It was no surprise to see three officials swallow their whistles when Brent Barry was body-slammed by Derek Fisher in the final seconds of that pivotal fourth game of the Los Angeles Lakers-San Antonio Spurs series Tuesday.
The surprise was San Antonio coach Greg Popovich not putting the ball in the hands of one of his more high-profile players with the game on the line. True, Brent Barry was having a career playoff night, scoring 23 points off the bench, but he is journeyman Brent Barry, not his Hall of Famer dad, Rick, who like most of the celebrated elite would have almost certainly gotten the foulcall.
For further proof, go to YouTube and relive His Airness shoving Byron Russell out of the way and drilling the jumper that clinched Michael Jordan’s sixth and final championship with the Chicago Bulls in the 1998 NBA Finals at Utah, which remains the highest-rated TV game in league history. Tonight, look for the Lakers to carry that feel-good vibe back home (where they haven’t lost since March) and knock out the defending champs.
NO RESPECT: The A’s ought to ditch Stomper and have a Rodney Dangerfield look-a-like as their mascot.
Despite being one of the hottest teams in baseball and looking more and more like a legitimate contender, not a single Athletic is in the top five in fan voting at their position for the July 15 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium.
Outfield balloting goes 15 deep and there are still no Oakland players in sight. Of course, the relative no-name A’s are not helped by those sparse Coliseum crowds; hence fewer fans stuffing the ballot at the ballpark. But there is hope.
The All-Star manager picks the pitchers for the Midsummer Classic and the A’s have to get some respect considering their staff has the lowest ERA in the majors.
STAR POWER: Meanwhile, the Giants despite their miserable season have four legitimate All-Stars. Aaron Rowand and Bengie Molina are among the NL’s top 10 in batting average.
Closer Brian Wilson is among the league leaders in saves. And is there any pitcher more exciting to watch than Tim Lincecum? The 23-year-old right-hander is not only 7-1 with a 2.33 ERA, he is tied for the major-league lead with 76 strikeouts in only 70 innings. Some laughed when Lincecum’s teammates started calling him the “Franchise” last year when he was a baby-faced rookie. Tim still looks like a bat boy, but put him on the mound and he’s a beast.
SUPER AT SHORT: Congratulations to the amazing Omar Vizquel, who has now played more games at shortstop than anyone in major-league history — 2,586. The man Omar passed this week, fellow Venezuelan Luis Aparacio, will be at AT&T Park on Friday to honor Vizquel before the Giants-San Diego Padres game.
Vizquel at 41 is as spry as ever and using the same 9½-inch mini-mitt that has snared him 11 Gold Glove awards. I held that glove when we talked at spring training last year and thought it belonged to his 12-year-old son. Still think size matters?
Rich Walcoff is the sports director at KGO Radio (810 AM) and can be heard weekdays between 5-9 a.m. on the “KGO Morning News.” He can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.