With the Giants headed to the World Series, all the chatter in the media is about Brandon Belt’s homers, Brandon Crawford’s extraordinary plays at short stop, the speed of Tim Lincecum’s fastball – and other such jockish preoccupations.
What no one in the media mentions, except in random unguarded moments, is the fact that they, as a team, are ridiculously, torridly, HOT. If there were a category in standings for number of ogles per game, they’d lead the majors. Among my straight female and gay male friends, the talk during and after games is decidedly less about stats and more about sex appeal. There's the smoldering Angel Pagan, the movie star Brandon Crawford (nicknamed “Stamos” early-on for the resemblance), the chiseled and intense Ryan Vogelsong, the dreamy skate-punk Hunter Pence, the rebel rock star Tim Lincecum, the hunky all-American boy Buster Posey, sexy lefties Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt... the list goes on. And now there is newcomer Michael Morse - AKA The Beast - a 6'5" mountain of manhood with Paul McCartney eyes, an affable grin, and a Paul Bunyon swing. It’s really quite overwhelming sometimes to go to a game, with the amount of heat emanating from the field.
So... why is no one in sports media talking about this? I suspect both players and media are loathe to go there for a variety of reasons: players didn't get to The Bigs for their pretty peepers, and for sports media to make note of said eyes could cause them to seem lightweight, or (horrors) admiring of a player in a way that whispers gay.
I first starting wondering about this in the mid-90s, when, in my former incarnation as newspaper reporter, I was sent to Spring Training to do some feature stories. The late-century Giants team was the only one to rival this current one in pulchritude, with Sean Estes, Rich Aurelia, Royce Clayton, William van Landingham, Matt Williams and Bill Mueller. (I had a career zenith when, allowed in the locker room, Sean Estes walked past me in nothing but a towel. I did not avert my eyes.) When I mentioned the model-worthiness of that team to one of the Giants' publicists, and joked that they should make a calendar, she said she had suggested this very thing to management, but got absolutely no traction with the idea - neither with executives nor players. To stress looks, she said, was considered unseemly.
Have things changed at all on that score? I asked my friend Brian Murphy, host of the top-rated morning drive time show on KNBR, why he thought the media refused to acknowledge the hotness of the team. “I think we live in such a sensitive era that commenting on a female athlete's appearance is considered offensive for a sports media type; so to do the same for males would be inappropriate,” he says. “It has nothing to do with fears of sexuality; in fact, we sometimes get self-deprecating mileage out of having ‘man crushes’ on the likes of a Tom Brady. In the end, though, I think it's fun for fans to dig the players any way they want. If that means it's because they like [Angel] Pagan's fabulous mane, have fun with it!”
Pagan’s fabulous mane, and Crawford’s eyes, and Vogelsong’s gritty glare, and… judge for yourself.