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Hey Affeldt, Take A Bow

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Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, second from left, speaks with his brother, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, on the sideline in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Maryland. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

We all know about Tim Hudson and his 222 career victories and four All-Star appearances and one World Series title, but more casual fans aren’t aware of what lesser-known teammate Jeremy Affeldt meant to the Giants’ success over the years.

Hudson and Affeldt are fading into the sunset at AT&T Park this weekend, their careers celebrated one final time.

Affeldt will retire with the third-best earned-run average (0.86) in postseason history, not far behind Mariano Rivera (0.70) and Harry Brecheen (0.83) and a fraction ahead of Babe Ruth (0.87). And his 22 consecutive scoreless appearance trails only Rivera, who has one more.

“I’m very excited for my next chapter in life,” said Affeldt, who will be honored before the home finale today. “This one here, man, I don’t apologize for any of it.”

Nor should he. Be mentioned with Rivera and Ruth and earn three World Series rings, and that’s one heckuva career.

NASH RAMBLER: Retirement has been so difficult for Warriors’ consultant Steve Nash, he has no intentions to set foot inside a gym other than their practice facility until further notice.

“It’s tough, yeah. I miss playing,” Nash told Balls at the team’s practice facility. “I don’t want to play basketball at all, but if I could play in the NBA, I would take it in a heartbeat. I would love to play in the NBA. So I guess what I’m saying is, I have no interest to going to the local gym to play, but if I had the opportunity to play in the NBA again, I’d love it. It’s just that my back can’t do it anymore.”

So what prompts a 41-year-old guy who was addicted to basketball for 19 NBA seasons to quit cold turkey?

“It’s a good question. I don’t know,” Nash said. “I guess once you’ve played in the NBA for almost 20 years, it just doesn’t appeal to me as much. Maybe that will change in time, but it is strange, you know. I used to shoot every day. Now I have no interest in shooting. Some of that comes to I always did everything with a purpose. Now there isn’t any purpose other than to have fun with it. I’d rather do other things, frankly, than getting another 100,000 jump shots up the rest of my life.”

CALIFORNIA COOL: After rare back-to-back road victories, unbeaten Cal returned home to 21,000 empty seats at Memorial Stadium on Saturday. Only 42,042 tickets were distributed for the Pac-12 opener against Washington State.

It has been so long since Cal’s last Rose Bowl appearance — 1959, we’re told — maybe the locals don’t remember how to get excited about college football any more.

HEY, RODGERS, OVER HERE!: Even Cal’s most famous football alum couldn’t find the time to connect with quarterback Jared Goff and his former team this weekend.

“I see that they’re undefeated,” noticed otherworldly quarterback Aaron Rodgers, whose Green Bay Packers are in town to play the 49ers today. “We get a lot of second- and third-tier Big Ten games out here (in Wisconsin). I know there’s a (television) package you can buy, but I really have seen any of their games.”

The school had hoped that Rodgers would attend the game, but his cramped schedule wouldn’t allow for it. The Packers practiced Saturday at San Jose State.

HOME, JAMES: Did the Raiders give up on James Jones too early? Or is Rodgers so darn good that he can turn any 31-year-old dinosaur into a red zone monster?

Either way, Jones has made a remarkable turnaround since Pride and Poise and the New York Giants cut him earlier this year. In his last start, the San Jose State product burned the Kansas City Chiefs for 139 yards, the third-highest total of his career.

“It has been amazing having him,” Rodgers said. “He’s a great teammate. He has a lot of talent. We are really surprised he was out there after the last cuts. We had a need there, and I’m glad we brought him in. We’ve picked up right where we left off.”

Last week Jones caught 27- and 52-yard touchdown passes, both after Rodgers coaxed the defense to jump early on hard counts.

“I’m just trying to do my job, man,” Jones said. “The ball comes your way, make a play. That’s the name of the game and what I’ve been doing my whole career.”

HAR-HAR LAUGHER: Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh joined his brother, Jim, on the Michigan sideline on his day off, so it came as no surprise that the Wolverines scored a 28-0 victory over unranked Maryland on Saturday.

Because when you combine the older, more mature Harbaugh with the younger, half-crazed one, that makes for one heckuva football coach.

“He gave really good input during the game,” Jim said. “It was great to have him here.”

Jim wasn’t pleased to be distracted by John on one play, John said afterward. He was joking. We think.

JUST SAYIN’: There’s only one person who can stop the Raiders’ Amari Cooper, and Nick Saban is his name.

THE LIST: Balls’ picks against the spread in Week 4 of the NFL season:

Dallas Cowboys (+7) at New Orleans Saints: Remember when the Saints’ offense was just plain sick? With a sore-armed Drew Brees and no Jimmy Graham, now it’s gravely ill.

Green Bay Packers (-9 1/2) at 49ers: Aaron Rodgers comes home, where he has never beaten the team that he hoped would draft him. Uh-oh.

Houston Texans at Atlanta Falcons (-3 1/2): It’s hard to pick against Julio Jones especially at home.

New York Giants (+6 1/2) at Buffalo Bills: Take the more experienced quarterback in a close game.

Philadelphia Eagles (-2 1/2) at Washington Redskins: It’s a tad early to say the Iggles are back, but a trip to ol’ D.C. won’t hurt them one bit.

(Last week: 5-0. Season: 10-5 (.667)

YOUR TURN: “Here’s how I see the Raiders: If they don’t replace D.J. Hayden, it’s over especially (against) teams like Cincinnati, Denver, etc. Anybody with good a QB will them pick part apart, and as Balls mentioned, the mistakes made by veterans especially on the offensive line kill the drives. They are getting a swagger that has been missing for years, though.” — Forrest Ebert, Concord

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