Bonds, Warriors Draft and Much More
by Glenn Dickey
Jun 16, 2005

IF WE HAD any doubts tthat Barry Bonds has deserved his Most Valuable Player awards, they’ve been erased this season.

As long as they had Bonds, the Giants could surround him with mediocre players and still win. Without Bonds, those players have been exposed. Belatedly realizing that, the Giants are now going young, which is their only chance to compete, this year and in the near future.

Losing Bonds has also had a serious impact on attendance. The Giants management keeps pushing the idea that attendance is still high, but the attendance figures are really tickets sold, and the Giants had a lot pre-sold going into the season. Fans who have been at recent games know the reality: Attendance in the park has been much lower than the announced figures – just as the “sold-out” 49er games last season had huge amounts of empty seats.

Bonds is a peculiar individual, who seems determined to present the worst possible face to his public. I can certainly understand why people don’t like him, but he’s the best player of his generation and I feel sorry for people who haven’t been able to get past his disagreeable personality and enjoy his play.

WHO WILL the Warriors draft this year? It almost certainly will be a big man, but it’s not certain whether they’ll go for a true center or a power forward.

At least two pre-draft speculations have had the Warriors taking Arizona centerr Channing Frye, a good athlete who needs to add bulk to be a top-tier center in the NBA.

If they go for a power forward, Sean May, who looked so good in the NCAA tournament this year, may be available. Pre-draft speculation has had him going anywhere from fifth to 15th; if the second rating is more likely, the Warriors, at No. 9, would have a shot. I like Ike Diogu, who could be the inside force, offensively and defensively, that the Warriors need. Diogu isn’t highly-rated by those analyzing the draft, but that’s probably because of the media’s Eastern bias. They don’t see many Pac-10 games, because of the time difference, and tend to down-rate the conference. NBA teams scout much more thoroughly, and my guess is that Diogu rates much higher on the team draft boards than he does in magazine/newspaper speculation.

If the Warriors draft a strong forward, I’d look for them to try to trade Troy Murphy, whose game isn’t as impressive as his statistics.

Their decision on whether to go for a center or a strong forward will also give us a clue about how highly the Warriors rate Andrus Biedrins, their No. 1 pick last year. At 19, Biedrins is still raw, but he’s probably also still growing into a legitimate 7-footer. He has no shot, but he has quick feet and good hands (in marked contrast to Adonal Foyle), which will enable him to pick up points on loose balls and rebounds around the basket. I think he has a considerable upside, but he won’t get much of a chance to develop it if the Warriors draft a center and keep Foyle.

Of course, none of this will make a difference if the NBA owners and players can’t get their act together and come up with a new agreement. Take a look at the NHL, guys – if you can even find that league.

A’S PARK: Any discussion of a new A’s park always brings out people who think they should move to San Jose. This issue is often misunderstood, but I can’t blame fans when many writers don’t understand it, either.

I still see it written, for instance, that the Giants claim on the San Jose area goes back to the early ‘90s, when A’s owner Walter Haas gave permission for the Giants to try to build a new park in the San Jose area. I also see comparisons between the Giants/A’s situation and the Orioles/Nationals situation in D.C.

Neither is true.

The Giants claim on the San Jose area rests in a clause in their contract with Major League Baseball, which states that no other major league team can operate in San Francisco, San Mateo or Santa Clara counties. The Orioles had no such clause in their contract regarding the D.C. area, which is why the Expos could be moved from Montreal to become the Nationals.

INTER-LEAGUE PLAY: Each year, we see a huge swing in inter-league results, depending on where the games are played. It’s happening again this year; the AL teams had a 13-2 edge in Wednesday’s games, which were all played in AL parks.

The reason, of course, is that games are played under the prevailing league rules. For games in the NL parks, the AL teams have to drop their designated hitters. In AL parks, the DH is used.

The anti-DH crowd will say that’s another argument for the two leagues to have a consistent policy and I agree. The NL should adopt the DH.

AD SLOGANS: Advertising campaigns are put together before the start of a season, but there are two local baseball campaigns that need re-working.

For instance, the A’s “Different brand of baseball” might have sounded like a good idea in February, but when that different brand adds up to last place in the AL West. . .

And the car company that compares their product to the way “”The Giants dominate the NL West’’ might want to take another look at the standings.

ONE OF THE difficulties beat writers face is being too close to players, which colors their coverage of them.

For instance, J. T. Snow is a real gentleman, never complaining, always thinking in terms of the team – and he was a big contributor to the Giants success in earlier times because of his great defense and timely hitting, though his power numbers were always marginal for a first baseman. Now, his offensive numbers would be acceptable only for a slick-fielding shortstop or catcher. Manager Felipe Alou has recognized that, making Lance Niekro the starting first baseman even against right-handed pitching, but you don’t see beat writers writing that.

Kirk Rueter is an even worse example. Everybody likes Rueter, and writers often refer to him by his clubhouse nickname “Woody,” but the fact is, Rueter has always been just a little above average and he’s slipped even from that. Yet, I saw a recent analysis of the Giants that said Brett Tomko and Rueter were doing fine as starters. I’d take another look at that.

IT’S OFTEN bothered me that modern athletes have no regard for those who paved the way, so I was pleased at Shaquille O’Neal’s reaction to George Mikan’s death. In case you missed it, Shaq offered to pay for Mikan’s funeral (an offer that was accepted by his family) because of what Mikan had meant for the NBA. “Without him, there is no me,” he said. Very true.

What do YOU think? Let me know!

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