“Must be nice being able to root for a winning team.” “Where exactly do the Golden State Warriors play, California is the golden state right?” “So….are you going to be a Raiders fan?”
These are the type of responses I get when mentioning my move to the Bay Area from Chicago. Being a fan of the Windy City teams, it’s only natural that these are the pressing questions about my move (along with remarks about how much nicer the weather will be). I do take offense, however, with the assumptions that I will realign my allegiances according to the city I live in. Because honestly, in this age you can follow your teams anywhere in country, or world for that matter, so why root for new teams?
My answer would be to think back to the times every bar in the city was showing the game, talk radio was chattering with who should be fired, and every meatball in the city wanted to share their great plan for beating Green Bay (Seattle/San Diego?).
I would like to think of my move as an opportunity to make tasteful additions to a rather elegant list which includes the Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs, and Ohio Northern Polar Bears (no really, that was my alma mater’s mascot). The realization is that I don’t have to necessarily give up rooting for my teams, but I sure as hell can root for some new ones and indulge in the athletic offerings of my new home.
So where does the previous paragraph’s rant lead us to? In the simplest terms, I would like to share my experience in becoming a new fan of your city’s sports franchises. I want to give you insight on how outsiders might view your teams, traditions, former and/or current players. This is an offer to share opinions not rooted in multiple years of fandom (the ever so common “I have been a fan for x number of years” fallacy) and offer a vantage point empty of tradition or pre-conceived notions. I want to enlighten you by offering my experiences with fans, games, TV broadcast and anything else that comes up.
With that said, I’m going to include a primer on my familiarity of each team covered here at Golden Gate Sports. Keeping in mind my ignorance of all things west coast sports, a description will follow of the history of the franchise, players (current and former), championships, traditions, stadium, and the ease of adopting them as your new team. Let’s begin this week with the San Francisco Giants:
The SF Giants are kind of an enigma to me, as is much of the NL West (save the Dodgers). The national media devotes most of its coverage to the east coast teams. This is not an illusion. As you go further west the coverage, and in turn the familiarity, of teams west of the Mississippi is greatly diminished (except for LA of course). The Giants having had recent success and top talent have started to break through into the national spotlight, but only for moments at a time. The most famous current player on the Giants, based on national media coverage, is Brian Wilson. Wilson is the type of player that is not only good for the Giants exposure, but exposure for the MLB as a whole. Baseball has been missing a “character” for quite a few years, and a player with a high love/hate relationship is a catalyst for the team and the league to grow in popularity.
Even with their recent World Series championships, the Giants still have a sort of charm about them. They have the perception of underdogs, mainly due to the lack of offensive power. Pitching is not nearly as glamorous as hitting, even with some of the top talent in the league. Combining their location in San Francisco, the recent championship success, underdog perception and likable players the Giants are an easily adoptable team for a transplant moving to the area
History: It is easy to assume most of the west coast teams are derived from the east coast. In the case of the Giants, they are originally from New York. The Giants have had a lot of recent success in the form of dominant pitching, and they also had some guy named Barry Bonds who got them to World Series. I don’t know much about anything before the Bonds era, but a quick Wikipedia scan does not show much success before then.
Players: The aforementioned Barry Bonds is probably the most famous player, steroids or not. Older players I can remember are Willie McCovey and Willie Mays. Mays needs no explanation and McCovey mainly because of his “cove”. Current players include Matt Cain, and Tim Lincecum (with his odd wind-up), and also some players known for their nicknames or quirks such as Kung-Fu Panda (Pablo Sandoval) and Brian Wilson (the beard guy, not the Beach Boy). Buster Posey is one of the best young players in the league, and a nice guy to boot. I think The-riot Ryan Theriot is still on the team as well.
Stadium: AT&T Park is consistently rated one of the best parks in the MLB. Who am I to say otherwise? It’s right on the bay, in a beautiful city. Ease of Adoption: The Giants really don’t have any players to hate, unless you are not a Brian Wilson fan. Posey, Lincecum and Sandoval are all very likeable and enjoyable players to root for. They are built around pitching, which can seem boring to the average fan but they win games, and that is always fun. With their recent success as well as a top notch stadium I would say the Ease of Adoption for the Giants is a solid 4 out of 5.