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Written by Jessica Mendoza
The name Barry Bonds immediately evokes memories of steroids and legal indiscretions. He’s known as the man who took the home-run king title away from Hank Aaron while parading around as the villain of baseball.
But let’s forget all of Barry Bonds’ woes. Move on. But it seems a lot easier writing in words than to actual move on from the scrutiny like Bonds experience towards the end of his career. But it must be harder to make come back from being under surveillance from the media. Bonds was back in the spotlight this year and it wasn’t about his legal issues or whether he should be in the Hall of Fame. In March, Bonds went to Spring Training and offering a week as hitting instructor for the Giants. Bonds back in the orange and black.
Let’s remember Bonds hasn’t been in a Giants uniform and hasn’t played baseball in years. So the question is why now? Maybe it’s to reconcile with Bonds after letting him go after he broke the home-run record. The answer is Bonds loves the game. Baseball is his first love. It’s only the lasting longest relationship that Bonds have ever been in. However, it’s another way to erase the past and start over again with a new generation of players.
“He is trying to rehabilitate his image” says Henry Schulman, a SF Chronicle sports writer.
Bonds asked the Giants to come back to Spring Training, but the Giants had to think about bringing back the former face of the franchise back into the game.
“ The Giants’ brass thought about his request to come to spring training and decided they couldn’t really keep him away while they invite all their other greats from the past to come.” say Schulman about the Giants decision to bring Bonds back.
The Giants brought Bonds as a special hitting instructor for the players for one week. It must have been a sign from the baseball Gods that the Giants were getting the help they need for their offensive.
Let’s face it: the Giants could use all the help they can get when it comes to scoring, by not leaving any stranded on the bases. When Bonds arrived to Scottsdale, Arizona where the Giants Spring training is located, the media circles was there as well.
The more important question is how where the players were going to react with Bonds or how was Bonds was going to interact with the players?
According to Jim Moorehead, San Francisco Giants Head Senior Director of Media Relations. seem to be nervous on the players were going to react when they get on the field.
“He was kind of nervous how he is perspective from the players.” says Moorehead.
The Giants welcome Bonds with open arms and some were star struck by Bonds presence. According to Moorehead, right outfielder Hunter Pence had a poster of Bonds from his childhood.
It seem no one cared about the whole “steroids issue” which has plagued over Bonds. They treated him like a rock star who wanted to learn from one of the greatest hitters in the game.
Every player went to Bonds and seek for his advice on their hitting techniques.
“He sat down with all the hitters behind closed doors for forty-five minutes” said Moorehead about Bonds and his relationship with the players. Bonds worked with all of the players.
Bonds talked to the players about their hitting techniques including shortstop Brandon Crawford.
“Crawford talk about keeping his shoulders in.” says Moorehead about Crawford when it is his turn to bat. “Look at his numbers against left-handers pitchers.”
According to ESPN.com, Crawford’s stats has gone up when it comes to hitting against left handers. Crawford is averaging .400 compare to last year when he was at .199 average. That is a huge difference. After Bonds one-week training ended, there is no doubt he made an impact on the players. Giants fans have seen a difference in the offensive and notice Bonds influence over the Giants.
Antonio Solano, an art major at SF State and long-time Giants fan couldn’t be any happier to have Bonds back as a hitting instructor.
“They can definitely use someone like him and his skills to help with the offensive.” says Solano.
Solano goes on and says “You see players like Crawford and Belt are getting balls into plays instead of popping up. You can tell Bonds made impact in their hitting.”
But let’s pretend for a moment and the Giants did decide to bring Bonds as a hitting instructor. Great news to Giants fans like Solano and it is not because it will help the offensive. The reason is fans will love to see Bonds back in the black and orange uniform. But the whole “steroid issue” will resurface again. People will question either or not he did take steroids.
“I grew up watching Bonds as a kid and I remember the player who was before this whole steroids.” Solano goes on “People do not know anything about how he was as a hitter and they were not paying attention until he was breaking the record.”
Is it fair to justify Bonds as the poster child for steroids man who broke the home-run record instead of the man, the baseball player who never was afraid to hit anything.
No matter what Bonds will be that idol as one of the greatest hitters of all time. Maybe it is a good idea to bring Bonds back so the public outside of the Giants fan base and they can see Bonds before the steroids.
If it can work for McGwire, the hitting coach for the Dodgers and steroids user, why not bring Bonds back?
It’s time to move on…now.
Now that baseball season is just around the corner, Giants fans are preparing themselves for another exciting season by sporting their Giants gear and rushing the ticket booths for the best seats possible.
On February 1, 2014, AT&T Park swarmed with attendees of the twenty-first annual Giants FanFest to the point that the entrance to the fields was clogged for a long period of time. Fans spent over an hour in autograph lines just to meet their favorite player.
Where do all the Giants fans come from?
The Giants are coming off a horrific season. They finished the year nineteenth in the league and could not defend their previous title as World Champions. As a Giants fan, it was heartbreaking.
More and more people show up to Giants games than ever before. According to ESPN’s Major League Baseball attendance status report, the Giants are in the top five for most sold-out games over the last three years.
After the Giants won their first World Series title (since moving to San Francisco) in 2010, everywhere you went, someone was wearing a Giants jacket or baseball cap.
The bigger the fan base for any sports team usually means more sold out games, giving the team more morale. Right?
Many people started watching the Giants play only when they were winning, especially after their World Series championship. However, long-time Giants fans are not very pleased with the many people jumping on the bandwagon.
Characteristics of bandwagon fans include only showing up to games when a team faces their rival, attending more games than usual when the team has a winning record, and not paying attention to the team during offseason and spring training.
“I can spot a band wagon fan by the way they dress such as going to a game with, or having on those foam fingers and wearing them during the game,” explains Marc Miranda Jr, a physical therapy major at San Francisco State.
Miranda and his parents are season ticket holders and have been attending games since the Giants played at Candlestick Park.
“Those casual fans might scoop up tickets to go to games, but then sit on their phones or talk non-stop to their neighbors or leave in the fourth inning if the home team isn’t winning,” Chelena Goldman, a sports writer for SFBay, says.
But what makes a true Giants fan? Are true fans required to have loved the Giants since birth? Do they have to attend every game throughout the season? Must they splurge on Giants gear?
Many die-hard Giants fans believe bandwagon fans are not in tune with the team at the same level as the most devoted. They think fans should watch the games both on and off the screen. Die-hard fans will watch the local sports channel for highlights and interviews and stick by the Giants during a winning or losing season.
I personally think a true baseball fan is someone who loves the game of baseball. Whether it be someone who has been a long-time fan born into a family of Giants fans like Miranda, or someone who has just jumped on the bandwagon. If you love the game, you’re a fan.
They watched in hopeless anticipation as the New York offense prepared for the crushing blow. As the comprehension set in, fans told themselves not all was lost, that the kick was not a sure thing, that a blocked kick was still a possibility. None of them actually believed it. They knew deep down that their season was over, stolen from them in an unacceptable manner. There was nothing they could do about it. The kick went up and through the uprights, closure finally coming to the game they had already known was lost. For a fan base as passionate as this one, there would be no quick fix. They were about to embark on an emotional roller-coaster of epic proportions.
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Unfortunately for some, attending a game isn’t enough these days. The wonderful experience of watching competition at the highest level is now tarnished with binge drinkers who look for any opportunity to wreak a little havoc.
“You have to go to a game drunk,” claims Morad Lesov, 23, who was involved in an altercation after a San Francisco Giants game. “Sitting there for three hours is no fun; when you and everyone you’re with is drunk though, that’s when you have the best time.”
While it is true that alcohol can indeed enhance an already exciting event, it is when consumption exceeds the limitations of a person that the true colors of alcohol are shown.
“We had just left the Giants game and were on our way to the train station,” says Richie Cortese, 21, who had attended the game with Lesov. “We’d definitely had a few; we like to pregame. Some other drunk guys got in our faces and we went ballistic.”
In today’s society, the intake of alcohol has become nonchalant to the point that it is normal to see someone stumbling his or her way through the ballpark. The guy throwing up in the corner? Happens all the time. The guy leaving the ballpark with a buzz? Hope you get home safe buddy!
In San Francisco, drinking before ballgames has not just become customary, but remarkably easy as well. Tailgating is a tradition that has stood the test of time, friends and families gather together to eat and drink before a game. The problem? People have begun to phase out the eating part and tailgating now means sitting in a parking lot drinking for two hours before going into the stadium. For some, drinking before the actual game holds more appeal then actually going into the stadium and watching the event one paid for.
“I usually don’t get into the game until the third or fourth inning,” said Greg Manson, 21. “Even when I’m in the stadium I don’t really watch. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Giants, that’s my team. But I can watch the game from home. When I’m at the stadium I want to get loose and have a great time. For me, having a great time usually involves killing twelve beers.”
It’s easy to rationalize this mentality; the stereotypical college kid moniker. College kids are usually thought of as heavy drinkers. Countless films have been made about the legendary drinking exploits at college parties. Likewise, sporting events are also synonymous with drinking; spotting a fat guy drinking a beer in a sports movie is about as easy as hitting a fastball thrown by Barry Zito. It is only logical then that when you put college students at a sporting event the result is binge drinking at its finest. And when you factor in the immaturity of college students with the ill-effects of alcohol, reckless results are bound to follow.
In most cases, when fights or arguments break out at a game, they are usually between fans of rival teams. It doesn’t take alcohol to spark these confrontations; true fans live and die for their teams and see it as their honor to defend their team against anyone. Though this is still no excuse for fighting, the rationale behind it makes sense. It is when fans of the same team fight each that’s puzzling. When under the effects of alcohol, however, things don’t always turn out as you would expect.
Following a recent San Francisco Giants triumph over the lowly division rival San Diego Padres, Lesov and his companions were celebrating the victory in the only way they knew how: more drinks. On their way to the train station from the bar, they ran into two fellow binge drinkers who were looking for trouble.
“We were just walking to the train, messing around a little bit, pushing each other and laughing,” said Lesov. “I accidentally bumped into some guy and he went crazy. He got in my face, started yelling and cursing at me, and then I went off on him too.”
Luckily for both parties involved, no actual fights broke out due to the presence of some sober fans who actually went to the game with the intention of watching.
“We were about to throw down, no joke,” said Lesov. “Some guys got in between us though and kept asking why we were trying to fight each other since we were all Giants fans. I didn’t care. I was so drunk and mad by then I was just trying to take it out on him.”The dangers of alcohol are well documented and wide-ranging. It doesn’t take a car to hurt, or even kill someone. Alcohol pushes extremes to new levels, where a small argument morphs into an in-your-face confrontation and a silly shoving match escalates to full-fledged fighting. The recent beating of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow, a 42-year-old Santa Clara County paramedic, epitomizes the frightening trend on the rise.
After traveling to L.A. with friends to take in a game between the rival Giants and Dodgers, Stow was beaten mercilessly in a parking lot outside of the stadium by two men who were unhappy with Stow wearing his team colors. Stow, who is still hospitalized, was a victim of fans who took team pride too far, fans who let their emotions get the best of them. While several suspects have been brought in, the case has yet to be closed.
The beating of Stow was not the only major incident at a sporting event this year. At a San Francisco 49ers preseason football game against Bay Area rival Oakland Raiders, two Raider fans were shot in the parking lot after the game, incidents police say were unrelated. At the same game, a vicious beating was reported in a restroom as well as countless brawls in the stands.
With this kind of rowdiness becoming more and more commonplace, the suitability of these events for children comes into question.
“I grew up going to games with my dad all the time, and I loved it,” said Ben Kamekona, 32. “I’m still going to keep bringing my kids to the game but you really have to think about it now every time. You never know what could happen. What if we get stuck in the middle of a brawl, or even worse, crossfire? I just make sure to be more aware now of my surroundings. If I see drunk and rowdy guys in my section causing trouble we’re out of there.”
Making sure children are always safe is not a new idea; parents being protective of their kids is a given. It used to be, however, that sporting events were the perfect environment to take kids, the quintessential father-son experience. And for the most part it still is, minus the constant flow of profanity, river of alcohol, and extreme fan behavior.
“It’s not even that I’m just scared that they might somehow get hurt when we go to the game,” says Kamekona. “It’s what they might be exposed to that I’m worried about too. I don’t want my seven-year-old hearing the garbage that’s yelled and seeing the animal like behavior that goes on. If I take ‘em, I definitely steer way clear of the bleachers.”
The bleachers: the cheap seats where drunken people unite. It’s here where the brunt of fights occur, where even sailors would blush if they heard the language used. And it is here where parents should avoid at all cost bringing their children if they fear for the children’s eyes and ears.
“I’ve learned to stay away from the bleachers because I understand what it means to sit there,” said Gerardo Gutierrez, a 51-year-old father of two. “If I go with my friends I have no problem with it; I don’t mind what goes on there. I’m not going to tell people what they can or can’t do; I can’t control that. I can control sitting far away from them, though, and I’m willing to pay a little more when I take my kids. I don’t let anyone ruin the game for them.”
Ultimately what people need to understand is that rowdiness and drinking have become a part of the sporting world culture. Rather then try and change that, fans that don’t want a part of it should just avoid it. That is the only option they have. Sporting events can still be magical. You just need to do a little extra planning to experience it.
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.