Written by Max Bricker
What a difference five years makes. Quickly, yet quietly, San Francisco has become the premier sports town in America. It was Boston five years ago- Celtics, Red Sox, Bruins, and Pats were at the top of their respective sports. Now, it is “The City” that is killin’ it.
Let’s take a look at the San Fran teams in the 2008 season compared to now:
-Giants, 2008: the team was below mediocre at best. They finished 72-90, 4th in the NL West. Benji Molina was the lone all-star on the team; Buster Posey was a teenager. Barry Bonds was gone, and at this point they may have been the most boring team to watch in the MLB.
-Giants, 2012: The team just won their second World Series victory in three years, having possibly the best playoff run in MLB history. Not only did they win the NL West and World Series, have the best manager in baseball and have the best pitching staff in baseball, they also were home to the best player and MVP of the National League: Buster Posey. The Dodgers may be spending money like the Yankees, but the Giants just seem to have that “it” factor, and I see no reason to slow down their roll.
-49ers, 2008: 7-9 record, missed the playoffs for a 5th straight season. The team was a mess, in total flux- coaches were being changed mid-season, Trent Dilfer was on the roster, and Vernon Davis was having extreme mood swings.
-49ers, 2013: 11-4-1 record, NFC West champs. The Niners not only have won the division for the second year in a row, they have reached the NFC Championship game for a second straight time. They own the fiercest defense in the league (have you seen the NFC Pro Bowl defensive roster? 90% of it seems to be composed of Niners and Seahawks players), an intense coach, an emerging star wide out in Michael Crabtree, and the QB for the future: Colin Kapaernick. I give huge props to Harbaugh for his decision to pull Alex Smith for the more athletic and stronger Kap. Was it the wrong decision, like many ESPN commentators had said? Packers fan think so, but Niners fans have to be ecstatic that their coach has the male genitalia to make such a decision. Look for San Fran to be exploding on Sunday after the Niners reach the Super Bowl.
It isn’t just San Fran, however, it is the entire Bay Area. Let’s not forget that- even though their jerseys say “The City”- the Warriors play in Oakland.
-Warriors, 2008: 29-53, missed the playoffs. Don Nelson was out the door, and Baron Davis had gained a good 20 lb since coming to the Bay Area.
-Warriors, 2013: Golden State is currently 23-14, a record that San Fran fans haven’t seen since Chris Mullen’s hair-do was still in style… actually, it has never been a good look. Anyways, the team is currently the 5th seed in the west, and looks like they could make some noise in the postseason. Stephon Curry has gone back to his Davidson days, where he was raining from three with a hand in his face. Little brother Seth has been on fire beyond the arc of late for Duke, so Stephon has stepped his game up. Once Andrew Bogut comes back the Warriors will only get better; they are, for once, the second best team in California.
-A’s, 2008: 75-86, missed the playoffs. The season apparently was so unimportant that the league didn’t bother having the A’s finish their 162 game season- what difference does it make? The attendance barely made up 1/25th of the stadium seats, and who can even name a player from that team?
-A’s, 2012: 94-68, AL West Division champs. Not only did “Money Ball” work, it excelled. The A’s beat teams in their division with pay rolls more than double of their own, and they did it with style. Not only did the A’s take down the Rangers in the final series to win the division, they partied like it was 2012 (because of the apocalypse… get it?). It was the first time in more than a decade that the A’s were relevant, and Oakland fans actually started to come to the games.
Love it or hate it, but the Bay Area is the center for sports right now. With the exception of the Raiders, all Bay teams made/will make the playoffs this year, and are as fun as hell to watch. Notice I discreetly left out the Raiders… I tried my best to forget about them; I am sure Oakland fans feel the same. Regardless, the Bay Area is the best place in America to be a sports fan these days.