With the Sharks’ gut-wrenching Game 7 loss Tuesday, the Bay Area sports scene can take a collective deep breath.
The past year has been a nonstop, edge-of-your-seat ride.
We’ve gone from the U.S. Open being held in our backyard at the Olympic Club, to Bay Area-affiliated athletes cleaning up at the London Olympics, to the A’s incredible run to the AL West title, to the Giants’ second World Series championship in the past three years, to the 49ers’ first Super Bowl appearance since 1995, to a Stanford win in the Rose Bowl, to a Cal women’s basketball Final Four trip, to a spirited Warriors playoff run, to learning Super Bowl L is coming to town in 2016, and finally to the Sharks’ thrilling seven-game series against the Los Angeles Kings. The list could go on and on.
There was a time not too long ago when championships and postseason appearances in the Bay Area were few and far between. Shelling out praise was hard to do. But that’s changed, and don’t expect it to end anytime soon.
That’s the biggest takeaway from this past year: This golden era in Bay Area sports is set up to last for some time.
The local pro teams seem to have all found steady leaders in the front office and coaching positions. Sure, you can nitpick with a free-agent signing or draft pick here or there, but can you really find a legitimate gripe with what the 49ers have done over the past two years? The Giants? The Warriors?
It’s even apparent in the college ranks, where Stanford football coach David Shaw and Cal women’s basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb are rising stars.
The only black eye of late has been the Raiders. But for once, let’s exercise patience there. General manager Reggie McKenzie is in the midst of a complete overhaul. If things are still a mess in a couple of years, then we can cast judgment.
As big of an impact as coaches and front-office folks can have, it’s the crop of talented young players that should have Bay Area sports fans most excited.
The Bay Area is loaded. Not just with good players, but players who have shown glimpses of the ability to leave a lasting legacy on the Bay Area and their respective sports. Players such as the Giants’ Buster Posey and Matt Cain, the Warriors’ Stephen Curry and Harrison Barnes, the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick and Patrick Willis, the A’s Yoenis Cespedes and the Sharks’ Logan Couture.
The X-factor is health. A key injury here or there can derail a team quicker than Amanda Bynes can find her way back into the tabloids. See Posey in 2011.
Should the Warriors see their proposed San Francisco facility come to fruition and the A’s or Raiders find a way to build a new stadium locally, it would only add to the landscape.
The foundation has been laid. The pieces are in place. The Bay Area’s time in the spotlight is just beginning. Soak it up.
Dylan Kruse is the sports editor of The San Francisco Examiner. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @dylan_kruse.