The offseason before the 2004 season was a frustrating one. The Giants were two seasons removed from coming criminally close to winning the World Series. Months before, the Giants had been ousted from the playoffs by a wild card team after having a 100-win season.
The Giants had made a big trade, emptying their bullpen for an All-Star catcher. But Giants fans wanted more. They wanted a right fielder who could protect Barry Bonds, one of the game’s top hitters of the time. They wanted Vladimir Guerrero. They got Michael Tucker. And the Giants gave up a first-round pick for that right.
Giants fans howled in frustration. The team had to cut payroll, they said. Profits weren’t there. But the fans wanted the money spent. Barry Bonds was still an MVP. They believed he just needed a little help, and a little protection. But it was Brian Sabean who stoked the fires.
“People are getting the message. The right people are getting it, but the people we want to further attract, or make sure we hold onto, are being affected by what we consider the lunatic fringe. That’s my frustration, that they don’t have a bigger view of the world.”
And with those words, a fanbase had a new name.
The Fringe’s fears were very founded. 2004 was the fall of the Giants. While the team was in the playoff chase all season, it no longer felt like a winning team. Their All-Star catcher was a true team cancer, and he was let go for nothing to just be gotten rid of. The gutted bullpen was the team’s weakness. 2005 was the team’s worst season in AT&T Park. Playoffs eluded the team for years after that offseason.
The fans that made up the Fringe never gave up, however. Even as the ticket sales dropped and losses mounted, the hardcore fans stayed and supported the team. The Fringe, who were accused of keeping other fans away, stayed through the hardest times.
Those times would be forgiven, when the Giants finally won a ring for San Francisco in 2010. Times are good, people are cheering again. But the Lunatic Fringe remembers the bad times, only to enjoy the good times even more. The parties in the streets were a long time coming. But there are seasons yet to come, and expectations to be brought.
For the Lunatic Fringe, one ring is not enough.