The Sporting Life

Where to watch baseball and football on 16, 17, or 18 TVs

If there's a problem with watching sports on Sundays during early autumn it's that the average fan lacks the equipment to do the job right. Hence, folks trek to Zeke's, at the corner of Third and Brannan, where 16 televisions broadcast baseball, the entire slate of NFL games, and (back in a far corner, where it belongs) golf.

Figure in a Giants game at nearby Pacific Bell Park and Zeke's is bursting at the seams at 1 p.m. Jerseyed Browns fans celebrate today's victory over rival Cincinnati. Bears partisans cringe as Atlanta lines up for a potentially game-winning field goal, then slap high-fives as the kick veers wide right. Greg and Frances down shots of tequila on their way to Pac Bell -- "We might even make it to the game," says the latter -- as Barry, a former Brooklynite, settles in for the other Giants game (as in football, vs. St. Louis). Things go well: The score is 3-0, then 10-0, triggering a one-man round of applause.

"We've gotta have this one," says Barry, rising from his seat as an interception return increases the Giants' lead to 17-0.

In fact, there's so much action -- A's-Mariners, 49ers-Broncos, Chargers-Texans -- that one stool potato risks straining his neck muscles as his attention shifts from screen to screen. "If you can get it, they'll have it on at Zeke's," he says. "This is the best sports bar in town."

Sports bar patrons being a loyal breed, there are those who would beg to differ. "I've been around here for 22 years, and this is the best place in the city to watch sports," says Shane, a Bills fan whose cheers fill the room at Stanyan Street's Kezar Pub as his team ties the Vikings 13-13. Count the monitor behind the bar and Kezar offers a whopping 17 tubes. The air is suffused with the spicy yet sweet aroma of buffalo wings, and the lighting is so dim folks blink against the sunlight as they step outside. Barry, from Zeke's, would fit in here: In the back room, the sound is turned up on the Giants-Rams game. "We're up by 10 points," says Bob, a former New Jerseyan. "You never know with the Giants, though; they always find a way to blow it."

Elsewhere at Kezar, a quartet of female 49ers fans applies fresh coats of lipstick at the beginning of the second half. "It's all about the testosterone," says Nadine. Today, she'll get no satisfaction: The Niners choke, and local fans are mourning by the time we arrive at Polk Street's Greens.

"It was ugly," says Bob. Not that the day was a total loss: "I came down to watch football, and then there were all these drunk girls."

New York Giants supporters like Chris fared better (NY 26, StL 21). "It's been an awesome day," he beams, adding, "This is the best sports bar in San Francisco." That's a debatable claim, but one could bolster it by noting that Greens offers 18 TVs, a sports ticker, and (for those who can't get enough) the Chron's sports section pinned to the bulletin board above the urinal in the men's room. The crowd erupts as the Bills eke out an overtime victory -- "I don't even like Buffalo, but what the hell?" says Ray -- then falls silent as people realize the baseball Giants are down 4-1 in the bottom of the ninth. With the bases loaded and one out, a gentleman named Barry Bonds steps to the plate. He goes down looking, as does Jeff Kent, which puts an end to that little drama. But then comes Sunday night football -- Oakland vs. Pittsburgh.

"I've been waiting for this game all day," says Joe. "Go Raiders!"

 
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