Earlier this week cooler weather swept away the last strangle hold of summer on our area and it finally began to feel like fall. Football is about enter it’s third weekend, and all the craft beer breweries have released their “Fall Seasonal” or “Oktoberfest”. (of which I am sampling while I type this) September through October is one of my favorite times of year in the sports world and life in general. Unfortunately it’s also the time of year that I have to pick a major league baseball team to root for during the pennant chase and subsequent playoffs. It’s unfortunate because the team I pick is never actually my favorite team; The Kansas City Royals. The Royals do not have a playoff appearance since I have been cognizant of such things. I’ll write more about the Royals in the next few weeks. Right now I’m going to tell you about my resurgent fandom and bandwagoning of the San Francisco Giants.
When I say resurgent fandom I mean just that. I don’t mean that I was on their bandwagon when they won the World Series in 2010. For some reason a World Championship didn’t push me back on the wagon that year. It goes back further than that, way back, back to the days of Will Clark, Kevin Mitchell, Matt Williams, and manager Roger Craig. (There was another San Francisco Roger Craig in those days. He was a running back for the 49ers) Before I was a fan of the San Francisco Giants. I was a fan if the Wichita State Shocker Baseball Team.
In the years of 1988 and 1989 there was no other baseball team in my world. Yes, the George Brett led Royals were around and in the glow of their recent World Series title. They were still a decent team…but they were a long three hour car ride away. In the mind of my boyhood self baseball was the Shockers, they were across town. I could go to a game, and did so regularly. In Wichita it seemed like Shocker baseball was on TV as much as any major league team including the Royals. For a while I thought the Shockers were a professional baseball team. It wasn’t until my favorite players started graduating that I realized the difference. It’s probably because of the late 80’s, early 90’s Shocker Baseball teams that baseball is my favorite sport.
In 1989 the Shockers won the College World Series led by the pitching of Greg Brummett and a supporting cast of future major leaguers that included Eric Wedge (former Cleveland Indian and current Seattle Mariners Manager), Mike Lansing, and Tyler Greene. It also happened that the San Francisco Giants were having an excellent year in 1989 too. The San Francisco Giants took Brummett in the 11th Round of the Amateur Draft that year. As a Shocker fanboy I decided if the Giants were going to take Brummett I was going to follow along and be a Giants fanboy too. I have no problem admitting I was a fanboy, because at the time I was in fact, a boy.
In addition to my favorite Shocker being drafted by the Giants; In those days it was quite easy to watch west coast teams with the way ESPN was covering Major League Baseball. These were the days before MLB.tv. But every Wednesday and Friday ESPN had an MLB double-header and it seemed that the second game of the double-header always involved the Giants. I, being a youngster was only able to watch one or two innings on Wednesday, but most Friday nights I got to watch the Giants play an entire game. The rest of the time I kept track of the Giants by reading box scores in the local paper.
I remember being upset when the Giants were swept in the 1989 “Earthquake” World Series by the Oakland Athletics. I also remember the Giants battling the early 90’s Braves for what was then the NL West Title. I remember being excited when they signed Barry Bonds as a free agent. Then one day Greg Brummett got the call to make his MLB Debut. I don’t know if it was the National Game of The Week, or if a local station bought the rights to carry the game on their own. Regardless of how this game ended up on television, I remember watching every pitch. You can check the boxscore here. Brummett pitched decently and got the win. Sadly I think that might have been the highlight of his MLB career.
Brummett’s MLB Debut was in May of 1993. That was the last spring of middle school. When you get out of middle school other things start to take most of your attention like girls, playing football, and trying to be cool. Not sure if I ever did any of those things correctly. Yes, I paid attention to baseball while in High School, but nothing like I did before turning into a teenager. I lost track of baseball and lost track of the Giants…even the Royals.
In 2001 I finally made it to San Francisco on a business trip and took in my first live Giants game. I cheered for the Giants but nothing like the enthusiasm I had as a kid. It wasn’t until I moved this summer came across all of my Giants memorabilia from that era that I even recalled this whole episode. I must have every Will Clark baseball card from 1987 through 1994. My subscription to MLB.tv also helped. I can’t watch the Royals because of MLB’s archaic blackout policy. So I watch a lot of Giants games because they’re on late when I have time to watch baseball.
Each fan base has a certain culture. I think part of being a fan of a team is attending games and knowing the ins and outs of the stadium. Knowing where the local or regional watering holes are located. Knowing the personalities and paradigms of the media that cover the team and subsequently bitching about them. All of those things make up the culture of a fan base. I have been a apart of the culture of being a Royals fan and with Twitter and other social media still feel a part of that culture.
I don’t think I can fully integrate myself into the San Francisco Giants culture like I have the Royals culture. I’m not from the Bay Area, and I don’t know enough about the area to even pretend. Not only that, I’m still a Royals fan…for some reason. But, I don’t see why I can’t root for the Giants during the post season. I don’t see why I can’t root for the Giants during the regular season either. They could be my National League team. I just don’t think I could ever call myself a “Giants Fan” like I call myself a “Royals Fan”