Bay Area Buzz 10/11: NLCS, Landon Donovan, Tony Sparano


Bay Area Topics


"That would be four National League Championship Series in a row for the Cardinals, who face the San Francisco Giants in Game 1 on Saturday at Busch Stadium. The teams also met in the 2012 N.L.C.S. and have combined to win the last four N.L. pennants, and three of the last four World Series titles.When these teams succeed in October, it should never be surprising. But this year’s success was still a bit unlikely, as reflected in the teams’ regular-season records. The Cardinals won 90 games, the Giants 88. Since the playoffs expanded in 1995, this is just the second N.L.C.S. in a nonstrike season in which neither team won more than 90 games.…The N.L. average for pitches per plate appearance was 3.80; the Cardinals were .02 above it, the Giants .02 below. Neither team steals many bases — the Cardinals ranked 14th of 15 teams in the league, the Giants were last — and both finished below the league average in home runs.Battle-tested starters, though, are everywhere in this series. The Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright has saved a World Series clincher, and Madison Bumgarner has thrown 15 scoreless World Series innings. They match up in Game 1. The Cardinals’ Lance Lynn faces Jake Peavy in Game 2; both started in last year’s World Series. In San Francisco for Game 3, the Cardinals will start John Lackey, who has won two World Series clinchers, against Tim Hudson, the majors’ active leader in wins."

Tyler Kepner, New York Times

Former San Jose Earthquake Landon Donovan plays last US Soccer match

"Landon Donovan had been reluctant to accept U.S. Soccer’s offer of a chance to say goodbye, but when it finally arrived on Friday night, he was surely grateful for it.Donovan’s cameo appearance against Ecuador at Rentschler Field lasted 39 minutes and 56 seconds before he was replaced to a standing ovation, and despite no fairy tale goal to cap it all, it was an appropriate way for perhaps America’s greatest ever player to sign off.The well-wishes of a crowd who spent much of the first half chanting his name, watched by 20 members of his family and friends who had flown in, was a better final memory of a national team career than ending with getting cut from the summer’s World Cup squad.“I am proudest of this, what we have built. It wouldn’t be like this 10 years ago,” Donovan said. “I believe things work out the way they are supposed to. It has been an emotional week. I am going to miss this.”"

Martin Rogers, USA TODAY Sports

Tony Sparano

"The Raiders have used a Wildcat formation three times in four games. That was before the man who popularized it in the NFL was promoted to interim head coach.Tony Sparano ran the Wildcat extensively as head coach of the Miami Dolphins, but wasn’t promising a revival on Sunday against the San Diego Chargers. In typical Sparano fashion, he wasn’t ruling it out either.“We could see anything right now,” Sparano said.The more Sparano discussed the topic, the more his fondness for it showed. At the time, Sparano’s goal was to get playmaking rushers Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams on the field at the same time. The novelty was effective, early on, though production waned as seasons wore on.The Wildcat may not be as impactful as it once was, but it can produce the efficient 4-yard gains Sparano is looking for in order to generate first downs. It could certainly be beneficial to a Raiders team that has struggled to do exactly that early this season."

Scott Bair, CSN Bay Area