By Chris Le
I’ve lived nearly all of my life in the Bay Area, and I’ve loved every minute of it. Everything about it makes me smile: the weather, even though it isn’t always as sunny and warm as Southern California, the diversity, the chill atmosphere and of course, the culture (though I’ll admit the whole Hyphy Movement was pretty ridiculous. See right). However, like the weather lately, things have been cold and gloomy—especially the outlook of our beloved sports teams.
Was it really that long ago that the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics were viable contenders? Do I have to look that far back in the history books to see when the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders were in the middle of legitimate dynasties? And the Golden State Warriors must have been decent fairly recently, right?
Okay, admittedly, the golden days of Bay Area football and basketball are about as far gone as Amy Winehouse on drugs, but the point is, the Bay has seen its share of success. I don’t think it’s been this low, however. Ever.
The San Francisco 49ers
Why the Bay Area is sad: They have set a new low for offensive impotency. Frank Gore, who led the NFC in rushing a year ago, Vernon Davis, who is stronger than most linebackers and faster than most secondaries, and Alex Smith, who drastically improved upon his rookie outing, have all fallen short of expectations, and even worse, seem to have regressed from last year. And the offensive line is as easy to get through as the U.S. border. It’s bad when getting a first down is a reason to celebrate. To boot, there appears to be a miscommunication (tension?) between Smith and head coach Mike Nolan.
Bright spot: Patrick Willis is an absolute stud on a defense that is slowly getting better, though it still isn’t great.
The Oakland Raiders
Why the Bay Area is sad: Zero stability at quarterback and running back, key defensive lapses. Despite some early season flashes of hope, they possess a 2-7 record, the same slate in 2006 at this point in time. They were baaaad last year; they’re almost as bad this year.
Bright spot: This year’s number one overall pick, JaMarcus Russell, has been promoted to backup quarterback and is this much closer to actually playing.
The Golden State Warriors
Why the Bay Area is sad: After a historic playoff run in which they ended their postseason drought of over a dozen years, the Warriors have started the season 0-6, giving up119.6 PPG and losing by 11.8 PPG, both tops in the league. Or is it bottom? The organization traded away Jason Richardson, a beloved key player.
Bright spot: The season is still young and hopes are still high. More importantly, the players still believe. Team captain Stephen Jackson is set to return from a 7-game suspension. And good or bad, you gotta love those Warriors fans.
The San Francisco Giants
Why the Bay Area is sad: They were bottom-dwellers in a traditionally horrid division. Inexplicably spent top dollar on Barry Zito only to have him stink it up with an 11-13 record and a 4.53 ERA. The organization let go of Barry Bonds, who was honestly loved in SF and our only true superstar in athletics. In hindsight, this might’ve been a good move.
Bright spot: It’s not looking good.
The Oakland A’s
Why the Bay Area is sad: Finishing with a 76-86 record, 18 games behind the division leader, the A’s were almost as bad as the neighboring Giants.
Bright spot: A possible move to Fremont, CA. Yikes.
The California Bears
Why the Bay Area is sad: Entering the year with possible national title hopes and having tremendous early season success, the Bears find themselves at 6-4. Goodbye National Championship, farewell Rose Bowl game, and adieu to DeSean Jackson’s Heisman hopes. A wholly disappointing season.
Bright spot: Uh, a possible early-mid December bowl game? Freshman RB Jahvid Best could develop into one of the most dynamic players in the nation.
The forecast isn’t looking too good. The futures of our Bay Area sports franchises only offer the slightest glimmer of hope. So small that it’s advisable not to put too much emotional investment in these teams. As loyal sports fans and Bay Area natives, however, we must. Perhaps we can take solace in the numerous other offerings this great location provides. But, damn, all I really care about is sports.