Pitchers and Catchers
- Updated: February 23, 2015
“Pitchers and catchers report today,” is a phrase I love hearing. It’s only meaningful once a year, but the day I hear it on the radio, I break out my happy dance, which was tough this year since I was driving. Oh how I revel in the knowledge that the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s are in Arizona, preparing for another season of BAY AREA BASEBALL. It does not matter which team you root for, where you live, or if you even like baseball; given our two team market, baseball becomes inescapable in the Bay from April to September and usually October. If you’ve lived here your whole life, you may not necessarily appreciate the advantage of living in one of the wealthiest media markets in America. When you consider the other two team markets for baseball in America (New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago) you realize how many more people those teams have access to than the roughly 8.5 million people in the Greater Bay Area (minus 700,000 if you don’t count Stockton, because I don’t like that Wikipedia does). Yet because of this gross concentration of wealth and amazing weather, the Bay Area is home to two MLB teams, two NFL teams, one NBA team, one NHL team, and one MLS team. Supporting seven franchises, including two of the most opulent stadiums in sports (AT&T and Levi’s), is no easy feat, but we of the Bay have plenty to money to spend and love doing it outdoors. As Jim Harbaugh’s daughter has pointed out, at least half the Bay Area lacks the intensity NFL fans need. Don’t despair, baseball merely requires you to enjoy a day in the park, and who doesn’t enjoy that? It’s warm out, it’s cheap, the game is slow and easy, we can talk to each other, take selfies, check-in, et al. and not miss out on the action. Even better, we have equal franchises. While the Giants bring in a lot more money these days, the A’s and Giants both have rich pasts and current success. The Giants fans can celebrate championships and an amazing stadium while A’s fans can celebrate changing the game and winning streaks. While Giants fans watch parades for their team, A’s fans watch a movie (née read a book) about their team. It’s a pretty special place for baseball.
Double the pleasure, double the fun, double the hope. Like most of you, I love one team exclusively and cheer obnoxiously when they play each other. But when my team is done, I bandwagon the other team if they’re winning. It’s awesome. We’ve all been advised not to put all of our eggs into one basket and Bay Area does just that. If you hated watching Colin Kaepernick fail with so much to work with, you could enjoy watching Derek Carr almost succeed with so little. Last season, the A’s kept the Bay and the nation entertained during the spring and summer, while the Giants took center stage and the championship in fall. To say that the 2014 MLB season was the “Season by the Bay” is an understatement. That was roughly 8 months of great baseball, nationwide headlines, and winning. And the Bay doesn’t discriminate; the Giants drudged through the first two-thirds of the season while the A’s captured the nation’s eye with their play on the field and Billy Beane’s gambles off the field. Once the A’s had finished with their turn, the Giants took theirs’ in Championship style. It wasn’t a season where one team just dominated their respective league and the other was forgotten, both had their times to shine.
The split A’s/Giants hats from the ’89 Battle of the Bay demonstrate just how chill we are. There is no real A’s/Giants rivalry. My friends and I dress in different team colors, but we tailgate and sit together at the interleague games and have a great time no matter who wins. My East Coast University was filled with undergrads from New York and they brought with them their Yankees and Mets love. Even in snowy New England, where I banded together with anyone West of Rockies, New Yorkers from the same high school still cliqued together based on team and season. And it isn’t like the Yankees and Mets are even historically comparable to each other like the A’s and Giants are. It is baffling to see, but I like to think it’s representative of Bay Area culture: we are far more relaxed here because life is much more enjoyable. While you may feel stressed about real things in your life, like family, job, and health, consider this: no one died of a heart attack when the Giants won their first World Series in San Francisco after 52 years of championship-less residence like a few did in Boston the night the Red Sox won their first World Series in the modern era. Certainly fans got a little rowdy in 2010 and 2012, but our newspapers weren’t filled with cute stories about 80 year olds who could die happy because they got to see a Red Sox championship.
You may have noticed that Barry Zito is at A’s spring training camp with a potential $1 million deal if he makes the roster. He is attempting a personal comeback, as well as the amazing A’s to Giants to A’s switcheroo. To my knowledge, this has not been done. I’m sure A’s fans will welcome him back with open arms, while Giants fans will be sated by the memory of his playoff heroics. There are so many players who have played for both sides of the Bay, usually with success. From Rajai Davis, Marco Scutaro, Ray Durham, Tim Hudson, and Barry Zito, all the way back to three Alous and Vida Blue, the Bay Area franchises have always shared well with each other. No matter who you root for, no matter which colors you wear, be happy for “pitchers and catchers reported today.” We have two seasons worth of sun, winning, and fun coming our way.