September 4th, 2002


SF sports fans

San Francisco sports fans get an undeserved bad rap in the sporting world sometimes. Even if there are more assholes with cell phones waving to the camera every year, there are some things SF sports fans have done that I’ve never seen anywhere else.:

--Mascot Killers: The SF Giants tried to introduce a mascot one year called the Crazy Crab (or Krazee Krab, I don’t really remember). This was when the fans were suffering in the cold and windy confines of Candlestick Park and The Giants were very close to last place. Every time the Crab made an appearance it was pelted with food and garbage until it fled back to the dugout. The Giants tried added police protection and threats but nothing could stop the garbage rain. Finally they finally admitted defeat and fired the mascot.

When The Giants moved to Pac Bell Park they carefully introduced Lou Seal, only allowing it to make appearances at first while surrounded by human shields of Special Olympics kids and local Little Leaguers.* Whatever member of management made that decision, it was the correct one. SF fans can be bloodthirsty, but even they wouldn’t open fire on kids. The momentum was lost and Lou Seal was accepted grudgingly, even if there’s an occasional shout of "Come over here and I’ll Crab you, Lou Shit!" from a drunken fan.

Instead the fans took their aggressions out on the Old Navy sign in the outfield. Developed as a pseudo-retro, aren’t-we-hip-and-knowing-and-urban replica of a ‘50s state of the art advertisement, it was called "Rusty the Mechanical Man". "Rusty", at a designated time, would leave his little metal house and slide across the right field wall, hinged arms and legs moving spastically. The crowd booed it so loudly that Old Navy asked The Giants to stop activating it, despite the fact that they paid for an entire year of advertising. Finally they brought it back but, heeding their own example with Lou Seal, pasted the heads of popular ballplayers and sympathetic community leaders over Rusty’s head so fans wouldn’t jeer.

"Attention Giants fans, playing Rusty the Mechanical Man tonight: Eve Do-gooder. Eve is a breast cancer survivor who has started a foundation for at risk youth to use recycled materials to build housing for their single parent families. Give her a big Old Navy welcome." While not a rousing success, it did stop the outright booing. However, the door to Rusty’s metal house hasn’t opened since that first year.

--They Know Football: Because SF was a pro-football town before it was a pro-baseball town the 49ers are still the City’s favorite. During one SF loss a few years ago, the fans started chanting "No more sweeps! No more sweeps!" after that particular running play failed time after time. I’ve heard fans chant to remove or put in a player, or boo in general, but I’ve never heard fans in any other city chant to get the coach to stop calling a particular play.

--Assholes and/or Faggots: After a particular Giant was traded he got quoted in the press as saying he was glad because SF fans were all "assholes or faggots". When he returned with his new team he was met by a crowd of drag queens who bought up all the seats by his dugout and heckled his every move. Sadly, no one who self-identified as an asshole held an organized protest.

*The most surreal thing I ever saw at a ball park was on "Domestic Violence Awareness Day" when Lou Seal ran by a line of women introduced as domestic violence survivors with his hand (flipper?) outstretched, high-fiving them as he went. I’m still not sure what the appropriate response is to that. The sold-out crowd was strangely quiet and murmury.

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