I thought this might be a fun idea, since this is a regional sports
blog website and we try to cover all the professional teams. College is tough, since the only national power over the last five years was Stanford’s football team, and they couldn’t even sell out their 45,000-seat stadium every game when they were in the running for BCS titles.
We also don’t cover the Earthquakes, but that *could* change in the coming weeks. We’ll see … I don’t have the time to become an MLS expert (my only real experience with the league was attending a Portland Timbers game last summer … which was an awesome experience, by the way), but interest in the team and the MLS in general seems to be growing. On average I probably get a curious/angry tweet, Facebook message or email about once every few weeks wondering why the Quakes get no love on this site, but no interested writers. Yet. That could change soon.
Anyway, enough rambling. These new power rankings are an unabashedly subjective attempt to quantify how the local pro teams are doing in comparison to their competition. Because, let’s face it, despite the cutesy #BayUnite tweets that come from the teams’ social media departments, they’re all competing for your attention and disposable income.
Here’s the dangerous part: since the teams aren’t all playing at the same time, and we’re talking about five different sports, this is based almost completely on feel. Almost like a “fan confidence index,” if you will. So, like just about everything else in the sportswriting world, people are bound to read these rankings and disagree. Then again, that’s the point of power rankings, which exist even though they serve no actual purpose. Hooray, writing for the internet! This is probably a good time to stop stalling and get started …
1. San Francisco Giants
Their moves this winter didn’t cause anyone to run out and buy season tickets, but I’m pretty sure they ran out of season tickets to sell anyway. “The Giants spread their money around quietly this offseason, and they did it in the most boring fashion possible,” wrote Grant Brisbee.
So why are the Giants in the top spot in our first set of rankings? Because they’re coming off their third championship (and they’re the only Bay Area squad to win a title in the last 20 years other than the Quakes, who won the MLS Cup in 2001 and 2003, then moved to Houston for half a year in late 2005), and the Giants just held a Fan Fest that included hours of good feelings and players making fun of each other. Once the season starts and they lose their first series, fans will go back to kvetching about how they’re “cheap,” they have no power, and their rotation includes Madison Bumgarner and a bunch of No. 5 starters. But up until the ring ceremony, the Giants are still in afterglow territory.
2. Golden State Warriors
Warriors fans are in a new Golden age … geez, that’s a terrible play on words. But it’s true — this is the high point for the franchise since Rick Barry and his band of underdogs won the title in 1975. Stephen Curry would be voted MVP if the season ended today, and the Splash Brothers will headline the 3-point shootout, which nowadays carries more importance than the slam dunk contest (and by a wide margin).
However, the Warriors have looked fairly exhausted lately, and there’s a definite “holy hell, the NBA season is ridiculously long” vibe circulating throughout the league. We all have high hopes for the Warriors, and everyone (players, coaches, fans, execs) just wishes the playoffs would hurry up and get here already.
3. Oakland Athletics
After reading Rick Tittle’s player-centric FanFest recap and Marcus Thompson’s fan-centric FanFest column, I’m coming around on the A’s a bit. I still think Billy Beane is treated ridiculously nicely by the local media, due to his ability to charm everyone he talks to (he’s like a vampire in True Blood, “glamouring” every reporter he meets into believing he’s baseball’s Albert Einstein).
But after the dust finally settles at the Coliseum, I think the A’s have another team that’ll contend for the AL West. And their fans still love them, as Thompson described. Also, they finally tore down their 1980s mini-TV and are in the process of building a modern scoreboard. Despite the usual complaints (next to no progress on a new stadium, star players exiting left and right), there are several reasons for A’s fans to be optimistic heading into the 2015 season.
4. San Jose Earthquakes
This is based completely on their new stadium that features the “largest outdoor bar in North America” and “European roof design covering stands to hold in sound and build atmosphere.” Yep, I’m easy to please … usually. The season begins in March, and I’m probably going to have to make a trip down to San Jose to check out this place.
What was that you say? Wins and losses? Um, apparently the Quakes finished in ninth place in the Western Conference last season … out of nine teams. But it’s not like the remaining teams on this list have strong cases either, so …
5. Oakland Raiders
They still need to figure out a way to turn millions of dollars in cap space into a viable NFL roster, and no one (including the owner) has any idea where they’ll reside in a couple years, but it appears that they’ve upgraded their coaching staff. That’s enough to please Raiders fans, who’ve been dying for upgrades of any kind to celebrate for about, oh, 12 years now.
6. San Jose Sharks
They’re clinging to a playoff spot (tied for sixth with the Flames, who beat the Sharks for the third time in 25 days last night), but this is a franchise that seems dead set on crushing their fans’ will to cheer. They dumped Drew Remenda, talked a lot about what needed to change and settled on stripping the Cs from their stars’ chests, and are progressing nicely through a season full of wins over good teams and losses to terrible clubs. Do the Sharks have a plan? If so, it’s well-hidden.
7. San Francisco 49ers
Just a few miles up the road, the 49ers had a plan: get rid of Jim Harbaugh. They have more talent than the Raiders, but Oakland proved beyond a shadow of a doubt in December that the 49ers are no longer a juggernaut. Their brand new stadium is already showing figurative cracks, and I’m starting to feel bad for whoever monitors their Twitter page. Just about every tweet is met with rude mentions of @JedYork and how the team has fallen off. We’ll see if they can turn the tide in free agency … except they’re right up against the cap. Maybe they’ll re-sign Frank Gore?