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Baseball goes mad with new idea

Fri, 10 Feb 2017 00:05:29 UT

[...] it’s the top of the 10th inning, all tied up, back from the commercial break and ... wait a minute, there’s a runner at second base? “Oh, glad you asked,” says the representative from Major League Baseball. [...] we just sort of stash him there to start all the extra innings. “Let’s see what it looks like,” Joe Torre, MLB’s chief baseball officer, told Yahoo Sports. Yes, we all know that attendance tends to wane after regulation time, people fearing a game that won’t end. Imagine, too, if you’re the pitcher starting such an inning. When an engaging, articulate Brian Wilson was mowing down hitters with blazing fastballs en route to the Giants’ 2010 world title, no one could have imagined him years later with the Dodgers: belligerent, beyond eccentric, with a preposterous beard (featuring that little thing dangling off the edge).

Magic’s arrival good news for Luke Walton

Sun, 5 Feb 2017 05:18:25 UT

Larry Bird, Boston Garden, an NBA championship and a team unsurpassed in clever, relentless ball movement. [...] when Walton took his Los Angeles Lakers into Boston Garden on Friday night, he got a grim reminder of his predicament. There’s nothing those old Celtics can do to help Walton now, but there is help on the way from a storied rival. When Magic Johnson was appointed a Lakers adviser this past week, it got everyone’s attention. Johnson will reportedly have a crucial role in personnel decisions, and he will report directly to team President Jeanie Buss. Upon the death of wildly successful Lakers owner Jerry Buss, Jim was given control of basketball operations as executive vice president. The decision to fire Jim would have to come by family vote (there are four other siblings involved), and no other outcome would satisfy the exasperated L.A. fan base. If the Lakers keep their first-round draft pick (they have to land in the top three) and get a chance to draft UCLA freshman Lonzo Ball, would they offer Russell in trade for veteran help? Shaquille O’Neal calls him “one of the greatest point guards in NBA history,” and while that might be a bit strong, Williams’ showmanship genius recalled the great Pete Maravich. Yogi Ferrell is no mystery to anyone who followed his college career at Indiana, where he holds the career assist record and was a Big Ten All-Defensive choice as a senior, but he went undrafted in 2016 and fell into D-League obscurity. Dallas signed him to a 10-day contract Jan. 28, and now he’s a full-fledged star, averaging 17.8 points in his first four games (all wins) and scoring 32 in Friday night’s 108-104 win over Portland. [...] the Mavericks say they’ll sign Ferrell to a two-year contract, at the minimum salary, when his temporary deal expires. Getting extensive minutes due to Pau Gasol’s hand injury, a slimmed-down Lee is experiencing a career revival at 33.

Ex-Giants reliever Sergio Romo signs with the Dodgers

Sat, 4 Feb 2017 04:27:45 UT

Sergio Romo, the Giants’ longtime standout reliever, reportedly has agreed to a one-year deal with the Dodgers. The deal is contingent upon a physical exam for Romo, who’s pitching for Mexico in the Caribbean Series, and might not be announced until Monday. After relieving Javier Lopez during the Cubs’ four-run, ninth-inning rally in the decisive Game 4 of the NL Division Series at AT&T Park, Romo gave up Ben Zobrist’s run-scoring double down the right-field line, cutting the Giants’ lead to 5-3. By the time Will Smith and Hunter Strickland managed to finish that inning, the eventual World Series champion Cubs led 6-5 and were on their way to the NLCS. What the Dodgers undoubtedly noticed, though, was that Romo posted a 2.98 ERA in 2015 and 2.64 last year, in each case allowing fewer hits than innings pitched. With Miguel Cabrera representing the Tigers’ last hope in Game 4, and everyone in the ballpark expecting a slider, Romo blew a fastball past Cabrera for a called strike three to end the Series.

Warriors reveal Clippers’ lack of foresight

Sat, 4 Feb 2017 02:46:40 UT

Warriors reveal Clippers’ lack of foresight Every time the Clippers get crushed by the Warriors, which is all the time, people shake their heads and wonder, What’s wrong with those guys? The score got interesting in the final minutes before a 133-120 final, but head coach Doc Rivers admitted the performance level “wasn’t even close tonight.” With the Warriors missing starters Draymond Green and Zaza Pachulia, the Clippers had to figure they had some plays that would work. [...] no matter who’s on the floor, even the end-of-the-bench guys, the Warriors play a selfless, fast-moving, pass-oriented offense that represents the pinnacle of offensive fundamentals. Here’s the Clippers’ track record of influential players selected in the draft over the past 15 years: [...] that’s on Rivers, a capable head coach who has proved to be a dismal failure as general manager. [...] it won’t make a bit of difference against the Warriors, not with Anthony looking for isolation matchups and playing ineffective defense. The All-Star weekend’s three-point contest won’t be the same without Curry, who called it a tough decision. Honestly, this All-Star weekend is the slowest, schedule-wise, I’ve had, and I wanted to capitalize on that rest. Thoughts turned to the Giants’ Will Clark when, in tennis, Andy Roddick was elected to the Hall of Fame. [...] many others in that category — Michael Chang, Amelie Mauresmo, Yannick Noah, Jana Novotna, Gabriela Sabatini, Marat Safin, Virginia Wade — are tennis Hall of Famers.

Turmoil rises in the East in NBA

Sun, 29 Jan 2017 06:36:37 UT

The Cavaliers need a backup guard, they’re not moving the ball like a championship team, and their lack of depth has him leading the league in minutes played (37.6 per game). The Cavs consistently play terrible defense. Can you imagine the clever, selfless Rubio hooking up with James and Irving, a shooting guard at heart? With the Bulls’ chemistry falling apart, Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade unleashed a harsh, vague assessment of the team’s younger players (sources say the targets were Michael Carter-Williams and Nikola Mirotic). Coach Fred Hoiberg has no control over the team, to the point where Butler — benched along with Wade at the start of Friday night’s game against Miami — walked straight to the bench after drawing his second foul in the second quarter, instructing Taj Gibson to go take his place. [...] there’s the Knicks’ sudden urge to unload Carmelo Anthony, who apparently would waive his no-trade clause to join the Cavaliers, Celtics or Clippers. Follow-up to Connor Letourneau’s Chronicle piece about the Warriors’ popularity on the road: Coach Steve Kerr doesn’t buy into the nonsense of resting healthy starters. Oklahoma City’s Enes Kanter, who decided to clobber a padded chair in anger and caught the metal frame, breaking his arm. Under the new collecitive bargaining agreement, it is now impossible for a team to have two players on its roster who were acquired via trade and signed with their original team using the “designated rookie max” contract extensions. In the wake of Bill King’s long-overdue election to the writers’ wing of the baseball Hall of Fame, longtime Bay Area marketing ace Andy Dolich has launched a campaign backing King for the Curt Gowdy Media Award, basketball’s Hall of Fame equivalent. The list of inductees includes Chick Hearn, Marty Glickman, Marv Albert and Hubie Brown, among other iconic types, but also some broadcasters who didn’t remotely compare to King, merely the best basketball play-by-play man who ever lived.

Get Embiid, NBA centers in the All-Star game

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 00:02:23 UT

Get Embiid, NBA centers in the All-Star game The man behind the NBA’s most intriguing story, Joel Embiid, has the right idea. “There’s a lot of talented big men in the league, especially at the center position,” he told CSN Philly after the 76ers’ victory over Portland on Friday night. The NBA should think about putting the center back on the All-Star ballot. Frontcourt backups (three): Embiid’s inspired play, with its magnificent combination of power and finesse, has the long-dreadful 76ers thinking playoffs (more on that below). Thomas has been owning the fourth quarter, and Wall’s end-to-end forays are an absolute treat. Wild cards (two): Kemba Walker, long overdue for his first All-Star appearance, and Kyle Lowry. Wild cards (assuming Chris Paul’s thumb injury keeps him out): Utah’s underrated Gordon Hayward and Mike Conley, the great Memphis guard who has overcome two serious injuries and plays as smart as any guard in the game. Recoil in disdain, if you must, at his isolation-driven game, but this great scorer has been treated like dirt by Knicks President Phil Jackson. [...] Jackson complained that Anthony holds onto the ball too long (an accurate assessment, but one best delivered in private). For all of his faults, he deserves some respect — and an All-Star appearance would soothe his troubled mind. Ben Simmons, the wondrous 6-10 forward who plays like a point guard, is expected to come off the injury list and make his NBA debut after the All-Star break. With 30 seconds left and the Raptors needing a hoop, Lowry’s three-point shot was blocked by Covington. With the ball back in his hands, Lowry tried a driving layup and got rejected by Embiid, as the crowd went nuts. Durant and Westbrook simply can’t afford to be avoiding each other during All-Star weekend, stewing in their personal feud while being stalked by the media.

Carmen Policy part of BASHOF’s 2017 class

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 06:00:00 UT

Carmen Policy, the front-office mastermind of Eddie DeBartolo’s ownership, is one of five people to be announced Monday as the latest inductees into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame. The class also includes jockey Russell Baze, Olympic volleyball star Kerri Walsh Jennings, former Giants third baseman Matt Williams and Bill Cartwright, the USF alum who went on to become an NBA mainstay. Policy joined the 49ers in 1983 as the club’s vice president and counsel, and he proved to be a man of wisdom and perspective as the team scored Super Bowl victories in 1985, 1989 and 1990. Policy was named the NFL’s Executive of the Year in 1994 by the Sporting News and Pro Football Weekly in a vote of NFL executives and owners. In 2006 he passed Laffit Pincay Jr., who had been the sport’s leading rider with 9,530 victories, and Baze kept racing until the age of 57. Prestige beckoned at tracks around the country, but Baze preferred to work mostly at Golden Gate Fields, where he racked up 54 jockey titles, and Bay Meadows, where he earned 40 more. Time and again, her Olympic Games appearances became must-see viewing, and in tandem with Misty May-Treanor, she won gold medals in beach volleyball in 2004, 2008 and 2012. After giving serious thought to retirement, she found a new partner in April Ross, and although they were defeated by Brazil at the ’16 Rio Games, their successful fight for the bronze medal brought countless hugs, tears and admiration. Walsh Jennings is local all the way, having starred at San Jose’s Archbishop Mitty High School, then moving on to Stanford, where she became the second player in NCAA history to be named first-team All-American in all four seasons she played (1996-99). After a long coaching career, Cartwright returned to USF last March as director of university initiatives, helping mentor students and develop connections with USF alumni and the San Francisco community.

Warriors chasing unique brand of history

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 00:54:41 UT

Monday evening arrives like a long-awaited film premiere. The Cleveland Cavaliers are in town, riding a four-game winning streak against Steve Kerr’s club dating to last season’s Finals. In the league’s long history, no team reached the pinnacle behind three phenomenal outside shooters and only marginal inside presence. Plenty of championship teams had unlimited scoring potential, but always with that inside option: Figuring out a halfcourt set with three of the greatest shooters the league has ever seen, only rarely even considering a down-low option, minus that vital element of rim protection on defense? The 1990-91 Warriors played to uproariously jubilant crowds at (what was then called) the Oakland Coliseum Arena with Chris Mullin averaging 25.7 points, Mitch Richmond 23.9 and Tim Hardaway 22.9. The Cavaliers think they can rough up the Warriors, play with their instincts, inflict some more self-doubt. [...] you know, you’re a Millennial. Appalled by last week’s disgrace in Oklahoma City, where the last 24 seconds of the Thunder-Rockets game took nine minutes to play, Commissioner Adam Silver called for change because “obviously, people, particularly Millennials, have increasingly short attention spans.” In reality, the Millennials joined Baby Boomers, children of the Great Depression and the Ben Franklin Fan Club in complete disgust. [...] how about that Millennial who studies a sporting event with undivided attention, drawing fresh and intriguing conclusions? The last time the Cavaliers visited Oracle, it was Game 7 of the Finals and a seminal moment for coach Tyronn Lue, only months into the job. Stop being so passive! Then Lue repeated those words, in essence, in front of the team at halftime. What’s going to change, exactly, if the Kings and DeMarcus Cousins follow through with their planned contract extension through 2023?

Replacing an iconic sportswriter, with class

Fri, 23 Dec 2016 23:07:27 UT

Mark Foyer seemed to be everywhere at once, filling pages of the Half Moon Bay Review with stories, features and commentary on the local high school to the great delight of athletes and their parents. The nature of the disease leaves no guarantee when or even if a patient will fully recover, but Foyer believes he will. [...] in the interim, a very generous and hard-working fellow has stepped in. Having John fall into our lap,” said Review editor Clay Lambert, “was like manna from heaven. Murphy is only a part-time employee of the Review, hired after the paper sent out a desperate plea via Craigslist, but he reaches out to the wide expanse of Half Moon Bay High School sports — freshman teams, junior varsity, varsity, soccer, wrestling, volleyball, water polo, whatever is in season — in his weekly dispatches. A friend since grade school, Menlo School boys basketball coach Keith Larsen, describes the 60-year-old Murphy as “a man with zero ego” and “about as laid-back a person as you’ll ever find.” [...] he works with special-education children who would be lost without the proper guidance. Working mostly for daily newspapers, Murphy passed through San Mateo, Watsonville, Victorville, San Bernardino and Riverside over the years, later hooking up with Prep2Prep, featuring high school coverage in California and several other states. Not once, he says, did he ever aspire to cover major sports or be a big-time columnist. In a Review piece published in August, Lambert wrote, Other sportswriters would have longed for bigger stages and more important contests — and he did find ways to cover national and even international events, often on his own dime (a track and field aficionado, Foyer attended the World Championships in Edmonton, Paris, Helsinki, Osaka and Berlin in the 2000s). The walls of Foyer’s hospital room are decorated with cards, photos, letters and Facebook posts from well-wishers. Within days he was in the emergency room at Mills-Peninsula Hospital, his body essentially shutting down, and he has yet to return home. Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a rare autoimmune disorder that attacks the peripheral nervous system and leaves the body in a paralysis-like state. Learning to swallow, feeling slight movement in his legs and fingers, standing up (with assistance) for two or three minutes in physical-therapy sessions, or sensing a bit of pain in the hip — “the muscles are waking up,” he says. Among the posted newspapers clippings is a Review column from Murphy, headlined “Call me interim bard until Foyer gets back.” “It’s really remarkable,” said Traci Yerby, whose son, Ryan, was recently featured for his accomplishments in two sports and the classroom. The kids always loved seeing all his articles, and John has taken it over so well. The Sporting Green is highlighting a series of “Holiday Heroes,” all of whom are making the world a better place through sports.

Craig Sager — A distinctive voice silenced at age 65

Fri, 16 Dec 2016 20:31:03 UT

Sager waded into some tense situations in his time, always with a thin smile and a look of utter calm. Because he worked for Turner Sports, Sager never got the chance to work the NBA Finals — until last year, when he returned to action after a two-year absence. In a glowing tribute to his reputation, TNT granted his temporary release so he could work part of the Warriors-Cleveland series for ESPN/ABC. “Craig was as vital to the NBA as the players and coaches,” commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. A story I’ll never forget, from Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins: Sager perched on a barstool regaling strangers with a story about Dennis Rodman, who went AWOL from the Pistons in 1993 and planned to commit suicide, until Sager tracked down the Worm on the second floor of a Detroit strip club.

Wake Forest scandal: When radio broadcasters go wrong

Fri, 16 Dec 2016 02:58:21 UT

Across the college football landscape, play-by-play broadcasters tend to be fiercely protective of the local team, often venturing deep into “homerism” and giving opponents no credit whatsoever. From a Bay Area standpoint, imagine Cal analyst and former quarterback Mike Pawlawski secretly telling Stanford all about the Bears’ Big Game strategy. Louisville, a resurgent team featuring Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson, was among the apparent beneficiaries. “Among the communication were a few plays that were sent and then shared with our defensive staff,” Jurich said in a statement. Over the years, Petrino has been involved in shady recruiting practices, taking new jobs without following protocol, and having an affair with a 25-year-old former volleyball player he had hired while coaching Arkansas (details emerged after Petrino crashed his motorcycle with her as a passenger).

Soannie Torres, wife of ex-Giant Andres Torres, dies of cancer

Thu, 8 Dec 2016 22:37:59 UT

Soannie Torres, wife of ex-Giant Andres Torres, dies of cancer “We send our sincerest, deepest sympathies to Andres and his family,” Giants president Larry Baer said in a statement. Andres Torres, who has been in retirement since 2013, signed with the Giants as a free agent in January of 2009. In 2013, he batted .250 in 103 games and announced his retirement at age 35. Jorge Ortiz, a longtime Bay Area-based sportswriter who shares Torres’ Puerto Rican heritage, recalled Soannie as an absolutely lovely woman, smart, strong and the person who kept Andres centered.

Scorned surfer Bianca Valenti on a mission

Tue, 8 Nov 2016 23:52:03 UT

Valenti surfs Mavericks more often than any woman in the world, but she was named only a first alternate to the event. Because she has been a strident voice in favor of the women’s big-wave surf movement, there was speculation that the contest organizers, Cartel Management, left her out for political reasons. There has been so much outrage from the women’s surf community over Valenti’s exclusion, it seems possible she could surf the Mavericks contest after all — perhaps as part of a seven-woman heat. In the wake of Cartel’s announcement, Valenti has surfed big, beautiful Mavericks twice and the challenging Ocean Beach twice in near-maximum conditions. The idea at “Jaws” is to run the women’s heats with the swell either on the rise or the decrease, leaving the maximum-size waves to the men (an agreement that has brought no complaints from the women, due to Peahi’s extremely dangerous conditions) over a two-day period.

Cal, Stanford and their opposite paths

Mon, 7 Nov 2016 16:54:25 UT

The Big Game should be especially nutty this year, and it looms as a potential turning point in head coach Sonny Dykes’ tenure at Cal. The relentless Washington Huskies steamrolled Cal 66-27 to remain unbeaten (9-0) and demand respect in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings. Cal’s defensive backs were mercilessly torched by quarterback Jake Browning, the Huskies rolled up 704 total yards, and Cal’s defense — good lord, is it awful — was about like always. (Silly you, wondering about the starting time; of course it’s 7:30 p.m.) The Cougars took early losses to Eastern Washington and Boise State but have matched Washington’s 6-0 conference record. The Bears need two wins in their final three games to qualify for a bowl, and if they lose to WSU, that means taking down Stanford (Nov. 19) and UCLA (Nov. 26) in consecutive weeks. Sources indicate that the starting time for the Big Game, a special event that brings together Bay Area friends, associates and families in a mood of high anticipation, won’t be announced until a week ahead of time. Though Webb was typically prolific Saturday night, unleashing his arm 47 times, Stanford closed out its victory over Oregon State with 29 consecutive running plays. Shaw made a plausible point afterward, saying the plays were working, as well as burning up the clock, and besides, he loves that sort of thing. Shaw felt compelled to replace Ryan Burns after the first seven games, and Keller Chryst hasn’t been an improvement (just 60 passing yards against OSU). Oddly ranked fifth by the CFP committee last week behind a team with one loss (Texas A&M), the Huskies realized they can’t ease up for the rest of the season, not even for a second, if they want one of the four playoff spots. Washington is unbeaten in the Pac-12, operating an NFL-level passing game and absolutely crushing people.

Mavericks permit extended 1 year, women added to contest

Thu, 3 Nov 2016 16:11:18 UT

[...] Cartel Management got a slap on the wrist, and one of surfing’s most popular big-wave surfers found herself on the outside. Seeking a four-year extension of its permit to hold the event, Cartel was instead granted merely a one-year extension and told to “come up with a plan,” in the words of Commissioner Mark Vargas. Somewhat disheartening, to those familiar with the local scene, was the exclusion of San Francisco’s Bianca Valenti, who was named first alternate behind two of the first women surfers to ride Mavericks, Sarah Gerhardt and Jamilah Star, and Hawaiian standouts Keala Kennelly, Paige Alms, Emy Erickson and Andrea Moller. Despite having a year to develop a coherent plan,” said Susan Jordan, director of the California Coastal Protection Network, “Cartel came in at the last minute and has only now attempted to construct one. Mavericks surfer Savannah Shaughnessy, who will be out at least a year because of knee surgery, and photographer Nikki Brooks, who has shot big-wave surfing for years. “There are only a handful of women who are able to surf Mavericks at this level,” said contest board member Cassandra Clark.