Dear Brian Wilson,
Coming into yesterday’s World Series ring ceremony, I had a lot of respect for you. Underneath the eccentric and at times annoying personality was a fiery competitor who refused to lose. Bend you did, but rarely did you break – your heart stopping saves challenging that of a former Giant great, “Shooter” Rod Beck.
When the San Francisco Giants were running through the National League en route to their 2010 World Series victory, you continued to push through despite health concerns that many may have not. In an eerie way, you sacrificed your arm for the team, much like Robb Nen before you during the Giants’ 2002 playoff run. No, it wasn’t as career damaging as the Nen situation nor was it as painful to watch, but to say what you did was commendable would be a severe understatement.
The contractual issues between yourself and the Giants are well known and in fairness, both sides have a point – including yourself. As you’ve said and to which I agree, you put your arm on the line for this franchise – risking your career in a worst case scenario. You deserved to get paid no doubt, but this is a team that is watching every penny – a franchise who has a lot of important financial commitments to players that aren’t 31 year old closers. That’s not meant in a negative way – it’s just reality, a harsh reality of professional sports. That said, the Giants never wanted to see you go - they just couldn’t risk a hefty financial burden on a player who was coming off of significant arm operation. It’s not as if they offered you a minor league deal and told you take it or leave it, they offered you an incentive laden deal. Prove yourself healthy and you’ll do just fine. Apparently though, that wasn’t something you were interested in. You wanted to be paid for the things you’ve already accomplished, not what the future holds. Sadly, for players coming off of catastrophic injuries, that’s generally not the way it works.
Contractual disagreements aside, you were loved in San Francisco. Your zany ways made you a San Francisco Giants icon across the map. Outside of Tim Lincecum, you were the national face of the Giants as Buster Posey was still emerging. You were in the TV commercials. You were at the award shows. You were the Giant representative at events. The world, or at least San Francisco, was yours.
Why you opted to let that all go was your decision, but undoubtedly, your ego – which is something almost all great talents have – got in the way. And if you wanted to let that affect your relationship with the Giants’ front office, that was your decision but taking it out on the fans was not the right move and in a way, unintentionally or not, you did.
Fans wanted to see you at the flag raising ceremony Saturday afternoon. They wanted to see you more at the ring ceremony Sunday afternoon. You were invited but you didn’t decline, you simply ignored the invitation. This was a special time where the fans, forty-thousand strong at AT&T Park along with millions at home could share a few moments with the team and players they’ve invested countless hours in. Now, I can understand maybe not wanting to show up because you felt you weren’t part of the team as you pitched in only two games last season, but I know that’s not the case. You were at the Park constantly – you were doing community events. You were in the ear of fellow relievers giving them tips and tricks. Just because you didn’t make that run in from the bullpen didn’t mean you weren’t part of the squad. You had no problem partying during the Parade or during the NLCS – it’s not as if you were the 25th man on the roster.
Aubrey Huff who was nothing short of a disaster last season took the time to show – the boo birds raining down on him much of last year, but the applause he received yesterday could’ve shaken the Golden Gate off of its foundation. This wasn’t a day for bad blood or bad memories. This was a day for celebration, both for the franchise and the fans. A day for us, to thank you, for what you did. Yet, you were no place to be found.
You were missed, no doubt, but your actions are quickly making you a forgotten memory in the hearts of many Giant fans. It shouldn’t be this way.
You may never have that opportunity again. Players play for the chance to be a Champion, Brian. You know that – it’s why you played. And to share that with the community who beloved you? You couldn’t have asked for much more.
All we wanted to do was thank you, but I guess your ego was more important.
Disappointed Giant fans