Giants boost bobbleheads for 2013
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SAN FRANCISCO – The Giants haven’t taken the field yet in 2013, but their marketing department already scored one easy victory.

The club released its promotional schedule for the upcoming season on Thursday, and it includes the usual assortment of bobblehead giveaways – with Buster Posey, Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong models in the works.

The difference: They’ll be available to the first 40,000 fans – meaning all but the last to arrive will receive one. AT&T Park holds close to 42,000 at standing-room capacity.

That should help to alleviate what had become a major issue on bobblehead giveaways in the past: Fans began lining up hours before the gates opened, making it a mess just to get into the ballpark in a timely fashion. I actually attended a Tim Lincecum bobblehead day as a paying customer some time ago and we almost missed the first pitch, even though we arrived 90 minutes ahead of time.

Those delays also cost the Giants when you consider all those fans waiting to get into the ballpark could be buying food, beer and concessions.

In past years, the Giants limited bobblehead production to 25,000 or fewer.

The Posey MVP bobblehead will be given away on Saturday, April 6 – one day after the home opener. The Zito bobblehead day is scheduled for May 26 and Vogelsong’s likeness – hopefully complete with flared nostrils and a scowl – will be distributed to fans on June 22.

The Giants also are giving away gnomes in the likeness of Sergio Romo (on May 5) and Tm Lincecum (on Aug. 25). Those will be limited to the first 30,000 fans.

Giants season-ticket holders who collect all the giveaways might feel the need to sprout a second head. There are many hats in the offing, including an Angel Pagan beanie, a World Series champions cap, a plaid fedora and an orange sombrero.

I guess the Giants decided to scrap plans for Jeremy Affeldt ginsu knife giveaway day. Maybe next year.

But there was no debating one promotion: The Giants will give out World Series replica rings to the first 40,000 fans on April 7. (Yes, the players will have to wait until the third home game to receive the genuine articles as well.)

And how’s this for freaky? In 2011, the Giants opened with three games at Dodger Stadium and then played host to the St. Louis Cardinals when they raised the banner and received rings. This time around, the Giants once again open with three at LA before coming home to play … you guessed it … the Cardinals.

The difference this time: The Giants beat the Cardinals in the NLCS last season on their way to their second World Series title in three years.

If I may offer a tip: Don’t make the Cardinals stand on the baseline for 45 minutes again – especially if watching “Train” perform is part of the festivities.