The Warriors Victory Tour is on hold for the rest of the week. The fourth-place Giants are out of town. The Athletics — oh, stop it. Just what is a sports fan in The City to do these nights?
Well, Balls has the solution to this great dilemma of ours.
Bring back the Seals!
Yep, you got it — the California Golden Seals hockey team.
Think a local NHL team in the Stanley Cup playoffs wouldn’t liven things up right now? Wouldn’t you just love to see those kelly green and California gold jersey and pants and white skates again, one of the coolest uniforms ev-er?
Oh, and Sparky the Seal, too?
See, the Warriors will need a playmate when they move to the lavish Chase Center in two years. They will have 41-plus home dates annually, but what about the other 300-odd days? There are only so many concerts and tractor pulls to go around, you know. An 18,000-seat arena can get awfully lonely at night.
C’mon, Warriors owner Joe Lacob, whaddya say?
“Honestly, no,” Lacob told Balls in an email. “Not a hockey fan. It’s fun in person. But, just not my thing.
“Unlikely any hockey. It’s a basketball arena. And concert venue.”
Excuse Lacob if he doesn’t have hockey in his blood. Yet. He grew up a basketball fan in the Boston area. Now the Warriors consume his life. But if there’s anything he knows, it’s how to build a winner and make lots of money while he does it. When the guy realizes that the same can be done on ice, he may change his mind.
Pro hockey has done pretty well here before, you know.
In the early-to-mid 1960s, the Seals were part of the old Western Hockey League, as local puckheads still recall. The Seals captured back-to-back league titles with the Cow Palace as their home. Only once in six seasons did they fail to earn a postseason berth. The NHL believed the Seals had so much promise that, in 1967, it added them as an expansion team.
(Full disclosure: Balls once paid five bucks to watch the Seals and Blackhawks play on closed-circuit television in Chicago, although it was as much to see their white skates as the players.)
Problem was, the Seals played their home games in Oakland in the absence of a suitable venue. San Franciscans quickly tuned them out. Soon the franchise changed its name to the Oakland Seals, eventually found its way into the miserly hands of owner Charles Finley then moved to Cleveland of all places.
Four decades later, it’s time for the Seals to make a comeback. And do it the right way this time.
REST OF THE STORY: The Sharks could have something to say about the whole thing.
Uh, the Sharks, remember them?
According to the NHL constitution, each club member owns exclusive territorial rights within 50 miles of its city’s corporate limits. Certainly, the Sharks would put up a loud beef if the Seals invaded their space if only barely. At the same time, however, the league contends that it has the right to place a franchise wherever it sees fit.
Fact is, the NHL needs more westward expansion. The Sharks are the only team between Los Angeles and Vancouver along the west coast. The Sharks-Seals rivalry would would be a natural, the NorCal version of the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings, a win-win for everyone involved.
Half of what the expansion Ducks paid to the league went to the Kings as a territorial fee. So, there may be lots of room for negotiation here. Bet it would take only one fat check to convince Sharks owner Hasso Plattner, wherever he is.
NOW THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT: The most competitive matchup of the NBA postseason has been that between TNT antagonists Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal.
For those of you snoring at home, here’s how it went down after Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday …
Shaq: “Chuck, you have no idea what we’re talking about, because you’ve only been to the Finals once.”
Chuck: “I wasn’t riding on Dwyane Wade’s and Kobe’s (Bryant) coattails.”
Shaq: “Doesn’t matter, Chuck. I got the same thing you got, and I passed you up 10 years ago.”
Chuck: “If I had been riding on Kobe’s coattails, and Dwyane Wade’s … and Alonzo Mourning’s, too — I forgot about him. And Rick Fox, Derek Fisher …”
Shaq: “People question why you’re in the Hall of Fame, anyway. Bum.”
At that point, host Ernie Johnson interrupted his macaroni-and-cheese dinner to ask why the back-and-forth had gotten so personal.
Shaq: “Because Chuck’s always interrupting. Don’t interrupt me, Chuck. I’m going to punch you right in your face one time, I’m telling you.”
Then Barkley threatened to “throw one of these chicken wings at [O’Neal’s] fat ass.”
If only the games could be that good …
TIME TO GET A MOVE ON: As good as the Giants have played of late, they’re still 10 games out of first place and 4.5 games out of the final play-in spot.
Now here’s the real problem: A few career seasons does a World Series make, and the Giants have had none to this point. No starting pitcher has a sub-4.10 earned run average. No regular other than Buster Posey has an OPS (on-base plus slugging percentages) of .812 or better.
Even Posey’s .366 batting average is soft. He has hit more than a 100 points lower (.264) with runners on base, which partly explains his puny 11 RBI on seven home runs, all solo jobs.
Manager Bruce Bochy’s bunch has two months to floor it or back up the truck.
PICK YOU POISON: Denard Span versus left-handers or Gorkys Hernandez versus anybody.
HEY, LOOK … The Chicago Cubs not only postponed a game because of some dark clouds last weekend, but they tried to call off 107 of the last 108 seasons, too!
RELAX, IT’S EARLY: Monday Morning Quarterback guru Peter King has Santa Clara at No. 29 in his NFL power ratings this week, when the Kyle Shanahan era begins at organized team activities.
“If Vegas set the odds right now, it’s likely the only games the Niners may be favored are Week 3 at home with the Rams, and Week 16 at home with Jacksonville,” King wrote. “That’s only part of the reason why this looks like a three- or four-win season …”
So, yeah, things are looking up. Way, way up.
THIS JUST IN: The No Fun League will allow group celebrations, ball props and snow angels after touchdowns this season. But twerks, prolonged acts, sexually suggestive gestures and handguns were banned pending further review.
Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? A compliment?! Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and who knows, you may get your name in the paper before long.