This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.
Many San Francisco Giants fans were crushed when news broke out that former closer Brian Wilson had signed with the rival Los Angeles Dodgers. Wilson was a hero for the Giants during their 2010 postseason run, but he was not a part of their 2012 World Series win.
He had Tommy John surgery in April 2012, and at the end of the season, the Giants didn’t tender him a contract. The Giants would’ve had to pay him about $6.5 million, which would’ve been a considerable amount given the uncertainty of his health after such a serious surgery.
He hadn’t signed with another team in 2013, because he was rehabbing in Hawaii for a while. Also, many executives were more concerned about his “act” or attitude than if his arm would return to full strength.
After pitching in a private session with Dave Righetti and then in two open tryouts this past Thursday and Saturday, Wilson was hoping to sign with a contender for the remainder of the season, in order to try to sign a longer contract in the offseason.
By signing a contract for just six to eight weeks with the Dodgers, his “act” is less of a concern to executives. However, he probably enjoys being in the spotlight again. The added publicity he will get by joining his former team’s rival has got to please him too.
Instead of reliving the past and being mad at Wilson, Giants fans need to get over him. They need to move on from Wilson, not just because he didn’t re-sign with the Giants, but also because he’s not worth mourning over.
Yes, Wilson had some incredible performances for the Giants in 2010. He had a 1.81 ERA, 48 saves, and 93 strikeouts in 74.2 innings. In the postseason in 2010, he had a 0.00 ERA, 6 saves, and 16 strikeouts in 11.2 innings. Giants fans can commend him for his stellar performances in 2010, but they should get over him because of his personality and actions off the field.
It started with the beard. Wilson decided to grow out a beard during the 2010 season and said he wouldn’t shave it until the Giants won the World Series. He also was dyeing it, which made him look especially radical. This was the beginning of the media craze for Wilson.
Even today, Wilson continues to have the full-bodied, ridiculous beard. He can’t let go of the beard, and doesn’t want to let go of it, because he knows the beard is what distinguishes him from other baseball players and gives him more attention in the media. The beard was a funny, marketable “act” by Wilson in the past. Now, it’s just another example of how he wants to hold on to anything that will keep him in the spotlight and keep him relevant. It’s quite sad and idiotic, to be honest.
He also loved being on TV, of course, so he could showcase how cool he was. He had his own reality TV show called “Life of Brian,” which seemed very contrived. Big surprise.
It was clear that Wilson enjoyed the spotlight and would do anything to stay in it. For example, he also wore a sea captain costume on The George Lopez show. This was the point where his antics started becoming concerning, in the sense that he was clearly focused on chasing fame.
Then there was “The Machine.” On an episode of The Cheap Seats, Wilson had a man, called the “Machine,” walk behind him in leather fetish apparel. Not only was this bizarre and slightly creepy, it was just annoyingly dumb. Wilson was more focused on trying to be funny and getting attention than talking about baseball.
One of the last straws for his insanity was when he wore the famous spandex tuxedo to the 2011 ESPY Awards. His outfit went a little beyond the border of eccentric and into the territory of insanity. This was no longer a funny “act” for Wilson. He started living this selfish, media-hungry lifestyle, and this was the beginning of the end for Wilson and his credibility as a MLB closer.
Also in July 2011, he showed more than just an intensity, but, instead, a lack of anger management and professionalism. Wilson blew a save against the Detroit Tigers, and, once he got back to the dugout, he threw a Gatorade cooler in frustration. It didn’t stop there though. He then proceeded to take a bat and hit the cooler repeatedly and forcefully. Athletes are allowed to take their anger out while playing their respective sport, but reaching a destructive level is wildly unprofessional.
In another display of his unprofessionalism, Wilson lied to the team in 2012 when he injured his elbow. At the beginning of the 2012 season in a game against the Colorado Rockies, Wilson didn’t want to leave a game after he knew he injured his elbow, so, instead, he told the training staff that he turned his ankle and was fine.
Pitchers have lied before about their health so they can continue to contribute to their team, but, often, they become a detriment. Wilson chose to lie in order to protect his image and his place on the team. Sergio Romo had shown his dominance in a late-inning role, so Wilson had to protect his job and his potential loss of fame.
While rehabbing from surgery, he decided to stay with the team as much as possible. This wasn’t necessarily an act of consideration towards his teammates; it was an opportunity to get more of the spotlight. Even though he wasn’t pitching, the media loved showing him during games and how “hilarious” he was.
“That guy’s got one hell of an act, man,” Dennis Eckersley once said about Wilson.
Wilson has always been focused on himself and his “act.” At the beginning of this season, the Giants invited him to their World Series ring ceremony, but Wilson never responded to them. He clearly was still bitter about them not tendering his contract.
Besides that though, as an adult, he should’ve been able to put his childish feelings aside and celebrate with his ex-teammates. As an athlete, he should’ve respected the fans and their passion by showing up. On the other hand, the ring ceremony was celebrating what the Giants had accomplished in 2012, without him. Since the ceremony was not completely centered around him, it makes sense why he didn’t care to attend or even respond.
Wilson was most likely scripted while tweeting how grateful he was to the Giants fans after he signed with the Dodgers. He claims they made a significant impact on his life, yet, he hadn’t publicly acknowledged them in a long time. How ironic.
The Giants monitored his progress during this season, but there never seemed to be a great amount of interest in bringing him back. The scouts that attended his tryouts said he had fairly good command of his pitches, and he was topping out at 94 MPH. Given these positive comments, there must’ve been a reason why the Giants did not extend Wilson an offer. The Giants simply don’t need his drama.
On the field, he was incredible for the Giants in 2010. He will always be remembered as closing the game that brought the Giants their first World Series since 1954.
However, the Giants have moved on. It makes sense why the they would much rather have Buster Posey, a gracious and humble role model, representing them as the face of the franchise instead of Wilson, an egocentric maniac.
Now it’s time for Giants fans to move on too.