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What A Difference A Year Has Made For Bay Area Sports:

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I had an A-HA moment the other evening as I went through every major team in the Bay Area and started thinking about the improvements that each has made in the past 365 days.

The more I thought about it, the larger the topic grew in my head.

I mean think about it, at this time last year the Oakland Raiders and their fans, us, were defending Al Davis for reaching for BOTH Mike Mitchell and Darius Heyward-Bey and JaMarcus Russell was our "Franchise".

The Warriors were coming off of a terrible season and Monta, on one wheel, was the "Franchise" that everyone, including Monta wanted out of.

The Athletics were 11-18 with two semi-retired players (Garciapara and Giambi) and one All World Player, Matt Holliday, that was wondering, "Where in the World", he was playing.

The Giants had already started to show hope and Randy Johnson won his 300th on this day 365 days ago, but they were nowhere near the pitching power that they have become. Just these four letters sum this up. Z-I-T-O.

The Sharks had just been bounced from the Playoffs, in the first Round and were on their way to being blown up, AGAIN.

The Niners were a team on the rise, without an Offensive Line.

Now, let's take a look at these teams today:

No body in the World can argue that Bay Area Sports, in particular EAST BAY AREA Sports Teams, are not in a much better position today that they were 365 days ago. Let's take a look at some of the reasons for two teams at a time.

For today, let's take a look at the Oakland teams, who actually call themselves "Oakland" and not some lame "Golden State". (On a side note that really does peave me, although the new logo with the new "East" Bay Bridge section is sort of making amends, I mean, the Golden Gate Bridge is nowhere near Oakland, heck the Dumbarton Bridge is a more relevant choice, but, I digress) (Real Logo here)

365 days, 365 DAYS...Three Hundred and Sixty Five Days is all it took for the Oakland Raiders to completely turn their ship around. Of Course, the course was set over the past few years as players like Zach Miller, Mario Henderson, Chaz Schillens, Ricky Brown, Darren McFadden, Michael Bush, Tyvon Branch, Richard Seymour, Trevor Scott, Sampson Satele, "Des" Bryant, Bruuuuce Gradkowski and Louis Murphy were added to the "Rebuilding" NOT "Retooling" Oakland Raider roster. But, there is NO denying that with this seasons additions, through the draft (McClain, Houston and Jacoby Ford ) and traded draft picks (3rd Rounder For Kamerion Wimbley, 5th Rounder for Quentin Groves and a 2012 4th Rounder for Jason Campbell) and KEY addition by subtraction, JaMarcus Russell being released, that this team is the best, on paper that Oakland has had since 2002-03.

The best parts, aside from the obvious talent, is the chemistry that the 2009 team created and the youth of the team's core.

It was obvious to all that JaMarcus Russell's late night clubbing, followed by Chicken and Waffles at 3AM while not studying and falling asleep in meetings had worn out his welcome with not only the fans, but, the players as well. That is because players like Louis Murphy, an emerging vocal leader, Tyvon Branch, Nnamdi Asomugha and Bruce Gradkowski were working their tails off to win ball games and the man who was in charge for 9 games last year was more interested in partying and eating than he was in winning. That cancer is now gone and the energy and verve that was created last season can grown with this young nucleus.

Gone are also the doubts about Al Davis ability to build a team. Davis added key O-Line depth in Bruce Campbell and Jared Veldheer in the draft. If you listen to Tom Cable talk about these two he thinks they could BOTH play some this year. Gone is also the Billboard Campaign that was set up by two passionate, I met them, kids from Philly (Of all places) that asked Al to hire a GM. While the League and fans of all sports laughed at Al, he was rebuilding a team, and you know what, he is doing a damn good job. Al has his contacts and connections, and don't think for ONE second that Bruce Allen sending us Campbell for a 2012 4th rounder didn't have a little something to us landing Jason Campbell.

At the same time that all of the, respected draft analysts, Mel Kiper doesn't count, rated the Oakland draft at anywhere from #1-5, the team that shares the same field, the Oakland B's (For Billy Beane), have been showing what a little rebuild can do for a franchise.

I was looking at the A's record last year and then I began to think about the things that go on behind the scenes in a rebuilding team. I thought back to the A's bringing up Suzuki in order to have him learn from Jason Kendall before Kendall, my favorite A from the past 10 years, was sent away and Kurt was handed the job behind the plate.

That makes me wonder how much of an effect Jason Giambi and Nomar Garciapara had on players like Daric Barton and Cliff Pennington. It also makes me wonder how much of an effect Ben Sheets is having on the current staff, including Dallas Braden who has really come into his won this year, as a leader and performer.

As things sit with the A's right now, they are in first place, tied with the Rangers and they are expected to add Kurt Suzuki, Justin D, Mark Ellis, Coco Crisp and Brett Anderson back to the line-up over the next 2 days to 2 weeks.

The A's lead the Angels by 4 games and the Mariners by 4.5, while they are playing Texas, on the road with a chance to leave Texas alone in first place. Lat year, at this point they'd just dropped a 5-0 game to the Jays. Here is an excerpt from their game on May 10th, 2009:

The Oakland Athletics have the league's second-worst record, a miserable offense, no proven starters -- and little reason to think this rough season will get better soon.

Here is an outtake from last night's game:

Oakland won for the fifth time in six games, ending Texas' four-game winning streak and matching the Rangers for the division lead at 18-15.

You know, it wasn't long ago when the East Bay ruled the Sports World, unless you consider 30+ years ago along time, it also wasn't very long ago that the East Bay was on the verge of retaking that throne, only to be pushed aside by a Jeremy Giambi slide, Eric Byrnes and Miguel Tejada's brain farts and a couple of freak calls and plays in the snow. The Boston reign could very easily have been the East bay reign. Maybe our time i s SOON to come?