MIAMI, June 14 (UPI) — What do Pablo Sandoval and Stephen Curry have in common?
They have each claimed three championships while playing for a Bay Area franchise. Sandoval says regional fans are a big reason for that success.
“It’s the fan support,” Sandoval told UPI Monday before the San Francisco Giants played the Marlins in Miami. “The fan support is a great compliment to play hard and do everything we can to play every day for them.”
The Giants’ last World Series came in 2014. The Golden State Warriors also won the NBA Finals that season, sparking a dynasty.
The Giants ranked as the ninth-most positive fan base, according to a study conducted by Casino.org. The Oakland Athletics’ fan base came in at No. 11 in that study of sentiment. Study findings were pulled from more than 230,000 fan tweets with MLB team-related hashtags. The website compared that sentiment ranking to the ranking by odds of winning the World Series to determine which fan bases were the most and least delusional.
Athletics fans are the most realistic among baseball supporters, according to the study. They had the smallest discrepancy between their sentiment and odds to win a championship. The Giants were tied for having the third most-realistic fanbase.
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry holds the NBA trophy as his bus moves up Broadway for the Warriors’ victory parade Tuesday in Oakland. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI
Sandoval has spent the majority of his career in the region. He made his Major League Baseball debut in 2008 with the Giants. He made the All-Star team twice in his first seven seasons in San Francisco. He spent a few seasons with the Boston Red Sox, before signing back with the Giants in the summer of 2017.
“Kung Fu Panda” won his rings in 2010, 2012 and 2014, but he won’t say if it is harder to win the World Series three times in five years or to win the NBA Finals three times in four years.
The Golden State Warriors just completed the latter feat.
“It’s both,” Sandoval said when asked about which challenge is more difficult. “Especially to get to the Finals, it’s tough to get there. Mentally, physically, it’s both … great time and great moment for a great city. It’s special for the city in San Francisco. For all the fans, they deserve it.”
Sandoval said the Giants tracked the NBA Finals series on their phones. That series wrapped up Friday, with the Warriors sweeping LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in four games.
The Athletics and Giants rank in the top five for home winning percentage. Oakland treated its team to the fifth-best percentage of victories at home (56.1 percent) while San Francisco ranked fourth, according to a 2017 study by the same website.
Oakland ranked as the third-best basketball city this year, according to a study by WalletHub. San Francisco ranked No. 3 among baseball cities.
“I’m just excited for [the Warriors],” Sandoval said. “Three time champs … it matches us. It’s a team of Warriors. They go out there everyday competing.”
Marlins second baseman Starlin Castro played the first six seasons of his career with the Chicago Cubs, before joining the New York Yankees in 2016. He was traded to the Marlins in December in the Giancarlo Stanton deal.
The four-time All-Star also knows what it’s like to receive raucous fan support. New York City ranks No. 1 win it comes to home winning percentage, while Miami ranks No. 26.
“Baseball is baseball,” Castro said. “We don’t know where we are going to be. We don’t know where we are going to finish. All we know is where we are now. This is my family now. Chicago used to be my family. New York used to be my family. Now, it’s here. Just enjoy the moment everyday and go to the field everyday and try to do my best.”
Castro called Miami, New York and Chicago “the best three cities” to call home. He also said he enjoys watching basketball and sharing a city with the Miami Heat, who reeled in back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013.
The Miami Dolphins also boast a high average home winning percentage, at 66.2 percent. That mark is good for fourth-best in the NFL.
Overall, Oakland ranks third when it comes to home winning percentage for cities with three sports franchises.
Sandoval’s teammate Andrew McCutchen also knows what it’s like to play in a city with multiple teams vying for championships. The five-time All-Star and 2013 National League MVP played for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2009 through 2017, before being traded to the Giants.
During that tenure, he watched the Pittsburgh Penguins lift the Stanley Cup three times and saw the Pittsburgh Steelers in a Super Bowl. The Steelers won the Vince Lombardi Trophy twice in four years before he arrived in the Steel City.
McCutchen said that the Giants also enjoyed being in Washington, D.C., to witness the celebration of the Washington Capitals winning the Stanley Cup. They were in town for a series against the Washington Nationals.
Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby holds the Stanley Cup as fans reach out to touch the trophy during the parade celebrating back-to-back championships in 2017 in Pittsburgh. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI
“[The Bay Area] is a lively area,” McCutchen said. “To get to be around all of that … Being in Pittsburgh all of those years. I got to see three championships there.”
“It’s pretty unique, just to be a part of that. It was cool to be in D.C. to watch the Capitals hoist the trophy up. You definitely feel like a part of that, just like being a fan. If you live in that area, you feel like you are a part of it.”