Let me start out by saying I am a San Francisco Giants fan. I am, therefore, naturally biased.
However, I am also a baseball fan. I have lived in Los Angeles for the past five years, am in the process of moving to Boston in May and have been to a plethora of MLB ballparks. I watch the playoffs every year regardless of whether my beloved G-men are participants, and my fantasy baseball team has not one, but two players from the Los Angeles Dodgers...my own personal deal with the devil.
In writing an inherently subjective piece, I will attempt to remain as objective as possible, bearing in mind natural human error.
OK. Necessary preamble over.
San Francisco Giants fans are among the best in baseball. Here's why.
First, the Giants currently have the longest active sellout streak in all of MLB. That's right: The Red Sox's reign ended April 10 at an impressive 794 consecutive regular-season home games (820 counting playoff games). According to an April 11 article by Mason Levinson of Bloomberg:
"The San Francisco Giants, who won the World Series in 2010 and 2012, now have the longest active regular-season home sellout streak. The Giants, who beat the Colorado Rockies 10-0 last night at AT&T Park, have sold out 171 straight since Oct. 1, 2010."
There is a correlation between a team's success and fans shelling out the cash to watch them play. And the Giants are currently creating a potential dynasty, having won two of the past three World Series contests. But ballpark sellouts are just the tip of the iceberg in illustrating San Francisco's devotion to its team.
Look to the 2012 All-Star voting. Buster Posey, Melky Cabrera and Pablo Sandoval were all voted into starting roles—but the insanity does not end there. First baseman Brandon Belt and shortstop Brandon Crawford were both among the top five vote-getters at their positions. Even second baseman Freddy Sanchez, who hadn't played a game all season, cracked the top five.
Call it ballot stuffing or pure devotion, Giants fans came through for their team. And for those who call it ballot stuffing, every other fanbase had an equal opportunity to do the same. In fact, the NL should thank Giants fans for pushing Posey, Sandoval and Cabrera over the edge: Cabrera was named the MVP of the game, Posey scored a run and Sandoval had three RBI. Starting pitcher Matt Cain, given the nod by NL manager Tony La Russa, pitched a seemingly effortless two scoreless innings against the power-hitting AL.
Turns out Giants fans may be smarter than the average bear.
While speaking highly of the fans has become obligatory fare to most major leaguers, when a Giant praises the fans, you know he means it. The team's chemistry and sense of camaraderie are supplemented by the fans' enthusiasm.
This past August, Hunter Pence discussed playing in San Francisco as an opposing player (via John Shea of SFGate.com):
"Chicago and here are the two wildest and craziest...There's good hecklers here in San Fran. I had a couple of interesting ones here. There was some lady. She would call me 'Bird Legs' all game."
Pence has since been welcomed into the fold by the team and fans after providing the spark that kept their World Series hopes alive.
Players want to stay in San Francisco. Even former second baseman Jeff Kent, who left the organization with bad blood, wants to enter the Hall of Fame as a Giant (per Sports Illustrated): "All my accomplishments, my passion and my heart were left in San Francisco."
Fans in San Francisco are, after all, a forgiving bunch. Pitcher Barry Zito, who has faced harsh criticism after failing to live up to his gargantuan contract, was met with deafening applause throughout his lights-out performance in the opening game of the 2012 World Series.
Not to mention the fact that #RallyZito trended worldwide on Twitter during the game:
San Francisco Giants @SFGiants
#RallyZito the #2 World Trend - Barry Zito the #7 World Trend http://t.co/ToUMceWF2012-10-20 02:40:56
The fervid chants of "Barry! Barry! Barry!" prompted the "Barry Manilow" gaffe by Fox broadcaster Tim McCarver. More importantly, the sheer volume impressed McCarver's partner Joe Buck, comparing the support for Zito to the great Barry Bonds.
Speaking of deafening applause...Giants fans received national recognition for their vocal support of their team throughout the 2012 playoffs. Every telecast revealed the wonderful insanity of the Giants faithful.
San Francisco is a diverse city, known for its unique flavor and progressive population. This uniqueness extends to the Giants fanbase as well. Every game at AT&T Park is full of panda-hat-wearing spectators of all ages in clear celebration of Pablo Sandoval, aka "Kung Fu Panda." Pitcher Tim Lincecum is jokingly referred to as "The Freak," while former closer Brian Wilson was all the more embraced for his...eccentricity.
Andrew Baggarly wrote a book called A Band of Misfits: Tales of the 2010 San Francisco Giants, in reference to the Giants' unlikely road to winning the 2010 World Series. This same term can be extended to the extensive San Francisco fanbase.
There is an intangible electricity at AT&T Park, an electricity one cannot describe in words. I really, really wish I could give this feeling justice through the written word. All I can say is watch the 2012 playoff games at AT&T, visit San Francisco to witness the influence the team has had on the city and go to a game. As the genius marketing wizards of the organization have coined:
"There's Magic Inside."
The subjectivity is bleeding from every word. Perhaps that is a testament to my own crazy San Francisco fandom: I just can't help gushing about my team, and my fellow supporters.
Bring on the good, the bad and the ugly, my San Francisco Giants. I will stick by you no matter what, donning my own signature "Baby Giraffe" hat (first baseman Brandon Belt's own spirit animal nickname) and cheering proudly from my third base-side season tickets.
And I know I'll be surrounded by at least 40,000 others.