Contrary to belief, plenty to be thankful for in Bay Area sports

Today, we give thanks for family, friends, good health, good fortune and guilty pleasures such as cookie-dough ice cream and “I Love New York 2.”

We have plenty for which to be thankful in the world of sports, too, and here are some examples:

» Alabama football coach Nick Saban. In drawing an unfathomably twisted correlation between national tragedies such as 9/11 and Pearl Harbor and his team’s recent losses, Saban inadvertently issued two very important reminders. One is that Americans have a rich history of resilience and togetherness. The other is that sports, in the whole scope of things, don’t mean jack. If only self-absorbed clowns such as Saban understood the latter.

» National League MVP Jimmy Rollins of Alameda and American League Cy Young winner C.C. Sabathia of Vallejo. Without these native sons, the Bay Area wouldn’t have a damn thing to feel good about in regards to the 2007 baseball season. And with a little luck, as Rollins suggested, the awards they won will prompt something of a renaissance in the sport among Black youth. First-class of Rollins to use his moment in the spotlight with humility and perspective. If a guy like T.O. ever won a big award, he’d use the moment to demand a new contract or pitch his new line of ab-crunchers.

» Niners coach Mike Nolan. Without his hilariously rambling explanations of the team’s disaster du jour, there’d be absolutely nothing funny about this season of utter and sweeping ineptitude.

» Barry Bonds. Debate is healthy and nobody generates as much debate as does Bonds. On the other hand, hatred is not healthy, and he generates plenty of that, too. But we here in the Bay Area should be thankful nonetheless, because we’ve had free front-row seats to the circus for years.

» A’s second baseman Mark Ellis. You probably don’t know much about him, but you should. And you should encourage the young ballplayers in your life to follow his lead. A few years back, Ellis suffered a grotesque shoulder injury in an on-field collision that would have ended many careers. He missed an entire season as a result, but he eventually worked his way back and now he’s the best defensive second baseman in the American League. He’s been screwed out of Gold Gloves at least three times because of where he plays, but he’s never complained. He plays hard, he plays smart, he lives right and he keeps his mouth shut. The anti-Bonds.

» And finally, all sports fans must be thankful that New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas is out there on the landscape. Say you just had your worst day ever at work. Your bogus expense report got flagged by finance, you spilled Red Bull on your keyboard, you butchered a big report and the hottie in sales caught you digging in your nose in front of the vending machine. Relax. That’d be a great day at work for Thomas right now.

Mychael Urban writes for MLB.com and hosts the weekend edition of “Sportsphone 680” on KNBR (680 AM).

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