Combat Sports

Urban: Giants Road Trip Truly a Trip

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Urban: Giants Road Trip Truly a Trip

Sept. 26, 2010
GIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEOMychael UrbanCSNBayArea.com

DENVER -- Prior to departing for Chicago on Monday, it had been almost a year to the date since Id been on a multi-city road trip. I did the road thing for 10 seasons as an As beat guynational writer for my previous employer, and I have to admit that I didnt miss it at all during the first five months of the 2010 season.When the calendar turned to September, though, it was obvious that I needed to get back out there. The Giants are better than theyve been in years, and you simply dont have any credibility as a baseball writer -- or TVradio broadcaster -- if you arent with the team while its playing its most critical games.Thus, it was decided that I would accompany the team the rest of the way, starting with the series in San Diego a couple of weeks ago. And today, as the Giants play their final game of a six-game trip through Chicago and Denver, and their final road game of the regular season, I offer to you some of the highs, lows and in-betweens of the past week The Giants were off last Monday, and I got into the Windy City at about 9 p.m. local time. By 10:30, I had been hit up by no fewer than 35 people asking me for money, and most of them wanted at least 1. When did the begging rates increase? On Tuesday I toured Wrigleyville and was blown away by how many Giants fans were there. Im not talking transplants, either. These were people who made the trip from the Bay Area -- tons of them. I knew thered be a lot of Giants fans in San Diego, but all the way out to Chicago? Thats passion. The Giants won my kind of game Tuesday night, Matt Cain and Carlos Zambrano took turns shoving bats up butts, and Buster Poseys solo homer to dead center was the only run in a 1-0 final. In short, a nice little signal that its about playoff time. The Cubs won 2-0 the next night, and all of a sudden it was panic time again in relation to the Giants offense. Makes me wonder if the teams fans suffer from collective short-term memory loss. Its not like we havent seen this before. It was the 16th shutout loss of the year! One of the things I really wanted to do at Wrigley was check out the bleachers, but my ALL ACCESS press pass wasnt enough to get me out there. What a joke. Im still bitter. Weve seen this quite a bit before, too: The Giants bounced back with a 13-0 win on Thursday to claim the series victory. The Giants must have short-term memory issues, too, and it works rather well for them. Note to self: While staying out until 5 a.m. is absurdly easy to do in Chicago, it is not required. My professional idol is Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle. His father, Gordon Jenkins (about whom Bruce wrote a phenomenal book), was a brilliant musician who worked with, among others, Frank Sinatra. So imagine the rush it was for me to hang out with Bruce in a Sinatra-themed bar in Chicago, listening to Old Blue Eyes. Incredible. Friday brought with it my first-ever trip to Coors Field, and Tim Lincecum held the Rockies to two hits in a 2-1 victory. As I walked the six blocks from the ballpark to my hotel, I wondered, Whats the big deal? Coors Field is overrated as a launching pad. And then came Saturday. Oops. Is that humidor thing broken? You know what needs to be broken? Dingers legs. The Rockies Triceratops mascot somehow gets away with standing behind home plate and waving his stubby little arms while the opponents closer is in his windup. So bush league its ridiculous. But not as ridiculous as the notion of a mascot running around without pants and spinning his head like Linda Blair in The Exorcist. That thing is going to traumatize children in the Mile High City for life if he isnt stopped. Troy Tulowitzkis walkup song is Party in the U.S.A. by Miley Cyrus. Hey, when you hit a homer and drive in three runs every day down the stretch, you can pretty much get away with anything.

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Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’

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AP

Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’

There was a time when Gary Brown was considered the Giants’ top prospect – their center fielder of the future. Hype was never higher than in 2011, when the fleet-footed 22-year-old set a franchise record with 188 hits in 131 games, earning California League Rookie of the Year honors with the San Jose Giants in his first full minor league campaign.

But six seasons and seven major league at-bats later, Brown’s professional baseball career ended at 28 years old.

“I feel like I let my emotions get the best of me in the years after that (2011 season),” Brown told NBC Sports Bay Area in an exclusive phone interview. “I think I started to believe the hype that everyone started to give to me.”

Brown never matched his magical .336-season in High-A ball with 14 home runs plus 53 stolen bases, and then struggled finding a routine with the rigors of the Pacific Coast League’s travel schedule once he reached Triple-A. Despite three hits in his seven at-bats as a September call-up with the Giants in 2014, Brown was designated for assignment on March 31, 2015.

Brown’s career spiraled playing the draining waiver game. Unsuccessful stints with the Cardinals and Angels sent Brown to the land of the last chance: Independent ball in the Atlantic League.

“It was not fun for me for quite a few years. I wasn’t a very happy person,” Brown said. “After I got DFA'd by the Giants, that really took a toll on me. I never really recovered from that, so I was kind of stuck in the past and things kind of just got away from me. 

“I was kind of heartbroken to be honest. I mean, it hurt me to my core.”

Through tumultuous career turns, the Southern California native never turned on the team that drafted him 24th overall in 2010.

“I'm thankful for the opportunity the Giants gave me. No matter how big or small mine was, I am very thankful” Brown said emphatically. “I definitely wish I could have shown what I feel like my true potential was, but it didn't work out that way. 

“I still root for the Giants. All my friends with the Giants, I'm still pulling for them. They run that organization so well. I have no ill intentions or anything bad to say about the Giants organization.” 

Far removed from his days with the Giants, Brown found new life with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in 2016. Brown batted .249 and returned to the team in 2017. He started strong with a .298 batting average in 31 games while having fun for the first time in years, but injuries struck at an inopportune time.

Chronic aches in his hip joints and intense back spasms, in addition to a frustrating lack of interest from MLB teams and the fact he and his wife had twins on the way, spurred Brown to retirement in the middle of the season on July 5.

“Retirement has nothing to do with the lack of competitiveness (of the Atlantic League). It was the distance and the time away, matching the minor league salary,” Brown said. “Going back to that makes it really hard on the family and when you get older it really becomes about what you value more.”

The player he once was is gone, but the person he is has only grown. There’s one piece of advice which goes beyond the diamond that Brown was sure to pass on to the next wave of future top Giants prospects.

“Never stop making adjustments,” Brown said ruefully.

Days away from turning 29 on Sept. 28 and out of baseball for the first time in his life, Brown is certainly making his own.

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Part 2 of our interview with Gary Brown focusing on where he is now in his life will be released Friday on NBCSportsBayArea.com.