Over the past three years, I’ve been out to the San Francisco Bay Area about 10 times and have tried to get familiar with the sports scene out there. Here’s a birds-eye view of the region:
Within a 100 mile radius in Northern California, there is an area with seven major professional sports franchises and a fan base that supports them.
The San Francisco Bay Area is home to the San Francisco Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Athletics, Oakland Raiders, Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings and San Jose Sharks.
The area has a rich sports history, even if they got a bit of a late start with the major pro leagues. During the first half of the last century the San Francisco Seals and Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League were the biggest attraction. As with most cities, the history of the franchises is pretty interesting.
The 49ers were originally a member of the All American Football Conference, and started play in 1946 before the NFL absorbed the 49ers (along with the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Colts) when the AAFL merged with the NFL before the 1950 season.
The Giants of course, were the old New York Giants, having moved West to California along with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1958.
The Warriors are the old Philadelphia Warriors, having moved West in 1962. The Warriors are a charter member of the BAA (Now NBA) having been formed in 1946. From 1962-1971 the team played in San Francisco and was known as the San Francisco Warriors. For the 1971-72 season, they became known as the Golden State Warriors, playing in Oakland.
The Athletics are the old Philadelphia and Kansas City Athletics, having moved to from Philadelphia to Kansas City in 1955 (where they were basically a glorified farm team for the Yankees) and onto Oakland in 1968.
The Oakland Raiders began play in 1960 as a late addition charter franchise to the AFL. They of course moved to Los Angeles between 1982-1994 before coming back to Oakland.
Sacramento is 87 miles from San Francisco, so it might not be considered part of the Bay Area proper, but the team is covered by the papers in the area, so we’ll include it here. The Kings have a very interesting history, having actually predated the NBA as the Rochester Royals of the National Basketball League, being formed in 1945. In 1948 the BAA absorbed NBL to form the NBA and the Royals came aboard the new league. In 1957 the Royals moved to Cincinnati. then in 1970 the team moved to Kansas City and became the Kings (the baseball team didn’t want to share the name.) Finally, in 1985, the Kings moved to Sacramento. The franchise has an NBA title in its history, as the 1951 Rochester Royals won the league championship.
San Jose is less than 50 miles from San Francisco, and is home of the San Jose Sharks, which joined the NHL as an expansion team in 1990. The Sharks are known in Boston as the team that Mike O’Connell sent Joe Thornton to, where he promptly became the league MVP.
There is plenty of sports coverage in the area, with four major newspapers and many smaller ones. The San Francisco Chronicle is well known for their investigative reporting the last few years in the steroid issue. (Disclaimer: My mother-in-law works for the Chronicle.) The paper has been around since 1865. The Oakland Tribune was founded in 1874 as a small four page daily paper. The San Jose Mercury News can trace its roots back to 1851, while the Sacramento Bee started in 1857 as The Daily Bee.
The Bay Area sports radio airwaves are dominated by KNBR 680 and 1050. It’s an interesting setup – both ESPN radio and Fox Sports Radio are carried under the same call letters, but on the two different spots on the dial. Local programming is mostly carried on the 680 frequency but the afternoon drive show with Ralph Barbieri & Tom Tolbert (“The Razor and Mr T.”) is Simulcast on both 680 and 1050.
FSN Bay Area is the biggest player in TV sports, with the station carrying 110+ Giants games, 75+ A’s games plus all the Warriors and Sharks games. They don’t have a Bay Area version of the New England Sports Tonight show on FSN New England, even though the stations share the same ownership.
The Bay Area is a technology hotbed, with startups everywhere, and plenty of fan blogs as well to choose from. One of my favorites from the area is Sey Hey – sort of a Bay Area version of DeadSpin. With seven pro teams in the area, there are a number of blogs for each team out there.
The national view of Giants fans seems to be that they are fully supportive of Barry Bonds, no matter what. They have been the butt of jokes from other areas around the country (Here in Boston is no exception.) I never got that impression during my visits to the area. Last year, I was talking to my wedding photographer, who is a huge Giants fans. His view, and the view which he believes is the most common is that they know what is going on, and don’t necessarily even like Bonds, but if he helps the team win and gives them something to cheer for, they’ll cheer his exploits on the field.
On the East Bay, where my wife’s family is, you can’t turn around without seeing a Raiders logo on a hat, shirt or bumper sticker. Even with the team so terribly bad the last few season, the Raiders fans still sport those colors and logo. My wife’s grandmother has a signed photo of Jim Plunkett displayed in the guest room. Last season though, with the Raiders so bad, she said she was cheering for the Patriots since Tom Brady is a local guy (from San Mateo).
Links to all the above teams, newspapers and stations can be found on the Bay Area Sports Media page.
Tomorrow, sometime probably around noon, ET I’ll have a version of the daily links on the Red Sox/A’s game, but it will be all taken from Bay Area newspapers.