First of all, kudos to the now two-time American League West Champion Oakland A’s, who for the second-year-in-a-row, battled the favored Texas Rangers from the season’s outset and, instead of waiting until the very end of the season to nail down the division title, they roared down the stretch run and claimed the crown going away.
I would think that after the past three seasons, the Rangers are going to avoid the Bay Area as much as they can, and who would blame them considering the San Francisco Giants rolled past them to become the 2010 World Series champions, and then the A’s left them in their dust to capture the American League West in 2011 and this year.
Speaking of the Bay Area, it’s again a major player in both the American League playoffs and World Series thanks to Oakland.
Hopefully the A’s will take over for the dethroned champion of two of the past three World Series, the Giants, and keep Major League Baseball’s biggest prize in the Bay Area.
One more comment on the Oakland A’s – the American League manager of the year is Bob Melvin, period, make it a wrap.
There are other names brought up ahead of Melvin for the AL honor, and they’ve led their teams into the playoffs, but Melvin has proved himself in one of the toughest challenges in professional sports – being a repeat champion.
Oakland is the two-time West champion, and whatever happens in the voting for MVP manager, what Melvin – a Bay Area native and one-time Giants catcher – wants is the World Series trophy where it belongs in its honored Northern California home, this one in the East Bay.
While speaking about the Bay Area, there’s no arguments in this corner with defending champion Oracle Team USA’s unprecedented sailing comeback on that beautiful San Francisco Bay.
Erasing New Zealand’s insurmountable-looking lead to win and retain possession of the America’s Cup, Oracle’s breathtaking rally from the brink of defeat to a rousing victory is an achievement that ranks as one of the greatest comeback sports stories of all time.
While newspapers have listed other inspirational sports comebacks, including the Boston Red Sox overcoming a 3-0 deficit to beat the New York Yankees for the American League pennant, before going on to win the World Series for the first time in forever.
There have also been epic comeback moments listed in football, basketball, ice hockey and golf.
But I’m wondering why hasn’t anybody mentioned the San Francisco Giants’ amazing six rallies from the elimination brink to capture last year’s National League pennant, which was followed by four straight wins over the Detroit Tigers to claim their second World Series title in three years.
Those half a dozen San Francisco comebacks over both the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals in the National League playoffs was two shy of Oracle’s eight, but the Giants were every bit as dramatic in how they won the World Series as Oracle was in winning the America’s Cup when you put it into perspective.
I know were talking about two diverse sports, but when you talk “team sports” the winds blow more for America’s pastime than America’s Cup.
And while were still on the subject of baseball and the A’s and the Giants, I read a comment in a recent newspaper which basically stated that Barry Zito’s seven-year, more than $100-million contract with San Francisco was the worst long-term contract ever.
For five years the contract was under attack because of a lack of positive mound results, or, more to the core, to make his long-term contract payoff for the Giants, especially after five sporadic years, there had to be at least a World Series in the mix for Zito and “The City,” and it would be best to put a championship trophy on the mantel.
As a Bay Area Hall of Fame pitcher who was a Cy Young award-winning southpaw ace, Zito helped Oakland be a constant contendor and title winner during the first part of his pro career.
In this second part of his career – which is not officially over – Zito moved across the Bay and, finally, in that jackpot sixth of his controversial seven-year mega-plus dollars contract, he delivered two of the best, and certainly most clutch, pitching efforts of his career and San Francisco baseball’s history and lore in last years playoffs.
After spotting St. Louis a three-games-to-one advantage in the National League championship series, the Giants got a masterful seven-plus-inning elimination-game winning performance by the often-maligned “because of that long-term, high-paying contract ownership was willing to pay” Zito, who saved San Francisco’s 2012 postseason with his crafty left arm.
He then was the winning pitcher of the first-game – or as it is now known as the “Panda’s three-homer game” of the World Series, outdueling another Cy Young award winner in Justin Verlander and his mighty Detroit Tigers.
Zito’s NL pennant series win and the World Series victory, followed by a second WS title for the Bay Area and a WS ring for his finger.
So that worst contract claim is void.
Before I wrap the baseball rap, here’s more kudos to the Giants for wrapping up Hunter Pence with another one of those long-term contracts, which has already paid major dividends before it was signed. He became not only a key player, but inspirational leader for the team and joined Zito and their SF teammates in winning last year’s World Series.
This year Pence was an ironman, playing every single game, batting .283, with 27 home runs and 99 RBIs as a high-level defensive right-fielder, who oozed inspiration and was voted the coveted Willie Mac Award, named after an orginal inspirational Giant, Willie McCovey.
I’m finished with baseball but I’m ending with football – quarterback Alex Smith and head coach Andy Reid have led the long-suffering Kansas City Chiefs to a 4-0 record to start the season.
This is not a comparison to Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers being 2-2, because he’s an excellent athlete and versatile quarterback who’s where he belongs and will lead San Francisco to future glory.
Smith is also a very good athlete and quarterback – maybe not excellent, at least not yet, but by season’s end he very well might be – and he deserves all the success he achieves and he’s where he belongs.
It’s all making for a dramatic and exciting season, which would – and sorry to all the Raider fans for this statement – be ironic and cool to have the 49ers play the Chiefs in the Super Bowl.