01 December 2011

Let's get real.

Photo © tanmanforlife
There's always a lot of talk on the Twitter thing about what it means to be a "real fan". Pissing contests erupting 140-characters at a time. Grown men whining back and forth like old married couples. Ladies behaving... well, rather un-lady-like.

It's getting fricking dangerous out there, folks, and the whole shebang has got me thinking: What exactly constitutes a "real fan"?

In the wake of the team's first title in 56 years, life-long Giants fans watched with trepidation as the park filled up night after night in 2011 with out-of-the-woodwork casual fans decked out literally from head to toe in their freshly-purchased World Champions-branded gear.

Those of us with a little historical perspective knew what to expect. We saw the same type of surges in the late 80s, following the near-miracle '93 season, and the early aughts — the pinnacle of the Bonds era — basically any time the team has been riding high in the standings.

So it wasn't too shocking to see the takeover this year. And if you look at it from a business perspective, casual fans are a great thing. They boost revenues. Additional revenue can be spent building a better roster. A better roster wins more championships. More and more fans come out to see the team at home and on the road... You get the idea?

I don't know if Larry Baer and the ownership group get the idea, and because of that, I did not think it would benefit the franchise for the 2011 team to make the playoffs. There. I said it.

We got to watch one of the worst Giants offenses in at least a century, and certainly one of the most inept in our lifetimes. This medley of mediocrity was only prevented from plunging our team into the abyss by one of the finest pitching staffs ever assembled.

Had this team played even one game of October baseball, Baer the Bean Counter and his cronies would likely have frozen the payroll, resigned Cody Ross, and called it a day this offseason. Why mess with a good thing? If it ain't Baroque, don't fix it.

But they didn't get to October, though they could have backed in by playing slightly better ball down the stretch — or even .500 in August. If there's a silver lining to this less-than-glorious season, it's the shakeup that began with the release of Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada and continued with the trade of Jonathan Sanchez.

The payroll isn't expanding much — Sabean can't even kick the tires on the big name free agents — but it's not getting smaller. It's clear that management recognizes the need for change. We can wait until the Spring Training roster is set before we start to pick apart the decisions they're still in the process of making.

But regardless of how poor the offense gets, management also knows they have the pitching to keep the team in the playoff hunt and keep the casual fans coming back. The park will continue to be packed. The $9 beers will continue to flow. The 2011 model could, in effect, become the new Giants Way.

The business model isn't built to serve only the diehards. We don't buy enough beer or garlic fries; we bring our own water and sandwiches. We don't buy new gear every year; we wear the same cap until it falls apart. Okay, sometimes we buy new gear, but only when the team does something nuts like win a World Series.

Most importantly, we see through every piece of advertising and target marketing they throw our way over the course of nine innings. And if you've never been to a game, trust me, it's a lot of shit.

But therein lies the conundrum. You see, without the casual fans, there'd be no Giants for the diehards to go see on a cold ass Tuesday night against the Nationals.

Personally, I don't care how you root for your team or why. I reserve the right to call you out if your takes are ignorant or reactionary, and I certainly encourage you to @ me if I'm talking out my ass. Most importantly, everyone needs to watch as many games as possible and build on their knowledge of the game, the team, the players.

But if you're obviously a new or casual fan, I'm not going to hold it against you. I just won't follow you. At least not for very long.

Everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, after all. A single, 140-character missive should not be construed to represent the entirety of one's personality, opinion, or IQ. We define ourselves by the totality of our actions and words, not random moments of tipsy tweeting or drunk dialing.

It would behoove all who worship at the Temple of the Tweet to remember this the next time you read something on your timeline that touches a nerve. Do what they tell customer service reps: write the flame follow up, save it as a draft for half an hour, and read it again. If you still want to send it, then okay. If you realize you're about to make an ass out of yourself, then put it in the bin.

Btw, I saved this for six hours and re-read it before hitting publish.

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