Everything in life can be labeled one of two ways: Good for Ball, or Bad for Ball.
For instance: Kim Kardashian posing full frontal is Good For Ball — if you're a 15-year-old boy or living in your parents' basement. Otherwise, it's another inordinate amount of attention misdirected from something of substance in the world. Like, I don't know, homelessness in America. The Islamic State. Climate change. Call me crazy. Bad for Ball.
See how it works now? Sweet. 'Cause it's time for our quick weekly spin around the sports world, slapping labels left and right.
And away we go …
n So Pablo Sandoval is getting sweet somethings whispered into his ears by everyone in Boston. Perhaps the Red Sox plied him with a few trips to the incomparable Legal Sea Foods, showed him how easy it'll be to play pepper with the Monstah, had the Pops pump out a little orchestral salsa music. Maybe Ben Affleck let him brush Jennifer Garner's hair. Great. He's earned it. Every Major League Baseball free agent deserves to be wined and dined all over the map after spending the first six full seasons of his big-league career under the same team's thumb.
But if you're a Giants fan, you have to be taking some comfort amid the hysteria and conflicting media reports in the knowledge that your team is run by incredibly bright people, and your city has an incredibly tight, two-way bond with the “Panda.” You have to believe that somehow, someway, it will be effectively conveyed to Sandoval the reality that if he takes his mercurial act elsewhere, he will never again be a living legend whose well-documented shortcomings are tolerated as those of an irascible but always well-meaning brother. Take huge payday elsewhere, and slip into a slump or need a larger uniform as a result of all that chowdah? You're a straight-up bum — an overpaid, overweight, undisciplined bum.
Even Pablo's agent, who, by the way, we all owe an apology for painting as an out-of-touch jackass back in spring training, knows this. Pandas are passive creatures, people. (I learned this while taking a break from Googling “Kardashian, full-frontal.”) The big fella ain't going anywhere if he knows what's good for him, and that's Good for Ball.
n Two weeks ago, Michael Crabtree needed a wah-mbulance after a huge, close win over the so-so New Orleans Saints was essentially secured by a strip-sack from Ahmad Brooks. On Sunday, Brooks was on the sideline coating himself in snivel cream during the second half of a huge, close win over the just-awful New York Giants made possible, in large part, by the continued who-the-hell-is-this-guy play of Chris Borland. If the pattern holds Sunday, the Niners will barely get past the rancid Washington Redskins on a pick-6 by Corey Lemonier — after Borland quits at halftime because he wasn't sent out to midfield for the pregame coin toss.
Remember when the Niners beat the snot out of crappy teams and stood for class and professionalism? What's that expression, again? “It all starts at the top.” There's a reason why a wildly successful head coach doesn't get a contract extension when most measurables are practically screaming for one. Bad for Ball.
n It's been a long time since you could look forward to the Big Game and reasonably expect it to live up to the hype of the annual Cal-Stanford grudge match. The Golden Bears haven't sniffed the hallowed Axe in five years, and last year's contest was less grudge match than it was the college football equivalent of a 6-foot-4 sixth-grader with a hyperactive pituitary gland tying a 54-pound, monocle-wearing classmate to the tetherball pole by his Spider-Man skivvies.
This year? Both teams are desperate for a win to gain bowl eligibility, and suddenly the rivalry's luster has been restored. Not great for David Shaw, but he'll be fine. More important, it's good for a great Bay Area tradition, good for Sonny Dykes, and Good for Ball.
n The A's have been successful over the past few years because they've emphasized versatility. Which brings us to, um, Billy Butler. Really? Great hitter, but he's more one-dimensional than Manute Bol. Bad for Ball.