08/02/12 2:30 PM ET
Treanor cheers wife's Olympic effort from afar
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
While Treanor serves as the Dodgers' backup catcher, he monitors the London Olympics, where wife Misty May-Treanor and partner Kerri Walsh-Jennings on Wednesday scored their third victory of these games in search of their third consecutive beach volleyball gold medal.
It was the pair's 17th consecutive Olympic victory dating back two Olympics. They won the match despite losing a set for the first time in those 17 matches, advancing to the knockout round as the No. 1 seed.
Matt Treanor hasn't attended any of his wife's Olympic moments. He's had to watch on television and the Internet, communicating via email and text and phone and Skype. His wife celebrated her 35th birthday Monday in England. Matt was in Los Angeles.
She did present him with a surprise message tihs week, taping a 10-second on-court greeting to "Matthew" immediately after a win that was shown on DodgerVision between innings Wednesday.
"Misty's very understanding of what I do," Treanor said. "Of course, I want to be there to support her. But she knows that I'm watching. I won't say it doesn't take a toll on the relationship. I want to be there for the end result, good or bad. It's tough, but it's the path we chose."
They met almost 10 years ago when both were rehabbing injuries. Eight years ago, when the Olympics were in Athens, Matt watched the finals with teammates from the clubhouse in Colorado Springs, where he was grinding through his path to the Major Leagues.
Four years later, when his wife triumphed in Beijing, Matt was a Marlin and Fredi Gonzalez allowed him to watch the finals on the Internet in the manager's office at AT&T Park during a game in San Francisco.
Misty and Kerri are four wins away from a third gold and the chance to go out on top, which Matt thought had happened four years ago when Walsh-Jennings wanted to have kids. Misty wanted to coach and took a shot at "Dancing With the Stars," only to blow out her Achilles tendon.
Walsh-Jennings had two children and found a new partner, but after her rehab, Misty "got the itch," as Matt put it, and called Walsh-Jennings to reunite the tandem. So for Matt, starting a family, leaving a more normal life, etc., was put on hold for another Olympic run.
"It was almost like it was unspoken and it came out," Treanor said of Misty's comeback desire. "She didn't leave the game the way she wanted.
"We talked about her commitment. She's as focused as any athlete I've ever met. I knew she would give her whole attention to it. There was no regret or reservation for me. If she's committed to anything, it's best to be supportive and that's the route I took."
Matt said he has developed an appreciation for the game of beach volleyball, dissecting the strategy as he would for baseball. He helps his wife train and shags balls in practice, then admits to being more on edge watching Misty play than when he's playing.
"I'm excited and nervous," he said. "Probably like her watching me play. When I watch her, I have no control. She's probably way more comfortable playing than I am watching her."
Treanor is still in search of his gold medal equivalent, having barely missed as a member of the 2010 Texas Rangers when they lost the World Series to the Giants. He accepts his role as the backup to A.J. Ellis, constantly studying opposing hitters while trying to keep a swing intact despite erratic playing time.
In the meantime, he's developed an appreciation for the athleticism of beach volleyball stars, even though the sport gained international appeal during Misty's career for other reasons, like tanned bodies and skimpy clothing.
"You see these good-looking women in shape with bikinis on and all of a sudden, you're really not paying attention to the bikinis anymore and are like, 'Wow, they're really athletic and aggressive,'" he said.
And as world-class athletes, they have a lot in common with Major League Baseball players, especially on the psychological side.
"Not being around her kind of stinks, because she's great with the mental stuff," Matt said. "She can sit there and I can stay stuff and she keeps me focused on the mental side of the game. She's great with mental stuff. She's as focused as any athlete I've ever met."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.