Chris Cohan

A new decade

Trust me, it’s knock on wood time. Knock on wood, formica, granite, steel, plastic, whatever’s around you. Because even reading this will implicate you, too.

But … Aren’t you so glad we’re in the 2010’s?

Forget politics, world affairs, natural disasters, Wall Street, box office results, lacrosse murders and tasers for a second. When it comes to sports, we very well have just left the worst, coldest, most pathetic decade imaginable, and are now entering the sunny world of a brand new, far superior set of 10 consecutive years.

Around here, the 2000’s were the sort of disaster you wouldn’t wish on any region. The A’s and Giants went to the playoffs about half the time, and each time they did they flamed out so horrendously that Bay Area fans could barely watch the World Series without suffering heartburn (especially in 2002, the genesis of the greatest stomach pains endured the entire decade). The Sharks did nothing but lift hopes and drop them into black holes. The Warriors of the 2000’s gave their fans exactly two months of important basketball. The 49ers and Raiders went from two of the top five most important franchises in the league to just another pair of dysfunctional teams in dingy stadiums.

Felipe Alou vs. Larry Krueger. BALCO. Terry Donahue. Tom Cable. Robert Rowell. Eric Chavez. Adonal Foyle’s contract. Jeremy Giambi’s non-slide. The J-Rich trade. JaMarcus Russell. Monta’s moped accident. Dennis Erickson. Armando Benitez. Chris Cohan. Rashaun Woods. Eddie Sutton. J.T. O’Sullivan. DeAngelo Hall. DunMurphy. Barry Zito as a Giant. Chris Webber as a Warrior. Al Davis as a sea monster.

And that doesn’t come close to mentioning everything, or even touch on all the horrible stuff that happened nationally, like Boston winning all those titles.

What was the best of the five decades I’ve been a part of on this planet (not that I remember the ’70’s, since I was an infant/toddler)? The 1980’s, no comparison. The 1970’s were the decade to be an Oakland fan, what with the numerous titles for the A’s, a powerful and defiant Raiders team and the 1975 championship for the Warriors. Don’t remember any of that, since I didn’t really start paying attention to sports until 1984. It’s easier to remember the 49ers as team of the ’80’s, the A’s ruling the end of the decade with the Giants riding the Will Clark wave at the same time (over time, it’s hard to figure if the Will Clark Era will ever get the credit it deserves — he was equally as important to San Francisco as Joe Montana was from 1987 to 1989, and nobody can tell me differently), and Don Nelson making a little noise as the team transitioned to Run TMC.

Not saying the 2010’s will be as good as that era around here, or if it’ll be better or worse. But it’s time to get the ’80’s swagger back. Granted, I was a kid, and my life wasn’t too bad at the time. My mom got us junk food occasionally, we had presents during the holidays and every once in a while we were able to pick out a Generra Hypercolor shirt at the local Beno’s Department Store (don’t ask, it’s a Eureka thing). However, I can’t help but think the general optimism I brought to every single sporting event I watched couldn’t do anything but help the teams I was watching.

In the 1990’s, we were nearly impossible to please, especially when it came to the Niners. The 1994 team that won a Super Bowl aside, there probably wasn’t one team throughout those years besides the Giants in 1997 that came close to the expectations we had. Sure, we were spoiled, but the teams weren’t all that great either, for the most part. Besides the Deion Niners, not a dominant group in the bunch.

In the 2000’s, all of us approached sports like a fraternity pledge entering a dark room during hazing season. We were ready to get punched in the stomach, kneed in the groin and tripped, and that’s what happened. Talk about self-fulfilling prophecies, as a region we were completely beaten down in the 2000’s, and perhaps we were partly to blame for all the gloom and doom.

So let’s stop worrying about what could go wrong and expect things to go right, like we did in the ’80’s (or seemed to, anyway). The Giants have Tim Lincecum, the most captivating and beloved figure the San Francisco Giants have ever had (Bonds and Mays were captivating, but Bonds was hated everywhere else and that couldn’t be ignored, while San Francisco never really claimed Mays as their own after he came from New York like they did Willie McCovey). Patrick Willis just signed a long-term contract. The Sharks are ready to go to the Conference Finals, and it seems like they’re a different group than the squad that always flamed out in situations like this. The Warriors have Stephen Curry and perhaps a cool new owner by the time they tip off next season. The Raiders might actually not be half-bad next season. The A’s, well, maybe someday they’ll get MLB to overturn the Giants’ territorial rights after all.

It’s a brand new decade, and we need to act accordingly. Cheer louder at parks and arenas. Demand the owners spend more, and then congratulate them when they do (nice job on Willis yesterday, Jed). As sports becomes more and more regionalized, with all the different CSNs, ESPNs and blogs, the infrastructure to make this region rank higher on the “Great Sports Town” scale than Bostons, Philadelphias and Chicagos of the world is right there, the teams just have to climb out of the 2000’s pit and win. And finally, it looks as if they might.

Knock on wood. Or formica. Or whatever.

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