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That’s Balls, folks

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Whether your favorite team was in first place or last, Balls was there with a dose of reality. (All: Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

The A’s finished in last place. The Giants finished in last place. The Niners In Name Only are in last place. The Raiders are tied for next-to-last. The Sharks are in third-to-last. And the Warriors are … not in first?

Yep, it seems that Balls has done enough damage here. So it’s gettin’ out while the gettin’ is bad, sad to say.

There is something that Balls will miss a lot, though.

Here’s lookin’ at you.

See, what made this gig so dadgum fun was the opportunity to express opinions with no flak from above. That’s uncommon in this day and age of media. What made this space extra special was the interaction with sports fans from Daly City to Barcelona. Is that far out or what?

You were wonderful, girls and boys. Whether you agreed or disagreed didn’t matter, only that you cared enough to read and respond on a regular basis. Lord knows we need a lot more of you.

Now let’s party one more time, people …

“So you’re moving on to better things. All the best.”Patrick McGuire, San Francisco

“Remember when I shooed you away in the clubhouse? Well, beat it again, pal, and take your Hall of Fame ballot with you. In a few years, I won’t be needing it. All the worst.”Barry B., Hillsborough

“You made us think, you made us laugh, you made us curse. I call that the sports columnist’s hat trick.”Bob Novak, On The Road, Michigan

“Love ya, Balls. Hate ya, Balls. See ya, Balls.”Chuckles Barkley, Scottsdale, Ariz.

“Hell, Paul, I enjoyed your columns. We’re gonna miss you. Actually kind of bummed. Was nice to have a columnist who’s not afraid to go against conventional wisdom.”John Bruno, San Bruno.

“All you do is follow great NBA teams around. How pathetic is that? Really, you’re worse than me.”Stevie Wiseacre, Rancho Sante Fe

“Darn! I’d say you’re picking a good time to stop writing about Bay Area sports. It may be a good decision for you, but it sure is bad for us.”Marianne Smith, San Francisco

“Your obsessive, ill-informed denigration of Colin Kaepernick seems to have metastasized into a full-blown case of racist mania. My brother, I’m sorry to say that you were an embarrassment to your profession and the Bay Area.”Michael Koch, San Francisco

“You were San Francisco’s best sportswriter because you were not a homer! (My question: Why isn’t Lefty O’Doul in the Baseball Hall of Fame?) God bless you!”Harry Ryan, San Francisco

“You will be missed immensely. I loved your sardonic articles on our local teams, notably the Santa Clara Niners. Don’t give up on the Giants, though.”Art Alcantar, San Francisco

“Got to hand it to you, Balls. You told us to draft Deshaun Watson more than once. But nooooo, we love our d-linemen here. If you have any more good advice in the future, though, you know where to contact me. (Just don’t tell, Jed, OK?)”J. Lynch, Englewood, Colo.

“Enjoyed reading your on-track articles. My parting item: Besides getting two consistent major league power-hitters, the Giants should hire either Matt Williams or Chris Speier as their next batting instructor.”Lou (Turn Two) Tulipano, Santa Rosa

“I’m sorry to hear this news. I really enjoyed your column and you were my favorite Bay Area sports journalist! All the best to you on your journey and next stop. If you keep writing, I’ll keep reading. Peace.”Steve Benjamin, Santa Rosa

“Forgot to mention the York family has destroyed what was once the best professional sports team in any league and the move to Santa Clara sealed the deal. Look what we have now —semi-pros from nowhere! Shame on them and the city of San Fran for not getting a new stadium done!” — more Steve Benjamin

“Thanks for the coverage. If I bring the Seals back to San Francisco, you’ll be the first to know.”J.S. Lacob, Atherton

Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? A compliment?! Well, don’t send them to the Examiner any more, you jamoke. Send them to pladd@aol.com and who knows what you’ll get in return.

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