Closing the Book on Buck, A's

Closing the Book on Buck, A's

Feb. 4, 2010A'S PAGE

This likely sets a record for words and time spent dealing with a backup outfielder who hasnt batted higher than .230 or played in more than 40 games two years running, but heres one last blast about Travis Buck of the As.Ive gotten an avalanche of e-mails on the topic since my piece on Buck was published Monday, and some legitimate questions were raised. In closing the book on the subject -- at least untilunless it rears its head in Arizona -- Ill answer three that pull back the curtain, so to speak.Q: Why write about such a player in the first place?
A: Because its an interesting story. This is a former first-round draft pick who rocketed through the minors, essentially skipped Triple-A ball, became a fan favorite during a strong rookie year, and appeared to be a future cornerstone of the franchise. His swift fall from grace, and the various reasons and theories as to why hes fallen, is compelling. Extremely. Q: Shouldnt Buck keep his mouth shut and just play better?
A: Thats a tricky one. In theory, yeah. This would be a non-story, or at least a very different story, if Buck had lived up to the expectations that his own talent created. Thus far, he hasnt. Hes kind of been the outfield version of Bobby Crosby -- great start to the career, but oft-injured and largely unproductive thereafter.At the same time, Buck didnt interview himself for my piece. I contacted him, and because we have a good relationship and hes a cooperative kid, he opened up. He didnt exactly bash the As, but he did shed some light on his perception of the situation and vented a little. He was fine with the piece when he read it, too, and he understands that some people will think hes whining. He also understands that he needs to play better baseball, and by doing that, hell win everybody -- Bob Geren included -- over again.Q: What does Billy Beane think about all of this?
A: I spoke with Billy about it yesterday, and while he wasnt thrilled with the suggestion that anyone in his organization would mistreat a player, hes certainly not upset with Buck. Not even disappointed in him. In fact, its quite the opposite. I love Travis, Beane told me. I really do. I think hes a great kid, and I still think he has the potential to be a great hitter in the big leagues.Thats part of why Beane is in no hurry to trade Buck; he sees a 26-year-old with a ton of talent and drive who has suffered through some injuries and -- to Bucks admission -- occasional crises of confidence. Theres still a considerable upside to Buck, but his value is at an all-time low, and if you know anything about Beane, hes not one to sell low. In other words, Buck is going to get his chance to shine in green and gold. He simply needs to do what Eric Patterson did with his chance last September and October make the most of it, once and for all.-- Mychael UrbanWhat's on your mind? Email Mychael and let him know. He may use it in his weekly Mailbag.

Colorado coach awards team with In-N-Out Burger after beating Stanford

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Colorado coach awards team with In-N-Out Burger after beating Stanford

Somewhere Mike Riley is smiling and nodding knowingly.

The current Nebraska head coach had somewhat of a tradition while at Oregon State in which he would take his football team to In-N-Out Burger following a particularly big win.  

Picking up that burger mantle is Mike MacIntyre, who rewarded his Colorado team with a trip to the famous fast-food joint following their physical, grinding road win over Stanford earlier in the day.


Keenum throws four interceptions, Rams lose to Giants in London


Keenum throws four interceptions, Rams lose to Giants in London


LONDON -- The New York Giants capitalized on four interceptions of Case Keenum to defeat the Los Angeles Rams 17-10 Sunday in the first NFL game played at London's home of English rugby.

Keenum, coming off the best start of his career, had the Rams at the Giants 15-yard line with 50 seconds left when he lobbed a pass in the left corner of the end zone that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie picked off. His intended target, Brian Quick, had broken off his route.

Keenum has thrown an interception on the Rams' final offensive play of the last three games.

The win kept the Giants (4-3) in good shape in the ultra-competitive NFC East, where no one has a losing record. The Rams (3-4) lost their third in a row.

The Giants entered Sunday with the worst turnover differential in the NFC at minus-10. That became -11 on their second play from scrimmage as tight end Larry Donnell coughed up the ball on the Giants 35, leading to the Rams' lone touchdown, a 10-yard grab by Tavon Austin.

But the Rams were unable to build on that early edge and instead hit the self-destruct button. Keenum threw two interceptions, both off high-sailing deflections, to safety Landon Collins, and two more in the end zone to cornerback Rodgers-Cromartie.

Collins returned his first pick 44 yards for a second-quarter touchdown, running from right to left across the field and making several Rams miss tackles before he bowled over center Tim Barnes to draw the Giants even.

Collins' second pick set up the winning drive, which featured a 22-yard catch by Odell Beckman Jr. to the Rams 6. Rashad Jennings from the 1.

The Rams' final two possessions ended in the end-zone interceptions by Rodgers-Cromartie, the pro-Giants crowd of more than 74,000 roaring their approval.


The Giants took the field looking jet-lagged, Rams the savvy travelers. That perhaps reflected the fact Los Angeles chose to fly overnight from Detroit the previous Sunday for a full week in England, while the Giants did most of their preparations at home before arriving Friday in London.

The Giants gained a single first down in the first quarter on an 11-yard completion to Sterling Shepard. The Rams, by contrast, controlled 11:36 of the first-quarter clock, gained seven first downs with a balanced attack, and scored on their first two drives to lead 10-0 with less than 10 minutes gone.


New York struggled for a seventh straight week to move the ball on the ground, frequently attempting ineffective draw plays from shotgun formation straight into Aaron Donald's turf. The Rams' run defense was stout up the middle despite the absence of Michael Brockers (thigh injury).

The Giants finished with 36 yards rushing.


Austin rightly celebrated scoring the opening TD, but much of his game was a head-scratcher. He fumbled twice, one out of bounds after a catch, one on an ill-advised punt return that he recovered - and his butterfingered catch attempt gift-wrapped Collins' interception. He also fair-caught another punt inside the Rams 5.

Austin redeemed himself with a nice 19-yard punt return early in the fourth quarter. He made two good catch-and-runs in the fourth quarter, once juking Rodgers-Cromartie for a first down. But Austin could do nothing to contest the first interception ball thrown to Rodgers-Cromartie minutes later.


New Giants kicker Robbie Gould made a 29-yard field goal in his only attempt and converted two extra points. He replaced Josh Brown, who was placed on the NFL's commissioner exemption list after more information surfaced concerning his abusive behavior toward his ex-wife.


Giants kick returner Dwayne Harris suffered what looked like a serious injury when returning the final punt of the first half. He lay still on the ground for several minutes, was immobilized and carted off the field as teammates prayed. But he returned to field the first punt of the fourth quarter. Neither team reported any other serious injuries.