Brian Sabean

Giants Media Day: “They’re all so nice!”

The quote in the headline comes from Julian Levine, the man behind Splashing Pumpkins. Actually, Julian goes to Albany High School usually, but not today because he was one of the bloggers allowed to cover media day at AT&T Park. And luckily enough, bloggers who are decidedly not in high school anymore (like me) were also invited.

It was actually a much calmer, relaxed atmosphere than I had envisioned — being that the Giants are the World Champs and their players are going on talk shows and generally being treated like kings in this city. That is, when I finally found where I was supposed to go. Getting lost was kind of a running theme for me today.

I got there around 10:30 am, got my credential and walked past a ton of merchandise (dozens of jerseys, hoodies and t-shirts all hung on racks), through the tunnel and into the stadium’s ground floor. And nobody was there. Nobody. I was all alone in this field-level concourse area I’d never seen before, and there weren’t any signs that said “HEY BLOGGER, TURN LEFT” anywhere.

Finally after some wandering around, I found a few media-looking types headed toward an elevator. Good. Kim Coyle (from Channel 5) and some camera man were in my elevator. Good. The elevator went up one floor to the press box, the doors opened, and I hopped off … and it took me a while to realize that nobody got off with me. Great. So I’m wandering around the press box, planning where I was going to sit next time (which would be the first time) the Giants ask me to come in and cover a game.

But time was ticking, and I had no idea where I was supposed to go. So I got back on the elevator and went up one floor. Still nobody, but I walked out to the indoor club concessions area, and I heard a bunch of noise that sounded familiar … yep, I heard Ray Ratto’s unmistakable vocal cadence from a floor above, so I got BACK on the elevator and found the lounge area where media day was about to take place.

It was a lot like Warriors media day, actually. I thought it would be more chaotic, that I’d always find myself behind a throng of mainstream media members, hoping for a few crumbs or a photograph or two. Actually, I got to chat for quite a while with Madison Bumgarner, Nate Schierholtz, Darren Ford and Cody Ross, and get a close view of Tim Lincecum’s mustache and ponytail, which combined with the blousy scarf he was wearing and man purse European satchel made him look more like a student at The Art Institute than the most successful pitcher in baseball over the past three years.

After about an hour they started rounding people up to go downstairs for a press conference where Bill Neukom announced the 2012 options that were picked up for Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy, only Bochy didn’t know where to go. I was about to get a 1-on-1 interview with him, but he was worried that he was supposed to be downstairs so I told him not to worry about it. Then, next thing I know, Bochy and I are wandering the halls, trying to find our way down to the press conference room. Turns out Bochy doesn’t know any more about getting around AT&T Park than I do, except maybe the clubhouse area and his office.

Bochy (who walks with a very pronounced limp) couldn’t have been nicer; he almost took me back into the luxury suite where he was doing interviews earlier, until a Giants employee told him that since he was one of the stars of the show, he was needed downstairs in the press conference room.

Like Julian said, everyone’s niceness was almost startling. It’s enough to almost make you think, “What is this, a baseball franchise or an intramural sloshball team?” Maybe it’s easier to be nice when your last game clinched the first World Series for San Francisco. But it’s more than that. The running theme from everyone I talked to was that the Giants clubhouse really WAS that great from the start of last season. People are free to be themselves, they support each other off the field (Ford in particular talked about how much Lincecum helped him, in part because they both dealt with the aftermath of having brushes with the law). The Giants have received about as much love from a fanbase as any team possibly could, and now they’re giving it back — improved access for bloggers today and hopefully in the future and accessible players and coaches who genuinely seemed like they wanted to chat with us (or were at least pretty good at acting like it).

I had to leave before Pablo Sandoval had his press conference because … well … I have a job and I didn’t know if they noticed I’d been gone all that time (so I took another really long lunch … is that so bad?). Now it’s time to download videos, transcribe interviews, and look forward to these guys getting back on the field again after a whirlwind off-season. Won’t that be nice.

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