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Welcome to the Show, Brandon Belt.

March 30, 2011

For those of you who have been living under a rock today, Brandon Belt has made the 25-man and will be starting first baseman for your World Champion San Francisco Giants on Opening Day against the Dodgers.  Plenty of arguments for letting Belt start the season in Fresno were made, and in large part those arguments still stand.  The Giants lose out on a year of club control, the threat of free agency looms that much closer, and it means that at least one veteran player, thus far Travis Ishikawa, has lost their spot on the roster.

But ultimately, baseball is in big and small ways about love and hope and the unfathomable happening.  Of underdogs winning, and kids who were told they were too small or too tall or too this or that making it and proving their doubters wrong.  Sometimes the fairy tales are true.  Sometimes a championship drought of 56 years is ended.  And sometimes a not much regarded fifth rounder comes out of his first big league camp as an Opening Day starter and an early pick for Rookie of the Year.

Sometimes the right thing isn’t always the easy thing, and this wasn’t the easy answer for the Giants brass.  Easy isn’t cutting a more veteran player.  Easy isn’t putting a rookie in the Opening Day lineup when last year’s Rookie of the Year (who also garnered MVP votes and is a good bet to do so again) had to do his time in AAA in the spring.  But as Bochy said today, “He’s earned this and it makes us a better club.”  Regardless of the rest of it, you have to give a guy his due, and I’ll take that loyalty and vote of confidence over what may have been the smarter business decision.

We have to take a moment to recognize Travis Ishikawa in the midst of this.  Ishi was a huge asset to the team and was always a professional and a class act and has proven that again today with how he has handled the decision to release him.  It’s hard not to want him to get a big league spot with another team, but it’s also a bit hard to not want him to clear waivers so we can keep him in Fresno.  Selfish, sure, but it’s hard to see him go.

So thank you, Ishi, you’ll always be a champion and you were a good Giant.  And congratulations Brandon, from the deepest, most sentimental bit of our hearts, and welcome to your new home.  We hope you stay for a long, long time.

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