Show Me The Giants
January 20, 2012 2:06 PM   Subscribe

Research help: Hope me understand the world of the SF Giants baseball fan.

I'm not much of a baseball fan but for a work project I need to come to an understanding about the world of obsessive SF Giants fans.

So, for instance, I know about the cove outside the stadium where kayakers hang out to catch balls, and I know about the player who's like a panda and the one with a beard, but that's about it. What else are Giants obsessives into?

-- What do Giants fans argue about these days?
-- What songs do they sing, or what sayings do they say? Special cheers?
-- Are there special things they eat or drink?
-- Are there special stadium traditions? (I remember when I lived in San Diego there was a certain mentally challenged stadium worker who went up and down the aisles selling newspapers, and at each Padres game when he sold his last one he'd get a big round of applause from the crowd. Anything like this for the Giants?)
-- Is there a particular souvenir or fan item that people at the stadium or watching from elsewhere would have? The giant finger thing? Those little towels that people wave?

Basically I'm so unknowledgeable on this topic that I don't know what I don't know (Thank you, Rumsfeld), so if there's a blog or website I should be reading, please clue me in.

Thank you, baseball fans.
posted by BlahLaLa to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (32 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Also, in SF do they do the "kiss-cam" thing at the stadium like is done at other sporting events/stadiums?
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:13 PM on January 20, 2012


Also, what do they do/play during the seventh inning stretch?
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:28 PM on January 20, 2012


The Marichal-Roseboro Incident is mandatory history for any Giants fan (disclaimer: I am a Dodger fan).

There are probably still arguments about this, to this day, who caused it, and whether Marichal or Roseboro was the villian of the piece.
posted by Danf at 2:33 PM on January 20, 2012


They often (always?) play Lights by Journey at home games.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 2:35 PM on January 20, 2012


Buster Posey (catching Jesus, or maybe just me and my friends call him that?) got hurtded in a terrible play at the plate last season and ignited a debate about runner-catcher collisions.

They have Tim Lincecum, their number one starter who's a stoner with crazy hair and a totally bizzare gumby-like delivery.

They gave Barry Zito a totally stupid contract a few years ago and his psycho drama was a thing for a while until people just basically started ignoring him all the time. For a while people (or, again, maybe just me and my friends) would call their Big 3 "Lincecum, [Matt] Caine [aka Big Sugar], and pray for rain [Zito]." Zito was actually moderately not terrible last season for a back of the rotation starter, but for the money he gets he was abysmal.

Jonathan Sanchez threw a no-hitter in 2009 which was their first in 33 years and was totally adorable because his dad was in the audience watching him pitch in the bigs for the FIRST TIME.

I couldn't have told you I knew that much about the Gints if you had put a gun to my head.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:36 PM on January 20, 2012


On Sunday games, they play God Bless America (sigh), and the Take me Out to the Ballpark during the stretch. On non-Sunday games, it's just Take me Out and then a pop tune to make everyone dance around.

On preview: I *think* I've only heard Lights played on fireworks nights, after the game, once they've turned off most of the lights and we're waiting for fireworks to start.
posted by rtha at 2:37 PM on January 20, 2012


At then end of every home victory they play "I left my heart in San Francisco"
posted by Disco Moo at 2:39 PM on January 20, 2012


They have a female PA announcer. I am not sure if any other team has one.
posted by Danf at 2:40 PM on January 20, 2012


And what's this about "Gints"? I've heard 1 person saying that. Is it a usual thing, to call them that?
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:40 PM on January 20, 2012


Back in New York, you and Frankie and Johnnie went to the Jnts game on Sadday afternoon.

There's also a song.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:45 PM on January 20, 2012


I hear old school fans get really really cranky about the current mascot, Lou Seal, a loveably fluffy kid-friendly sea creature who replaced the previous sea creature mascot: Crazy Crab.

I don't know how widespread it is, or just among my friends, but they're also referred to as Los Gigantes (obviously the Spanish version of their name) and there are jerseys with that printed on them. I have no idea if other teams do that. I've seen them wearing them but I have no idea what the circumstances were.
posted by marylynn at 2:51 PM on January 20, 2012


For a while people (or, again, maybe just me and my friends) would call their Big 3 "Lincecum, [Matt] Caine [aka Big Sugar], and pray for rain [Zito]."

This is presumably a reference to "Spahn, Sain and pray for rain" from the Boston Braves in the 1950s.
posted by hoyland at 2:59 PM on January 20, 2012


The Giants' nemesis is the Los Angeles Dodgers; the rivalry goes back to before the two teams moved to the West Coast in the late '50s, when both teams played in New York, but it's been since then that it has really heated up.

As a Giants fan since I was a kid, I suspect that the passions are fairly one-sided, in that Giants fans care much more about it than LA fans do. Of course, to counter that, there's the tragic beating of a Giants fan wearing team clothing on opening day last year at Dodger Stadium by people in the parking lot, allegedly wearing Dodger colors. But that had nothing to do with the rivalry, certainly.

I remember when the Dodgers came north to play the Giants at Candlestick Park, when then-Dodger-manager Tommy La Sorda came strolling across first base foul territory from the bullpen to the Dodger dugout before the game. Giants fans were standing, screaming, booing at him. Tommy? He was waving to the crowd, blowing kisses as he walked.
posted by DandyRandy at 3:15 PM on January 20, 2012


We like to argue about Barry, still. We joke about Jeff Kent's injury. We reminisce about Brian Johnson's home run and do not speak of Game 6 against the Angels, though now that it doesn't hurt so bad, we might smile about Darren Baker getting snatched away from danger by J.T. Snow.

We feel that we would have destroyed the A's if it weren't for that damn earthquake and, you know, their pharmacy.

Will Clark is a demigod. Willie McCovey and Willie Mays are gods.

Kruk (Mike Krukow) likes to "eliminate" people on the telestrator by squiggling them out.

We like the Cha Cha Bowl and the Crab sandwich out in the arcade. We get the garlic fries sometimes but ensure that our significant other does the same. We buy 9 dollar beers unless we are smart and stop by the Public House on the way in.

And what we really, really talk about is "are we ever going to get some hitting in this lineup?!"
posted by Kafkaesque at 3:18 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I need to come to an understanding about the world of obsessive SF Giants fans.

There's an inferiority complex at the heart of this team and its fans.

History is important to baseball, in a manner that is unlike other sports. The NFL, for example, has been around in its current form since 1967. Baseball has been around for 100 years longer than that.

The Giants are originally from New York. They shared the same general fan base as the Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers, but in the grand scheme of things, they have never been viewed as being as successful as those teams.

* The Yankees have won more World Series. Their best players are among the most exalted players in the sport -- Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, etc.
* Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers broke the color barrier.
* Due to declining attendance, the Giants moved to S.F. in 1957, but only because the Dodgers agreed to move to L.A. at the same time. The first game for the Giants on the West Coast? It was against the Dodgers. The Giants lost.
* Since moving West, the Dodgers have won nine NL pennants and five World Series titles. The Giants have won four pennants and one title. In the same span of time, the Yankees have won 17 AL pennants and 10 WS titles.
* San Francisco was replaced as New York's NL team by the New York Mets. At first, the Mets were hapless. Then they won four NL pennants and two World Series. That's right. The Mets have had more success than the Giants.
* Across the bay, another East Coast transplant, the Oakland Athletics, have also had more success in terms of pennants and titles. Recently, the A's have also been lauded for playing "Moneyball." Brad Pitt even played the lead in the movie!
* Even when they win, the Giants seem to lose. The most significant S.F. Giants player in recent years was Barry Bonds, who shattered two of the most hallowed records in all of baseball. Then his image slipped into scandal and ignominy.

The irony, of course, is that the Giants play in a wonderful city, and one of the best, most picturesque ballparks in the game.

But always nagging, nagging, nagging at them is the history.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:26 PM on January 20, 2012


This recent piece from McCovey Chronicles might be a useful window into Giants fans' feelings about the ongoing vilification of Barry Bonds (also it's just a nice take on what it feels like to be a fan, in general, and how that can be hard to communicate).
posted by RogerB at 3:28 PM on January 20, 2012


If you have specific questions it might be easier to answer than giving a general overview, but here's the top of my head info:

Ok, first off: there is no one group of Giants fans there are huge subsets of fans of different stripes:

Young internet connected stats nerds: can be found posting on McCovey Chronicles, and following Andy Baggarly and Hank Schulman on twitter (the latter two are the SF Giants beat writers for the Mercury News and Chronicle.) McCovey Chronicle's posters will constantly site fangraphs and are generally in love with Sergio Romo (the less famous, arguably better relief pitcher to Fear the Beard Brian Wilson.)

Old school baseball fans who dislike stats: these guys are most often seen in person at games. They, like Bruce Bochy (Giants General Manager) don't really like the newfangled sabermetric stats and go with their guy instincts to pick their favorite players.

Old school fans who hate bandwagoners: most often found griping about all the new fans, and the raised ticket prices. Also very fond of talking about the Mays/Marichal/McCovey era, and how miserable it was to watch games in Candlestick park (the Giants of stadium where the 49ers still play.)

Current traditions/festivities at the park: AT&T has a really big center/center-right field, and the climate is generally a little cold which means that home runs are a lot less common at the park than most other stadiums. Giants hitters in 2011 were also worse at hitting than most other teams, so on the rare occasion that a Giant hits one out of the park, everyone celebrates.

When the Giants win, they always play Tony Bennett's I Left My Heart in San Francisco. During the run up to the World Series in 2010, Bennett performed the song live at the park. Amazing!

Journey front man Steve Perry is a big fan of the Giants, and attended a lot of the games. He generally tried to avoid the limelight, but during the 2010 season, they played Don't Stop Believing so often, and Perry actually stood up and waved a rally flag and sang along with everyone else one night. Later, a fan named Ashkon spoofed Don't Stop and became an internet sensation.

Probably most other teams do this too, but for some reason Giants fans have loved to give their players zoo animal nicknames. One of the new kids last year, Brandon Belt was nicknamed the baby giraffe (because he's tall and looked goofy running to catch a ball) and then Six Flags actually named their baby giraffe Brandon.

The Giants tv broadcasters are Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow. They're both former players on the Giants and, along with providing some really great insights into what's going on in the players minds during the game, they're also hella funny. I don't know a single Giants fan who thinks that we aren't the luckiest fans to have such a talented and entertaining team of broadcasters. The radio broadcasters Jon Miller and Dave Flemming are equally talented and entertaining.

Which brings me to the radio in general. Our official station, KNBR has a ton of call in shows when they're not airing the games. Oh man are they fantastic! So many outraged fans backseat coaching! I love to listen to folks ranting on there about "Bochy should have put so and so in..."

I guess I've typed an essay for you at this point, hope it's helpful, holler back if you have specific questions.
posted by nerdcore at 4:15 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, there's a KissCam.

This is a great thread!
posted by gingerbeer at 4:21 PM on January 20, 2012


There's a cool infographic!
posted by thinkpiece at 4:27 PM on January 20, 2012


The Giants were the first MLB team to film an "It Gets Better" video and there are LGBT nights every year.

In fact, most games are some special night -- Filipino, Irish, law enforcement, Deadheads, Jewish, etc.
posted by gingerbeer at 4:32 PM on January 20, 2012


Thanks for all the great answers so far. Please keep 'em coming! And I definitely want an answer to the "gints" question if anyone can help with that.
posted by BlahLaLa at 5:01 PM on January 20, 2012


As for "gints" I think it was a typo? I've not hear them referred to as the gints, wikipedia lists Jints as a nickname.

The most common derogatory nickname I've heard is gnats.

In other nicknames, Far East Movement and Dev did a cover of their own song: Like a G Man.
posted by nerdcore at 5:07 PM on January 20, 2012


As mentioned, the Giants used to play at Candlestick Park, which was notoriously windy and cold. When they still played there, the team would give out logo pins with snow on them (aka the "Croix de Candlestick") to people who stayed the entirety of an extra-inning night game. You can tell the old-school diehard fans, 'cause they're the ones with a bunch of 'em.
posted by asterix at 5:30 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't know if it would be helpful and I've never seen an episode, but there was a show on Showtime called "The Franchise," that was a reality show about the Giants after last year's World Series win. I think at least some of it is on YouTube.
posted by bendy at 5:41 PM on January 20, 2012


And I definitely want an answer to the "gints" question if anyone can help with that.

I meant Jints, sorry. Shows you how much I know.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 7:00 PM on January 20, 2012


Gints must be related to the fact that us New York Football Giants fans call the team Jints and Big Blue or just Blue. I think it was a tabloid thing with the NY Post and the Daily News. But it seems to me if the east coast Giants are called the Jints, the west coast ones could be too. Or vice versa.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:31 PM on January 20, 2012


- Giants have a love/hate relationship with their general manager, Brian Sabean. (Which, before they won the world series, was just a hate/hate relationship) Sabean is the longest-tenured GM in baseball. He has a tendency to value experience over youth, which can be awfully frustrating--the Giants regularly trot out the oldest line-up in the league. He's made two truly terrible deals--the 7-year, $126-million deal for Barry Zito (though a lot of people believe that was a call made by then managing partner Peter Magowan) and the 5-year, $60 (ish?) million deal for the mediocre Aaron Rowand (they waived him last year with a year and a half left on his contract--if you see him playing for the Marlins this year, note to yourself that the Giants are paying him $12 million to play for another team). Of course, the year that Sabean's moves all worked out, the Giants ended up wining the World Series. You'd think that this would give Sabean a free pass for a while, but you can kinda tell that the love affair is over for a lot of fans.

- Case in point: The Giants gave up one of their best pitching prospects last year in a trade for Carlos Beltran. The finer points of this trade are arguable, for sure--the Giants didn't make the playoffs, so it looks like a net loss, but they also failed to re-sign Beltran, which makes it look even worse. The problem from my vantage point is that the Giants swear there's not enough money to go after big players like Beltran--meanwhile they're making money hand over fist, they reside in something like the 4th largest media market in the country, and they're gonna end up paying Melky Cabrera and Jeremy Affeldt a combined $2 million less than what Carlos Beltran is going to receive in salary this year.

- Giants also have a love/hate relationship with the manager, Bruce Bochy. Sometimes it's hard to tell how much a manager really matters in baseball, but the year they won the World Series, he absolutely pantsed the opposing teams' managers in the playoffs. That being said, Bochy also has a tendency to overvalue experience, hence the "Free Brandon Belt" movement among Giants nerds. It's prety clear to the lot of us that Belt should be playing every day, but Bochy seems to see it differently.

- We don't sing any songs, but there is a specific taunt (I think it has its origins from back when they were in NY, but I'm not totally sure). Anyway, if someone in the stands yells, "WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH [player name]?," you should know your responsibility is to yell back "HE'S A BUM."

- Special things they eat: garlic fries. all day.

- Special souvenirs: As of late, they've been selling panda hats, in honor of their roundish third basemen, Pablo ("kung fu panda") Sandoval, and fake beards, in honor of their closer Brian Wilson and their set-up guy, Sergio Romo (but really, mostly cause of Wilson).
posted by ElCuadrangular at 6:43 AM on January 21, 2012


Thanks so much, you guys. This is all super, duper helpful.
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:36 PM on January 22, 2012


Hey, if anybody's still checking this thread, I have a few more questions:

-- What are traditional shouts of encouragement that a fan might yell to the players? Would there be anything different said back in the 80s vs. now?

-- Is there a game back in the old Candlestick days that was a real classic - either for the game itself, or for the terrible, awful weather? I'm looking in the era of mid-80s to early 90s.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:22 PM on January 23, 2012


After taking care of the Cubs, the Giants faced the Oakland Athletics in the "Bay Bridge Series". The series is best remembered because the Loma Prieta earthquake on October 17, 1989, disrupted the planned Game 3 of the series at Candlestick Park. After a ten-day delay in the series, Oakland finished up its sweep of San Francisco. The Giants never would hold a lead in any of the 4 games and never even managed to send the tying run to the plate in their last at-bat. cite
posted by rtha at 8:10 PM on January 23, 2012


Thanks for that -- I do know about the earthquake game, but I'm looking for more of a classic, candlestick, freezing, foggy, etc sort of game.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:42 PM on January 23, 2012


During the era in which the Dodgers had Maury Wills, Willie Davis, and other base stealers, the Giants used to water down their infield dirt in order to create a bog and make it harder for the Dodgers' runners to steal bases.
posted by Danf at 8:57 PM on February 1, 2012


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