First off, I have a lot of reasons to actually be * shudder * a Giants fan. I live 20 minutes south of San Francisco, the first game I ever saw was at AT&T Park, Barry Bonds hit the first home run I ever saw, and I also saw him hit one into the water the night after he broke the record. But even at the age of 3 I wasn’t really cheering for them.
I could tell, even back then, that there were a lot of people that went to games there that weren’t so much in it for the actual baseball. No, I didn’t hate them or anything, but the A’s were always my favorite team. I went to a game against the Dodgers on my 5th birthday and that put it over the edge. I loved the feeling at the Coliseum. I loved the drums out in left field (they were all in left field in 2001, IIRC).
My attitude towards San Francisco soured in 2002. Everyone around me was suddenly a huge Giants fan. At recess every day I would spend half of the time chasing down the asshole who stole my A’s hat and the other half of the time hiding from said asshole. Then one day I found another kid wearing A’s gear. To this day we’re best friends and attended six games together this year. In my first grade class, we had the music teacher play piano and we would always sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" as one of our songs. It turned into a shouting match and I drowned out 19 Giants fans all on my own. (Eventually, we all were instructed to sing "root for the home team" to end the conflict.) I was pulling for the slegnA (desperate times call for desperate measures) in the World Series and celebrated when Erstad caught Lofton’s flyout to end the whole thing.
After 2003, the amount of interest in the Giants really seemed to die down, save for the efforts of Barry Bonds. I loved when AT&T Park was so easy on the wallet. It was just a nice place to watch a ballgame.
The rivalry games with San Francisco were a lot of fun when it was just two local teams playing against each other.
As for Bonds, I never objected to him. Regardless of what steroids may have done for him, they didn’t allow him to be the most disciplined player at the plate. He had an amazing eye up there.
Then 2010 rolled around, and everything changed. Suddenly, everyone was a Giants fan. You didn’t hear the end of it anywhere. Torture. Cody Ross. Brian Wilson’s beard. I was glad to see my friends who actually watched baseball through their unsuccessful years have the ability to enjoy some postseason baseball. What bothered me was all the riffraff that suddenly acted as if they were lifelong fans. I totally understand not wanting to go to as many games when a team is playing poorly. This year, I attended more games than I did in the previous two years combined because of the games I attended in September and October. But that’s not to say I didn’t attend games at all or say that baseball was boring during the bad years. I’m not even kidding, people who suddenly called themselves lifelong fans used to say that baseball was boring and a waste of time.
What happened in 2010 actually inspired me to become an even bigger A’s fan. Come 2011, I was full of animosity towards San Francisco. Their season-opening 2-1 loss at Dodger Stadium was delightful. (The events that immediately followed were tragic. It’s very nice to see that Bryan Stow continues to recover. I wish him the best.) As infuriating as the 10-game losing streak was, no games were as bad as the three at AT&T that year. But things took a change for the better. On June 16, 2011, I saw what really differentiated A’s fans from those DSFs. A friend had an extra seat in section 117, row 15, just three rows behind Diamond Level. It was a Thursday afternoon against the Royals. Paid crowd: 11,775. The fans who showed up on that warm afternoon were amazing. They weren’t at the game because it was a trendy thing to do. There were no stupid animal hats. There was no conversation about what nightclub to go to after leaving in the 8th inning because the game was boring. There was conversation about Jeff Francis’ need to paint the corners of the strike zone because his pitches lacked both velocity and movement. There was conversation about Jemile Weeks’ speed, and when he hit a deep flyout in his final at-bat to finish off a 2-for-4 day with 3 RBI, he was given a huge ovation that sounded like there were three times as many people in the building. No, not every A’s fan has such a discerning eye for the abilities of the opposing starter. But on the sold-out nights, just like the weekday afternoons with under 12,000, the fans are there to watch a baseball game.
The three days that followed were by far my favorite days of the season, and really my favorite games of the last four years. The 2010 postseason’s lingering effects were still being felt. You even had people show up at the Coliseum wearing shirts like "Torture never felt so good!" It pissed the hell out of me and I was ready for payback.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend any of the three games of that series, but I didn’t miss a moment of it thanks to the TV and radio. Things didn’t look too good heading into the series. We were 30-40, they were 39-31. We sent Graham Godfrey, Guillermo Moscoso and Trevor Cahill to the mound against Tim Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez and Matt Cain. We had already been swept at the Phone Booth and had lost six straight games that actually counted to them and nine straight if you count the preseason games that were played in April.
Before 2010 happened, A’s fans made up roughly two thirds of the crowd when San Francisco came to play at the Coliseum. Suddenly, it was a 50-50 split. The two-run rally in the eighth sent the San Francisco fans home early, as they are wont to do, and Andrew Bailey finished off the first win over the DSFs in 13 months.
They weren’t about to wait another 13 months for another one, though. After San Francisco continued their trend of catching every conceivable break and a Moscoso throwing error led to two runs in the top of the fifth, the A’s came to bat in the bottom half and after a pair of RBI doubles tied the game, Hideki Matsui sent a single through the hole on the right side to put the A’s up 4-2 and send the roughly 18,000 A’s fans at the game, as well as those of us watching at home, into a frenzy. Once again, the bougie fans left in the 8th. Andrew Bailey induced a game-ending double play in the 9th and we ensured ourselves of at least a win in the series.
I had to leave the next morning at 5 am to go off to camp for a week, but there was no way I was missing A’s Talk. It was arguably the best show of Chris Townsend’s life. He ripped the first-year fans for a solid hour and even took a shot at the slegnA with their Rally Monkey for all the similarities between the two fanbases. A postgame talk show doesn’t normally elicit a standing ovation. This one did.
I headed off to camp with my Scout troop the very next morning and made sure that we’d have the game on the radio. My Scout troop was roughly a quarter actual baseball fans and three-quarters bandwagoners. For example, when they won an NLCS game against the Phillies, multiple kids asked if they had won the World Series. When we had a trivia contest at a troop party, none of them could seem to answer the simplest of questions (who’s the closer for the Giants?) and yet they had the audacity to call themselves fans.
We had the radio on in the car I traveled in for the first six innings. One of the last things I heard before we arrived at the camp was Coco Crisp’s single to tie the game. We got the radio back on in the top of the 8th when Cahill got Buriss to fly out and the clueless DSF fans could be heard on the radio screaming as if it was a home run. With one out in the bottom of the 8th, as I struggled to listen over the static and the conversation of those who had just been pretending to be baseball fans a few short months ago, Landon Powell stepped up to the plate and hit his only home run of the season and tenth of his career. I ran around the campsite. After a devout session of prayer that Fuentes would actually do something right, the based gods listened. He struck out Cody Ross. SWEEP!
That sweep made the 2011 season worth putting up with. Come September, the Diamondbacks cut their magic number down to 1. With a tie game in the 8th inning, Paul Goldschmidt ripped a triple into the right-field corner. J.J. Putz finished off the ballgame and the Diamondbacks won the NL West. A night later, while I was at a movie theater watching Moneyball, they officially eliminated San Francisco from the postseason hunt.
On May 15 of this year, I went to the Rockies-Giants game. Got a good deal for decent seats on Stubhub and decided to go. The Rockies were one of the last teams I hadn’t seen in person. I sat behind these three girls in panda hats that spent the entirety of their time at the game either screaming for routine fly balls and posting to Facebook. Did I mention they arrived in the third and left in the seventh? I remember when KNBR always had callers who were so proud of the fact that SF fans showed up on time and stayed for the whole game. That’s a thing of the past!
Of all the non-blowout wins this year, my two favorites were Game 162 and the game on May 20 at AT&T Park. We snapped an 11-game losing streak at San Francisco. The A's went behind 2-0 early on, but they exploded for four runs in the fourth inning including a two-run single by Collin Cowgill and this play. Colon got out of a 4-2 jam in the bottom of the 5th, but a two-run lead wasn't safe. In fact, they blew a 4-2 lead in the final game of the series at the Phone Booth in 2011. Josh Reddick provided some insurance in the 7th inning and sent the bougie fans home with a two-run home run. The Let's Go Oakland chants took over in the 9th inning although A's fans made up less than 20% of the crowd. Brian Fuentes struck out Brandon Crawford to ended it and the monkey, seal, overweight panda, whatever it may have been, was lifted off of the A's backs.
I was also at the first game of the Derek Norris series. I’ve been to games against the Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers but no other opposing fans are as bad as the San Francisco fans. Take the three sitting a few rows below me that had the need to wave stuffed giraffes in front of everyone, or the two who began shouting profanities at all the A’s fans in the section when Cook exploded. How about the constant flow of fans walking in front of you at all times? During Game 4 of the ALDS, fans would only walk in front of you between innings. These San Francisco fans would leave their seat because, in their words, not mine, they were bored.
The first two games of that series were the two worst losses of the year. Worse than Game 2 against Detroit. Worse than the Yankee Stadium debacle. The third game was just more of the same at first. Reddick was called out trying to stretch a single into a double, yet Crawford never applied the tag. Smith’s would-be game-tying double was called foul. We were a strike away from getting swept at home.
Derek Norris unleashed the wrath of a mighty lumberjack.
That was honestly my favorite win of the year. Better than winning the division. Better than Game 4 of the ALDS. All of that stuff was a bonus.
Now, we sit here again, watching as these idiots pretend they suddenly like baseball and call themselves lifelong fans. Have fun explaining what a Triple Crown is to these numbskulls. And how a double play works.
I don’t hate most of the Giants’ players. I envy AT&T Park as a stadium itself. I like their actual dedicated fans. What bothers me are all of these instant fans who carry themselves around with their dickhead attitude. What bothers me is the territorial rights. Do they realize that they could be setting up for the World Series at Tropicana Field right now? I’m fine with a new ballpark in either Oakland or San Jose. What bothers me is the way the Giants and their fans look down upon us as a second-class team. No, it’s not "all Bay Area, brah". It’s not like that at all. It’s a team that looks down upon us an has been trying to force us out of the market altogether.
I’ll be at all four games against these guys next year. Maybe in 2014 we can have the first two at home and the last two on the road to fit with the 25th anniversary of the 1989 series. Maybe we can sweep them again. All I know is nothing is better than beating these guys, and the next best thing is seeing them lose. Go Tigers.