Giants Fans: Crazy, Bearded, and the Best in Baseball
If you’ve had the pleasure of being anywhere within the vicinity of AT&T Park in the last month and a half, you’ve probably seen a fair amount of orange body paint, fake beards, and ratty wigs with hair down to the shoulders. Walk around San Francisco wearing a Giants cap and it’s a safe bet someone will stop you and scream “Go Giants!” at the top of their lungs 3 inches from your face. They’re manic, they’re tortured, and usually a tad drunk. So is the life of a Giants fan.
In Seattle (where incidentally I’ve been stuck for the duration of the postseason), things are a little different. If you spy a fellow Giants fan expatriate wearing a cap or a Timmy jersey, they’re typically acknowledged by a slight nod, and a subtle point to the “SF” logo on their head. Not surprisingly, things are much calmer in the rainy city whose baseball team is fresh off of losing their 101st game. Wander into the right sports bar in any part of Seattle though and you’ll stumble upon a hidden cache of Giants fans who’ve been in hiding since their team’s last postseason appearance.
Giants baseball at the Auto Battery sports bar in Capitol Hill on Sunday and Monday was the quintessential example of the commitment of this fanbase. Sunday’s day game, conflicting with what felt like 70 different football games, was nowhere to be seen upon entering the bar 30 minutes before game time. 12 different 50 inch high-def televisions featured Sunday afternoon football. A bar packed with rabid football fanatics wearing every which jersey had no interest in a game featuring some team from California.
But then one timid Giants fan approaches one of the bartenders and asks (in a tone denoting nothing short of terror) that one of the TV’s be partitioned for the Giants/Braves beginning soon. The bartender rolls his eyes, sighs deeply, and changes the channel on a single television in the corner. Two Giants fans (counting myself) sit watching wide-eyed while the rest of the bar goes about their business. A couple football fans remark that they didn’t even know that the baseball season was still going. By the third inning, three more fans materialize to join the other two in their hapless screaming at the television after every blown strike call.
Two innings later, four more fans slink in to join the rabble. By the time Eric Hinske steps up the plate in the 8th inning, twelve Giants fans are all on their feet, celebrating after every out. Hinske hits his heroic home run to briefly hand the lead to the Braves, and the bar erupts in white hot anger. The Giants faithful in the room who had not yet revealed themselves realize that it’s OK to turn away from the Cowboys/Titans game to join in the terror that was Eric Hinske rounding the bases.
One Brooks Conrad error later, half the bar is on their feet, threatening to turn tables over and throw chairs in jubilation. For the last half-inning, the rabble of Giants faithful loudly demand that the volume on the loudspeakers in the bar be switched away from Chris Berman on ESPN to the Giants game; the bartender fearfully obliges.
Come Monday’s night game, there are two Giants fans for every Monday Night Football viewer. A bunch of orange-clad hooligans suddenly and without warning invaded a Seattle sports bar that seemed determined to have the Jets/Vikings game be the marquee event of the night. After Brian Wilson nearly succeeded at inducing a heart attack in every fan within a 3000 mile radius, the bar clears out, and promises are made to gather again come Saturday.
Given that this is the atmosphere 800 miles north of San Francisco, it’s safe to say that you can multiply the excitement level in Seattle by about 50,000 to accurately reflect what things feel like in the Bay Area. Bandwagon hoppers and the lifetime faithful are banding together to share in the torture that has come to define the Giants’ brand of baseball. Acceptable topics of conversation range from whether or not Brian Wilson dyes his beard to who sells the cheapest Tim Lincecum wigs. It’s considered common fare for classic 1980’s glam-rock to get altered and turned into a Giants postseason anthem. All in all, it’s a fanbase full of ragged tortured misfits that reflects a team composed primarily of ragged tortured misfits.
With the NLCS beginning on Saturday, the torture is only beginning as the Giants face the heavily favored Phillies. Windows will be broken in direct correlation to broken hearts. Every win will be punctuated by another interview where Tim Lincecum is caught dropping another F-bomb on air. Games 3-5 will put the orange-clad rabble in the national spotlight. There’s a good chance the nation will not quite know how to react to 45,000 fans wearing fake beards and shoulder length black wigs, but Giants fans won’t care. With a beer in one hand and an AED in the other, they march on.