A place for me to talk about San Francisco Bay Area sports.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Catching up on Bay Area Sports

Long neglected, I felt compelled to write finally.

Warriors OK By Me
First off, there is a local columnist's rant, which is just a continuation of the rant he began in an earlier column, about how the Warrior's Lacob is falling down on the job as new owner because there was no deal done by the deadline, this drive me to write. 

That is the problem with the media sometimes (probably more oftentimes), it is this short-term, what have you done for me lately type of mentality that would drive any franchise into the ground if they followed everything the columnist advised (for example, as a hint, he wanted the Giants to trade Lincecum for Rios, which would have killed the Giants franchise and Sabean would have surely been fired by Nuekom if he had done that one). 

I'm glad Lacob isn't doing deals just to do deals.  I hope he is forcing the GM to bring all deals to him for approval and using that as a way to evaluate how good the GM is.  When a franchise has been down for so long, you are not going to change the franchise with one deal or by doing something just to demonstrate you are doing something.  He said he wanted to evaluate the GM, and that will take a year to do. 

My guess is that he has already made his evaluation based on prior deals made - all public record plus internal discussions - and, while not liking what the GM has done, decided that it was better to just keep the guy in charge until he can find a GM more to his liking.  So you keep him on a short leash under the public impression that he's being evaluated, and if Lacob likes any particular deal, he'll approve it.  And, who knows, maybe the GM could impress him somehow (so far, no though).

Nelson clearly was messing with young player minds, plus was at an age where he's going to go at some point soon, so may as well eat his contract and let Smart have a try at it.  Nelson would have driven away Monte Ellis at minimum, and would have worked on the nerves of other players while he was at it.  It was best that he left, so why not give Smart a tryout at the same time, he had earned that.  But this also leaves open, at no extra cost, the possibility of a new GM after the season with a new coach brought in by the new GM, while doing something nice for Smart, who seems to be a genuinely nice guy plus, who knows, maybe Smart earns the job by doing well.

49ers Re-birth
Finally, someone embracing the Bill Walsh heritage, and not only that, is going whole hog into it.  Prior coaches have avoided that connection, and I don't understand why:  Walsh was one of the most successful coaches in the history of the game, why not pick his brains and have him available as a consultant on speed dial?  The only reason to avoid it is out of ego and fear of being in Walsh's shadow.

Hello? No matter what they did, they would always be in his shadow, it is that large and deep.  May as well embrace it, like Harbaugh has.  And even though he was not a QB in Walsh's system, he has a true lineage in that Walsh and Harbaugh connected while at Stanford before Walsh's death, and he's pursuing all of Walsh's old 49er's notes and videos and stuff, so I'm extremely hopeful that the 49ers offense will be re-born under Harbaugh's tutelage.

Now they just need somebody in the GM spot who can spot talent and pull it in during the draft like Walsh did.  Hopefully the new guy Trent Bialke is up to the task, but if not, I hope they make the move fast once they figure out who is up to the task.

Cal's Baseball
I think it is a crying shame that they are ending so many years - over 100 - of tradition like this.  I'm hoping they are just playing chicken with the alumni in hopes that the alumni will create a self-funding foundation of funds that will keep baseball at Cal.  It would be nice if former ballplayers like Jeff Kent and Xavier Nady would get something started together, but so far the only quote I've heard is Kent saying that he's willing to do something once the AD is serious, or something like that. 

2010 Giants are World Champions!
Of course, that is the big news since my last post.  Never gets old saying it.

I'll repeat my prediction I made a couple of years ago:  The 2010's will be known as the Decade of the Giants when it is all over. 

With the Giants young pitching, and now young hitting with Belt, Posey, Sandoval (probably in that order) in the middle supporting that pitching, the key will be Neukom backing up his promise to keep the team together as long as he can via decisions made for baseball reasons and not financial and marketing ones, which bothered fans in the 2000's - punting draft picks, trading off players to save money (Ortiz for example), letting go of players to save money (Kent), signing players for marketing (Zito and Rowand).

I'm hoping the A's will eventually see the light and give the Giants $50-100M for the rights to the South Bay, which will help the Giants keep more of their young players longer.  I'm also hoping that Neukom is actively recruiting his successor as managing owner by pulling in somebody worth billions of dollars who could afford to run the Giants at a loss for a few years to enable the team to hold onto more of their young stars, much like how the Angel's billionaire has been running things down there.

Sharks Are Getting White HOT!
The Sharks are starting to peak and frankly none of their star players have really been carrying the team in any way, so that is very encouraging.   Hopefully they can join the Giants as SF Bay Area champions by winning the Stanley Cup this season.

Raiders:  Meh!
Never really cared about the Raiders, but at least I would pay attention to what they did.  But Davis has been a caricature of his former self for so many years now, that even I have to turn my head away and wait for the post-Davis era to begin.  I'm very pavlavian, I used to watch bowling and golf to get my sports fix when I was younger, it takes a lot to turn me off.

A's:  Double Meh!

Amazing how much media is behind them after they picked up some marginal players, good, yes, but hardly stars nor even difference makers, and yet because Billy Beane got them, they must be a great team headed for better days.  If the Giants or more to the point Sabean had gotten these same players, he would have been excoriated for obtaining over the hill players on the wrong side of 30 who aren't really that good, and how they should trade away some of their good young pitching to get a similarly marginal good player, but, you know, at least they gave up a good pitcher to do that instead, because these fans think that is the better way to do it.  Some equate 2011 A's = 2010 Giants.

Let me puncture that balloon:  they don't have a reigning two-time Cy Young winner heading up their staff, heck, they don't even have a Matt Cain heading up their staff, they got young guns who, while good, still have to prove themselves long term.  They are more like the 2008 Giants than 2010 Giants, hoping the young guys are as good as advertise, hoping the old guys hold up and produce like they used to.

In any case, I'm waiting for their owner to realize that they are not getting the South Bay territory until they pay a big pot o' money to the Giants for those rights, much like the Nats paying off the Orioles.  Either that or they move away, I don't really care either way.

I like the team, but it is the fans who make me just as equally OK if the team leaves the area.  I was at a recent Trophy viewing where my wife and I got my picture taken with the trophy, and while waiting in line, this really old guy wearing a very faded A's jacket boomed out in answer to a question by his Giants' fan buddy about the trophy:  "You mean like the THREE TROPHIES the A's have in their stadium?"

My first thought was "Dumb-ass, the A's have won four trophies while in the Bay Area" but that comment just brought up all the pain and mean statements A's fans have made to me and Giants fans in general over the years, so I honestly don't care if they go, their fans can pine after their team like the Raiders fans did when they moved to LA, only if the A's move from the Bay Area, they ain't coming back ever, the Giants would not allow such a thing to happen once they get the Bay Area for themselves, without even bigger concessions on the part of the A's.

The thing is that the A's and Beane don't really understand how stacked the deck is against competitive teams in the draft, so their bouncing between good and just bad enough just prevents them from gaining the true difference makers like Buster Posey or Evan Longoria or Chipper Jones, with a high pick, you just have to take your chances with your pick after the 5th pick overall.  Until he recognizes that, he will either have to get really lucky with his prospects or draft picks, or the A's in the 2010's will resemble the Giants in the 1970's, when they were never quite good enough, nor quite bad enough.  And it would be worse than the A's of the 2000's.

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