I'm going to take a break from the AL East predictions - no tears, please - to address something that bugs me. This is somewhat of a Giants issue, but it is more of a life lesson I wish to impart on you all. So allow me to teach profound nuggets of wisdom, allow me to free your mind, and allow me to climb on your metaphorical back to direct you through Dagobah Swamp. This first course is free.
There is nothing inherently wrong with San Francisco baseball fans. Breathe it in. Repeat it. There is nothing inherently wrong with San Francisco baseball fans. There is no societal or communal groupthink that makes us cheer for Barry Bonds. It seems obvious to point out. A double helix of idiocy will not be discovered in a Southern California lab while mapping out the Giants fan genome. There is nothing inherently wrong with San Francisco baseball fans.
Still, we'll all need to be prepared for the yammering from pundits, opposing fans, and talk radio goofs. On April 6th, Barry Bonds is going to get a standing ovation. It will last for a while. The next time Barry Bonds has a multi-homer game, he'll get a standing ovation. When Bonds passes Babe Ruth, he'll get a standing ovation. And the goofs will have a field day. Giants fans are ignorant sub-human pig men and pig women; film at 11, public flogging at 11:30.
There are hundreds of reasons why we cheer for Bonds. It's hard to just turn off an appreciation of a spectacular talent. Some of the best memories in our lives will have come at the ballpark, and one man has given us the bulk of these memories. If you want to get into the nuts and bolts of it all, Bonds has triggered some sort of pleasure chemical in all of our brains, and has done it about 6,000 times over the past decade-plus. That's why we keep coming back for more.
If Barry Bonds were on another team, he would be supported by a whole different group of fans. It kills me to hear the occasional A's fan tear into Bonds, and start with the asterisk nonsense. I'll concede the asterisk if they agree to call the '89 Series a tie due to Jose Canseco's admitted juicing, which is also a ridiculous argument. Not to mention, if Mark McGwire doesn't take peformance-enhancing drugs, he might have garnered less value back in trade. And then the A's wouldn't have been able to get Blake Stein. What the hell would they have done then, I ask? Every team has had players taking some sort of drugs, and every fan has cheered on better winning through chemistry. Asterisks and revisionist histories only serve to obscure the issue.
On the other end of the spectrum, if Bonds were a Dodger I don't think I would have stopped giggling at his problems yet. That's just how it is. When people start taking sports rivalries a little too seriously, it helps to utter the phrase, "There, but for the grace of geography, go I." The selection of a favorite sports team is ridiculously arbitrary. That will never take away the thrill of a championship win, or the sting when the Dodgers dispatch the Giants in an important game. Still, all of the pseudo-religious imagery about the Dodgers - the t-shirts, the "Dodgers are evil" bit - it's all just a wee bit tongue-in-cheek. But while I would roll around in Dodger misfortune if the roles were reversed, I certainly hope I wouldn't start making blanket statements about the nature of the Southern Californian baseball fan. Tongue-sorta-in-cheek evil, yes. Completely ignorant human beings, no.
You will always hear about regional differences between fans, and they shouldn't be completely dismissed. Philly fans have the reputation of being very, uh, vocal with their disapproval, and Cardinal fans have the reputation of being some sort of pure baseball superfans, sprinkled with pure superfan fairy dust. Atlanta fans don't buy first round playoff tickets, and Dodger fans show up late and leave early. There might be kernels of truth in all of those stereotypes, but they are all also overblown. Rooting for a fallen hero transcends all of that. Fans of every team, in every city, would cheer Barry Bonds if the situations were reversed. If you think differently, you are probably a zealot in your political, spiritual, and personal life as well, and I ask that you do not breed. Thank you.