How appropriate that the Milwaukee Brewers are unveiling a bronze statue of Bud Selig outside Miller Park on Aug. 24.
The commissioner has taken standing pat to an art form. From his see-no-evil mishandling of the steroid scandal to ignoring the recent rash of horribly blown calls by umpires, Selig is all talk and no action. After Tuesday’s melee between the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals, you might think Selig would take major steps to prevent a repeat of such a frighteningly dangerous brawl.
Think again. Instead of following the enlightened leads of the NBA and NHL in suspending players who come off the bench to jump into a fray, baseball acts like it’s just boys being boys. Hey, when you have 40 players flailing at each other for seven minutes, featuring UFC-style kicks by Cincinnati pitcher Johnny Cueto that left spike wounds on the back of St. Louis ace Chris Carpenter, it’s time to put an end to it.
Certainly not helping matters, while players were fighting perilously close to fans in the stands, all the security personnel at Great America Ballpark stood by and did nothing. Maybe they were just following Bud’s lead.
Ready for some football?
You think Alex Smith has had a hard time adjusting to a new offensive coordinator in each of his first four seasons in San Francisco? Imagine how tough it is for Jason Campbell, who is working with his ninth different coordinator in as many years.
Every fall from his freshman year at Auburn to the Washington Redskins and now with the Raiders, Campbell has had to learn a new offensive system. Despite the daunting challenges, the 28-year-old quarterback has improved his passing percentage and touchdown totals in each of his four NFL seasons.
Unfortunately, playing behind an offensive line in Washington that was decimated by injuries last season, Campbell was sacked 43 times, third most in the league.
While recent Raiders offensive lines haven’t been known for their pass-protection abilities, there are signs of improvement. Solid veterans Langston Walker and Khalif Barnes could both win starting jobs, and promising rookies Bruce Campbell and Jared Veldheer might push left tackle Mario Henderson and center Samson Satele for playing time. New offensive coordinator Hue Jackson likes to move the pocket, and his mobile quarterback calls it an offense I can thrive in.
Speaking of thriving, Darrius Heyward-Bey, who dropped more passes than he caught last season as a rookie, has looked great in training camp. The Raiders’ defense also appears far more imposing with top draft pick Rolando McClain taking over at middle linebacker, and second-round pick Lamarr Houston starting at left end, which enables Richard Seymour to move to tackle to play alongside another former Pro Bowler, John Henderson.
The Raiders open the preseason in Dallas tonight, while the 49ers kickoff their exhibition season Sunday in Indianapolis with two rookies starting on the offensive line. Talented first-rounders Anthony Davis at right tackle and left guard Mike Iupati add much-needed toughness, however losing center Eric Heitmann to a broken leg is a big blow.
The 49ers’ defense is loaded with weapons, but staying with the 3-4 scheme keeps Patrick Willis from being the dominant player he yearns to be. Willis’ eyes lit up when I asked him if he wanted to be turned loose on blitzes rather than just be a down field tackling machine.
KGO (810 AM) Sports Director Rich Walcoff can be heard weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. on the KGO morning news. He can be reached at RichWalcoff@gmail.com.