The Bay Area sports scene is at an all-time high right now.
The Giants have won two world championships in the past three seasons, the Oakland Athletics have one of the best records in baseball, the Sharks have made the playoffs nine consecutive years, Stanford Football just won the Rose Bowl, the 49ers just reached the Super Bowl, and the Warriors are turning things around.
To succeed, a team must defeat those in their path. There is nothing more exciting than the battles against the teams that are disliked or viewed as enemies, most commonly known as rivals.
That got me thinking, “What are the top CURRENT rivalries in Bay Area sports?”
Agree or disagree, here are my Top 5:
5) St. Mary’s Gaels vs Gonzaga Bulldogs (basketball)
This may come as a surprise to some, but this is one of the most underrated rivalries in the world of sports. The Gaels and Bulldogs have dominated the WCC, playing in seven of the last ten conference championship games, including the last five. With the departures of Matthew Dellavedova and Kelly Olynik, it will be interesting to see where the rivalry goes next.
4) San Jose Sharks vs Los Angeles Kings
There has been no shortage of excitement in recent seasons between the Sharks and Kings. The Bay Area – LA rivalry has been carried onto the ice. San Jose beat Los Angeles in six games in the 2011 playoffs, including a remarkable comeback from a 4-0 deficit in Game 5. The following season, the Kings won it all, and just a couple months ago, the Sharks lost in seven games to the Kings in the conference semifinals.
3) Cal vs Stanford
How can you not put this rivalry on the list? Dating back to “The Play” in 1982 in which the Stanford band prematurely went on the field, only to watch Cal score a touchdown in the final seconds, this rivalry is one of the strongest in sports. Football, baseball, basketball, you name it – these schools take beating the other very seriously.
2) Giants vs Dodgers
Ever since these teams both moved from New York to California in 1958, the rivalry has been one of the strongest in sports. It has especially picked up in recent years. From Don Mattingly’s “double visit” in 2010 to the Giants knocking the Dodgers out of playoff contention in 2012, these storied franchises both raise the intensity whenever they play one another.
1) 49ers vs Seahawks
Simply put, this is the best rivalry right now in Bay Area sports. There are two coaches — Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh — who (even though they wont admit it) have hated one another ever since their Stanford-USC days. Both teams rely on a strong defense that can stop the run. San Francisco and Seattle both have tough running backs in Frank Gore and Marshawn Lynch. Lastly, both teams have rising stars at the quarterback position in Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson. This rivalry is the best now, and will be for a while.
What do you think is the top rivalry? Answer below and leave your input.