Joe Lacob/Jerry Jones; Andy Dolich; Rolando McClain; Jim Harbaugh/Kyle Williams
WHEN I looked at my morning Chronicle yesterday, I thought, ďMigawd, World War III has been declared.Ē There were big, black headlines on the front page, accompanied by stories, pictures and columns. There was more of the same in the sports section.
All this because a famously unsuccessful NBA team was planning to build an arena in San FranciscoÖ.but wouldnít play there for another five years.
Can we all say, overreacting big time?
Later, I found out what had happened. The Warriors and San Francisco city government had agreed to give The Chronicle a one-day exclusive, feeding them the information which would be made public the next day. Meanwhile, they were stonewalling every other newspaper and media outlet in the Bay Area.
Iíve seen this happen before, and itís always a bad idea. The Warriors have now made enemies of most of the media outlets in the Bay Area.
But The Chronicle didnít fare well, either. Forgetting that it has readership throughout northern California, it acted as an adjunct to the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.
And, for what purpose? Letís put this into perspective. In two seasons, the 49ers, who are once again established as one of the top teams in a sport which is No. 1 in the county and the Bay Area, will be leaving the city for Santa Clara. Meanwhile, if Ė the operative word Ė the Warriors project comes through, San Francisco will gain a team playing in a sport which many fans ignore until the playoffs - and the Warriors have made the playoffs only once in 17 years.
And this is cause for celebration?
From a practical standpoint, it makes little difference to me whether the Warrriors play in Oakland or San Francisco. I donít go to night games because I donít want to drive at night and I prefer to have dinner at home with my wife. The Warriors, of course, play at night, so I catch up with them on TV, although lately, there has been little reason to even do that.
But, I hate to see people make stupid decisions because of their ego, and new Warriors owner Joe Lacob has done that consistently since he and Peter Gruber bought the team. I think this is another of those decisions.
Iíve tracked many stadium/arena/ball park drives and Iíve never known one to succeed without a strong push from the cityís mayor. When the Giants were working on their new park, Willie Brown got them through the governmental tangle, cutting a few corners, Iím sure, because he wanted it to happen.
The current San Francisco mayor, Ed Lee, is a nice guy who people have responded to, but heís not a dynamic leader. He welcomed the Warriors to San Francisco, but only as he cautioned them not to expect financial help from the city. He lacks Brownís knowledge of city government, and heís clearly not a risk-taker. He had to be pushed into running for mayor.
San Francisco has been a notoriously difficult city to get parks/stadiums/arenas built. The city could have had an arena in the mid-Ď70s, but instead of making the decision himself, then mayor George Moscone deferred to a committee, which turned it down by a one-vote margin.
Before Jim Fitzerald and Dan Finnane bought the Warriors from Franklin Miueli, Finnane spent a year in the Bay Area, studying the cities. He told me he thought San Francisco was probably the best spot for the team but political problems made it impossible to get an arena built.
Lacob will discover those problems for himself.
Then, there is the site, piers 30 and 32, where only a parking lot has been. It should be prime real estate, on the water and close to the thriving South Beach area. So, why hasnít it been developed before this? I suspect itís because potential buyers feared the cost.
Lacob has said he and Gruber have the money to build the arena, and I donít doubt that. But the cost of this project will go far beyond the actual structure. Nobody even knows how much cement will have to be used or how deep the hole is which has to be filled. Or if the environmental reports will show that thereís some rare tropical fish that must be protected. Donít laugh. It wouldnít be the first time in San Francisco.
Whatís really funny in all this is Lacobís stated purpose in moving to San Francisco: Being able to attract top free agents.
San Francisco is a world class city but its charms are sophisticated ones: Great restaurants, the opera, symphony, ballet, live theater.
Lacob has been around pro basketball players for a long enough time as a minority owner in the Boston Celtics to know that none of these are important to the athletes. Not just in basketball, either. Over the years, a relatively small number of Giants and 49er players have lived in San Francisco.
Free agents look at two major points in considering what team they want to sign with: 1) Money; and 2) Media outlets, which means New York and Los Angeles. There are other points which can alter that equation. Long-term success is one, which is why the Boston Celtics get in those conversations. A top coach, as Phil Jackson was for some time, can be a draw. But, again, the Warriors donít have those components, either.
But the glamor of San Francisco does matter to Joe Lacob. So does the possibility of building an arena which is the best of its kind. In temperament, Lacob seems much like Jerry Jones, who built an incredible stadium in Texas. But Jones has always known the importance of putting a winning team into the building. So far, all Lacob has accomplished is talking about doing that.
JEAN QUAN is a sad excuse for a mayor, in office only because she knew how to game the system and win election under ranked choice Ė the absolute worst system devised- with only 24 per cent of the vote. Her comments about sports teams have been as naÔve as her comments on other issues facing the city.
Quan needs to quit trying to make plans on the sports teams threatening to leave Oakland and hire somebody who really has an understanding of how to get things done. I would recommend Andy Dolich, who did great things for the Aís when they were owned by the Haas family, and has also worked with the 49ers. Itís just a shame that the group for which Dolich was the front man wasnít allowed to buy the Aís from Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann. Instead, commissioner Bud Selig helped his one-time fraternity brother Lew Wolff buy the team. And, how has that worked out for you commissioner?
IN A GIANTS game last week, announcer Jon Miller got a little playful when the Giantsí starter was walked with two outs. Noting that the Cards were not even paying attention to him, Miller said the Giants should have him attempt to steal second.
ďWhatís the worst thing that could happen? If heís out, the Giants have their leadoff hitter starting the next inning.Ē
But, thatís not the worst thing that could happen. The pitcher could be injured.
Thatís the problem with this 19th century model the National League employs. The pitcher is actually just a defensive specialist, and if heís doing something offensively, he can get injured.
Fortunately, we wonít have to worry about that next year, when the National League has to join the rest of baseball by adopting the DH.
BASEBALL INSTANT REPLAY? Iím not advocating that beyond what is done now, on fly balls high above the foul line to determine whether they are home runs or just fouls. But I do wish umpires would get help on other decisions.
One example: In Saturdayís game, Ryan Vogelsong was up to sacrifice and a pitch came in tight. The umpire ruled that he had been hit by the pitch.
There was considerable evidence that the pitch had hit his bat first, which would have been a foul ball. One was the loud ďclunkĒ when it hit the bat. Another was the fact that Vogelsong, who had gone to the ground, did not shake his hand, as hitters will do when theyíre hit on the hand. When he got to first base, he gestured that the pitch had hit him in the chest, which it no doubt did, after hitting the bat.
Giants announcer Mike Krukow commented, as the video was re-wound, that it was clear from the sound and Vogelsonís reactions that the pitch had hit the bat, not his hand. But the umpire wouldnít relent.
Umpires have gotten out of control. They have a strong union and they often have outrageous conduct. Arguments between managers and umpires were an important part of the spectacle in earlier years, but now, any manager who argues very long gets tossed.
ROLANDO McCLAIN: Now, the Raiders linebacker says heís sorry, months after he was first accused of firing off a gun next to a manís ear and threatening him. McClain was at his grandmotherís funeral and should have come home after that, but heís not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
That was one of the sorriest episodes ever for Raiders coach Hue Jackson, who should have kept McClain on the bench for the next game, in Miami against the Dolphins. Instead, Jackson talked to McClain and said he believed him, so McClain played.
Didnít make much difference. The Raiders suffered their worst beating of the year and started the slide which ended with them missing the playoffs.
McClain is back with the Raiders, pending his appeal of his conviction, which carries a sentence of 180 days of jail time.
Even before the problem in Alabama, McClain had been a serious disappointment. Now, in the workouts last week, he seemed improved, so perhaps heíll finally live up to his reputation.
Unless heís in jail. Since this is the Raiders and a player signed in the Al Davis years, there surely is a clause in his contract that renders it null and void if heís in jail. Weíll probably find out soon.
KYLE WILLIAMS: I thought that, after Williamsí two fumbles had cost the 49ers a berth in the Super Bowl that his 49ers career was over. That it isnít is a testimonial both to him and to coach Jim Harbaugh.
Williams went home to Arizona and, instead of going into a mental funk, just started working even harder, apparently putting on pounds of muscle.
Meanwhile, Harbaugh resisted any temptation to blame the loss on Williams, in stark contrast to former coach Mike Nolan who threw his quarterback, Alex Smith, under the bus, claiming he wasnít hurt days before Smith had to undergo shoulder surgery.
If you want to know why Harbaugh is successful and Nolan probably will never again get a chance to be an NFL head coach, that difference is a huge reason.
Harbaugh has built a great team dynamic with the 49ers. And, his players have bought into it, big time. Theyíre challenging each other to be better.
I have no idea at this point if Williams will be a part of that, but heís giving himself every chance.
More and more, Harbaugh is living up to the comparison with Bill Walsh. Though the 49ers in Walshís era had plenty of big-time players, they never tried to portray themselves as apart from the team. No Terrell Owens type players then. And, there are none now; even Randy Moss will have to toe the line or heíll be gone.
The schedule will be tougher for the 49ers this next season, so they may not be able to duplicate last yearís 13-3. But, Iím sure theyíll win the NL West and be serious Super Bowl contenders once again.
What do YOU think? Let me know!
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