The Bay Area is a region where fans can take their pick of successful teams and in 2013 our pro sports teams shined bright. Here are the top Bay Area sports stories of 2013.
The San Francisco 49ers overcame a 17-0 deficit to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship at the Georgia Dome on January 20, to set up a Super Bowl XLVII showdown with the Baltimore Ravens. The game was dubbed the”Har-bowl” for the matchup between head coach brothers Jim and John Harbaugh. But unlike the Falcons game, a large deficit to the Ravens was too much to overcome and the 49ers came up short on the last play of the game, which was interrupted by a power outage at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
A year after the Oakland Athletics surprised the baseball world by winning the American League West Division championship on the final day of the regular season, the A’s repeated the feat with a week to spare. The accomplishment was no less remarkable: the A’s had the fourth-lowest opening day payroll in the league at about $65 million. Unfortunately, the A’s repeated their 2012 exit from the playoffs, a Game 5 division series loss at the Coliseum to Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers.
For the first time since 2007, the Golden State Warriors advanced to the second round of the NBA playoffs with a win over the favored Denver Nuggets. The Warriors were led by star point guard Stephen Curry, who dazzled the Oracle Arena home crowd with his 3-point shooting. The win proved the Warriors belonged among the NBA’s top teams, a notion reinforced after the Warriors nearly upset the No. 2 seeded San Antonio Spurs in the next round. But close wasn’t good enough against San Antonio, as the Spurs ended the Warriors’ season in a Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals.
While the Giants failed to reach the playoffs a year after winning their second World Series championship, one of the highlights of the season was Tim Lincecum pitching the first no-hitter of his career in a 9-0 win against the San Diego Padres. Lincecum had been struggling to regain his form over the last two seasons, earned his first no-hitter to go along with his two Cy Young awards and two World Series rings. Lincecum showed why he is still ‘The Freak’ in mowing down the Padres, striking out 13 and throwing a career-high 148 pitches.
Another strong season by the Sharks meant San Jose now owns the second-longest playoff streak in the NHL, having made it to the postseason nine straight times.
Following a sweep of the Vancouver Canucks, the Sharks looked poised to finally make it to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in team history. In the Western Conference semifinals against defending champion Los Angeles Kings, each team held serve on its own ice, which meant another playoff loss for the Sharks as they dropped Game 7 at Staples Arena.
The NFL announced in May that the 50th Super Bowl -would be played at the new 49ers stadium in Santa Clara – later named Levi’s Stadium – and San Francisco would be the host city. The Bay Area will host the big game for the second time – Super Bowl XVIII was played at Stanford Stadium in 1985. It’s estimated that Super Bowl L will bring between $300 and $500 million in economic benefits to the surrounding region.