Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Glorious Guest Post: San Francisco, On My Mind...

Hello, friends. My name is Ted. By this point, you probably know that I do most of my word-smithing over at this site, but occasionally I contribute elsewhere, such as Sports Flow. Today, I'm doing just that, with a look at the Bay Area's Athletic Renaissance.

It's a bad time to live in Dallas - think Romo's lack of ability to grab a snap, Dirk's proven ability to become a 3rd grade school girl in the playoffs, and the Rangers in general - or Houston (the Texans as a whole, T-Mac this postseason, and the current state of the Astros) - or even Washington (the Skins were laughable this past season, the Nats might break the single-season loss record, and the Wizards were swept in Round 1).

But, it's a good time to live in the Bay Area.

It's funny how things ebb and flow so quickly in terms of the geographic distribution of sports success. The A's and Giants have been good for a while - 2005 and 2006 were actually the Giants first losing seasons since 1996 - and the Sharks are always kinda sorta on the verge of something they never seem to get, but the current revolution in professional sports relevance by the Bay is quite startling. Consider:

The A's
The deal with the A's is simple: if they hang with the Angels until September, the division gets decided by those two teams meeting in that month. Nothing more, nothing less. The Rangers and Mariners, right now, aren't going to change that equation. Right now, the A's alternate between being a game back and being tied. Looks like another September of 10pm start times on the East Coast.

The Giants
The Giants, who were the NL representative to the World Series as recently as my senior year of college (crap - does that date me?), fell on hard times the past two seasons but look better now. They're only 3 games above .500 as of me writing this, but their pitching has been pretty good - Zito turned things around after a slow start, Matt Morris is reminding people he's still alive, Noah Lowry and Matt Cain are good young starters, and Tim Lincecum (while shelled in his first start) is at the MLB level, which can only be good over time - and their offense is extraordinarily old, but getting contributions from unlikely places (think back-up catchers). It helps that Bonds is sending them into orbit way faster than anyone expected he would.

The Warriors
The crown jewel of the current Bay Area sports scene, the Warriors were absent from the postseason for over a decade, then returned with a Baron Davis Bang, taking down the No. 1 seeded and prohibitive favorite Mavericks in six games. They're down 1-0 to the Jazz right now, but if you've seen any games played at Oracle Arena this postseason, you know it's gonna be pretty hard for them to lose there. As such, if they get 1 game in Utah, they might win this series. Warriors in the Western Conference Finals? Wow. Talk about a Bay Area sports renaissance.

The Niners
The Niners, arguably football's all-time proudest franchise, haven't been to the playoffs since 2002. Things are looking different for this season, though. Alex Smith is entering his third year - conventional wisdom dictates that's the year you break out, unless your surname is "Carr." Frank Gore led the NFC in rushing last year, and they picked up some defensive studs in the off-season: Nate Clements (free agent), Michael Lewis (free agent, not book author), and Patrick Willis (draft). Joe Staley in the late first round was decried by some as a bust, but I'd call it a steal. All he's gonna do is help protect Smith and Gore, and about five days before the Draft, people had him going No. 10. Mike Nolan, who's cool because he wants to wear a suit on the sideline, could become known as one of the NFL's better coaches in the next half-decade.

The Sharks
Since 1997-1998, the Sharks have missed the playoffs just once ('02-'03). Granted, they've never made the Cup Finals during that entire run - they made the Western Finals a few years back - but that's one of the more impressive runs in hockey across the past decade nonetheless. Joe Thornton is a stud (he's 27), Patrick Marleau is a lifer there and a stud (he's 27), Jonathan Cheechoo can score from anywhere on the ice (he's 26), and Vesa Toskala is only 29. In sum: get ready, TankHeads. There's another run or two in this bunch, as well.


grittysquirrels said...

Nice post Ted....It's funny how that stuff works. Minnesota sports have been struggling a bit as of late as well.

Vikes= boring and bad
Twins= Not terrible but not goin anywhere in my opinion
Wild= actually decent but nothing doing in the playoffs
Golden Gophers BBall= terrible
Golden Gophers Football= terrible
Golden Gophers Hockey= good season and then choked at the hands of my Sioux

Nice post my friend.

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Kyle W said...

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