It seemed settled forever on June 23 of this season that the San Francisco Giants were the Bay Area's best team.
The Giants beat the A's 9-8 that day to clinch the season series and improve to 40-32 for the season. While the A's were playing better than most prognosticators expected, they were only 34-38 at the time—ten games back in the division.
While Billy Beane was still competent enough to build mediocre teams on shoestring budgets, his candle appeared to have flickered out in the heavy winds of his post Moneyball fame. Brad Pitt's A's had made the playoffs on the big screen in the 2011 film version of Moneyball, but the last time the A's made the playoffs in real life was back in 2006.
While the A's toiled in mediocrity, the Giants had been competitive for three straight seasons—winning the World Series in 2010.
The Giants continue to sell out their privately-financed, waterfront ballpark every night, which has enabled them to run up a $130 million payroll. Across the Bay, the A's are playing in a football stadium with the league's second worst attendance and second lowest payroll.
Even worse, the Giants are adamantly preventing the A's from moving to San Jose, where the A's have their sights set on a new ballpark. In 1992, then A's owner Walter Haas handed the Giants territorial rights to Santa Clara County when the Giants were considering a move of their own to San Jose.
20 years later, the Giants large payroll and sellout crowds are dependent on the deep pockets and growing population of the technology-rich Silicon Valley. The Giants appear to have no intentions of yielding San Jose, the Bay Area's largest city, to the A's. Meanwhile, Bud Selig's Blue Ribbon Committee that was formed to study the A's stadium issue over three years ago has yet to offer any resolution.
On June 24, in the finale of the 2012 Bay Bridge season series, Derek Norris connected for his first big-league homer—a walk-off three-run shot off of Santiago Casilla—to propel the A's to a 4-2 win over the Giants. The A's have gone 48-22 since that day to take the lead in the American League wild card chase, and to get within three games of the Texas Rangers in the AL West.
The Giants have also been one of the best teams in the game since losing on the Norris walk-off home run. They are now 81-62, seven games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.
If the season ended today, both Bay Area squads would be in the postseason. While a rematch of the 1989 World Series remains unlikely, if the two teams did meet in the postseason, the A's would be the favorite for three reasons.