Born and raised in San Diego, I can say the silver lining of watching a Padres game was not within the game itself, but in the fact that Petco Park is footsteps away from San Diego’s famous Gaslamp District and beautiful beaches that line the most southern part of California.
Though they may not have always been the most successful, I always thought the Padres and the Chargers had a pretty good fan base, until I moved to San Francisco when I experienced the Bay Area sports fan base.
“I’m a diehard Chargers and Padres fan,” Issak Santos, third year SF State student from San Diego, said. “I’ve been to championship parades here and it’s something unreal (that) I wish I could experience back home.”
Walking around Market St. in San Francisco, I saw copious amounts of people wearing 49ers and Raiders apparel on top of their work uniforms. According to the NFL, the top selling jersey in California was Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. Across Bay Bridge, the Giants are currently on a sellout streak, averaging 41,000 in attendance.
Last season, in San Diego, the Padres ranked 15 out of 30 MLB teams with an average attendance of 29,000, in a park that can hold up to 42,000 people. The Chargers don’t have any players in the NFL’s top selling jerseys and the only record where they appear is the most fourth quarter blowouts and poor attendance.
Walking around Polk Street in San Francisco on a cold Tuesday, I heard yelling and crying on the street and as I turned the corner, I couldn’t believe those noises were coming from three grown men. The Chicago Cubs had knocked out the San Francisco Giants in the playoffs and several Giants fans were mourning their loss.
“I’ve cried a couple times in bars watching my Giants play or 49ers,” said 34-year-old Bay Area native Christopher Brown. “I feel like people up here care more about their teams than anywhere else I’ve been to.”
I was happy knowing a team from the National League West would not make it to the World Series because the San Diego Padres were out of the postseason race early on. There is a strong in-state rivalry in California every time the Giants, Padres, and Dodgers play each other. By default, I have to dislike the Giants and Dodgers and I was happy knowing neither would have a chance for a World Series title.
In the Bay Area there are many teams to chose from no matter the sport. The Golden State Warriors have appeared in the NBA playoffs for five consecutive seasons and appeared in two consecutive NBA Finals, with a possible third on the way. Across the Bay, in the last six seasons, the Giants have won three World Series titles. Down in San Jose the Sharks are currently in the first round of the NHL playoffs and in the last 10 seasons they have appeared in nine postseason runs.
The 49ers have five Super Bowl rings, the Raiders have three and are predicted to make a deep postseason run in the upcoming 2017-18 season. You also can’t forget about the historic Oakland A’s, the successful San Jose Earthquakes with two MLS Cups, and the new NASL San Francisco Deltas soccer team.
Not only does the Bay Area have great professional sports organizations, but their one collegiate athletic programs are strong as well, with the age-old football rivalry between Stanford University and University of California, Berkeley. To summarize how prodigious these two universities are, the two PAC-12 powerhouses combined for 44 Olympic medals out of the 121 U.S.A. earned in the Rio Summer Olympics. Stanford had 26 medals and Berkeley had 18.
As for the Padres, it’s been more than 10 years since a postseason appearance and have only been to the World Series once, in 1998, and got swept by the New York Yankees. The Chargers have appeared in the playoffs six times in the last 16 years, but have fallen short in their chance of making it to the Super Bowl.
The San Diego State University Aztecs are only good in their Mountain West Conference, but outside of that it is very difficult for them to compete against elite schools out of their conferences.
San Diego County has an average population of 3.2 million and currently has one professional sports team. The Bay Area, which includes San Francisco County, Alameda County and Santa Clara County, combine for average population of 4.2 million and all together have eight successful professional organizations.
I am and will always be loyal to my beautiful San Diego but the sports fandom in the Bay Area has opened my eyes into something I wish my hometown had. Hopefully, in the near future I will have the opportunity to cheer on for my teams in the postseason and see more professional franchises grow in the southernmost city of California.