Mayhem, traffic jams, shoving crowds, stinking sweaty pits, and overdoses of adrenaline mixed with alcohol polluted the air on November 1, 2010. Floods of men, women, and children decked out in orange and black ravished the city streets screaming, crying, and hugging. Frightened tourists visiting San Francisco were stunned. Had a terrorist attack occurred? In their panic, they struggled to make sense of so many grandiose displays of emotion. The reason behind the craziness was soon unveiled—the San Francisco Giants had won the World Series championship. History was made on that balmy November night in the city by the bay.
Forever 2010 will be the year of the Giants. Their dynamite season last year brought old and new fans alike together to cheer and celebrate after numerous wins and the big championship game that turned the city of San Francisco into one big party, and soon it seemed that every San Francisco resident was a supporter of the “fear the beard” cause. Long-time Giants supporters from SF State are ready to get the ball rolling on the 2011 season, but, the surge in “bandwagon fans”, and inflating ticket prices, is causing many to strike out.
Twenty-three-year-old Brandon Uchi quietly eats lunch alone in Cesar Chavez student center. The broadcasting major, tired from a full day of classes, immediately perks up to discuss his favorite team. Uchi’s brown eyes sparkle as he explains that he has been a Giants enthusiast since he was born and that he will be one until he dies, adding with vengeance his distaste for the Bay Area team’s rival the Los Angeles Dodgers. His pride runs so deep for his favorite team that he even refuses to wear the color blue. However, as much as Uchi loves his favorite team, its success has brought along wishy-washy fans he could live without.
“I fucking hate the bandwagon fans so much,” Uchi says. “I guess it’s cool that there are so many Giants fans now, but it kind of annoys me that I’ve been there from the start and a lot of people have. Then people come and crash the party. They will come back once the hype starts again.”
Wearing an orange Giants jersey, Mary Kate Nicholson dashes off to catch MUNI, bursting with excitement to watch the Giants take on the Dodgers. Nicholson says she has been a follower of the team since she was about ten-years-old when she started watching baseball with her father. Nicholson’s father, born and raised in Daly City, passed down his love for the team to her. Even though she was raised in Southern California and her mother tried to make her a Dodgers devotee, she has remained fiercely loyal to the team.
Unlike Uchi, Nicholson does not see the “bandwagon fans” as a threat, but hopes that they will continue to support the team this season. “Everybody has bandwagon fans,” says Nicholson. “You just got to live with them. Some of my friends that were on the bandwagon actually started watching baseball with me.”
Twenty-one-year-old Nicole Hayden, a liberal studies major, couldn’t agree more with Nicholson. “Bandwagon fans don’t bother me, because it really happens with everything,” she says, adding, “it is okay that a lot of my friends jumped on the bandwagon, because it gives me more friends to go to the games with. They will be just as excited this season, but they just won’t know as much as me.”
The enthusiastic senior has been a Giants lover for fifteen years now, and says she has become more dedicated within the last few years. Hayden cites meeting Brian Wilson last month at Fan Fest as one of the highlights of her year so far. “I’m really excited to see Brian Wilson play this year. He even hugged me. It was just so cool,” Hayden says smiling as she recalls the meeting.
Every SF State Giants addict wants to make it to as many games this season as possible. However, there is a growing concern among students about how many games they will actually be able to attend since ticket prices have skyrocketed. According to Giants President Larry Baer, the average price of a ticket is up 6.5 percent from last year. The starting price for a ticket against the rival Dodgers is twenty dollars. Add ridiculous parking prices, public transportation fees, five dollar sodas and hot dogs, ten dollar beers, and a day at the ballpark comes with a large price tag.
Lucky for Uchi, he already has tickets for six games this season thanks to his mother who works for AT&T Park. If Uchi had it his way, he would be at every single game this season. He says he was really upset that he could not attend Opening Day as he had planned. Uchi and some friends had planned to buy standing-room-level tickets that usually go for about fifteen dollars, but already a single standing-room ticket for opening day costs a whopping one hundred dollars and Uchi says there is no way he could afford or would pay that crazy price.
“If tickets are going to be that expensive all year, then I really don’t know how many games I’ll be able to make,” he laments. “I plan on going to as many games as I can afford.”
Julian Koehne was born-and-bred a Giants fan. The soft-spoken art major recalls fond memories of visiting AT&T Park as a child for numerous outings with his family. However, much to Koehne’s despair, he was not able to attend any games last season. He still supported his team by watching every game either at bars or at home. “I just didn’t have the money for it last year, and I won’t this year either,” he explains.
Unfortunately for Hayden, she finds herself in the same predicament as Koehne. “I plan on going to a lot of games this season, but tickets are a lot more expensive and I probably won’t make as many games as I did last season.”
Despite inflated ticket prices and unwelcome fans, students couldn’t be more excited that baseball is back. This season there are different faces joining the roster including Brandon Belt, who came up from the minor leagues and Miguel Tejada, who was signed as a free agent. Fan favorite and utility player, Juan Uribe, ironically signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers upsetting many fans. However, the solid pitching staff that propelled the team to the championship level remains the same. Many predict the Giants will make the playoffs again this year with the same stellar pitching they had last year and the exciting new additions.
According to Koehne, releasing Uribe was not only a bad move for the team, but also upsetting for fans that watched him help the Giants win the championship. “It is kind of sad, because you know, he helped them win, and then goes to their most notorious rival,” says Koehne. Despite his objection to the release of Uribe, Koehne believes the Giants still have that special spark inside themselves to lead a very successful season.
“Brandon Belt is very good,” he continues. “He is a little happy on the bat, and needs to control his swinging, but he is definitely up-and-coming. They are just warming up, but as far as it goes, I think we are going to do very well this season.” Unfortunately after seventeen games, Belt was released back to the minor leagues.
According to Kevin Paul, contributing writer for Fox Sports and creator of sports website, The Wife Hates Sports, the Giants have a lot to look forward to in 2011. Paul predicts the Giants will win their division. “The NL West should once again be a tight race that goes down to the wire,” Paul predicts, “but with the pitching staff that the Giants currently have, it’s hard to pick against them.”
Contributing Major League Baseball editor Shawn Clark also forecasts a successful season. San Francisco’s heroes, “went nearly injury free,” Clark emphasizes, “with a rotation that once again makes the Giants the favorites to not only win the division, but another pennant in 2011.” He believes that the Giants have proven many wrong by their solid performances. However, he adds, “it’s up to the Giants not to suffer through a World Series hangover this season like so many other titlists have endured in this great game of baseball.”
Uchi believes this year is no doubt going to be tough, but just like last year, definitely worth it in the end. “I think we are going to make the playoffs,” he states. “Last season was complete torture. We were grinning and grinding for every single run. It is not going to be easy, and we don’t really have any all-star players besides our pitchers. I think it is going to be tough, the same way it was last year.”
Still other SF State fans are unsure what 2011 will have in store for the black-and-orange. “Right now it is hard to tell what will happen,” says Nicholson. “Everyone seems pretty good, but you know anything could happen. It is baseball; it’s timeless. You never know until the end of the ninth inning. Right now they are being a little cocky and not doing as well as I know they could do. There are new players, though, and once they get into the swing of everything, you never know, everything changes after the first month.”
Renowned San Francisco Chronicle sportswriter Bruce Adams believes the spellbinding performance the Giants displayed last season will be nearly impossible to repeat. “Nothing will replace the magic of last season,” he declares. “It was a once in a lifetime experience for baseball fans; everything came together. It was a perfect.”
No matter what happens this season for San Francisco’s favorite team, SF State students are going to be there supporting the orange-and-black every game, regardless of whether or not they make it to AT&T Park. The Giants have come a long way since their move to California, and 2010 marked the first year they ever won a World Series in San Francisco, not to mention at AT&T Park.
“Them winning the World Series was like Christmas times a thousand,” says Uchi. “I went out every single fucking game, the whole playoffs. Not to mention, I did horrible in school, my grades completely dropped, but it was so worth it,” he laughs.
2010 will forever be the year of the Giants for San Francisco, and sorry Dodger fans, it’s looking like 2011 just might be, too.