Maybe it’s because the economy seems to be improving, but I am hopeful that 2010 will be the best year Bay Area sports have had since George W. Bush was in his first term.
Here are a couple of lofty (and dreary) predictions for the major Bay Area sports franchises. Mark my words, they will come true.
- Alex Smith will lead the San Francisco 49ers to an 11-5 record — and then lose in the first round of the playoffs.
After a week 16 win this season over the Detroit Lions, the 49ers are 7-8 with a game remaining. They missed the playoffs because they lost four straight games between Oct. 11 and Nov. 8. What gives me hope for 2010 is that the 49ers could have finished at least 10-6, or perhaps 11-5 with a couple of good bounces.
The team lost to Minnesota on a last-second miracle from Brett Favre in the third game of the season, then lost at Houston by three, at Indianapolis to the one-loss Colts by four and at home to the then-red hot Tennessee Titans by one touchdown. The Niners also lost at Green Bay by six and at Seattle by three later in the season.
I hate saying that losses are good losses, but the team showed it can stay close on the road and probably win those games with a little more from its offense.
In year two with coach Mike Singletary and Smith at the helm, I expect smarter decisions late in games by both the head coach and the quarterback, which should result in more wins for the Bay Area’s best football team.
n I wish I could cheer for the Oakland Raiders, but 4-12 seems to be the likely outcome for 2010, 2011, 2012 and forever until owner Al Davis leaves the team to someone else.
Not only is Davis stuck in the 1970s Raiders heyday in terms of football, but every time he’s shown on television, he looks more and more like Emperor Palpatine from the original “Star Wars” movies.
- With the most talented team in the league, including the addition of goal-scoring forward Dany Heatley, the San Jose Sharks will finally put everything together in the playoffs and win the Stanley Cup this season.
I’ve been to three Sharks games this year, and they look better than they’ve ever looked on offense. There are still a few kinks defensively, but Heatley brings a wicked shot and a physical presence to complement the often soft play of Joe Thornton. Plus, those pesky Red Wings and Ducks are down this year, and the Sharks can beat anyone else.
- The San Francisco Giants will win the wild card in the National League.
I am counting on the notion that the front office realizes the team has perhaps the best 1-2 punch in Major League Baseball heading the rotation in Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. It would be a travesty to miss the playoffs for the seventh straight year and not give these two a shot at winning a five-game series in the first round.
Outside of Pablo Sandoval (and possibly new addition Mark DeRosa), the team does not have a prayer offensively, but I think management will make a midseason deal for a mercenary bat to push the team into the playoffs — and clearly, with Lincecum and Cain, a first-round win is in the cards. It’s too bad Brad Penny signed with the Cardinals in the offseason, or the Giants might have been looking at a serious playoff run.
- I watch more Golden State Warriors basketball on TV than anything else. The team stinks.
Monta Ellis is not going to and never will lead a team to the playoffs. He needs a big, physical point guard who will allow him to score going toward the basket while taking pressure off him on the defensive end. Until the Warriors find someone to do that, Ellis will score, but the team will not win. I predict a 10th-place finish this season and next in the loaded Western Conference.
- The Oakland A’s continue as a Triple A team. Until the A’s are able to build a new ballpark, whether it is in San Jose, Oakland or Las Vegas, they will not be able to sell enough tickets to allow them to compete in the American League.
More and more, MLB is a league of the haves and have-nots, and the A’s are surely a have-not. I follow baseball and can hardly name two pitchers on the entire roster. Triple A is good baseball, but nobody cares. It’s too bad.
The Bay Area is a wonderful place to be a professional sports fan, although an occasional championship would be nice.
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