Today marks the first game of the only four games in the regular season where the two Bay Area baseball teams face off against each other and the games actually have an effect on each team’s win-loss record. But with the amount of animosity I see from fans on both sides, you’d think the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics were part of the same division, battling it out for the top spot in the West every year. It’s a fun and healthy regional sports rivalry, until you feel like the trash talk is without substance or fact. Or when fans on either side make you feel like you’re not a real fan of your team because you’re actually nice to the other team.
In case you’ve ignored every other part of my online presence, I’m a Giants fan through and through. My family grew up watching and loving them, although my earliest baseball memory came late in life. I was 16 when I attended my first Giants game back when AT&T Park was known as SBC Park. My student leadership advisor Mr. P. was and is still one of the biggest Giants fans I know and would get the class together to go out to games. We were in the bleachers and what I mostly remember was the incredible crowd energy. Since then, I kept coming back for more. The funny thing was that I was more of a casual strictly-Giants fan back in the day (Although I enjoyed watching the World Series no matter what) and it was only recently that I became totally immersed in the entire sport of baseball, always interested in what other teams were doing too and not just mine. So basically, during that time when I was less emotionally invested in baseball, the A’s were just the other Bay Area team to me—didn’t love them or hate them, but they were obviously a presence. When they had their fairy tale run last year, it did make me take notice and I was thrilled for them. Maybe the fact that the Giants worked their magic too and went even deeper into October helped a lot, but I would’ve rooted for the A’s to go all the way if the Giants didn’t. I think the only people who didn’t appreciate it were Giants fans who couldn’t take sharing the spotlight with the other Bay Area team, or were still torn apart by the A’s defeating the Giants in the World Series in 1989, which makes me believe that they’re just Giants fans and not actual baseball fans. Anyone who truly loves the game would’ve been happy with what the A’s did in 2012.
Still, it takes so much in me to bite my tongue when I read comments from fans who love the A’s and not the Giants. Everyone is entitled to love and hate the teams they want, but never have I seen a baseball fanbase so relentless about a team that’s not even in their league and I struggle to understand that. There are some Giants fans who are vocal about disliking the A’s, but they are less frequent and if they don’t actively dislike the A’s, then they don’t care for them at all. Giants fans care the most about loving their team and if they want to put down any team, then it’s the Dodgers—their storied division enemy—not the A’s. Still, many Giants fans were indeed happy about the A’s last year, while a lot of A’s fans were seemingly sour when the Giants won the World Series in 2010 and 2012, crediting their victories towards luck rather than skill. Don’t they dislike the teams in their division, the ones they actually play about 20 times a year? I’m guessing the Texas Rangers must be boring as hell, and that Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, and Mike Trout on one team isn’t hatable enough. Folks, I get that you’re mad that the Giants have a nice park and won’t give you territorial rights to San Jose. But always wishing for us to fail won’t make your team any better. Also, for all the bandwagoner talk, all those people who suddenly showed up in September and October last year surely must be loyal fans, even though they were nowhere to be found for the rest of the year. Unlike AT&T Park, tickets are more affordable at O.Co and best of all, you’re right near BART! It’s actually a little disheartening to watch an A’s game on TV and see that the stadium is only 1/4 full. Instead of spending time blaming the Giants and their fans for some of your miseries, maybe the better thing to do is to actually get out there and support your team.
I didn’t mean for this to become an asshole post. I’m good friends with a few A’s fans and I know not every A’s fan hasn’t been so awful about the Giants. I also know that some Giants fans do and say some nasty stuff that irk A’s fans (And other Giants fans) as well. At the end of the day, baseball is just a game, and I don’t want to hold one person’s team allegiance against them (Besides, it would be ridiculous if all my friends liked the same team as me!). I created this post because there have been a lot of things I’ve been wanting to say to A’s fans I’ve never met and have only seen around the Interwebs. I wanted to say them once, and never again because I am not going to waste any more negative energy on this second-tier rivalry unless the teams meet and will only focus positive energy on wanting my team to succeed. I also wanted people to know that I’m a Giants fan who’s not afraid to tip her cap off to another team when they deserve it. The A’s are a very talented team this year—great pitching, scary hitters, awesome team chemistry. I’m actually quite scared of how they’ll fare against us. After this series, I’ll enjoy watching them on TV when there are no other baseball games on, just as I did before. I’ll never love them as much as I love the orange and black, but hey, good baseball is good baseball and nobody does sports quite like the Bay Area. You have to be proud that we have two very formidable teams here, no matter which side you’re on.
Then again, we did manage to beat Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers in last year’s playoffs. And we have more walk-offs so far in 2013. Next time A’s fans want to say that the Giants suck, there’s that.
(PHOTO CREDITS: Jon Michaels at KFBK [Pillow pets] | Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images [Tim Lincecum and Collin Cowgill, May 20, 2012 at AT&T Park])