Who's got it better than Bay Area pro sports fans?
Published: Saturday, December 22, 2012 at 5:01 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 22, 2012 at 5:01 p.m.
Much of Bay Area luxuriating in pro sports renaissance
Last year we learned that Jim Harbaugh took to asking the 49ers “Who's got it better than us?”
The answer, as we've come to know and love, is “Nooobody!”
It's a wonderful rallying cry, equal parts pep talk, sermonette, encapsulated life philosophy and most of all a unifying anthem of sorts. A credo of togetherness. Kind of a mantra for the new millennium that harkens back to the “We Are Family” chorus that the Pittsburgh Pirates, of all teams, made famous in the 1970s.
It might be time for Bay Area pro sports fans (well, not all Bay Are pro sports fans; sorry, Raiders and Sharks supporters) to borrow Harbaugh's rhetorical Q&A.
Whether you're a diehard or casual fan, whether you're a season ticket holder or a guy who gets to one game a year and sits in the so-called cheap seats, whether you have a photographic memory when it comes to rosters and statistics or you don't know a free throw from an intentional walk from an offsides but still find yourself marveling at the various sports dramas playing out in Northern California, you've got to ask: Who's got it better these days, collectively speaking, than Giants, A's, 49ers and Warriors backers?
In a word, nobody.
The Niners are on their way to a second straight NFL playoff appearance, and some of the experts are calling them the team to beat in the Super Bowl derby. Heady stuff for a team that two years ago was an embarrassment, and had been an embarrassment for far too long after having been pretty darn good for far too long.
The Giants have won two World Series in the past three years, this after not winning any in their first 52 years in San Francisco. Old-timers weep with joy.
And the Warriors? Yes, it's still early. Yes, in sports, as in real life, fortunes can change quickly, unmercifully. But it looks like your Golden State Warriors, a team that has missed the NBA playoffs 18 of the past 19 years, which might be more difficult than making the NBA playoffs 18 of the past 19 years, have finally embraced the concept of defense (Wednesday night's loss at Sacramento notwithstanding), which just may translate into a playoff team that's not merely an anomaly (thanks, Nellie, for that thrill ride in 2007).
The A's, or the Athletics, to use their formal, dress-up name, please let's not forget them. This is a team that has been mocked for their state-of-the-dump ballpark, their cheapskate owner (at least Charlie Finley, the godfather of Bay Area cheapskates, won three World Series) and has been made famously Hollywood chic for their shrewd and thrifty “Moneyball” general manger, and for being a team that develops and then sheds star ballplayers as if they were a commodity no different that avocados or pork futures. Well, the A's won their division in exciting, dramatic, inspiring fashion and just might retain a core of players who could lead them to a repeat and perhaps beyond. Seriously. The A's.
The Sharks, for their consistent appearance in the NHL playoffs and their steady, albeit unfulfilled, promise of an elusive Stanley Cup, well, the Sharks are moot in this discussion because of the NHL lockout. Sorry about that. Truly am. But if you're not even playing your games, if you're not, technically speaking, even existing for the moment, then you are barred from this conversation. It hurts to say it. Exclusion is no fun for the excluder or the excludee.
And yes, it would be a better feel-good story if we could include the Raiders, but we can't. After two straight non-winning/non-losing seasons, the Silver and Black are back to being losers. And boring, to boot, although the kicking game remains the team's strongest point. How ironic.
Bay Area pro sports fans have had it really, really good before, of course. In the small window of 1974-76, three different championships were won — the A's taking their third consecutive World Series, the Warriors sweeping the NBA Finals and the Raiders bringing the first Super Bowl championship to the Bay Area.
And in 1989 alone, we had the A's winning the World Series, the Giants in their first Series in 27 years, and the Niners winning their fourth Super Bowl and second in a row.
But that was then and this is now. And what we pro sports fans in the Bay Area have now is the possibility of the Niners following the Giants' World Series win with a Super Bowl title, and the Warriors following the A's dash to the postseason with one of their own.
Who's got it better than us?
Robert Rubino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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