Sunday, November 13, 2011

Finally, being a Bay Area sports fan is something to be proud of...

I would like to say I started following sports sometime around 2002. I still have vague memories of Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants losing to the LA Angels in a 7-game World Series that year. And since I remember as far back as 2002, that means I have been a sports fan for 9 years. In my 9 years of following sports in the Bay Area, it has largely been disappointing. Yes, the Giants made the World Series in 2002, but I only barely remember that. Yes, the Raiders made the Super Bowl in 2003, but they lost to the Buccaneers in the famous "Gruden Bowl." The A's used to be good with their Moneyball strategy, but now they struggle with their tiny budget. During the past decade, sports just hasn't been the Bay Area's thing.

The last few years have changed that.

Let's start with the 49ers. They have had quite the tumultuous decade, going through 6 head coaches (1 interim), 8 losing seasons, and a 1st overall pick that had underperformed until this year. Ever since I started following sports, the Niners have been less than mediocre; that is, until Jim Harbaugh took over this year. This season has been a treat. The 49ers are playing awesome football. And I am loving it.

While we're on the subject of Harbaugh, let's make a shout out to the Stanford Cardinal, who have consistently performed at a high level the past 3 seasons, with stars like Toby Gerhart, Andrew Luck, and Owen Marecic. The previous decade, Stanford football had underwhelmed. Then Harbaugh was hired and everything changed. Stanford is fun to watch now and is finally generating excitement in the Bay Area. Go Stanford!

Baseball is getting in on the act as well. Watching the Giants bring a World Series to the bay two seasons ago was absolutely magical, and the NL West race last year was captivating as well. They have a strong nucleus of stars and during the baseball season, they generate a lot of buzz. They're a fun team to watch, dependent on pitching and contributions from a number of other pieces. Which misfit will lead the charge next year? Everyone cannot wait to find out.

Throughout this debacle of a decade, the Sharks have been a sort of dependable constant. We expect them to win, and they do win. Just not the Stanley Cup. However, a lot of people here feel that this could be their year, and, especially now that they are winning games against quality teams like the Penguins and Red Wings, the expectations are getting higher after each and every game. Now is a great time to be a Sharks fan.

This seems to be the year for each and every team in the Bay Area. Stanford looks primed to be a part of a high-profile bowl game this year, although they lost to Oregon yesterday. The 49ers are in control of their division and will be a force to be reckoned with in the postseason. The Giants, once they solve their offensive woes, will be exciting to watch come Opening Day. The Sharks are playing captivating hockey and we can't wait to see where it takes them. Even the Raiders have a chance in that weak division after they beat San Diego on Thursday.

The last 10 years have been woeful, even tear-inducing. but this year, Bay Area fans finally have something to cheer for. The teams are good, and the support is growing. I can't wait for these teams to hit the ice/diamond/gridiron soon. Go Niners, Cardinal, Giants, Sharks, and Raiders!

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