NEW YORK – On Wednesday, the city of San Francisco will hold itsvictory parade for the baseball Giants to celebrate their first-ever WorldSeries title since moving to the West Coast.
It’s an event that D.C. United owner, Will Chang, who is alsoa part owner of the Giants, wants to replicate for his MLS club.
“I’d like to be able to build the sport of soccer to thepoint where the whole city comes out and celebrates when we win the MLS Cup,”Chang told MLSsoccer.com. “My goal in life is that the whole District ofColumbia come out like the city of San Francisco is going to come out andcelebrate. … If we can do that, I would have accomplished a major goal of mine.”
Chang has been part of the Giants ownership group since2004, two years after the team’s last World Series appearance. But he has beena fan of the baseball club since he was a kid.
Growing up in Japan, Chang played baseball and soccer,alternating between catcher and right back. Already a fan of the YomiuriGiants, he immediately fell in love with the American version of the Giantswhen he moved to San Francisco. The two teams share the same logo and colors.
So it’s of little surprise that real emotion comes across inhis voice as he recounts his experience of the final out of the 2010 World Seriesagainst the Texas Rangers – the prayer by closer Brian Wilson and catcherBuster Posey throwing his mask in the air.
As the mainstream sports media told the story, the misfitsfrom San Francisco had conquered the baseball world. Chang takes issue with thelabel.
“I think it’s not justified,” Chang said. “We wereconstantly underestimated. We scored as many runs as the Texas Rangers hadhits.
“What’s a definition of a misfit? … A lot of credit goes toour manager and our general manager for identifying where the holes were andplugging those holes with veterans. We did sprinkle a few veterans to shore up ouryouth, but for us to be labeled as ragtag is not a fair assessment.”
The Giants were a team based on homegrown players. The fourplayoff starters, the team’s closer and the starting catcher all came through theclub’s farm system. It’s no coincidence that D.C. United share the samephilosophy and now feature the youngest ever Rookie of the Year, 17-year-oldAndy Najar.
“Unless you are a very, very big-market club that can affordto purchase the best players around the world, to be competitive you have tohave a good youth and scouting system,” Chang said. “We have a good youth andscouting system at D.C. United. We have an excellent scouting system at the SFGiants.
“I want to really put more time and energy and effort indeveloping homegrown talent like Andy Najar and Bill Hamid and we have a numberof others that are coming up.”
Chang says his main priority in 2011 is to work on bringingan MLS Cup championship back to DC.
From titles to homegrown talent and victory parades, Changwants to carry over several of the experiences with the 2010 Giants to D.C.United and win the club’s first MLS Cup since 2004.
He also wants to see the baseball and soccer clubs closestto his heart become similar in one other important aspect.
“The Giants ownership group takes a very much quasi-publictrust type of philosophy of ownership and we treat the San Francisco Giantslike it really belongs to the people of San Francisco and we’re just trustees,”Chang said. “That’s the type of philosophy I want to bring to DC where the peoplein DC feel like D.C. United belongs to them and I’m just a custodian of somethingthat belongs to the people of DC.”