Northern California generally lives in the shadow of its more glamorous in-state brethren to the south. It’s not that NoCal doesn’t have a beautiful landscape and they’ve had their share of sports success—from the Oakland A’s dynasty of 1972-74, the San Francisco 49ers dynasty built by Bill Walsh, the A’s Bash Brothers of Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco that won three straight pennants from 1988-90, the Oakland Raiders of John Madden that became America’s first Bad Boy team in the 1970s right up to the San Francisco Giants winning the World Series in 2010 and 2012.
But sometimes even championships don’t trump the glamour of Hollywood. And when you come up just short it’s even more aggravating. Coming up just short was the story of Northern California sports in 2002.
The Oakland A’s enjoyed a season that inspired the movie Moneyball, but lost in the playoffs. The Oakland Raiders rolled to 11 wins and won the AFC title, but lost the Super Bowl. And no loss was more aggravating—or unjust—than that suffered by the Sacramento Kings who lost the Western Conference Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers.
While SoCal got titles from the Lakers and the Angels, the completely unjust way the Lakers got by the Kings—read more at the link below—persuades me to overturn that honor, and instead turn to NoCal as the sports market we pay tribute to.
Northern California’s teams produced an MVP in both baseball and the NFL (Miguel Tejada and Rich Gannon) along with a Cy Young Award winner (Barry Zito). Unfortunately for the fans, 2002 was also the highwater mark for the Kings—who never again reached the conference finals. It’s the last time the Raiders made the playoffs, and it’s probably the best chance the A’s have had to reach the World Series under Billy Beane’s stewardship.
All that suffering has to count for something, especially in a year when they should have at least won an NBA title if not for officiating robbery.
Read more about the 2002 Sacramento Kings
Read more about the 2002 Oakland Raiders
Read more about the 2002 Oakland A’s