It’s safe to say the Giants are anxious to put the 2013 season behind them, and with pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training Friday, they don’t have to wait long to work on getting back to championship form.
While most of the players and coaches said they watched the postseason last year, none admitted to rooting for or against any one team — not even their bitter rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers continued to throw their newfound wealth around this offseason in an attempt to repeat as NL West champions, a fact not lost on the Giants.
“I think we’ve all noticed it,” manager Bruce Bochy said of the Dodgers’ extravagant ways. “But we can’t get caught into it. I always preach this to the players. There’s no point looking at what other clubs are doing or who they have, their assets. It doesn’t matter. It’s what you believe yourself and your focus always has to be your club.”
For the Giants, what could have been a winter focused on remaking a pitching staff that disappointed in 2013 instead saw the return of Ryan Vogelsong and Tim Lincecum, both free agents who decided to chase another World Series in The City.
What has been known the past few seasons as a young staff is now filled with veterans, who have stockpiled individual and team awards. The addition of former A’s and Atlanta Braves’ ace Tim Hudson — who signed as a free agent for two years, $23 million — only adds to the collective resume.
–Ben Martin, San Francisco Examiner
Postcards from the AT&T Pro-Am.
— If your tee shot lands in the cup and stays there, it’s a hole-in-one, right?
Well, congrats to Warriors’ co-owner Joe Lacob! Sauntering past the 17th tee, I stop to watch Lacob. He pushes his shot way right, yells “Fore!” and asks his caddie, “That kill anyone?”
The ball flies into the corporate-box bleachers just off the green and plunks into the gin-and-tonic of John Moisan, from Fair Oaks. Lacob takes a club-length drop and chips into the bunker. He flips a ball to Moisan for a souvy.
On 18, Lacob lines up his feet to hit left of center, drives exactly where he’s lined up, and the ball does not find grass, crashing into the rocks. His provisional drive sleeps with the walruses.
Lacob sends his caddie onto the rocks to search for the first ball. The caddie spends enough time down there to file an EIR, but finds no ball. So Lacob blows his one chance this tourney to play 18 and bring it home in front of the Bay Area fans.
Every time Joe tries to do something big at the shoreline, complications arise.
If someone makes a video of Lacob’s finish, producer T-Bone Burnett will do the music and go with Warren Zevon’s lyrics “Send lawyers, guns and money, the s- has hit the fan.”
— Kid Rock is telling me why he likes golf.
“Thing I like best about it is, I found out in the subculture of golf there’s a lot of hunters, and I find those to be great people, good circle of people to be around. Golf, hunting, I love it all.”
Must be a Detroit rocker thing. Remember Ted Nugent? Neither do I.
What does Rock hunt?
“Whitetail, turkey, dove. If it’s brown, it’s down.”
— When will Lefty learn?
Last week Phil Mickelson played the Phoenix Open and suffered a killer double-bogey on the easy par-3 stadium hole, after flinging footballs into the stands, playing to the rowdy crowd.
Mickelson said afterward that he got caught up in the fun and the football flinging caused him to lose focus and blow the hole. That happens to Tiger a lot.
Saturday at Spyglass, Mickelson tees off at No. 9. Then he spots 12-year-old Everett Coleman in the gallery, holding a football. As Mickelson walks up the fairway, he plays catch with the Carmel lad.
Mickelson bogeys the hole.
I wasn’t there, but witnesses say that for accuracy and arm strength, Mickelson (who throws right-handed) rates somewhere between Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning.
— On the CBS telecast of the tournament Friday, the cameras zoom in on the surf at Carmel Beach, adjacent to Pebble Beach. Three portly men dash into the freezing surf and begin frolicking.
A writer asks, “If those guys start drowning, will Clint Eastwood swim out and save ‘em?”
In AT&T lore this will be remembered as the year Clint saved the life of tourney director Steve John with a Heimlich.
The CBS guys interview Eastwood on Saturday, and Nick Faldo says, “That must have been scary for you.”
Eastwood (slightly puzzled expression): “Not really.”
–Scott Ostler, San Francisco Examiner
Those gnarly dude guys on snowboards continue to hijack the Olympics. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact date when this hijacking began. But every four years at the Winter Games, the gnarly dudes happen.
“Random is kind of my thing,” said America’s newest Olympic hero, a 20-year-old named Sage Kotsenburg, who won the first gold medal of the Sochi Games here Saturday afternoon.
Just don’t ask me to describe how Kotsenburg did it, exactly. But I can affirm that his performance in the Olympics’ first-ever slopestyle competition was indeed spectacularly random.
It was also sick. And not janky at all. Kotsenburg said he “tweaked my grabs” successfully.
Got that? You’d better get stoked about learning the lingo. Because these acrobatic events on snow are not going away. Instead, they are growing like a mogul fungus, assuming that moguls can indeed grow fungus. If so, the competitors probably would smoke some.
Sorry! Stereotyping there! But the extreme athletes do have a certain … um, crunchy mojo about them. That is why their hijacking of the more traditional Olympic events — figure skating, downhill skiing, hockey — is so noticeable. Snowboarding was introduced to the Winter Olympics in 1992. And every four years, the discipline has added more events — and even sprouted into a separate extreme segment under the umbrella of freestyle skiing. The reason is twofold.
One, the Winter Olympics features far fewer sports than Summer Games, so Winter organizers are always looking for attractive additions to the schedule.
And two, the aerial stunts perpetrated by the likes of Kotsenburg — as well as Shaun White, the world’s most famous gnarly dude snowboarder — is unbeatable eye candy. Television cameras worship the extreme events. Directors and producers weep in joy at the slow motion replays of all the midair spinning and tumbling (and grabbing.)
This, in turn, explains why snowboarders and free skiers often develop into the Games’ biggest rock stars. Kotsenburg earned his status Saturday. He promised to “keep things weird” and then delivered on that promise, big time.
Last week, there was disappointment in USA circles when White withdrew from the new slopestyle event, which is sort of a downhill obstacle course featuring structures and rails early on, then a series of snow ramps to send boarders sailing into space for four or five seconds worth of aerial mayhem. White, who is nursing injuries, chose to concentrate on the upcoming half-pipe competition instead.
But no worries, bro! Into the American breach stepped Kotsenburg, a mellow blond longhair who grew up snowboarding in Utah and might be an even more free spirit than White.
–Mark Purdy, San Jose Mercury News