These new Kings executives don’t fool around, do they? Their weary faces, their slumping bodies and those intense hallway conversations hinted that something substantial was imminent.
Vivek Ranadive, who often thrusts his face into his hands after one of his players’ silly and familiar turnovers, is adding gray hairs by the game. Pete D’Alessandro walks around Sleep Train Arena – actually, he jogs around the building – with a cellphone attached to one ear and both eyes riveted on the court. Michael Malone works into the wee hours in his office, examining his team’s pattern of fourth-quarter implosions, and often takes the first swing at himself.
“We’re not kidding anybody,” D’Alessandro said bluntly before Monday’s tipoff against the Dallas Mavericks. “We’re a long way from being a completed product. We have five wins. We need players here.”
The purge thus begins in earnest. Finally. Belatedly. Wholeheartedly. Kings fans who have waited almost a decade for this degree of seismic activity can look at the roster and almost recognize a plan, a semblance of sanity, a sense of purpose, a trade that makes sense.
Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson, Chuck Hayes and John Salmons for Rudy Gay and his $17.9 million salary.
You can peek in the window and immediately see a more appealing product. Salmons and Patterson are better suited as reserves on playoff-bound teams. Hayes was overweight and overpaid when he arrived. Vasquez seldom flashed those passes that led to last year’s nine assists per game average.
DeMarcus Cousins is a potential All-Star center. Ben McLemore is a potential All-Rookie nominee. Isaiah Thomas is a charismatic scorer off the bench. When the Kings obtain a legitimate starting point guard, the diminutive one should contend annually for the Sixth Man of the Year award. And Gay, the former Connecticut standout, is easily the most talented Kings small forward since Ron Artest.
–Ailene Voisin, Sacramento Bee
A reader asks, “What is it with Colin Kaepernick and his attitude toward the press, and consequently, the public and his fan base?”
The reader, John Segerdell, apparently has picked up the same vibe felt by many observers. In the quarterback’s sparring sessions with the media, he usually seems terse, brusque, annoyed, heavily guarded.
There is charm and spark in the man. Kaepernick has shown that side publicly on a few occasions, mostly to national media people in extended interviews. To the Bay Area media, he dials waaay back on the human interaction. A media session with him is like an ostensibly friendly ping-pong rally where easy, lob serves are returned with kill shots and menacing glares.
Maybe the questions are dumb or insulting. I’ll take some blame because I ask some of the questions, and I haven’t won a Pulitzer for question-asking. But the effort is there.
When I attend a Kaepernick news conference now, it’s no longer to glean information or insight, but more out of fascination, and that is wearing off. I need to stop being part of the problem. I’ll take my dumb questions elsewhere and let others provoke Kaepernick’s robo-voice crypto-answers.
–Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle
Tony La Russa’s election to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Monday will spark a spate of references to “The Genius.” The label, born of a 1990 Sports Illustrated cover that actually was titled “The Mastermind,” is inaccurate. Worse, it does a disservice to a man who drove himself to success with a determination as relentless as it was fierce.
La Russa isn’t a genius. If he would outthink you, and he frequently did, it was because he would outwork you, always. As labels go, “The Grinder” is more on target.
I have known La Russa for about 30 years. I use the verb loosely because we have had little contact the past several years. We met in 1984 amid a game that lasted 25 innings. La Russa was managing the Chicago White Sox. I was a young reporter, in my second year covering the Milwaukee Brewers.
Back then, the American League had a rule that no inning could start after midnight. So the Brewers and the White Sox knocked off that night after 17 innings, tied 3-3. There was a bar in Old Comiskey Park, a place exclusively for writers and the like called The Bard’s Room, and that is where I met La Russa. For whatever reason, a shared ethnicity perhaps, he remembered me every time thereafter.
And two years later, in 1986, we both were in Oakland, me covering the A’s, him coming to manage them after his firing in Chicago.
It’s a notion as quaint today as sports writers traveling by train with the ballplayers, but back then the A’s front office canvassed the writers about managerial candidates in the days immediately after Jackie Moore’s dismissal. The big name was Frank Robinson, but then La Russa came available.
His first game was in Boston, at Fenway Park, against Roger Clemens. With the A’s rotation in shambles, La Russa needed a starting pitcher. He selected, from the bullpen, Dave Stewart. That might qualify as genius.
Stewart had been with the team barely a month, picked off the scrap heap, his career hanging by a thread, pitching mostly as a mop-up guy. Stewart beat Clemens that night, the first of many, many times, and the following season was the first of four straight in which Stewart won 20 games or more.
–Bud Geracie, San Jose Mercury News