Leading Off

Area sports fans have a lot to be thankful for

Yes, all you critics, we know it’s a cliché, but it’s Thanksgiving and sports fans in the Sacramento area have plenty for which to give thanks, so here goes ...

▪ After many seasons of mediocre results, the Kings have improved – perhaps enough to make a run at the playoffs this season. Led by center DeMarcus Cousins and forward Rudy Gay, the team has a winning record after 15 games. Yes, it’s early, but it’s great to see the Kings ahead of the Lakers in the Pacific Division.

▪ Vivek Ranadive, the Kings’ principal owner, deserves kudos, too. If not for his ownership group, the Kings likely would be playing in Seattle and a new downtown arena would never be built.

▪ The Giants have won three World Series in five seasons, creating a mini-dynasty. Though they lost third baseman Pablo Sandoval to Boston, there’s still plenty of talent to make another run next season ... well, maybe in 2016.

▪ The River Cats’ decision to change affiliation will give Giants fans an opportunity to see players who are on their way to the big club. We know A’s fans are unhappy, but the bottom line is there are far more Giants fans in the Sacramento area.

▪ The A’s have been a scrappy bunch the past few seasons, playing exciting baseball and making the playoffs. That won’t change, even with their Triple-A team in Nashville, Tenn., and one of baseball’s lowest payrolls.

▪ Fans of the 49ers have been spoiled, too. The 49ers are now expected to contend for the Super Bowl every year, and they play in perhaps the NFL’s finest stadium. If they could just figure out the offense ...

▪ Sacramento State and UC Davis annually play their version of a championship in the Causeway Classic, always a fun rivalry game we hope never ends.

▪ High school football fans are witnessing perhaps this area’s best team of all time as Folsom, led by quarterback Jake Browning, continues on course to win a CIF State Bowl game next month.

▪ And let’s not forget Warren Smith, who was scoffed at by many – including yours truly – when he said his minor-league soccer team, Republic FC, would sell more than 20,000 seats at Hughes Stadium and he would land a Major League Soccer team. Smith lured some deep pockets and is considered a finalist for an expansion team.

– Tom Couzens