It was just a matter of time before ex-Giants slugger Barry Bonds wormed his way back into the big leagues, so it comes as no surprise that the Miami Marlins are ready to sign him as a coach, according to multiple reports.
Hitting coach Frank Menechino is expected to return in the same capacity next season, which will give the team two instructors — one for nonsteroids users and the other for cheaters, perhaps?
Bonds worked with the Giants as a special instructor the last two spring trainings, and you just know the big monster will find his way back to AT&T Park before long.
RAIDERS GET A GIFT: We can all agree that NFL officiating has been at or near an all-time low this season, but it was never worse locally than on Sunday, when both teams were involved in a number of ridiculous calls.
The officials were so lousy, even the Raiders were allowed to steal a victory in Tennessee, one that they almost had to have to stay in the playoff chase. Remember, these are the same paranoid Raiders who have whined for years that the league has conspired against them.
On the play in question, Titans cornerback B.W. Webb was whistled for holding Amari Cooper on a fourth-and-8 situation late in the fourth quarter. There are bad calls, then there are inexplicably bad calls like this one. Cooper lined up on the right side and was never in the play. Quarterback Derek Carr looked to the left from the time he took the snap. There is no video that confirms Webb or anyone else committed an infraction on the play.
A non-call would have ended the game for all intents and purposes. Instead, the Raiders got a new set of downs, and when Carr connected with Seth Roberts for a touchdown seconds later, they were able to pull out a 24-21 gift.
Sympathetic folks that they are, the league office admitted that it was “a poorly officiated play,” Titans interim head coach Mike Mularkey said afterward.
“[The call] was holding on B.W. on the backside of really where the play was. [The play] was all left,” said Mularkey, whose future was at stake. “They were throwing left all the way. Somehow, a call came from the right of where B.W. was. Where it came from, I have no idea. Do I agree with it? No, I don’t agree with it.”
“I personally think it was a terrible call, but I really can’t say much about it,” Webb said afterward. “I didn’t grab him at all. I’m not sure what the refs saw. It was crazy. That play was kind of crazy.”
The NFL would like nothing better than for the Raiders to be in the playoffs and stoke interest in Carson, and when something inexcusable like this happens, it kind of makes you wonder if the conspiracy theorists are onto something here.
USC KNOWS JACK: After USC promoted interim coach Clay Helton to the full-time job on Monday — well, for the next few weeks at least — Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio would not confirm reports that he turned down a chance to return to his alma mater.
“Uh, I think USC hired a coach today, yeah,” Del Rio said. “So I’m wishing them the best, you know. As a former Trojan, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame last spring, I’m very happy for the program they have going forward and wish them the best.”
Besides, Del Rio will be back in SoCal when the Raiders move there, right?
NORCAL STATE OF MIND: A punter and tight end are high on Trent Baalke’s wish list — Balls is just kiddin’, it thinks — but if he ever wants to draft a quarterback, the 49ers general manager won’t have to look far to find one.
On Saturday, Baalke attended the Notre Dame-Stanford clash, where he scouted any number of prospects, quarterback Kevin Hogan among them. Hogan was never better, as he passed for four touchdowns and led the Cardinal to a dramatic 38-36 victory in the final seconds. Hogan may not throw the ball with pinpoint accuracy, but his instincts, mobility and leadership may be worth a dice roll in the fourth or fifth round, which is where many draft boards have him at the moment.
At the same time, only a few miles away, Cal’s Jared Goff didn’t hurt his first-round stock with 542 yards and five touchdown passes in a 48-46 shootout victory over Arizona State. It was a fitting way for the most prolific passer in Bears history to go out at home.
Here’s the rub: Baalke has an acute case of far-sightedness when it comes to the draft. Of the 48 draft picks in his tenure, not a single one was a local college product. Only three played their college ball in the state of California — Marcus Martin, Ronald Johnson and Taylor Mays, all USC products.
JUST SAYIN’: The look on coach Bill Belichick’s face after the New England Patriots’ first loss of the season was priceless. God bless the Denver Broncos!
WELL DONE, MAMBA: We know about Kobe Bryant and the crazy numbers he put up in his great career, but less remembered is how he helped saved pro basketball in a time of great need.
In the late 1990s, the NBA was desperate for the next Michael Jordan to come along, and barely out of high school, the 19-year-old Bryant was its hand-picked choice. Balls was at Madison Square Garden for the 1998 All-Star Game, when he basically was handed the ball and told, “OK, don’t let us down now. Please?”
The pressure on the kid was enormous that day, but after some early struggles, he held his own with a team-high 18 points.
Bryant went on to do a pretty fair Jordan impersonation over the next several years, and the league owes him a debt of gratitude for it. His otherworldly talents and competitive spirit made it a whole lot better. And richer.
WORK IN PROGRESS: The Cal hoops team dropped out of the Top 25 this week, and coach Cuonzo Martin could only hope it was the wake-up call needed to reach its potential.
After four victories against soft competition to open the season, Cal flunked its first two tests against San Diego State and Richmond, neither of which was ranked. The biggest concern came at the defensive end, where the Bears showed a lack of focus and energy much like a season ago.
At the other end, a select few dominated the ball too often, an indication that they had yet to buy into the system. (Pssst, Jaylen Brown, it’s OK to give it up once in a while. Your first NBA training camp won’t be until next year, remember?)
It’s unrealistic to think that a predominately young team can come together in a matter of weeks, and regardless of its talent level, Cal is no different. It can get back on track against Seattle (2-3) at Haas Pavilion tonight.
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