When the Giants moved into their new clubhouse at Scottsdale Stadium last month, a young reliever looked up at the ceiling and smiled. There were 10 flat screen televisions hanging all around the room.
"This is going to be great for the tourney," he said, smiling.
Yes, when it comes to March Madness, the Giants are no different than their fans. They fill out brackets, pay close attention to games ending in the morning, and check in on scores when they come out of Cactus League games. That was one of the many experiences that was missed this month when COVID-19 shut down the sports world, forcing the NCAA to cancel the men's and women's basketball tournaments.
But Brandon Crawford has tried to fill some of that void for Giants fans.
Crawford put together the #BCrawBracket, which is being voted on by his followers on Twitter and Instagram. The shortstop and lifelong Giants fan seeded 64 players from the 1990-2009 teams and asked Giants fans to vote for their favorites.
Here’s the first official #BCrawBracket. Favorite SF Giants player (1990-2009). Players only had to be on the team at some point between ‘90-‘09 to qualify (Buster had 17 ABs in ‘09). This is FAVORITE player, not BEST player. Enjoy! pic.twitter.com/6p8BFI8cLb— Brandon Crawford (@bcraw35) March 29, 2020
On Monday, I asked Crawford how this all came together.
"First of all," he said, "I love brackets."
On what would have been Opening Day, Crawford asked his Twitter followers to choose between four bracket ideas: Best cereal; best candy; best hip-hop artist/group; and favorite Giants player. The last category won with 45 percent of the vote, although Crawford -- knowing how much research would go into that one -- wasn't necessarily hoping it would.
"Then I was thinking, do I go all-time Giants? Do I go current Giants or recent?" he said. "But then I'd have to rank guys that I've played with or am currently playing with. So that didn't seem like it would be very fun."
Crawford ended up ranking fan favorites who got any service time between 1990 -- the first year he can remember going to games -- through 2009. He didn't debut for the team until 2011, but set the cutoff before 2010 because that first championship team would have skewed the voting.
"I thought what would be kind of cool for me also is that it's kind of my entire Giants fan years," he said. "I was thinking like a fan, kind of, during those years for the most part. I was trying to think about (this bracket) how a fan potentially would."
Crawford grew up attending games at Candlestick Park, so he was able to put together most of the bracket just off memory. He called his dad, Mike, and got some additional names -- like Rick Reuschel -- from the early 90s teams. He also sprinkled in a few of his own favorites, like Emmanuel Burriss, an infielder who never turned into an everyday player for the Giants but did have a huge impact on another young shortstop coming through the system.
"There's obviously some personal bias in a couple of them," Crawford said. "He was almost like my mentor coming up. He was telling me what was expected of me."
The voting started Saturday on Crawford's Twitter page and Instagram story (there will be two different end results). Most of the early matchups were blowouts, although Russ Ortiz -- who would solicit votes in Round 2 -- did beat Jose Uribe 52-48. He said he hasn't been surprised much thus far, and on Monday he unveiled the Sweet 16, which included 15 of the top 16 seeds, with only Brian Wilson crashing the party after beating No. 3 seed Robby Thompson.
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Crawford has been getting about 4,000 votes in every Twitter poll, with fans confirming his initial suspicions that players who were on that 2010 team would get extra support. For instance, Royce Clayton, one of Crawford's childhood heroes got blown out as the No. 9 seed against No. 8 Edgar Renteria.
"That was a tough one. That was a tough one for me," Crawford said. "Did he really deserve a nine seed? I don't know. He got beat out by a World Series MVP, though, so it's understandable."