Indianapolis, of all places, provides hope 

So the city of Indianapolis has its first championship to celebrate, courtesy of Peyton Manning and the Colts.

That’s great, because years from now, when sports fans hailing from that fine, Midwestern metropolis suffer through a particularly lean year —and it’s out there, trust me — fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, friends and neighbors will summon up memories of this season to help them cope with their future futility.

Just like we do with the 49ers. The Giants. And, come to think of it, the Warriors, A’s, Raiders and, if you must, the Sharks. Hey, it’s been more than 12 years since the Bay Area has celebrated a championship.

The 49ers won their last Super Bowl on Jan. 29, 1995, and as far as big-city sports go, that’s one heck of a drought.

New York has its Yankees. Los Angeles has its Lakers.

Boston has both the Patriots and the Red Sox. Chicago has the White Sox and memories of Michael Jordan and the Bulls. Heck, even Detroit has its Pistons.

The city of San Francisco has as many championships over the last dozen years as Modesto. And Fresno, for that matter.

Come to think of it, if you’ve left your heart in San Francisco as far as rooting for your favorite team goes — the 49ers in football, the Giants in baseball and the Warriors in basketball — the past two calendar years have failed to produce so much as a .500 season.

And while it’s been a tough go for the commuter who pours over box scores looking for a glimmer of hope, think about the school kids in the Richmond District have had to endure.

Three years without so much as a pennant race to race home to — and, no, we’re not counting the last two Giants seasons of we’re-not-out-of-it-yet efforts in the particularly pitiful NL West.

In fact, now that you’ve got me counting, we have teenagers in Burlingame who’ve awoken every morning going on five years without San Francisco producing a single post—season victory. I’ll bet some of them don’t even remember the Giants’ World Series run of 2002.

Imagine the taunting the local youth have to endure.

Cousins from St. Louis (whose Cardinalswon the World Series) taunting them because they’ve grown up Giants fans.

Grandparents who’ve retired to Miami (where the Heat won the NBA championship) wondering how-on-earth their grandchildren can be watching the Warriors.

This September, the high schools of San Francisco will have a senior class that went through school without a single championship moment. Since kindergarten. What will they say when they are confronted in college by their Boston brethren?

So, while children of Indianapolis race through their playgrounds wearing Colts jerseys, here’s what we have to do — take a moment and remind the kid down the block what it felt like when Steve Young and Jerry Rice, or Joe Montana and Dwight Clark were on top of the NFL world.

Or when Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent and Benito Santiago were beating up on the Cardinals.

And when we’re at our next 49ers, Giants or Warriors game, scream our lungs out. And pretend that the best of times are right around the corner. We can’t have this next generation of sports fans thinking a championship can never happen in San Francisco.

If it can happen in Indianapolis, it can happen here.

OK, not the most inspiring rally cry, but it’s all we’ve got right now. That, and our memories helping us cope.

» I’ve caught myself in yet another moment of sports geekdom. And I admit I’ve done this the last couple of years at exactly the same moment. Upon turning off the television at the end of the Super Bowl, my first thought was, "Well, everybody is 0-0." Geek.

» So, as far as I can tell, the progress the Warriors have made this season is that now they lose while respecting their coach. Doesn’t feel much different.

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

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