It’s pretty amazing how quickly people can abandon something they seemed so fanatic about such a short time ago. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised as I think back to last year and how I marveled at all of the fans who suddenly came out to the woodwork after the National League Division Series.
After the Giants won the World Series, it quickly turned into a pissing contest about who suffered through more agony and pain being a Giants fan all of their life.
Most stories involved some horrific tale of freezing at a Tuesday night game in Candlestick and some comment like, “I was able to move all the way down behind homeplate as there was only a couple of thousand people in the stadium, you could hear people yelling from across the field!”
Anything that proved they were there in the ol’ days, when the Giants were down on their luck, they didn’t care, they loved the Giants.
The beat continued at the beginning of this season as fans realized it was nearly impossible to buy tickets to a ballgame. The “real” fans were calling sports talk radio, complaining about the bandwagon fans, who suddenly were out at the ballpark with their shiny new baseball hats, or even worse, a panda hat or fake beard!
The radio caller would continue with their own story about seeing “Stretch” back in the day, or listening to Al Michaels before he was Al Michaels on their handheld. They would be so happy if “all of these bandwagoners would just go away, so they could enjoy the game again.”
The protests really came to a fever pitch in June when the most evil of all evil things reared its ugly head at a night game at AT&T, the wave. The airwaves the next morning were flooded with “real” fans about what an outrage, “Did they not care about the game?”
As far as I’m concerned, I can live with the new additions, or “bandwagon” fans according to the diehards, and I’m even OK with their elaborate attempts to validate their level of fanhood. I enjoy seeing sold out crowds at AT&T, and I love the atmosphere, even if it does get a little circus like at times.
I actually believe the Giants personalities have more to do with the gimmicks and quirky fans than the World Series win. There were black, long-haired wigs, panda hats and fake beards before they won the title, and of course the Grateful Dead presence has long been felt at Giant games, but that’s for a future article.
The part that raises my ire and makes me a little crazy is when I hear fans try to differentiate themselves from the “newcomers,” claiming they can’t wait until they disappear, and it’s just the “real” fans, whatever that means.
It seems to me that since AT&T opened in 2000, it has been full of old timers, most of which were watching Giant games when the “Say Hey” Kid was roaming centerfield, to little tikes, who are usually dressed to the nines in Giant gear and dragged to the ballpark by their 30-something parents, typically transplants who work for some San Francisco startup or corporation located downtown.
What percentage of the Giants fan base are "newcomers"?
Yet, every morning, it’s the “real” fan that I constantly hear on sports talk radio, or read in the daily blogs, berating the Giants players, staff, and organization as a whole.
The same team that “answered their prayers after years and years of agony,” last year has suddenly become the evil villain, many of them swearing them off and claiming the team is a bunch of bums.
It’s amazing how many so called “real” fans that I meet around the City spit absolute vitriol about the 2011 Giants, saying last year was a fluke and the team sucks so bad they can’t even watch the games anymore.
They also typically try to justify their comments by claiming they have the right to feel this way since they’ve been such a big fan.
That’s horse manure and I’m tired of it. To me, a “bandwagon” fan is not just a fan who pays attention only when a team is winning, there are plenty of casual sports fans who fall into that category.
The term bandwagon fan is meant to be derogatory, I would say that it really applies to fans who claim to be diehards, or “real” fans, but really can’t hang when things don’t go their way.
In my opinion, a real fan is there, through thick or thin, through the torture and yes, through a season of struggles and atrocious offense.
Criticizing a team is completely different than claiming that they suck, the players suck, you’re done watching them and every other dumb thing that comes out these fans mouths.
These are the same fans that will flip right back as soon as the Giants have a winning streak or win the NL West. Of course, it will be short lived because if they don’t win the World Series, it’s never good enough.
Are you a “real” fan?