The entire 2010 season, leading up to and even through the World Series victory parade down Market Street, fans of the San Francisco fans cried foul over lack of respect and the always fun to blame entity known as "EAST COAST BIAS." It's going to be hard to make that claim next season, as Larry Baer and Co. signed their squad up to star in a reality show on Showtime.
The lack of respect came from the fact that when it came to the "experts," the Giants weren't favored in any of the playoff series they took part in. It's a Yankees/Red Sox world, and we're all forced to watch the story get told and retold again by guys in Bristol, Conn. However, with this move, the Giants' front office is looking to position themselves as the YankeeSox of the West Coast, providing access throughout Spring Training and the regular season the likes of which no Major League team has ever granted (although the White Sox were the focus of a reality show documenting the middle of their 2010 season for MLB Network's The Club).
Underrated? Ignored by the East Coasters? Going into next season, there's a significant chance that the Giants can actually become overexposed. Pretty hard to imagine for Giants fans, but pretty easy for fans of that team across the Bay.
It's funny that the A's and their fans can feel ignored, seeing as a movie about their GM, starring Brad Pitt, will be coming to a theater near you any month now. But Moneyball was never a movie about the Oakland Athletics, rather a movie about the trials and tribulations of a man saddled with the difficult challenge of building a competitive baseball team forced to play in Al Davis' stadium.
A's fans are getting tired of all this Giants love, and who can blame them? They used to have the winning team, the higher attendance (in the late '80s and early '90's, the A's drew over 3 million per year) and more stars. Now they have tarps in the upper deck, their new additions are usually previously broken (sort of like when you buy a refurbished cell phone to save money), and they're an afterthought in terms of media coverage. Before, you could tell a real baseball fan in the Bay Area buy how many "Croix de Candlestick" pins they owned. Now, it's if they know what station carries A's games.
Mr. Moneyball hasn't helped matters in recent years, trading away talent like he was getting advice from Josh McDaniels. But while the Giants look to recapture the same magic they had last season while every move is captured on premium cable television, the A's have quietly built a pitching rotation that certainly rivals the Giants' staff. After signing Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes in the same week, the A's have three guys in their bullpen who would probably close for 10-15 teams in the Majors. It's to the point where they don't even need to count on Rich Harden to provide anything, which is a much better idea than counting on Ben Sheets to be amazing trade bait at the deadline last year.
Their rotation kept their horrendous offense from sinking their playoff chances until late in the year last season, and their most talented pitcher (Brett Anderson) only started 19 games. And now, even though it would be nice to have a guy like Carlos Gonzalez anchoring the lineup, the A's offense doesn't have any obvious weak spots going into 2011 (well, until Coco Crisp gets hurt, anyway). While the Giants may have stolen Oakland's thunder in terms of whose clubhouse has the most TV-ready personalities, the A's have built a team based on the same strategy the Giants won a World Series with last year: fill your roster with as many talented arms as possible from both sides, and a versatile lineup that should keep them in games. The A's may not be as good a lead-in to Dexter and Weeds, but it's possible they'll be just as good as the Giants next season in terms of wins and losses.
Warriors righting the ship; football coaches play musical chairs
- The Warriors played one of the most entertaining regular season games of the season against the Lakers, a 115-110 loss where Kobe Bryant scored 39 points and a flu-ridden Monta Ellis scored 38. The Warriors followed up the loss with two straight wins at home against the Clippers and the Nets, putting them at 17-23 ... only 4 games out of the playoffs as I write this on Monday afternoon. Once the Nuggets (currently 7th in the Western Conference) trade Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks or Nets, the Warriors might be able to sneak into the playoffs. Just sayin'...
- One does have to wonder if the vitriol toward the Lakers, along with the large Laker-friendly contingent that always seems to find their way into Oracle whenever the purple and gold come to town, causes the Lakers to play better than they would normally. Kobe in particular seems to really get up for games in Oakland. There's no real solution to this, but it stands to reason that if the Lakers faced a road atmosphere similar to what they experience in Memphis, they probably wouldn't try as hard.
- Jim Harbaugh politely waited for Stanford to figure out their coaching situation, and once David Shaw was hired as the Cardinal's head coach Harbaugh went and grabbed Greg Roman and Vic Fangio as his coordinators.
- The Raiders finally did something other than kick Tom Cable to the curb and let it be known that they'd probably lose their best cornerback, hiring Hue Jackson as their head coach on Monday.
- Stanford's and Cal's men's basketball teams (that's a lot of apostrophes) pulled kind of a weird flip-flop in their meetings against the Washington schools. Stanford beat Washington (widely known as the Pac-10's best team) by 2, then lost to Washington State over the weekend, while Cal beat the Cougars in overtme and then got throttled by the Huskies. As it stands now, Stanford has the better shot at making the NCAA Tournament, but it's probably a better bet that the Cardinal will have to settle for the NIT. Cal, well ... they're going to have to hope that Mike Montgomery still knows how to recruit.
- After a 6-game losing streak that caused Todd McLellan to publicly question whether his roster was playing as hard as they could, the Sharks won two straight games by a score of 4-2 on the back of the guy who looks more and more like he'll be the goalie in the postseason, Antti Niemi. The Sharks had a rough stretch, but it's hard to imagine they'll miss the postseason. Remember, the NHL regular season is just as long as the NBA's, and hockey's playoffs are about 100 times more wide open.