Bernstein: Not All Titles Are Equal
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“There probably isn’t one guy who couldn’t live here the rest of his life and not get a free meal every night,” he told the LA Times.
Perhaps he’s right, since San Francisco has not celebrated a championship since the Giants moved there from New York in 1957. And there are few cities better for endlessly-comped dinners (the French Laundry in Napa might be pushing one’s luck, but Huff should call chef Thomas Keller if they get two more wins. Can’t hurt to try).
Chicago baseball fans could relate to how emotions divide in the Bay Area. On one side, the lore and sentiment of the National League entrant connect with fans across the country who still fondly remember Bobby Thomson’s Shot and deify Willie Mays. The Giants are the primary team in town, looking down their nose at the AL stepchild in Oakland.
The Athletics only drew 17,511 fans per game this year, next to last in the league. They ply their Moneyball in an unpopular park on the unfashionable side of the water.
Ask Terry Steinbach or Mike Gallego if they have pulled out their wallet when a dinner check has arrived at the table recently. I’d guess yes, despite the World Series they won with Oakland in 1989.
It hits home – particularly while watching Juan Uribe — that the White Sox are five years removed from their own title. And depending on one’s reference point and personal context, the 2005 World Series can seem like forever ago or just last week. I have moments of each feeling.
I don’t get the sense that Chicago restauranteurs still can’t wait to roll out freebies for, say, Jon Garland. Game Three hero Geoff Blum would be lucky to have a single fan recognize him, despite his 14th-inning homer winning the longest game in series history. Even series MVP Jermaine Dye might have to settle, now, for desserts on the house.
Every title is different, influenced by the relationship a team has with a city and the timing of their victory. I needn’t begin to discuss the 1985 Bears, since you know fans will be lining up to volunteer as their drool-cup emptiers and diaper-changers when the time comes (which could be soon, listening to some of them).
And the 1969 Cubs continue to galivant around town, despite famously perpetrating a galling, end-of-season collapse and winning nothing.
Any afterglow of the Hawks’ Stanley Cup has faded relatively quickly during the well-chronicled offseason remodeling. Some faces departed before they could be committed to memory. Free drinks for Patrick Kane will continue for a while, however, putting some clubs on the cusp of insolvency.
So Huff can count his chickens, and dream of free steaks. Whether or not he gets them for life is the question.