Every year, Boston, New York, or Los Angeles are usually involved in the championship discussions of the major sports. When a smaller city rises to the top in one sport, it comes off as a surprise to many, but when one city does it in all three sports, the sports world gets turned upside down. San Francisco is doing just that.
2012 San Francisco Giants
The 2012 campaign did not start off the way Giants fans envisioned after trailing the red-hot Dodgers by 7.5 games after the month of May. Their backbone, starting pitching, had faltered to the point where majority of the fan base wanted Tim Lincecum demoted or traded. Tim Lincecum was the guy who basically won the Giants the World Series title two years ago; now he had pitched so badly that nobody wanted him! Popular closer Brian Wilson had to undergo Tommy John surgery which ruled him out for the rest of the season. Then, once June came around, the Giants woke up to the tune of 17-10, while the Dodgers stumbled, resulting in San Fran sitting in first place by month’s end. On June 13th Matt Cain twirled a perfect game. Hunter Pence was acquired at the trade deadline to bolster their lineup and things began to really start cooking. In the middle of August, All-Star Centerfielder Melky Cabrera was caught using performance enhancing drugs and was suspended 50 games. Many did not know how they would recover after losing their MVP, who at the time of his suspension was hitting .346 with 11 homeruns and 60 runs batted in. Well, the Giants rallied and found a way like they always seem to do. Buster Posey’s .336 batting average ended up winning the NL batting title, as well as the NL MVP. Another midseason acquisition, second baseman Marco Scutaro, finished the season on a 20 game hitting streak. Despite the Dodgers making several blockbuster deals, the Giants won the NL West, while Los Angeles missed the playoffs! In no better way to define their season, the Giants dropped the first two games of their opening postseason series with the Reds. They would win the series in an improbable fashion by winning the final three games on the road to eliminate Cincinnati.
In the NLCS the Giants found themselves in another ridiculous situation after dropping three of the first four games to the Cardinals. In a win or go home situation Bruce Bochy turned to Barry Zito, who was left off the 2010 World Series team. Zito’s stint in San Francisco had been summed up as a complete and utter disaster. So with little to no hope of winning the game, what did Zito do? He turned in seven and two-thirds of scoreless and brilliant pitching in a 5-0 win to stay alive. It was probably the most unexpected and stellar performance in the entire postseason. In Game 6, the series returned home where Ryan Vogulsong tried his best Barry Zito impersonation as he threw one-run ball over seven innings and recorded nine strikeouts. The Giants won the game 6-1 and set up the best two words in baseball: “Game Seven.” In that game seven the Giants struck early and often while they used five different pitchers to combine for a 9-0 route to send them to the Fall Classic. Instead of starting slow like they did in the previous two series, the Giants swept the Tigers in the World Series with their backbone, pitching. San Francisco won a ridiculous six games when facing elimination in the postseason, but had little trouble with the Tigers. Marco Scutaro was the postseason hero after batting .328 with eight runs batted in and 11 runs scored. He hit .500 in the amazing NLCS and seemed to always be the guy getting the big hit. He was also the man who drove in the go ahead run in the 10th inning of Game 4 of the World Series. An unbelievable run the Giants had, especially after the struggles they endured to begin the year, but in baseball is the year of San Francisco.
2012-2013 Golden State Warriors
In the offseason, I would imagine Mark Jacksons and his Golden State Warriors couldn’t stand the hype and talk about the Los Angeles Lakers. After acquiring Dwight Howard and Steve Nash for virtually nothing, many experts assumed the Purple and Gold would dominate the West and contend with the Heat for the NBA Title. When people mentioned the Warriors they often used the word injuries to describe their future. However, once the season began, the Lakers struggled mightily while the Warriors stayed afloat with a 10-7 record. Then they embarked on a seven game road trip where they went a very impressive 6-1, which included a 97-95 victory in Miami. That finally got the nation’s attention! Even though the injury bug has plagued them as of late, the Warriors still own a 24-15 record and sit fifth in the Western Conference Standings. Golden State fans got a huge scare several days ago when star point guard Stephen Curry reinjured his ankle that has notably prevented him from prolonged success during his career. Two games later he returned to the relief of the Warrior faithful and posted a 20 point effort with seven assists and only one turnover. The main reason for Golden State’s record this year is largely due to the health of Curry. He has started in 37 of their 39 games this year while averaging 20.5 points and dishing 6.6 assists per game. Although Curry is their main guy, others have contributed a good chunk to the squad. David Lee is posting 19.8 points and 10.8 boards a game to help establish a low-post presence while injured center Andrew Bogut continues to sit out after playing in only four games. First round pick Harrison Barnes has also been a pleasant surprise as he has started every game and scored 9.2 points on average. With one of their best bench players, Brandon Rush, out for the year, Jarrett Jack has stepped in to contribute 12.4 points and 5.4 assists per game. They are fairly deep and if Andrew Bogut can return late in the season, then teams better start to fear these Bay Area ballers. They sit fifth in the standings now, but if they can just get into the playoffs, then there is no reason they cannot recreate the magic that Baron Davis did years ago, when the Warriors upset the number one seeded Mavericks in the playoffs. The Warriors this year though, won’t be the underdogs.
2012-2013 San Francisco 49ers
They came so close to going to the Super Bowl last year. If not for a few muffed punts, the Niners might have won it all instead of the Giants. The season started off with a marquee matchup in Lambeau against Rodgers and the Pack. The 49ers dominated the football game and went on to secure a very big road win to kick off the year. Their season really changed though when Alex Smith suffered a concussion on November 11th when facing the Rams. Second year backup Colin Kaepernick stepped into the fire and played very well. Even though the 49ers tied the Rams in overtime that game, Kaepernick completed 11 out of 17 passes for 117 yards while rushing for 66 yards on eight carries and a score. His statistics were good enough in Jim Harbaugh’s eyes to earn him another start. Kaepernick would not look back the rest of the year as he compiled a 5-2 record the rest of the way. Over those seven games he would toss ten touchdowns through the air and throw only three interceptions while running for 238 yards on just 42 carries. His big game came against New England on Sunday Night Football in Foxboro where the 49ers beat the Pats 41-34. Kaepernick dazzled the viewer’s eyes as he threw for four touchdowns sending a shock across the NFL nation. San Francisco entered the postseason as the number two seed and thus had a first round bye. That set up a rematch with the Packers in San Francisco. Well, did the playoffs scare this kid? He would go on to throw for 263 yards and two passing touchdowns, while running for an NFL record 181 yards and two scores. No quarterback in the regular season or postseason had ever rushed for that many yards in a single game. The Niners rolled to the tune of 45-31 as the Packers defense had absolutely no answer for the dual threat quarterback. He made it look too easy, and because of that, San Francisco went into the NFC Championship game as four-point favorites, even though it was in Atlanta. The Falcons jumped out to a 17-0 lead, but did that rattle Kaepernick? Hell no! He motivated his team enough to rally and grab the lead in the 4th quarter; it would also be the largest comeback in NFC Championship Game history. The 49ers defense showed up big time in the second half and shutout Matt Ryan and the Falcons in the 2nd half. They were just too good and it seems like there is nobody that can stop these guys. Well, the Super Bowl is set and Jim Harbaugh is up against his brother John and the Ravens. The Super Bowl will surely be a spectacle to watch because both of these teams seem dead even. But it’s the year of San Francisco folks! Baltimore better bring their “A” game.