As the Los Angeles Dodgers have trudged through the 2013 MLB Playoffs, one of their most important players has been reliever Brian Wilson. The 31-year-old has pitched in four of the Dodgers’ six games thus far, and hasn’t allowed any runs while giving up three hits and striking out four.
His playoff success has been built off his impressive return from Tommy John surgery earlier this year, in which he gave up eight hits and one earned run over 18 regular season appearances.
While Wilson has been achieving all this success, it’s been debated among the San Francisco Giants fan base whether Wilson deserves to be supported by them. Wilson did a lot of good things for the Giants during his seven years in San Francisco. He converted 170 of his 196 regular-season save chances, and he got the strikeout that clinched victory for the Giants in the 2010 World Series.
Beyond his on-field role, Wilson was a huge force in the San Francisco community and eventually became a national ambassador for the Giants. Buster Posey may have been the face of the Giants baseball-wise, but Wilson certainly was the biggest celebrity and he delivered a lot of fun moments while he was with the team. Even though some condemned his presence during last year’s playoff run as ponying up for the cameras, Wilson undoubtedly made it a more enjoyable experience for Giants fans.
At least from what we saw, it looked like the players had fun with it too.
Even with all the good things that Wilson did, though, we must consider the negative events that have occurred this season. First of all, Wilson reacted negatively to the Giants non-tendering him, which really was the only sensible move they could make considering that he was coming off his second Tommy John surgery and was scheduled to make at least $6.8 million in 2013.
He cut off all contact with the team, neglecting to update them on his status or even to show up for the World Series ring ceremony in April.
When Wilson finally re-opened the communication stream with the Giants, however, things really spiraled downward. As he was rehabbing and getting ready to return to pitching, Wilson began working out at the University of San Francisco’s baseball facility. He enlisted Giants bullpen catcher Bill Hayes to catch his sessions, and brought in pitching coach Dave Righetti to watch him and give him tips.
Once he determined that he was fully healed, though, Wilson decided to spurn the Giants and sign with the Dodgers, their fiercest rivals.
Since he’s joined the Dodgers, plenty of stories have come out about Wilson treating the Giants poorly. After the two teams met for the first time since Wilson’s arrival, he reportedly neglected to speak to the Giants beat reporters, who he had catered to for years as a member of the team.
In late September, Wilson ran over to Giants owner Larry Baer‘s seats after the end of a game and publicly confronted him for not giving him his World Series ring. Upon further investigation, Giants officials claimed that they had been trying to get Wilson the ring for the entire season, but he had repeatedly blown them off, even when they had offered to have a small ceremony for him earlier in the series.
This made Wilson look really bad, especially because Baer had praised him and left the door open for his future return even after he signed with the Dodgers.
Ultimately, though, Giants fans should remember the good days. Wilson made the Giants’ two World Series victories that much more fun, and he had a positive influence on a large number of people in the organization even extending to the broadcasters. Though Wilson may be having some emotional issues right now, hopefully the Giants fan base can be patient with him and continue to root for his success despite this rough patch in his relationship with the team.