If you weren’t sold by the early flurry of home runs, you are forgiven. Brandon Belt has been through far too many ups and downs in his relatively short time with the Giants for anyone to be swayed by a seven-day stretch of sweet slugging. We’ve seen it before, and it’s almost always been followed by a week or so of weak roll-overs to second base.
So it’s understandable that few wanted to put too much stock in the power surge. Hell, Belt at his best, by his own admission even, is never going to be that guy you pencil in for 30-plus jacks. That’s never been his game, never been what made those witness to his minor-league magic predict annual trips to the All-Star Game.
No, what prompted those projections was Belt’s ability to make the most difficult thing to do in sports — squarely affix one rounded thing (bat) traveling at lightning speed to another (ball) — look ridiculously easy.
Power? Yeah, it’s nice, but a lot of guys who aren’t truly special hitters have power, and for once the Giants have quite a bit of it.
Mike Morse comes to mind, and welcome aboard, big fella. Just don’t bump into your defensive replacement on your way to the bench in the eighth inning.
Going into the season, the Giants had exactly one truly special hitter of whom they were certain: Buster Posey. On Tuesday night, Belt confirmed that he, too, is special, with a single at-bat.
Already in calm, collected possession of a multihit night, Belt stepped into the box in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Dodgers’ Kenley Jensen, a 6-foot-5, 265-pound closer who throws every bit as hard and nasty as you’d expect a 6-foot-5, 265-pound closer to throw. Jansen was painting with heat, too, working the outside corner with frightening ferocity.
To which Belt responded with something along the lines of a metaphorical yawn. Yeah, so?
After briefly assessing his situation and Jensen’s stuff, Belt did what only truly special hitters do: Line drive the other way, an RBI for me, a tie game for my team, and a blown save for you.
Big deal, say the doubters. How is that different from his many other flashes of brilliance?
Here’s how: Look at Belt’s history. At every level, he’s struggled initially in the season before figuring it out and emerging as one of that level’s best. In the minors, you figure it out pretty quickly if you’re the real deal. It takes longer up here.
–Mychael Urban, San Francisco Examiner
Colors are stupid and hateful and evil and must be destroyed.
Yeah, we said it, and we meant it because we can prove it.
The latest example of this essential truth can be found on BART, where the transit authority has bought some new cars that for no particular reason have been painted and upholstered in lime green and blue.
Yes, yes. Seattle Seahawks colors. Or, more specifically, colors that are close but not in fact the colors the Seattle Seahawks. Evidence, courtesy John Breech of CBSSports.com:http://cbsprt.co/1lhsHFZ.
This of course has irked people who are easily irked, including one person who broke out a petition on Change.org (http://chn.ge/1hVEmIc) wanting the seats and car colors changed because of the despicable insult.
I mean, who runs BART anyway, Satan?
Oh, I know the argument – they’re just fans having fun, or defending the honor of their team, or being playfully loyal to their own seat covers.
But this logic is wrong, and dangerous. Action green (which this isn’t), college navy (which this isn’t) and Wolf grey (which this definitely isn’t) are a direct provocation and meant to cause anger, agitation and discord. The people at BART did this on purpose because they hate the 49ers. No other explanation makes sense.
Unless of course the people who care about this are simply nuts, which is the other possibility.
But why antagonize fans? They are always right, are they not (well, no, but you can’t argue with lunatics so it makes more sense to play along)?
No, the real issue here is not that BART is a rolling provocation, but that fans do not go far enough in exercising their constitutional right to be annoying for reasons of publicity.
For instance, there is no petition we know of demanding that the American flag be changed its colors are the same as those of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Nobody is demanding that people boycott Crown Royal because of the label’s similarity to Los Angeles Lakers colors.
There is no campaign to stamp out classic movies because the Los Angeles Kings’ primary colors are black, silver and white.
Hey, if you’re going to be a fan, you can’t just stop at seat colors because your principles only extend so far. Demand your full panoply of rights as the desperately deluded internet-savvy maniac you are.
And target your protests. Just holding your breath until your co-workers turn blue just gets you a dose of anoxia and a visit from mental health professionals.
For instance, ride BART, but refuse to sit, even if you’re the only one in the car. Your buttocks demand ethical purity.
Or don’t ride BART, even if you’re in Oakland and you need to get to San Francisco. Of course, cabs are typically yellow, and that is one of the colors of the Kansas City Chiefs, and AC Transit is out because its colors are green and gray, and green is the color of the Green Bay Packers. Frankly, it looks like you’re walking, Skippy – that is, unless you want to be labeled soft on ocular crime.
Don’t give blood because the Red Cross uses the same color scheme as the Detroit Red Wings, or worse, Canada. And don’t accept blood either, because blood is more like the color of the Arizona Cardinals. So don’t help patients in need or cut yourself, ever.
Don’t get married because a lot of teams use white. Don’t go to funerals because a lot of teams wear black. In fact, the only way you can save yourself from this conundrum is to become a dog, because dogs can’t differentiate red, orange, green, greenish blue, gray or different shades of purple. They can differentiate other colors, but colors don’t mean that much to a dog, as anyone who has ever tried to get a dog to paint the trim on a house can attest.
You can wear brown, though, because nobody you know cares that much about the Cleveland Browns or the University of Wyoming. So yeah, brown. Every day, head to toe, wherever you walk and no matter how many people you ignore or shun out of principle. That’ll teach those troublemaking bastards at BART.
–Ray Ratto, CSNBayArea.com
Stuff happened in Game 1 of the Warriors-Clippers series on Saturday. Lots of stuff, like Blake Griffin and Andre Iguodala fouling out … Chris Paul losing the ball out of bounds on a critical possession (when he should’ve gotten the benefit of a foul call) … Paul missing two free throws down the stretch … Griffin dumping a cup of water on a Warriors fan (that had nothing to do with the outcome, it was just fun).
And this series is going to be as much fun as we all thought it would be after Golden State emerged with a 109-105 victory on the road in Game 1.
There are more subplots in this series than in any of the other seven first-round matchups. Will Andrew Bogut (absent from Game 1 with a fractured rib) be a factor? Will the two teams convene for pre-game chapel? Will Doc Rivers’ championship pedigree be enough to lead the Clippers through the extremely competitive West?
Most of all, Mark Jackson.
Last season, his second on the sideline in Golden State, Jackson won 47 games and upset the heavily favored Denver Nuggets in the first round before falling short against the eventual conference champion Spurs. In his third season, Jackson guided the Warriors to 51 wins, the franchise’s most since Don Nelson, Chris Mullin and Tim Hardaway notched 55 wins in 1991-92. Nelson is now luxuriating in Maui, Mullin is advising the Sacramento Kings and Hardaway’s son is playing in the NBA for the Knicks.
And yet there is this notion Jackson must get out of the first round — against a championship-tested coach in Rivers and Hall of Fame point guard in Paul, and without Bogut — or he’ll be fired. If you can’t understand how you could be, join the club.
And watch this.
That’s the owner of the Warriors, Joe Lacob, rolling his eyes at Jackson after a turnover in the second quarter of a game Golden State eventually stole on the road against the No. 3 seed in the conference — against a team that won five fewer games than San Antonio, which at one point won 19 in a row. Think about that.
In recent weeks, Jackson has had turmoil on his coaching staff, with one assistant, Brian Scalabrine, reassigned by Jackson after clashing with the head coach and another, Darren Erman, fired for a violation of team policy. Earlier this month, Lacob was less than forthcoming when it came to Jackson’s job security, saying he’ll wait until the end of the season to evaluate the coach.
The end of a 51-win season, for a team that has made the playoffs three times in 20 years.
At a recent sports business conference, Lacob’s son, Kirk, a Warriors executive, mentioned that the NBA’s new SportVu technology helped the team discover a defensive issue that the coaching staff had missed on video review last season. Gulp. I’m glad the NBA’s SportVu technology doesn’t keep track of everything I miss.
Meanwhile, the Warriors, Jackson and what’s left of his coaching staff are up 1-0 on the Clippers on the road in the first round of the playoffs.
I can’t pretend to know the ins and outs of Jackson’s relationship with either Lacob, or GM Bob Myers. Relationships between head coaches, owners and GMs often are complicated. The most successful teams are typically the ones in which those key figures are in lock step. As proof, I present the Celtics when Rivers was there, the Mavericks of Mark Cuban-Donnie Nelson-Rick Carlisle and the Spurs for the past, oh, 17 years.
Success doesn’t always have to come with coach-owner Kumbaya. When Phil Jackson coached the Bulls, he’d often speak with owner Jerry Reinsdorf only once or twice a year. It was different back then, and that’s part of the problem. That’s why teams fire coaches at the drop of a hat and there’s so much reporting about turmoil between the sideline and the executive offices.
The era when owners would hire basketball people, support their decisions (until they didn’t work anymore) and stay out of the way is long gone. The modern owner, like Lacob, is much more involved. They talk to the coach every day. Sit in meetings about important personnel decisions. Shake the players’ hands after a big win. Ask the coach what went wrong after a painful loss.
Turmoil and fragile relationships exist on every team, and now the owner is part of that dynamic. The owner is too involved, I would submit — but, then again, it’s not my $550 million that just bought the Milwaukee Bucks, a team that has won more games than it’s lost only twice in the past 13 years.
So while a great, compelling series will play out on the court between the Warriors and Clippers over the next two weeks, so, too, will the NBA’s new dynamic of the over-involved owner. Lacob, the guy who signs the checks and is supposed to just invite his rich friends over for a mid-life crisis frat party in the luxury suite, will be every bit as visible in his courtside seat (rolling his eyes or not) as Jackson, the man he is paying to manage the team.
The more involved NBA owners become, the smarter they think they are. That’s bad for coaches, and in this case, it could be very bad for Mark Jackson.
Except that after the first day of the NBA playoffs, it’s Jackson 1, Clippers 0 and Lacob DNP-CD.
–Ken Berger, CBSSports.com