Things starting to look up

Wow, it feels like the Bay Area sports scene is actually back on the upswing. There are all kinds of stuff going on for the Bay Area sports fan to sink his or her teeth into.

Once again, the national experts are showing off their East Coast bias in the national media. The Pac-10 Conference is playing some of the most exciting, high-quality football of the season and it’s the Southeastern Conference on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week.

I realize SEC fans will point to Cal being throttled by Tennessee in its season opener, but I would put the Bears up against any team in the country right now. Nate Longshore takes a big step forward every week and DeSean Jackson is 2007’s leader in the Reggie Bush lookalike contest. He’s a threat to score everytime he gets the ball.

The Bears are back in the top 10, with USC on the radar and a big-time bowl game off in the distance.

While it’s SEC this and SEC on the national front, the Bears are the best sports story in the Bay Area right now. There’s a whole lot of swaggering going on in Berkeley.

And the Bears only edge out the Sharks because they’re in the middle of their season and the Sharks have just started.

A couple of predictions on the Sharks: Jonathan Cheechoo is going to score a boatload of goals courtesy of Joe Thornton and Patty Marleau will inch his way up in the respect department because he’s got the stuff to push his way into the Thornton-type superstar club.

Meanwhile, keep an eye on the mano-a-mano duel between the pipes between Evgeni Nabokov and Vesa Toskala, which will prove to be coach Ron Wilson’s biggest challenge. I’m saying Nabokov wins out.

Warriors fans, I just don’t see the upside to these Warriors. Don Nelson is a heck of a coach, I’ll grant you that. But do you really think that Baron Davis is going to become a different player? He’s been a headache wherever he’s played, and guys like that simply don’t change.

Do you see Terrell Owens changing his act now that he’s playing for Bill Parcells? I didn’t think so.

The rest of the Warriors are nice guys, worthy of your rooting interest. But its going to take a whole lot more than Nellie returning to the bench to get these guys over .500. What’s that make them? An eighth seed in the West?

I appreciate that the Giants have a nice tradition, some front-office people I respect and believe will right the ship eventually and a great city for a home. But they have no players. Do you really think Lou Piniella, who spent three miserable years with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays trying to win without players, was going to be excited about managing the Giants?

Piniella apparently wised up and said Friday he was no longer interested in the job.

And now that you’ve got me worked up, I’ve got a couple of non-sports things on my mind, too:

San Francisco has the worst system of street lights in the country. In the name of getting to a game on time or saving a little gas, sync up a few of them, will ya?

And I may have missed the announcement, but have you noticed way fewer buses running on the line you frequent? At one bus stop on one corner on the west side frequented by four separate lines, the wait has exceeded 15 minutes between bus sightings. I’m not talking about missing the bus that won’t wait for you if you’re three steps from reaching your bus stop, I’m talking about seeing one at all.

Tim Liotta hosts the weekend edition of “Sportsphone 680” on KNBR (680 AM).

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