What’s Wrong With Bay Area Sports?

Posted: February 8, 2011 in Special Interest Opinion

Here we are living in the San Francisco bay area in 2011. I grew up in Redwood City California. I moved here in 1975. My mother will correct me if I am wrong about that date. I have to admit since then a lot has changed. I’ve watched Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and the shocker, and I’m sure when the black community reads this they’re probably going to see me as a uncle tom or a person that doesn’t like my own race, but Barack Obama becoming president. I’m sorry, call me racist against my own race if you want, but I really didn’t know who the guy was until 2004.  I then saw him on T.V. receiving an NAACP award for helping his community in Chicago. Even then I didn’t consider him a candidate for president, but Barack won.

Which means to me anyone with the fight, the drive, and the will to succeed can achieve what is seemingly impossible. This is the reason why when it comes to professional sports I’ve always chosen teams locally in the San Francisco bay area over the rest of the United States. I’m not sure, but it appeared to me the South and the East Coast already had a rich sports history. Don’t get me wrong, west coast teams built a heritage too. The only problem is it was always further south of the state of California. Los Angeles based teams have always dominated in titles better then us up here in the north. There’s always Ohio and Texas, but they still weren’t California, and they weren’t Northern California. Which brings me to the unanswered question, what’s wrong with bay area professional sports?

The question has to be asked because the San Francisco bay area has seven sport franchises. You’d think with this many franchises this part of California we’d be a little more competitive when it comes to capturing titles. This next sentence is difficult to write because I love our bay area sport franchises, and I love the San Francisco 49ers. The truth is still the truth. In the past twenty five years, only three bay area franchises were even in a championship game. The obvious is the San Francisco 49ers. From 1981 to 1994 the 49ers have been to the Super Bowl five times and never lost. That is a statistic we bay area natives are proud of,  and we could finally send a message to our competitors in Southern California and the rest of the country, “Hey, you can’t just push around bay area sports.” Trust me, they got the message. It’s 2011 and in the 2009 season the San Francisco 49ers for the first time in fifteen years finished second in the NFC West division. The fact that the 9er’s finished second in their division isn’t because they won a lot of games. It was mainly because the division is trying to play catch up.

Let’s face it the last six seasons the NFC West has been pushed around in the NFL like a tackling dummy. Not the mention of,  Mike Singletary’s melt down in San Francisco. 49ers were expected to win the NFC west in 2010. Hey, I thought so too. In the finish of the 2009 season they won they’re last four games, and having Singletary have a full year at head coach you thought, okay now all the pieces are coming together. The reason why they couldn’t crack the NFC code is because there were some basics that weren’t ironed out. They needed a better offensive line so the quarterbacks had more time to throw the ball. Second, they also needed a better pass rushing defense. Quarterbacks from opposing teams would go back to pass and have time for a sip of tea before they delivered the ball.

They also needed to add some versatility to their run game. What happened to the days of sending the running backs out in the flat to catch the football? Another reality to coaching, if you’re a head coach don’t reprimand your team on the sidelines in front of the whole world on national television. Mr. Singletary said in a comment to reporters, “I don’t know if there is coaching etiquette in the NFL.” Well Mike, there is. Take a lesson from the great one Bill Walsh. Wait until the game is over, and then on Monday if you don’t have a game scheduled, sit down with that player with an assistant coach who coaches that player,  and quietly show him on film how he made a mistake. Mr. Singletary this is the San Francisco 49er franchise. That Mike Ditka routine will only fly in Chicago. Oh yeah, did I mention the other bay area football franchise. The Oakland Raiders do have three Superbowl titles. Only two were while they were in Oakland. The other was when they were in Los Angeles. Which means Los Angeles found another way to steal a title from us.

The Raiders did try to make up for it in 2003. Sunday January 26, 2003 in San Diego at Qualcom Stadium the Oakland Raiders played against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the NFL Championship. They unfortunately lost to the Buccaneers 48-21. What’s worst is that a year before that, Tampa Bay’s coach Jon Gruden was the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. The third franchise is the Oakland A’s. In 1990 the A’s played in the American League Championship and unfortunately lost to the Cincinnati Red’s. But let’s keep it real. I mean we can’t be to upset when it comes to the A’s. They have some titles underneath their belts. 9 MLB Championships to be exact, 4 while in Oakland and 5 when they were in Philadelphia. I’m not the biggest baseball fan, but I have been to a few games and I can appreciate the mechanics of the game. So the best of these franchises is the 49ers and the A’s.  Now we have to talk about our only NBA franchise in the north bay the Golden State Warriors who is another team that I love, but unfortunately I have to tell the truth or the worst about.

The Golden State Warriors two years ago reached a milestone by beating the No.1 seed in the Western Conference in 2007, and that team was the Dallas Mavericks. NBA aficionados knew that it took the Mavericks a couple of seasons to recover from that loss. One of the reasons why is that it was the year Dallas was heavily favored to win the Western Conference championship. Before that rare victory and I do mean rare because the Warriors weren’t even in a play off game since 1994.

Which they were unfortunately were swept by the Phoenix Suns, three games to none in the first round. It is interesting to note what a lot of sport fans may have forgotten. Golden State has two NBA titles. Well, one of them was when they were the Philadelphia Warriors. They have one in 1956 and the other in 1975. The 1975 team had a guy who was my neighbor who I got to know briefly. You see Charles Johnson or C.J as he was known lived on Center street in Redwood City California. I lived on Madrone street, which is right around the corner from him. I knew his family all of them are very nice hospital people, bay area natives, and a lot like me die hard Warrior fans.

We can’t have this article without discussing the Sacramento Kings. The Kings started out with a bright future. Their 1999-2000 season would be the most significant. The Kings acquired Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, Pedra Stojakovic, Jason Williams, and not to forget Vernon Maxwell, and Jon Barry who they signed as free agents. This ensemble of  players with a very astute Rick Adelman as head coach proved that they had put together a team that could contend in the Western Conference. It worked. The Kings beat Utah that year and advanced to the Western conference finals, only to lose to the Los Angeles Lakers. Do you see where this article is going? I get tired of saying,” Our northern California team is close to winning but we lose to some Los Angeles team.  As you read this article you can probably tell that to answer the title of this article’s question, results in a lot of information.

Let’s also not forget the only NHL franchise we have in the bay area, the San Jose Sharks. San Jose has played some incredible hockey since the franchise opened in 1991. The Sharks have contended well with some of the more premier hockey franchises. L.A. Kings, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, and so on. But out of all their achievements for some crazy reason, and Shark fans are still scratching their heads on this one. They have had trouble getting past the dreaded Western Conference Semifinals. It is sad to watch. Like I said I am not a big hockey fan, but I’m still sentimental and love San Francisco bay area teams. Besides they’re the only NHL franchise we have up here. I said before I don’t know hockey, but I just thought by now as well as they’ve been playing they would’ve won the Stanley Cup. No I’m not a hockey fan, but I’m becoming one and still root for the home team, so San Jose don’t give up. Go Sharks!

Returning the subject back to bay area baseball. Since I’m not a huge baseball fan I have to admit that every now and then some people will come up and ask me, “Hey Rich who is your favorite baseball team?” because I’m not the biggest baseball fan I simply answer, “If I have to pick a team, I’m going to go local with the Giants.” Most of my compadres would say, “Man dude. Why the Giants? Why didn’t you say the Yankees, Dodgers or Red Sox?” The reason why I didn’t say those teams, even though they have a rich history of winning, is because I live in the dark ages. When people rooted for teams because they are loyal to the one team in their local area. In 2010 my loyalty paid off. The San Francisco Giants did something for them they’ve had to wait for, for a long time. They won the World Series.

What is interesting is that locals would say, “Giants are going to win the World Series.” Baseball analyst would say “Yeah right.” I say now to those analyst Ask the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, and the shocker Texas Rangers. Hey, when the Giants won the 2010 World Championship even ESPN had to give props where props were due. Giants gave the MLB a wake up call. The San Francisco bay area can produce champions, but only if it focuses on developing winning franchises by paying the players well. I hate to be the one to say it, but hey, professional sports is a money market.  Today there isn’t much loyalty in professional sports. Let’s face it. An owner will take your loyalty with its city and sell it to another if he, she or they think they can save what they are losing in today’s market. How do you think the Oklahoma City Thunder was born.

The days of being loyal to one player, are gone. Can you say free agent? I used to be a Terrell Owens fan, until Terrell showed me that it wasn’t about the SF logo or the red and gold colors. Once Terrell made a name for himself in San Francisco, he bolted to the nearest franchise ready to pay him what he thought would be top dollar for his skills.

That team at that time was the Philadelphia Eagles. He did play well there, he only soared with the eagles for so long. Now he’s running with the Cincinnati Bengals. This is another reason why the bay area will continue to have a championship drought. Professional sports isn’t about loyalty, it’s about business. Hey, just ask the New England Patriots. Look how long they waited before they got their first title. And nobody in the NFL ever thought Tama Bay would win one, let alone two. This is the reason the 2010 NFL season, I was a little afraid of the Detroit Lions. Hey, when you finish 0-16 you can only get better. So what’s wrong with bay area professional sports? It’s a business. Remember folks its ALLBAYAREASPORTS.COM. Bay Area Sports Magnified!


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