Written while Balls debates whether the All-Star Game-determines-homefield-advantage-in-the-World Series idea is the dumbest in all of professional team sports. …
OK, the climb just got a bit steeper for the Giants this season. If Clockwork Orange is to make good in its latest bid for a World Series championship in an even-numbered year, it may have to play the odd game on the road. But relax, people. Only two of the last 13 World Series extended to a seventh game, and the Giants were the only road team to win one. They’re on a pace for 103 wins in the regular season for a reason.
The far greater concern should be the bullpen, which isn’t championship-caliber at the moment. And whether their baseball brains can match smarts with the more desperate Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals, their closest challengers.
Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman look to be the plum relievers of the trade market. In particular, Miller could put the Giants over the top because of his age, versatility and ridiculously team-friendly contract. He’s that good. Problem is, they have little to offer the New York Yankees in the way of top prospects in return. That’s where the Nationals and especially the Cubs have an advantage. It’s even money that either Miller or Chapman winds up with one of them.
But while dependable starters figure to be in short supply, a number of proven, less-heralded relievers are expected to be available. The onus is on operations chief Brian Sabean and sidekick Bobby Evans to acquire the right one(s) in the days ahead. The World Series banner they save may be their own.
SUCH A DEAL: As usual, the PAth(l)etics are expected to be busy before the trade deadline, but unless Billy Beane, John Fisher and Lew Wolff are unloaded for Mark Cuban and a general manager to be named later, nothing they do will amount to a Rich Hill of beans.
DON’T LET IT HAPPEN AGAIN: After Balls lobbied for Johnny Cueto to start the All-Star Game out of the goodness of its heart, the Giants’ 13-game winner was lit up for a pair of home runs and took the loss.
But Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez mashed the taters, and both played with Cueto in Kansas City last season, which means they had inside information, so Balls will give him a pass this time.
NO STARS, NO DRAMA: When the moment of truth arrived with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth inning, one would have expected an All-Star matchup. You know, like Brandon Crawford (yeah, right) versus Cole Hamels, for instance. We got a petrified rookie named Aledmys Diaz against journeyman reliever Will Harris instead.
If Major League Baseball (read: Fox Sports) really wants the All-Star Game to mean something, it will allow the managers to flip the script — start the reserves then play the regulars in the final five or six innings when the outcome is on the line.
EASY TO BE GREEN: Draymond Green continues to act like a troubled man who can’t handle fame and fortune, and unless the Warriors or someone else talk sense into him, one can only wonder what jail cell he’s headed to next.
In his latest fit of dumbness, Green and his entourage allegedly roughed up a Michigan State football player outside a Lansing, Mich., bar around 3 o’clock last Sunday morning. The $85-million man was held in custody with a .10 blood alcohol content.
Lest we forget, Green also posted a video of his BMW odometer at 118 miles per hour and struck enough opponents in the groin to deprive his team of an NBA championship in the last five months.
“When things happen, you meet them head on,” Green said at a business conference in Colorado on Wednesday. “My legal team is handling it. It will be resolved really quickly. As a public figure I can’t put myself in certain situations. It’s something that I’ll learn from and move on.”
One has to think that, unless Green moves on in a more prudent direction, we haven’t heard the last of him off the court.
HAPPY TRAILS, TIMMY: Then there’s Tim Duncan, the anti-Green who retired from the NBA in much the same manner that he arrived two decades earlier. Which is to say, very quietly. No farewell tour. Not even an appearance at his own news conference.
Truth is, the NBA didn’t deserve Duncan all these years. He was too good for it. Can’t think of a more selfless star athlete who did more and said less along the way.
Many consider Duncan to be the greatest power forward in hoops history. Could be. Balls puts him at No. 1a alongside the great Bob Pettit (Google, please) on the all-time list. But know this: There was no more complete player and person at any position ev-er.
JUST SAYIN’: Miami Marlins masher Giancarlo Stanton hit a record 61 home runs in the All-Star Home Run Derby. Even more remarkable, his batting coach Barry Bonds took credit for only 31 of them …
• According to Balls’ sources in purgatory, ex-commish Ford Frick ordered Stanton’s mark be listed as *61 in the record books because the pitches were grooved.
• New Warriors big Zaza Pachulia will be more of a flopper than a flop …
• Pachulia isn’t only the veteran who’s willing to accept less than market value to sign with the Warriors. Rick Barry has offered to become their designated technical foul shooter at the minimum salary.
• How nice of ESPN to give us the NBA Summer League in prime time. Just what we need — more overpaid kids in meaningless games where not traveling with the basketball is optional.
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