There must have been times this season when Mark Davis got aggravated and impatient, perhaps many, many times.
There had to be a few fevered moments during the Raiders’ 4-9 start this season … and 8-21 swoon over the last two.
But the Raiders owner has remained calm in public, and this week Davis suggested to me that “patience” is his guiding mood these days.
A commitment to patience, which probably means Davis is leaning toward keeping general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen into 2014.
The point, Davis said, is that the Raiders have three games left in 2013, and then the franchise will shift from two years of “deconstruction” into a new phase.
“That’s when the deconstruction turns into the reconstruction,” Davis said in a phone interview.
“It’s an exciting time for us. It’s also been a tough time for the fans, it’s been a tough time for me, it’s been a tough time for everybody.
“But what do they say about patience? If you’re committed to something, you have to be patient with it.”
It’s absolutely the proper way to approach this; rebuilding the Raiders is an immense project, and impulsive moves might only bog things down all over again.
Davis said that once the season ends, McKenzie will meet with Allen and the rest of his staff, and then McKenzie will meet with Davis.
That’s when the Raiders will put together a plan of attack for their immense amount of upcoming cap space — possibly upward of $70 million — and the 2014 draft.
It’s what Davis and McKenzie have been planning for since McKenzie was hired in January 2012 — a few months after the death of Al Davis and the transition to his son.
–Tim Kawakami, San Jose Mercury News
The Baseball Hall of Fame ballots are due at the end of the month and the process just got more confusing than ever.
Steroid players? Still unlikely to be voted in.
Steroid managers? That’s a different story.
The Boys of Steroids are still on the Boys of Summer ballot: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro are among the 36 players on the 2014 ballot. They’re all there to be accepted or – more likely – rejected by the majority of the 500-plus Baseball Writers’ Association of America voters who participate (I’m one of those voters).
Last year, none of the players who come with substantial evidence that they used steroids received more than 37.6 percent of the vote. They need 75 percent of the votes to be inducted. Last year not a single player was voted into the Hall of Fame, making for a muted ceremony that probably contributed little to the Cooperstown economy.
Players stay on the ballot for 15 years, so this issue is far from over. However, it takes a lot of mind-changing – and a long time – for a player to jump almost 40 percentage points in balloting.
So all of those players must look at what just happened with the Expansion Era Committee voting last weekend and feel puzzled. Three of the best, most successful managers of the steroid era were elected unanimously: Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and – most notably - Tony La Russa. Easy, quick, no fuss.
If there were an all-steroid baseball team (Bonds in left, McGwire at first, Clemens on the mound – we can keep going), there’s no doubt who the manager would be. It would be La Russa, who managed the A’s in the late ’80s and early ’90s Bash Brothers era, widely considered Ground Zero for rampant steroid use. Then La Russa went on to manage the St. Louis Cardinals, where McGwire made it fashionable to use steroids to break baseball’s most hallowed records.
–Ann Killion, San Francisco Chronicle
There are three classic blunders in life.
1. Never get involved in a land war in Asia.
2. Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line.
3. Never open a Jim Harbaugh news conference with a joke.
Some silly reporter (OK, it was me) didn’t heed No. 3 this week when, amid whispers that the University of Texas would pursue Harbaugh to be its next coach, he opened the Harbaugh presser with this: “So, when are you heading off to Austin, Texas?”
Long pause. Reeaaally long pause.
Harbaugh: “Trying to be funny?”
“Yeah. Trying,” I said as every molecule of humor was vacuumed from the room.
Why open with a joke, you might ask? Because the notion of Harbaugh leaving for a college job, any college job, seems so absurd.
First, Harbaugh is an NFL guy.
He was an NFL quarterback for 14 years. His big brother, with whom he’s dueled all his life, coaches the Ravens. When the 49ers hired him in 2011, Harbaugh was asked why he didn’t stay at Stanford for one more season and try to win a national championship with quarterback Andrew Luck.
“I view it as a perfect opportunity, the perfect competitive platform with these pros, with the level playing field, the chance to be part of a team that goes after the highest award in all of sports, and that’s the Lombardi Trophy,” Harbaugh said. “…To compete at this level was overwhelming to me.”
See, the Lombardi Trophy is the prize. And Harbaugh has been chasing it for decades.
He came within a fingertip of having a shot at it on Jan. 14, 1996, as quarterback of the Colts, when his last-second heave into the end zone against Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship Game slipped from receiver Aaron Bailey’s grasp.
“I think he caught it,” a stunned Harbaugh said over and over as he slowly walked off the field, desperately looking for a replay on the stadium’s scoreboard.
He came close again in January 2012 when Kyle Williams’ fumbled punt in overtime of the NFC Championship Game set up the Giants’ game-winner.
Just 10 months ago, Harbaugh’s 49ers seemed to have a go-ahead, Super Bowl touchdown in their sights against brother John’s Ravens when quarterback Colin Kaepernick sprinted left and had a decent path to the end zone.
But Jim Harbaugh called timeout before the snap, and the ensuing plays from the Baltimore 5-yard line failed. Minutes later, John Harbaugh was holding the coveted prize.
–Matt Barrows, Sacramento Bee