Friday, November 5, 2010

The Bandwagon

Since the Giants won the World Series, the jury has been out on all the "bandwagon jumpers" (for purpose of this post we will NOT call these people BJs.)  There are so many takes on what is a "true fan" and what legitimate claim any individual has to enjoy a championship.

The reason this year's Giants team has created such a sudden bandwagon is because their rise to a championship was meteoric.  In 2009, they won 88 games and missed playoffs.  This was their first winning record since 2004.  In 2004, they won 91 games but missed the playoffs.  To say the Giants from 2005-2008 were mediocre is a very fair statement.

Even this year, the Giants needed the San Diego Padres to absolutely tank at the end of the season in order to win the NL West by 2 games.  It was a combination of the Giants playing quite well, and the Padres going on a 10 game skid and being unable to rebound (the Giants still would have won the Wild Card I suppose, but that would've made the playoff match ups quite different.)

Most people expected the offensively inept Giants to be a nice story that would get bounced in the NLDS or at best the NLCS in their first playoffs since 2003 (where they lost to the dastardly Marlins- I still hate that team with a passion.  They may or may not haunt my dreams.)  What actually happened was that the Giants went to the playoffs, finished off the Braves, took out the defending NL Champion Phillies and then beat a Texas Rangers team that looked like they were emotionally spent after defeating the defending Champion New York Yankees.  The rise was so quick that people had to jump on the Giants bandwagon with record speed and it was quite noticeable to the rest of the Northern California community (and possibly the rest of the country.)

So is this a bad thing?  Why are people so offended by bandwagon jumpers?  Who deserves to celebrate a championship?

Let's start with the first question- Is this such a bad thing?  The short answer- No.  Every single fan-base has true fans.  Search your soul.  You know if you are a true fan of a team.  I know in my DNA, I am a Cubs, Bears, Bulls and Blackhawks fan.  There is no way around it.  It was ingrained into the fabric of my being and I will never cheer for any other team over the four teams mentioned.  (I even wavered on the Blackhawks during their down times because I'm not a huge hockey fan and I wanted to support the local Sharks, but when they faced off in the playoffs last year my true colors bubbled to the surface immediately.)

If the Cubs won a championship next year (unlikely) the bandwagon would be so large that they could start registering citizenship, form a government, then form an army and take over France.  This would all happen within 12 hours of the Cubs final out to win the World Series.

Does that mean that the casual fan who doesn't have their day ruined by a June loss to the Astros doesn't deserve to celebrate?  Heck no!  Jump on!  The more the merrier.  And while you're at it (and this is my main point) buy some Cubs gear!  You know you want to.  And your purchase will filter money back to the club to make them better

Take note of 2003.  The Cubs didn't even win a championship, just the taste of going to the NLCS ramped up Cubs fans (and more importantly Cubs ownership) to demand a better product on the field.  It has been hit and miss with them since then, but they did spend big money on Alfonso Soriano and a few other free agents and this is in part due to bandwagon fans' money.

The main point is that bandwagon jumpers can financially benefit a team.  The Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Mets, and Dodgers all benefit massively from this type of behavior and it looks like the Giants will now reap some rewards.  Hopefully their ownership group continues to invest it back into the club.

Why are people so offended by bandwagon jumpers?  This one is easy.  If you're the kind of person that follows a team (especially a baseball team because they play damn near every day for 6 months) and lives and dies by every game, you feel the extreme joy and pain that your team can bring you.  The Giants have branded their type of baseball "torture" and the fans have really bought into that brand.  Having never won a San Francisco championship, every SF Giants fan there ever was had not tasted a championship until this past Monday.  So if you are that type of fan that follows every single day, you feel more entitled to celebrate a championship than another person who may be a casual fan or maybe didn't even care about baseball ever before in their life.

So why would I say a loyal fan for years shouldn't be offended by someone who just started paying attention?  Well, there is that whole financial aspect that I addressed above, but there is one more thing- this could be the moment where they fall in love with a particular team or sport.  If someone who never liked baseball is swept up in the emotion of the recent Giants run, they may have arrived late to the party, but they might stay for the rest of their life.  And that can't be a bad thing.  The Giants almost moved to Tampa in the early 90s, but a new ownership group came in and saved the franchise, brought SF a top notch baseball stadium in AT&T Park, and helped pave the way for this championship.  To make sure that baseball stays forever in SF you need fans to support the team.  The more fans there are, the easier it is to support a team.  Someone ask the Oakland A's if they would like more than 10,000 fans per game at their stadium- the answer is YES.

So who deserves to celebrate a championship?  I think any true fans are an automatic shoe in to celebrate.  I remember the day the Cubs beat the Braves to clinch the 2003 NLDS was a Sunday night.  I went to the store and bought a blue bottle of Hurricane mix and made my (Giants fan) roommate Sean celebrate with me even though we had work the next day.  True fans will celebrate in their own way when a team is going well.

I think bandwagon jumpers can celebrate as well.  It makes them feel good and ultimately their short term purchases of gear will help the winning team.  Most of them are harmless and let's face it, it is far worse to watch a community like Tampa NOT SHOW UP to their winning team's games.  The Rays games near the end of the season were a joke and that is far more embarrassing than having a million people show up for a victory parade.

I also think anyone in the local community should be able to celebrate (assuming you don't hate the local teams.)  I have nothing against the Giants (besides the 1989 NLCS- damn you Will Clark!)  I cheered them on and I'm happy for their fans.  I attended Game 3 of the NLCS and had a great time cheering for the Giants.  I know in my heart that I can't go crazy and fully enjoy their championship because it's not the Cubs, but I do not mind watching the success of the Giants.  They are a pretty likable group with DOMINANT pitching that I love to watch.

I hope I've dispelled some problems with bandwagon jumping.  Ultimately, these people financially benefit your own team and fill in any gaps in seats to create a stellar stadium experience.  I suppose the one downside would be that the demand for tickets would go up causing ticket prices to rise- damn my Econ degree for creating a counterpoint to my argument!

Overall, I have no problem.  People enjoy sports differently and deserve to celebrate when possible.  If a celebration allows a moment of escape and happiness, I say allow it.  The world is better when good vibes are flowing in an entire area- even if it is over a sports team.


Rae said...

There was a line around the building at the Giants' store at Embarcadero One after the parade. I bet they pulled in over $1M in sales THAT DAY. I was a fringe fan before, but now I'm pretty stoked to go to more games next year than I went to this year. Call me bandwagon, but I freaking loved every part of this whole experience :)

Tony B. said...

This is what I'm talking about. As a football fan, you've always been great (for example, the clip from the NFL Network of you cheering on the Crabtree selection at the Draft) but you've never that much into baseball. Now you have more of an appreciation for baseball as well as a loyalty to the Giants. It's a good story, not one to be hated on.

Bandwagon jumping is at it's worst when people keep hopping on and off to always be "cheering" for the winning team. If someone was a Niner fan in the 80s, a Cowboy fan in the 90s and a Patriot fan in the 00s- that fan is garbage.

GMoney said...

I don't have a problem with "BJ's" as long as it rewards a city with a good sports supporting tradition. I don't like seeing dipshits from Phoenix, Miami, and Charlotte, etc. puffing their chests when you know that no one down there really cares. But Chicago isn't really known for producing winner after winner so if people want to scream for the Hawks in the Stanley Cup, I'm cool with that. Because I KNOW that they suffer with their teams there.

Basically, fuck Miami.

Tony B. said...

Please tell me you've seen the new response video of Cleveland fans to the LeBron commercial. I posted it on Facebook if you haven't.

I think we can all agree that Miami is awful. I think Dolphins fans are probably ok, but Heat and Marlin fans (all 4,000 of the Marlin fans) annoy me to no end.

"Chicago isn't really known for producing winner after winner." How quickly you forget about the 6 Championships the Bulls brought to the city in the 90s. I get your point though. You know that the people of Chicago are loyal to their team (even someone who has moved away from the area like me.)

Blogger said...

Sports betting system makes +$3,624 profit last week...

Z-Code System winning bets and forecasts for NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL!!!