Eight years ago, as the Giants began the heartbreaking 2002 World Series, I was interviewed by somebody at the Contra Costa Times who was working on a piece about longtime Giants fans (at the time, it had been 44 years since the team came to San Francisco, and, of course, 44 years of no World Series championships). That article is only available through a pay wall, so I can’t quote it, but what I had to say (something about not wanting to watch close games … I wanted to see blowouts in favor of the Giants) is less important than the gist of the thing, that it was a good human-interest story, the tale of the aging Giants fan.
I haven’t read every article this time around … it’s impossible, there are so many … but when the talk gets around to the fan experience, my sense is that the guiding concept is that San Francisco is delirious about the team, and that people are doing goofy things like spending $1000 on a nosebleed ticket or wearing Panda hats in public. There’s a feeling that the bandwagon jumpers are the story … isn’t it great that San Francisco has a team worth rooting for, even if you are usually just a casual fan.
I am all in favor of bandwagon jumpers. Why wouldn’t I want to share my joy with others? And there’s no question, the atmosphere is enjoyably goofy, with the Brian Wilson videos and all the people with fake black beards. But … and I can’t believe I’m writing this, but I’m writing it because I’m thinking it … it makes me yearn for the days when only a handful of us lived and died with this stuff. I finally understand the mentality of those who hate musicians after they become popular.
When Bruce Springsteen parlayed Born in the U.S.A. into an enormous stadium tour, I was glad, partly because he deserved the fame, partly because the shows were good, and partly because I liked sharing my joy. Thinking about it now, I realize it’s similar to what’s happening with the Giants: they could fill three stadiums right now.
And I realize something else: while I can’t say I’m dying to go back to 1985 so I could sit at Candlestick and watch David Green ground into a double play, I do have a fondness for a time when I was special because I was a Giants fan. I’m not special, now … at least around here, we are all Giants fans. After all this time, to find I’m just like all the rest, stranded in the park.