Image of the FastForward reporters and Brandon Crawford at AT&T Park

ON LOCATION - September, 2016

Talking with the Team we Love

WRITERS: Alina Rainsford, Parker Bizjack, Brooke Clark, Arjun Aujila, Nadia Forland, Kylie Sebastian
INTERVIEW/PHOTOGRAPHY: Ethan Herron, Isabella Hochschild, Alyssa Mulligan, Bella Miccucci, Regan Widergren, Owen Wright 

Walking down the historic halls of AT&T Park, realizing that legends, such as Barry Bonds and Willie Mays walked the same halls, onto the same warning track, and in the same dugout, and that post World Series champagne celebrations had occurred in this very space, one is overwhelmed by the extraordinary San Francisco Giants organization. AT&T Park is steeped in baseball history, with McCovey Cove and Willie Mays Plaza, and the many historical artifacts that line the halls. The Giants have done a remarkable job of seamlessly interweaving the rich history of the franchise with the greatest hope for the future. This is the organization that transformed from a sluggish, frustrating, playoff drought team, to a dynasty, winning three World Series Championships in five years. When speaking to the players, it is clear that the Giants are special. According to newbie relief pitcher Will Smith, who just joined the team on a trade, the Giants are a “very close knit group of guys.”

Hunter Pence said, "My goal is to see victory in everything and see victory where other people see nothing. I always give my best. I think in every moment whatever happens we have the choice of how we choose to perceive things. If I can find a way to grow or view something in a different perspective and change the lens through which I am looking, even if it is seemingly not preferable, it is growth to me. You either win the game or you learn from it. ”

The close-knit support system of the team has come in handy for Jake Peavy, as he transitions roles within the team. Originally a starting pitcher, Peavy has just been moved to the bullpen in order to make room in the starting rotation for Matt Moore, and he says he is “relying on guys who’ve done it previously,” because “coming out of the bullpen is very different. You have to be ready all the time because in a moment’s notice, the game could be in your hands.” Jake added, "Waking up on a starting day is very different than waking up in a non-starting day. My pregame ritual is to have a big meal at home because once you come into the ball park, you are in game mode. The person who influenced me most was my granddad because he loved the game. He died in a tragic accident when I was 14 and after that I made up my mind I wanted to become the best baseball player I could. I love playing for the Giants, with Bruce Bochy as my Manager. It was awesome to be able to win the World Series in 2014 and play with players like Buster Posey and Hunter Pence. Hunter brings a special energy to the ball park every day. He plays with a fire and passion that’s contagious.”

I think in every moment whatever happens we have the choice of how we choose to perceive things. If I can find a way to grow or view something in a different perspective and change the lens through which I am looking, even if it is seemingly not preferable, it is growth to me. You either win the game or you learn from it.  —Hunter Pence

Javier Lopez, a veteran of the San Francisco Giants bullpen, has also transitioned his role in recent years. Lopez is known as a specialist; as a lefthanded pitcher, he can be called into the game to face one batter and throw just a few pitches. He says “it can be difficult to be a specialist, to help with just one out or two; I’d rather be a starter.” As a veteran of the bullpen, Lopez also takes it upon himself to “carry humor into the bullpen” and “spread the wealth.” When asked which players are the jokesters of the clubhouse, Lopez said “both Brandon Crawford and Belt are pretty mischievous, and Buster Posey is sneaky funny.” Lopez also thinks the Giants recipe for success has been their core group of players, Bumgarner, Posey, and Cain to name a few, all of whom “know how to win.” And what he loves about the Giants? “Every person on this team is amazing on the field, but an even better person off the field.”

Clearly, the Giants have done a remarkable job of balancing sparks, like Hunter Pence, who pump other players up, with calm, cool, and collected players like Madison Bumgarner to create a cohesive, intelligent and immensely talented group of athletes. Additionally, hitting instructor and former Giant Will Clark said that the Giants homegrown approach is their key to success: “We win from within the organization.” Perhaps it’s their homegrown talent, perhaps it’s their extraordinary melting pot character within the clubhouse that explains their ability to reach the pinnacle of baseball: the World Series. And then to do it again. And again. We can’t wait to see where they’ll go next—especially since it’s an even year!

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