Ship boat

The real captain of the good ship Giants? Belt or Crawford, his name is Brandon

Is he the man who anchors the defense from midfield? Or the man who anchors his boat in the middle of the field?

Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt enjoy such a good relationship as the two players with the Giants’ most serving time and the only remaining championship-era ties that Belt thought it would be OK and no affront for the other. Brandon entering the field moments before Opening Day on a boat.

Sitting casually in a captain’s chair, wearing a captain’s cap with a “C” taped to his jersey, Belt walked into the “Pirates of the Caribbean” theme, stood, waved to fans along the third baseline, proceeded to throw baseballs into the crowd on the starboard side, then walk to the mound to throw the ceremonial first pitch.

“I never want to see this again,” Crawford quipped after the game, a 6-5 win over the Marlins in 10 innings.

These two are lifelong pals, both respecting each other, one of the main reasons the Giants have been successful over the years, both with a sense of humor .

Crawford will mock Belt at any opportunity, and although Belt has playfully boasted that he surpasses Crawford in time in service (10 years, 129 days to 10 years, 95 days), Crawford will be quick to point out that he is the leader in career games played (1,444–1,233), an obvious blow to Belt for spending more time in the coaching room.

That belt proclaiming himself captain in last year’s glorious run to 107 wins only amplified the back-and-forth, and it reached a new level after the pre-game extravaganza. of Friday.

It can be argued that Crawford, the shortstop and infield leader, is the true captain of the team, that Belt’s captaincy is just for show. Although Belt, with his trademark humor, will have none of that. Well, first of all, he said, I didn’t choose to be captain. The captain chose me.

Crawford shook his head as he relayed Belt’s best post-match comments on the role of captain, saying: “He’s embracing it so much now you could (tease) him about it, and that don’t even phase it.”

Buster Posey had been the unofficial captain since around the time he helped the Giants win their first of three World Series titles. Now that he’s gone, who should take over? Inquiring minds want to know, don’t they?

The Brandons, with their historical background and franchise pedigree, are the only candidates.

“I’m an unofficial captain,” Belt said, “but 99.9% of people see me as the captain.”

To which Crawford replied, “I don’t know what he means by that. I always thought he thought he was 100% the captain.

It’s all fun and fun, but it’s important to note that the Giants aren’t the Giants without these two, without their production and leadership that they bring to the clubhouse and to the field. A division title wouldn’t have come in 2021 if the Brandons hadn’t provided defensive stability and offensive firepower. All of this is needed again in 2022 with Posey retired.

Their closeness is evident by the fact that they are longtime throwing partners and locker mates. In Friday’s win, Belt homered and beat the quarterback with a bunt single that the Marlins missed, allowing Joey Bart to score from first base. Crawford played his usual brand of impeccable defense.

“We’re having fun with the captain’s stuff,” Crawford said, “but I wouldn’t have wanted another first baseman there in those 11 years. There’s a reason we’re always next to each other in the locker room. Either of us could have chosen the opposite side at any time.

Belt said: “We have a great relationship. We are good friends. It’s pretty special to be able to play with someone else for so long, especially in baseball, so I think any time we have the opportunity to have fun like that, we go in and take that opportunity.

Before the 2019 season, I wrote a story suggesting that Bruce Bochy should officially name team captain Posey. It was a transitional year for the Giants, with Bochy entering his final season and Farhan Zaidi taking charge of the front office.

Bochy never had a captain – just like Roger Craig, Dusty Baker and Felipe Alou before him – and was not going to name one in his final year. “I think people consider Buster the captain of this club,” Bochy said at the time. “He doesn’t need that title.”

David Wright of the Mets was the last majors captain. Another New Yorker, Derek Jeter, was captain of the Yankees. The Giants haven’t had one — at least officially — since Darrell Evans and Jack Clark in the 1980s. In 1964, Willie Mays was named the first African-American captain in MLB history by manager Alvin Dark, a former shortstop who himself was a captain during the franchise’s years in New York.

Captains in baseball are not standard, unlike captains in football, basketball, and hockey. But with the Giants, it works. The players adopt it. Even Crawford, if you ever catch him in a serious moment. And the fans love it. So much so that the Giants marketing department decided to base a promotional giveaway on Belt, so 20,000 captain’s hats will be given away before Saturday’s game.

Following Crawford signing a two-year extension at the end of last season and Belt accepting a qualifying offer, the Brandons appeared on their 11th opening day, more than all Giants except Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Barry Bonds.

It’s heavy and you have to cherish it. The same goes for their contributions to franchise history. With their relationship, of course.

Maybe they should be co-captains.

Are you okay with that, Brandon?

John Shea is the national baseball writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]: @JohnSheaHey