Don't tell Jeremy Affeldt he's an afterthought in the San Francisco Giants' World Series-clinching victory over the Kansas City Royals this past October. While Madison Bumgarner's five-inning save garnered much of the media attention, Affeldt has something very few professional pitchers can boast: a Game 7 win. So did the lefty specialist go to Disney World after his third World Series ring? Not this time around: "I think we did Lego Land twice, that was enough for me."
Affeldt and Los Angeles Dodger Dee Gordon were among those checking out the best new gear at the opening of Men's Journal's Gear Lab hosted at the MLB Fan Cave in Manhattan last week. The event, held in conjunction with MLB.com, featured wide-ranging gift ideas from the Gear Of The Year issue alongside a slew of MLB must-haves. And while there were no Legos on display, Affeldt, who was there with his wife Larisa, was quick to point out the importance of family time during the off season.
"I've got three little boys that we're trying to raise, so spending time with them is very important to me." Asked if there is one specific thing he tries to do every off season, his response was simple: "I do, I try to go on vacation with my family. This year we did some scuba diving in Maui, some zip-lining, and had some fun with the outdoor stuff."
Aside from relaxing with his own family, Affeldt takes time during his busy off season to continue his charitable work. An advocate for ending child poverty and human trafficking, he released a book last year and spends much of his downtime educating communities through his own Generation Alive organization and via contributions to the Not For Sale campaign.
"I have a tattoo on my left forearm that says, 'No man shall live for himself,' almost with the mindset of, whatever you do, make sure you do it knowing you can help other people," Affeldt said. "I believe in developing young leaders and young minds to understand what poverty and the pains of poverty can do to people." The reasoning? "I just really enjoy helping people out."
For Dee Gordon, family was also a central point to his response, but rest and relaxation is a high priority for the 2014 stolen base leader.
"I look forward to sitting home and watching TV," Gordon said. "I'm really simple, I don't do much, I don't go out. I just like to hang out with the family and try to relax."
Unlike the three other major sports, baseball's offseason is in the Winter. While everyone else takes summer vacations, Baseball players get to enjoy the holidays with the family. Maybe that's why the Dodgers second baseman tries not to pay attention to baseball in the off season. "It's the last thing I think about, honestly."
Seeing as Gordon comes from a lineage of baseball greats, it's understandable that he doesn't want to think about the sport in the off season. His dad Tom was an all-star reliever, pitching for eight teams spanning a 21-year career, while his 19-year-old brother Nick was the fifth overall pick in the 2014 MLB draft. Considered the top shortstop prospect, the younger Gordon signed with the Twins in June, receiving a $3,851,000 signing bonus in the process. With three exceptional ball players in the family, you'd think bragging rights would become a hot topic during the holidays.
"It's weird, my dad doesn't [care], I don't, but my little brother, he wants to be the best," Gordon joked. "He wants to be better at everything, but me and my dad are pretty chill." Though he takes his brothers ribbing in stride, Dee did admit his brother's prospects are very high. "[I expect] big things for my brother, excited for him, and he has the right guidance with my dad."
Of course, with a pitcher dad and two position-playing sons, the obvious question came to mind. Have you ever hit off your dad's good stuff? "In high school I did, but I think he kind of gave me a good pitch to hit." So you did alright? "Yeah."
Though family-time was the common theme, the biggest difference in off seasons between the two stars in attendance was the piece of jewelry Affeldt has won three times. "I think when you win the World Series your off season is shorter and mentally you're a little more exhausted," Affeldt said when asked about the difference after winning it all vs. being knocked out early. "But you're a lot more thankful for what you've accomplished, obviously." Then he dropped the perfect humble-brag to end all off-season discussions.
"Honestly, the four times I've been to the playoffs we went to the World Series, so I don't know what it's like to get kicked out early."
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