The San Francisco Giants have won the 2010 World Series and their first-ever World Championship since moving to the Bay Area a zillion years ago. It’s a historic occasion that has the entire region euphorically dancing in the streets. Anyone sporting the familiar “SF” logo on apparel, cars, or even body parts (especially toe nails), gets a wave and is instantly part of a community that has been brought together by sports, but stands for something much greater. However, as I, too, bask in this euphoria, I’m reminded that for much of the season, the die-hard Giants fans, the so-called “Lunatic Fringe,” called for the firing of the manager and general manager, as well as the release of several of the players who are now responsible for what is sure to be a Giants’ championship.
It’s no secret that the sports radio airwaves provide a platform for people who are far too involved in their teams’ ups and downs to rip the local athletes new…ummm…body parts. For every positive call about a team, there are probably 100 negative calls. Yes, I exaggerate, but the point is made. Early in the season, the Giants were no different. With every loss, the fans went crazy! The team’s manager, Bruch Bochy, who is currently being lauded as a genius by the national media, was dubbed Bruch Bo(t)ch-y. Players like Edgar Renteria and Juan Uribe, who are proving to be playoff and World Series heroes, were ripped as failures (and called far more personal and less kind things in the stadiums where there is no seven-second delay button). Don’t even get started on Brian Sabean, the Giants’ general manager who cobbled together a ragtag group of veterans to support one of the greatest pitching staffs ever assembled. That poor man has been dragged through more mud than a prized country fair pig. These calls went on all season long – even as the Giants made the playoffs on the last game of the season.
And yet…here they sit written into history, having delivered the one thing the fans wanted all along – a championship. Where, I wonder, is the Lunatic Fringe now? For the most part, they seem to be silent. They’ve been replaced by callers who love the game and just want something good for the Bay Area. The Lunatic Fringe is lurking, however, just waiting to jump all over Bruce Bochy the second something goes wrong, as if it’s his fault when a player doesn’t get a key hit. Getting to this point is the sum of so many parts. It’s amazing how many things need to go right to reach the championship summit. The Lunatic Fringe don’t seem to recognize that.
Of course, the Lunatic Fringe doesn’t simply live in the world of sports. It is most prevalent in politics. It’s amazing how worked up we all get when the Lunatic Fringe gets rolling. On both sides of the aisle and in between. The Lunatic Fringe is most powerful during election season. It’s loud, obnoxious and painful.
The Lunatic Fringe is in advertising, and is quick to point out how terrible an ad campaign might be. It’s in film, restaurant and book reviews. It’s in Mommy Blog. The Lunatic Fringe is the worst kind of critic – offering the kind of biting and mean criticism that doesn’t provide any sort of benefit, but instead is simply mean spirited and rooted in a kind of glee that comes with any sort of downfall.
The truth is, however, that the Lunatic Fringe isn’t really comprised of real fans of any kind. The truth is that the Lunatic Fringe enjoys failure far more than it does success. It wasn’t rooting for a World Series victory, or, in the case of politics a better America. It takes its strength from watching and wanting people (or policies) fail. The Lunatic Fringe is a destructive force. An annoying, destructive force.
As I look around the streets of San Francisco, Mill Valley, Berkeley and all parts of the Bay Area, however, I’m thankful that, for now, the (SF-based baseball version) Lunatic Fringe has been silenced (I’m sure it’s alive and well in Arlington, Texas, calling for manager’s head, as he’s guided the Rangers to their first-ever World Series!). And, I’m reminded of how a community can be invigorated by positive energy when the negative forces of the Lunatic Fringe are extinguished.
We need to keep this in mind. If we can ignore or fight the Lunatic Fringe – these crazy, opinionated extremists, who have very few best interests at heart…maybe, just maybe…we’ll all be able to enjoy the feelings of living in a united community – in whatever form it comes.