I'm a pretty simple guy with rather simple tastes. When it came to the seemingly uncomplicated task of selecting a baseball team to root for, I'm sure I wasn't alone in simply choosing the team who's stadium was in greatest proximity to my house. Beyond the team I support implicitly, my interest bounces around from team to team, following compelling players and personalities.
In spite of never passing up an opportunity to debase and deride the National League West, I can't help but be drawn to it. Though the standard of play is relatively low, the teams themselves are an interesting lot. The Dodgers; with their history, quality, and gleaming white uniforms. A family connection keeps one nostalgic eye on the Padres, but I can't help but love the 2009 San Francisco Giants. How did this happen? One sure reason is their surprising participation in the Wild Card race. Beyond that; this team has many hooks, which I will spell out listicle style:
- Their pitching staff is unmatched. Watching Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain pitch 40% of your ball games is good for everyone one involved. Throw in the occasional Randy Johnson appearance/occasional Jonthan Sanchez brilliance , the tragicomedy of Barry Zito and an excellent bullpen and you've the third best staff in baseball (by FIP.) Did I mention Lincecum? Yeah, he's good.
- They play in a sexy ballpark. There isn't much to add here. You know you'd give your first born for the opportunity to sit here multiple times this summer. It's full of humans on a regular basis which makes for a good time every time.
- The Multi-Positional Greatness of the Kung Fu Panda Go ahead, tell me Pablo Sandoval isn't fun to watch. You can't. A big dude playing the corner infield spots, smacking the ball around to the tune of a .928 OPS, swinging at everything and anything? Consider me amused, and rooting for continued amusement.
- Their tragic flaw. Despite the Panda's heroics, the Giants are a truly terrible offensive team. Brutal. Second last in baseball bad. They have a bright future with stud catcher Buster Posey waiting in the wings, but for now their offensive cupboard is bare. Randy Winn plays everyday and is counted on for significant offense. Aaron Rowand makes serious bank to do what, exactly? Fred Lewis, Nate Scheirholz, and Travis Ishikawa are nice pieces, but hardly knocking down the elegant red brick walls of AT&T Park.
- They play good defense in their spacious ballpark. They rank third in baseball in UZR, tied for first in UZR/150 games, fifth in defensive efficiency. They make the most of their excellent pitching by supporting it with brilliant defense (except when the pressure's one, whoops). Defense is fun to watch, not to mention a sound investment in ballpark that won't let you score.
Add in their excellent blogosphere, their sweet, nameless home uniforms, and the irresistible appeal of sailboats and you've got yourself one converted fan. With rumours of the Giants making a big acquisition at the trade deadline swirling, you have to think they'll continue to factor into the wild card race well into September. Consider me pumped.