The MLB regular season is sort of like what Yogi Berra once said: If people don’t want to watch all those games, nobody’s gonna stop them.
Then there’s the occasional exception, like the series at Third and King this weekend, when the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants square off in what very well may be a sneak peek of the NLCS.
Last August the Giants were ambushed at Wrigley Field, and neither team was the same after that. The four-game sweep did wonders for the Cubs and their confidence en route to the playoffs. Playoffs?!
Yeah, it’s early, but the Giants may want to draw a line in the sand even if the pitching matchups don’t favor them.
Less than a year later, the Cubs have been all the rage in the early season. Their bandwagon is so loaded, it’s a triple-decker now. Hey, that’s what happens when a team hasn’t won a World Series since the Teddy Roosevelt administration. That’s 108 years ago for those snoring at home.
After a ridiculous start, the Cubs feel mighty good about themselves. Perhaps a bit too good. Manager Joe Maddon called it “something that has to go away.” The Little Blue Machine has started to rattle a bit and comes off a near sweep at the hands of the Milwaukee Brewers of all teams.
Not surprisingly, the return to Earth coincided with some bold talk from stud pitcher Jake Arrieta about his next contract. That’s so Cub, so indicative of a franchise that has had no idea how to handle success for decades. Take 1969, when giddy third baseman Ron Santo began to click his heels after victories. In August, no less. His team collapsed like a tent in a tornado and finished eight games out of first place.
So never mind their records at the moment. The Giants have a different kind of advantage and it’s a sizable one. Not only has their core group been through the grind before, but they’ve often thrived in it. The same can’t be said of the Cubs, and until that changes, that’s what they remain: the Cubs.
NOW YOU SEE HIM … Who is this Khris Davis guy? And why is he on a 46-home run, 112-RBI pace for the Athletics right now?
Davis is an all-or-nothin’, 28-year-old outfielder who was acquired from the Brewers for two minor leaguers. At $550,000, he’s the kind of dice roll that Billy Beane has become known for over the years, one of the few good personnel moves that the operations genius has made lately.
In a best case, Davis is a later-bloomer who will stick around a while. Except these are the Athletics and they don’t do normal. Davis is eligible for salary arbitration the next three years, and at this rate, he’ll get his eventually. You know what that means — a one-way ticket out of Oakland.
Note to A’s fans: If you wait a few months, Davis jerseys may be a lot cheaper.
TAKES ONE TO HEAR ONE: Nobody but nobody yapped more than Gary Payton in NBA history, but when The Glove tells Draymond Green to shut his trap, it may be wise to listen up. Because if Green gets socked with three more technical fouls, he’ll be suspended a game, and one game could be the difference between the fairways and a parade.
“He’s a great defender, but he has to get out of that,” Payton told Sirius XM NBA Radio the other day. “A lot of these referees are giving him a lot of leeway. … He would help himself a lot if he just say something, go over there and talk to the referee and they’ll understand him a little bit more instead of always complaining. Because they’re going to get tired of that and they’re going to start making calls against him. Then they’re going to give him the stuff that he’s been getting.”
There’s no escaping it: Green is gonna have to sit one out, and you know there are referees who would love to make him do it.
COME BACK LATER: LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers still haven’t lost a postseason game. They also have the most efficient offense of any team by a considerable margin.
Well, that’s all find and dandy. But before we crown ’em, the James Gang eventually will have to play against real competition, not impostures named the Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors.
Under new coach Tyronn Lue, the Cavaliers look more like the Warriors in style and substance. The addition of Channing Frye has made a difference off the bench. But do they have the numbers and know-how to out-champ the Champs? We may soon see about that.
SHARK ALERT: The Sharks look like the best of the four teams left in the Stanley Cup Playoffs right now. Kinda makes you wonder why their fans didn’t see this more often in the regular season. All 15,000 of them.
Goalie Martin Jones has yet to break a sweat against the St. Louis Blues in the Flunkies Conference finals. At some point, that will change. And that’s when the Sharks will meet Chief Martin Brody, it says here.
YOUR TURN: “Regarding Jarryd Hayne: Can you imagine the guy turning down a chance to be a bit player on a bad football team in exchange for a shot at winning a Gold Medal? Pffffftttt. What’s that worth compared to a NFL minimum salary? Even if he had been on a better team, as you say, can you imagine some guy pursuing a dream of what is essentially sports immortality and turning his back on the NFL? We scratch our (armpits), we open beer cans, and by god, nothing beats the NFL.” — John Dillon, San Bruno
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