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If anyone wonders what brand’s all about, take a look at the San Francisco Giants. Theirs is a brand of baseball that’s only partly about bats, balls and a diamond. The Giants’ brand of baseball is low on superstars, high on heart and grounded by a fierce team spirit.

Let’s take a look at this extraordinary group of guys

There’s Reverend Pence–the latecomer who inspired the team to win another game because they were having too much fun to let the season end. Timmy had a dreadful year, but redeemed himself by roaring out of the bullpen and shutting down our playoff opponents. MVP Marco Scutaro’s midseason arrival was what one sportscaster called a “band-aid”, but he turned out to be the little guy who just kept on making the big plays. Pablo? We forgave his packing around an extra 40 pounds when he hit three homeruns in the first game of the World Series. Buster, with his quiet grace, leadership and extraordinary skill, raised the bar in every single game he played.

And the Brandons?

Crawford began the season as a bungler and ended it as a magician, while Belt finally lived up to his name. Pagan and Blanco became contortionists in the outfield, as the Giants became known for some of the best defense in major league baseball. We counted on Matt Cain to be our brilliantly consistent workhorse, and this year we were rewarded with a perfect game; Barry Zito triumphed over the formidable Verlander and finally earned his exorbitant salary; and Ryan Vogelsong proved that steely concentration and tenacity win ballgames, and age is irrelevant.
Never underestimate a powerful bullpen

When Bochy made his frequent trips to the mound, we wondered which who was up next, but it didn’t really matter because we had the best bullpen in baseball–Affeldt, Casilla, Lopez, etc. We loved Romo, who threw deadly sliders with soulful intensity; and somewhere over the course of the summer, we looked at each other and realized that Sergio had become a superb closer.
Sweeping the team that swept the Yankees

I’m as surprised as anyone that we pulled this one out of the hat. The Giants are known for torture ball, not coming from behind to win against impossible odds. If someone had told me in April that we’d sweep the team that swept the Yankees, I would never have believed him.

A lesson learned: You can’t buy a World Series

The best part is that we competed against teams that spent hundreds of millions of dollars on high-priced players to buy a championship. But what those high-priced teams didn’t have was an all-important intangible–the sheer will to keep winning one more game because they loved playing baseball together. I’m looking forward to February–just four more months until the call for pitchers and catchers to report. Don’t stop believing; hold on to the feeling.

Ask me about brand as well as digital media strategies–it’s what we do at Top of Mind Marketing

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Now that I’ve become a passionate sports fan, I’m seeing something which I find appalling–every sportscast seems to think they need to have a woman–generally a very sexy woman–announcer. Generally just one token female.

I just watched the intro to Sunday night football, featuring the 49ers and the Detroit Lions. There was music, flashing graphics and a woman strutting around the stage wearing what is likely a tiny, size 0 dress and stiletto heels. Of course she had long blonde hair which she shook around as she gyrated. I absolutely hate that women are being objectified like this.

While I’m all for sexual equality, I struggle a bit with women sports announcers. It may have something to do with too much cleavage, too many short skirts and too little knowledge of the game. I think of Marty Lurie, to whose KNBR show I faithfully listen. This guy loves baseball and understands the lore, history and the extraordinary players that make this sport so compelling for the 40,000+ fans who stream into AT&T Park for every home game.

Showing too much skin and being perceived as a sex object is not what women’s liberation advocates fought for more than 40 years ago. This isn’t doing any favors for sports or for women.

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I became a baseball fan in 2010, the year the Giants won the World Series. I should clarify that I wasn’t just a baseball fan; I was a Giants fan. I loved this scrappy group of guys who played their hearts out every single night. I loved joining more than 40,000 other fans as we would pull off yet another agonizing win in extra innings.

Last year was a disappointment on a number of levels, but this year has brought renewed promise. One of the highlights has been Melky Cabrera. We traded Jonathan Sanchez and got this incredibly consistent player who not only played great defense, but could be counted on, game in and game out, to hit the ball.

Not a home-run king, but a grounded player with intoxicating an OBP and RBI. We learned that Melky became a superior player because of a strong work ethic–he just hunkered down and committed 110% to being the best ballplayer he could be. How could you not love a guy, after all, who still lived with his mother? We kept waiting for him to falter, but all of a sudden, we realized that maybe he wasn’t going to falter. He not only was on the All-Star team, he was the MVP.

We loved this guy, and couldn’t figure out why Brian Sabean was being coy about signing this potential Hall of Famer to an extended contract. Within a couple of weeks, we had the answer. The anti-doping Agency found testosterone in his system. He had the grace to not deny it, but by then, who cared?

We had been duped by the doper and our hearts were broken. All of the kids for whom he was a role model, the adorable little melkmaids and melkmen who were there at every home game to cheer him on. We all felt like we had been made fools of. It was so much more than just losing one of our best players; there was a strong emotional component because we love baseball and we love the Giants.

Another fallen icon. He’s suspended for 50 games, but, really, who cares? A brand that stood for integrity and hard work has been forever tarnished.

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