The summer and fall of 2002 produced one of those magical sports periods for professional sports teams in the Bay Area. The Giants, A’s, 49ers and Raiders all reached the postseason and had fans buzzing.
It was the year that spawned the movie “Moneyball” after the A’s incredible ride to the AL West title, which included a jaw-dropping 20-game winning streak. The Giants had the World Series in their grasp before a cruel series of events that October left San Francisco fans spewing Scott Spiezio’s name like it was a swear word.
The 49ers captured the NFC West crown and pulled out an incredible 39-38 playoff victory against the New York Giants. The Raiders earned the top seed in the AFC playoffs and rode that momentum all the way to the Super Bowl before losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Ten years later, we’re staring at the possibility of seeing those four in the playoffs in the same year once again. Each franchise has had its share of strife since 2002, and it’s still far from a guarantee, but it’s well within reason.
The Giants have been channeling the lyrics to one of the worst-but-easiest-to-get-stuck-in-your-head songs ever, by Chumbawamba, all season: They get knocked down, but they get up again. San Francisco lost Brian Wilson before the season began, Melky Cabrera to a drug suspension and Pablo Sandoval to the disabled list twice; meanwhile, the Los Angeles Dodgers somehow managed to add half of Major League Baseball to their 25-man roster. None of it has mattered.
With a strong showing against their rival from SoCal this weekend, the Giants can essentially eliminate any hope the Dodgers have of a comeback in the NL West.
Across the Bay, the rookie-laden A’s continue to boggle the mind with each passing victory. They are in the thick of the wild-card race and somehow, someway are showing no signs of slipping up. Hollywood should start working on the script for “Moneyball 2.”
The 49ers seem like a certain lock to be back in the postseason after a run to the NFC Championship Game last season. They also have the good fortune of playing in a weak NFC West. The Niners return all 11 defensive starters and have reloaded what was an adequate, but far from explosive, offense.
The wild card — and hasn’t this been the case for seemingly forever — is the Raaaaid-ers.
We’re not totally sure what to expect under baby-faced coach Dennis Allen and Co. Their best player, Darren McFadden, is in a dead heat with the Warriors’ Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut for the most scrutinized foot and ankle in the Bay Area after missing nine games last year with a Lisfranc sprain.
The Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos will certainly be a formidable test, but they have plenty of questions of their own. It wouldn’t be shocking if any of the four AFC West teams rose up to win the division, so why can’t Oakland catch lighting in a bottle in Allen’s first year? It happened with Jim Harbaugh and the Niners last season.
It’s been a decade since the quartet of the Giants, A’s, 49ers and Raiders have danced together at the postseason party. Seems like the perfect time for a reunion.
Dylan Kruse is the sports editor of The San Francisco Examiner. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @dkruse16.