The Broken Windows Theory of MLB Failure
Are baseball free agents really out on San Francisco now?
Can a city’s decline hurt its sports teams? Obviously teams can leave towns that fall on hard times, but I’m talking about the product itself. I’m talking about it because people invested in the San Francisco Giants appear to be talking about it, only doing so while still in deep denial.
Alex Simon of SF Gate wrote up a surreal bit of news with his October 19th article titled, “Giants president says city's bad reputation is 'way overstated.’” The subhead reads, “Giants CEO Larry Baer wants to help change the narrative around San Francisco — and the ballclub.”
The Giants have recently struggled to sign big time free agents and it’s become a real sore point among fans, perhaps even more so than Bruce Bochy managing a World Series team that isn’t San Francisco. The issue appears to have gotten so bad that Giants owner Larry Baer is … fighting it with an ad campaign about the city?
From the SF Gate article:
On Thursday, a business-focused nonprofit funded by local billionaires launched an ad campaign hoping to flip the narrative about San Francisco. It seemed fitting that the kickoff event was held at the San Francisco Giants’ Oracle Park. Like the city they reside in, the Giants need a bit of a boost, too.
Baer explicitly ties the city’s “narrative” problem to his franchise’s inability to woo free agents. From Simon’s article:
When asked if he thinks the perception of San Francisco is hurting the Giants in free agency, Baer said Thursday that he thinks it is hurting the city “on all levels.”
“To the extent that anybody thinks that’s true, if a player might think that, it’s because of this narrative that’s out there that we need to debunk and defeat,” Baer said to SFGATE. “We believe it’s false. We believe it’s way overstated. … A bunch of us said, ‘We can’t stay silent anymore.’”
It’s no secret that the ballclub is suffering through some similar woes as its city, especially after the Giants weren’t able to sign any marquee free agents last offseason and then collapsed in the second half of this season, leading to a rather stunning dismissal of manager Gabe Kapler.
So we’re told there’s a false narrative, and it’s hurting the city “on all levels.” Well, that sounds like quite the damaging narrative, but is it really “false,” as Baer suggests?