So remember way, way back in 2003, the Red Sox were a much beleaguered organization and just like the Cubs, Indians and Giants most of us rooted for them once our team was out of it because they had an underdog vibe to them and had endured a lot of pain. Fast forward almost a decade and the Red Sox are every bit as annoying as the Yankees. Their average fan is completely lost when talking about baseball and couldn't tell you the difference between Tony Conigliaro and Tony the Tiger. There's no use debating it, everyone outside of Boston now holds this as fact.
I grew up in the Bay Area, froze my ass off at the Stick while burning my mouth on hot chocolate and watching Atlee Hammaker and Mike LaCoss get lit up. Will Clark is still my favorite baseball player and I even named my son Willie. I moved to the DC area about a decade ago and started kind of following the Nats when they moved out here, but remained a Giants fan even though I could rarely watch games without causing sleep deprivation. I became a Nats fan after the Giants finally won the World Series and I felt like I could follow someone else without being a quitter. Even though the Nats weren't too great last year, it was nice to be able to watch games in the evening and go to a game or two a month. Hell, even FP has grown on me (he's gotten a lot better since he left the Giants) and the radio guys, Charlie and Dave, are wonderful.
So I took my Dad, a lifelong Giants fan since the 50's, with me to the Giants-Nats game on Tuesday and Wednesday and was surprised at all of the Giants fans there. We've been going to all three games of the series since we moved out here and up until last year, we were usually one of only a handful of Giants fans there. Our tickets were right behind the visitors dugout and we were surrounded by Giants fans. After two games, I came to the conclusion that the Giants are becoming the Red Sox.
So you know how all current Red Sox fans claim to have followed the team since they traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees, well we sat near 5 or 6 large groups who all claimed to have been Giants fans since Willie Mays got back from the Army. They were all decked out in new orange shirts, milk man costumes and Lincecum jersies. There was a Panda hat or two and one lady almost fainted when she got a picture of Brandon Crawford and those beautiful eyes of his, before acting like a tweener who just got her picture taken with Justin Bieber. While everyone claimed to originally be from the Bay Area there wasn't a Croix de Candlestick to found.
On Tuesday after Crawford booted a line drive up the middle, my Dad remarked that he was no Jose Uribe. One gentleman, who claimed to be a "lifetime" Giants fan remarked that Crawford was a way better SS than Juan Uribe. My Dad told him that he said Jose and they guy then scoffed and turned around smug in his knowledge that my Dad didn't even know that Uribe's name was Juan not Jose. Everyone in both his group and the group to the side seemed to agree.
My Dad just shook his head and reminded me of my odd affinity for Chris Speier when I was growing up. Speier wasn't exactly what you would call a good baseball player, but for a time, he was my favorite player. My father still ridicules me for this and my typical retort is that he once had his picture taken with Johnny LeMaster. At this point, another "diehard" sitting next to us asked whot that was, now mind you this guy had told us all about how it had finally happened during his lifetime and all about McCovey's line drive and the '89 quake and 2002, and me being the smart ass that I am I just said that he played around the same time as Mel Ott.
We left Tuesday and I just figured that we had been seated next to the largest gathering of bandwagon fans ever assembled, but when we returned Wednesday I found that was just not the case. Yesterday morning I was treated to 3 hours of incessant chatter about how old Buster Posey is, why didn't they pinch-hit for the pitcher in the second inning, how it wasn't fair that Zimmerman hit a home run and how he was probably on steroids. People went wild for two out singles even though the Giants were down five runs and screamed "Sit down meat" after Zimmerman hit into a double play in the 8th. The group of "diehards" seated next to us yesterday didn't know who Robby Thompson is and seemed a little lost when I told them that Zimmerman's defense at 3rd is as good as Matt Williams. They had lots of brand new gear though and seemed to enjoy the game when they weren't texting their friends to see if they had been on TV yet. On the metro, the Giants fans didn't seem too bothered by the fact that both Lincecum and MadBum got lit up. A few even attempted to heckle Washington fans over their lack of history.
The whole thing was pretty sad. I remember being at the Stick in '97 when one of the best Giants teams I had ever seen lost to the Marlins, remember refusing to change my seat or move at all when Scott Garrelts took his no-hit bid deep against Cincinatti before Paul O'Neil broke it up. I cried when I thought they were moving to Florida, then almost cried when Clark left for Texas. I have been to sold out Giants games and been one of an announced crowd of 6,000. In all that time, I always regarded Giants fans as loyal, knowledgeable fans. They knew why we booed Fatty Lasorda, why we loved Will the Thrill, why we threw up in our mouths when someone mentioned Scott Spiezio, Jose Oquendo or Solomon Torres.
I'm lucky enough that someone I grew up with now plays for the Nats and I enjoy access that other people just don't get. I love this young group of players. Sure we have lots of "new" fans this year versus last year, but that's to be expected when you're essentially an expansion team that is winning for the first time. I know that the McCoven do not fall into the group that I sat near this past week and so I implore you all, don't let the Giants become the Red Sox. I don't have the answer on how to stop this, but I'm sure it's not what you want either and thought you should at the very least be made aware.