BEHIND THE PLATE: Warriors title grows Bay Area hunger
It’s time for the rest of the Bay Area teams to step up.
After winning its first NBA title in 40 years, Golden State added another trophy to the Bay Area this week, joining San Francisco’s baseball team and its three championships since 2010. And while it’s well deserved to get caught up in this celebratory jubilee with the Warriors, it begs the question if the Bay Area still has some sports mojo left for the rest of its professional sports.
The Giants, obviously, are the most recent world champs before Golden State shut down Cleveland on Tuesday, but three franchises are still searching for that elusive championship in this millennium.
The Raiders have the longest drought, going since the 1980s without winning a championship. But they came close in the 2001 season despite letting Jon Gruden go the year before. Gruden, though, took Tampa Bay to the Super Bowl in his first season and the Bucs destroyed the Raiders.
What’s happened since then for Oakland remains a mystery. The Raiders haven’t made the playoffs. Fans might as well count an 8-8 season as a winning record. Attendance continues to dip.
But Oakland appears to be on the right track as this season could be its most promising yet. Derek Carr is a talented quarterback and the front office is trying to give him some weapons on offense while beefing up the defense to make a run in the AFC West. Give it a year, maybe two, and Oakland will be relevant again in football.
South of the bay sits the 49ers, who have seen a trophy more recently than the Raiders.
Remember Steve Young and Jerry Rice? That’s the last time San Francisco won a Super Bowl although the team has had some opportunities.
The Jeff Garcia and Terrell Owens tandem had the team in the playoffs in the early 2000s but they couldn’t get past the hump. After that, San Francisco became worse every year until Jim Harbaugh took over. The 49ers made the NFC title game in his first three seasons including a Super Bowl appearance in 2013. But San Francisco fell just a few yards short of capping off the comeback against Baltimore for the ultimate trophy.
How do the 49ers’ chances look in the post-Harbaugh era? Sketchy, at best.
The organization made several drastic changes, including getting rid of several playmakers along with Harbaugh. That trip to the Super Bowl several years ago could become so distant if this team falls apart and Colin Kaepernick continues to regress after his breakout season three years ago.
And then we have the A’s.
The Moneyball strategy has worked for the most part since 2000 as Oakland can’t afford high-priced talent and struggles to hang onto its homegrown players as they enter free agency. The A’s haven’t won a World Series since the 1989 earthquake when they swept the Giants amid all the horror from the natural disaster.
Oakland, of course, has come close, too. The A’s have made the playoffs for the better part of this decade, only to be ousted in the divisional round against the Tigers or the wild card round against the Royals last year. Seeing Oakland hoist the trophy at the end of the season, though, would be a sight to see.
But while it’s easy to think about football or baseball not winning any world titles this millennium, the San Jose Sharks haven’t won the Stanley Cup since they were founded in 1991.
San Jose, though, has come close after making the playoffs from 2010-2014.
After winning the division in 2011, the Sharks lost to the Canucks in the conference finals and then followed with an early exit to the Blues in 2012. Like the Bay Area baseball teams and their rival with Los Angeles, the Kings got the best of the Sharks in their last two playoff appearances as they won the Stanley Cup in both times.
If you’re a Bay Area sports fan, this decade has been a dream come true.
A baseball team has won the World Series three twice. A basketball team brought back a title to the area for the first time since the 1970s. And a football team came less than 10 yards away from winning the Super Bowl.
Now we just need this sports mojo to continue spreading so the rest of the Bay Area teams can join in on the fun.
Thomas Ranson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.