Detroit columnist bashes AT&T Park, Giants fans


Detroit columnist bashes AT&T Park, Giants fans

Rael Enteen 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. 

Offseason can be tense on other side of Giancarlo Stanton rumors


Offseason can be tense on other side of Giancarlo Stanton rumors

SAN FRANCISCO — Just around dinner time on Monday, Tyler Beede got a call he had been waiting for. General manager Bobby Evans informed Beede, the Giants’ top pitching prospect, that he was being added to the 40-man roster, a significant step toward making his big league debut. Earlier that day, however, Beede’s phone brought him some unwanted news. 

Like most Giants fans, Beede woke up to a report out of South Florida that he was one of several names the Giants and Marlins had discussed in Giancarlo Stanton trade talks. For fans or team employees, it would be painful to give up a Beede or a Chris Shaw or a Joe Panik, but images of Stanton taking aim at the Coke bottle at AT&T Park would soon wash away most concerns. 

For players, the reality this time of year is much different. The Giants are the only organization that all of the rumored pieces have ever known. Panik is a New Yorker, but he and his wife have grown to love San Francisco. Beede and Shaw have spent years dreaming of debuting at AT&T Park and playing in front of sellout crowds. That makes the Hot Stove Season a particularly tense time of year. 

“I try to be a guy who doesn’t look those kinds of things up too frequently, but obviously I’m a normal guy, so I tend to dig into it a little bit more and see what’s going on and see what people are saying,” Beede said on this week’s Giants Insider Podcast. “It’s funny. I don't really know how to handle it. It’s my third year going through the trade deadline and trade talk. I’ve just go to keep telling myself it’s a realistic possibility and not to be shocked if anything were to come out or a trade were to be made.”

The rumor mill is nothing new for these players. Panik acknowledged several times during the season that he could be the odd man out. Shaw actually already once thought he got traded to Florida. For a few minutes at the 2016 deadline, Twitter had him as a key piece in the Matt Moore deal. The outfielder came out of a hotel bathroom right after the deadline to see two teammates staring at him in disbelief as Twitter rumors flew. 

Five minutes later, he got a call from Bobby Evans. “You’re still a Giant,” Evans told him. “Don’t take your jersey off.”

“It’s a little tense for sure,” Shaw said earlier this year. “It’s not something you can try to predict. You can have a feeling but that means nothing.”

Evans has always communicated to players and their agents that they can reach out any time they have a question or concern about what they might be hearing, but when it comes to getting on the phone himself, he treats the trade deadline and offseason differently. There’s more urgency to clear the air in July when players might have to take at-bats or throw pitches with rumors weighing on their minds. In the offseason, Evans will wait to reach out until deals are closer to being agreed upon. He tries not to worry as much about “hot stove banter,” he said. 

“In the offseason I think it’s a little less of an issue because a lot of things get thrown out there that don’t have validity,” he said. “We certainly don’t try to respond to every single rumor with an update because there are new rumors every hour, so it’s hard to keep up. A lot more names are mentioned this time of year.”

Players try to find different ways to get away from it all. Every year, several Giants prospects talk of playing golf during the trade deadline to stay away from MLB Network and their phones. For veterans, it’s often easiest to just take offseason vacations, and Panik planned to visit Europe with his wife. 

Beede has a somewhat unique distraction as rumors trickle out. He’s getting married on Saturday, which along with the holiday, has kept him busy all week. Still, he knows the rumors will be out there. 

“After a couple of days I start to just understand that (my) name is going to be in rumors or there may be things that people say or speculate,” he said. “(If) Bobby tells me something, or my agent says something, then I can start to maybe engage in it a little bit more. But as of right now, I’m just trying to go about my preparation and I’ll continue to enjoy being a San Francisco Giant.”

Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park


Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have made a habit in recent winters of “kicking the tires,” so to speak, on as many free agents as possible. General manager Bobby Evans is committed to being thorough, but at times there is probably no need. 

Hitters have made no secret of the fact that they prefer friendlier confines, and if you’re a power hitter, you’re going to ask Evans for a significantly larger check to play 81 of your games at the harshest power park in the majors. That’s what makes Giancarlo Stanton, readily available via trade, so intriguing. But would Stanton be fully immune to the realities of AT&T Park?

The numbers, at least in a small sample, suggest he would. Stanton has played 27 games in San Francisco and taken 108 at-bats. He has nine homers, 11 doubles and a triple. His .676 slugging percentage at AT&T Park isn’t far off his mark at Coors Field (.714), and his 1.048 OPS is higher than his OPS during the 2017 season, when he hit 59 homers. 

The damage has been done in limited time, but the Giants clearly believe it’s fully sustainable, and a recent study done by ESPN’s Dan Szymborski backs that up. Szymborski ran his ZiPS projection system to estimate Stanton’s stats over the next 10 years for a variety of suitors. The numbers in orange and black are overwhelming. 

The projections have Stanton at 46.2 WAR over the next 10 seasons, including 7.1 in 2018 and 6.8 in 2019, the two seasons the organization should be focused on given Madison Bumgarner’s contract situation. ZiPS projects Stanton at 46 homers next season if he plays for the Giants, followed by 43, 42, 39, 35 over the following four years. For comparison’s sake, Brandon Belt led the Giants in homers each of the last two seasons and he has 35 total during that span. 

Any sort of projection system needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt, especially with a player who has had injury issues in the past. But ZiPS believes Stanton -- who plays in a huge park already -- is a rarity, the kind of power hitter who can keep crushing well into his 30’s and put up huge numbers even if he is limited by the realities of getting older and getting hurt. Szymborski’s projections have Stanton playing just 102 games in 2025, but he’s still projected to hit 23 homers, 20 doubles and post an OPS+ of 121. Even in the 10th year of the projections, ZiPS has Stanton down for 16 homers. 

There are no sure things in this game, but as Evans continues to chase a blockbuster deal, he can be confident that Stanton is one player who should be able to provide power for years to come, no matter what AT&T Park does to hold hitters down.