Many will remember the late Dennis Green most for his postgame tirade on Monday Night Football years ago — “But they are who we thought they where, and we let ’em off the hook!” — and that’s too bad. Because his impact was much greater than that.
A heart attack claimed the 67-year-old Green on Thursday night.
At Stanford, Green was the first African American head coach in the Pac-10 Conference and the second in Division 1-A history. He went on to lead the Minnesota Vikings to a 97-62 record and two NFC Championship Game appearances in 10 seasons. Yet his victory totals paled in comparison to the untold number of players and coaches he assisted over the years.
If some no-good kicker hadn’t missed a chip shot late in the 1998 conference title game, Green might be known as a Super Bowl head coach. A few inches shouldn’t diminish the fact that he was a champion already.
GIANT CONSEQUENCES IN NYC: Trips to the Rotten Apple are never easy. Then there’s the potentially crucial one that the Giants will take this weekend.
The Giants will limp into New York for three games against the Yankees, who have to decide whether to buy or sell before the August 1 trade deadline. And whether to keep stud relievers Andrew Miller and/or Aroldis Chapman, whose future whereabouts very well may determine the National League pennant race. The Giants can help them make up their minds if only it were that simple.
If the Giants win the series, the Yankees will be more inclined to unload Miller and/or Chapman in the next few days. In which case the price may be a bit lower. Which may make it easier for the Washington Nationals and especially the Chicago Cubs to acquire at least one.
The Cubs are reluctant to trade left-handed slugger Kyle Schwarber, whom the Yankees believe is capable of monstrous numbers at Yankee Stadium. But the more desperate the Yankees get, the greater the possibility that Schwarber won’t have to be included in the deal.
If the Giants lose the series, however, then dip the script. In that case, the Yankees would be more apt to keep their bullpen intact. Which means the Cubs and Nationals can’t get that much better. But neither can the Giants.
So Balls will take Door No. 3, Wayne Brady. That’s the one where the Giants win the series and acquire Miller or probably Chapman, an established closer whom they seem to like more. (Chapman recently threw a pitch that was clocked at 105.1 miles per hour, although Balls thought it was closer to 104.2.)
But Chapman would require a sizable commitment, the kind that the Giants haven’t been prone to in the past. At least one top prospect would have to be in the package, no doubt, an area where the Cubs and Nationals have it all over them. What’s more, the fireballer could amount to a two-month rental since he can become a free agent after the season.
Uh, did Balls mention that Chapman allegedly choked his girlfriend last fall? And fired eight rounds from a gun in a fit of anger the same day?
See, this isn’t so easy, is it?
FINE PRINT: All we hear about is the Giants’ bullpen, which isn’t as bad as many make it out to be. But has anyone noticed that, when you remove Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto from the mix, the rest of the starters have a 16-19 record and 4.75 earned run average?
So until further notice, Balls has their postseason rotation lined up like this: Bumgarner, Cueto and Rainout.
SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY: Athletics bigwig Billy Beane would like nothing better than to stick it to the big shooters across the Bay, and he may get another chance soon.
The Giants are said to be interested in A’s outfielder Josh Reddick, whose dependable glove and near 1.000 OPS against righties would provide an insurance policy for Hunter Pence and his tender hamstring. Trouble is, Reddick is far more likely to land with the Cubs, whose head honcho Theo Epstein drafted him as Boston Red Sox general manager five years ago.
Epstein fleeced the A’s in the Jon Lester-for-Addison Russell trade two summers ago, so one would guess they might be a bit reluctant to get burned again. Except Beane probably would rather turn down a reasonable offer from the Giants rather than risk a backlash from a few thousand fans. Because, you know, that’s how small-minded organizations conduct business.
MORE GRAY MATTER: The Mayflower van already has pulled up outside The Oakland Mausoleum for its annual haul, but Sonny Gray is one A’s player who shouldn’t be in it.
In front of a handful of scouts, Gray saw his value reach an all-time low after he labored through five innings against the mighty Tampa Bay Rays in his last start. The one-time Cy Young Award candidate coughed up seven earned runs on 94 pitches.
“When it goes bad, it seems to be going real bad,” Gray noticed.
The good news is, Gray claims his arm is healthy. It’s the location of his fastball that stinks at the moment.
Now how much you wanna bet that, the second that Gray walks out the door, he’ll be himself again?
JUST SAYIN’: Did you see Phil Kessel’s grandma drink out of the Stanley Cup the other day? Well, the Sharks’ Logan Couture wants her to spit it back because the Pittsburgh Penguins cheated.
— The Chicago Blackhawks will appear on national television 21 times next season. Or 10 more than the Sharks, the defending Western Conference champions. That’s NBC as in National Blackhawks Corporation.
— Glad to see the U.S. men’s swim team choose Michael Phelps as captain for the first time. Guess it couldn’t find somebody who had actually accomplished something.
— Stephen Curry was in fine form at a celebrity golf event in Lake Tahoe last week, but that behind-back, out-of-bounds shot of his needed some work …
— Ayesha Curry said the whole thing was fixed to make more money, anyway.
WHERE HAVE YOU GONE …: Harrison Barnes?
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