Baseball Fever. Forget It.
This is the week of the Bay Bridge Series, one that should quicken the pulses and open the throats of local Athletics and Giants fans. Balls will take a pass, thank you very much. Nobody with a competitive bone in his body should get excited about a series that packs all the drama of Schmoes versus Pros.
When it comes to these annual get-togethers in two-team markets, the Bay Area got stuck with a lemon. It takes two committed organizations with some history of recent success to forge a rivalry, and this one has none of that whatsoever. Since 1991, the A’s have won exactly one playoff series. The Giants win a World Series every other year, it seems.
More than anything, the Bay Bridge Series reminds us of what’s wrong with Major League Baseball. Namely, too many teams either at the mercy of tightwad owners or not rich enough to compete for extended periods, too many that have the passion and resources to be successful on and off the field virtually every year.
For that, blame the system and the owners and especially the players who agreed to it. They’re dead set against a salary cap because of earning power. What these people forget is that, for every organization like the Giants that’s committed to its brand, there’s one like the A’s that’s content to cash luxury tax checks and little more. A salary cap with a floor and a ceiling would change a lot of that.
But more than any professional sport, baseball isn’t prone to change. It moves at its own pace, which it so say … very … very … slowly. Until that changes, the Bay Bridge Series will remain a can-miss event between franchises that couldn’t be further apart.
COULDA, WOULDA SHOULDA: Rather than cry poor and moan about their stadium situation, the A’s would make a far better case for themselves if they put a contender on the field.
Try this kick-butt line-up of former A’s players, for instance …
- Catcher — Kurt Suzuki (.279 batting average, 4 home runs, 0.6 fWAR).
- First base — Chris Carter (.231, 19, 0.5) or Brandon Moss (.251, 16, 1.2).
- Second base — Ben Zobrist (.296, 10, 2.8).
- Third base — Josh Donaldson (.290, 17, 4.1).
- Shortstop — Addison Russell (.236, 7, 1.3).
- Left field — Matt Holliday (.257, 15, 1.0).
- Center field — Yoenis Cespedes, (.290, 18, 2.0)
- Right field — Carlos Gonzalez (.329, 18, 2.5).
- Designated hitter — Nelson Cruz (.284, 20, 1.8), designated hitter.
Those 10 guys would cost nearly $115 million this season, or about $25 million more than the current payroll. Instead, A’s fans are expected to support a bunch of has-beens and never-wases while co-owners John Fisher and Lew Wolff stuff their pockets some more. Now do you know why baseball has become the National Past-its-time?
JUST ASKIN’: The A’s lit up Jeff Samardzija for six runs. During Shark Week, no less.
Think the Giants will feel safe to put him back in the water come playoff time?
LIFE WITHOUT K.D. The Warriors will be the first to meet with free agent plum Kevin Durant on Friday. If K.D. is smart, he’ll sign before they leave the room.
But if Durant has brain cramps and decides to return to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who remain the favorites to re-sign him, what happens then?
Harrison Barnes wants a max contract, and no way in Helena should the Warriors give it to him. But the Philadelphia 76ers have volunteered to do so, and they should jump at the chance to move him. Sign him then move him in return for as many first-round draft picks as possible, because the Sixers will stink for another year or three.
Shaun Livingston should be retained for $5.8 million and a dependable, athletic big man added to the roster. (Buh-bye, Andrew Bogut.) Pau Gasol is on the short list of candidates, but he’s 35 and immune to pick-and-roll defense. Joakim Noah can play both ends, but at 31, he’s a physical wreck. Hassan Whiteside has the biggest upside — and the biggest contract demands. That leaves veteran Al Horford as the most reasonable pick of the lot.
An eight-man rotation of Horford, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala with Livingston and some combination of Festus Ezeli and rookie Damian Jones off the bench would be good enough for 60-plus victories in the regular season. And it would leave the ex-Champs in position for another serious postseason run.
THIS JUST IN: The Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Lakers, Fort Wayne Mad Ants and Reno Bighorns believe they have a chance in the Durant sweepstakes.
JUST SAYIN’: After a bunch of elite players took a pass, Team USA invited Barnes to be part of it. Because every gold medalist can use a human victory cigar.
- The Warriors added ex-Cleveland Cavaliers boss Mike Brown to their staff, but with Steve Kerr still not right physically, they might have signed their next head coach. n What do you call Sacramento Kings’ and their core of Willie Cauley-Stein, DeMarcus Cousins, Skal Labissiere and Rajon Rondo? Fourth-fifths of the Kentucky Wildcats B Team, that’s what.
- Add one more ex-Kentucky player, and we can start the John Calipari rumors again.
- Since Game 7 of the NBA Finals, Klay’s brother Trayce Thompson has two singles and nine strikeouts in 23 at-bats for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Warning: Gagging can be contagious.
- Know that grand piano that Joe Thornton carried on his back in the Stanley Cup Finals? Chill, Sharks fans. He’s 0.001 miles per hour faster since he trimmed his playoff beard.
- NBC will devote 260.5 hours to the Summer Olympics, but c’mon, how long does it take Bob Costas to say, “The U.S. still sucks at soccer”?
WHERE HAVE YOU GONE … Oakland Clippers?
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Addison Russellal horfordbattle of bay bridgeBen ZobristBrandon MossBuster Poseycarlos gonzalezChris CarterDeMarcus CousinsGolden State WarriorsJeff SamardzijaJohn FisherJosh Donaldsonkeving durantkurt suzukiLew Wolffmatt hollidaynba free agencyNelson CruzOakland AthleticsPaul LadewskiSacramento KingsSan Francisco GiantsStephen CurryTrayce ThompsonYoenis Cespedes