Minor League Bummer?

Minor League Bummer?


Its never a good idea to freak out this early in the season, but thats not stopping Giants fans from freaking out over Madison Bumgarner.Reason being, its not all that early when you factor in the six weeks of spring training.Fact is, the freaking out is becoming more justifiable by the day.Bumgarner, he of the splashy minor-league numbers and the ultra-promising big-league cameos late last season, has put up some truly awful numbers in the minors since losing the competition for the fifth spot in the Giants rotation with a desultory camp.Pitching for the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies, hes made two starts, worked seven innings and allowed 21 hits and 11 earned runs. His ERA is over 14, his opponents batting average over .500.The more important numbers, however, are these: 85, 86, 87.Thats about where his best fastballs are sitting on scouts radar guns. At the start of last season, those numbers were 90, 92, 94.Words getting out, a scout told me by phone early Friday evening. Somethings up with the young fella. Something aint right.The Giants say they arent freaking out, but they arent saying what might be behind the dramatically reduced velocity, either. If they did know, theyd probably come out with it.Then again, this is the same team that hid Freddy Sanchezs shoulder surgery for a month.Might Bumgarner be injured? Of course. Until we hear definitively that hes not, its going to be a theory. And until the kid starts putting up better numbers, Giants fans have every reason for freaking out. --Mychael Urban

Cousins buys chocolate from kids for charity, donates bars to flight staff

Cousins buys chocolate from kids for charity, donates bars to flight staff

DeMarcus Cousins leads the NBA in technical fouls. He also leads the league in scowls and he’s even kicked over a few garbage cans following the Kings' loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night. But that’s just a small portion of who he is.

According to a source that travels with the team, Cousins went out of his way Sunday morning to make an impact in the lives of a couple of local youth in Chicago.

Kids were selling chocolate bars outside the team’s hotel trying to earn money for charity. Plenty of people walked by, avoiding the youth, but Cousins stopped, reached into his pocket and purchased all of the boxes they had to sell.

Later on in the day, Cousins donated the candy to the flight service staff for use on the flight to Detroit.

Cousins gets plenty of negative press for his antics on the floor, but off the court, he is extremely generous. He plays Santa-Cuz during the holidays, buying gifts for underprivileged children in Sacramento and his hometown of Mobile, Alabama. He has also purchased a new scoreboard for a local high school and even paid for the funeral of a local high school football player who lost his life in a drive-by shooting.

No one is perfect, Cousins included, but he also has a genuinely good side that he often doesn’t seek or receive press for.


Kirk Cousins watches Kyle Shanahan's offense carve up Packers

Kirk Cousins watches Kyle Shanahan's offense carve up Packers

Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. His uncertain status has led to speculation presumptive 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan will be interested in acquiring him in the offseason.

On Sunday, Cousins got a first-hand look at his former coach’s offense.

Cousins posted a photo on Instagram from the stands at the Georgia Dome, where the Atlanta Falcons and their high-octane offense blasted the Green Bay Packers, 44-21, in the NFC Championship game.

Cousins wrote the caption, “Watching two of the best in the world do what they do & taking notes to make it to this game next year -score a lot of points!”

Washington finished third in the NFC East and out of the playoffs with an 8-7-1 record.

Shanahan, the Falcons’ offensive coordinator, coached Cousins for the first two seasons of his NFL career with Washington on the staff of his father, Mike Shanahan. Cousins appeared in just eight games with four starts in 2012 and ’13.

Cousins' career has taken off in the past two seasons while starting all 32 regular-season games. He completed 67 percent of his passes this season with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and a passer rating of 97.2.

Washington placed the franchise tag on Cousins this season at nearly $20 million. He franchise tag is expected to be approximately $24 million in 2017.

If Washington places the non-exclusive franchise tag on Cousins, a team could sign him to an offer sheet at the cost of two first-round draft picks or negotiate a trade with Washington for a lesser amount.