As 2008 comes to a close tonight, so too does the first full year of Bay Area Sports Guy. And what a year it has been. For the website we mean, not exactly for Bay Area sports. Seattle may corner the market on sports-related angst these days, what with the Supersonics leaving for Oklahoma City of all places, the Mariners and Seahawks winning about as often as Seattle has sunny days and the shockingly awful University of Washington football team. However, no area in the United States could claim quite the overall sports ineptitude as San Francisco and Oakland.
Notice I left out San Jose, since the Sharks were the lone major franchise that even made the playoffs. Berkeley wasn’t too horrible, as Cal went to a local bowl game and won. Not bad, even though bowl games are pretty much useless to anybody besides gamblers.
This website isn’t completely Bay Area-centric, but more of a look at all sports from the perspective of Bay Area sports fans (as opposed to the mainstream media, which portrays a look at sports from a Syracuse alum’s point of view). Still, even though we went in depth on everything from the Celtics/Lakers NBA Finals to UFC Pay-Per-Views to which Olympic team sported the skankiest swimwear, there were quite a few memorable moments in the 415, 408 and 510. Here’s a look at some of them in Part One of the first annual Bay Area Sports Guy Awards, otherwise known as the BASGY’s.
Best Athlete: Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants
We know, big shock. Lincecum wasn’t just the best pitcher in the Bay Area since perhaps Vida Blue’s heyday, he was the best pitcher in baseball. He won the NL Cy Young Award, but it was about more than that — every time Lincecum took the mound at Mays Field or anywhere, it was appointment viewing. And on a Giants team that at times made baseball boring for even the game’s staunchest supporters, that’s saying a lot.
Best Team: San Jose Sharks
They made the playoffs, and recently raced to the best 30-game start in NHL history. Whether or not those who predict Bay Area fans are waiting until the Sharks make the Stanley Cup Finals to jump on the bandwagon is debatable, but we may find out come June.
Best Story: Leon Powe, Boston Celtics
We’ve touched on Powe several times over the past year, as I’ve always had an affinity for the Oakland Tech/Cal star since seeing him play at age 16 in the Kezar Summer Pro-Am. I always wished the Warriors would have drafted him (although we all know he’d ride all kinds of pine with Don Nelson running things), but he fell to the second round to Denver before being traded to a then-awful Celtics team. Two years later, his blend of hustle and muscle made him nearly an unstoppable force for a Celtics squad that manhandled the flashy yet soft Lakers in June.
From losing both of his parents before college to suffering two separate devastating knee injuries to playing hardly at all for a lottery bound Boston team, Powe’s journey has been painfully difficult. But when he scored 21 points in Game ?????? Of the Finals, it was clear Powe (who has already started his own charitable foundation to help Oakland foster kids) is going to be a fixture in the NBA for several years.
Best Press Conference: Al Davis, Oakland Raiders
A 79-year-old, a Fed Ex’d letter and an overhead projector. Part legal briefing, part incredible glimpse into the world of a team run like no other, Davis’ “Why I fired Lane Kiffin” press conference was perhaps the most captivating event of the year, which clearly says more about how bad this year was for Bay Area sports than anything else. When Davis recounted the conversation he had with Kiffin as he fired him over the phone, he showed us right where he was coming from with this gem:
“He says, “Does this mean that I don’t get paid?” I said, “That’s what I’m saying to you.”
Sometimes it’s almost worth it to have the NFL’s most dysfunctional franchise in our backyard when they’re this entertaining during the week.