Breaking news: Giants“superstar” Lee Jung-hoo was arrested ealier today after the investigation of…..

Breaking news: Giants“superstar” Lee Jung-hoo was arrested ealier today after the investigation of…..

A baseball free agent spoke highly of San Francisco. Signed a big contract in San Francisco. Plans on establishing himself long term in San Francisco. Even has a family that’s thrilled to be associated with San Francisco.

Will wonders never cease?

Center fielder Jung Hoo Lee is transitioning into a San Franciscan from the Korea Baseball Organization, in which he was recognized as the country’s best player while a member of the Kiwoom Heroes. In his quest to play Major League Baseball, he was highly coveted and had many options.

He chose the San Francisco Giants.

The six-year, $113 million deal is the Giants’ biggest signing in the offseason, and they hope it’s their first step toward contending in the National League West and getting sellout crowds back at Oracle Park.

It’s also a sign that San Francisco might not be such a rotten place, after all.

San Francisco has been getting a bad rep lately, with comments from Giants executives that perceptions about the city haven’t helped make them land baseball players. Which is silly to anyone who realizes San Francisco remains one of the premier cities in the world. None of that negativity came across at Friday’s news conference to introduce Lee, who was genuinely giddy as he discussed suiting up with the Giants next season as his parents sat proudly in the front row.

“It’s a very European-looking city,” said Lee’s mother, Jung Min Jung, through an interpreter. “I was in Paris a long time ago and had many fond memories of Paris. It has the same affinity of San Francisco right now.”

Lee’s father, Jong Boem Lee, said he’s a fan of San Francisco because his wife is — “she always wanted to come to San Francisco.” A former top baseball player in Korea and Japan, his interests lie mostly at 24 Willie Mays Plaza. “The historical part,” he said. “I love the history of the team. McCovey Cove, to me and Korean fans, that’s a big deal — and the Coca-Cola bottle. This stadium’s been in so many movies.”

Lee’s parents were visiting San Francisco for the first time, so they had only an initial perception of the city to go by, obviously a different perception we see and hear from certain networks and during certain political debates. After the news conference, the family took a tour of Oracle Park and later dined. On Saturday night, the Lees were set to take in the Nets-Warriors game at Chase Center.

As it turns out, Lee’s a big Warriors fan, and his favorite player is Stephen Curry. The 25-year-old shared a bit of knowledge about the Giants, too, mentioning the greatness of Willie Mays and the World Series championships of 2010, 2012 and 2014, noting Buster Posey’s role in it all.

It was Posey, now part of the Giants’ ownership, who spoke recently about the perception of San Francisco by players and their wives — “an uneasiness with the city itself, as far as the state of the city, with crime, with drugs” — as a reason for the team’s recent difficulty signing free agents. “Whether that’s completely fair or not, perception is reality,” Posey told the Athletic. “It’s a frustrating cycle, I think, and not just with baseball. Baseball is secondary to life and the important things in life. But as far as a free-agent pursuit goes, I have seen that it does affect things.”

That the Giants didn’t sign Bryce Harper, Aaron Judge, Shohei Ohtani and other free agents has been well-chronicled. How much of that is a result of the state of the city or the state of the team can be debated all day. But it’s not the first time a Giants executive made this complaint. At the GM meetings in 2022, Farhan Zaidi called San Francisco “a little bit of a polarizing place among players in terms of the desire to play there. This is sort of totally independent of the competitive situation, but geography, politics, whatever.”

It’s not that San Francisco is any worse off than most major cities across the country. It’s that as one of the globe’s most liberal cities, it’s an easy target for those who enjoy poking fun of the place. Some people believe a narrative if only because they don’t know any better.

As Giants right-hander Logan Webb, a man with Sacramento roots, noted with sly derision for the S.F. haters on social media (accompanied by a thinking face emoji), “A lot of people that have never played in SF seem to know a lot about it.”

Lee’s agent, Scott Boras, is in the Webb camp. Boras was at the news conference and afterward was asked if his clients are critical of San Francisco or stay clear of the Giants because of the rap against the city.

“Players talk about whether ownership is willing to spend to win,” Boras said. “Will they pay me my value? What do they have in the minor leagues that will make them a consistent winner? They’re focused on baseball. There are issues including homelessness near the ballpark in San Diego, in downtown L.A.

“To identify that only with San Francisco is really unfair. In any of the major cities, we’ve got issues. Chicago, New York, wherever. The players’ major focus is the structure of the organization and winning and competing. The biggest issue the Giants have is the fact that the Dodgers are getting better. Players want to know if they come here, will they be able to compete with the Dodgers? And now Arizona. That’s the real major question that San Francisco has to answer.”

It just so happens Boras represents several other free-agent players who could significantly upgrade the Giants’ roster, including pitchers Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery, outfielder-first baseman Cody Bellinger and third baseman Matt Chapman.

“This is a Goliath division,” Boras said. “San Francisco has to be a Goliath to compete in it.”

The Giants hope Lee’s a start. He hopes so, too. He deflected many questions about his numbers and abilities and said his only goal is to win.

“I feel honored that a team of such historical importance chose me to be part of it,” Lee said. “It’s a true honor to play for the Giants.”

He realizes the city’s not half bad, either.

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