lessons from her. You sound like you have a great head on your shoulder, and that makes me root for you even more.

I think you are onto something with batting against a pitching machine that throw 102 MPH. I used to bat in the summers (long ago) at a local college and we would crank up the machines (well, crank it up for us :^) and I was amazed when I suddenly could see the yellow dimples of the ball rotating towards me, just like Rod Carew was saying in an interview. I think your eyes adjust to the faster speed eventually with all that practice, resulting in pitches looking slower when you are in the game.

Have you tried the Giants video training system? Brandon Belt learned a lot from using that, so did Nick Noonan, from what I’ve read.

Lastly, have you read Ted Williams’ book, “The Science of Hitting”? Great book, obviously you want to avoid the popups, but instead of focusing on grounders, the book focuses on you hitting line drives.

All the best, keep up the good works.

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