Wednesday, March 9, 2011

San Francisco Giants: 5 Question Marks Heading Into The 2011 Baseball Season

With Spring Training now in full swing, the San Francisco Giants have unofficially began their journey to repeat as World Series Champions.

After their improbable run to become baseball's 2010 World Champions, it is hard to say whether this team has yet to come down from that high.

A pretty mediocre and quiet offseason from the Giants' front office has this team against the odds once again.

Until you look at their pitching staff, when you quickly remember why this team won it all last season.

Still, there are question marks aplenty for this team.

Can they repeat? Will Brian Wilson's beard rule the world? Who is 'The Machine?'

Here are my 5 biggest question marks for the San Francisco Giants heading into the 2011 MLB season:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

With No Dan Boyle, San Jose Sharks Shaking Things Up On The Power-Play

The San Jose Sharks have the third best power-play percentage in the NHL with a 22.1% success rate behind the dominant Vancouver Canucks and surging Chicago Blackhawks. But this recent drought in goals on the power-play by the Sharks has coach Todd McClellan making changes.

The Sharks have scored just one goal in their last 12 power-play chances, something a top-line of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley should never do. But it isn't what the top-line isn't doing, but who is lacking on the power-play that has the Sharks reeling.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

San Jose Sharks: Give Antti Niemi A Rest

San Jose Sharks' goalie Antti Niemi made his 21st straight start in net on Saturday, a loss to the Dallas Stars, which snapped the Sharks' 8-game win streak. Niemi was 17-4 during that span of 21 games.

Is it time to get Niemi some rest then?

Not that he needs it. Niemi has been the main reason for the Sharks' surge to the top of the Pacific division and 3rd place in the Western Conference. But isn't it time? It's almost unheard of for a goalie to go 20+ straight starts in the NHL these days.

But why stop someone while he's hot, right? Niemi is 17-4 in his last 21 games, hasn't complained a bit, and still looks agile and alert as if he just had a night off.

The possibility of wearing him out before the playoffs still lingers, and that would be the only reason to give him a night off.

The Sharks have been starting Niemi in so many consecutive starts not because they want to, although if you ask them now they'd agree, but because they have to.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Giants Frustrated, But Zito's Spot Secure

Bruce Jenkins's column in the San Francisco Chronicle this past week has sent waves throughout the San Francisco Giants community. Jenkins' report? Barry Zito may be released. So now an offseason where the team had no distractions and could focus on repeating, now has turned into a game of 'What If?'

The report, bogus in itself, was that the Giants were frustrated with Zito because they only made the playoffs by one game, and it wouldn't have been that close if Zito had given them a just a few better outtings. Huh?

Jenkins is credible and very respected in the industry, but this isn't supposed to be serious, right?

That's baseball, Bruce.

I don't doubt that the Giants are frustrated with Zito. $126 million and barely any production. Plus, he was left off the playoff roster. Yeah, they should be disappointed. He's not quite the investment they were hoping for.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

4 Reasons The 49ers Need To Re-Sign Alex Smith

Yes, I said it. It would be beneficial for the 49ers to re-sign Alex Smith and make him their starting quarterback for the 2011-12 NFL season. I'll go one step further. Smith gives the 49ers the best chance of winning in 2011-12.

Sure, Smith is getting chance number 2, 3, or 4, I've lost count now, but the 49ers need Smith this season more than ever.

Currently, the 49ers have one quarterback signed, and that is David Carr. Based on that logic, the 49ers don't actually plan on starting Carr, right? I sure hope not, and my common sense would tell me no team in the NFL would want to.

So what's the 49ers' plan then? They must sign someone, and the only logical option is Smith.

That last sentence may have sent some 49er fans' heads spinning at the thought of yet another season where #11 is taking the snaps, but hear my out.

Smith is the only option for the 49ers, and I have four reasons to prove it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Niemi Inks Four More Years In San Jose

"Too legit to quit." That would be the Sharks' answer to why they signed 'hot to the touch' goalie Antti Niemi to a 4-year extension yesterday. He will be property of the Sharks until 2014-15 season.

Maybe a spur of the moment deal, seeing as Niemi went 10-2 in February and has vaulted the Sharks into the 3rd spot in the Western Conference, but is there really anyone disagreeing with this signing? It doesn't hurt, right?

Reports are that Niemi will be getting paid about $3.8 million over the next 4 years (he is getting paid $2 million for this season).

It's an upgrade for Niemi, and, sure, he deserves it. It was shocking to me that a

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Only Question Regarding Brandon Belt Is 'When?'

There is no question that Brandon Belt can play. We've seen it, and if we haven't seen it, we've heard about it. The kid is the real deal. The only question regarding the young phenom is "when?"

When will Brandon Belt play in the big leagues? To the San Francisco Giants, there are two available time slots for such an epic and much-awaited debut: Start of the season or during the season. There is no doubt, we will see Belt sometime soon, but fans just want to know when.

The Giants are notorious for seasoning their players low 'n slow in the minors. We saw it with pretty much the entire pitching staff they have now, and we saw it more recently with Buster Posey. You can't rush these things. The Giants want their players to stay in the minors where they can get regular at-bats and learn the game on a consistent playing level. Then when they're ready, they're professionals.

It's a proven method the Giants use because it works. That's why they're World Champions, because they know how to use their farm system and brew players for success.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Karma Is A Bummer

Remember when Baron Davis chose the Los Angeles Clippers over the Golden State Warriors a few years back in pursuit of the LA lifestyle? Remember how depleted Warriors fans felt seeing their one cornerstone to a playoff chance go out the window? Remember when Davis stuck his head out the sunroof of a Kia and lobbed an alley-oop to Blake Griffin? Remember when Davis was living the good life in LA with rising star Blake Griffin, and the Clippers lived happily ever after? Ummm no.

Baron Davis was traded to the NBA-worst Cleveland Cavaliers today in a swap of the two point guards Davis and Mo Williams.

The bigger story here in the Bay Area, though, is how screwed Davis' current situation is. And Warriors fans cannot be happier.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Trade Rumors Fueling Setoguchi

So maybe that was all it took. A good kick in the pants and swirling trade rumors have Devin Setoguchi playing his best hockey of the year at a most crucial time of the year. Granted, it is only three games, but we'll take what we can get out of Setoguchi who has been quite the disappointment after being dubbed the "second-coming" just a few years ago.

Maybe Setoguchi wasn't even on the trading block to begin with, but the racing tension of actually being traded out of San Jose by February 28th may have him playing as hard as ever. And that's what we have seen over these last 3 or 4 games, Setoguchi working hard, and it has payed off in these last three games with

Monday, February 21, 2011

Warriors Learning, But Playoffs Still Long Shot

They're teasing us, sure, but the Golden State Warriors are playing good basketball. They've upped their defense, and seem more in-tune on the offensive side of the ball. But by no means are they going to make the playoffs in the Western Conference.

The one good thing, I must say, to some from this season so far, is the fact that everyone on the Warriors now knows their role. Monta is the #1 guy, there is zero debate about this; Steph Curry is the side-kick; Dorell Wright is functional; David Lee is there when you need the ball in the post or a mid-range bucket; and Andris Biedrins, well, you go stand under the hoop.

It's helped, of course, but this team is still not playoff-calibur, at least in the Western Conference.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sharks Acquire Much-Needed Blue Line Help

You wanted a legitimate blue line defenseman? Well, you got it. The Sharks acquired defenseman Ian White from the Carolina Hurricanes for a 2nd round draft pick today. The Sharks got the help they needed in the form of a wicked shot from the blue line.

Sure, it isn't the previously suggested Tomas Kaberle, who was dealt earlier today, or the young-gun Zach Bogosian that dreamer Sharks fans like myself were thinking of, but White fills the need.

FUN FACT (you're kidding me...) : This time last year, the Sharks picked up Nic Wallin for some defensive

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sharks Trade Seems Imminent

The Sharks finished up their forever-long road trip on Tuesday in Nashville against the Predators. Ya, it felt like that. After the 2-1 OT win, the Sharks now find themselves smack-dab in the middle of a four-way tie for 4th place in the Western Conference. Nice.

The Sharks will look back on this road trip as a successful one. A win put the Sharks at 5-2 on the road trip, which was more than they had hoped for, but just enough needed, as they and four other teams are just 3 points from the 9th spot.

But something still seems wrong with this team, something missing. The answer is easy and has been missing the whole season. It's been missing ever since Rob Blake retired last season.

Now, no one can replace Blake's leadership that he brought to this team in previous seasons, but the Sharks are in desperate need of a blue-line defensemen. Someone who can shoot the puck and defend a smidge to help out goalie Antti Niemi, something the team has been struggling with since the beginning of the season. With good defense comes good goaltending... that's not fair to say since good goaltending makes the defense look really good, but that's not the point!

A trade seems imminent and here is why. This late in the season, teams that are out of the

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sharks' Point Streak Over, Beat At Own Game

The San Jose Sharks' 10-game point streak came to an end on Friday at the hands of the new hottest team in the NHL, the New Jersey Devils.
It was a matchup of the two hottest teams since the All-Star break in a duel of who wanted it more, as goalies Antti Niemi and Johan Hedberg had a bout in opposing nets. The Devils, once almost 30 points out of the playoffs, have been scorching since game #41 and are now just 12 points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Sharks also had been scorching, and it would come down a fight in New Jersey to see who would be declared the hottest in the NHL. It would take a gritty two-goal 3rd period by the Devils to snatch a victory from the Sharks.

But that was the Sharks' game throughout this point streak, keep it close and pull out a win. During this point streak, the Sharks were never going to