Year in review: Top 10 Bay Area sports stories on 2013 

click to enlarge The Harbaugh Bowl between brothers John, left, of the Ravens and Jim, of the 49ers, was one of the highlights of the 49ers returning to the Super Bowl in 2013 for the first time since 1995. - EZRA SHAW/GETTY IMAGES
  • Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
  • The Harbaugh Bowl between brothers John, left, of the Ravens and Jim, of the 49ers, was one of the highlights of the 49ers returning to the Super Bowl in 2013 for the first time since 1995.

1. 49ers' rally in Super Bowl falls just short

Coach Jim Harbaugh's revitalization of the 49ers continued, as he led the team to the Super Bowl for the sixth time in the team's history. The return to glory fell just short, however, when the Niners lost to the Baltimore Ravens, who were coached by Harbaugh's brother, John. A power outage in the third quarter nearly sparked a comeback by San Francisco, which roared back from a 28-6 deficit, but ultimately it fell short and lost 34-31. The Niners are in the midst of trying to put together another playoff run in the farewell season for Candlestick Park.

2. Oracle Team USA makes history on the water

The America's Cup came to San Francisco for the first time, bringing with it new innovations in the sport of sailing. The 72-foot catamarans were the fastest ever built, and the race took place within eyesight of the shoreline for the first time in its 134-year history. The most impressive feat, however, was the rally by Oracle Team USA from an 8-1 deficit to win eight matches in a row against Emirates Team New Zealand and retain the Cup.

3. Warriors return to the big stage

Led by Stephen Curry on the court and Mark Jackson on the sidelines, the Warriors took the NBA by storm when they made the playoffs for the first time since 2007. They knocked out the Denver Nuggets in six games in the first round to the delight of fans who shouted loud enough to rattle Oracle Arena to its foundations. The magical run didn't last, however, as the San Antonio Spurs methodically wore the Warriors down in the second round, eliminating Golden State in six games.

4. Tragedy mars America's Cup

Before the main spectacle of the America's Cup got underway on San Francisco Bay, the event was rocked by the death of Andrew "Bart" Simpson, a member of the Swedish team Artemis Racing. Simpson drowned after Artemis' boat capsized during a practice run in May. The 36-year-old British sailor won a gold medal in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. His death led to a series of safety changes for the races.

5. New stadium rewarded

With the 49ers' new Levi's Stadium set to open next year, the NFL will waste no time in giving the 49ers a chance to show it off to the world. The league announced in October that Super Bowl L will take place in Santa Clara in February 2016. It is the first time the big game will be played in California since it was in San Diego in 2003, and the first time in the Bay Area since being played at Stanford in 1985.

6. Green and Gold magic in Oakland

Fueled by a big year from Josh Donaldson and a dominant bullpen, the A's won their second consecutive AL West title in 2013. They did it without the drama of the previous year, finishing with 96 wins and winning the division by five games over the Texas Rangers. The playoffs were a repeat of the previous season, however, as they once again lost to the Detroit Tigers in five games in the ALDS.

7. Stanford on top

Stanford beat Wisconsin in the 2013 Rose Bowl 20-14, claiming its first victory in the "Granddaddy of them All" since 1972. The game served as a bit of revenge for the Cardinal, who fell to Wisconsin the last time the two faced off in the game in 2000. It was the third consecutive Rose Bowl loss for Wisconsin. Stanford will try to repeat as Rose Bowl champions on New Year's Day when it faces Big Ten Conference champion Michigan State.

8. No-no for the Freak

Tim Lincecum's past few years for the Giants have been a fair piece shy of his back-to-back Cy Young Award-winning seasons early in his career. All that was forgotten on a July night in San Diego, however, as the star pitched a no-hitter against the Padres, the first no-no thrown at Petco Park. He struck out 13 batters and threw 148 pitches, the second-most pitches thrown in a no-hitter.

9. Sharks still circling in the water

The Sharks made the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season in 2013, nearing a full-decade of dominance during the regular season. San Jose is still trying to turn all those wins into postseason success, however, as it fell in the second round in seven games to the Los Angeles Kings, leaving the Sharks without an appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals during their 21-year history.

10. Cal women advance to Final Four

The Cal women's basketball team lived up to high expectations set ahead of the 2012-13 season, starting the year with a No. 6 ranking in the preseason poll and ending up in the Final Four. The season ended in disappointment, however, as the team blew a 10-point halftime lead to Louisville, which went on to lose to Connecticut in the title game.

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