CSNBayArea.com staff writer
SAN FRANCISCO – Welcome to San Francisco, where we like our clam chowder with a side of baseball. At least that’s what one out-of-town writer believes.
Detroit Free Press columnist Jeff Seidel wrote a Pulitzer-quality piece on the eve of Game 1 of the World Series that blasts Giants fans and their cathedral of baseball, AT&T Park, with some cheap shots that would make Scott Cousins and Matt Holliday proud.
After starting off with some basic compliments about the Giants’ “talented team” and “amazing, beautiful stadium,” Seidel’s piece takes a turn towards the intolerable:
“The Giants have a Build-A-Bear Workshop in the stands behind leftfield at AT&T Park. Seriously. How the heck can you lose to a team where the fans can go to a game and stuff a teddy bear and then buy a cute little outfit? Can you imagine that in Detroit? Get real. We’d run them out of town, just because it sounds so wimpy.”
Really? That’s your best bullet to lead with? Teddy bears? If the “bleacher bums” were walking around with custom Lou Seal cheerleader dolls, that would be one thing. But instead, Seidel is targeting a very small and helpless demographic: Toddlers. How dare parents with a little more disposable income treat their young children to a stuffed toy that may later serve a nostalgic purpose, reminding them of their day at the ballpark?
Seidel would’ve been better off criticizing the Giants for growing an avocado tree behind the centerfield wall, though he may just be learning about the wonderful fruit from those endless Subway and Taco Bell commercials. Michigan isn’t known for its green gold like California is.
After Seidel so wittily attacked fans of teddy bears, he moves on to a much more important subject. You see, Seidel isn’t a fan of the Coke bottle slides, calling them a “McDonald’s play station on steroids.”
Doesn’t Comerica Park in Detroit have it’s own playground attraction? His explanation:
“Yeah, the Tigers have a carousel. But carousels are cool.”
Point taken. A thousand apologies, Mr. Seidel. Maybe Larry Baer will work on a proposal to turn the Coke bottle into a roller coaster that might up the ‘cool’ factor at AT&T Park.
The next part of Mr. Seidel’s holier-than-thou opus focuses on food.
“AT&T Park isn’t a baseball stadium. It’s an exotic food court that happens to have a baseball field.”
Maybe “Tyler Florence’s Grab of the Game” segment on the scoreboard deserves some constructive criticism. And the prices around the ballpark could certainly be adjusted to better serve the 99%. But why in the world would you criticize the high quality of a ballpark’s cuisine?
Seidel’s expert observational skills lead him to describe Giants fans as “eating garlic fries, crab sandwiches on grilled sourdough bread, clam chowder, fried calamari, sweet potato fries with cinnamon and chipotle sprinkle, and clove garlic chicken sandwiches.”
Then there’s this: “Few San Francisco fans would ever lower themselves to eating a beer and a brat.”
It’s so lazy to rely on a “Detroit is blue collar and San Francisco is white collar” angle. As a journalist, Seidel should spend more time trying to study a story idea before jumping to conclusions based on what must be a small sample size. Maybe Seidel was invited to a corporate suite and assumed that the fans in view reserved all enjoy the same luxuries.
Siedel saves his best work for last. After going through the dimensions of the AT&T Park outfield, he writes “it looks like a little kid designed the outfield wall by scribbling in the sand.”
The brick wall that separates the field of play from McCovey Cove is one of the most unique aspects of AT&T Park. It may create a challenge for outfielders, but it also gives the Giants a true home-field advantage. Hunter Pence hasn’t quite mastered the bounces off the bricks like Nate Schierholtz did before him, but there’s a learning curve with that area of the field. Of course, Seidel didn’t take the time to look at defensive metrics and make a worthwhile point. Instead, we get observations like “the outfield wall is strange and quirky.”
The grand conclusion of Seidel’s piece:
“It is against the laws of nature – it is against the laws of baseball – to go a baseball game and eat clam chowder and drink Irish coffee while holding a little teddy bear.”
Since Seidel declared himself judge, jury and executioner of both the laws of nature and baseball, maybe he’ll allow me to assume the same role when it comes to the laws of journalism. If you’re one of the lucky few who gets paid to attend some of the most spectacular sporting events in the world, the least you can do is reward your readers with some thoughtful and well-articulated prose.
Maybe next time, Mr. Seidel.