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Marin’s Darcy McFarlane returns with UNC soccer for NCAA semis

Fri, 2 Dec 2016 15:25:06 UT

Marin’s Darcy McFarlane returns with UNC soccer for NCAA semis Darcy McFarlane grew up in Marin an avid fan of the University of North Carolina soccer program, a perennial powerhouse. McFarlane’s mother is from Chapel Hill, N.C., and back in the day ran cross country for the Tar Heels. [...] family vacations and holidays often were spent along Tobacco Road and invariably included stops at North Carolina’s soccer matches. [...] Darcy, a North Carolina senior defensive midfielder and co-captain, is back in the Bay Area to play in the College Cup, soccer’s final four that opens Friday at San Jose’s Avaya Stadium. North Carolina, vying for its 22nd national title, plays West Virginia, and USC and Georgetown meet in the other semifinal. The event was moved out of North Carolina, like a lot of others, in the wake of Gov. Pat McCrory signing a law requiring transgender people to use restrooms at schools and government buildings corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate, also excluding them from antidiscrimination protection. Because of the anti-LGBT legislation, Charlotte, N.C., lost the NBA All-Star Game, and several major concerts, including Bruce Springsteen’s, were canceled. “I know a lot of people were really upset that events are moving out of state, but I definitely respect what the NCAA did by moving the final four and taking a stand against a bill like that, which is ridiculous,” McFarlane said. McFarlane played one season with her sister, a member of North Carolina’s last national championship team in 2012. [...] it would’ve been easier for us to roll out of bed in Chapel Hill and drive 25 minutes over to Cary and compete for the national championship. Last year’s Tar Heels were ranked No. 1 in the country until a series of major knee injuries rocked the team. McFarlane tore her left ACL in October and missed the rest of the season, which makes this year’s trip to the College Cup sweeter.

How A’s are affected by baseball’s new labor agreement

Fri, 2 Dec 2016 03:23:40 UT

The A’s should be further motivated to pursue a new ballpark, thanks to baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement. Oakland received revenue sharing because of its antiquated stadium, and Major League Baseball expects the A’s will have a stadium plan in the works by 2019. Under the revenue-sharing system, big-market teams pay into a pool that’s distributed to teams in smaller markets, but many in the industry frowned on the A’s receiving generous checks while playing in a major market. The Chronicle reported in October that a loss of revenue sharing was likely. “It’s better for A’s fans because it will really force the club to get serious about either a new stadium or substantial revisions with regard to what they have, and I think the former is more likely,” said William Gould, a Stanford professor and former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board. If the A’s fail to get a ballpark deal that would generate needed revenue, and without other teams subsidizing them, it has been speculated the John Fisher ownership group could sell the team or try to relocate. Asked if there’s a concern the A’s will spend less on players with diminishing revenue sharing, a source within the union said, We will have to wait and see. The budget will be particularly tight in 2017 — along with losing about $9 million in revenue sharing, the A’s will be paying $10 million to Billy Butler, who was released in September. Baseball came to the view correctly that the monies weren’t being expended to improve their position for whatever reason, and revenue sharing is designed to permit clubs that don’t have revenue to enhance their positions.

A’s sign outfielder Matt Joyce for 2 years, $11 million

Thu, 1 Dec 2016 07:25:39 UT

“I don’t know if that’s just fate, but I thought that was really cool,” Joyce said Wednesday after the A’s signed him to a two-year, $11 million contract. Joyce’s .403 on-base percentage was an obvious attraction for the A’s, who ranked 28th in the majors in OBP and 27th in walks. Joyce’s OBP was fourth best in the National League among hitters with at least 250 plate appearances. Joyce won’t pinch hit 81 times in the American League as he did in 2016 when he played 140 games but started just 40 and had just 293 plate appearances. Joyce is career .252 hitter against righties, .185 against lefties, but he improved a bit last season to hit .235 in limited action against lefties with a .381 OBP. Forst expressed early interest to Joyce’s agent, Seth Levinson, and Joyce got a good feeling about the A’s from Pirates teammate John Jaso, who played in Oakland in 2013 and 2014. Joyce, whose wife, Brittany, will give birth to the couple’s first child, a girl, in January, was in Oakland on Tuesday for a physical and to have lunch with Forst, manager Bob Melvin, assistant GM Dan Feinstein and trainer Nick Paparesta. [...] Forst said he’s seeking a new center fielder to play between Khris Davis in left and Joyce and a platoon partner in right. To make room on the 40-man roster for Joyce, the A’s designated infielder Rangel Ravelo for assignment.

Landale leads St. Mary to season-opening win

Sat, 12 Nov 2016 07:19:01 UT

St. Mary’s was ranked 17th in the preseason, and that was with the understanding that Jock Landale wasn’t going to be the most dominant player in the Gaels’ season opener. Landale came off the bench his first two seasons with St. Mary’s and made his first start in Friday night’s 81-63 victory over Nevada, enjoying a breakout game. Using his 6-foot-11, 255-pound frame to have his way on both ends of the floor, Landale scored 33 points and grabbed nine rebounds, an unexpected but certainly welcome force. Last year, Landale backed up Dane Pineau, a fellow Aussie who has a back issue and got off to a slow start in the preseason, which opened the door for Landale. Overall, he was 15-for-20 from the floor and made his three free throws, becoming a newfound weapon for coach Randy Bennett. The Gaels have high hopes after sharing the WCC regular-season title with Gonzaga and returning all their key players. St. Mary’s didn’t make the NCAA Tournament last season, and the anticipation this season is to not only make it but also to last a while. [...] back in the Bay Area was Yann Hufnagel, a Nevada assistant who was fired as an assistant by Cal last season amid sexual harassment allegations.

Anigwe contained, but Cal takes opener over St. Mary’s

Sat, 12 Nov 2016 06:15:04 UT

Kristine Anigwe was the Pac-12’s top freshman last season but got off to a somewhat slow start as a sophomore Friday night. Anigwe led Cal in scoring as a freshman, averaging 20.5 points a game, but she scored only two in the first half Friday and didn’t reach double digits until there were 5½ minutes remaining in the game, finishing with 11. [...] the supporting cast picked up the slack, especially guard Asha Thomas, who took advantage of Cal’s interior pressure by making five three-pointers and scoring 19 points. Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb, who calls Anigwe “the best post player in the country,” said this year’s team is more mature and deeper than last season’s, which advanced to the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament. Cal’s Courtney Range had 14 points and a game-high nine rebounds, Mikayla Cowling had six rebounds and six assists and Jaelyn Brown made game-altering plays in limited minutes. St. Mary’s began aggressively, fighting for offensive rebounds and putting two, sometimes three, defenders on Anigwe. The Gaels built a nine-point lead in the first quarter, though Cal gained momentum in the second behind Thomas’ shooting. When Brown stole the ball in the backcourt, drove for a layup, got fouled and made her free throw, Cal had its first lead at 26-25 with five minutes left until halftime.

Giants laying groundwork for finding a closer

Fri, 11 Nov 2016 03:13:18 UT

According to speculation at the meetings, which could be no more than agent-speak, the first $100 million contract for a reliever could be near. Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen are young enough and throw hard enough to warrant deals surpassing the $50 million record set by Jonathan Papelbon, whose four-year contract with Philadelphia was signed in November 2011. If the Giants don’t want to pay these prices for a free agent, they could make a trade. Or take a chance on a less expensive free agent such as former Royals closer Greg Holland, whose Tuesday showcase was attended by Evans and other Giants personnel. The right-hander, who turns 31 this month, missed this season recovering from Tommy John surgery but was an All-Star in 2013 and 2014 when he saved 93 games and posted a 1.32 ERA. Asked if there was much buzz on outfielder Yoenis Céspedes, the biggest name on the free-agent market, Evans said, “Mostly with press people,” in particular New York media, not surprising considering Céspedes’ value with the Mets the past two seasons. Despite reports this week linking the Giants to available third basemen, including free agent Justin Turner, who had career highs in homers (27) and RBIs (90) with the Dodgers, Evans said the Giants are fine with Eduardo Nuñez at third. Other teams in the market for closers include the Dodgers, Cubs, Yankees, Nationals and Diamondbacks.

World Series Game 7 nears, and what could be better?

Wed, 2 Nov 2016 22:09:52 UT

Kyle Hendricks, who won the major-league ERA crown and has a 15-inning scoreless streak. Because Game 6 was one-sided (9-3, Cubs), Indians manager Terry Francona didn’t use his three star relievers, Andrew Miller, Cody Allen or Bryan Shaw. [...] Cubs manager Joe Maddon used closer Aroldis Chapman for 20 pitches, which seemed stunning because of the Cubs’ seemingly comfortable lead. Chapman threw 42 pitches and 2 2/3 innings in Sunday’s Game 5, both career highs. “You always want to win the game, but the next best thing, and we’ve talked about this before we even started, was try to make them use pitching even in a loss,” Francona said in Tuesday’s postgame news conference. Maddon said he inserted Chapman with a five-run lead in the seventh inning because the middle of the Indians’ lineup was coming up. Lester is a puzzle because he doesn’t throw to bases with runners aboard, so can he be relied on in relief in baseball’s biggest game of the year? [...] again, neither was Madison Bumgarner two years ago when he pitched five innings in relief to close out Game 7, giving the Giants their third championship in five years.

World Series Game 5: Francona’s hot streak, lineups

Mon, 31 Oct 2016 00:34:35 UT

Terry Francona ranks 31st in wins for a manager with 1,381 -- 408 behind Bruce Bochy, who’s heading to the Hall of Fame, by most every account. If the Indians win Game 5 on Sunday night - or a game in Cleveland Tuesday or Wednesday - Francona would have as many World Series titles as Bochy: three. Francona is 38-20 (.655) in his postseason career, tops among managers with at least 50 games. Francona has been superb this postseason, guiding the underdog Indians past the Red Sox and Blue Jays in the first two rounds of the playoffs and to a 3-1 lead in the World Series. The Indians were the underdogs to the Cubs, Francona was the underdog to Joe Maddon, but every decision Francona makes is golden. For Game 5, after the dust settled from his well-chronicled middle-of-the-night ice cream binge - the room-service charge was $44 - Francona stuck with his plan to start Trevor Bauer despite the pitcher’s postseason woes instead of Danny Salazar and Ryan Merritt. Bauer, who has repeatedly shaken off catcher Roberto Perez, is 0-1 with a 5.00 ERA and hasn’t completed five innings in any start.

A team and tradition a mother could love, Chicago style

Sun, 30 Oct 2016 05:16:57 UT

World War II ended that September, a month before the Cubs and Tigers met in the World Series. Ann Byrne was 19, a student at Mundelein College, now part of Loyola University, and worked her way through school as a bookkeeper for the Chicago Tribune. The Cubs had lost six World Series in a row (1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938) entering the ’45 Series, so the North Side of Chicago knew all about title-less baseball long before the drought surpassed the century mark. With the Cubs having a chance to parade through the Loop and celebrate their first championship since 1908, I checked in with my No. 1 source on all things Chicago. Persistence will win out, said my mother, explaining the mind-set of Chicagoans, 55 years after she and my father and the first four of their five sons migrated to California. After World War I, in the early ’20s, my mother’s dad and uncles built three houses on Melrose Street near the intersection of Belmont and Central, six miles from state-of-the-art Wrigley Field, which opened in 1914, a mere six years after the Cubs’ last World Series triumph. “Uncle Ed used to like to smoke a big cigar and listen to the Cubs on the radio,” my mother said. Sometimes I would sit with him and listen to an inning, and my mother could smell the cigar smoke as soon as I walked into the house. Chicago in the ’30s and early ’40s was relatively wide open, and my mother joined her two brothers and other kids playing baseball in the quiet streets or nearby open areas they called “prairies,” which were developed into homes and stores long ago. “We always had a bat but sometimes had to improvise a ball, wrap it with string to keep it together,” my mother said. For lunch, she and her buddies often walked below Michigan Avenue and ducked into what they called the Greasy Spoon, which now is the Billy Goat Tavern. To this day, she calls it Cubs Park, which her parents called it, its name before it changed to Wrigley Field in 1927, the year after she was born. The Sox and the Giants are going to play the Worlds Series tomorrow and the seats are 75 dollars a piece and two days ago I had two teeth pulled and I took gas. Two years later, the White Sox became the Black Sox and got busted for throwing the World Series. [...] many of the baseball players enlisted or were drafted, and it had to be decided when war was declared if baseball should continue for the morale of the people or be disbanded in respect to the servicemen. [...] it was decided the public needed a diversion, so baseball continued as a national sport.

World Series Game 4: Hey, Heyward finally gets to play

Sat, 29 Oct 2016 23:39:54 UT

World Series Game 4: A day after the Cubs were shut out in the postseason for the fourth time, Jason Heyward gets his first career World Series start. Cubs manager Joe Maddon hopes Heyward - who signed a $184 million contract last winter -- can break out offensively but at least be an upgrade defensively. Cubs starter John Lackey is a contact pitcher, so plays need to be made, and Heyward is excellent defensively. “He's shown spurts or signs of really coming through (as) he had done in the past,” Maddon said in a news conference at Wrigley Field. Heyward was out of the lineup four straight starts. The last time he started, he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in Game 5 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium. Kluber won the Series opener and is pitching on short rest.

World Series Game 3: Schwarber’s impact, Santana’s glove, lineups

Fri, 28 Oct 2016 23:42:05 UT

The Cubs posted their lineup for the first World Series game at Wrigley Field since Oct. 8, 1945, and it’s one Schwarber short. Think a pinch-hitter is less significant than someone in a World Series starting lineup? In 1954, Willie Mays made his famous catch in Game 1, which Dusty Rhodes won with a homer in the 10th inning. In 1947, Cookie Lavagetto’s ninth-inning pinch double ended Bill Bevens’ no-hit bid and ignited a Game 4 win. If Schwarber had received a clean bill of health from the Cubs’ medical staff, he would have played left field. Jorge Soler, 0-for-10 in the postseason, is playing right field, meaning Jason Heyward and his $184 million contract remain on the bench. Keep an eye on Carlos Santana, the Indians’ DH who’ll play left field in Game 3. Indians lineup: LF Santana, 2B Kipnis, SS Lindor, 1B Napoli, 3B Ramirez, RF Chisenhall, C Perez, CF Naquin, RH Tomlin. Cubs lineup: CF Fowler, 3B Bryant, 1B Rizzo, LF Zobrist, C Contreras, RF Soler, 2B Baez, SS Russell, RH Hendricks.

World Series Game 2: Still no Heyward, Super Kluber, lineup changes

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 21:12:24 UT

The last time the Giants saw Jason Heyward in a regular-season game, it was Sept. 4, and he had three run-scoring hits (including a walkoff single in the 13th) in a 3-2 Cubs win at Wrigley Field. Cubs manager Joe Maddon posted his lineup for Game 2 of the World Series and omitted Heyward for the second straight night. The lefty-swinging Heyward is 2-for-28 in the postseason, having gone 1-for-12 against the Giants in the Division Series and 1-for-16 against the Dodgers in the NLCS. After signing with the Cubs last winter for $184 million, he hit .230 with seven homers and 49 RBIs and posted a .631 OPS, by far the worst in his career. Kyle Schwarber is the DH again, and Willson Contreras is catching instead of Miguel Montero, who has caught many of Jake Arrieta’s starts (including both in the postseason), and David Ross. The strong-armed Contreras will try to offset Cleveland’s running game. The Cubs have six players 24 or younger in the lineup, which is a postseason first, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. An old-school way of conducting business, but perhaps necessary with the Indians’ beaten-up rotation. Cleveland leadoff man Rajai Davis was replaced by switch-hitting DH Carlos Santana, who moved up from fifth in the lineup.

World Series Game 1: running on Lester, setting rosters and lineups

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 21:58:47 UT

World Series Game 1: running on Lester, setting rosters and lineups Everyone who knows that Lester is a major-league pitcher and is employed by the Chicago Cubs knows he doesn’t throw to first base with a runner aboard. The Dodgers knew it but did nothing about it except act like a dysfunctional youth team with meaningless big leads, silly dance moves and fake bunts, which did little but prompt Lester to glare into the Dodgers’ dugout. Nothing Mickey Mouse about their approach to the running game. Game 1 of the 112th World Series is Tuesday night, and the Indians plan to take advantage of Lester’s insecurity with his pickoff move. Lester’s World Series ERA is 0.43, third best among pitchers with at least 20 innings, behind Madison Bumgarner (0.25) and Jack Billingham (0.36). [...] if the Indians reach base, it’s game on. The entire Dodgers’ roster stole 45, fourth fewest in the majors. The Indians’ 134 steals ranked fourth in baseball, first in the American League. Kyle Schwarber, fresh out of the Arizona Fall League, will be the Cubs’ designated hitter in Game 1 and face big-league pitching for the first time since his April knee surgery to fix two ligaments. [...] Chris Coghlan, who played briefly for the A’s this season, is in right field for slumping Jason Heyward, who has a $184 million contract but is 2-for-28 in the postseason. Guess who’s the Cubs’ all-time postseason home run leader? Tuesday, he’ll be the first DH in Cubs postseason history. The Indians included pitcher Danny Salazar on their World Series roster, as expected, though he missed the first two rounds of the playoffs and much of September with a forearm injury. The tentative plan is for Salazar to be limited to four innings and 70 pitches. Fowler ‘speechless’: As the leadoff hitter on the visiting team, Dexter Fowler will be the first African-American to appear in a Cubs World Series. Jackie Robinson broke the color line two years after the Cubs’ last World Series appearance. Cubs lineup: CF Fowler, 3B Bryant, 1B Rizzo, LF Zobriost, DH Schwarber, 2B Baez, RF Coghlan, SS Russell, C Ross. Indians lineup: CF Davis, 2B Kipnis, SS Lindor, 1B Napoli, DH Santana, 3B Ramirez, LF Guyer, RF Chisenhall, C Perez.

Believe it: Cubs in the World Series

Sun, 23 Oct 2016 04:49:04 UT

For the first time in 71 years, the National League pennant belongs to the team everyone identified as the lovable losers. [...] . The Cubs got to this position because they beat the Dodgers 5-0 in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday night. Because they pooh-poohed the Killer B curses: billy goats, black cats and Bartman. Oh, Kershaw is better than anyone in the regular season, considering his four ERA titles, three Cy Young Awards and MVP trophy. [...] in the postseason, Kershaw is no match for Bumgarner, the Giants’ ace whose postseason ERA is 2.11 — 0.25 in five World Series games. Kershaw got all the pub coming in, but the baseball world seemed to forget about Hendricks, the closest thing to the Greg Maddux of his era who was passed over by teams his entire life because he lacked a power arm. Fast forward to 2016, and Hendricks won an ERA title and the Cubs’ biggest game in decades, the game that clinched a date in the World Series with the Indians, who have their own celebrated drought, titleless since 1948. A once-hapless sports town, Cleveland is four wins from becoming Title Town, the Indians hoping to stand side by side with LeBron James’ Cavaliers. In 2004, the Red Sox lifted the Curse of the Bambino, and now the Cubs will try to lift the Curse of the Billy Goat. Suddenly, Steve Bartman is off the hook — the poor guy in the front row whose reach knocked a ball from Moises Alou’s grasp the previous time the Cubs were in an NLCS Game 6 (2003), somehow turning momentum in the favor of the Marlins, who overcame a three-run deficit and won the series, then the World Series. With five outs remaining Saturday, Joe Maddon got booed for pulling Hendricks, who gave up singles on his first and final pitches and nothing in between. Aroldis Chapman induced a double-play grounder and breezed through the ninth, and a wild and wacky Wrigleyville nearly drowned itself in tears because the Cubs are going to the World Series.

Bullpen fails in Giants’ season finale

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 08:15:20 UT

Bullpen fails in Giants’ season finale The Giants’ season ended Tuesday night because a 5-2 lead in the ninth inning was wasted. All wasted along with the three-run lead the bullpen inherited from Moore. “How do you explain any of the blown games we’ve had with this bullpen?” asked rookie Derek Law, a talented 26-year-old whose emotions and towel waving served as a rallying cry in Game 3. In the biggest inning of the season, Bochy used five relievers, and all failed. All contributed to the Cubs turning China Basin into Wrigleyville, a party in the visitors’ clubhouse and a party among the hundreds of blue-clad fans who lingered and chanted behind the Cubs’ dugout long after the game. Romo was Bochy’s third reliever, a day after the right-hander coughed up Kris Bryant’s two-run, ninth-inning homer that tied the score and prompted extra innings. If Bochy had full faith in Romo or any reliever to complete a full inning, he would have had a different Game 4 strategy. [...] the manager started the ninth with Law, and Bryant beat the Giants’ shift with a grounder through the left side, where the shortstop normally plays. Romo faced just one batter, and Ben Zobrist smoked an RBI double down the line in right. When Cubs manager Joe Maddon called for pinch-hitter Chris Coghlan, Bochy countered with lefty Will Smith, and Maddon countered with Willson Conteras, who singled through the middle for two RBIs and a tie game. Jason Heyward bunted into a fielder’s choice, but shortstop Brandon Crawford’s second throwing error of the night permitted Heyward to advance to second. Bochy summoned his final reliever, Hunter Strickland, and Javier Baez singled in the deciding run. Crawford’s error set up the winning run, but it’s tough to blame a Gold Glove shortstop who saved the team countless times over the years. A three-run lead and three outs shouldn’t be a problem for a playoff team that has been in these situations three other years and prevailed.