Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bye Bye UUUU-Ribe


There will be no more Uuuuu-ribe chants coming from AT&T Park in the near future. The next time Juan Uribe comes to the city of San Francisco, there will be a mixture of boo's and mixed applause. But mostly boo's, I mean, he will be playing for the Dodgers.

The fans of San Francisco have the right to boo him. Uribe pulled one of the dirtiest moves in the book yesterday by signing with the enemy Dodgers in what is obviously a money motivated move to LA by Uribe.

Uribe signed with the Dodgers for 3 yrs./$21 million. Do you think the Giants were going to match that offer? Not for a utility player they weren't.

But in a sense the Giants are losing part of what made this team who they were. Uribe represents what the Giants season was all about and what they stood for. He would swing as hard as he could, and it was either a lined shot or a swing and a miss. Such was the Giants season.

Uribe is not a traitor for joining the Dodgers. He saw a deal where he could get rich, it just happened to be with his former team's arch rival. It's his first professional chance at getting paid, and he wasn't going to think twice about passing that up at age 31.

I'm sure he wasn't even thinking about missing those Uuuuu-Ribe chants Giants fans had come to love. They were fun while they lasted. Now no more.

Don't forget, the Giants had a chance to match that offer by the Dodgers, GM Brian Sabean just chose not to pay through the nose for a guy who batted .248 last season. But the Dodgers were.

So what does this mean from a Giants perspective? It means that Sabean may have something up his sleeve if he didn't even think about matching the Uribe offer. There have been murmurs of maybe Miguel Tejada coming to SF, and Mychael Urban this morning suggested a trade for Marco Scutaro from Boston.

But may I make my own suggestion for Jason Bartlett of Tampa Bay. He bats for average and would be an upgrade over Renteria or Uribe, whoever they decide to replace him with.

The Giants have money now. It will be nice to see them use it in the coming weeks.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Win Or Call It A Season For the 49ers On MNF


I might be stating the obvious here, but the San Francisco 49ers need to win on Monday night against the Arizona Cardinals.

Sure, we've been saying this for weeks now. Every game is a must win if you start the season 0-5. But this week is actually a 'must win.'

On Sunday, the NFC West's 'elite' (ya we'll call them that) Seattle Seahawks got obliterated by the KC Chiefs, and the 'Fighting Sam Bradford's' (also known as the St. Louis Rams) snuck by Denver. That would mean Seattle and St. Louis are tied atop the NFC West at 5-6. Wow. How competitive...

There's a problem, though, you die hard 49er fans. Is it the fact that the die hard 49er fans may be the only type of 49er fan left? Possibly, but no. It's that the 49ers' record is 3-7 and time is ticking on the their season.

The Good News: 49ers still have to play the Seahawks and Rams.

The Bad News: There's only 6 games left.

The Reality: Every week I find it harder and harder to come up with possibilities where the 49ers can win the NFC West.

So, yes, this is a 'must win' game because I don't see the 49ers doing much damage in the Frozen Tundra next Sunday.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bad Weekend For Bay Area Pro Teams


Good thing the San Francisco Giants just won the World Series, otherwise the catastrophe that was this weekend in Bay Area professional sports would be enough to drive a Bay Area sports fan off a cliff.

The word of the weekend, children, is "Frustration."

Be it the Sharks, Warriors, 49ers, or even Raiders, every game that was played by those teams was as frustrating for a sports fan as it gets. These teams put up a record of 0-5 this weekend, quite possibly the worst culmination of 3 days in a long time for Bay Area sports.

We'll start with the Warriors who played two games this weekend against the NY Knicks and LA Lakers. I know they are missing David Lee, but the performance early against the Knicks was lackluster and the effort in the 2nd half was not enough to pull one out.

By the way, why was 6'3" Stephen Curry guarding 6'10" Danilo Gallinari with the game on the line? I was getting sick to my stomach watching Gallinari drill 3-pointer after 3-pointer in the eye of Curry.

As for the Laker game, tragic is more like it, and we'll leave it at that. Anytime a team loses by 30 points, the best analysis is no analysis.

The Sharks did not fair much better. Playing the red hot Colombus Blue Jackets on Saturday, the Sharks could not find the net and were shut-out 3-0 on their home ice for the first time in over a year.

Either Todd McClellan needs to split up that 1st line, or they just need to play better. They are not contributing at all, and the Sharks cannot thrive on the great play from Ryane Clowe and Logan Couture alone.

Need I dignify the 49ers with post-game analysis? A game that was needed to be won was not. That falls directly on the head coach, and there have been murmurs that the loss may have Singletary with one foot out the door. Finally.

The Raiders seemed to be the Bay Area's only hope on Sunday. Yet a big game against the Steelers that could have showed the NFL they were for real resulted in a disappointing blow out. Did they just have a bad game, or are these the true Raiders? The Raiders aren't a bad team, but they're not at all on the Steelers level.

Maybe this week will go a bit better for the Bay Area. The Sharks host the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday, followed by the Canucks and Oilers on the road.

The Warriors are in a state of disarray right now after their hot start. A game at home tonight against the Denver Nuggets could get ugly, but the Rockets, Grizzlies, and T-Wolves on the road this week may be what this team needs to get back on track.

To the Bay Area sports fans, it can only get better from here.....right?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Warriors Are Nothing Without Lee


Let's face it. Since off-season pick-up David Lee has been injured, the Warriors remind people a whole lot of the team that was thrown out on the court the last few seasons.

You know how you can tell? For several trips down the floor last night, everyone and their mother knew what play was going to be run. It's called the "Monta Is Our Only Option" play. I bet you can guess what happens, huh? The Warriors throw the ball around for a bit, acting like there is actually a play being run, and then sooner or later Ellis is isolated and goes one-on-one with whoever is guarding him at that point.

The outcome is one of three: a bucket, defensive foul, or offensive foul. That's a 33% chance of something good happening. I don't like those odds. And last night, the odds seemed worse than that.

The Warriors made a great move signing Lee and trading Anthony Randolph who has had little or no effect on the Knicks' season so far. Lee brings rebounding and a post to mid-range game. He is a legit power forward, something that the Warriors have needed for years.

The best part about Lee is that he takes the attention off Ellis and Curry for a second.

He hasn't put up crazy numbers so far this season (14 ppg, 11 rpg), but Lee brings the team options other than "find Curry for 3" or "Let Monta Just Go." If the ball goes inside to Lee, he can use a post-up move, pass to a slasher, or dish it beyond the arc to someone (preferably Curry) for 3.

Those seem like better odds of scoring a bucket, right?

This is a better team than last year, and although their record so far may be a little wishful, it is not far off.

With Lee, they are a contender for the playoffs. Without, you're looking at the failure that was the last few seasons.

Feel better David Lee.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sharks Heating Up, Play Best Game Of the Year


For those who thought the Sharks were on the verge of laying down this year, may I direct you to the box score of last night's thrashing of the "Team to beat" LA Kings.

The Sharks had 6 goals by 6 different players, including at least 1 goal from each of the 4 lines.

The Sharks were already dubbed a mediocre team this early in the season, yet these last 3 games have shown that maybe they just needed a little time to rev things up a bit. Oh, and Jumbo Joe Thornton is back.

Sure, you know what you are going to get from the 1st line pretty much every night. They're arguably the best line in hockey. What is cool to see is the 2nd line produce, no matter who Todd McClellan throws out on that line every night.

One staple of that 2nd line is Ryane Clowe who has 2 goals and 4 assists in the last 4 games, and has been the reason why the Sharks are on a 3-game winning streak right now.

But what concerned the Sharks prior to the season has been the Sharks best asset in my opinion. I'm talking about the youngsters Mitchell, Couture, and McGinn. But mostly Mitchell and Couture, although McGinn, 22, does not get enough credit for the little things he does.

Couture, 21, has 6 goals and 4 assists on the year, while Mitchell, 25, has tallied 3 goals and 2 assists. McClellan has moved them up and down the lines so often, it's impressive to see how little that fazes their play.

With the team starting to come together, the Sharks are starting to heat up and we shouldn't be surprised. This has been the best regular season team in all of hockey these past few years. What made you think any different?

In order to be the best, you have to beat the best. And the Kings got a rude awakening last night at The Tank.

Monday, November 15, 2010

With Troy Smith At the Helm, 49ers Hang By Slightly Thicker Thread


If you weren't sold on Troy Smith as quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday night, you sure were by Sunday night.

Smith went 17/28 for 356 yards including a late 4th quarter drive culminating in a touchdown to Michael Crabtree with 2 minutes to play in regulation that could have sent chills up your spine if you were so inclined.

It was a huge win for the 49ers not only because it was against division rival St. Louis who fell to 4-5, but because the 49ers really don't have any choice from here on out but to win. They put themselves in a hole early in the season going 0-5, but now have put 2 wins back-to-back and look rather impressive with the "other" Smith at the helm.

Smith brings something different to this team. Maybe it was the 65 yard deep ball to Josh Morgan in the 1st quarter, but it seems Smith takes logical chances deep. When Alex Smith went deep, it usually meant bad news. But when Troy Smith throws deep, the ball seems to have life and the receivers seem to be better timed to catch it. Weird.

Taking good chances deep leads to more holes for Frank Gore to run through and a chance for OC Mike Johnson to open up the playbook a little more.

With Alex Smith, you needed him in the shotgun for him to do damage, if that. That led to Gore running into brickwalls. On Sunday, Gore ran for 87 yards and had 67 receiving yards. He was used on Sunday like he was always meant to be used, smashmouth runner paired with good receiving skills.

A happy Gore is a happy offense is a happy team......with wins.

Troy Smith has made life happy for this team within just a couple of weeks.

A big win against a legit division opponent could fuel something in the underbelly of this 49ers team. The problem is they don't have much room for error.

But that's nothing 4 remaining games against the NFC West can't fix.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sharks Unimpressive So Far, Blame the Previous Seasons


Not to say there is something wrong with the Sharks, but when they have been that good for so many years, a start of 6-5-2 is just not acceptable.

It's true. We have been accustomed to such a high level of play each of these last several seasons that when the Sharks start losing a couple games people start to worry. Don't.

Something doesn't seem right, though. Maybe it's the loss of Nabokov in net, maybe it's the loss of Malhotra, or maybe it's the fact this team suddenly looks real young with Mitchell, Couture, and McGinn all on the 3rd line.

First order of business, the defense looks ridiculous. It's probably not the best way to welcome two new goalies onto the team, but maybe the retirement of defenseman Rob Blake hurt this team more than we thought. There seems to be no leadership on that defense, no person to stand up and say that this level of play is unacceptable. Blake brought that to this team last year, and I know Dan Boyle is trying.

Bad defense leads to bad goaltending, and that is what we have thus far in the season.

Although the Sharks are off to a rough start, after watching these last couple of games, this team seems to be getting more familiar with one another. They have been quicker, the defense isn't as bad, and when that happens goaltending seems to flourish. And Antero Niittymaki has benefitted from that going 5-2 in his last 7 starts.

Make no mistake, this Western Conference is legitimate this season. It will not be as easy to win the West as it was in previous seasons. Even winning their own division may be a problem this year with the LA Kings being as good as they are.

This early in the season, it really is hard to predict how everything will go down, but the Sharks take a little time to get started, it's a fact. They're getting used to each other and life without Nabokov and a few other key players that have played big roles in the past.

Once Joe Thornton is back in the line-up, I think you will see this team's season officially begin.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Warriors Hot Out the Gate


The Golden State Warriors are 4-0 on their home court for the first time since the 1990-91 season when Run TMC was running house. So let's forget about the World Champion Giants and focus our hopes and dreams on the new-look Warriors. Right? Eh.

The Warriors look good out the gate, let's give them that. A constantly evolving new style of play to override Don Nelson's run 'n gun basketball, new coach Keith Smart is pushing all the right buttons. He is seemingly teaching a team that is young and full of potential how the NBA is played, and doing it well as a matter of fact.

The addition of David Lee looks extremely smart right now. He has benefitted both himself and Andris Biedrins who is looking awfully good when he isn't the only rebounder on the floor like he was in previous seasons.

On thing that has stood out, rebounding is not a problem anymore.

Remember when second-chance points for the opposing team frustrated the hell out of you in previous seasons? I'm not going to say it's gone, but opposing team's second-chance points are limited these days.

The Warriors are talented and can do great things season with the additions of Lee and Dorell Wright to go with the backcourt of Ellis and Curry (pending they both stay healthy).

But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Is this just a good start for a below average team? Or is this a playoff-bound team willing to work hard both at home and on the road? We will soon find out.

Just a little perspective. The way the Western Conference sets up this season, there are 7 teams pretty much a lock for the playoffs (Lakers, Suns, Mavs, Hornets, Spurs, Nuggets, Thunder...in no particular order).

But let's get real. The Warriors are legitimite contenders for that 8th spot. Why not?

Sure, it is too early to predict how this team will play out, but I like what I see. I like Keith Smart. I like David Lee and the addition of Dorell Wright. I like the backcourt of Ellis and Curry.

Can they put it all together?

Talk to me in a month or so.