It’s a tremendous time in the sports calendar, and I don’t mean that cute amateur tournament. For those of us who prefer professionals, we have the rare moment when every major American sports league is alight with activity.
The NBA is headed into the postseason (or “real season,” for Warriors fans), NFL free agency is ending as draft madness heats up and MLB is back with hope springing eternal (unless you’re a Giants fan).
With so much afoot, we’re using this week to check in with all the local participants…
Golden State Warriors
The presumptive champs are looking good on the floor — winning four of their last five and seven of 10. With one of the easiest remaining schedules, they should have the inside track on the top seed in the West.
They’ve also got Kevin Durant playing some of the most efficient yet beautiful basketball of his illustrious career. Assuming good health, it’s hard to see a significant challenger to Golden State’s golden crown.
Still, there’s the seemingly constant flow of off-court hullabaloo — this week’s edition featuring Jordan Bell’s practical joke-gone-wrong — and Durant’s looming free agency to keep us all on our toes.
With any luck, the Warriors will keep us entertained straight through to parade day.
San Francisco Giants
The Farhan Zaidi era — also now apparently the post-Larry Baer era — opened with a whimper as Connor Joe and Michael Reed started in the outfield and the offense looked as anemic as ever. If there’s any consolation, it may be that Joe and Reed are at least names we have not heard before (or watched fail at the plate repeatedly).
With Zaidi apparently unchecked on the baseball side of Giants operations, this will be a fascinating summer. For the first time since perhaps the beginning of the Brian Sabean era, it is incredibly difficult to predict what management will do with personnel.
San Francisco’s roster could be virtually unrecognizable by the July trade deadline, or at least by Opening Day 2020, but it will be the beginning of a new era. Hopefully Joey Bart’s career will be just as decorated as the MVP catcher he could be replacing sooner than later.
After the aforementioned Dubs, the A’s have to be the most likely championship contender on the Bay Area sports scene. Their lineup features some of the league’s most exciting young talent (even with Matt Olson sidelined) and new additions Jurickson Profar and Robbie Grossman both paid dividends in their first game at the Coliseum.
The A’s look ready to pick up where they left off last year, even with the MLB screw job that started them at 0-2. The remaining question mark is the starting rotation, which has talented youngsters on the way and a corps of workaday veterans holding the fort until the cavalry arrives.
If only there was a mature — say, 31-year-old — former Cy Young-winner (who had previously helped one of their division rivals win a World Series) just sitting around and throwing simulated games as a free agent, waiting for some opportunistic team to pay him a reasonable amount of money.
San Francisco 49ers
Heading into year three of their tenure, Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch have a lot to prove. Shanahan’s prowess as an offensive coach and play-caller remains largely unquestioned, but he and his hand-picked GM have a spottier record in the personnel department.
Free agency began with them rolling in cash and ended with solid value deals and low-risk dice rolls. Tevin Coleman is nice, and the Dee Ford trade makes a lot of sense, but 49ers fans are understandably triggered by Kwon Alexander’s knee injury, and taking a flyer on Jason Verrett being healthy hardly shores up a Swiss cheese secondary.
Drafting a dominant pass rusher and a tall wide receiver would go along way towards encouraging a fan base desperate for winning football, but ultimately only one thing will save Shanahan and Lynch’s bacon.
It’s as simple as this: If Jimmy Garoppolo is great, the 49ers are going places; if Garoppolo is bad, Lynch and Shanahan will be going places — places far away from the team. If Kyle is as good as we’ve been told, this is the year he has to make it work.
What can Brown do for you?
Less than a year after trading studs Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper for high draft picks in an apparent move to rebuild, Jon Gruden traded draft picks for a stud in Antonio Brown and dropped major coin on the unrelated Trent Brown to shore up an aging offensive line. In a vacuum, both moves are positive.
The Browns (particularly Antonio) are significant improvements on their predecessors, and that seems like a good thing, but last summer was spent largely unloading that sort of helpful and highly paid player for draft assets and talented youngsters. Was there a change in strategy with the hire of new GM Mike Mayock? It’s hard to say.
It’s hard to say what Jon Gruden and company are doing, other than improving their team.
Matt Kolsky is a sports media professional (or something like that) and lives with an aging Shih Tzu/Schnauser mix in Berkeley. You can hear him on the Bay Area sports radio station 95.7 The Game, 5 to 6 a.m. every weekday morning. You can listen to his podcast, The Toy Department, on iTunes or wherever else fine podcasts are free. You can find him on Twitter @thekolsky to share your personal feelings about this article or any other topic, he will respond to most tweets that do not contain racial slurs.