I sit with an eclectic and interesting group of people at Giants games. We’ve been known to come up with a discussion topic for a particular home stand, or even a theme that weaves its way throughout the season. A couple of years ago, we decided that we had one of the best looking teams in baseball, except for a couple of guys who brought the average down just a little. Since we make the rules for these discussions, we have the power to award any physically less-attractive players with points for style, personality or ability. This brings their total attraction points up, and has thus enabled us to maintain our supremacy in the ‘Best-Looking Team’ contest.
The addition of younger players such as Panik, Kontos, Williamson, and Blach ensure that we can hold that distinction for at least a few more years. With the pressure now off for us having to wonder if we’re still the best looking team this season, we’ve started to explore deeper topics of discussion.
For example, If you had a choice, which player would you like a hug from?
This isn’t as easy a question as you’d think. And the discussion has lasted a few seasons, reignited with the Buster Hugs Blanket giveaway. There are obvious choices that have more to do with good looks – Javier Lopez comes to mind – or personality. Who wouldn’t want a moment with Hunter and his crazy energy and hair? There’s also nice-guyness like Joe Panik, the ultimate boy-next-door who you’d be happy having your sister marry. Other factors include hugging experience, with Buster leading in this category, or expertise in celebrating accomplishments – Madison gets the nod here.
During one homestand, we talked extensively about which player we’d want a hug from. Using a totally unscientific polling method, out of 8 people questioned, Buster won 5 votes. Next up were the other P’s on the team: Panik, Pence and Pagan from last season. And there were 2 votes for former player Jeffrey ‘HacMan’ Leonard. When he played for the Giants in the ’80′s he was a pretty scary guy but the years have mellowed him, and he’s high up on the hug list for sure. My friend Julia and I met him at the Play Ball luncheon a couple of years ago and since then have been grateful recipients of his hugs.
We’ve extended the discussion to the broadcast team and each of the guys got at least one vote, but Kruk and Kuip came out ahead. Maybe it’s because we knew them first as players (I had a crush on Kuip back then) or that we hear them so often that it’s easy to think we have personal relationships with them, but their hugability factor is well deserved. Amy G is in a category of her own.
It’s nice to feel so close to the team that we want hugs from them, whether it’s part of an on-field celebration or, well, just a hug. Chris Heston got his first Buster Hug after his no-hitter. Brian Wilson and Sergio Romo got famous, well-deserved Buster Hugs after the last pitch of the 2010 and 2012 World Series.
My all-time favorite Buster Hug came at the end of the 2014 World Series. With his last ounces of strength after a long and stressful post season, Buster scampered to the mound and embraced the 6′ 5″ Mad Bum and then buried his head in the pitcher’s chest. For me, that moment of combined relief and exhaustion summed up the previous month of Giants torture. The fans who live and die with the team could feel that hug down to our toes, and together we let out one huge sigh of relief.
Unscientific poll results: If you had a choice, which player or broadcaster would you like a hug from?
Steve: Buster, John Miller
Janie: Hunter, Krukow
Julia: Buster (they share a birthday)
Joan: Panik’s her guy, and a smile is as good as a hug
Juliette: Buster, Dave Fleming
Jane: Angel Pagan
Carolyn: Buster or Kontos, Kuiper