49ers, Raiders, A's . . and Much More
There are many others who deserve consideration: Brent Jones, John Taylor, Dwight Clark and Randy Cross among them. But it is precisely because there are multiple choices that no single player in the group will muster enough support to make it.
FOR THE most ridiculous on-line rumor of the week, I nominate the one that had Terrell Owens going to the Raiders, because he’s having contract problems with Philadelphia. There are two insurmountable problems with that: (1) The Raiders couldn’t satisfy Owens’ out-sized demands and stay under the salary cap; and (2) Having Owens would multiply the possible personality problems the Raiders added with Randy Moss by a factor of at least four.
The Raiders have strengthened their offense enough, anyway. Its their defense that needs work. A recent issue of The Sporting News rated the safety position among AFC teams and the Raiders were dead last. They’d finish close to that if other defensive positions were rated, too. A lot of 42-38 games loom next season, and I’m not sure how often it will be the Raiders with 42.
WARRIORS DRAFT: The draft projections haven’t mentioned him prominently, but I think Arizona State power forward Ike Diogu would be a good pick for the Warriors. He would provide that strong inside game on offense they sorely need, especially when Adonal Foyle is playing center.
I’m not confident Troy Murphy ever will give the Warriors that strong inside presence. Murphy played better after Baron Davis arrived – everybody did – but he’s still a player whose statistics are better than his actual play.
MOST LOYAL: The Warriors have 2000 new season ticket buyers and an 86 per cent renewal rate from last year’s season ticket holders, which confirms my belief that they have the most loyal following of Bay Area teams. They hung in there during the bad years, despite the high ticket prices, and as soon as there was hope, after the Davis trade, attendance shot up to the sellout level.
Sharks fans would dispute that “most loyal’ tag, of course, but we’ll never know because it doesn’t appear the NHL will ever again actually have a season.
NEXT QUESTION: Will there be an NBA season?
Owners and players have broken off negotiations, and their positions are far apart. It’s all too reminiscent of the 1998-99 season, which was limited to 50 games because of a lockout.
My guess is that the season start may be slightly delayed but it won’t be anything like 1998-99, and especially not like the NHL mess. The previous time, owners were determined to get a luxury tax and a limit on the top contracts, which they got. This time, they’re just trying to get the maximum contract lengths cut. That’s something they could control themselves individually. It’s not worth losing games at a time when the sport is very prosperous.
TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE: Bringing up Dan Johnson was a move the A’s should have made at the start of the season. The problem is, they have a log-jam at the first base/designated hitter positions.
Johnson can only be used at those positions, as can Scott Hatteberg. Euriel Durazo is a designated hitter who plays first with the grace of an elephant.
For now, the A’s will probably put Durazo, who has an injured elbow, on the DH, so Johnson can play. A’s general manager Billy Beane has been trying to peddle Hatteberg, a tough sell because Hatteberg doesn’t have the power most teams expect from a first baseman and his fielding has gone from average to below-average this season.
Hatteberg’s fielding decline is part of an overall problem for the A’s, which is at least in part a result of their pitching problems. When you have pitchers working slowly and giving up a lot of walks, defenders lose their concentration and make errors when the ball is hit to them. Conversely, pitchers who work rapidly keep the fielders on their toes. Kirk Rueter is the best example of that.
BIG GAME: There’s renewed optimism among Stanford football fans since the hiring of Walt Harris. When I talk to fans and members of the Stanford athletic department, there’s a common phrase: “He’s a football coach.’’ Translation: Buddy Teevens wasn’t.
Though I’m an Old Blue, I hope Harris revives the Stanford program because it would be a boost to Bay Area college football and, especially, to the Big Game, which has lost its lustre because of Teevens and Tom Holmoe. For seven years, Stanford won seven straight, with Holmoe on the Cal sidelines for the last six, one year as a defensive coordinator and an incredible five seasons as head coach. Jeff Tedford ended that and started a three-game Big Game win streak, with Teevens on the other sideline.
Harris is now in much the same situation that Tedford faced in 2001 at Cal, with some good talent but players who are discouraged because they’ve had such poor coaching and poor results. We’ll see if Harris can meet the challenge, as Tedford certainly did.
ABOUT TIME: The coaches have finally agreed to making public their votes in the season-ending college football poll. It would be even better if they released the votes on the final poll last fall, in which some coaches dropped Cal far enough to put Texas into the Rose Bowl. Wouldn’t it be a surprise if those coaches were from the Big 12?
NOTE TO READERS: I’ll be taking off on Monday, Memorial Day, as I imagine many of you will be, too. My next column will post on Tuesday, May 31.
What do YOU think? Let me know!
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