Controlling the quality of life. That's what she said.
Many sports analysts like to emphasize the recent success Bay Area teams are having by throwing out a handful of stats in the format of “The last time [insert team] accomplished [insert feat] was way back in [insert year].” For many of the stats, the year it probably near the start of the millennium. After suffering a rollercoaster of a decade, Bay teams are now on fire (well, for the most part). The feats that come first to mind for many locals are the most recent ones – the Oakland A’s and the San Francisco Giants both made the playoffs by winning their divisions.
Let’s leave baseball for a second and think back to January 2012. The San Francisco 49ers had already shocked the nation by securing the #2 NFC playoff seed. They then further shocked everyone by outdueling the Saints to advance to the NFC Championship game. They also infamously almost beat the New York Giants to earn a trip to the Super Bowl, but instead they beat themselves with a pair of fumbled punt returns. On the other side of the Bay Bridge we have the Oakland Raiders, who contrary to popular belief were in the driver seat in the AFC West for a good chunk of the season. Had they not lost their starting quarterback, or at the very least won their last game of the season, they would have hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Oakland Coliseum in the wildcard playoff game en lieu of the Broncos. I’m a Broncos fans, so I was obviously happy Raiders lost that last game (sorry Bay Area). This season many people around the league think the Niners are the best team in the league (which I disagree with, for I believe Texans & Falcons deserve the top two spots), so things are looking up for the Niners, especially for the upcoming game versus the NY Giants. The Raiders on the other hand have a bleak-looking future. After being pummeled by the Broncos who, in recent history, typically have trouble defeating divisional foes at home at Mile High, the Raiders will face the tough Falcons who will be looking to sweep the AFC West. On the bright side, aside from their Week 1 game, they Dennis Allen seems to have been able to cut down significantly on Raider penalties (especially those pesty personal fouls).
Next up, hockey n’ soccer. Both teams, being in San Jose n’ being the only Bay team in their respective leagues, have huge fan bases. The San Jose Sharks of the NHL made the playoffs. I don’t particularly follow hockey, but they did win their first playoff game versus the Blues, granted they lost the next three n’ were knocked out of the playoffs. Regardless, they brought back hope for the its fanbase. The San Jose EARTHQUAKES. Being a MLS team, it’s not particularly well-known since soccer is probably the least popular major league sport in the US. This is a shame because the Quakes are currently in the driver seat for the race to the Supporters Shield, an honor awarded to the team with the best regular season record. They also have the league’s leading scorers, Wondolowski (where’s Wondo?). This team is aiming to pull off the grand double n’ win both the Supporters Shield & the MLS Cup. They also secured themselves a new stadium, which will have its groundbreaking later this month (which I’m excited to be attending!). This groundbreaking is meant to be a community event, and as the organization is attempting to break the record for the largest crowd attending such an event, they will be giving out Earthquake shovels to attendees (as bribes, just kidding). This event is the same day as the Quakes’ before last game, which is against their biggest rival, the Los Angeles Galaxy of SoCal (NorCal vs. SoCal, always great matchups in any scenario). I believe the Quakes have swept Galaxy thus far this season, n’ now that they’re actually atop the league standings n’ playing at home at Buck Shaw, they will likely be favorites. Go Quakes! LA, did you here that?!
Lastly, baseball. The joy of winning their respective divisions n’ consequently punching their tickets to the playoffs quickly disappeared for the A’s & Giants before yesterday’s games. Playing in a best-of-5 format, they were down two games each. Giants were up first, traveling to Ohio and ended up stumbling into a win. Later in the evening, the A’s traveled home and came out with a decisive 2-0 win. For the first time in my life I watched more than half an inning of baseball. Beginning in the top of the 2nd, the A’s game drew me in – this coming from someone who said the only sport more boring is golf. The A’s and Giants having each extended their playoff run for at least a game are providing ample entertainment for local fans. Local news is being flooded with footage of games and fans at various bars across the Bay. All the attention paid to all these Bay Area teams is, for lack of better expression, really awesome. Best of luck to all the teams (including you, Raiders)!