Major League baseball is making some meaningful changes to the home plate collision rules that should protect players from malicious and "egregious" hits at the plate.
The new rule (7:13)
Alex Avila gets bowled over by David Ross in last year's post-season
unveiled today does not completely eliminate home plate collisions which I ENTHUSIASTICALLY applaud. The rule allows a base-runner to collide with catcher if the catcher is blocking the plate without the ball. This ruling will be under the umpire's discretion. The new rule also falls under the new replay rules for MLB, which means umpires can rule on the play and then review their call to make sure it is correct.
The new rule allows the umpire to call the base-runner safe if the catcher is blocking home plate without the ball and the runner has to deviate from his path to home-plate. Umpires can also call base-runners out if they intentionally deviate from their path toward the plate and "go-after" or "hit" the catcher even if the catcher drops the ball. This will solely be at the umpires discretion, as well, and is subject to the replay rules.
I really like how this rule preserves the home-plate collision while also acknowledging the game has to change to protect players from needless and senseless injuries. The integrity of the game is protected with the inclusion of the home-plate collision. We have all seen runners go out of their way to drill the catcher, but we have also seen catchers block home plate without the ball. They should not be immune to getting drilled by a base-runner who is trying to score. No longer will catcher's be able to take liberties in blocking the plate without the ball, and no longer can base-runners declare open season on catchers.
None of us want to see players get injured with malicious hits at home-plate, especially with the added emphasis in protecting players from concussions. But, there are times the "game" calls for a collision at home-plate if a catcher tries locking down the dish on a close play at the plate. This new rule, if interpreted correctly, should allow for the safety of the players and for physical and aggressive play when the situation dictates.
Fans and supporters of Enterprise High School football have been telling people all season long that their team deserved a shot to play for the Northern California championship. Early in the season I thought it was rather pre-mature to already lobby for the title tilt.
As the season progressed we could all see the Redding school had a special team and would certainly be in the discussion, yet the fans and supporters continued with their constant haranguing, "we deserve a title match-up." My intial response was simmer down, get over yourselves, let the season play out. Well, we now know that these Hornet enthusiasts were spot on.
For most high school football sections an undefeated season would certainly make them the odds-on favorite to play in the Nor-Cal game, but not with the North Section. The section's dis-respect at the state level has been comprehensive and arguably well-deserved, for the most part North Section schools don't measure up to more urban areas in several athletic endeavors. That isn't opinion, that is fact. so there was this genuine feeling that Enterprise would be passed over for the title game. But, in the end, their body of work and resume was too good to overlook. The Hornets got their shot.
What they did with that shot will now live in North Section football lore and I will explain why every North Section school, and yes, I am even talking to you Paradise, EVERY SCHOOL should thank the Hornets for their impressive 27-21 win over Manteca on Saturday night.
The Hornets win immediatley gives the North Section respectability. I am not just talking about other schools in their division. We are talking up and down the board. This will make the power brokers at the CIF think twice about over-looking a North Section school when a particular squad puts up such a dominant season. Now, I know this is not an easy sell to some of the rabid fans and the hard-core rivals of Enterprise. Heck, I would tell someone to bug off if they told me it was for the greater good that the Giants won the World Series and it certainly helps garner respect for the rest of the National League West.......horse hockey and fiddle-sticks, I don't want to hear it. But, when it comes to the good of the North Section, this win will prove valuable.
Just think about it, what if down the road a Shasta or Paradise puts up a dominant undefeated season. And, CIF members are reluctant to put them in a title game against other qualified teams. This win by Enterprise will help in that argument to give the Shasta's, Paradise's and Pleasant Valley's a shot.
I write this knowing this is a tough sell for many on the ridge who wear the Green and Gold, the Bobcat Nation. Having broadcast their games for several years I truly understand and empathize with the animous toward their rivals to the north. But, I ask you to look at the big picture and give credit where credit is due. The Hornets are one of the best teams the Section has seen and their dominance has been thorough this season. Give their kids credit, applaud their amazing season. And, (gulp) put the rivalry aside for just one night and pull for the Hornets to win a state title.
In this case, it will help everyone in the Section.
You can go back to wanting to beat them next Sunday.
If history tells us anything, an early season loss to Cal State Stanislaus means the Chico State Wildcats will be going to the NCAA Tournament. No, I am not kidding. For the last two seasons the Chico State men's basketball program suffered what SEEMED like debilitating losses to Cal State Stanislaus. After those losses, one could cue the teeth-gnashing and order the Maalox for the rest of the season. But, lo' and behold Greg Clink, his staff and team would not be deterred and would find a way to figure it out and move past frustrating early season losses in .
Last night's loss to the Warriors is quite similar to the early season losses the Cats have had against Stanislaus the last couple of years. Two seasons ago, the Wildcats were trying to figure out what type of team they were. They headed to Turlock in December of 2011, lost 79-77 and went an abysmal 7-of-37 from three point range. Questions circulated in the Wildcat hallways the next day, "who are these guys ? Where is the post production ? Why can't they defend ? Why do guys who keep missing, keep shooting?" Well, the Cats would learn from that early December loss and would eventually hoist the CCAA banner in March. They figured it out.
Last year Chico would lose to Stanislaus at home because they couldn't defend Warrior point guard Sam Marcus. Almost a year to the day when the Wildcats couldn't make a three, this time they couldn't defend the diminutive 5'9 Marcus. He torched the Wildcats defense for 22 points including the game-winning lay-up uncontested at the buzzer to beat Chico 66-64 at Acker Gym. Again, the questions, "what's up with their defense ? Where were the help-side defender's ? Why this ? Why that ?" Well, three weeks later they would destroy the Marcus led Warriors by 40 in Turlock. And, from February 8th to March 8th the Wildcats would win 9 straight games and earn their second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. They figured it out.
Early season losses are simply that, an early season loss. Its not a trend, its not a harbinger of things to come. Its a loss that good teams can learn from. While Head Coach Greg Clink doesn't want to suffer through a loss to emphasize a point, the big "L" will certainly make it easier for Clink to teach his team what they need to do to be great.
Some observations from Saturday night's loss. First and foremost, when you miss 10 free throws in a game you lose by two in overtime, you really have no one to blame but yourselves. The Cats were 2-of-5 from the stripe in the first half and 11-of-18 in the second half. But, the second-half misses were made even tougher considering they came during a time when Chico had made a run and had a chance to extend the lead. Simply put, you shoot 63 percent from the line, you will not win close games.
The Wildcats can not give up 20 offensive rebounds and expect to win CCAA games. This statistic was indicative of the Warriors domination in the paint. Their size and talent in the paint is much better than we have seen from them in the past. Division I transfer and 6'9 center Marcus Bell is the real deal. He decimated the Cats with a 28 point and 14 rebound performance. But, we have seen Chico State teams face such daunting tasks before and they have held their own. To borrow a line, Jason Conrad is not walking through that door. Chico State's three headed monster in the paint of Jordan Barton, Nate Appel and Chris Magalotti will need to stay on the floor and avoid foul trouble. Easier said than done with the new officiating rules, but important none-the-less. Its contingent upon these guys to accept the challenge night in and night out and not allow sometimes bigger and more athletic posts to own the glass.
Chico shot it well from the perimeter. And, with Coach Clink's free flowing style the players in the system are given a tremendous amount of freedom. As the season progresses we usually see the Wildcats better understand that there needs to be some balance to their offense. Post players need touches and you can't fall in love with the three point shot at the expense of taking the ball to the basket and getting to the foul line. Last night I thought Stanislaus had a better grasp early in the game of how the game was being officiated. They couldn't make any shots, yet they took a nine-point lead into the locker room at the break. Why ? Because they saw that "any" contact when taking the ball to the basket was being whistled. At times, Chico was content or settled instead of attacking the big Stanislaus posts and getting to the stripe. This recognition will be fixed, it always does in this Chico State system.
So, there should be no panic with the Chico State faithful. The Wildcats showed glimpses of greatness, but also showed us there is much work to be done. You know when its time to worry ? When you play a perfect game on November 16th, then its time to worry.
WELCH IS RIVETING IN CHICO'S WIN IN ALMOND BOWL 2013
Admittedly I am not an Almond Bowl history officianado. There are dozens, probably even hundreds of more people that are more qualified to pontificate on the stellar performances seen in the 50+plus years of Chico and Pleasant Valley football match-ups, but I am sure they would be hard-pressed to find a much better showing than what we witnessed from Chico High's junior quarterback Clayton Welch.
Welch led the Panthers to touchdowns on an amazing 7 straight drives. Some of them pedestrian, some of them absolutely jaw-dropping. Two one-yard touchdown plunges were punctuated with a couple of extra-ordinary scampers that saw Welch dodging tacklers like he was trying to avoid trip-wires in a mine-field. His two long-runs of 32 and 47 yards left many in the press box with mouths agape. It wasn't just his ability to run and the superior athleticism, but it was Welch's penchant for making defenders miss, that was just as impressive.
Welch's exploits with his legs would have been enough, but he also displayed his cannon arm. On occasion he would disguise run and would float tear-drop floaters into the waiting arms of a receiver. On one nullified touchdown pass in the first quarter, Welch chucked the ball 40 yards downfield all while not squared up and ONLY using his arm. There were no legs in the throw. It was a perfect throw that would have gone for a touchdown if not for a holding penalty.
In my brief history of covering the Almond Bowl, the only individual performance that ranks with Welch's is Pleasant Valley's win over Chico in 2006. In that game, senior Taylor Clements had a night to remember. Clements had three touchdowns and two interceptions and was without a doubt the best player on the field as PV upset the heavily favored Panthers.
With all of this said, as sports fans and media types we should temper our enthusiasm for Clayton Welch is only a junior in high school. We certainly don't want to feed the beast and have the head spin-out-of-control in what the kid can do. But, his size, athleticism, speed and most importantly, smarts has me excited to watch how his future unfolds.
October has always been a dangerous month for me. Its a month where responsibility wanes. Where attention to detail becomes non-existent and my sole focus involves 60'6 and using a round bat to hit a round ball....SQUARELY.
October means baseball playoffs.
THE DODGERS MOB RICK MONDAY IN 1981 AFTER HIS GAME WINNING HOME RUN AGAINST THE MONTREAL EXPOS....SENDING THE DODGERS TO THE WORLD SERIES
The love affair began as a small tike. My mom dressing me up in Giants gear, which was soon replaced at my grand-mother's directive by Los Angeles Dodgers gear. I still remember being 5-or-6 years old and listening to baseball games on my grand-mother's little radio while she planted or tended vegetables in her garden. I would day-dream about the game. I would stand with my wiffle bat in her backyard, listening to the game, seeing myself as Steve Garvey, visualizing base hits. The love affair hasn't stopped.
When my mother realized there was no saving me from Dodger fandom, the brain-washing was full and complete, she decided to feed this great passion of mine. Dodger gear was all I needed to put a smile on my face. As I grew up, baseball WAS IT. I vividly remember sitting in my room and contorting a big boom box on my window sill so I could listen to Vin Scully, Jerry Doggett and Ross Porter call Dodger games on KDWN 1320 out of Las Vegas. If I just turned the antenna at such an angle to go around the curvature of our apartment, the game would come in clear at about 7:40pm. The moment the signal cleared and I heard, "Lets go, batter up, we are taking the afternoon off." Well, I knew I was in for three hours of heaven.
Having a child with such a singular passion could not have been easy for my mother. While one wants to support their child in their passions, my love for baseball bordered on a behavioral disorder. Fits were thrown if I missed a game, pouting resulted, and then the ensuing punishment if my protestations grew too loud. But, if I was well-behaved, if I did well in school and did my chores, the results of my good behavior were nothing short of glorious.
While I grew up, it seemed the Dodgers were in the playoffs every year. 1977, 1978, 1980 (one game playoff), 1981, 1983, 1985, 1988. These memories are as vivid as anything in my mind. The problem for me as a Dodger and baseball enthusiast was that many of the Dodger playoff games were during the day. Well, school was disrupting my Dodger playoff schedule. So, how did this get rectified. To the chagrin of my former teachers I am going to share something that might make long-time educators wince. If I was doing well in school, behaving, doing my chores and being a good kid, my mother would write notes so I could come home early from school and watch the Dodgers in the playoffs. Best Mother EVERRRRRRRRRRR !
It was the ultimate in bargaining chips for a mother who realized her son had found his passion, but also had to make sure he understood that enjoying the game wasn't a right, it was a privilege. I was allowed to come home during October baseball in 1980, 1983, 1985 and of course 1988. I was not allowed to come home and see the Dodgers during their World Championship run in 1981. I missed Rick Monday's two-out 9th inning blast at Olympic Stadium versus Steve Rogers sending LA to the Fall Classic. Why ? I was especially mouthy to teachers and my mother. Playoff baseball was not free in our house.
To this day, October is special. With expanded playoffs and compelling match-ups I immerse myself in the game that I love. So, as we embark on what should be an exciting and joyous post-season, I always re-live the care-free days of playoff baseball viewing. Life was simple back then. Eat, sleep, behave, do my chores, open doors for old ladies and hours of playoff baseball.......Heaven !
PS. Mom, I know you don't like me telling this story of how you wrote notes getting me out of school, but your coolness factor among my friends jumps exponentially #JustSaying
The plug has been pulled on the only sports radio stations in the greater Chico area. This morning at 10am Huth Broadcasting out of Marysville/Yuba City officially changed the formats on 101.7 FM and AM 1340 Fox Sports Chico to music. What kind of music, you might ask ? Well, does it really matter ? Its not sports.
While sports programming was a staple in the Deer Creek Broadcasting family it also was seen as a vital commodity by others. And, as we all know radio is a business. So, when Huth Broadcasting came-a-calling in August of 2012 to purchase the FM and AM frequencies the hierarchy at Deer Creek had to listen. It was a savvy business move for Deer Creek when they sold the frequencies to Huth, but it also meant that sports programming was left in a lurch. What were Huth's plans ? What was his vision ? Would he continue with Paradise High and Butte College Football ? Well, we now know the answers to those questions.
Being a free market capitalist I have no problems with someone doing whatever they want with something they own. Sports was valued by Deer Creek Broadcasting. It served a very specific niche, and I believe we served that niche well with varied sports programming and as much play-by-play as our little station could handle. It was programming that we found easy to sell for several different reasons. Sports wasn't offensive, it was entertainment and with satellite programming, it was affordable.
One thing I have learned in my nearly two decades in Chico, this place is unique. Deals are done with a handshake and a smile. If you think you are going to make friends, business partners and generate clients by shooting off emails and texts and then wait for people to knock down your door. Well, think again. You can be as successful as you want to be if you just get out and meet people. Shake hands, be friendly. There is a community waiting to embrace you. A familiar refrain when Chico State graduates go on the job search is, "we find a strength of Chico grads is their interpersonal communication skills."
With the loss of sports programming in the market there is now a void when it comes to much of the local sports that people loved. Butte College Football, high school play-by-play and the opportunity to just get away from the seriousness of the world's daily events, and then fall into the pillow of sports-talk. No more Dan Patrick, Jay Mohr, The Cannons and College Football Saturday's or NFL coverage on Sundays. The market will miss this.
Deer Creek Broadcasting and Newstalk 1290 KPAY is still your home for the Chico State Wildcats. We have been the North State's home for Wildcat sports for nearly 20 years and it is a marriage made in heaven. Beginning on November 2nd we will be courtside once again for another season of Chico State Basketball. And then in early February the Chico State Baseball team is back at it for another exciting season.
We will pick up the void where we can here on KPAY. But, after 8 great years in the Chico market, the microphones have been muted, 24 hour sports-talk is no more.
He came into the league with question marks and days like today are the reason why.
San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Aldon Smith was arrested early this morning and charged with
driving under the influenece. His blood alcohol level registered .15, nearly twice the legal limit.
According to the San Jose Mercury News Smith's car hit a tree in a single vehicle accident at 7am this morning. Authorities say Smith blew a .15 well above the legal California limit for drinking and driving. Police also found pills and marijuana in the car. Smith posted bail and was released this morning. While the 49ers don't HAVE to act pre-emptively....they should.
Smith's talents were well documented coming out of the University of Missouri, but the risks in taking him were also well known to NFL talent evaluators. He was a player coming into the league of suspect character. Those suspicions are warranted considering some of Smith's issues off the field. Smith was arrested for DUI in January of 2012 in Miami Beach, charges that were reduced to reckless driving in a plea. Smith also face charges from the San Jose DA's office for illegal possession of assault rifles in another incident at his home.
Now, Smith is in trouble again. This time it involves alcohol and drugs and 49ers brass should take a stand. Enough is enough regardless of how talented the player is. The message to send by the Niners front office should be a pre-emptive suspension of Smith. The suspension would not be punishment for this particular offense, but it would be for his continual involvement with suspect behavior that is embarrassing to the franchise. Let me emphasize, this has nothing to do with being judged untl proven guilty. Professional athletes have a responsibility to their teammates, the organization and the fan base. Smith is shirking those responsibilities. It sends a message to not only the fans, but the league that the 49ers take the behavior of their players seriously. And, if you continue to put yourself in positions of criminal activity, the organization will not stand for it.
It remains to be seen what the 49ers will do. But, in this case, they shouldn't wait for the league to act. They should take the lead and show the NFL they don't need Roger Goodell to discipline their own players.....Nope, this is something where the 49ers need to take the lead. Set the example....
WHY THERE IS NO LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL FOR BROWNS FANS.........EVER
BROWNS PRESIDENT JOE BANNER (left) CONTINUING THE LEGACY OF SUSPECT BROWNS MOVES
For those of you that belly-ache and complain about your sports teams, just pause for a moment and be thankful that you are not a Cleveland Browns fan.
Several years ago my mother turned to me in a moment of heart-break and said, "I just don't see how you can cheer and support this team. All they do is break your heart. You get no return on your investment of love." She WAS and IS exactly right.
Yesterday the Cleveland Browns took another big step into the realm if irrelvancy. This "new" regime traded the 2012 #3 overall pick Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2014 1st-round pick. The move fits nicely in the pantheon of either horrible decisions, or heart-breaking developments for a fan base that has been loyal and mis-treated.
The last time the Cleveland Browns won a championship of any kind was in 1964. They won an NFL Championship. But, since then it has been nothing but disaster. Dating back to 1980 the devastation on the football field, and even off, has been not only painful but debilitating. There have been losses that leave Browns fans speechless for weeks because it simply is just so hard to believe. Here is the litany of loss that was re-emphasized with yesterday's trading of a fan favorite.
1) Red Right 88- The Browns trail the Oakland Raiders 12-10 in the waning moments of a playoff game played in sub-zero temperatures. The Cardiac Browns had staged numerous rallies during the 80' season and had been given that moniker again. Sitting in field goal range with the clock winding down the Browns were ready to kick the winning field goal until head coach Sam Rutigliano decided to try a pass play called "Red Right 88" to try and hit All-Pro Ozzie Newsome in the corner of the end zone. The play was doomed from the start as quarterback Brian Sipe momentarily slipped on the icy field as he took the snap. Raider defensive back Mike Davis would intercept the pass. Ending the game, ending the season and beginning a stretch of misery that still lasts today.
2) THE DRIVE- The Cleveland Browns were one of the best teams in football. With second year quarterback and Ohio native Bernie Kosar leading the way and suffocating defense that was physical, mean and nasty. The Browns were hosting the AFC Championship game against the John Elway led Denver Broncos. With the score tied at 13-13 with just over 5 minutes remaining, Kosar hit possession receiver Brian Brennan on a fly pattern right. Brennan caught the ball and made a stop and go move, causing All-Pro defensive back Dennis Smith to trip and fall. Brennan scampered into the end zone giving Cleveland a 20-13 with 5:02 remaining and sending 80 thousand rabid Dawg Pound Browns fans at Municipal Stadium into a frenzy. What would follow would be an excruciating drive keeping Cleveland from the Super Bowl. Elway would lead the Broncos on a 98 yard drive in 4 1/2 minutes converting numerous 3rd-and longs against the Browns topped ranked NFL defense. The Broncos eventually win the game in overtime, delivering a dagger to the hearts of the loyal Browns fan base. The Drive ranks as one of the penultimate clutch moments in the history of the NFL.
3) THE FUMBLE- Once again it was the Browns and Broncos playing for the AFC Championship. Only this time the game was played in Denver. The Browns were an explosive offense with Kosar at quarterback, Cleveland had multiple threats on the outside. Receivers Webster Slaughter, Reggie Langhorne and Brian Brennan complimented the strong running attack of Ernest Byner and bulldozing back Kevin Mack. Ozzie Newssome rounded out the weaponry. The Browns again had a top notch defense and were looking to repay the favor from 1986 to John Elway and the Broncos. The problem for Cleveland is this time Denver jumped out to an early lead and by mid-way through the 3rd quarter the game was all but lost. Trailing 31-7 the Browns and their fans were destined for another long off-season. But, like a shot of adrenaline the Browns staged an furious rally. Scoring at will and riding the legs of Ernest Byner the Browns climbed within 31-24 by early in the 4th quarter. After Slaughter caught a Kosar pass mid-way through the 4th, the Browns had tied the Broncos scoring 24 unanswered points. Every Browns fan felt this would be the ultimate pay-back for THE DRIVE. But, it was not to be. Elway led the Broncos on a touchdown drive that culminated with a Sammny Winder scamper. With just over 5 minutes to go, now Kosar had his chance to answer Elway's drive and he did just that. With precision Kosar orchestrated a masterful drive, utilizing Newsome, Brennan and Byner the Browns drove the ball to the Bronco 7 yard line and faced a 2nd-5. On a draw play, Kosar would hand the ball off to the amazing Byner who drove right/cut left and surged toward the end zone. But, when Byner cut left, the ball left his side and it hung like low-lying fruit. Reserver corner man for Denver Jeremiah Castille who was playing one-on-one coverage against Slaughter, noticed the Browns receiver become a spectator. Realizing the play was not designed for Slaughter, Castille cheated from his corner spot and when he saw Byner cut, unbeknownst to the Browns back, Castille punched the ball free. Those of us watching on television saw Byner fall into the end zone. For a moment we allowed ourselves the joy of the tying score, but then the sobering and devasting reality set in. Byner had fumbled the ball on the 1-yard line and Denver had recovered the ball. The lasting image for Browns had Byner sitting on his helmet in the waning moments while Kosar comes up to him and pats him on the back. Broncos win game and go to their second straight Super Bowl.
4) THIRD TIME NOT THE CHARM- In 1989 the Browns and Broncos would meet again for the AFC Championship in Denver. Yet, this time there was no drama. Denver beat Cleveland 37-21. Once again being the ultimate road-block in Cleveland's championship pursuit.
5) THE BETRAYAL- There was no doubt the Browns played in an old and antiquated stadium. Municipal Stadium was not cozy and it didn't just need a face-lift, the Browns needed a new place to play. Owner Art Modell, who was beloved in Cleveland, had threatened the city that he would move the team if the Cleveland didn't build him a new stadium. At this time stadiums were popping up all over the country as municipalities actively recruited professional franchises. One of the city's looking for a team was Baltimore who had seen their beloved Colts moved to Indinapolis in the dead of night in the 80's. Baltimore had a stadium in place and came after the Browns and Modell HARD. No one in Cleveland thought Modell would actually move the Browns, believing he was playing a game with chicken with Cleveland city leaders. Instead, of playing any more games, Modell signed an agreement with Baltimore officials to move the Browns at the end of the 1995 season. It was ultimate betrayal by the Ohio native, over-night Modell became the most hated man in Cleveland. A fan base that had been selling out games for decades was now betrayed in the most deplorable of fashions. If Browns fans could take any good news from this was that the NFL allowed Cleveland to keep their history. The league promised Cleveland an expansion franchise once a stadium was built. The bad news, Baltimore almost immediatley became a contender and won a Super Bowl five years after leaving Cleveland. The ultimate insult. The Browns favorite son, Ozzie Newsome was the Ravens General Manager and had a penchant for building a winner. Modell past away during the 2012 season. And as every NFL stadium held a moment of silence for Modell, the Browns refused to do so fearing the response from still bitter fans.
6) NORTHCUTT DROPS IT- The Browns returned to the NFL in 1999 and were an awful team. Bad personnel decisions hampered this franchise, yet they managed to get into the playoffs in 2002 with a surprising campaign. In their playoff match-up they took on their nemesis the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mid-way through the 4th quarter Cleveland held a 12-point lead and looked primed for an upset. Behind a record passing performance by back-up quarterback Kelly Holcombe the Browns looked like they would advance to the second round. Not so fast.
The Steelers would score to cut the deficit to five. Then with the Browns one first down away from being able to run out the clock. Holcombe threw an out pattern pass to Dennis Northcutt. He had first down yardage if he caught the ball......He didn't. He dropped it. You know the rest of the story. The Browns would punt, Pittsburgh behind Tommy Maddox would drive down the field and score the game winning touchdown with under one minute left. Affectionately called The Drop.
Since 2002 the Cleveland Browns haven't even really sniffed the playoffs. They did have a 10-6 season in 2008 but missed the post-season on a tie-breaker. Over the past decade the Browns have been plagued by some of the most horrific player personnel decisions that a franchise has had to endure. Whether it is picking the wrong guy, or having the wrong people in decision making roles, the Browns have been a woeful organization. Current Browns President Joe Banner is the fourth man in charge of the organization over the last six years. His decision yesterday to trade the 2012 first round draft pick, Trent Richardson, signals another long rebuilding process....in what has been an organization that has been in perpetual rebuild mode. Patience has completely worn thin with a fan base that is constantly told things will be different only to experience more frustration.
There are fans of teams that say they have it hard. Raider fans, 49er fans, Chargers fans. They are always constantly whining about how tough they have it. I have nothing to say to you. I will never feel sorry or bad for the fan bases of teams that have actually been to Super Bowls, that actually have someone with some football acumen running their organizations. I just don't have time to hear your whining about how "tough" you have it as a fan. Its simply not true. You actually have it pretty good. You have hope. Being a Browns fan means you are devoid of hope. There is simply no hope for a better future. For the last 33 years this team has done nothing but take from their fans. They take the support, love and adoration and then break you as a fan in the most heart-wrenching of ways.
So, what does a Browns fan do now ? We sit and we wait, like we always do. Patience ? We have a ton of it. Toughness ? You bet. Browns fans are not soft. We take the ridicule, the bows, the arrows and keep coming back for more. Try living a football existence where you know you will be perpetually disappointed. Just try it, I doubt you have the mettle.
IF YOU LIKE WATCHING SAD AND HEART-BROKEN KIDS, THE LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES IS FOR YOU
SCENES LIKE THIS ARE COMMON PLACE AS AMERICA FAWNS OVER KIDS JOYS AND FAILURES
The great national nightmare known as the Little League World Series is finally over....Thank you Baby Jesus.
Now don't get me wrong, I love Little League baseball. I love kids getting out on ballfields all over the country and playing America's game. I love that kids get out of the house and play such a great game. I just have a problem with ESPN's glorification of 11-12 year-olds and the picture they paint of these kids.
Televsion ratings show I am in the minority when it comes to the televising and promotion of LIttle League baseball. Baseball fans eat this stuff up. But, as I watch the idolatry of 11-12 year-olds by ESPN, I have to think, no wonder we have a nation of children who feel entitled with egos the size of the Grand Tetons. I just don't get why this is so popular.
Proponents say it is great seeing kids play the game on such a big stage. They also cite the purity with which the game is played compared to their big league brethren. All fine arguments. I just believe my argument against trumps that contention.
I think it is a horrible precedent to set when you have adolescents who are playing on a national stage when the games should be for the simple love of the game. There is a huge difference between playing baseball competitively at the age of 14 and playing it at 12. At 14, you are in high school, you are playing on a diamond that is 60'6 and 90 feet between bases. Its real baseball. Little League is where you learn the game, its not where you have possible life-alterning moments. I am not naive. I remember the days when the networks would televise the Championship Game. I have no problem with broadcasting JUST the title match-up. But, now we have ESPN televising the Little League Regionals. Think about that for a moment. A major network televising regional games from around the country for the right to play in the World Series. Its horrible. While the kids may have a blast with the television coverage I fear for that first child who has a Donnie Moore or Buckner-like moment and costs his team a chance to go to the World Series or costs his team a Championship. Picture it, a ball dribbles up the first base line and goes through little Johnny's legs allowing the tying and winning runs to score and his team is eliminated. Little Johnny will not only have that memory, which is part of the game. But, he will also have it frozen in time, for all to see. It could be a life defining moment, and here he is at the ripe old age of 11.
I have called the broadcasting of Little League baseball on the networks a veiled form a child abuse, and I am sticking by this take. I think it is so wrong to put kids in this position. Let them live, have fun and enjoy the game without the bright lights and former major leaguers pontificating on how if little Harvey works on his slider he will be the ace of the Mets rotation in ten years. Its just unfair to the kids.
I would venture not many people love baseball more than I do. Having broadcast Chico State baseball for the past 16 years and eating and sleeping the game, it is my passion. Let anyone who knows me tell you about my life's obsession. But, what the mothership (ESPN) does to these kids is shameful. I always feel relief when a Little League World Series has come and gone without a little kid having been fitted with goat horns, and having to live that down for the rest of his life. All because a bunch of suits in New York saw market share and an advertising fiscal bonanza.
The long national nightmare is over......The Little League World Series is over.
BARRY ZITO AND THE GIANTS: A COMPLICATED RELATIONSHIP
If legacies were determined based on championships in a tenure, then Barry Zito's career as a San Francisco Giant would be a resounding success. Two titles in a three year stretch and significant contributions during the 2012 World Series Championship run. But, as with everything concerning the mercurial left-hander, Zito's legacy and how fans feel about his place in Giants lore is complicated.
While Zito was vital to the 2012 World Series, his sub-par performance for most of his stay in San Francisco has been one big disappointment. He signed a 7-year 126 million dollar contract in December of 2006. At the time it was the largest contract ever signed by a Major League pitcher. From the start it just didn't seem like a good fit, While Zito still had his 12-to-6 curveball, he seemed to leave the velocity from his fastball on the Bay Bridge. He struggled with an 11-13 record and a 4.54 ERA in his first season with the Giants. There was a resounding feeling of "we paid how much for THIS" among the fans. And, early on they let him hear about it. Zito said near the tail-end of the 2007 season that the contract put a lot of pressure on him and he was letting it affect him.
While he had some bright spots here and there over the next few seasons, most of Zito's performances were less than stellar. And, with each season of struggle, Bay Area fans grumbled about the 126 million dollar bust. Here are his numbers after that initial 2007 season.
2008 10-17 5.15 ERA 1.60 WHIP
2009 10-13 4.03 ERA 1.35 WHIP
2010 9-14 4.15 ERA 1.34 WHIP
2011 3-4 5.92 ERA 1.40 WHIP
These were certainly numbers that are not be-fitting of a man who was making 126 million dollars. But, if you really dig deep into the courtship of Zito, it was common-knowledge that former owner Peter McGowan was dead set on bringing Zito over from the A's. The man responsible for ushering in the Bonds era and beautiful AT & T Park made it clear he wanted Zito and instructed his front office to do what it took. So, the Giants offered him the huge deal. Reportedly tens of millions more than any other team was willing to offer. Is it Zito's fault that he accepted a contract like this ? Absolutely not ! A player's value is determined by the market forces at work. And, the Giants determined Zito's value at 18 millon a year. Not Zito's fault.....the Giants fault.
ZITO WITH HIS WIFE AMBER AFTER THE GIANTS WON GAME 7 OF 2012 NLCS
Even as Zito struggled on the field his work off the field is what garnered him accolades from players and fans alike. As the death tolls mounted with the country's overseas wars, Zito founded the charity, Strikeouts For Troops. The charity provides comforts of home and works to lift the spirits and morale of injured US Troops and offers support to military families. Tens of thousands of dollars have been raised to help troops in Zito's name.
Zito's struggles were expected by the Giant faithful entering the 2012 campaign, but something strange happened. While Zito's "stuff" hadn't changed, his execution had. He had somehow mastered the art of painting corners, mixing in well-located fastballs to go along with his change-up and curveball and soon the wins started mounting. Zito started to piece together strong performances and during the final two months of the regular season the Giants won 14 straight games started by Zito. While he struggled in his first post-season start, an elimination game against Cincinnati, the Giants ended up winning the game. Zito calls his Game 5 start against St. Louis in the National League Championship Series the "greatest of his career." With the Giants trailing 3-to-1 in the best-of-seven series, Zito pitched an incredible 7.2 innings of shut-out baseball against a predominantly right-handed hitting team. It was a Zito gem, and was highlighted by a fan base that rallied behind Zito and had the #RallyZito hash-tag trending world-wide on Twitter. When the Giants won the NLCS in seven games, life-long Giants fans cited Zito's Game 5 start as a turning point.
Zito would cap off a fabulous 2012 by winning Game 1 of the World Series against the best pitcher in the game Justin Verlander. Zito out-dueled the hard-throwing rightie, even banging out an RBI single to send AT & T into a frenzy. Unlike 2010 when the Giants won the World Series and Zito was simply a bit piece, he relished his contributions to the 2012 title. He was showered with adoration by appreciative Giants fans with signs that read, "We forgive you Zito."
ZITO DOFFS CAP TO CHEERING CROWD AFTER WORLD SERIES OUTING VERSUS DETROIT
The problem was Zito never felt he needed to apologize for anything. He always tried hard, he always did the best he could. That, was never in question. And, as much as you want to criticize his performance, which was easy to do, it always pailed in comparison to the fans' expectations with his huge 126 million dollar contract.
To put it bluntly, Zito's 2013 season has been an unmitigated disaster. He is 4-8 with a 5.33 ERA and a 1.69 WHIP. His earned run average away from home hovers near 10. And, everyone seems willing to show the guy the door. But, before he leaves, lets look at the body of work. While the wins and stellar performances have been few, he certainly hasn't embarrased the San Francisco organization like some other players named Barry have. Zito has always given effort. He has given honest assessments of his short-comings. He has tried to adjust to become serviceable, and let us not forget 2012. The Giants do not win their second World Series in three years if not for Zito's 16 win season and his shining performances in the post-season.
ZITO WAVES THE FANS DURING THE GIANTS 2012 WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP PARADE
While his tenure will be remembered by some as a great waste of resources, there will be those that look at his entire body of work. Curse Zito if you will, but remember, some of you cursing him are also the same people that were thanking the man for saving your season on a mid-October evening in St. Louis.
PROTESTORS URGE NATIONS TO BOYCOTT 2014 SOCHI GAMES IN WAKE OF ANTI-GAY LAWS
The Olympics are supposed to be a time to celebrate athletic excellence. Nations competing in the spirit of sportsmanship, acceptance and world unity. But, with the Sochi 2014 games on the horizon, Russia is already projecting a divisive tone. We are seeing the old iron curtain using intimidation tactics as the Sochi games approach.
A recent law passed by the Russian government criminalizes public displays of support for gays and lesbians. The anti-gay laws were adopted in June of this year. IOC President Jacques Rogge says he was given assurances by Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko that the law banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” WOULD NOT be applied to visitors attending the Feb. 7-23 winter games in Sochi. It appears the Russians are applying old Soviet tactics as they are now backing off of that stance. This "revision" in policy is troubling for the IOC.
JACQUES ROGGE WANTS ASSURANCES ATHLETES, FANS, FAMILY AND FRIENDS WILL NOT BE JAILED UNDER THE RUSSIANS NEW ANTI-GAY LAW. RUSSIANS REFUSE TO GIVE THAT ASSURANCE
Rogge said on Friday he is, once again, seeking assurances from the Russians that athletes, and their families and friends will be safe from this Russian law. He says clarifications are needed so the Russians can uphold the conditions and practices contractually demanded of Olympic host nations.
On Monday Russia's Interior Minister, who controls the police force, said that Russia will enforce its new anti-gay/anti-trans law during the 2014 Sochi Olympics. He said Russia will arrest any Olympic athlete and guests who run afoul of the law. The law is murky but by definition if an athlete is appears in public with their same-sex spouse they would be arrested. According to an article written by John Aravosis in the American Blog, "this means if an NBC reporter interviews an athlete, who does or says something "perceived" as pro-gay-for example mentioning their spouse or appearing in their home with that spouse during footage---that athlete will be jailed.
Mutko has said the law prohibits anything that is "pro-gay." Well, who determines what is pro-gay? Since there is no specific definitions of pro-gay behavior in the law who will be the governing body determining such transgressions in the eyes of the Russians ?
VITALY MUTKO SAYS ANTI-GAY LAWS WILL BE ENFORCED DURING SOCHI GAMES
This has turned into a huge mess for the IOC. They granted the games to Sochi years ago when such a draconian law was not on the books. Now that it is, it threatens the freedoms of every athlete that attends these Olympic games. This doesn't just threaten gays, bi-sexuals and transgendered athletes. This is a law that infringes on the freedoms of expression that Americans and many countries around the world hold dear.
The Russians are acting like the old Soviet guard. Unilateral implementation of restrictive laws with an expectation that their supreme dominance will be respected and adhered to. This is heavy-handed Soviet thuggery at its worst. The threat is as good as inprisonment. They are limiting expression in what has customarily been an event devoid of such restrictions.
It is clearly too late to move the games, although I get the feeling Rogge and the IOC would love to do just that. This is back-room treachery that would make Breshnev proud and now the IOC is scrambling, trying to get assurances that athletes, friends, family and fans will not be jailed because of their sexual orientation. Let's make this clear, this isn't a law that just outlaws gay-pride parades. This is a law, according to the Russians, that allows their police force to determine what is gay behavior. It allows their force to arrest people for what they "perceive" as gay behavior. It does this without any clear guidance. In essence, the law is by definition of "broad" in scope.
The 2014 Sochi games are destined to turn into complete chaos. The Russians heavy-handedness regarding the new law, juxtiposed against freedom loving athletes and countries who don't want to experience the old "hammer and sickle" during their most hallowed athletic moment. I fully expect athletes to march into the opening ceremonies with rainbow flags and pro-gay messages. If this happens, what do the Russians do? Do they storm the ceremony? Do they arrest athletes and hold them until their events and then jail them again? A mess I tell you, a mess.
Politically the United States and the Russians are already on shaky ground after Edward Snowden was granted asylum. But, its not only the United States, Great Britain, Germany and France have all chimed in saying a boycott isn't the answer and it wouldn't be fair to the athletes that have trained so hard. I certainly agree. Avoiding the controversy is not making a statement. But, for the competing nations to lay down and simply allow the Russians to run rough-shod over human rights and freedoms of expression isn't the answer either.
Russia is slowly taking on that old Soviet look. Should it surprise us with an old KGB agent running the show ?
They were lying in wait. The vulchers were circling after Ryan Braun's admission and subsequent suspenion in the Biogenesis scandal. But, the vulchers weren't circling to hammer away at Braun. No, the focus of the media's ire was Chico's Aaron Rodgers.
The Green Bay Packers quarterback had taken to twitter after Braun's initial denials two years ago to support his friend and defend him against charges of being a "drug cheat." In uncharacteristic fashion, Rodgers was outspoken, opinionated and firm in his defense. Aaron told people on twitter that they need to be careful what they read and believe and that he was willing to bet "next year's salary" on Braun's innocence. These were bold statements by Rodgers.
And, even as evidence mounted against the Brewers outfielder, I have to admit, Rodgers adamant defense of his friend caused me to pause and think maybe there was something to this strong defense. Maybe there was something wrong in the testing mechanism. Seriously, when has Chico's favorite son made repeated verbal gaffes. How about never !!!
So, when word leaked that Braun was busted and he would be suspended for 65 games, everyone, and I mean everyone wanted to see what Rodgers would say. On Friday he finally spoke at Packers training camp. Again, it was Rodgers "wowing" us by handling a difficult situation with aplomb, class and integrity.
"He (Braun) looked me in the eye on multiple occasions and repeatedly denied these allegations and said they were not true. I don't regret backing a friend, Obviously, in hindsight, a more measured approach would be a better course of action. I definitley believe in forgiveness and moving forward. He has a tough task in front of him moving forward with his career. I am just shocked and disappointed. It doesn't feel good being lied to."
In one short paragraph Aaron Rodgers had put out a growing fire. Just as he had done with the Favre controversy in his first year as a starter. I believe Rodgers answers in the Braun fiasco were on point and quite simply........................perfect.
RODGERS (left) and BRAUN HAVE BEEN THE TWO BIGGEST WISCONSIN SPORTS STARS IN RECENT YEARS
He told the media how not only were the fans of Milwaukee and the Brewers deceived but so was he. He showed us what being a friend is all about when you are loyal to those close to you. Some friends run, some hide, and some stay and take the fire. Rodgers showed us he is not a fair-weather friend. He stuck by Braun when the coals were hot. His statement also showed us that he is not immune from mistakes, in citing his "measured approach" when put in a position to defend and support friends in the future. He also laid it out in plain language where we all knew where he was coming from. His "doesn't feel good to be lied to" line was perfect. We have all stood up for friends and found out they had done us wrong. It happens to all of us. In his true humble and self-deprecating style it became another true Aaron moment. A relatable moment. Putting US in his shoes getting US to empathize.
He could have gone in several different directions during this drama. But, as we have come to expect with the Pleasant Valley High and Butte College product he made us proud again. Ardent in support, empathetic in disappointment, conciliatory when convinced, and human when let down by a friend......
PHIL MICKELSON RECENTLY WON TWO GOLF TOURNAMENTS; YOU WON'T BELIEVE HOW MUCH HE HAD TO PAY IN TAXES ON HIS WINNINGS
With back-to-back wins in Europe including his 5th Major tournment of his professional career Phil Mickelson should be basking in the glow of his golf prowess and rolling in cash. And, while the former is true, the latter is not, on a relative scale.
The Los Angeles Times reported this week that Lefty earned more than 2.2 million dollars with his wins at the Scottish Open and the British Open the last two weeks. Quite a haubl for a golfer that was told his game didn't cater to the links courses overseas. What many people do not know is that because of exhorbinant tax rates in Britain, Mickelson has to take a 45 percent tax hit to his largesse. Since Mickelson resides in California he will also have to pay an additional 13 percent in state taxes. According to Forbes magazine, Mickelson will not only have to pay tax on his winnings, but also any income derived from bonuses and endorsements that he earned while playing there.
Mickelson will get to use a foreign tax credit and be allowed to offset much of his tax burden to the feds. But, when you add it all up he will have to fork over roughly 1.4 million dollars in taxes to Britain, the Federal Government and the State of California. What's wrong with this picture ?
We all know there are serious flaws in the tax code that allow the wealthy to offset tax burdens with targeted loop-holes. It's how corporations make millions, even billions without the tax implications faced by the common man. I get it. The deck is stacked because politicians are paid off. Until we move to a flat tax without these specific targets the deck will always be stacked against the common man. The California and New York tax codes are also why big business moves to states like Florida and Texas. Why pay state taxes when you don't have to ?
I just find it incredibly distasteful to penalize success. Mickelson EARNED his 2.2 million dollar pay day with his talents. Mickelson EARNED these endorsement dollars with his unique talents. I believe in everyone paying their fair share. But, why do highly sucessful people have to pay 61 percent of their EARNINGS to taxes. Granted much of this penalty comes from Britain, where the astronomical tax rates make for public debate all the time. But, if you don't think we are steadily moving to a similar situation in this country then you just aren't paying attention.
Do I feel sorry for Phil Mickelson ? No. He is successful and well-paid for his talents. But, I also believe the wealthy and rich are disproportionately penalized through the tax code for their success. While the ultra-wealthy take advantage of targeted tax loop-holes that give them breaks, there is also a climate in this country where the have-nots expect to be taken care of by the well-off and successful. I don't understand this thinking. No one owes their fellow man a living. If we had an across the board flat-tax where everyone paid the same rate, fairness would ensue and I think personal responsibility would reign supreme.
Phil Mickelson caught heat a few months back for criticizing the tax rates in the State of California. He said he would have to move out of the state because the costs of living in the state were prohibitive. People saw it as a rich guy complaining about the hard-ships of making millons. It was not smart for Phil to take this tact. Ultimately it would have been better if he just did as we all do, just bitch to his wife Amy in their living room about the inequities in the tax code.
In the end Phil made more than 2.2 million dollars with two golf tournament wins in Europe, yet will clear, according to the LA Times 842, 000 dollars. Not a bad take for a few weeks work. But, with this 61 percent tax hit, I can understand why the wealthy are growing sick and tired of paying into a system that is only getting worse, while the minions continue to lobby for continued penalties (taxes) on the wealthy.
ALL SMILES FOR MICKELSON AND HIS LEGION OF FANS AS HE WINS THE BRITISH OPEN AT MUIRFIELD
Even though I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning I was not going to allow myself to miss the possible glory of my guy, Phil Mickelson. So despite lifting my wary head after five hours of sleep on A weekend, I had to see how Lefty was doing on an early Sunday morning.
As I rubbed my eyes and fumbled with the remote I finally found the British Open coverage on the mothership. To my surprise I found that Phil was not only in contention but he was on the leaderboard at the turn. Sitting at +1...two strokes behind Lee Westwood and Adam Scott. He was five back entering the final round. Well, this is surprising, I thought. Phil, in contention at the British Open on a Sunday. Really ?
What transpired over the next two plus hours was some of the most glorious golf action for a member of Phil's Army that I can remember. Not only did Mickelson play great golf, he was nearly perfect at a venue where not many of his fans thought he could compete. Hell, Phil had his doubts on whether he could compete on a links course.
As Phil teed it up at 13 the one thought that ran through my mind, "You can not afford a bad shot, straight off the tee, put it on the dance floor, and go to work." Phil immediately stuck it within 10 feet on the par 3 13th. He drained the putt and moved to even par for the tournament one shot back. 14 was thrilling as well. Phil put it perfectly on the green but still had a lengthy 18-footer for bird......DRAINO ! -1 under for the tournament and tied for the Open lead. As Phil was making shots we saw the likes of Westwood, Scott, Tiger and Mahan all scuffle down the stretch. The door had opened for Phil.
Phil went par on 15 as his ball tasted every part of the cup on a tricky 7-footer. He would then hit a great tee shot at 16, only to see his shot on the par 3 roll off the green. It was the type of disappointment that could bury the old Mickelson, but not today. Phil would get up and down for a great par save. The tournament would be won on 17 with true Phil drama. As Mickelson teed it up on the par 5 17th, Westwood and Scott were collapsing behind him. Shanks, duffs and mis-hits were the norm as these two great players were having troubles navigating Muirfield.
Phil would drill it right down the gut on 17 leaving him 303 yards from the cup. There was a stiff wind blowing in his face. Not knowing the troubles behind him with Westwood and Scott, Mickelson would hit a monster 3-wood. It will be his signature shot of this tournament. The ball took two huge bounces and rolled onto the green. A gutsy second shot where he was determined to get there in two. He now had eagle in sight, with a birdie a virtual certainty. But, with Phil, is anything ever a certainty ? That, is why we love him.
Phil would lag it wonderfully to the cup and then tap in for his birdie. All the while Westwood and Scott were giviing away a shot on cue. It was as if they were fulfilling their own destinies, so Phil could LIVE his.
Phil would birdie 18 wrapping up an amazing 32 on the back nine and a blistering 66 in the final round of the British Open. His legion of fans rejoiced. Mickelson has now won three of the four majors with the most elusive, that pesky US Open, where he has finished second six-times, most recently last month. Sunday's win shows how far mentally Lefty has come. In years past, it would have taken Mickelson weeks, even months to "deal" with the disappointment of having a US Open slip through his fingers. Now, a month later not only did Mickelson win the Scotland Open, but he takes down the British, the tournament that even his most loyal supporters never thought he would conquer.
I wrote more than a month ago that Phil has a legion of fans because we can relate. Phil's failures are our failures. We get it when he screws up, because we do it everyday. His "aw shucks" smile and his love of family is something we can admire. In short, he is easy to cheer for. There aren't many athletes in the world who have made more than 72 million dollars playing a sport and tens of millions in endorsements that we, the fan, can relate to. But, Phil Mickelson is that guy. We cheer when he wins, we shutter and mourn when he lets a US Open slip through his hands.
Mickelson, in a strange sense is how we wish life would be, thrilling in victory, colorful in defeat, yet never boring.
THE NBA IS EXPANDING THEIR USE OF INSTANT REPLAY....GET READY FOR MUCH LONGER GAMES
Changes to the NBA's replay policy will result in longer games and a virtual stoppage of play at every whistle at the ends of games. In their pursuit to get every call right, the NBA's brain-trust has decided to expand the use of replay in a move to improve their product. On the surface this isn't such a bad thing. We all want the calls to be right and the game can be served on several fronts if calls are more consistent and they are correct.
But, with the change, there is no way around the fact that the continuity of an NBA game will be affected. Out-going Commissioner David Stern told assembled media in Las Vegas this week that officials will now be able to use replay for things they didn't necessarily see in "real time." Therefore, if they go to the monitor for a goal-tending or out-of-bounds play and they see a shove, a trip or a push they can call a foul and dis-regard what they initially went to the video to see.
Second, game officials will now be able to go to the video replay on controversial block/charge calls in the paint. Referees will only be able to view replays of the block/charge on plays that take place within the restricted area. The restricted area is that small half circle under-neath the hoop that was put there to prevent defensive players from setting up shop too close to the bucket. THIS is the call that I think is going to really stretch these games out. I am not mad the league wants to get the call right. But, the excess time at the ends of ALL NBA games will be prohibitive.
If the league wants to get more calls right and have a free-flowing game I suggest doing something a little bit different. Why not have your game officials go through a training regimen that tells them to quit "anticipating" plays and making calls when in some cases there are no infractions. Too many times during an NBA game we see officials "take games over" in the waning minutes, making calls that they haven't made all night long. Now, I will concede that some of these calls are made because the intensity levels at the ends of NBA games are wratcheted up a few nothches (i.e. teams playing harder) but in most cases its just game officials who just can't help themselves and make calls for the sake of making calls.
In the end, I hope the product is better with the use of replay. But, I know I better bring my blanket and pillow because I will be off to never-never land while the officials haggle over a block/charge at the scorers table.
CLAYTON KERSHAW IS MIFFED AT NOT STARTING THE ALL-STAR GAME....WHY ?
Clayton Kershaw is not a happy camper and I don't understand why. Kershaw is having a tremendous season and appears on his way to another Cy Young Award. Yet, this week he has made a stink in New York site of tonight's All-Star Game at Citi Field because he is not starting the All-Star Game. Really ? THIS is what is bugging you ?
Now, whether this is Kershaw making this a story or he is trying to get a "dig in" on San Francisco Giants Manager Bruce Bochy is not known. But, we do know that Kershaw was rather terse in his responses when asked whether he should have started the game. When Bochy was asked whether New York Mets phenom Matt Harvey is only starting the Mid-Summer Classic because the game is being played at his home ballpark? Bochy responded with, "it really wouldn’t have mattered what city we were playing in." Kershaw countered with "that's his opinion." Ding Ding !
Kershaw says he understands that it makes sense to start Harvey because its being played at his home ball-park. But, that is not what was said by Bochy and evidently it has torqued the Dodgers lefty. When Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was asked whether Kershaw should be considered to start the game, Donnie Baseball responded with, ""I don't know why not. he's definitely pitching good enough to be the guy. I read what he said the other day and that says a lot about Clayton's character." Mattingly was alluding to complimentary comments made by Kershaw about Harvey.
Here is how I feel. Why is Kershaw giving these types of responses ? No one can argue with Kershaw's resume. 8-6 with a 1.98 ERA and 139 strikeouts. But, this is an EXHIBITION GAME. Regardless of the importance that Bud Selig and his legion of old codgers thinks, this game means nothing in the grand scheme of things. Sure, it determines home field in the World Series, but what is really important is the regular season and getting into the playoffs. The All-Star Game is an "I" guy thing. Its an individual event in a team game. Its means nothing, so why waste so much energy protesting why you aren't the starting pitcher in the game ?
Kershaw should have said, "Sure, I wanted to start, but can't really argue with Matt Harvey. He is having a great year." PERIOD ! End of story. Now, with Kershaw's responses we might have a little something-something generated between the dominant Dodger and Giants manager Bruce Bochy.......hmmm, come to think of it, maybe that's not such a bad thing.
Enjoy the exhibition everyone ! Remember, its an exhbition game !
GIANTS BANDWAGON IS EMPTYING QUICKLYAS THE CELEBRATIONS HAVE STOPPED
Baseball is a game of passions and joys, but over the last three weeks it has been a game of despair for the San Francisco Giants and their fans. In one of the most miserable stretches in recent memory the Giants have dropped and amazing 16 of 19 and 14 of 16 to fall into last place in the National League West.
For the loyal, grinding "can't miss a game" fan this negative ebb is not a surprise. Its simply part of this wonderful game that we all love. For all of the Giants success over the last couple of years in winning two of the last three World Series Championships; real fans know the other shoe can drop at any time.
IT HAS DROPPED
The wear-and-tear of two deep post-season runs appears to be affecting what was a strength of this team. Giants pitching has faltered significantly. Tim Lincecum has lost 5 miles per hour on his fastball and is an average right-hander. Matt Cain is not locating his pitches and has also lost velocity. Madison Bumgarner is still young and good and should be considered the anchor.
The Giants offense right now is virtually non-existent. Buster Posey is hitting but that's about it. Hunter Pence is inconsistent and Pablo Sandoval is eating himself out of the game and out of a big contract. While Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt are nice players, they are not corner-stone offensive players. This unpredictability is hurting the Giants and causing General Manager Brian Sabean to reassess. The Giants minor league system is not flush with prospects. It was recently rated 28th out of 30 by Baseball America meaning the Giants have some work to do. Most of their best prospects are at the Low-A level.
This titanic shift in Giants fortunes is also causing a voracious fan base to conduct their own reality checks. Living in Northern California it has been nothing but "Giants this" and "Giants that" for the last three years. But now we are seeing the difference between the casual "johnny-come-lately" fan and the true fan that lived and died with this team through the years.
I really like talking and conversing with these "lifers" as I like to call them. These Giants fans know the game and can converse at more than a pedestrian level about their team. I love when a Giant fan can break down the 1991 rotation and how Trevor Wilson owned the Dodgers in two late season match-ups. If a Giant fan hasn't heard of Mike Ivie or Johnnie Lee LeMaster, then I don't want to hear from you. The fact is, I have heard more from these "band-wagoneers" over the last three years than the true and real Giants fan. It happens with all winning teams, but this "band-wagonism" is annoying none-the-less and it happened so fast and with such frequency during the Giants title runs, that it simply pre-disposes me to be annoyed with all Giants fans.
So, with the Giants recent slide I am hearing two different reactions. The "lifer" says it has been a great run but its time to jettison some players, re-build the minor league system and re-group. This TOTALLY makes sense. I love talking about these types of moves with "lifers." Then you have the recent converts....Guh !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
They don't understand the ebb and flow of baseball. They don't get that it is not easy to win a World Series. They don't get that championship teams are built from ground-up and just don't happen. They are honestly completely confused and disgusted by what is happening with their 2013 San Francisco Giants. Pragmatic they are not. They will argue until they are red in the face that the Giants are "one hitter away" and that the Giants simply need to start playing better......Duh !
Are the Giants out of it ? No. But, are they in a transitional period where they have to critically analyze their organization and start preparing for the future ? Yes. The difference is knowledgeable fans get this and understand the organizational overhaul that is needed. Recent converts will bragadociously tell you that they are the World Series Champions and that this team needs to just start playing better and that your team "sucks."
Ah, the joys of rivalry, bad-blood and baseball. Its a beautiful thing. You just have to pick and choose who you choose to wage this verbal warfare with.
YOENIS CESPEDES (left) AND YASIEL PUIG (right) ARE BEACONS TO THEIR CUBAN BRETHREN
Riches, fame and noteriety are not promised to baseball players defecting from Cuba. But, with the emergence of Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics, ballplayers from the tiny island nation will now go to even greater lengths to try and make it off the island.
The reason ? Well Cuban baseball players are technically amateurs and paid like amateurs in their home country. This is not a generalization, Cuban players are some of the most talented baseball players in the world and are not allowed to leave. They watch from afar as the games best players perform on a grand stage while they dream of what could be. Many players, including Puig and Cespedes, are trying to change that. They just can't sit idly by. But, the price for leaving the island and defecting can be banishment from the game on Cuba and even imprisonment.
In post-revolutionary Cuba (1961) the Cuban government abolished the professional system and league of baseball and established a primary amateur and nationalistic identity. As K.E. Baird wrote in the Journal for Sport and Social Issues in 2005,
"In 1961, the Cuban government replaced the former professional baseball system with new amateur baseball leagues, most prominent among them the Cuban National Series The reorganization aimed to organize the sport based on a socialist model of sports driven by national ideals rather than money."
With this move to a more nationalistic approach to baseball, gone were the days of exhoribinant salaries and the highlighting of individual talent. The Cuban teams were trained to perform on the global stage and to entertain at home. But, as Steve Fainaru wrote in the Cuban Reader, "
The situation would get worse in the early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, which was Cuba’s main trading partner. This led many players to defect to the United States due to deteriorating economic conditions. Amidst such action, even Fidel Castro admitted himself that it's hard to prevent the baseball stars from defecting. He would later proclaim, “if you have to compete against six million dollars versus three thousand Cuban pesos you cannot win.”
PUIG HAS DAZZLED DODGER FANS WITH HIS IMMENSE 5-TOOL TALENT AND STYLISH FLAIR
So, here we sit in 2013. Cuban players have shown they are more than capable to perform against big leaguers as evidenced by their performance during the World Baseball Classic Baseball Tournaments. These Cuban players want to perform on the grand scale, but there are inherent road-blocks.
They can defect but that can be dangerous on several fronts. First the risk of injury or even death. Like a thirsty man wants water, a confined man wants his freedom. That rings true especially when there are untold riches waiting for him in the United States. Second, many of these Cuban ball-players don't have the connections or support to try and get away from their oppressors. The Cuban government keeps a close eye on athletes of special talent making it even more difficult for them to get away.
We know the stories of some of baseball's recent greats, the trials and tests they went through to make it to America. Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez of New York Yankees fame was on a rickety raft in shark infested waters and eventually made it to the States. Most recently 22 year-old phenom, Yasiel Puig tried to defect numerous times and was caught in one instance by members of the United States Coast Guard. Puig told members of that Coast Guard unit that he will keep trying to defect because he wants to play Major League Baseball. He told them his dreams would be realized.....signing a tennis ball for the crew. Puig eventually ended up in Cancun, Mexico. Then, weeks later he was trying out for baseball teams in Mexico eventually leading to his 7-year 42 million dollar contract he signed with the Dodgers.
The emergence of Puig and Cespedes tells us two things. One, the talent on the island is significant and would greatly impact our national game, which for any true baseball fan is a great thing, better players equals better product equals better game. Two, as native Cuban players hear through the grape-vine the tremendous success of Puig and Cespedes it will only make these bands of talented players more driven to escape their shackles and make it to America to play ball. They will leave to play the game they love, but also to be a free human being. To not be confined by a nationalistic mandate or doctrine. To simply play the game they love for a price determined by a market thirsting for this unique brand of Cuban talent.
I can't wait for the day there is a natural conduit for these Cuban players to make it to the big leagues. The game of baseball is so unique. Baseball is better with diversity. Adding the Cuban element on a grand scale to the mix will make the game even better
Some of the Cuban players on Major League rosters today......
SACRAMENTO KINGS PULL ROOKIE MANEUVER IN YANKING IGOUDALA OFFER
If the published reports are correct, then I think the Sacramento Kings new ownership and front office just made a huge mistake that doesn't send the best message.
ANDRE IGOUDALA GOT A 52 MILLION DOLLAR OFFER FROM THE SACRAMENTO KINGS
BUT, WITH THAT OFFER CAME CONDITIONS
On Monday, the Sacramento Kings presented free-agent forward Andre Igoudala with a contract offer for 4-years and 52 million dollars. It was the largest offer on the table for the multi-faceted forward. There was one catch to the offer though. Igoudala had to make a decision......QUICKLY. The Kings didn't want the former Philadelphia star shopping that price elsewhere and leveraging their offer to get better offers elsewhere.
Then, suddenly, in the wee hours this morning the Kings pulled their offer off the table. It can be debated whether Igoudala was worth that kind of money in the first place, but what can't be debated is this is a bad precedent to set for a new ownership group, front office and staff as they try and gain credibility in the highly competitvie Association.
The fans will see the move as fans see it. They will weigh whether the money and the talents of the player were worth the significant offer and potential hit down the road on the salary cap. But, this move of pulling the offer will hurt the Kings in an even more important arena, credibility.
What if the Kings are interested next week, next year in a free agent and they make an offer. There needs to be a symmetry and understanding between the teams, the agents and the players that once an offer is made, that offer is in stone. There is a trust in simply making the offer. The Kings new owner Vivek Ranadive and GM Pete D'Alessandro are not novices to the free agent game. They should have known better.
I understand this new group is under the gun. And, with Tyreke Evans getting a lucrative 4-year 44 million dollar offer from the Pelicans, the Kings need to make some pop-gun decisions. But, to make such a substantial offer, but put conditions of expediency on THAT offer seems unreasonable, especially when you are trying to become relevant again.
No doubt the Kings fans and the entire North State is thrilled the Kings are staying in Sacramento. But,
Ranadive and D'Alessandro better not make a habit of such sketchy ploys. The ownership group will get a pass on this one from the fans, hell, they are just thrilled to still have a team. But, if I'm a player or agent, there will be some skepticism when you hear the Sacramento Kings have made a contract offer.
Ranadive and company get a pass.......THIS TIME. But, don't let that happen again
PANDA'S GIRTH IS NO LONGER A LAUGHING MATTER FOR GIANTS FANS
When Pablo Sandoval is hitting his weight is really a non-issue. He turns into loveable Panda. The fuzzy third-baseman who hits lasers into the gaps and there is nary a peep over his tremendous girth. But, when the Panda stops hitting, the proverbial weight of the world surrounds the San Francisco Giants third sacker and all of sudden it becomes a problem.
Well folks, its a problem.
When Sandoval went on the disabled list several weeks ago Giants fans were hoping he would come back a new man. He came back a new man alright, there is a lot more of him. Sandoval clearly didn't spend his rehab on the stair-master or at least getting in a little bit of cardio. He is now tipping the scales at near rotund levels which clearly puts his Giants future in doubt.
The Giants are not about to invest a multi-year contract on a guy who can't take care of his body. I am not raising a new issue here. This is fodder for Bay Area sports talk hosts. And, lets be clear, this isn't cute. Sandoval is not big boned, he is not the loveable Panda when he is eating his way out of the game. There is no doubt the guy can rake. He can hit like nobody's business. But, he is not a physical freak like Detroit's Prince Fielder. Fielder is overweight, yet for his entire big league career he hasn't gotten hurt. He has been one of the most durable ballplayers in the game, despite his puffy attributes. Fielder is just a baseball/athletic anomoly. Panda is not.
Sandoval is constantly hurt. Breaking his hamate bone in his hand was a fluke a few years ago, but last year he pulled his hamstring when stretching at first base. He has had numerous muscle pulls and strains so far in his short big league career. And, one would have to be naive to think that his lack of conditioning didn't have something to do with it.
His enormous belly is also causing problems defensively. He simply can't get to some balls that should be easy outs ranging to ones' left or right. With the excess pounds he doesn't have the lateral movement to make the plays a big league third baseman needs to. And, we will start seeing teams bunting on the Panda if he keeps playing third base. The man simply can't bend down to field the ball.
The Giants front office has been patient. They sent him to Panda Camp a few years back and he dropped 35 pounds in the off-season. He then proceeded to go home for three weeks and gain 15 of those pounds back. If he wasn't so important to the Giants present and future, no one would care. But, we all believe if he just took a little better care of his body he could be a special player. While his waist line increases, his baseball talents are being wasted.
Its not too late for Pablo Sandoval, but the clock is ticking and patience has to be growing thin. Thin, an odd word to say when talking about The Panda. His weight has gone from cutesy, to disconcerting and unless he acts fast the Giants may have no other option but to trade him and get whatever they can for him.
THE WARRIORS SHOULD PASS ON THIS GUY FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS IN TODAY'S BIT O BACA
Today the Golden State Warriors will sit down with free agent Dwight Howard and tell him how much they love him, want him and how he will be the face of their franchise as the club prepares to move into beautiful new San Francisco arena. And, I am here to tell you Warriors fans that Howard's arrival would mark the destruction of something that looks so promising. Don't do it Dubs !
As tempting as Howard looks, and he certainly is a physical specimen, In my humble opinion the negatives far outweigh the postives. Let's look at the reasons why the Warriors SHOULD sign Howard.
1) He is the most dominant center in the game when his mind is right. He is physically over-powering and can single-handedly patrol the lane and defend the basket like no other player in the game. His attributes on the defensive end are unparalleld in the game today.
2) If you put Howard in the line-up with Golden State's plethora of shooters defenses would have very difficult decisions on a nightly basis. Do you double-team Howard leaving Steph Curry and company open or do you single team him and hope. Howard could easily be a 25 point and 15 rebound guy NIGHTLY for the Warriors.
3) Signing Howard immediately turns the Warriors into Championship contenders. And for a franchise that has languished at the bottom of the NBA food chain for roughly 40 years, this would be a major coup. He would be the face of the franchise and the Warrior fans would embrace him, even with his baggage. It would turn into Dwight's town....
Now, lets look at the reasons why this ISNT a marriage made in heaven.
1) BAGGAGE, and lots of it. The guy is an admitted sulker who pouts when things don't go his way. Is he motivated by winning or compiling numbers? He says all he wants to do is win, yet it seems at every turn he destroys his own teams with his self-centered attitude and play. The Warriors don't need a malcontent. They need a tough-minded superstar who wants to grind and work hard. Despite his immense talents, I am not convinced WINNING is at the top of Howard's list of priorities.
2) The Warriors will not be able to simply sign Howard. They just don't have enough money under the salary cap. To acquire Howard the Warriors will have to do a sign-and-trade with the Los Angeles Lakers. Do you know what that is going to cost the Warriors ? Wrap your arms around this......Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and the expiring contracts next year of Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins. If I'm the Lakers I am salivating at the thought of Howard wanting to join the Warriors. Two of the best young players in the game with limitless potential plus 25 million dollars in expiring contracts. It would be a no-brainer and even Kobe Bryant might "thank" Joe Lacob if Howard wants to bolt for the Bay. Simply stated, the Warriors depth, which was such a strength in their playoff run would be decimated.
3) This may seem trivial but check the numbers. Dwight Howard has been in the league for 9 years and he is one of the worst free-throw shooters in the history of the game. Rarely does he get to the line and become a threat, more like an albatross. Two years ago Warriors head coach Mark Jackson incorporated the (Hack-A-Howard) strategy. It worked. He made only 21-39 free throws and looks completely lost most of the time. His free throw shooting woes make me wonder, what has this guy been doing in the off-season for the past 9 years. Chris Webber came into the league a 50 percent free throw shooter. By the time Webber was flourishing with the Sacramento Kings he shot his charities at an 80 percent clip. Howard will be a liability at the ends of games. Do you keep him in to miss free throws, or do you pull him off the floor and lose your franchise guy at the most important part of the game.
4) And, in conclusion. I just don't think the guy is a winner. I have major questions about his attitude. He didn't like Orlando because he didn't think they were doing enough to win. He alienated his teammates with his whining and complaining. He went to the media complaining about Stan Van Gundy, and then when Van Gundy showed up to stand right next to Howard, just seconds after he ripped him, Howard denied having any problem with his coach. He took the Magic on a two-year torturous ride that ultimately led to Howard being dealt to the Lakers.
When he arrived in Los Angeles all seemed well until he determined he wasn't getting enough touches and inferring that Kobe Bryant was hogging the ball (hasn't he watched NBA basketball for the last 17 years.) He gave veiled references to being the odd man out and needing to feel part of it, when in reality he should have kept his mouth shut and done what the Lakers needed him to be, which was a defensive stopper, rebounder and post-threat. Instead Howard sulked and then gave himself a public pep-talk telling everyone that would listen that he just wanted to play ball. Its always excuses with this guy, rarely being accountable. It was Orlando's fault, Van Gundy's fault, Kobe's fault, Mike D'Antoni's fault but never Dwight's fault.
So, despite the Warriors dining with Dwight tonight to try and persuade him to come to the Bay, I hope their efforts fail. I hope he goes to some other franchise giving them false hope. As a Warrior fan we have dealt with high hopes before and been bitterly disappointed. This time I will celebrate when the Dwightmare decides to infect some other franchise with his less-than-spirited play and finger pointing....
LEGACIES WILL BE TARNISHED OR LIFTED FOR LEBRON JAMES AND MANU GINOBLI BASED ON TONIGHT'S GAME 7 OUTCOME
Legacies will strengthened or tarnished based on tonight's Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
At stake for the Miami Heat is a second consecutive NBA title or a sobering somber finish to a spectacular regular season that could signal the end of the Big 3 and a rebuilding project for Pat Riley and the Heat's front office brass.
For the San Antonio Spurs NBA Finals perfection is being tested by the Fighting LeBron's. The Spurs were a mere 28.2 seconds away from a perfect 5-0 record in Finals appearances in the Tim Duncan era. Then a series of miscues stymied the Spurs and forced them to play a Game 7 on the Heat's home floor.
For LeBron James a win tonight might be his greatest achievement. Make no mistake, the truly special players are judged on Championships. When you get there, you better win. LeBron is 1-2 in Finals entering tonight. A loss would make him 1-3 and would clearly show a chink in the armor of the self-proclaimed King James.
There probably is not a more important figure for the Spurs than Manu Ginobli. There is so much riding on his Game 7 performance. Aside from Game 5, Ginobli has been dreadful in the series. If the Spurs come up short, his legacy will take a hit. His struggles in Game 6 were so glaring he is having the basketball world question his abilities. No one is having their "star status" questioned like Ginobli. He can answer those questions with a solid performance tonight
Ironically I don't believe ANY of the other players in this series have as much at stake personally as these two players do. If LeBron wins title number two (Back-to-Back) his greatness will get that TITLE SHINE STAMP of approval. But losing three-of-four NBA Finals and the vulchers will circle, driving him into an off-season of soul searching and wonder.
Tim Duncan and Tony Parker of the Spurs and Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh of the Heat don't nearly have as much at stake personally on the outcome of tonight's game as Bron and Manu. For the most part, legacies have been determined and NBA stories writtien.
It's Decision Day. Who will wear it ? Who will take it ?
THE SPURS COULDN'T HOLD A FIVE-POINT LEAD IN THE FINAL 28.2 SECONDS
In professional sports you usually only get one chance to put the proverbial dagger in an opponent and win a series. The teams, the players they are all just too good. So, when the opportunity presents itself you MUST take advantage of it and seal the deal.
This Game 6 loss by the San Antonio Spurs will haunt that franchise in perputuity if they do not win Game 7. They had so many chances to win the game and the series, yet couldn't deliver the dagger.
First, you must make your free throws. Critical misses late by Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli and Kawai Leonard allowed the Heat to hang around for a bit longer than they should. What is surprising is usually veteran teams and veterans make their charity shots. Not last night and it could prove fatal for San Antonio.
Second, one of the strengths for the Spurs in this series has been their ability to rebound the basketball and their dominance inside. Holding the Heat to one-and-done by clearing defensive rebounds. There were two critical sequences in the final :30 seconds last night where Miami's LeBron James missed three-pointers, yet the Spurs couldn't clear a defensive rebound. By not pulling the boards it resulted in TWO MADE trifectas by both James (:21 secs left) and Ray Allen (5.2 secs left.) If you play great defense but don't pull the defensive, it really doesn't matter how well you played defense. That is why defensive rebounding is coveted in the Association.
Third, this is probably the most inexplicable of all the Spurs meltdowns. It comes from their Hall of Fame coach Greg Popovich. The man who I thought would run circles around Erik Spoelstra in this series. But, last night was a John McNamara (Boston Red Sox 1986) moment for Pop. There were so many late game head scratchers from Pop I really don't know where to start.
He removes Tim Duncan with a five point lead with 28.2 seconds left because he wants better perimeter defense as the Heat ready themselves for three-point try late in regulation. The result was the inability to pull the defensive board because you don't have your best player on the floor, a 7-footer who had dominated the boards all night.
He then re-inserts Duncan, only to pull him from the game again with the Spurs up three (95-92) with :18 secs left. Again, the Heat miss a three but pull the offensive rebound leading to the Ray Allen tying three sending the game into overtime.......Guh !
Popovich also told assembled media that he doesn't foul to prevent a three point shot when leading by three points with under :15 seconds left. "Its something we don't do," he said. Well, you might want to think about doing it next time Pop.
Pop's final foible was having Tony Parker off the floor with no timeouts, down by three in the waning seconds with only a Manu Ginobli as the Spurs true ball-handler and trying to get a final shot off. When you don't have timeouts, and you can't rely on a dead-ball situation. You must have your play-maker on the floor. Instead, the Spurs were relegated to Ginobli who was making horrible decisions all night long, and he was your primary decision maker at the end of OT.
If the Spurs beat the Heat on Thursday Game 6 will be forgotten, but if the Spurs lose Game 7, the meltdown on Tuesday night will haunt this proud franchise forever.
IS THIS GUY HURT OR IS IT JUST THE TYPICAL DRAMA WE SEE ON A GAME-BY-GAME BASIS FROM DWADE
I don't doubt that Dwayne Wade has a few aches and pains as he plays basketball but do we have to see him go through all the histrionics on a game-by-game basis ? By looking at Wade one would think he had just been in a car accident and it has taken all the energy he can muster just to "valiantly" take the court. His performance throughout the post-season ALMOST made me believe he was actually injured, then Game 4 happened.
In Game 4 Wade was his normal dominant self. Crisp cuts, springy legs, explosiveness. He scored 32 points pulled down 6 rebounds, had 5 assists and 5 steals. He dominated the game in almost every facet. Someone who is injured or hurt does not play like that. Even with that performance there were numerous times he was knocked to the ground and would rise to his feet like he was an 85 year-old man.
Wade's performances and antics are not heroic. They just show a player who loves having the attention on himself. Whether he is performing at a high level or whether he wants to give the appearance he is playing through some kind of battle-wound. His prima-donna ways are the ultimate in self-adulation. "Look at me, I'm Dwayne Wade and I'm important."
I will take Wade for what he is. Once, a fine ball-player who could be admired for his drive and determination. Now, just someone who is squeezing every ounce of public sentiment that he can grab by feigning injury and trying to give the impression he is playing through some type of excruciating pain....How about this Dwayne ? How about just playing and not letting anyone know you might be dinged up a bit.
ANOTHER HEART-BREAKING DAY FOR THE MUCH BELOVED PHIL MICKELSON IN SEARCH OF A U.S. OPENTITLE
As long as I can remember I have loved Phil Mickelson. Maybe its because I'm a lefty too. Maybe its because we are so close in age. Or, maybe its because in all of Phil's greatness we see his imperfections, and know that we are imperfect too.
Yesterday Mickelson took his legion of fans on another wild ride as he flirted with his first US Open Championship only to come agonizingly short once again. That is now SIX 2nd place finishes in the tournament. After yesterday's near miss, Mickelson admitted what we all know. It is "heart-breaking" to come this close and not wrap your hands around that trophy.
Mickelson was as steady as ever throughout the weekend and seemed primed and ready to win his first Open. But, from the outset we could see this could be a struggle. He was missing fairways and even when he put himself in postion to make a putt, he would either lip out or come within inches of hitting the bottom of the cup.
Phil Mickelson is a modern day Arnold Palmer in terms of how much he is beloved by his fans. While Tiger Woods was winning tournaments and giving us those cold icy answers, Mickelson would punctuate his greatness with those, "Oh shucks" moments. While Tiger was cavorting with strippers and porn stars, Mickelson was at home with his wife and his kids. While Tiger was living the high life, Mickelson was home nursing his wife through cancer.
We see the best in ourselves in Phil Mickelson, and this is why his losses hurt so much.
We can all relate to Phil Mickelson. We all have skills. We all have talents, but sometimes we just can't meet our own lofty expectations. So is the case in being a fan of Phil, we see ourselves in his triumph. We see ourselves in his disappointments. Yet, we keep coming back to be part of Phil's Army. Because if we give up on him, we give up on ourselves.
There is a fine line between being a supportive parent who helps guide their child through their adolescent athletic endeavors and the parent who is completely delusional. Sadly, I am seeing more of the latter these days.
Don't get me wrong, those parents who cheer and support their kids are my FAVORITE types of parents. From the time I was five years-old to when I was 18 and playing American Legion baseball, my mother missed a total of three games. THREE !!! I played baseball and basketball every year for 14 years, and she wouldn't miss it for the world. These types of amazing role models are exactly what great parents should be, supporting, nurturing and enjoying the games with their children. Allowing their off-spring to have fun and play.
Then we have the delusional parents. You've seen them. You've heard them. They are the parents who are experts on all things athletically related. In a lot of cases they coach their own kids because "no one knows my kid's swing like I do." They believe that they hold the holy grail to athletic achievement for their child and if they guide them through their Little League, AAU and youth football years they will have the tools to be a big-time baseball, basketball, football, tennis, golf, player.
The problem is these parents live in their own LOCAL little world. There is an honest belief that if my kid is good here in Chico, they will dominate on the big stage. Its a simple fallacy coming from a lack of perspective from a parent who, either hasn't played, or has no clue that there are other talented players all over the state, country and world. In an odd conundrum they suffer from the Aaron Rodgers syndrome. They saw Chico's favorite son go from talented, yet under-sized high school quarterback, to a blossoming college career at Butte and magnificent maturation into a star at Cal-Berkeley and with the Green Bay Packers. But, there is a problem with this thinking......
Your kid isn't Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers is a once in a lifetime anomoly. Not a fluke, an anomoly. This is not to dissuade kids from working and believing they can be a professional athlete. It certainly can come true. But, when the parents drive and belief is stronger than the child's we see a lack of perspective that leads to cases of burn-out and despising the sport.
In my 25 years of living in Chico I certainly have run into more parents who have been supportive and understand the athletic outlet is for fun and joy. My experience has been dominated with great people who simply enjoy watching their kids play for its simple joy. But, there is the enticement of full-ride scholarships that has these other parents eyes' bulging as a way for their kid to play for pay, with college costs sky-rocketing. These parents get caught up in the belief that their kids are competing for college recognition instead of the "love of the game." I have seen it. I have heard it discussed. It's parents trying to live through their kids, because in all honesty.....they weren't good enough themselves.
I find more novices are over-bearing than those parents who actually competed at a high level in intercollegiate sports or on the professional level. It makes total sense to me. Novices have no life experience with which to draw so they feel since their child is playing in a championship game; THEY are playing in a championship game. Why is this ? Well, they never experienced it, so they vicariously live it through their sons or daughters. It's ironic, those that sometimes are the most passionate are also those that have the least amount of knowledge.
As I've said the vast majority of parents are exactly what supportive parents should be, but it is becoming increasingly easy to spot the over-bearing novice hollering instructions to their kid. And, that, is sad.
THIS IS THE LOS ANGELES DODGERS BULLPEN AND THIS BOX OF PAIN HAS BEEN DOLING OUT TORTURE ALL SEASON LONG AT CHAVEZ RAVINE. TRUE TORTURE IN SADISTIC FORM
San Francisco Giants fans like to affectionately call their brand of baseball "torture." The reasoning was the Giants would put their team through an emotional roller-coaster when either winning or losing games. The Giants appeared to take pride in making things difficult. It was cutesy, but really not believable.
When you win two World Championships in three years there is nothing torturous about it. Sorry, you don't get to corner the market on "torture." Let's look at the definition of said word; the infliction of intense pain, as from burning, crushing or wounding. To punish, coerce or afford sadistic pleasure. Ahhhh, now we are getting somewhere.
True torture is reserved for teams that are not as successful as the Giants. I was thinking about this last night as I watched the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen meltdown for the umpteenth time in a game against a division rival and give another one away. Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw pitched seven innings of dominant baseball only to see the Dodgers bullpen, known by Dodger fans as "The Box of Pain," relinquish another lead and ballgame.
Ring-announcer Michael Buffer has copyrighted the phrase, "Lets Get Ready to Rumble." Well, no Dodger fan would argue if the 2013 Dodgers coined the term "Box of Pain" This group has been true "torture" to watch. It is true torture knowing that your own personal Box of Pain will inflict intense pain and wound ones' baseball soul.
So, the next time a Giants fan complains of the torture their team is putting them through, I will just roll my eyes. True torture in not buffing your two World Series trophies while complaining about how much stress your team puts you through when they win.
True "torture" is the BOX OF PAIN residing in a little shed in the deeper left field confines of Chavez Ravine.
THE A'S ARE WINNING AND YOENIS CESPEDES ISN'T EVEN HITTING YET...LOOK OUT
Why are we surprised this is happening again. The Oakland Athletics are on a mad dash to greatness once again. They have a line-up devoid of any superstar and have built through trades and the draft. Just how Billy Beane envisions it.
The A's incredible final six weeks of the 2012 season has been transported to a May-Bonanza in 2013. Oakland is surging, winning 15 of their 17 and putting a ton of heat on the Texas Rangers. How are they doing it ? Simple. Their pieces fit.
Billy Beane knows he can't afford paying superstars the big bucks. The A's and their scouts have to be nearly flawless in player evaluations to make sure the team they are assembling....fits. A mixture of power and speed that gets on base and produces runs. Its pretty obvious he puts a fair amount of credence on chemistry and comraderie. The A's all pull in the same direction. Areas of perceived weakness can be nullified by a team that trusts and believes in one another to the point of self-sacrifice to pick each other up.
The A's pitching staff is a tremendous strength. Young, hard-throwing starters that have been obtained through great scouting and saavy trades put Oakland ahead of the curve. Their bullpen is the envy of big money spenders (Dodgers, Angels) everywhere. With Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle setting up Grant Balfour, there is a level of competiveness that you just don't see from the teams that rub dollar bills on their hairy chests.
The A's aren't going anywhere. They are, where they are supposed to be. Climbing toward first place in a battle for the post-season. Don't be surprised this is exactly where the A's are supposed to be.
HUNTER PENCE AND MARCO SCUTARO COLLIDE AS THE GIANTS BUTCHER A POP-UP AGAINST THE A'S ON THURSDAY NIGHT. DEFENSIVE ISSUES HAVE PLAGUED THE GIANTS DURING THE 2013 SEASON
The game of baseball is hard enough, but when you can't get out of your own way it's even worse. No one believes the San Francisco Giants are as bad as they are playing right now. But, there are some trouble spots that are not going away and will need to be rectified soon.
The Giants defense, a strength during their recent World Championship runs has taken a turn for the worse. Suddenly, Marco Scutaro lacks range and has hands of stone. Outfielders Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres committed miscues last night against Oakland that cost the Gignates runs. Even when Angel Pagan gets back, he has had his misadventures in the field. And, Hunter Pence is quirky, odd-looking but makes the plays, although it is not always aesthetically pleasing.
The Giants pitching defiencies have been the biggest surprise and trouble spot of the 2013 campaign. Whether its increased work-load from lengthy post-season runs in two of the last three years, or just normal early season inconsistency, this will not cut it. The Giants will have to pitch better if they expect to contend.
Matt Cain has been decent after two horrible early season outings that inflated his ERA. Barry Zito has been sporadic and Tim Lincecum is an anomoly. He has nice zip on his fastball. HIs change-up has been inconsistent. A beauty followed by a hanger and his ERA hovers near 5. Ryan Vogelsong had been awful before he pitched well in a start where he broke his hand trying to bunt. So, a void the Giants haven't had to worry about in their rotation for three years, suddenly is a glaring weakness with no Major League ready pitcher in their farm. Would be nice to have Zack Wheeler ready to contribute ??? (Carlos Beltran trade)
Offensively the Giants have been good. They brought the best batting average in the National League into their game with Athletics last night. San Francisco has mastered the come-from-behind and never-say-die win. Numerous walk-offs and comebacks have highlighted a team you never feel is out of a game. Gone are the days where the Giants can't score runs, this team can score.
This should be reason for optimism. The problems the Giants are having through the first two months of the season have been areas of strength over the last several years (pitching and defense.) But, pitching problems for one month is one thing, when it turns into two months, it is a trend. For San Francisco they have to have faith in their arms. It's their strength and it's why they have two World Championship banners flying at AT & T.
The Giants will go as far as their pitching and defense takes them. The comeback wins are nice. The rejuvenated offense is a thrill, but this team can not win if they don't pitch. And, this fact has to weigh heavy on GM Brian Sabean who has to wonder whether his largesse of arms is finally spent.
Today was supposed to be the day the Chico State Wildcats baseball team was hopping on a charter flight to the Raleigh-Durham Airport as they prepared for the Division II Baseball College World Series in Cary, North Carolina.
It was "supposed" to be the day.
Take it from someone who remembers every bit of minutae when it comes to my beloved Chico State Wildcats. Of course the joys sit at the forefront of my mind when it comes to my favorite baseball team. But, the losses linger, they haunt, in moments alone in my sporting mode I become fixated on situations, plays, pitches and ultimately what went wrong.
For three days this 2013 version of the Chico State Wildcats were playing magical baseball. An offensive explosion against top seed Cal State Monterey Bay was followed by pitching gems by Troy Neiman and Kagen Hopkins against host Dixie State and Grand Canyon University. Chico was playing at a level we had seen through the first 10 weeks of the season. Timely hits, clutch pitching and incredible defense that demoralized Dixie and Canyon on Friday and Saturday afternoons. And then, in an instant, it all changed.
Sunday brought a new set of challenges. Grand Canyon had escaped a furious Sonoma State rally on Saturday night to meet Chico for the Regional Championship, knowing they had to beat Chico State twice. Admittedly a daunting task when you considered the Antelopes pitching was spent. They had to beat a team that had given up only 4 runs in three games.....TWICE in a six hour span.
But, the signs were there early. Chico State's hard hit lasers against Canyon starter Trent Wilson were atoms hit right at fielders. And as line drive after line drive found the webbing of Grand Canyon gloves an ominous feeling hovered over Bruce Hurst Stadium. It turned even more sour after Brian Kraft hammered a three run homer in the 4th inning on a 1-2 breaking ball in. Just as I said on the radio, "If you make a mistake away, its a single, if you make a mistake in, its a home run." The mistake was in, and Chico fell behind 5-2.
Undeterred Chico State kept scratching and clawing in that first game, adding a run in the fifth, two more in the seventh and taking the lead in the eighth. But, there was still an aire of apprehension as Chico took a 6-5 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning. For starters they had left the bases loaded in both the seventh and eight innings. The need to add on runs against a very good Grand Canyon team was evident, but the Cats just couldn't get that one hit to tack on two, three even maybe four runs.
There comes a time in all CLOSE championship games where you have a chance to win the game, right there, delivering the dagger. Chico had numerous chances. They had the lead, but they hadn't delivered the dagger. So, after a one out error, that was nearly an incredible play, there was perfectly placed bunt hit and a base hit by a pesky .240 hitting number nine hitter in the Grand Canyon line-up. With two outs and the bases loaded, in stepped another irritating yet incredlbly clutch hitter in Paul Pannacionne for the Lopes. Throughout the tournament he had flashed his leather at short-stop, but on this occasion with his team down to their final four outs, he would stripe a fastball into dead-center and the Lopes would grab a 7-6 lead.
Chico State would never have a lead the rest of the day.
Four outs away. So close, so frustratingly close for a group of 17 seniors to get back to Cary, North Carolina came to a crushing end nearly four hours later when Grand Canyon won the night-cap 6-2 and punched their ticket to North Carolina.
Don't mistake my melancholy for any lack of respect for the Grand Canyon Antelopes. Grand Canyon won this thing. They stepped up and made plays and pitches when they had to. Chico State didn't. That isn't the hard part for the Wildcats and their fans. The hard part lays in the days ahead.
For two decades the Chico State Baseball program has been dominant. A true jewel in Division II West Region baseball. There are not any teams that are crying for a program that has won 8 regional titles in a 17 year stretch. Compare those numbers to other programs nationally. It is virtually unparalelled. But, with the winning comes the disappointment of wanting to do even more. Its the nature of the game. Its the nature of the AT & T commericial. "We Want More, We Want More."
In 2000, the Wildcats were trying to make a fourth straight trip to Montgomery, Alabama and the Division II College World Series. They were the defending National Champions. Everyone was returning and it was Montgomery or bust. The team hadn't lost a double-header since February of 1999 and they went into Championship Saturday having to be beaten twice by Fort Hays State in Kansas. They were...............I have never been around a sadder and more despondent group of athletes in my life. It was a terrible experience. One bad day probably cost the best team in the country a chance to repeat.
The 2006 season mirrors 2013 in many respects. In Head Coach Lindsay Meggs' final year, his team was underperforming in an epic fashion. So, midway through the season, Meggs publicly laid into his team telling assembled media members. "The fact is they are not performing up to standard because they won't listen. They don't like me, and I don't like them. And soon, it will be all over for us." What transpired over the next six weeks was some of the best baseball we have ever seen in the Cardinal and White. In fact the Wildcats rolled into the post-season and came within one strike of beating the University of Tampa in the national title game in Montgomery. 2-1 lead, top of the ninth, two outs, two strikes for literally 15 minutes......Tampa tied it and then won it in the 10th. A crushing ending to an amazing transformation for a team that was left for dead six weeks earlier. Meggs would tell everyone who would listen when the run was over. "I have never been more proud of a team, than this one."
Fast forward to 2013. Chico starts the season 30-6. I can still see this team, and I mean the WHOLE team playing hacky-sack at the Sacramento Airport after taking three-of-four on the road in Pomona. Head coach Dave Taylor telling me, "look how much these guys like each other, and you know what, I really like them a lot. They are a great group of kids. So much fun to coach." The final 12 games would be at home, and what transpired over the next few weeks was one of the worst meltdowns we have seen from a Wildcat baseball team. Losing 10 of their final 14 the Cats limped into the regional and, honestly, they were not considered one of the favorites. But, for three days they played like the team we had come to love. Making plays, showing grit, grinding and finding a way.
When the dust had settled the plaque went to the Division-I bound Antelopes while the Wildcats trudged off for a 14 hour bus ride back home. Baseball can be cruel, it ends so suddenly because you are having so much fun you never think it will end. And so, when it does, you sit back, re-collect and savor the entire journey. That is what the 2000 and 2006 teams do. The season didn't end for those teams EXACTLY how they wanted. But, in the end, those clubs remember the friendships, the battles, the great moments, and even the heart-break. Why ? Well, the kinship of being a Chico State Wildcat player is like no other. You have guys who played together 20 years ago that still meet on weekly basis down in So-Cal. Being a Chico State Wildcat Baseball player doesn't end when your playing career is over. You are vested.....forever. That is what this place is all about.
So, for these 2013 Wildcats they enjoyed the view from the mountain-top, slipped into an abyss and incredibly gave us three days of baseball that had us dreaming that magical dream again.
Its the journey boys. Its living. It may have been a roller-coaster but thank you for letting this broadcaster and your loyal fans come along for the ride. You will look back one day and cherish every single moment.
DESPITE 44 POINTS FROM STEPH CURRY THE WARRIORS BLOW A 16-POINT LEAD WITH 4 MINUTES LEFT
I just don't know how the Golden State Warriors come back from this. A 16-point lead with just over four minutes to go against a veteran and heavily favored opponent and you lose. But, this just wasn't a loss. It was a collapse that shakes the foundation of a team on their first playoff journey. "Almost" losing to Denver isn't comparable to losing in such a gruesome fashion to the talented and statesman-like Spurs.
The Warriors needed to score two buckets in the final four minutes against San Antonio to secure the win. The deficit was too large for San Antonio to overcome without some cooperation from Golden State. The Warriors cooperated in a variety of ways. Whether it was too much dribbling on the perimeter by Jarrett Jack, forced shots, apprehensive play or turnovers, the Warriors did them all.
Let me say Mark Jackson is the perfect coach for this team, right now. He has instiled belief in this young Warriors group and there is no doubt he is a rock in the Warrior front office hierarchy, but he has to take some of the blame in this. When it was clear that his small line-up could not contain Tony Parker's penetration in the waning moments of regulation he called two timeouts after made buckets and called isolations for Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry. Really ? No ball movement, no motion, one on one basketball with no cohesion or flow. His team desperately needed him to stop the bleeding, and then best he could come up with was isolation's for Landry and Jack ? Second, where was Bogut ? With Parker getting into the lane and scoring easy lay-ups and runners, the Warriors stayed with the small line-up. Why not bring in Bogut and go big, forcing Parker away from the hoop. In the end the Spurs Kawai Leonard and Danny Green hit big three point jumpers at the end of regulation to force overtime. But, wouldn't have it been better to force the play-making Parker out of the paint and force the Spurs to chuck it from long distance, while you still had some semblance of control in the game ?
What makes it even worse was that Tim Duncan was off the floor with the stomach flu, so with Bogut on the floor it gives you a post option. Jackson's fear of Bogut's free throw shooting had to play into his decision. But, once the snowball started rolling down hill, you need to get stops and Bogut would have helped in that regard against the much-smaller Spurs. I believe this was tactical mistake by Jackson in his first pressure cooker playoff series.
I heard the argument that this was only one game and the Warriors bounced back against Denver and they can do so against San Antonio. That is nice in theory but totally unrealistic when you rationally look at what is before the Warriors. First, San Antonio is better than Golden State. They are more seasoned, experienced and saavy. The advantage the Warriors have is their youthful exuberance and enthusiasm. They are also young and spry, which should serve them well the longer the series goes. But, I can't help but think, what happens the next time the Warriors have a late lead in this series ? You don't think these guys are going to feel the lump in the throat. Golden State's inability to close is now a trend. If it happens once, its happen-stance. When it happens twice, its a trend.
When a young team makes their first foray into the post-season, and I don't care which sport it is there will be miscues, its inevitable. The Warriors will learn a lot from this first journey. When its all said and done they will do an honest assessment of their talents, their strengths, their weaknesses and then they will address those.
Right now, the lesson they need to learn is how to "close" on a big stage. Closing in February against the Timberwolves is easy. Closing in May against the Spurs in front of a national audience is a different animal.
Who knows, maybe in three years we look back as the Warriors are playing for the NBA Championship and see this as a necessary growing experience. But, right now it feels horrible.
ANSWERS MUST COME FAST FOR TEAM IN THROES OF SLUMP
I called the game of baseball a "fickle mistress" on Saturday during our broadcast on KPAY after the Chico State Wildcats were making another one of several physical and mental miscues on Saturday afternoon against rival Sonoma State. And, as the Chico Enterprise-Record's Travis Souders so eloquently added, "if the game of baseball is a fickle mistress for Chico State right now, then the Wildcats have been banished to the couch."
Chico State's aire of invincibility took a major hit over the weekend as they were outscored 16-5, and were out-hit 40-24 in a four game sweep at the hands of the Seawolves. What has to bother head coach Dave Taylor even more than those numbers is their inability to simply to "play" the game of baseball correctly. I had remarked three weeks ago that the Wildcats were playing about as flawless a brand of baseball that I had seen at The Nett in years. The Wildcats had every facet of the game covered, and with their magnificent pitching staff the wins were coming easily. But, this wonderful game of baseball that we love, is not supposed to be easy......and the Wildcats are now paying the price for their non-chalance.
Current Coach Taylor preaches "attention to detail." He professes, if a group of 25 guys focuses on all the small things, it will add up to great things resulting in solid play and wins. It has been a formula that has served this Chico State program well for nearly 20 years. But, the Wildcats somewhere over the last two weeks have lost their way. Let's look at a couple reasons why the Wildcats may have hit this skid....
First, after taking three of four in Pomona two weeks ago the Wildcats had a CCAA record of 23-5 and knew that their remaining 12 games would be at home. A place where they were 11-1 on the season. Without a doubt, a sense of comfort and ease settled over this team. One can surmise that the sharp focus of this team when they were on the road has waned while at home. I have seen this team for much of the season, and there is no doubt they have played the "game of baseball" better on the road. Even when they were winning at home early in the season.....their focus, and attention to detail has not been the same at home. Distractions ? Well, there are many of them. Just look where the Wildcats go after home games. Half walk back to the clubhouse the rest gather with friends, family and girl-friends near the netting behind home-plate. Living in a vacuum at home.....they are not.
Second, despite the Wildcats strong start the schedule over the last few weeks has gotten considerably more difficult. Even though Chico racked up wins against also-rans they hadn't played some of the better teams in the CCAA. Well, now they are, and those teams (UC San Diego and Sonoma) are coming AFTER Chico State. UCSD was fighting for a playoff spot when they split with the Wildcats last weekend and Sonoma was still bitter about last season's late inning melt-downs against Chico State in big games. Sonoma ace pitcher Glenn Wallace admitted as much on Saturday, telling the ChicoER, "we still remember last year and it motivates us." Chico mistakes against the San Bernardino's, and Stanislaus' and San Francisco State's are masked by the Wildcats' talent. Chico can still win against sub-par teams even when they aren't playing great baseball. But, against good teams, mistakes are taken advantage of and the Cats are paying the price.
How can Chico get out of this rut ? Simple, have a short memory. This "crisis of confidence" must end NOW. If this 2013 version of the Chico State Baseball team thinks they are in some kind of unique free-fall and nothing will stop it, then they will indeed flame out and this will be end up being a great disappointment. Or, this team can do what several former Chico State teams have done during the Meggs and Taylor eras. They will look themselves in the mirror, be honest about their preparation, attention to detail, and focus and re-commit themselves to team and cause. This team has 19 seniors. Do they really want to go out LIKE THIS ?
Its pretty simple, this team was 30-6......10 days ago. I believe the 2013 Wildcats are the club we saw over the first 36 games. I don't believe they are the team we have seen over the last week and a half. The question is....What do THEY believe ?
THE MAN SHOWN HELPING THIS BOMBING VICTIM IS CARLOS ARREDONDO. HIS SON DIED FIGHTING IN IRAQ IN 2004. SINCE HIS SON'S DEATH, HE HAS GONE TO THE BOSTON MARATHON EVERY YEAR TO HAND OUT U.S. FLAGS TO RUNNERS WHO CROSS THE FINISH LINE. LITTLE DID HE KNOW, THESE FLAGS WOULD BE USED AS A TOURNIQUET AND LIFE LINE TO SAVE LIVES....THE COMPASSION, GENEROSITY AND COURAGE OF AMERICANS WAS ON FULL DISPLAY BY THOSE WHO HELPED OUT THEIR FELLOW CITIZENS ONE WEEK AGO....
Despite the sorrow of what was a shocking and terrifying week. Again, as Americans showed our mettle and how we rise to the occasion during the most difficult of times. KPAY'S Mike Baca elucidates on this fact in today's Bit o Baca......
For the Chico State Women's Basketball team a win on Friday night at Cal State Monterey Bay not only meant a CCAA regular season title, but it also meant the top seed in the conference championship tournament that starts on Tuesday night. The win against the Otters was the ultimate in gut checks.....
The Chico State Men's Basketball team is on quite a roll. Winners of 7 in a row entering the CCAA Championship Tournament. Five weeks ago the Cats were 10-9 overall and 7-8 in CCAA play. They enter the tournament as the #3 seed knowing they need a deep run to strengthen their NCAA Tournament resume...
THE CHICO STATE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM IS ALL SMILES AS THEY HEAD HOME AFTER SWEEPING THE HUMBOLDT STATE AND POMONA ROADTRIP
There is still time to hop on board the Chico State Women's Basketball bandwagon. Don't get left behind because this is a fun journey the ladies are taking us on.
The Wildcats currently sit at 16-2 with a glowing 12-2 CCAA mark. The Chico State program has had resounding success over the last decade, but no team may have surpassed expectations like this 2012-2013 team has. Chico State is coming off of a laborious road trip that took them to Arcata to play Humboldt State, only to turn around two days later and play perennial power Cal Poly Pomona. Chico was able to win both of these tough road contests in decisive fashion. Now, they tackle the perils of the road once again as they travel to San Francisco State and Sonoma State this week.
This Chico State team may be the most fun Wildcat bunch since the 2006 team ventured all the way to the Elite Eight in Arkansas and eventually the Final Four. This group is fun, determined, tenacious and has that WILL TO WIN that great teams possess.
The Wildcats are led by their junior point guard Courtney Hamilton. The stat page does not adequately equate her true value to the club. Her ability to push tempo keeps the Wildcats playing at a frenetic pace that more times than not propels them to great things. In her first few years she needed to be urged to "push the ball" up the court. That, is no longer a problem for Brian Fogel's floor general. No doubt Courtney makes them go. She is averaging 6 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists a game. But her value isn't in the numbers, its in her never-ceasing ball pressure that we have seen eventually wear opponents down (i.e. Western Washington) causing turnovers and mistakes. Her ball pressure forces mistakes which eventually lead to Chico State lay-ups.
Jazmine Miller is her back-court mate. The junior guard recently went through a bit of a shooting funk, hitting only two-three pointers in a five game stretch. But, over her last three games she has hit 12-of 14 trifectas, including an amazing 5-for-5 performance in a win over Cal State East Bay. She is Chico's leading scorer not because she can only hit three's. Her penchant for getting out on the break and taking the ball to the bucket gets her to the free throw line where she is money. When she gets her feet set from distance....look out.
Monnie Davidson-Mays is the perfect tweener for this team. It doesn't matter what position you ask Mays to play. She can play them all. She is prolific in the open court, and her ability to run the floor, pass and score make her special. She is having a tremendous senior campaign. Her versatility make her a match-up nightmare for opponents. Her consistency this season has been a big reason why the Cats are sitting atop the CCAA.
McKenzie Dalthorp is the third-year post from Oregon and the Wildcats love having her patrolling the middle. Dalthorp brings a rugged toughness in the paint to Chico. Never shying away from contact, Dalthorp patrols the paint and makes other posts work hard on both ends. When Dalthorp is on her game she is scoring and causing frustrated posts to take bad shots. Her value is immeasurable.
After tearing her ACL in a playoff game against Humboldt last March, Synchro Bull is back to dazzling us all in the open court. The spring is back in her legs after Fogel brought her along slowly and she is now hitting on all cylinders. Bull has an ability to get to the rim and create her own shot. Quite commodity in the rough and tumble CCAA. Several times in her Chico State career she has been the great bail-out when plays break down. Bull is truly an X-factor.
Division I players can come to Division II programs and either make you better, or they can bring everyone down because they carry themselves with an air of "why am I here?" Hannah Womack DOES NOT fit into the latter category. A fun, intense and physical player Womack has shown her propensity to gravitate toward contact. She is a fearless player who has been described by teammates as "chippy," and they love it. Opponents get annoyed with Womack easily, because she won't leave them alone. She constantly hounds them and makes their lives difficult. Getting an extra shot in for good measure, and then looking around and saying "Who me ?" This sophomore guard had her best game of the season at Pomona scoring 19 points and taking the fight to the Broncos early in that game.
Chico's Analise Riezebos is another player that is having a great sophomore season. Riezebos tore her ACL in the spring of 2011 and had to red-shirt last year. She has come back and given the Cats quite a presence off the bench. Averaging 6.5 points and more than 7 rebounds a game, this club relies on Riezebos to play defense and grab rebounds. They don't necessarily just want that out of Riezebos, they NEED it out of her. Along with Dalthorp they are the only two-bigs on the roster and their presence in the paint prevents teams from constantly attacking the middle of the lane. Riezebos just gets better and better and she could be a dominant player in the CCAA for years to come.
Samantha Messersmith is another versatile piece for the Cats. Whether Fogel puts her in the paint to spell Riezebos and Dalthorp, or whether he wants her energy and intensity off the bench, Messersmith has brought it. Her signature line-drive three point shots have been finding the bottom of the net more often than not. She is another senior whose consistency this year is a big reason why the Wildcats are winning. Fogel knows what he is getting when Sam gets on the court, and this year its been a big boost.
Sophomore guard Annie Ward is knocking them down from the cheap seats again. After going through a mid-season shooting slump, Ward has found her stroke and back to hitting three's. Her presence on the floor is critical when the Wildcats go to their bench. Ward's shooting ability forces defenses to spreadout, therefore opening lanes for the Cats quick guards. She brings balance to this team. Opponents can't sag off of her for fear she will hit her high arching three point tries. When she is confident, she is among the best shooters in the CCAA. With Ward back on track, things open up for the Cats. If Ward ever gets confident in taking the ball to the basket and working on her intermediary game, she could average double-digits in this conference.
Sharon Washington is a luxury that not many teams have. She has the talent to start on many teams in this conference, but instead, she fills that back-up role for the Cats when the starting back-court needs a breather. Fogel says her ability to run the break in practice is natural for her, and we have seen it in games when she is given extended minutes. Her key role can not be over-looked as she gives the Wildcats depth and ensures the Wildcats have someone who can direct traffic if the starters falter. She can shoot it from the perimeter, and the best thing, not many teams know it.
When you consider highly touted recruit, Ashtyn Anderson tore her ACL in Chico's third game....the Wildcats are set now and into the future. Her rehab has begun and she will be vital to the Wildcat's future success. But, the time is now for this team. Gone are thoughts that this season might be a pre-cursor to great things next year. The time is now for THIS team.
There are still several impediments to this Chico State 2012-2013 season. They have a pay-back game against UC San Diego on the horizon at Acker Gym and then what figures to be an incredible match-up in Seaside with Cal State Monterey Bay in the final weekend of the year. The Wildcats have had an incredible run of success over the years, with conference titles, CCAA tournament titles and trips to the Elite Eight. Now, with eight games left in the regular season, Chico has their basketball fate in their own hands......just how they would want it.
MICHAEL CRABTREE CAN'T GRAB COLIN KAEPERNICK'S FOURTH DOWN PASS LATE IN THE 4TH QUARTER SECURING THE SUPER BOWL TITLE FOR THE BALTIMORE RAVENS
The hangover from the San Francisco 49ers loss in Super Bowl XLVII will last awhile. But, the post-mortem exam will show the San Francisco 49ers did not deserve to win this game.
From the outset the 49ers looked jittery. They just seemed out of sorts. With the 49ers first play from scrimmage, a 20 yard pass play, which was called back because of an illegal formation, to the subpar play of their secondary the 49ers looked out of sync.
Colin Kaepernick had a solid game. When you consider he was only making his 10th career start you have to believe the butterflies were a buzzin. Numerous times in the first half he either lacked patience, double-pumped or held the ball too long. In the end his performance was more than adequate as he nearly led the 49ers on the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. During the comeback some of his throws were simply other-worldly. Absolute darts with the precision of laser guided missles. The 49ers have a treasure.
The secondary was just awful. The main antagonist was self-proclaimed homophobe Chris Culliver who insulted his hometown city on Wednesday and letdown his hometown city on Sunday. Anquan Boldin registered several big grabs as Culliver was either a step late or lost in his fight for the ball with vice-gripped Boldin. But, it wasn't just Culliver, Dashon Goldson and Carlos Rogers were beaten to the punch as well. Joe Flacco made some nice throws, but the 49ers coverage has been better and it needed to be.
The special teams gaffe to start the second half was inexcusable. If you are going to win a Super Bowl that just can't happen. Jacoby Jones 108 yard scamper should have been the dagger if not for the greatness of the 49ers. And, that is what is so frustrating. The 49ers SHOULD HAVE won this game.
When the 49ers got down to the Ravens 4-yard line with under two minutes to play, I wasn't thinking IF the 49ers would score, I was hoping they wouldn't score so soon and leave Flacco time to race down the field for a possible tying or winning field goal. It did not even enter into my mind that the 49ers wouldn't score.
The four 49ers plays inside the five were not good. First, a run between the tackles into the teeth of the Ravens defense with LaMichael James. Now, I understand Frank Gore had just streaked down the sidelines and needed a breather, but if you are going to run between the tackles on THAT play, I want Gore. Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman had to be thinking that the Ravnes were tired and their all-everything nose-tackle Hloti Ngata was injured and out of the game. But, still didn't like that call. The second down play was an out to Crabtree near the goal line. The Ravens had blanket like coverage and even if the catch is made, the 49ers are still facing a third-and-goal from the one. The third down play.....Guh ! Crabtree was again blanketed and Kaepernick tries to find him near the sideline at about the two, the ball was jarred loose as the Ravens had tight coverage.
On fourth down, the Ravens tip their hand showing blitz. Genius move by John Harbaugh, make the kid make a quick decision to try and win the Super Bowl. Upon seeing this, I don't know why Jim Harbaugh didn't burn his final timeout ? The game is on the line right here. There is no need to hang on to that timeout. When seeing his second year quarterback face this blitz-look from the Ravens, you need to call that timeout, get with Kaepernick, go through his progressions, and make sure he knows what to do if in case the Ravens blitz or sit back in coverage. But, instead it was a hurried, lofted toss to the corner of the end zone and out of bounds leading to a 34-31 Baltimore win.....
So, lets add it up. 4 plays, no Gore, no Vernon Davis, no pistol. It was LaMichael James up the gut and three passes to Michael Crabtree who was facing blanket like coverage.....Hmmmmm
The 49ers will be great for years to come. The infrastructure is there. But, this missed opportunity will haunt the 49ers and their fans for years to come.
IF THE MOON WERE MADE OF RIBS WOULD JERRY RICE AND TIM BROWN EAT IT ?
Let me get this straight....Bill Callahan the head coach of the Oakland Raiders in the 2003 was so fond of his good buddy and friend Jon Gruden that he intentionally "sabotaged" the Raiders chances at winning the Super Bowl by changing the teams' game plan 48 hours before the game making it easier for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to beat the Raiders.....
Well, If you are living in some kind of alternate reality where bunnies can run for Congress, you would believe the claims made by Hall of Famer and former Oakland Raider Tim Brown, that Callahan wanted to lose the Super Bowl. Brown's comments were supported by the greatest receiver of them all Jerry Rice, who told USA Today, "maybe he didn't like the Raiders, maybe (he thought) we should sabotage this a little bit and let Jon Gruden win this one."
Callahan has vociferously denied the charges and called the comments "shocking, outrageous and sad." The players say that Callahan changed the game plan just hours before the game causing uproar within the framework of the team. Couldn't it be possible that Callahan had a severe change of heart and thought his game plan sucked, maybe too many gimmicks and that the team wanted to go back to basics to try and beat Tampa ? How about Callahan just having a horrible coaching moment in making this last minute change ? But, to question his integrity...that seems a bit much.
Think about it. You have reached the pinnacle of your sport and you are coaching in the biggest athletic event on the planet and you are going to sabotage yourself on purpose and try to lose ? It doesn't make any sense. That is why it boggles my mind that Tim Brown would voice this and Jerry Rice would embrace this suggestion.
Rice even went so far to say that the game plan change was probably the reason Barrett Robbins, the Raiders starting center went AWOL on a drug and drinking binge just hours before the Super Bowl and failed to show up for the game......
Either, these two guys are hard up for attention or maybe THEY have have gone a little AWOL the last few days themselves. In defense of Callahan several Raiders have stepped forward to support Callahan refuting the Brown claims....including former quarterback Rich Gannon and lineman Lincoln Kennedy. But, in several respects the damage is done. Both Brown and Rice are revered in this sport and their opinions carry some weight.....even if their opinions are as asinine as the moon being made of ribs.
AS AN ATHLETE ARMSTRONG IS FLAWED....AS A HUMANITARIAN....NOT SO MUCH
I simply have no patience for ignorance. I try and understand other people's viewpoints, but when they are based in ignorance I have to completely turn them off and not consider anything they say relevant if they are going to be so narrow-minded. This has become an issue for me as I listen to these "geniuses" discuss Lance Armstrong and his Livestrong Foundation.
Let's get this front-and-center. Lance Armstrong lied and cheated his way to seven Tour de France cycling titles. He used performance-enhancing drugs during his tremendous string of victories and as an athlete he is a fraud and a sham.....Case Closed.
But, when you consider Armstrong the humanitarian a different story emerges. Because of his celebrity and his own personal fight with testicular cancer he started the Livestrong Foundation. He used his celebrity to garner donations and corportate sponsorships that helped thousands of families in their time of need. One of those families is my own. When a loved one was diagnosed with cancer, we had to have some specialized treatments. The treatments were in excess of 20 thousand dollars, money we did not have. Yet, the clinic told us that because of the Livestrong Foundation they would forgive roughly 75 percent of the cost.
When told what Livestrong was doing for us, I was in complete and utter shock. The doctors told us that they had negotiated with the Livestrong Foundation to forgive the costs of this procedure. It was something that we might not have been able to financially commit to without the Livestrong Foundation's help. It was a revelation in what celebrity can accomplish when put to good use. Today, my family member is completely cancer free and we move forward in knowing there were a lot of people that helped us overcome this monumental challenge......one of which being the Livestrong Foundation started by Lance Armstrong.
So, while stones are cast Armstrong's way, while people condemn his actions and his decade long denials about PED's. I will look at Armstrong differently. He is a flawed athlete who took numerous short-cuts on his way to glory. But, when he found that glory he helped those in need to fight a deadly disease. I, for one, will not judge him harshly.
COLIN KAEPERNICK MOWS DOWN THE PACKERS AND HAS THE 49ERS ONE WIN AWAY FROM SUPER BOWL 47
Capricorns can be stubborn and obstinate. When we believe we are right, its tough for us to budge. But, when we are presented with such over-whelming visual evidence that we are wrong, we concede with aplumb....that is what this Capricorn is going to do today.
Colin Kaepernick was simply superb. His ability to dominate the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional Playoff game on Saturday night will go down in the long and storied history of the San Francisco 49ers. He not only impressed with his rocket arm, but his legs.....oh those legs.
Kaepernick ran by, over and thru the impotent Packers defense like they were cardboard cut-outs. It was the best playoff rushing game by a quarterback in the HISTORY of the league. Green Bay defenders marveled at how well Kaepernick ran the read-option and sprinted by them. It was domination rarely seen at the professional level, let alone by a second year quarterback.
The second-year pro from Nevada-Reno, by way of Turlock, will now hoist the 49ers on his shoulders and take them to Atlanta, where he hopes to carry them to the Super Bowl and take care of some unfinished business. The loss against the New York Giants last year still stinging the 49er faithful.
In my criticisms of the move by Jim Harbaugh two months ago I argued that Harbaugh was disrupting the rhythm of the team by going to Kaepernick without taking his team's well-being for the 2012 season in mind. I stated, the best chance for 49er success during THIS season was with Alex Smith. For 2013 and beyond, I thought Kaepernick was the choice. But, clearly Harbaugh had the pulse of the situation.
He knew that he couldn't indiscriminately go to Kaepernick while Smith was putting up a 25-1 record. With that said, he also knew that at the first opportunity to make the switch, he was going to pounce. Remember, Harbaugh, his coaches and the players see practice each and every day, and reports had surfaced for the last year that Kaepernick was out-playing Smith on a daily basis. As we all know, playing in games, and in practice are completely different. But, Harbaugh knew exactly what he wanted to do.
In conceding I was wrong about the situation, I still believe it was handled horribly. Is it a difficult, almost impossible dilemna to navigate ? Absolutely. But, Harbaugh's coy and effusive responses to the media about his quarterback situation were also echoed by the two quarterback's in question who both said they were not getting any indication where Harbaugh was leaning. I think he knew, just preferred playing the game, to keep everyone on edge, that is the Harbaugh way. I believe he owed Smith a sit-down to tell him the what, why and how. Smith deserved that much.
In the end, Harbaugh was right, I was wrong, and all is normal with the world. The 49ers are one win away from going to the Super Bowl. San Francisco fans have their quarterback of the present and the future and his name is not Alex Smith. Smith will land somewhere, and will be an effective quarterback. But, the 49ers belong to Kaepernick now, and its exactly how the mad genius wanted it.
BARRY BONDS WILL LEARN ON WEDNESDAY ON WHETHER HE WILL BE ENSHRINED AT COOPERSTOWN
Tomorrow at 11am the vote by the Baseball Writers of America will be released and God-willing Barry Bonds is not voted in to the Hall of Fame.
There is no doubt from 1987-to-1999 Bonds was one of the greatest players the game had ever seen. He was the true five-tool player. He could hit, hit for power, field, throw and run. He had hit more than 450 home runs in that 13 year stretch and had garnered three MVP awards and was considered one of the pre-eminent players in the game both offensively and defensively. If his career had stopped at that point, he was a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer, but for Bonds being the best in the game WASN'T ENOUGH.
Teammates and associates of Bonds say he was not happy that Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire had captivated the nation with their 1998 home run chase. Bonds was clearly a better player than both Sosa and Big Mac and in seeing the adulation these two players were getting nation-wide it fried the versatile and also volatile Bonds. Anyone with vision, knew Sosa and McGwire had bulked to near super-human proportions and you had to be naive, dumb or blind (all of which baseball officials were) to not know they were on the juice. Size like that doesn't come from living in the weight room. So, Bonds got connected with the Bay Area lab Balco and the rest is history.
Three years later Bonds would break Mark McGwire's single-season home run record at 73 and would shatter baseball's record books with home runs at a chemically induced pace. Balls were not just flying off his bat, but they were traveling at a distance on a consistent basis that seemed freakish...prodigious home runs that were befitting of a man who had become bloated yet strong. Not only hitting home runs but consistently hitting them 400 to 450 feet. All while doing this as he aged, that's right, as Bonds got older he got better. Little did we know that Bonds had found Ponce De Leon's Fountain of Youth at the Bay Area Labratory Cooperative in the Bay Area.
In 2007, Bonds would break Hank Aaron's all-time home run record with 762 round-trippers. At nearly 40 years old he was still one of the toughest outs in baseball, and when he hit the ball it still soared out of ballparks all around the country. Gone were his tremendous running skills, that made him so electrifying with the Pirates and the Giants in the early 90's, gone was his ability to chase down balls in the gap with the graceful almost obstinate stride letting fans around baseball know that "he had this." And, gone was the thin wiry and athletic player that reminded fans of Willie Mays in his prime. No, near the end we had a bloated, muscle-bound, bulging player that simply was a behemouth as he chased baseball's most hallowed record for the edification of himself. That was it. The record of Aaron had all of a sudden become the record of a colossal fraud who needed a lubricant and synthetic steroid known as the "clear" to etch his name in baseball record books.
While Bonds was worshipped in San Francisco, he was and is reviled around other major league cities. We all know that Bonds was not the only player to juice, heck, if you believe Jose Canseco there were nearly half of major leaguers who were on some kind of illegal performance-enhancer. But, none of those players were the best player of their generation and felt like it WASN'T ENOUGH. None of those players broke cherished baseball records for purely for their own selfish desires. Bonds is still worshipped by some lemmings in San Francisco for his records and the joy he brought their baseball fans, but, in reality he is a fraud. A great player before 2000, but nothing but a cartoon character once his head grew two sizes. He is and always will be the poster player for the steroid era.
So, while his supporters cry foul when the Baseball Writers shun Barry Bonds on Wednesday, remember, this was a guy who had it all, and it wasn't enough. A player of supreme talent, and despite his surly disposition was respected as a ballplayer. A player unlike any other I had ever seen.....and he wasted it. Wasted it on home run records, that were largely ignored by the baseball community. In the end, Bonds punishment is being ostracized by baseball. Sure, he is loved in San Francisco, but baseball could care less about the man, neither celebrating or honoring a man who had it all....but it WASN'T ENOUGH.
MAKE NO MISTAKE.....JIM HARBAUGH'S DECISION TO SWITCH QUARTERBACKS MID-SEASON IS THE MAKE OR BREAK DECISION WHICH WILL DEFINE THE 2012 SEASON.
San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh made a move six weeks ago that will define the 2012 season. By yanking Alex Smith from the 49ers line-up he signaled a changing of the guard for a franchise hungry for a winner. In going with Colin Kaepernick, Harbaugh showed his cards for the 2012 season....In Kaep We Trust.
The problem is that his starter, Smith, was performing brilliantly. Leading the 49ers to a 25-1 record over his last 26 starts. It is obvious that Smith was not the long-term answer for the franchise, they were practically salivating and falling over themselves talking about Kaepernick, but it would have better served this franchise to hand the keys to the car to Kaepernick for the 2013 season.
Kaepernick looked solid and seasoned in the 49ers win in New England, he looked like a rookie in Seattle. I concede the fact that the rabid fans in the Emerald City make it tough on everyone, but still, in a big games, where ancillary factors matter, clutch play and veteran leadership is most assuredly needed....Kaepernick didn't have it. Someday he will, but not now. Do you honestly feel comfortable having Colin Kaepernick take these 49ers into Lambeau Field to play Chico's Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs ?
I never compare football to auto racing but the analogy fits. Harbaugh was leading the race, he basically pulled over the to side of the track, told his driver to get out of the car, and gave the keys to his future star. Never mind that Kaep hadn't done anything to get the 49ers to this point, and, also never mind the fact that Kaepernick is probably a better driver.....for this race, for this season, Alex Smith was the choice.
If the 49ers make it to the Super Bowl, Harbaugh is off the hook. His decision will have worked and regardless of how the Niners fare in the big game, it will have worked. But, if this 2012 49er team falls short. The blame falls squarely on the shoulders of their head coach.....who tinkered where no tinkering was needed.
ICONIC BAY AREA SPORTS BROADCASTER BILL KING IS PASSED OVER FOR HALL OF FAME AGAIN
For the umpteenth time Bay Area icon and long-time sports broadcaster Bill King did not receive the necessary votes to be inducted into the broadcaster's wing of the Hall of Fame. This is just a tremendous injustice. So many fans associate their love of team with their local broadcasters. No one exemplified this passion more than the great Bill King. Not only was his emotion for the game and his team's second-to-none, but his descriptions of what was actually taking place on the court or field is unparalleld.
LISTEN TO KING CALL GAME 4 OF THE 1975 WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS BETWEEN THE BULLS AND WARRIORS. GOLDEN STATE WAS DOWN 2-GAMES-TO-1 AND TRAILED BY 18 BEFORE RICK BARRY LED THEM BACK....
There are so many broadcasters today that are either cookie-cutter, general in scope or just plain boring. In a day where its all about who-you-know instead of...how good you are....the likes of Bill King are obsolete.
BILL KING WAS NEVER AFRAID TO CALL OUT AN OFFICIAL....HERE HE VOICES HIS DISPLEASURE AS RICHIE POWERS THROWS OUT AL ATTLES IN GAME 4 OF THE 1975 NBA FINALS AGAINST THE WASHINGTON BULLETS....
Bay Area fans grew to love his passion-filled broadcasts of Golden State Warriors basketball, his incredible connection to the Silver and Black and his infamous calls with the Oakland Raiders and during the latter stages of his career his descriptiveness and playful way of broadcasting Oakland A's baseball.
KING WAS AT THIS BEST DURING GAME 7 OF THE WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS IN 1975 AS THE WARRIORS TRAILED CHICAGO ENTERING THE 4TH QUARTER BEFORE RICK BARRY LED THE WARRIORS TO A COME-FROM-BEHIND WIN...
It is my contention that the Hall of Fame is incomplete without King. How can you have a Hall without a man who is considered by so many......as The Standard by which a game should be called on the radio. Many of us in the business who enjoyed his decades of calls, will not rest until we can celebrate Bill King in the broadcaster's wing of the Hall of Fame. Until then, the place just seems empty.
*Broadcast footage courtesy of the Bill King Broadcasting Library and The Warriors: A Championship Season CD*
TALKING HEADS FREAKING OUT OVER BOB COSTAS' EDITORIAL ON NFL SHOOTING DEATH
As a Libertarian I disagree with Jason Whitlock and Bob Costas, on their gun control take that was elucidated open during the Sunday Night Football broadcast. But, the outrage shown by certain segments of our population, in the wake of those comments, shows that we have a bevy of bitter among us.
These political pontificators actually believe we will take Costas' words to heart and change our views. Well, maybe vociferous and outlandish opinions are devoured in the politcal talk realm, but here in the real world we actually reason and critically think about our issues. We like hearing all sides of an issue.
For me, this is much ado about nothing. Talking heads are making a huge deal of this because honestly, it gives them a chance to get in the public eye again after their constant haranguing on political issues is falling on deaf ears. Good luck in riding Bob Costas' coat-tails.
WARRIORS CENTER ANDREW BOGUT IS OUT INDEFINITELY WHILE STILL RECOVERING FROM
MICRO-FRACTURE ANKLE SURGERY IN APRIL
Now that we have learned that Golden State Warriors Center Andrew Bogut didn't just have ankle surgery in April but micro-fracture surgery on that ankle, only one question comes to mind ?
Why did the Golden State front office feel a need to deceive their fans on the extent of Bogut's injury and surgery ?
Its my contention that the Warriors fans are a patient lot. We have endured lenghty playoff droughts (76-87) (93-07). Even worse, we have endured horrendous ownership during the Chris Cohan years. True Warriors fans have a never-ending supply of patience, so why did the Warriors brass feel this need to not be forthright about the Bogut procedure ?
First, the Warriors pulled off a trade that was not popular with much of the fan base when they traded Monta Ellis for Bogut. Newer and younger Warriors fans loved Ellis, despite his obvious short-comings as a complete basketball player. He was exciting to watch, but wasn't going to be an integral piece of a winning team moving forward. He is simply Alex English in a smaller body. Bogut was worth the gamble despite his various injuries. And, when allowed to heal, could still be a big boost to Golden State. It's my belief Warriors brass didn't want to admit the extent of Bogut's injury fearing the backlash from the fan base, having experienced the booing episode of team owner Joe Lacob at the Chris Mullin jersey retirement ceremony last season. So, they decided to be general in scope when discussing the procedure.
Second, from what I understand of the procedure on Bogut's ankle, there are times when the ankle feels great during rehab. Then, in an instant, there will be residual pain and it is tough to shake. The Warriors and Bogut may have felt this urgency to get back on the court, well before it was wise to do so. Bogut felt good, season is approaching, structurally ankle looks fine, but in reality it needs more time to heal. And, the Warriors figured why be forthright about the micro-fracture procedure when the timeline has been accepted by all parties.
On Wednesday, both Bogut and Warriors General Manager Bob Myers seemed to issue divergent message. Bogut saying, "we don't want to fool anybody anymore. We don't want to keep creating this excitement of, 'Hey, Andrew might be coming back to play on Saturday, it might be Monday." Bogut went on the tell the San Francisco Chronicle, "Its enough, it takes a toll on me and the organization. We met this morning and I said, 'Let's make it an undefinite leave until I'm ready, there is not point throwing dates out there anymore." EXACTLY
It's confusing why the Warriors would hide this micro-fracture news. Warriors GM Myers said the focus of the organization was not to deceive. He told the Chronicle, "there were a lot of components to the injury that made it a situation that might take a little time, but knowing that element from the get-go didn't change our expectations and don't to this day." Huh ? So, you knew this surgery might side-line him for a long time, but were "hoping" it wouldn't so you went public with time-frames that brought the fan base into a lather only to yank the rug from them time and again ? The Warriors front office of businessmen is too smart to think this way. Honesty and not inferrences of a quick return should have been company policy.
The problem with this is that by constantly putting a timeline on his return there is an expectation from the fan base that Bogut will be on the court, when in reality the time-table's set forth by the organization were unrealisitc. Micro-fracture ankle surgery needs to be dealt with delicately, especially when talking about a 7-footer.
I love this new Warrior ownership group and regime. They have big plans and big ideas. They have put the pieces in place for a winning organization and the fruits of their labor are obvious. The Warriors are young, exciting, well-coached, fun to watch and most importantly, winning. But, next time when a Warriors player goes under the knife be honest, don't deceive, don't lie. Warriors fans are like that thirsty man in the desert. We are so happy to see a glass of water....it doesn't really matter if it tastes perfect or is ice cold.....we just want the water. But, we don't like being deceived and mis-led when reaching for the glass.....and its empty.
In the spirit of full disclosure let me say I am the play-by-play voice for the Paradise Bobcats, and In my 16 years of providing play-by-play of North State sporting events, primarily Chico State athletics, I don't know if I have seen two teams more evenly matched than the 2012 versions of the Paradise Bobcat and Enterprise Hornet football teams.
The two teams played two epic football games during this 2012 season, and it culminated with an amazing back-and-forth game on Saturday night. The Enterprise Hornets were able to drive 80 yards in 1:14 seconds to pull off a thrilling 36-35 win over the Paradise Bobcats.
For me to focus solely on one play in this game would be short-change the amazing performances on both sides of the ball by two determined teams who wanted to capture North State supremacy.
For Enterprise, I thought their senior quarterback Zack Trueblood showed tremendous poise and resilency in leading his team on Championship Saturday. Despite throwing three interceptions, his ability to shake off his own miscues and perform at such a high level was amazing. Senior running back Brad Woods had a stand-out game as well, with touchdown runs of 27 and 32 yards in the first half. The co-captain was hard to handle for the Bobcat defense. Wide receiver Brock Barr had several big catches, that were instrumental in the Hornet win. When you throw-in the amazing lateral from Woods to Taylor Angley at the final gun of the first half for an improbable score, and with clutch performances from sophomores Izzy Matthews and Justin Abney......you have several reasons why Enterprise is a deserving champion.
For Paradise, they simply gave everything they had. With senior quarterback Tommy Hays leading a punishing running attack, he led the team beautifully for four quarters. Junior running back Jonathan Dixon was superb, running over and through so many Enterprise defenders that they simply needed multiple helmets to bring him down. The Bobcat line providing huge holes for Dixon and Matt Machado to take advantage of, and with Johnny Porter using his speed off the edge for two scores, the Bobcats were primed and ready for a celebration in Redding, but it was not to be.
As we have illustrated there were several signature plays in the game, but none more torturous for Bobcat fans than the third play from scrimmage on Enterprise's game-winning drive. The play we are talking about happened with just over a minute to go and Paradise leading 35-28. Enterprise had the ball at their own 46 facing a 2nd and 10. Trueblood went back to pass and eye-balled Travis Hall 20 yards down field. Tom Hays had outside coverage, as the ball was in mid-air, Hays made his play for the ball. As the three video angles I have seen show us, Hays did not make contact with Hall, instead he manuevered his 6'3 frame behind Hall and leapt high in the air. As the ball arrived, Hays arched his upper torso away from Hall, reaching high in the air and securing, what looked like a game ending interception. Not so fast.
As the video shows, the side judge who was trailing the play and who had one of the worst possible angles to see the play threw his flag. He called Hays for pass interference negating the game-ending play and giving Enterprise another shot. What Enterprise did with that one shot will go down in North State football lore and will be celebrated for years to come by the Enterprise faithful. But, let's look at how Paradise fans will view it.
In all honesty I sensed more venom by Bobcat players and fans over the 2009 officiating interpretation debacle. Maybe Paradiseans are resigned to the fact that they may never beat Enterprise is a close Section Title game. Losing amid controversy on a late pass interference call in 2000 to Enterprise 16-12. Falling in the quirky "illegal participation/substitution" game in 2009. But this, THIS was an absolute egregious call at the most inopportune of times. A call that will simply be known at the "Phantom PI" for years to come. From the outside looking in one can not criticize the rabid Paradise football fan for feeling slighted. They have seen this movie before. They know how it ends. For the third time in 12 years a yellow hankie fell from the heavens to bail out their bitter rivals. Its a tough swallow. Dare I say, if Enterprise fans had to endure what Bobcat fans have had to over the last decade plus they would also have a bitter taste.
In covering Chico State, Butte College and high school football and basketball in the North State for the last 16 years I have seen everything imaginable from teams, players and officiating crews. Nothing is worse than Anthony Crozier's technical foul call on the Chico State bench with one second to go against UC Davis in 1998 costing the Wildcats a chance at victory against the eventual National Champion Aggies, but, my friends, Saturday's injustice is close.
My personal view after watching the video replays of this turning-point play is that the official simply couldn't believe what he saw. Tommy Hays play was so good, and Hays was so adept at contorting his body to NOT touch Travis Hall that the official could not imagine a player could make that type of play from where Hays was in relation to Hall. Simply, Hays' play in my estimation duped the official who thought he saw something that didn't actually happen. Most players would go "THROUGH" the receiver and hit the receiver before the ball arrives. This is what I "think" the official saw.
One more point, if the pass interference was so obvious, why was the side judge along the Enterprise side-line the only official to throw a flag. The back-judge had a great angle at the play...no flag. Even the umpire had a clear angle of the play....no flag. The one official, who literally had to be the second coming of Clark Kent, was the ref who threw the flag. T.J. Holmes of the Redding Record Searchlight has the closest video shot of the play. While the coaches video from the top of the press box clearly shows Hays never touches Hall until he has both hands securing the football. These are truly amazing angles of the play showing it from start to finish. One from the field, and the other from the sky.
Many of my Redding brethren have claimed that the official noticed contact before the ball arrived (contrary to video evidence,) heck even some Enterprise faithful are saying it was an "obvious" pass interference (laughable.) To say this is to be living in an alternate reality. Intellectual honesty is imperative if you are to debate this point. Unless there is some video that I am missing, I can not see how anyone can be intellectually honest and say that Hays didn't make a spectacular play on the ball and intercept Trueblood's pass. The video evidence is simply over-whelming.
I think an admonition by Enterprise that "yeah, we won, and got a break," would go a long way in soothing the frustration. On the other hand, is it Darren Trueblood's responsibiltiy to make Paradise feel a little bit better about things ? No. But, it would go a long way in soothing the vitriol. But, nary a peep from Hornet Nation. And, if they have voiced such thoughts, it's not being publicized.
In closing, this is high school football, and I feel fortunate to witness these epic and downright thrilling match-ups between these two bitter rivals. If your a Paradise fan it will be an agonizing off-season thinking about what might have been, for Enterprise the fruits of victory are "Oh so sweet." Bobcat fans have to realize that in the pendulum of life things always even out. And, while many Bobcat faithful may not be here to see it, there will come a time, there will come a day, when Paradise is playing Enterprise for all the marbles and in the waning moments a flag will come raining from the heavens, and that flag will go Paradise's way. It has to, you see, because that is how life works. The pendulum will swing Paradise's way EVENTUALLY and give them a call.......or two or three.
ALEX OR COLIN ? THIS IS NOT A CONTROVERSY BUT IT IS JIM HARBAUGH'S FIRST COACHING DILEMNA
San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh does not have to choose between Joe Montana and Steve Young. But, he does have a "situation" that he must make a decision on before the Niners next game on Sunday. No one would mistake either Alex Smith or Colin Kaepernick, for "Joe" and "Steve."
This quarterback dilemna sits squarely on Harbaugh's shoulders. If he stays with Alex Smith and the 8-year veteran continues to be pedestrian, then the fans and critics will criticize Harbaugh for not reading the tea leaves with Kaepernick's performance on Monday night. If Harbaugh moves to Kaepernick, his critics will skewer the coach for not sticking with a starting quarterback that has 20-5-1 over the last season plus.
It's a great problem to have but also an important and possibly fatal decision resting on Harbaugh's shoulders. What he should do is defer. He should punt the decision until the next off-season. Re-instate Smith, if he fails this year, hand the keys to the car to Kaepernick next season and bid Smith a fond farewell. The 49ers immediate and long-term future could rest on the decision that Harbaugh reaches in the next 48-72 hours.
THE GENIUS OF PHIL JACKSON EVEN EXTENDS TO PUBLIC RELATIONS
By Phil Jackson going public and calling the Lakers coaching search "slimy," he has, in a round-a-bout way cornered the Lakers brass to take ownership in what is turning out to be an unpopular choice in their new head coach, Mike D'Antoni.
Jackson told the LA Times that he was excited by the ground-swell of support by Laker fans for him to come back to the bench. But, associates of Jackson tell the Times he was "stunned" when the Lakers went with D'Antoni. So, with Jackson giving his side of the story, and the adoring fan base and public in his corner already.......if this thing doesn't work out and the Lakers fall short of a title. The public, the fans and the media won't blame the 11-time NBA Champion coach Phil Jackson......No, the blame will fall squarely on Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak
PHOTO COURTESY OF CHICO STATE ATHLETICS (chicowildcats.com)
CHICO STATE'S GARY TOWNE IS SIMPLY ONE OF THE BEST COACHES IN ANY SPORT ON THE WEST COAST
For the 14th and 15th times in his 17-year coaching career, Chico State's Gary Towne has been named the NCAA Division-II West Region Coach of the Year. He was honored for his work with Chico State's men's and women's teams as they wrapped up West Region Titles in Hawaii over the weekend.
Towne is a coach who goes under the radar because cross country is seen by the general public as a bunch of kids who find a trail and run.......Eh, not so much.
Towne not only teaches strategy in races, but trains his runners under the most taxing of conditions. Numerous times I have seen him working with his runners in the triple-digit temperatures in Upper Bidwell Park. The crown jewel of Chico is the greatest of training grounds, and Towne knows how to get the most out of his athletes.
While conditioning, strategy and focus are hall-marks for Towne's men's and women's teams, he also has a program that is a great representation of what Chico State is all about. He is a great coach, that has a great team and he makes everyone who is part of the Chico State family proud.
Both the Wildcat men's and women's teams are ranked in the top-5 nationally and get ready to head to Joplin, Missouri on November 17th for the National Championship.
Towne is special, his teams are special and clearly he is in a class by himself
The San Francisco Giants have an energy and momentum right now that is palpable. We usually only hear of physicists or new-age gurus that talk about the actual weight and physical presence of energy. Quantum physics are two scary words for the uninitiated.....but, right now its really the only thing that describes the "feel" around the Giants right now.
The Giants energy is tangible.
Right now the baseball Giants are collection of molecules operating in a synchronized fashion at a level of perfection rarely seen in sport on the team level. We see specific players get in a zone. Rarely, if ever, do we see TEAMS get in a zone. We are talking about 25 guys....ALL playing at their apex.
I watch a lot of baseball. Its basically my love. Its one of my true loves. Whether I am watching a tee ball game, high school, Legion ball or the big leaguers....its what envelopes me. I have seen a lot of outstanding baseball performances in my day.....The Giants of RIGHT NOW and the Red Sox run of 2004, are the only times I have felt that there was something bigger than sport taking place.
The Giants are a confluence of energy, passion, talent, determination and joy.....its a wave.....and we are all being carried along in its journey
WE HAVE A GAME 7 AND KPAY's MIKE BACA SAYS HE ISN'T TRYING TO JINX THE GIANTS
I wish my baseball picks had to the power to sway games. But, sadly, my choices don't mean a hill of beans in the grand scheme of things. With that said, this Bit o Baca is for those Giants fans who think that there is some kind of method to my madness as I have picked to the Giants to win the NLCS series in 7 games.
As I say in today's Bit o Baca, I would be a fool to pick AGAINST the Giants right now.
CHICO HIGH'S TRAVON REID FENDS OFF PARADISE LINEBACKER ERIK JENSEN
IN FRIDAY NIGHT'S EPIC CHICO AND PARADISE FOOTBALL GAME....WON BY CHICO 36-35 IN DOUBLE OT
It was a classic game with a classic finish. The Paradise Bobcats, playing their third straight emotional game against a high quality opponent. The Chico High Panthers, looking to stand tall against the big, bad Bobcats from the ridge. What we got was one of the best games the North Section has seen in years.
Chico High converts a 4th and 17 for a touchdown in the first overtime and then a 4th and 8 for a touchdown in the second overtime to send their crowd into a frenzy. Chico High Head Coach Jason Alvistur would then go for a two-point conversion in the second overtime. Recognizing his team was physically beaten up, Alvistur in the gutsiest of fashions went for the win. When Daniel Robbins would hit Burak Karatekeli at the goal line, and the referee signaled score.....it was a celebration on the Panther side-line usually reserved for the Almond Bowl. An exhausted Robbins was hugging friends and family at the center of the field after the game. His brow furrowed, in pain, yet his eyes telling the story of a win he will always remember. I saw the disappointment and also the wry smiles of Paradise players, knowing they fought hard, but were beaten by a super-human effort and determination.
As I left the field on Friday night, I could almost sense Paradise's admiration for what Chico pulled off. A Bobcat team that had to play Foothill, Enterprise and Chico in consecutive weeks. Knowing the schedule was bound to take its toll.
Yet, it appeared they had the game won multiple times. In overtime, the Bobcats had a chance to intercept Daniel Robbins three times, yet couldn't corral the passes and let victory slip to the turf. You had Robbins battling a bum ankle and leg cramps, gimping his way through the overtime, virtually willing his team to victory.
Seeing these two teams leave everything they had on the field, you could only feel great for both squads. Sport, in its most raw and simple terms. Two clubs competing at the highest level wanting to win more than a hungry man wants food......What more, as a fan could you ask for ?
Chico High won the game. Paradise won honor in defeat. And, those that witnessed the game had the privilege of seeing it.
THE GIANTS CELEBRATE THEIR HISTORY MAKING COMEBACK IN CINCINNATI
Are you kidding me ? Losing their first two games at home the San Francisco Giants rally to win three straight in Cincinnati. Taking Buster Posey's lead, the Giants held on for a 6-4 win in Game 5 at the Great American Ballpark on Thursday. While Giants fans revel in their joy, those without a vested interest have to tip their caps to an amazing baseball feat......Does it feel like 2010 ? Maybe
THREE OF THE GUYS IN THIS PICTURE BETTER START HITTING OR ELSE........
The joy and happiness of Tuesday's Giants win in Game 3 of their National League Divisional Playoff game in Cincinnati shouldn't mask the fact that the Giants are not hitting. While the game three win was nice, if these Giants don't start hitting, and hitting soon, the season will end.
San Francisco has managed just 5 hits in the last 19 innings of baseball. On top of that Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro and Hunter Pence are a combined 3-for-36. They are all 1-for-12. While the Reds pitching has contributed to the sub-par numbers, the Giants have got to take better at-bats and find ways to get on base. It is contingent on these hitters, which surround both Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey in the line-up, to find ways to get on base.
Game 3 was great, but if these three guys don't hit....there will not be a Game 5.
THE GIANTS TURN TO RYAN VOGELSONG TO SAVE THEIR SEASON TODAY IN CINCINNATI
For six months you battle, scratch and claw to get into the post-season....and then with just a few rough at-bats or a bad outing here or there....It could all be over. That's what faces both the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A's today as they try and stave off elimination trailing in their best-of-five Division Playoff series 0-2.
ITS TIME TO MOVE FROM THE 2009 NORTH SECTION TITLE GAME......IT REALLY IS
Based on conversations I have had with Paradise football coaches I don't see the any lingering affects from the 2009 Division I North Section title game. For those of you who are uninitiated, Enterprise captured the 2009 section title with an improbable and controversial 26-23 win on a cold night at Wraith Field.
Whether you agree with the call by the game officials or not, the result of that game had lasting affects.
First, Enterprise contends that their bus was vandalized when their basketball team came to the ridge several months later as a direct result of that football game. Second, Enterprise cancelled the season series in football with Paradise over concerns for the safety of their fans and players. Third, Paradise fans got a bad rap for being these out of control zealots who were sore losers. And, in conclusion, regardless of who you were pulling for that night, everyone lost.
Paradise lost some respect in the eyes of the peers in the North Section and Enterprise lost the glory that goes with winning a section title since there was such controversy at the end of the game.
I think it is unfair to use a broad brush to characterize the fans of Paradise as these maniacal fans who are sore losers and don't give the 2009 Enterprise kids credit in that game. 99.9 percent of Bobcat fans congratulate the Hornets and thought they played an amazing game that night. The raucous minority was given too much publicity by the local media, myself included and that I believe helped taint the situation. I believe it was unwise of Enterprise to cancel the season series with Paradise. In some respects I think it was cowardly and dismissive. If Enterprise had safety concerns, those could have been ironed out, with a meeting of the minds at both schools. Instead the Hornets decided to stop playing the Bobcats, which I feel added fuel to fire.
Paradise football fans are the most loyal and rabid in the North State. A few bad apples characterized the Paradise fans as bad fans......which couldn't be further from the truth. Paradise puts 3000 butts in the seats at every home game and travels better than any fan base, for any sport north of Sacramento. Its truly "Hoosiers" re-visited.
Sadly the controversial ending to the game meant a tarnished title. Lets put a stop to that right now ! Paradise beat Enterprise 49-13 three weeks before the section title match-up. They held a two score lead late in the third quarter, yet couldn't put the Hornets away. When they had the chance, they couldn't get that extra first down, they couldn't keep possession. When they finally had appeared to win the game, they didn't stay on the field as required by the rules. We can debate whether the officials made the right call penalizing Paradise for illegal participation, after a blocked field goal had seemingly won the game for the Bobcats. We can debate whether the officials should have allowed Coach Trueblood from arguing his case for 20 minutes on the field until he got his way. These are all points of contention that split these schools in the most vociferous of fashions. What can not be debated is Enterprise's mental toughness and Paradise's inability to put the game away. And, lastly, the Bobcats inability to stop the Hornets on a 4th and 24 in the waning seconds......
So, Bobcat fans, its time to move on. Hell, you have won back-to-back section titles (2010, 2011) and have been the dominant program in Northern California for more than a decade. Give the Bobcats of 2009 their due....a great team, one of the best to ever suit up in the green and gold. But, you need to also give, as Coach Rick Prinz has, the Enterprise Hornets their due. An amazing performance, on hostile grounds to win a championship that no one thought they could win. It was a great game and its taken way too long for the remnants of that game to be extricated from the Bobcat conscience......Let tonight be the first step in moving on from that cold November night.
WE SAW ANOTHER RIVETING CHAPTER IN THE GIANT DODGER RIVALRY.....THIS TIME SAN FRANCISCO GETS THE LAST LAUGH
Dodgers and Giants is synonimous with Hatfields and McCoys. Its been a rivalry for more than 100 years. Its storied, bitter and passion-filled. And, rarely does it leave both fan bases happy at the end of a season. In 1951 it was the Giants winning 37 of the final 44 to erase a 13.5 game deficit and win the NL Pennant on Bobby Thomson's SHOT HEARD ROUND THE WORLD
In 1962, the Dodgers and Giants played a three-game playoff again. This time the Giants scored four runs in the top of the 9th inning of the decisive third game to beat the Dodgers 6-4, dealing the Dodgers a memorable defeat during their hey-day.
In 1982, it was Joe Morgan hitting a three-run home run off of Terry Forster giving the Giants a 5-2 lead in a game the Dodgers had to win to force a one-game playoff with the Atlanta Braves. It was crippling blow as the Dodgers were looking to repeat as World Series champions.
In 1993, the Dodgers repaid the favor. as the Dodgers were rebuilding, the Giants were on their way to magical finish. Having won 103 games entering the final day of the 1993 season, the Dodgers would trounce the Giants 12-1 ending their season and giving the title to the Atlanta Braves.
In 2004, Steve Finley would hit a walk-off grand-slam on the next to last day of the season. The slam would give the Dodgers the division and would eliminate the Giants in a walk-off at Dodger Stadium.
And now, 2012 gets its place in the pantheon of great rivalry moments. The Giants were in, and the Dodgers needed a win to force a decisive 162nd game of the season......but the Giants up-end the Dodgers 4-3 in a thriler from Dodger Stadium last night.
In a rivalry of last laughs.....The Giants got it last night. The proverbial cherry on top of the 2012 season. They are National League West winners and they eliminated their hated rivals. Today is a good day to be a Giant
When I played ball we used to call it "getting in your head." Its where your focus turns from the task at hand to some inocuous subject that does not have any relevancy to your success or failure. As the San Francisco Giants get ready for the playoffs and the Dodgers get ready to head home, I get the feeling that the San Francisco Giants "fans" I know, are afflicted with this pre-occupation.
Many are focusing on the Dodgers payroll NEXT YEAR and are not relishing their own division title this season. Giants fans are already in excuse making mode.....explaining how the Dodgers success in 2013 will be tainted by their exhorbinant payroll figures, which could top 200 million dollars.
My message for Giants fans. Quit lamenting what will be, and start enjoying what is. Who knows ? It may be the last champagne you pour for awhile......
THE ROADRUNNERS BEAT MODESTO 45-38 ON SATURDAY BUT ITS NOT ALL ROSES IN
THE LAND OF THE ROADRUNNER
Despite being undefeated at 5-0, the Butte College Roadrunner football team can not play with the lack of consistency we have seen of late. Falling behind 21-6 at Delta and coughing up a 28 point lead at home on Saturday are indications the Roadrunners are far from a finished product.
Head coach Jeff Jordan has been telling anyone within ear-shot that his team is good, but in many respects just getting by. He has not been happy with some of their recent practices and he sees that translation into sloppy play on Saturday afternoons.
There is still time to iron out their issues......Jeff Jordan will make sure of it.
LOOK AT THOSE GUNS ON ED HOCHULI......ED AND HIS FELLOW REFS ARE BACK ON THE FIELD TONIGHT
It will be a love-fest ladies and gentleman. Never before have professional officials been as appreciated as they are at THIS VERY MOMENT. After watching replacements try and do the job for the first weeks of the NFL season, I believe fans will have a better appreciation for what the pros do. Sure, they are not always perfect, and like all of us, they have their bad days. But, it can not be disputed that they are the best out there, and they help make the product what it is.
I am sure this appreciation will last about five minutes or until the first ref calls a brutal pass interference call and then we will boo the ref, scream "bring back the replacements," and forget about them all together. But, in the mean-time, lets bask in the referee appreciation mode and be thankful we will have quality officials for America's most popular sport.
CHICO'S AARON RODGERS IS ONE OF THE MOST MEDIA SAVVY MODERN DAY ATHLETES WE HAVE SEEN.
BUT, EVERY MAN HAS A BREAKING POINT AND AARON COULDN'T STAY SILENT ANY LONGER
Chico's Aaron Rodgers has handled the media expertly in his tenure as a professional athlete. It has made Chicoans proud to say, "Yeah, he is from my hometown....he is class personified." For four seasons Brett Favre treated him as a nuisance rather than a teammate, yet nary a peep from Rodgers. He is the master of saying a lot, without saying anything inflammatory at all.....I believe he has handled the media with aplumb. But, every person, every athlete has their breaking point.
Monday night was that point.
Rodgers went on his weekly radio show in Milwaukee on Tuesday and took the NFL to task. He first apologized to the fans because "the NFL won't do it." Second, he showed support for the locked out officials and then he threand protecw a hay-maker at the NFL again. He said NFL leaders care more about cash than they do about player safety and the integrity of the game.
They were some pointed comments and I believe necessary comments in the wake of the replacement official debacle we are now experiencing. Rodgers again making Chico fans proud, this time by saying the things that NEED to be said, and doing it in true classy Rodgers fashion.