Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Prime time draft for Raiders, 49ers? Zzzzzz

With the eighth pick in the NFL draft, the Oakland Raiders will select Trent Williams, offensive tackle, Oklahoma.
With the 13th pick in the NFL draft, the San Francisco 49ers will select Anthony Davis, offensive tackle, Rutgers.
So there you have it. First two picks for Bay Area teams will be offensive tackles.
Wow. That will light up the phone lines from Raiders and 49ers fans seeking to renew their season tickets for the 2010 season. If that’s the goal, the Raiders would do better to draft Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen and the 49ers should grab Clemson all-purpose back C.J. Spiller.
Or they could trade for Ben Roethlisberger.
Here’s a draft pick that will make a bigger difference. The Golden State Warriors will select 6-foot-11, 280-pound Kentucky power forward/center in the 2010 NBA draft.
The American Idol on Thursday night will be Mel Kiper, Jr.
Who has the most offense this week: The San Jose Sharks or San Francisco Giants?
I remember covering an A’s game in Kansas City one year when they lost a game that the Royals recorded only one hit. Said KC catcher Mike Macfarlane afterward, “It was the maximization of the minimal number of hits.”
Speaking of baseball, a must-buy is “Bleeding Baseball,” by Daniel A. Floersch. It’s a baseball trivia book from cover to cover from regular season to post season.
Which leads me to my favorite baseball trivia question, the one that stumps most everyone: Who was the starting second baseman for the Boston Red Sox on Opening Day in 1967?
Give up? Reggie Smith.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Put up or shut up time for playoff-bound Sharks

It was Fan Appreciation Night at the San Jose Arena on Saturday so it’s time to show the Sharks some love.
After a devastating and embarrassing first-round playoff series loss to the eighth-seeded Anaheim Ducks last year, the Sharks could have had the motivation and drive sucked out of them. They could have skated through this season like they were entitled to get home ice advantage for the Stanley Cup. They could have been gone through the motions with their talent and still made the playoffs.
Instead, they rose again and met expectations this season. Oh, they didn’t win the Presidents’ Trophy, which was a curse last season. But they won the Pacific Division again and they played well enough to win the Vice Presidents’ Trophy, if there were such a thing.
Now comes their albatross – the playoffs. Expectations for that are hitting the roof in the Shark Tank. Anything less than reaching the Western Conference finals will be not be tolerated. It’s June or swoon.
What must the Sharks change or do different to get the proverbial King Kong off their backs?
First, they must dramatically improve their special teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs. This regular season, the Sharks had a power play percentage of 18.2 percent. Not bad.
However, in their last three postseasons, the Sharks have converted only 9.6 percent of their power play chances. That’s just 16 goals in 137 opportunities. That’s not poor. That’s putrid.
The other must-go for the Sharks is that goaltender Evgeni Nabokov must stand on his head, hockey lingo for make improbable saves that can turn a game and a series. Nabokov is an exceptional goalie but, in the playoffs, he has not elevated his play to stand-on-your-head status. The recent great playoff goaltenders – Martin Brodeau, Curtis Joseph and Ed Belfour -- sharpened their focus when their teams needed them most.
In fairness to Nabokov, the defensemen in front of him have not been a model of consistency. The Sharks’ third-set of blueliners for the playoffs likely will be Kent Huskins and either rookie Jason Demers or Niclas Wallin, none of whom are playoff dependable.
Basically, the Sharks must raise their level of play in the playoffs. You know it. They know it. No more excuses.
“We will turn it up a notch next week (in the playoffs),” Sharks captain Rob Blake told Sharks fans Saturday night following the team’s shootout win over the Phoenix Coyotes. “We expect you to do the same.”

Friday, April 9, 2010

Stage is set for Tiger Forgiveness Weekend

Oh, oh.
What if Tiger Woods wins the Masters?
He’s two strokes back going into the weekend. He’s right where he wants to be. Right where we want him to be. In the hunt, like a speed boat chasing down row boats on a lake.
What could possibly happen?
Best-case scenario: Tiger wins the tournament with a birdie putt on the 18th hole at Augusta then his estranged wife, Elin, shows up with the kids and Tiger breaks down in her arms with his kids hugging his legs. Norman Rockwell portrait. The world forgives him. Nike has fodder for another commercial.
Worse-case scenario: Really can’t think of one right now except Tiger wins the Masters and Elin serves him with divorce papers coming off the 18th green and Stevie Williams, his caddy, sells his story to TMZ. That would be a kick in the groin, or a golf club to the Escalade, if you will.
If anything, people are paying attention to Tiger again for what he does best, not what he did behind everyone’s back. Tiger – and golf -- is relevant again and the Earth is back on its axis.

Once around the bases …

Pillow talk landed Tiger in trouble. Bad pillows landed Jeff Suppan on the disabled list. As the story goes, Suppan, who will make $12.5 million to pitch for the Milwaukee Brewers this season, came up with a stiff neck in spring training because of the pillows he used to sleep on in a rented condo. Here’s an idea: Why didn’t he just go out and buy some better ones. Duh?

I know it’s only four games into the season, but the 2010 San Francisco Giants already have a magical feel about them … until Brian Wilson blows a save.

Going into the first weekend of the baseball season, the longest current winning streak in the major leagues is shared by the Giants and A’s.

Going to see the San Jose Sharks play on Saturday night. After watching the fight-filled third period of their game on Thursday night against Vancouver, I wonder if they have expanded the penalty boxes at the Shark Tank.

Congrats to Don Nelson. The Warriors can fire him now.

Then Nellie can become general manager of the 49ers.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Time to get back into the swing of things

This week marks the one-year anniversary of me being officially laid off at the Marin Independent Journal after 22 plus years of service.

Like Tiger Woods, it’s time for me to get back in the swing of things by giving my two cents worth with one liners.

Figures that an ambidextrous pitcher would wind up with the New York Yankees. They give out money left and right.

It just seems to me with all his off-the-field problems that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Rothlisberger is destined some day to meet Dr. Drew.

I wish Pablo Sandoval would grow a mustache so I could call him Kung Fu Manchu Panda.

Will Fresno-bound Buster Posey join the long line of “Future Catchers for the Giants” that have been busts? He might be the next Steve Decker.

I haven’t figured out yet what Billy Beane’s master plan is for the Oakland A’s. Waiting for the Angels, Mariners and Rangers to get worse or the Giants to give up territorial rights?

Over or under: Giants will have 15 more wins this season than A’s.

My local theater is offering the chance to watch the Final Four basketball games in 3D. For $15 a seat?! Sorry, I’ll go see “Hot Tub Time Machine” and see what pops out of the screen.

Given how wacky the NCAA men’s basketball tournament has played out , I ask you this: Why not Butler? Why doesn’t anyone think they can win it all? I do.

Of course, this is the first time in memory that I didn’t get at least one Final Four team right in my bracket.

Fortunately, I didn’t enter anyone’s office pool this year. I started my own “living room” pool. My 12-year-old son will win it if Duke wins it all.

The one thing I love about my youngest son that I think he inherited from me other having a passion for baseball and the Red Sox is that the kid just loves to play Wiffle ball in the backyard.

I’ll all for banning medal bats … but why can’t Major League Baseball initiate a fundraising effort to furnish wooden bats to high school players on down to Little Leaguers. They can afford it.

Maybe Don Nelson could win a championship in the “D” League.

The more I watch Stephen Curry, the more I marvel. Let me be the first to call him a future Hall of Famer. For some other team.

If one of Tigers’ former mistresses shows up in the gallery at the Masters, what will he yell if he hooks a ball off the tee: Fore or Foreplay?

The best thing I can say about Tiger is he didn’t pick a mistress with lots of tattoos.

A part of me wants to see Tiger win the Masters to put all this behind him. A bigger part wants me to see him miss the cut because I think he still needs to be humbled.

Walked into the half empty grill of the Castlewood Country Club on a Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks ago with my teenage son wearing jeans and a hoodie so we could meet a friend. My son and I were asked to leave. Another reason I hate golf.

I’m done voting for Mark McGwire for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Saying performance-enhancing drugs didn’t enhance his performance is like saying Viagra doesn’t give you a woodie.

Do you want Terry Donahue back, 49ers fans? Then pipe down.

If the Raiders don’t trade for Donovan McNabb, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Al Davis draft Tim Tebow if the Florida quarterback drops into the second round.

The look on the face of Sharks coach Todd McLellan in that 5-1 loss at Dallas the other night must have been the same look on my face when I had a colonoscopy the other day.

Really, seriously, the only thing that matters about the Sharks anymore is if they can at least play their way into the conference finals. Time for potential to turn to promise.

After hearing Tara Van Derveer recognize and credit her coaching staff on KNBR the other day, it made me think: Is there any coach in America who has a bigger ego than UConn women’s coach Geno Auriemma?

OK, Nick Saban. But he’s (still) not smiling.

Text from new St. John’s coach Steve Lavin to me: Good fit … Right time … Tough task but eager.

Why he is a better coach now? Lavin has spent the past seven years at ESPN with an all total access pass to see how other top coaches, young and old, run their practices, talk to their teams, strategize for their opponents and win.

Funny. Lavin was criticized for not having a Ted Winter-like veteran coach as an assistant at UCLA. First thing he did at St. John’s was hire 73-year-old former Purdue coach Gene Keady as a consultant.

BTW: Steve’s dad, Cap, who fell in December, is back on his feet playing bocci ball again.

Did you see new Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll shaking hands with Sam Bradford at the Oklahoma quarterback’s Pro Day the other day?

Little known fact: Carroll came close to leaving USC in2006 to become the Kansas City Chiefs’ head coach and work with close friend Carl Peterson, then the Chiefs’ general manager. Herman Edwards got the job, Peterson resigned two years later and Edwards soon after got the boot.

Ever wondered how many Facebook friends ESPN’s Skip Bayless has?

Who is voting for Kate “Dancing Drama Queen” Gosselin to dance some more? All the mothers-of-eight?

Why do I care? Better question: Why am I watching?

Baseball season couldn’t come any sooner to save me from watching anymore “Bachelor” or “Dancing With Stars.”

And one more thing: Yankees suck.