It was fall 2010. I had just moved back to San Francisco from Los Angeles for a new exciting position at a cool little tech start-up and couldn’t have been happier. I’m a Bay Area girl, you see, and SoCal just ain’t for me.
The city was hitting the end of its annual Indian Summer, and the weather was starting to get a little nippy. Halloween hadn’t passed yet, but there was a definite gleeful spirit that could be felt in the crisp, October air.
Oh, and the San Francisco Giants were playing the Texas Rangers in the World Series.
This particular time in my life is what you would call an anomaly, an unusual* milestone of my sports-lovin’ career.
*Other words that could fit here: amusing, stupid, confusing, embarrassed, shameful.
The night the Giants clinched their World Series berth, I left a status on Facebook that read something like:
“Not gonna lie, I’m jumping on the bandwagon. Go Giants!”
I was applauded for my transparency, and my friends loved it — the friends who were Giants fan, that was. For 2-weeks, I watched the Giants and cheered for them enthusiastically at bars and friend’s houses. Anywhere I could, really. I even bought Giants hats and jerseys, sent exciting texts to friends when they won games. I researched box scores and statistics and learned everyone’s name and position on the roster, including the pitching rotation. My whole thinking was — if I’m gonna be on the bandwagon, might as well do it whole-heartedly. I wasn’t going to half-ass this bandwagon thing. I was going to own it. Be a legit bandwagon fan. And boy, was I ever. Some might say I almost overdid it.
The night they won their first World Series (since moving to San Francisco), I partied in the the city with friends. I high-fived people on the streets, screaming my lungs out. We made trips to city hall, Union Square and the Ferry Building basking in the orange glow of the city. It was a lot of fun.
It was even more fun to go to the championship parade. My office was in Union Square, and a portion of the route for the parade was about 3 blocks away from me. I asked my boss if I could leave to attend the parade so I could celebrate with my fellow Giants fans. She let me, and it was a glorious time. The whole city basically shut-down for the day, and it was such an awesome feeling to know that everyone in San Francisco had a smile on their faces about the same exact thing. What a cool experience.
About 2 days later, I was over it, and I was knee-deep into the start of the NHL and NBA season. I was a Giants fan no more. In fact, I had to Wikipedia who the Giants played in the 2010 series because I completely forgot.* In my head, this would be the only time I’d ever do something like this. But that wasn’t the case. Because in 2012, the Giants did it again. And so did I. My hashtag for the 2012 Championship was #bandwagonfan2.0.
*In all fairness to me, there’s no way I could ever cheer for the Rangers. So…come on. Give a girl a break here, will ya?
Now, you understand why embarrassed and shameful come to mind when I think about this particular time in my life. Because I’m an A’s fan. I grew up in the East Bay, and our baseball team over there was the Oakland A’s, not the San Francisco Giants. And they very much share a cross-town rivalry like their NFL counterparts (Raiders and Niners).*
*Again, in all fairness, the rivalry amongst Raider and Niner fans is not-so-much a rivalry, as much as it is they both just wish the other team was obliterated. Basically, fans of both teams are North Korea, and fans of the opposing teams are South Korea. They feel life would be much easier if the other team just ceased to exist.
But let me explain how one can in fact become a bandwagon fan as easily as I did when you’re supposed to be a die-hard fan of another team. Because not only do I pride myself on being extremely knowledgeable about sports in general, but also for being a true and loyal fan (to a fault — I mean, being a Raider fan is hard work, bro. But someone’s gotta do it).
Assess Your Level of Attachment
Of the four major sports, baseball is the sport I follow the least. I follow the A’s the least and don’t have quite as much of an attachment to them as I do the other three teams. Because of this, I never developed truly strong opposing feelings for the Giants, and it wasn’t nearly as difficult to cheer for them as I thought it would be.
Acknowledge Success Rate
As a fan, your team’s success is measured by championships. It doesn’t matter how much you win during the regular season, it’s how well you perform in the postseason. Prior to 2010, the A’s had won more championships than the Giants. In fact, the last time the A’s had won a World Series was against the Giants in 1989. It was easy to cheer for the Giants because in my head it was like, “Well, they can have one. Just one. That’s fine.”
Be a Fan of Really Crappy Teams
Ok — so let me explain. I’ve been a sports fan all my life. I’ve been a fan of the Raiders, Warriors, Sharks, and A’s all my life. 1989 was the only year in which one of my teams has won a championship. Although, I was way too young to even remember it, let alone enjoy it. These teams have broken my heart year after year after year. I cried when the Raiders lost the SuperBowl in 2002. I teared up when the stanchion helped Kevin Bieksa and the Vancouver Canucks advance against the Sharks in the Western Conference Finals.
This year, I was in Paris up at 5:00AM just to hear the ESPN Radio feed of the A’s blowing it in the wild card game against the Royals, and I was a depressed puppy the rest of the day. In PARIS. How can anyone be that depressed in Paris??? I couldn’t take it anymore. I caved and decided I wanted to cheer for a winning team. I wanted to know what it felt like to celebrate a championship even if it wasn’t 100% genuine, and that’s what I did with the Giants in 2010 and 2012.
And that’s how you can do it, too.
One might wonder, what about this year? Well, we just have to go down the list right now to see if I can jump the bandwagon again:
1) Assess my level of attachment — The A’s completely shattered my heart when they went from the best team in the majors to missing the post-season. The fact that they affected my mood in Paris speaks to how attached I’ve gotten to this team since 2012.
2) Acknowledge Success Rate — Well, the A’s have 4 World Series titles right now. The Giants have 2 and are on the doorstep of a third, which would make them close to EQUAL as far as success goes, which means the A’s are no longer better.
3) Be a Fan of Really Crappy Teams — Meh, okay. This is still true.
The fact that two of the three are complete 180s from how it was two years ago should probably answer if I’m cheering for the Giants this year. I just can’t. It’s not happening, and it will probably never happen again. But then you ask, am I cheering for Kansas City? Let’s just say I spent my time writing this blog post instead of watching game 1. Oh, and I cooked some yummy vegetable quinoa.
I’m not proud of this time in my life, but now hopefully you can understand where I was coming from. Winning a championship is the ultimate goal, and I wanted to know what that felt like. While cheering for the Giants twice was fun, it wasn’t at all satisfying. It didn’t feel nearly as good to celebrate their championships as it would feel if one of my four other teams did. I’ve learned from my mistakes, and I’m better now.
I’m an Oakland A’s fan. And don’t you forget it.