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Tom Nakashima's Blog

 


Chris Culliver….Did it Ever Occur To You

Derek Moore and I actually talked about this on Monday, when the Kwame Harris story broke.  Someone is bound to ask 49er players about gays in the locker room.  We figured, as long as you’re smart, use good judgement and be a good human being… things would be fine.  We were wrong.  As for Chris Culliver, whose anti-gay comments have brought a 10,000 pound distraction that no team wants, what the hell were you thinking?  The moment Artie Lange asked you “how many white women  you plan to sleep with this week?”… did it occur to you for a moment, that this might not end well?  You can believe whatever you want, but your insensitive comments, during the biggest football week in America…. brought shame to your team, to Jim Harbaugh, Jed York, your teammates and to your fan base.  I hope your apology is sincere.  Garrison Hearst, one of the greatest running backs to ever wear a 49ers uniform, made similar anti-gay comments once.  That was TEN years ago, and he’s still remembered for it.
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49ers…Is it Your Time

For San Francisco fans, how does it get any better than this?  We’re still high on the euphoria of the San Francisco Giants claiming their second World Series title within three seasons.  Now, the trumpet summons us again.  Well, it could be a giddy weekend is what I mean to say.  But as Super Bowl Sunday approaches, I’ll worry about… everything.  The flu bug, a practice injury, tripping over a gutter on Bourbon Street.  I want to enjoy the week, but the butterflies are starting to flutter.  Is the team ready to make history?  Are they prepared?  I sure as hell hope so.  As they say in poker, “you don’t have to win every hand… just the last one.”
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Closed Circuit TV Boxing.. The Golden Era...

Not only is Mayweather vs. Cotto on PPV this weekend, the bout is being shown on the big screen at theaters around town.  It takes me back to the pre-cable days (remember how long it took to even get Cable in Sacramento?) when we’d pay to see Closed Circuit boxing at the Memorial Auditorium.  Sometimes the picture was so bad, you couldn’t distinguish one boxer from another.  When you can’t tell Pipino Cuevas from Thomas Hearns, you have a challenging video feed.  Yeah, Pay Per View is great at home, but there’s something about watching championship boxing with 5,000 other screaming fans.  By the way, the Hearns-Cuevas fight was a classic. 




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Bikini Hockey.. They're Not Kidding...

I know you’ve heard of the Lingerie Football League.  Well, this might be cooler… quite a bit cooler.  The Bikini Hockey League is looking for women who would like to don some blades and hit the ice – in their bikinis.  I’ve been out to see some great rec league games in Roseville.  I think Bikini Hockey would be exactly the same, except there would be 12,000 people in the stands.  Better fire up some more hot dogs…. and can we sit down front?
 
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The Saga Of Aubrey Huff...

Plenty of fans spent most of last year and all of April criticizing the play of Aubrey Huff.  Another weak grounder to second?  Great… Yeah, I ripped him too.  But knowing now that he’s dealing with some anxiety issues brings into focus an obvious truth:  The human spirit can be fragile.  No matter how much money you make, it’s not easy to deal with expectation, pressure to perform, a broken marriage and who knows what else.  The Giants have a great clubhouse, and Aubrey Huff has been an integral part of it since he came west.  And he will be again.  Could he use a hot streak?  Sure.  But he could use some patience and support even more.  Most decent people are pretty understanding.
 
 
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NFL Draft Coverage.. We Can't Get Enough...

I love the NFL Draft, all 63 days of it.  Well, it only feels that long.  In America there are two seasons:  There’s Football Season….. and there’s getting ready for Football Season.  More vetting is done on these college prospects than on Vice Presidential candidates.  And yet nothing is guaranteed.  There are top draft picks that don’t pan out (Ryan Leaf, Rashaun Woods).  And there are those taken in the later rounds who turn out okay (Joe Montana, Jerry Rice).  No, it's not an exact science.. but there’s about 48 hours of programming to fill.  As for the 49ers, Trent Baalke is funny.  When he suggested there’s a guy they’re targeting at number 30, people went bat$##t crazy.  The fact is, there will be a good number of excellent prospects available at that spot when the time comes.  Whomever they take… guard, wide receiver, corner, tight end…. will be the guy Trent had on the radar, don’t you think?  Hilarious.
 
 
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NFL Prospect Tests Positive.. How Dumb Are You?

From what I can gather, Mike Adams of Ohio State is a highly regarded prospect going into this weekend’s  big NFL Draft …. but I have to wonder if he’s the sharpest knife in the drawer.  The massive offensive lineman tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Scouting Combine, even though everyone in the universe knows they’re gonna be tested.  Marijuana use is not the end of the world.  I think the bigger question an NFL team would ask is…”How dumb are you?”  Sure, premium linemen are hard to find and someone will surely draft him.  But there’s a chance he’ll drop a few spots, which could end up costing him a lot of money.  Then again, if he can pancake a linebacker on the goal line, he’ll just be “misunderstood.”
 
 
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Kings Deal.. The Hope Slips Away...

The Kings ownership still insists they want to keep the team in Sacramento.  So why does it feel like we’ve been punched in the gut?  I know these deals are complicated, but I’d envisioned a sparkling new downtown arena, surrounded by top-end eateries… bringing energy, fans and new life to an area that had been neglected for so long.  I am such a sucker.  Watching the principals blame each other is frustrating at best… at worst, it’ll make you scream.  Even David Stern sounded exasperated… I think he’s had it.  I don’t even know who to blame.  Take your pick.  The Maloofs are bozos.  The Mayor backstabbed them.  The City big wigs are a clown car.  I don’t know.  What I do know is this:  Another six months of finger-pointing, and we’ll no longer have a team to talk about.
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Fastball, Cutter, Taco Bell

A professional athlete counts on consistency every time he or she competes.  And Detroit Tigers ace pitcher Justin Verlander is very serious about how he prepares his mind and body for each game.  It turns out he has the exact same pre-game meal the night before each of his starts.  Protein shake?  Wheat germ? Uh, no…. he goes to Taco Bell.  “Three crunchy taco supremes, no tomato, a cheesy gordita crunch and a Mexican pizza, no tomato. Every time.”  As you know, Justin is not some rag arm  taking up space in the bullpen.  He’s a Cy Young Award winner and former MVP.  Taco Bell?  I think he’s onto something.  I can see a couple hundred thousand Little Leaguers asking mom to head to the Drive Thru right now.
 
 
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The Hated Dodgers Crawl Back...

The Dodger Giant rivalry has been intense for the good part of a century.  Yes, Frank McCourt nearly ran Big Blue into the ground… but after selling his team for more than 2 Billion dollars, the landscape has changed.  As Joe Torre would say.. “That’s a lotta glue.”  I know Frank’s ex-wife will take a handsome cut, and there are a zillion  creditors who have to get paid.  But come on, you’d think he’d have something left for himself.  So the bitter rivalry is going to be hotter than ever.  The Dodgers now have the resources to do whatever the hell they want… to add to a team that already has Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw.  Will they make a run at Tim Lincecum?  I don’t even want to think about it.  Yeah, the Los Angeles Dodgers were nearly the laughingstock of Major League Baseball.  No one’s laughing now.  And what else would 2 Billion dollars buy?  Well, you could actually buy the Sacramento Kings, build them an arena, buy season tickets for every seat holder, give each person a new car… and provide all the Luigi’s Pizza you can handle.  And even though the beer would still be $16.00, you'd have at least  a half-billion dollars left.  But the City of Sacramento would probably drown in paperwork over that money, and after a year of finger-pointing… nothing would happen.
 
 
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Was That Zorro? No, Just Barry Zito...

If I didn’t see it, I wouldn’t have believed it.  For three straight games, front line members of the vaunted San Francisco Giants pitching staff cough up a hair ball, and who saves the day?  No.  Don’t tell me.  It was Barry Zito, the most vilified man in the history of baseball.  Well, maybe not in history but you get the picture.  Not just a win to follow three humiliating losses, but a complete game shutout, which is about as rare as a company that’s hiring.  I think the Colorado Rockies were expecting to face a batting practice pitcher, and got more than a little flustered when their balls didn’t fly out of the park.  Does this mean new life for the beleaguered Giants lefty?  Maybe, maybe not.  But I don’t care.  Because for one brief shining moment, Barry Zito was on top of the world.. again.
 
 
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Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins.. A Remembrance...

Back in his day, real drag racers actually popped the clutch and had to strong-arm 4-speeds down the quarter mile….. and no one did it better than Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins, the NHRA legend who passed away last week at age 81.  You could argue that what Richard Petty and Junior Johnson are to NASCAR, Bill Jenkins was to Pro Stock drag racing.  He was a savant with all kinds of motors, but the performance he coaxed out of small-block Chevys in the early 70s was outer-worldly.  The Grump recorded Pro Stock’s first nine-second run, a 9.98 at the 1970 Winternationals in Pomona and beat his nemesis Ronnie Sox for NHRA’s first national event Pro Stock title.  Long before the blogosphere, the only opportunity to get to know guys like Mr. Jenkins or see photos of him, was in magazines or in National Dragster.  Of course, NHRA drag racing was hardly ever on TV, unlike today… with expert reporting from the great Gary Gerould.  So if you wanted to see Bill Jenkins in person, it would be during a Major Event on the West Coast, like the Winternationals.  Seeing Grumpy in the flesh was so electrifying, we’d just be in awe... and we'd stand  around watching him...  stand around.  Bill Jenkins was not a big talker and was hardly a media-darling.  He was never a shill, never had a reality show… and was never consumed with promoting himself.  No, he wasn’t warm and cuddly.  Why do you think they called him The Grump?    But drag racing has lost a great one.  And I promise you, we’ll not see his like again.  John Jodauga of National Dragster has a great piece here.
 
 
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Alex Smith...Imagine the Fallout

It was unavoidable… Alex Smith had to weigh in on the Peyton Manning circus yesterday.  We could all see that the whole series of events was at worst, insulting… and at best, awkward.  But if there’s anyone who knows how to say the right things, it’s Alex Smith.  If that makes him a softy… so what?  Can you imagine the fallout if Alex had said “Yeah, the 49ers lowballed me..”  Or “Yeah, I wanted to fire my agent..”  Or “Yeah, I was kept in the dark about Peyton Manning..”  Instead, he said No to all of those things.  Alex may be “a game manager”…. but he’s the prince of public relations.  Alex, in the end, you were a little disrespected… and now you have to “settle” for around 8 million a year.  If that’s the worst thing you have to endure in your career… you’ve done all right.  Still, being 49ers quarterback is never easy.  Ray Ratto calls it “one of America’s worst jobs.”
 
 
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Peyton's Gone...Now What?

So Peyton Manning left the 49ers at the altar, so to speak. Now that he’s decided to join the Denver Broncos, this melodrama has taken a whole new turn.  How will this affect Tim Tebow, Matt Hasselbeck, the Tennessee Titans, the Miami Dolphins and obviously, Alex Smith?  But most intriguingly, this has proximately caused the meltdown of Lowell Cohn.  Because this morning’s decision has set in motion a series of events that will not only affect the fortunes of a couple of hundred players, it will mean Lowell can't wait to get inside Jim Harbaugh's head.  I figure he'll pepper the coach with unending questions about how he could hang Alex Smith out to dry.  Then Jim will look him straight in the eye and say….”I’m proud of our guys…”
 
 
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Randy Moss!! What??

Holy smokes… Terrell Owens has got to be thinking… “Hey, he’s a cancer in the clubhouse!...  Oh wait, I’m a cancer.”  I thought the 49ers were just going through the motions, working out 35 year old Randy Moss, who was completely out of football last year.  It was widely reported that his session with Jim Harbaugh lasted all of 15 minutes, which indicates either the former Pro Bowler is clearly washed up, or he made a big impression.  I know, Randy Moss has more baggage than a pack mule.  He’s a diva, a selfish player, a train wreck waiting to happen.  We know.  Then when the 49ers actually inked him to a one-year deal, I got over that real quick.  If Randy Moss becomes a head case, he’ll be gone.  But if he grabs that fade in the corner of the end zone, it’ll be “Randy… My Man!”
 
 
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Ronda Rousey Mania...

Last weekend, I saw something that gave me the chills. It was a mixed martial arts showdown between newcomer Ronda Rousey and the Strikeforce bantamweight champion Miesha Tate. Four and a half minutes into the match, judo practitioner Rousey took the title with what one writer called “the single most savage armbar in the history of MMA.” I think the word armbar is kind of like the word downsize…. It doesn’t begin to describe the devastating effect on a human. And Miesha Tate would not submit until her arm was… well, misshapen. It was almost Joe Theismann-like. Someone should invent a new word for “armbar.” Like, “The Bone Breaker.” I know mixed martial arts is not for everyone. But for the moment, Ronda Rousey is the talk of MMA.
 
 
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Why Gavin Maloof is Crying....

I guess those grueling talks in Florida were worth the effort. We hear that a tentative deal has been reached between the Sacramento Kings and the city of Sacramento that will keep the team here.. with a new arena to be built. I like the sound of that. According to The Bee, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said, “It’s game over.” Which is code for… “I pray the City Council does the right thing.” Of course Anaheim may now jump in and offer free parking and shuttle rides to Disneyland. But for now, there’s hope. Nice work.
 
 
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Finally.. The Combine...

We do get aroused by the NFL Combine.   Hey, we just got through the Super Bowl, didn’t we?   Doesn’t matter. We want names, speculation,  new irons in the fire.… anything that’ll give us hope for next season. And we are enthralled with the 40 yard dash times to the point of obsession. No, speed doesn’t guarantee anything, but we hang onto that number like it’s scripture. A guy could be implicated in a barroom murder… he could cheat seniors out of their life savings…. he could father nine children in six  states…  But if he can run a 4.29/40… he’ll be the talk of the combine.
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Wat Misaka.. Of The New York Knicks...

Wat Misaka must be enjoying the non-stop coverage of the exploits of Jeremy Lin. Mr. Misaka, now nearly 90, made quite a mark in NBA history himself more than 60 years ago. An American born player of Japanese ancestry, he became the first person of color to be drafted into what would become the NBA. This was 1947, when Japanese Americans were the hated minority in this country. My family had spent the war years in internment camps, but Wat Misaka had not, as he was born in Ogden, Utah. (for the most part, only Japanese Americans on the West Coast were imprisoned.) Playing for the University of Utah, Wat starred when his team won the NCAA Championship in 1944. After leaving school for a stint in the US Army, he returned to help Utah win the 1947 NIT Championship at Madison Square Garden. I imagine the New York fans liked what they saw. So much so that Wat Misaka was selected by the New York Knicks with their first pick in that year’s draft. Though he played in only three games before being cut, he not only instilled pride in the Asian American community… but fierce loyalty from his teammates. And now, 60-some years later, an Asian American makes headlines again… for the New York Knicks.   You can learn more in a recent a documentary film, Transcending: The Wat Misaka Story, by Bruce Alan Johnson and Christine Toy Johnson.
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Linsanity...Yessssss...

No, he’s not Yao Ming, the gifted 7-footer from China. He’s an American born basketball player who happens to be of Asian heritage. The last time I looked, there aren’t many of these fellows making headlines in the NBA. Oh, there are talented Asian players in the Rec League, in D-ball, maybe in Division IV. But this is the NBA. You know, the one with Kobe, Dirk Nowitzki and Dwight Howard. No, Jeremy Lin, after being let go by Golden State and Houston…. is now rocking the rafters in New York, no less. Yes, he will eventually come back down to earth, but for now…. I’m thrilled for you, kid. As I said… New York, no less.
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Baseball...Finally...

In Giants Fandom, all things are possible. We know this because the euphoria of the 2010 World Series still lingers. Oh yes it does. So now that the glorious 49ers season is over, let’s get to real business. Giants pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training a week from tomorrow… finally. I know the Arizona Diamondbacks have gotten stronger. So have the Rockies. Actually, everybody believes they’ve improved their ballclub.  We get it. All I know is… the Giants have to be better. How could they be worse? Their anemic offense finished LAST in the National League in runs, RBIs, on-base percentage and hitting with runners in scoring position. With two out/runners-in-scoring-position… the Gigantes hit .173! That’s the worst average in the history of the game! Well, at least in the 37 years of that stat. I think you get the picture. So here they come…. Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Angel Pagan, Freddie Sanchez, Tim Lincecum, Aubrey “I’m in shape” Huff, Panda, Melky Cabrera…. I can’t wait. As the Cincinnati Kid said…. “Okay, let’s see it.”
 
 
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Let Eli Enjoy the Moment...

In Sports Talk Show Hell, we just can’t leave it alone. Who’s thebetter Manning now? Is Peyton taking a back seat? We wanna know what you think. Really? I don’t.  The Manning brothers have done something a lot of great quarterbacks will never have a chance to do, win the Super Bowl. I still think Peyton Manning in his prime might be the best quarterback/offensive coordinator in football. And is Tom Brady now a bum? Had Brady engineered a last second touchdown to win on Sunday, he’d be no less than the Second Coming. As it is, he gets to drown his sorrow by going night night with Gisele Bundchen. And Eli Manning, Peyton, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers… they all had help. No one wins the Super Bowl alone. Oh, and John Unitas never won a Super Bowl, and he did alright for himself. But for the moment, Eli Manning is the reigning king. Let him enjoy it. 
 
 
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This Is Why We Get Up With People

For the NFL and NBC, it turns out Madonna was the least of their problems. If you didn’t know M.I.A. before, you know her now. I’m going out on a limb here, but it looks like she’s an attention whore who loved flipping off the camera during half-time. The NFL and the network had to immediately apologize for the “inappropriate, obscene gesture.” You have a classic Super Bowl battle that goes down to the final play…  Madonna is prancing around better than performers who are twenty years younger… and all some people want to talk about is this? And by the way, since the infamous Nipple-gate, TV is in delay… radio is in delay.. the whole freakin’ broadcast world is in delay. How did you guys miss this? Did the director say “Hey dump her!” And a guy goes…”Uhhh, which button is that?” Too late. This is why the #*(< we get Up With People.
 
 
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The Pro Bowl...An Embarassment

I used to watch the Pro Bowl when I was a kid. It was never exactly scintillating, but I think the game’s actually gotten worse. Way worse…. to the point where the NFL should be embarrassed. Of course no one wants to get hurt. We get it. The thought of having Larry Fitzgerald , or Drew Brees or Patrick Willis suffering a career ending injury in a game like this makes me shudder. So let’s change things up. I think players should still be honored with Pro Bowl selections. They’ve earned it. And what’s not to like about a family vacation to Honolulu? Let’s keep that. But instead of an actual game, I propose a Fan Fest. Maybe a Hawaiian Buffet, kalua pork, lots of umbrella drinks…. and a chance to get autographs and photos with their favorite players. How about a skills competition thrown in there… to raise money for charity?   Jeff Price of the Sporting News has a great take here.
 
 
 
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Terrell Owens...Broke and Lonely

Most of us have a great capacity to forgive. But when it comes to Terrell Owens, that’s a challenge. Here’s a player who’s earned around $80 million during an NFL career that has showcased his incredible talent… and his toxic, alienating, self-centered behavior.   Is it just me, or is it hard to feel sorry for this guy? Jeff Arnold writes in ThePostGame that Owens says he’s now broke and lonelier than ever. In a GQ profile, Owens blames his agent for bad business decisions, and says “the media never allowed me to change.” Right.. it’s the media’s fault that you’re not a better person. “I don’t have no friends. I don’t want no friends,” Owens said. Well, maybe the former is a result of the latter. What a waste.
 
 
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The Kyle Williams Burden...

I’m with Donte Whitner, who said.. “It’s not the end of the world. But right now it feels like it.” How will yesterday’s crushing overtime defeat be remembered? Not for a terrific performance by Eli Manning. Not for the superb catches by Victor Cruz.  Not for the 49ers’ epic failure on third downs. Make no mistake, it’ll be remembered for Kyle Williams, who coughed up two valuable possessions in crunch time. Is it fair to put the blame on one player? No.   There were plenty of other opportunities that were lost… but those gut wrenching turnovers were the most obvious. For Kyle Williams, how much of a burden will this be?   You’re about to find out. How long will fans grumble about it? Oh, at least twenty years. Ask Roger Craig, whose fumble against the New York Giants in the 1990 NFC Championship Game cost the 49ers a chance to “threepeat” in the Super Bowl. Roger’s brilliant accomplishments overshadow that one speck in his career. I hope one day the same will be said about Kyle Williams. Think about this…. The New York Giants got terrific play from  Eli Manning and perhaps the most talented receiving corps in football, they played stout defense…and they still should have lost. The 49er defense stopped them with sudden death on the line. It just wasn’t enough. To Jim Harbaugh and his band of overachievers… thanks for a phenomenal season.
 
 
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What Home Field Advantage

Of course the 49ers may see their glorious, surprising season come to an end this weekend. The mighty New Orleans Saints just may be the best team in football right now… what else is new? But I had a dream about Home Field Advantage. Game Time:  Candlestick Park. The grass hasn’t been cut since the Giants left. And why is there 4 inches of standing water on the turf? Even Michael Irvin said it can be “a squishy mess” at the Stick. The 49ers linemen will try and keep Alex Smith safe, as they’ve been outfitted with 9 inch cleats… and the ball Drew Brees gets to use is slightly deflated.   Oh, and Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter have been practicing with Pro Glides, special shoes custom made by those people who make the airboats in the Everglades. The running backs plan to glide into the end zone in front of 60,000 screaming fans. The Saints are outraged… but hey, there’s nothing they can do. Who’s got it better than us? 
 
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And Then There's Lowell Cohn...

I love reading Lowell Cohn, whose musings about Bay Area sports appear regularly in The Cohn Zohn. Lately he’s being tortured by Jim Harbaugh, which is hilarious to me. Lowell is obviously extremely annoyed that the 49ers head coach is not very forthcoming with information. Lowell, you are way more educated than I am, but you don’t seem to get it. I went to Sac City but I get it. Jim Harbaugh keeps things to himself, not to be a jackass… or to punish you personally. It’s because of the times we live in. With the blogosphere (something Vince Lombardi didn’t have to worry about), if you make one slip… one untoward comment about a play, a player or a team… things happen. You use one ill-advised adjective (did he say that receiver is “slow”?)…. and it’s all over the internet in 15 seconds. It would headline material, discussed ad nauseum by sports bimbos all over the world. So Jim Harbaugh, don’t give an inch. Love your stuff Lowell, but get over it.
 
 
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49ers on the Verge of Getting Credit

In what felt like a playoff game, the 49ers sang their version of “When the lights go out in the City..” and shut down the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers on national television. Oh, you can bet the 49ers won’t get any props. And that’s just the way Jim Harbaugh likes it. You know, please disrespect us.   Ben was gimpy, Alex got lucky, James Harrison didn’t play… it was too dark. You get the picture. No, the 49ers are 11-3 by accident. To be sure, the games don’t get any easier, and anything can happen. Ask the Green Bay Packers. Just when you’re getting anxious that the post season is still weeks away, think about Eli Manning and the New York Giants. They might not even get there. 
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House Arrest Can Be Rough...

It could have been worse for Barry Bonds. I know, some won’t be happy unless he rots in prison. But that’s not going to happen. He’s been fined $4,000,  sentenced to some community service and will have to endure “house arrest” for 30 days. Well, we know he has a mansion on a couple of acres in Beverly Hills… with 6 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms. A month in those digs? You know what some people call that? A VACATION. And a luxury getaway like that will cost you a lot more than $4,000. And you’re appealing? Please. If I ever get in trouble, may I have that sentence?
 
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Aaron Rowand Is Back.. Oh Wait...

One of the most vilified Giants is coming back to AT & T Park.  Of course Aaron Rowand will likely be in one of those new Miami Marlins uniforms, having signed a minor league contract with that club. Yes, the Giants are on the hook for most of his $12 million salary, but it’s not Aaron’s fault that he makes that kind of dough.  Yes he is guilty of hitting .233, but that’s old news. This’ll be a new start for him, and I’m sure the Giants partisans will give him a “warm” welcome. Oh, and isn’tScott Cousins on this team? Yeah, the guy whose train wreck home plate collision nearly ended the career of Buster Posey. Can’t wait ‘til he steps into the batter’s box. By the way, doesn’t the new Miami logo look like something from Maroon 5 and that despicable Christina Aguilera? 
 
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Let Him Loose, He'll Kill You. You Did, And He Did...

You could feel it coming’ when people started talking “Second Seed in the Playoffs” with a quarter of the season still to play. Playoffs? You’re talkin’ Playoffs? The 49ers got flattened with a tank-sized reality check yesterday and deservedly lost to the tough Arizona Cardinals. Give Larry Fitzgerald and Mr. No Name quarterback a chance and they’ll make you pay. Well, they did. It felt like the Cards won by two touchdowns… but it was actually two POINTS. So even with poor tackling, shoddy coverage and red zone ineptitude, the Niners could have prevailed. One extra tackle, one key stop, one more field goal…. one play that works inside the five yard line, and the 49ers steal it. Meanwhile, the Packers and the Saints are making it look easy. Oh, and the short timers who were on Alex Smith’s bandwagon a week ago… now think he should be in Siberia. Hilarious.
 
 
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Andres Torres.. The Last Goodbye...

People come and go in Major League Baseball… it’s the nature of the game, especially these last few years. No one stays with the same team for long. But when word got out that Andres Torres had been traded by the Giants to the New York Mets, the outpouring of love, respect and admiration was instantaneous. Everyone who came across this guy, who toiled in the minors for years before helping the Giants become the 2010 World Series Champions, says he’s the nicest human being you’ll find, in or out of baseball. As I read the tributes, for some reason I had to reach for Kleenex. It must be allergy season in here. You can start with the McCovey Chronicles here…. and catch an appreciation by Scott Reiss here. Andres, I can only hope you’ll perform well in The Big Apple. But I promise you this…. The moment you’re introduced upon your return to AT & T Park, there’ll be a standing ovation that will reverberate across the Bay.
 
 
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End Zone Celebration? Let's Go Flash Mob...

Oh yeah, it was on every highlight reel a couple of weekends back...Stevie Johnson mimicking  Plaxico Burris shooting himself in the leg.. as a touchdown celebration. Guys have done ensemble choreography, pulled out cell phones… even mooned fans, all in the name of obnoxious self-indulgence. As Bob Costas remarked, “..game after game, we see guys who think nothing of incurring penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct, costing their teams valuable yardage, even late in close games.” Since it’s too late to turn back, why not take it a step further? I see The Ultimate End Zone Celebration: A Flash Mob Spectacular. Immediately following a touchdown, a fully rehearsed group of about 35 players, officials and coaches go into a 17 minute version of Thriller. Yes, the Commissioner would have a cow, it would hold up the game… but we’d all be talkin’ about it. 
 
 
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Tiger...For the Win...

With Tiger finally in the hunt again, I was thinking it was almost exactly a year ago Thanksgiving when he hit that fire hydrant and everything began to unravel. Oh wait.. it was TWO years ago. Not much has happened in that time. He ruined his marriage, broke up his family, lost millions in sponsorships, shattered his image and been vilified all over the world. And that’s not all that happened. His golf game went south, he changed coaches, his caddie… and hasn’t had many fist pumps. Oh I know there are millions who will never root for Tiger again, but when he poured in those clutch birdie putts on 17 and 18 yesterday… I realized how much I missed this. Maybe he’s on a roll, maybe not. But for one brief moment, it was almost like old times.
 
 
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The Winner? Jack Harbaugh

Of course it’s a big story.. The Harbaugh Brothers will face each other tomorrow night in a matchup of two of the NFL’s best teams. Yeah, John and Jim grew up in a football family and they’re super competitive. We get it. Lowell Cohn, stop asking Jim Harbaugh to get warm and fuzzy about his childhood. This is not the time to do it. At this moment, the coach’s brain is filled with schemes… you know, that will give the 49ers a chance to win the game. Short week, long flight… a lot on the line. That doesn’t mean his childhood memories are not golden. And I can only imagine how proud Jack Harbaugh is of his boys. By the way, the senior Harbaughs will celebrate 50 years of marriage on Friday. And the NFL Network did a terrific piece on the family here. 
 
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Niners Shocker.. It's All Been A Dream....

This has all been wishful thinking, and the harsh reality is almost too painful to grasp. Not almost.. it is too painful. We've been living a cruel dream.  The San Francisco 49ers are actually 1-9. They kept Mike Singletary as head coach after all, but after a 1-4 start…. Mike was let go in favor of new head coach, Jimmy Raye.  Five more consecutive losses have followed. After losing 6 yards on third and eight… 41 times in a row, Frank Gore retired. Jimmy Raye stuck with Smith at quarterback all right… Troy Smith, who now has a passer rating of 3.2. As for Jim Harbaugh? Oh, he was lured to  the Miami Dolphins, who are now 9-1. I need a drink. 
 
 
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49ers Bandwagon Is Getting Crowded...

The 49ers have been so irrelevant the past ten years or so… I knew it would take a while for their 6-1 start to gain some traction. Being under the radar for weeks was great for Jim Harbaugh. But, inevitably, the “experts” are starting to take notice. Matt Barrows wrote that no less than NFL film guru Greg Cosell says Harbaugh is attacking with formations and calling plays he has never seen in the National Football League… and Greg has been paying attention to this stuff for three decades. I think you know what’s coming next… especially if the 49ers continue to play well. The high profile pundits will bring their satellite trucks to Santa Clara.. and want precious time with Harbaugh. If it were up to me,  I’d say stay on the East Coast and keep fawning over the NY Giants, the Steelers, the Eagles and the Jets. Oh, and get off our lawn! Sorry…
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Please Keep Ignoring The 49ers...

This doesn’t surprise the Faithful who follow the Niners. After last week’s NFL action, most of the pundits couldn’t stop talking about the Philadelphia Eagles or the New York Giants… Oh look at the Pittsburgh Steelers, Rex Ryan’s Jets… How ‘bout the New England Patriots and yeah, the Detroit Lions are back! The 49ers get nary a mention, and I suppose that’s just what Jim Harbaugh wants… to stay completely under the radar, to be an afterthought. That’s fine. But I heard a couple of sportscasters struggle through the 49er-Cleveland highlights.. and one guy says  “that’s Isaac SOPO-GO-AH…” You idiot… that’s Isaac SOPO-AGA. But what do you care? Way to do your homework.
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“Who’s Got It Better Than Us?”…

I love hearing Jim Harbaugh exhorting his team in the locker room, “Who’s got it better than us?”  And they yell back.. “Nooo-bodyyyy!”  The new 49ers head coach is driven, intense, competitive… and he’s as tough as nails.  But the genesis of this celebration goes back to his childhood.  I heard Jim tell the story in Andrea Kremer’s excellent piece on HBO’s Real Sports last summer.  It was his dad, the patriarch of the football family and long time college coach Jack Harbaugh who used to ask his young boys, John and Jim…”Who’s got it better than us?”  They would holler from the back seat… “Nooo-bodyyy!”  When Jack Harbaugh, now 72, speaks of how proud he is of his sons, there are tears in his eyes.  And I know he’s now watching these locker room exchanges, which were born in their tiny house a generation ago.   When he hears “Who’s got it better than us?”…  I can only imagine the pride that fills his heart. monica’sdad photo
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49ers.. On An Unlikely Roll…

After The Bee’s Vic Contreras pointed out that, for the 49ers, this season feels a little like 1981..  how can you not get excited?  30 years ago, the Niners had come off a 6-10 season… after missing the playoffs for the eighth consecutive time.  This year, the 49ers are coming off a 6-10 season… after missing the playoffs for, uh… the eighth consecutive time.  We all know what happened in 1981.  The Bill Walsh-led Cinderella team went all the way to the Super Bowl… and won it.  I know, it’s way too early to think about anything beyond the next game.  But no one expected Jim Harbaugh’s guys to be 5-1 at this point.  Most of the “experts” picked the Rams to win the West.  And no, we don’t have Joe Montana.  But 1981 was long before Jerry Rice.  Their running back that year was Lenvil Elliott… and the tight end was Charle Young.  They were underdogs to the very end.  That’s the way we like it.  So whatever happens….at least 49er football is fun again.  I know we didn’t say that very much last year. xoque photo
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La Russa.. “What Are You Doing Here?”…

The whole game was sort of bizarre… a series of botched moves, misplays and lack of clutch hitting.  At least on the part of the St. Louis Cardinals.  But what everybody’s talking about is Tony La Russa’s failure to bring in closer Jason Motte in a critical moment.  Was this actually because of a miscommunication between the dugout and the bullpen?   The wrong guy comes out to pitch?  I suppose that’s possible, but doesn’t that sound kinda fishy?  Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post thinks there’s something missing from the story, and he explains here. Maybe the manager is covering for somebody… maybe Motte wasn’t ready.   Perhaps we’ll never know.  But that’s a big loss for the Cards, and they’re up against it now.  The only thing weirder… would have been a call to the bullpen, and out trots…  Charlie Sheen. Keithallison photo
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Alex Smith.. At Last…

I just want good things to happen to this guy.  No, I didn’t expect him to return to the 49ers this season.  He’s been vilified, spit on, virtually tarred and feathered… and blamed for everything including the Lindbergh kidnapping.  To say his first six seasons were a little rocky is the understatement of the year.  But look what’s happened.  Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter says Alex is “reborn.”  With Jim Harbaugh on board… and with essentially the same roster as last year… the Niners are 5-1.  I thought if Alex Smith was just decent this year, it would be a confidence boost for him.  He’s been better than that.  And this humble kid (who’s the same age as Tim Lincecum), still gives credit to his teammates.  And his guys love him back.  The other day, Frank Gore said “Number 11’s coming!  You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”  If Alex keeps this up, he’ll be more than the Comeback Player of the Year… he’ll be Comeback Player of The Decade.  No, Alex Smith is not Joe Montana.  The good news is…. he doesn’t have to be.  In this week’s SI, Peter King suggests that Alex Smith vs. Aaron Rodgers in the NFC title game is not impossible.  Yes, this is the same Peter King who picked the Rams to win the West. monica’sdad photo
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Bryant Gumbel.. What Were You Thinking?

One of my favorite shows is Real Sports on HBO, which seems to pop up once a month.  Investigative pieces, player profiles, behind the scenes stories.. they’re always top notch, and well worth finding.  But this month’s commentary by Bryant Gumbel on the status of the NBA lockout is what’s drawing a lot of heat.  He made reference to NBA Commissioner David Stern as “a modern day plantation overseer.”  Yikes.  Are you kidding?  A slavery reference?  You obviously knew that would light a fire.  Well, if you just wanted to get Real Sports some attention… you certainly got your wish.  I don’t suppose this discussion will die down anytime soon.  Shaun Powell of ESPNNewYork.com writes, “You can disagree with his tactics and his strategy and his idea of what makes for a financially stable NBA.  But you can’t, under any circumstances, compare the most progressive commissioner in sports to a slave owner.” otterman56 photo
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The Handshake = The Season…

I know, you’ve heard about the overblown Harbaugh-Schwartz incident a hundred times this week.  But I realized that the Handshake and ensuing melee, which took all of about 12 seconds… is a microcosm of what the 49ers have done to most of their opponents this season.  They get under your skin, and there’s nothing you can do about it.  Getting beat by a bunch of no-names is so humiliating that afterward you chase them across the field and yell, “You ruined my day!”  They not only refuse to apologize.. they’re laughing all the way to the locker room. xoque photo
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Dan Wheldon.. 1978 – 2011

IndyCar racing star Dan Wheldon is gone, following one of the worst crashes in the history of the sport… at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  He was a husband, a father… a champion and friend to many.  Along with millions, I love the sport of auto racing.  Of course, there’s risk and danger.  And some will say that any race track is an accident waiting to happen.  But there have been serious doubts about the safety of the steeply banked Las Vegas layout for years.. that it’s too fast, too dangerous.  When someone as experienced as Dario Franchitti says, “IndyCars shouldn’t be racing here”..  someone should listen. macahanC6R photo
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Boston Cleans House…

Wait… didn’t Terry Francona and GM Theo Epstein help the Boston Red Sox win two World Series after they hadn’t sniffed a Championship in a hundred years?  Oh well, anyone can have a good decade.  Rick Adelman was there for the Kings’ best years.  Let’s run him out.  Steve Mariucci?  The last guy to take the 49ers to a playoff win.  We’re making some changes.  Bill Neukom?  Ten months after The Parade down Market Street… who does he think he is?  I know, you raise the bar so high… expectations change.  Everybody gets hypercritical.  Fans, sportswriters, the big wigs.  Even Christopher Columbus, after opening the door to the New World… was shackled and sent to prison.  I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same. keithallison photo
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Thuuhhhh Yankees Wiiinnnnn!.. Oh Wait…

Yeah, the three highest payrolls in baseball are done.. finished for the season.  And though Alex Rodriguez took it like a man, to see the highest paid guy in the universe make the final out somehow felt righteous to the Yankee Haters. And the Red Sox collapse? Please.  Well, Terry Francona must’ve gotten stupid.  You won’t have him to kick around anymore.  Oh, and the Phillies? I get the impression they’re still bitter that the San Francisco Giants embarrassed them last year.  The Giants had to have been a fluke, as if they stole their rightful crown.  So this year would be different… Philadelphia put together the best starting staff in baseball.  All that got you is a seat on the sidelines.  How do you like the view?  Now it’s down to the Tigers, Rangers, Brewers and Cardinals.  To be World Champions, just about everything has to go right in October.  For only one of them, everything will. gaspa photo
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Dream Team Experiences.. A Nightmare…

Oh the 49ers didn’t do much.  They only came from 20 down midway through the third quarter to upset the Philadelphia Eagles on the road… and are now an unlikely 3-1.  Yeah the Eagles, known as The Dream Team, amassed a staggering 500 yards on offense… and Michael Vick is as dangerous as advertised.  So how in the world did this happen?  That’s what Philly coach Andy Reid is wondering.  His tight-lipped post game comments were priceless… he was STEAMING.  Did the Eagles aid in their embarrassment?  Of course… two field goals missed and a couple of big fumbles.  But the 49ers took advantage… and with every first down, every completed pass, every dive into the end zone…. their confidence grows.  And it looks like DeSean Jackson likes to trash talk before the game's over.  You know what that makes you?  1-3.  Hilarious. xoque photo
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Moneyball Is.. Money…

I was wrong about Moneyball. I thought it unlikely that anyone who’s not a baseball fan would be very interested in stats, on-base percentage and the Oakland A's.  But sure enough, it’s scoring big box office numbers… and as baseball movies go, it’s got plenty of mainstream appeal. But Moneyball is not just about baseball is it?  It’s for anybody who’s ever dreamed of taking on the big guys, of challenging the way things are…  and it’s about believing in yourself.  I loved this movie.  Finding undervalued players is at the core of the story.  And I was wondering if there’s a sabermetrics for offensive linemen?  I mean the 49ers could use some help there… kei! photo
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Red Sox Nation.. Seeing Red…

And I thought the Giants Faithful were a little down.  They’re downright giddy compared to what Boston Red Sox fans must be feeling today.  What happened last night, the culmination of a horrendous free fall… was cruelty personified.  They went into September with a nine game lead.. and squandered it away.  No matter how you try and explain it… injuries, weariness, bad karma, the moon not in alignment… you can’t go 7-20 down the stretch and expect a parade.  And the Atlanta Braves, who had a ten game lead over the Cardinals in late August… couldn’t gather any momentum, and lost their final five games.  Goodnight.  The offseason can be long, cold stretch.  It’s especially lonely when you can’t help but feel.. that you choked. keithallison photo
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Was That The “Deke” Of The Year?

My reaction was…”Wait a minute… what just happened there?”  Late in the Bears-Packers game, the Chicago Bears nearly  pulled off one of the great misdirection plays in the history of televised football.  The Pack, with a comfortable lead, punted to Chicago.  Then, things got more than a little weird.  Devin Hester, the most dangerous return man in football, pretended to drift under the ball… and so did his teammates.  The Packers headed straight for him.  But the ball actually came down on the other side of the field, where it was caught by Johnny Knox, who streaked down the right sideline for a touchdown… or so we thought.  A holding call negated what will be remembered as one of the coolest trick plays in the NFL archives.  Actually, Joe Buck didn’t get too excited about it… I kind of wish Al Michaels had the call. monica’sdad photo
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Put Us Out Of Our Misery…

Of course it’s a dagger in the heart of the ever loyal Giants fans, who’ve grinded out every at-bat, every heartbreaking loss.  But come on, it’s been damned entertaining.  With the absolutely woeful, impotent offense… these guys should have finished in the cellar.  Only the pitching has kept them in contention for this long.  I mean, it seems like they’ve lost 100 games 2-1 or 1-0…. It happened over and over again.  I know, if Tim Lincecum had been with the Yankees, he’d be 21-6.  Same with Matt Cain. We get it.  But it’s a tough game, and there’s a fine line between an empty stadium and a packed house.  You played your asses off, and it didn’t work out.  So hold your heads high.  All in all, it’s been quite a ride.  Can’t wait for spring training. auntijuli photo
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Wait.. You Can’t Put Jesus In Jail…

In a story that has rocked the poker community, the US Justice Department has accused principals of Full Tilt Poker... of defrauding thousands of online poker players out of more than $300 million that is still owed to them.  This isn’t some nickel and dime website… it’s been one of the best known, heavily promoted sites out there.   A US attorney said “Full Tilt was not a legitimate poker company, but a global Ponzi scheme.” And those named in the civil suit include Howard Lederer and Chris “Jesus” Ferguson.  Yikes.  Those who follow the game will tell you that these two don’t exactly fit the profile of “sleazy crooks.”  They’re two of the best known players in the world, whose reputations were impeccable.  Until now.  In any case, this doesn’t look good… and I’m anxious to see how this all shakes out.  All I know is… you just can’t put a guy named “Jesus” behind bars. ralphunden photo
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Winning.. Can Be A Problem…

I agree with Monty Poole of the San Jose Mercury News.. who’s recent story suggests that success can be hazardous to your career.  Yeah, prosperity can be costly.  The Golden State Warriors had gone years without sniffing the playoffs.  Then, not long after upsetting top seed Dallas one year, GM Chris Mullin was gone.  The last time the 49ers won the NFC West, they actually made it to the second round of the playoffs.  Not good enough… Steve Mariucci was fired.  Rick Adelman had a marvelous run with the Sacramento Kings, and he was then run out of town.  The Giants took it to Game Seven of the 2002 World Series.  What happened to the manager, Dusty Baker?  Oh, gone.  And now, not even a year removed from the uncontrolled euphoria down Market Street, the World Series Champions’ top guy, Bill Neukom, has been escorted out of the building.  So there it is.  Give it all you’ve got… play your heart out… then watch your back. MarianneO’Leary photo
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Panda-monium…

As the Giants’ season comes to an end, those of us who’ve lived and died with every pitch know the highs and lows of trying to do the near impossible… repeat as World Series Champions.  But they sure have been fun to watch.  There are new kids coming into their own.. Brett Pill, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Madison Bumgarner.  And Ryan Vogelsong has been the feel-good story of the year.  But I don’t think I’ve seen anyone play the game with more joy, more enthusiasm than the Panda.  Pablo Sandoval. He looks like he embraces every moment of every inning with a free-spirited, unapologetic love of the game, and it infuses those around him with the same spirit.  The other night, I saw his reaction when a teammate hit a home run.  With legs that must be bone-weary, the Panda jumped so high, his head hit the top of the dugout.  Watching Panda.. has been a joy.  Now, Brandon Belt?  He’s kinda dour. SDDirk photo
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Niners-Cowboys.. Let’s Get Real…

Of course the 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys have a long history… and plenty of pundits can’t stop bringing that up.  Oh, the “Rivalry”… Oh, it’s “The Catch”… Oh, it’s Bill Walsh and Tom Landry…I know every blogger, tweeter and self-described expert has to fill up time and space.  What does it all mean for Sunday?  It doesn’t mean squat.  This is about 2011, and I’ll go out on the limb and say Jim Harbaugh is living in the moment.  He doesn’t care what Michael Irvin or Troy Aikman thinks.  He’s game planning for Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and holy smokes… what are we gonna do about DeMarcus Ware?    Yes, this is an important game for Mr. Harbaugh and the Niners, who started last year 0-5.  So all the blowhard talk can be distilled into one sentence:  “If the underdog 49ers can find a way to eke out an unlikely win over the Cowboys, they’ll be 2-0 with momentum on their side.”  What’s your deal? Cliff1066 photo
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The Scoop…

With so many beat writers following the San Francisco Giants, there’s naturally a lot of overlapping coverage.  That’s fine with us fans, who want to hear, see and read every morsel of every little detail about the Orange and Black.  But when it all hit the fan yesterday, only one guy, Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News, broke the stunning story. Mark’s homework obviously paid off, and he had the scoop of the year….that Giants’ managing general partner and chief executive officer Bill Neukom was out as head honcho, after a fallout with the Executive Committee of the Giants’ ownership group.  Derek Moore and I were talking about the fact that anyone can be a blogger… anyone can tweet whatever they want.  But this is old school journalism… a lot of digging, prodding, protecting sources and sifting through what’s fact and what isn’t.  Nice work, Mark.  By the way, the company line is that this is a “retirement.”  Hilarious. btwashburn photo
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Belichick: A Football Life…

I think the creativity and vision of those at the helm of NFL Films have been, in no small measure, responsible for the skyrocketing popularity of NFL Football in America.  The emotion of Vince Lombardi on the sideline, the booming voice of John Facenda announcing the arrival of the Oakland Raiders, that spiral from Montana to Clark… these moments lovingly captured on film have made a great game even greater.  So when I found out that the producers at NFL Films are behind a new series, A Football Life… well, I wanted you to know about it.  Their first subject is Patriots coach Bill Belichick, the only coach ever wired for sound for an entire NFL season.  By the way, of all the coaches who could have agreed to this kind of access, the last one I would expect would be Mr. Belichick.  Isn’t he the guy under the hoodie who never answers questions?  I mean he makes Jim Harbaugh look like a chatterbox.  So here it comes…  Part I of Bill Belichick:  A Football Life premieres exclusively on the NFL Network tomorrow. keithallison photo
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Harbaugh.. The Phil Ivey Of The NFL…

The thing that drives the media horde crazy about 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh is what I love the most.  He just doesn’t answer their questions with much… well, with much substance.  He’s vague, elusive, snarky and not very forthcoming.  And the dumber the questions get, the less he says.  Hilarious.   I guess people expect him to explain his thought process about the offense, defense, special teams… play calling and what he’ll have for dinner.  His attitude seems to be “I’ll just keep that to myself, thank you.”  Jim Harbaugh reminds me of the best poker players I’ve seen… like Tom Dwan, Patrik Antonius and Phil Ivey. They say nothing, show nothing,  reveal even less.… then stack you off.  Will this be a fun season?  I’ll just keep that to myself… ralphunden photo
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The Hug…

Alex Smith.. a resurrection?  Too early to tell.  But this was huge for him… seven years of underachieving, and now he wins?  Sure he was only 15 for 20, but what was more significant was what DIDN’T happen:  He didn’t fumble, throw an interception, get sacked…. or run out of time getting a play call in.   It’s only one game, but The Jim Harbaugh Era has begun.. and this means way more than just beating the Seahawks.  Things have changed, and here’s how I know…  It was The Hug. When Alex came to the bench following his touchdown plunge, the coach hugged his quarterback as if he’d just won Dancing With The Stars.  I thought he was gonna French Kiss him.  That moment told me this team has moved on… from the darkness of Singletary-Nolan-Erickson to something resembling hope.  Yeah, Dallas is coming in and we could lose to the Cowboys 45-3… so what?  For the moment, the 49ers are tied for first place.  And after what we’ve seen the last few years, isn't that worth a hug? monica’sdad photo
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I’m Ready For Fantasy Football.. Oh Wait…

I suddenly felt like jumping into a Fantasy Football League… then I caught myself.  What am I thinking?  I don’t do Fantasy Football.  Oh, I know it’s taken the country by storm…  there are even a dozen sports shows devoting precious airtime to fake roster spots.  I get it.  And all of my friends are ready to roll.  Brian, Derek, Chris and Lizann are obsessed….up to their necks in draft picks, trades and speculation.  They’re wondering when I’ll join the rest of civilization and finally take the plunge.  Being an “imaginary” General Manager/Head Coach?  I don’t think so… I have enough trouble with real life.  And as the All-Pro is carted off the field with a career-threatening injury, you know what the guy on the couch is saying?   “That better not be my tight end!” gongus photo
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Take A Pill.. And Call Me In The Morning…

As the pennant chase takes a dark turn for the Giants, there’s a bright light on the horizon… or at least we hope there is.  And hope is a precious commodity now.  Giants minor league prospect Brett Pill, who will turn 27 tomorrow, finally made his Major League debut on Tuesday and hit the first pitch he swung at off the second deck of the Western Metal Supply Company.  Before Duane Kuiper got to “High Drive..” it was gone.  Then yesterday, ho hum…. he another home run. And he’s been in the bigs two days.  A lot of fans are wondering why he wasn’t brought up sooner….  he’s actually older than Matt Cain, Panda, Brandon Belt and of course Madison Bumgarner.  Guess he was biding his time.  It remains to be seen if a nickname will stick… “Pill The Thrill,” “The Pill-ager,” “Brett The Threat,”…..Well, if you keep hittin’, who cares? randychiu photo
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The Day It Ended…

Sunday was a Ryan Vogelsong gem.. maybe his finest performance of the year.  In front of a packed house (as every home game is), the series clincher with the D-backs was a microcosm of the season of 2011.  A Giants pitcher puts it on the line and gets absolutely no support when he needs it most.  When you’re last in just about every offensive category, what do you expect?  Pathetic, heartbreaking… and hard to watch.  So what now?  Well, suck it up… give the youngsters some experience, play your ass off and hold your head high.  It’s been a hell of a run. auntijuli photo
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Thank You Sports Illustrated…

For predicting the 49ers will finish in the cellar of the Tough-As-Nails NFC West.  This all takes me back to last year.  The Niners had actually won all of their exhibition games.. and players, media and fans were pretty jacked up.  I recall several “experts” picking the 49ers to do well… maybe even winning the division.  We all know how that turned out.  The predictable offense, botched time outs, porous secondary…. “I’ve got to look at the film..”  Make no mistake, grizzled Niner fans aren’t expecting miracles.  This will be a long road to respectability.  But maybe the Jim Harbaugh-led roster has found some hope, some new life after last night’s inspired play. And he won’t have to “look at the film.” monica’sdad photo
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The Shakeup…

Though people have been grumbling about Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada for weeks (or months), it was still a bombshell when they were shown the door yesterday.  Check out Andrew Baggarly’s excellent piece here…. And Mark Purdy’s here. The moment the story hit, the change in body language was palpable… the bounce in the step was back.  And I’m talking about the fans.  The players?  Well, they went out and won a game.. and actually looked like they were having fun.  To say Rowand has not performed is the understatement of the year, and you get the impression he wasn’t exactly a breath of fresh air in the clubhouse.  As for Tejada, Bruce Jenkins said “He hung himself the other day when he said, glumly, ‘I just work here’….  explaining why he didn’t run hard to first base when asked to bunt… but that’s the attitude of a quitter.”  Some managers would have cut him right there.  Matter of fact, the moment after Miggie completes his slow trot to first base,  I envision a golf cart arriving with all his bags packed.  It picks him up….whisks him down the line and through a gate in the right field fence.  Goodbye and Good Luck. sddirk photo
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Harbaugh-Speak…

Niner fans are understandably anxious about tomorrow.  We don’t know what we’re going to get.  What started out as unbridled optimism turned south pretty quickly, especially after last week’s embarrassing debacle against Houston.  Of course, it’s only preseason but a bad night is a bad night.  Even Head Coach Jim Harbaugh seemed at a loss for words.  I enjoyed the Barry Tompkins piece on what Jim really means.  JH Answer:  “We’re in training camp mode.”  What JH really means:  “Right now, we suck.”  Matter of fact, this is kind of a pattern these days… and I don’t blame him.  When he says “I have a lot of respect for Taylor Mays”..  I think he means “I’m glad he’s not in our secondary.”  “Their offense will be a challenge..” is code for… “I hope they don’t drop 60 on us.”  How about Colin Kaepernick?  “I just want to get better every day.”  Which means  “I’m so confused I can’t even think straight.”  And when the coach says “I don’t want to single anyone out.”  I think he means “What was Joe Staley doing while they were running by him… taking pictures?” monica’sdad photo
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Witness To A Meltdown…

Don’t blame Tim Lincecum for those gopher balls he served up.  Here’s my take on the situation… The Giants have had a first class pitching staff, and a last place offense.  Sooner or later, the bottom drags down the top.  You just can’t ask a pitcher to throw a shutout every single game.  Giving up one run is fine… but when it gets to two, the roof caves in. He’s thinking “Oh no… we’re sunk now..”  You can see it in the body language.  It’s happened to Timmy, to Cain, to Vogelsong and to Mad Bum.  The shocking thing is they haven’t snapped… thrown tantrums, taken hostages.  And Shawn Estes says “Well, you can’t think that way.”  Guess what Sherlock, they’re all thinking that way, ‘cuz they’re human.  I’d bet the Huntington Beach Little Leaguers could take two out of three from the Giants.  I wish I was kidding… sddirk photo
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Desperate Measures…

Ask any Giants fan…. These are desperate times. After last night’s embarrassing loss to the lowly Houston Astros (again), you get the feeling Bruce Bochy’s gonna blow his top.  And with that size 8 ¼ noggin, that could do a lot more damage than that little 5.8 quake the other day.  Yeah, former minor league journeyman Henry Sosa was pitching on three days rest, and the Giants hitters turned Henry into Bob Gibson.  It was like watching the Hindenburg in slow motion… you know what’s about to happen, and you can’t stop it.  So what do you do, bench some guys?  It’s slim pickings there.   They’ve got more guys that are bedridden than a hospital ship.  How ‘bout the young dudes?  If you’re gonna fail, I’d rather lose with Brandon Crawford, Brett Pill, Gary Brown, Darren Ford and Eric Surkamp.  How could they be worse than your current killer lineup?  Oh by the way…  before last night, Houston had lost 25 of 30 games on the road.  Did I say it was hard to watch? misschatter photo
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The Silence Of The Lambs…

If it wasn’t so painful,  it’d be laughable.  Where’s Carlos Beltran?  Brian Wilson?  How about Andres Torres, Sergio Romo?  Is Miguel Tejada a double play waiting to happen or am I just being a cruel pessimist?  This is crunch time, and the Giants are playing their worst baseball of the year.  When the Pirates had a Ten Game Losing Streak…  the Giants were just what the doctor ordered.  Florida had lost 7 in a row…  hey, bring on the Giants.  You get the picture.  And Houston, who’ve already lost nearly 100 games… slapped the Giants around all week.  Had Panda not gone deep yesterday, I’m telling you, Bruce Bochy was on the verge of taking hostages and barricading a convenience store.  And stop saying the Giants are set to play some losing teams.  I promise you, they’re all lickin’ their chops to get at the World Champs.  I know we’ve got more than a month to go.  But with apologies to Yogi Berra…. It’s getting’ late early. auntijuli photo
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Giants Tie Phillies.. Of 1914…

In the midst of this feeble stretch of excruciating Giants losses, they actually tied a home run record. Well, it’s not one you’d want to brag about.  When Pablo Sandoval cranked one out yesterday, it was the 19th consecutive SOLO home run the club has hit.  Way to get on base.  No Major League team has had that many solo shots in a row…  since the Philadelphia Phillies of 1914.  Their star pitcher that year was Grover Cleveland Alexander. As a matter of fact, if the Hall of Famer were still around, he could have entered the game for Jonathan Sanchez.  Although he’d be 124 years old, I still think Mr. Alexander would have had better command of the strike zone. pvsbond photo
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Facing Tim Lincecum?… How Fun…

I’m not sure if this would be the ultimate honor or the ultimate humiliation.  Giants ace Tim Lincecum is challenging fans to a video competition in which they are asked to duplicate his unorthodox delivery on video… for an opportunity to hit against him at spring training next year.  Oh yeah, stepping in against the two-time Cy Young Award winner with the 94 mph fastball?  That should be tons of fun.  Entries are open through September 16.  Go to facebook.com/timlincecum. Actually, I’m hoping for a contest in which you can try and strike out Aaron Rowand. You might get more entries for that. sddirk photo
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Bruce Bochy.. Snuffed Out…

Just a pinch between your cheek and gums… Yes, this little endeavor of sucking on smokeless tobacco is all too pervasive in the field and in the dugouts of Major League Baseball.  And I think we all know that it’s a nasty, poisonous habit…. and that nothing good will come of it.  Janie McCaule of AP has a great story about Giants skipper Bruce Bochy, who’d been “dipping” for nearly 40 years…. and has quit with the help of hypnotherapist Dr. AlVera Paxon.  She also helped bullpen catcher Billy Hayes and long time equipment manager Mike Murphy kick the dip.  Amazing… congratulations.  Derek Moore tells me that Dr. Paxon’s next project is Barry Zito… in an effort to help him give up baseball… qnr photo
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Caddie Wins Bridgestone.. Oh Wait…

As far as I could tell, he didn’t hit a single drive, nail an approach shot or sink any putts.  But the unquestioned media darling coming off the green at Bridgestone was Stevie Williams. I know you’re the world’s greatest caddie… I get it.  Yes, you wanted everyone to know how badly Tiger treated you.. Okay.  But when the media horde surrounded you, I was hoping that you’d try and squeeze in the fact that this was Adam Scott’s day… that he played really well and beat a terrific field.  That didn’t happen.  It was all about ME.  MY vindication, MY tournament win.  I was actually embarrassed.  The irony is… had you shown a little humility, I think your status as “caddie-hero” would have been even more enhanced.  So much for the Three Caddie Rules:   Wake up; Keep up; and Shut Up. thegordons photo
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The Barry Zito Saga…

Wealthy beyond most people’s dreams, he’s been humiliated, vilified and blamed for every major disaster including the Lindbergh kidnapping.  Okay, it hasn’t been easy.  Barry Zito’s never whined, cursed the media or played the diva.  But it’s becoming increasingly clear that highest paid guy on your team can’t get anybody out.  This just in… that’s hard to do with a belt high change-up or an 82 mph fastball.  He’s not a criminal.  He’s just not getting it done on the mound.  No matter how much money you have, that’s tough to swallow.  If I’m Bruce Bochy, I’d invent an injury and put you on the DL until September comes.  Oh wait… I guess that already happened. slgckgc photo
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Phillies Sweep Giants.. Oh Wait...

You could just feel it…  This was the payback series for the Phillies fans.  How could the Left Coast Misfits steal the thunder from the vaunted Phils last year?  The Giants got lucky, they got all the breaks, they got hot at just the right time…they’re a fluke, and on and on and on.   But not this time, not in the Phillies ballpark.  The Phils pitching is the best in the bigs… their bats will maul you, and they haven’t lost two games in a row at home since April 19.  They’re the big dogs… and they know it.  But things got real quiet yesterday, as sick little Tim Lincecum and the Giants bullpen shut down Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Shane Victorino on the way to taking two of three.  Talk about putting a damper on the festivities…  kind of like that shower in the late innings.  Obviously I still think the Philadelphia Phillies are the team to beat, but on this day… the silence was deafening.  Oh, did I mention… the Phillies hadn’t lost two in a row at home since April 19th? hjwest photo
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Welcome to the ESPN 1320 Blog. This is Sacramento's destination for everything sports. We will talk Giants and A's baseball, Kings and Warriors Basketball and of course 49er's football! Make sure to check for new posts frequently and subscribe to our RSS. Your comments are appreciated.
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