Past Due: Giants Poised to Break Series Drought

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Past Due: Giants Poised to Break Series Drought

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2010

(AP) -- Mike Fontenot spent more than three years with perhaps baseball's most cursed team, those lovable losers known as the Chicago Cubs.It taught Fontenot all about long-suffering fans desperate for a championship.Little did he know that when he got traded to San Francisco in August, Fontenot was joining a team with its own set of title-starved supporters."They've had the goat, the whole Bartman thing and everything else going on over there," the veteran infielder said of the Cubs. "I didn't realize that they hadn't won here. I remember when they went to the World Series and watching the games in 2002. I guess I hadn't realized it's been more than 50 years."San Francisco might not get the attention for heartbreak that places like Boston and Philadelphia received until recently, but the city by the bay trails only Cleveland and Chicago when it comes to the length of a World Series title drought.Only two National League franchises have won more championships than the Giants' five, but all of those came before the team moved to California in 1958."It would mean a lot," former Giants slugger Barry Bonds said.Bonds almost delivered in 2002, when he hit eight postseason home runs and helped San Francisco to a 5-0 lead against the Angels in the potential Game 6 clincher. The Angels rallied to win the game, then the World Series, extending the Giants' anguish."It hurts," said Giants special instructor Shawon Dunston, who homered to give them a 2-0 lead in Game 6 that year. "We had it and they beat us fair and square. It sticks. What hurt is I didn't win a World Series as a player."He is far from alone when it comes to title-less Giants in San Francisco. The franchise was unable to win it with Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda and Juan Marichal in the 1960s, Will Clark and Matt Williams in the '80s, and for 15 years with Bonds in the lineup.Now, with a handful of homegrown stars and a bunch of castoffs and misfits, the Giants head into Arlington with a commanding 2-0 lead in the World Series against the Texas Rangers."You have guys like Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda who are in the clubhouse all the time, which still puts you in awe. You feel like you're in the presence of greatness and you are," outfielder Aaron Rowand said. "They talk about it all the time."They had unbelievable teams when they were playing here," Rowand added. "But it takes a little luck to win too. They didn't get as lucky as hopefully we will."Rowand is among a handful of Giants with a World Series ring, having helped the Chicago White Sox end their 88-year drought against Houston in 2005.The Giants have come close a few times without breaking through. The most memorable came in 1962, when they made it to the seventh game of the World Series against the New York Yankees. In one of the most dramatic endings in postseason history, McCovey lined out to second baseman Bobby Richardson with runners on second and third and two outs in the Giants' 1-0 loss.Had the ball been a foot in either direction, it could have been the winning hit."Very heartbreaking," said Cepeda, who was on deck when the game ended. "Even though we had a great team, it wasn't a close unit. Something was missing from that ballclub."The Giants won the division in 1971 but lost to Pittsburgh in the NL Championship Series. They didn't make it back to the postseason until 1987, a stretch in which their biggest moment might have been Joe Morgan's homer on the final day of the '82 season to beat the rival Dodgers and give Atlanta the division title.Then came weak-hitting Jose Oquendo's home run in Game 7 of the 1987 NLCS that helped St. Louis overcome a 3-2 series deficit. There was the earthquake that interrupted the Bay Bridge series in 1989 halfway through Oakland's sweep of San Francisco, three first-round losses to wild-card teams during the Bonds era and, of course, the 2002 World Series collapse.The Giants were up 5-0 in the seventh inning when manager Dusty Baker removed Russ Ortiz. Scott Spiezio greeted Felix Rodriguez with a three-run homer and the Angels scored three more in the eighth to win the game. They ultimately took the series in seven."You go back to Will Clark's era, of course Bonds, they've had some outstanding teams," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It goes to show you how hard it is to do this. They're very much aware it's been a while. It's never happened in this city, but you've got to keep your focus on winning the game and not get caught in it."Cepeda has played for or watched almost every Giants team in San Francisco and says that this team might have the ingredient some of its more talented predecessors lacked."Of all the teams that played in the World Series, '62 was the most talented. It had more talent than the 2002 team," he said. "This year, with less talent, I have never seen a team that comes with so many close games as this ballclub. The last three weeks of the season, every game was close. That's why I think they can win this year. So many teams have big names, but this team has no superstar and won the close games. That's a good sign."Pat Burrell, who grew up in the Bay Area, won a title with Philadelphia two years ago and was in attendance as a fan in 2002 when the Giants won Game 4 to even the series.Now he gets to be on the field to help this year's version do what others have been unable to for the team he grew up supporting."Just knowing the city and the history here, it would mean a lot to me, my parents, my family and millions of others in this area," Burrell said. "We enjoy that part of it."

What they're saying: Celebrating MLK Day 2017

What they're saying: Celebrating MLK Day 2017

As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Bay Area athletes and teams posted their favorite quotes from the iconic Civil Rights leader.

Thank you for your sacrifice, dedication, and willingness to help others! Great god fearing man! #mlk

A photo posted by Quinton Dial (@quintondial92) on

'Undisciplined' Kings regressing at halfway point of 2016-17 season

'Undisciplined' Kings regressing at halfway point of 2016-17 season

SACRAMENTO -- Undisciplined. It’s a word that we haven’t heard much, but it is one of the better ways of describing the 2016-17 Sacramento Kings 40 games into the season.

“We’re not a good team right now - plain and simple,” veteran Matt Barnes said following another loss on Sunday night. “We have what it takes, but we’re undisciplined, we’re not consistent and we lose our focus too much.”

Turnovers, technical fouls, inconsistent offensive and defensive sets - this has become the Kings’ bread and butter. And it’s come to a head during the team’s 1-5 homestand, especially on the Kings’ 122-118 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“Tonight, turnovers killed,” DeMarcus Cousins said. “We didn’t execute well. I don’t think we were that great defensively.”

Cousins’ six turnovers was a team-high, but he had plenty of help. Only Garrett Temple failed to give the ball up on the night, leaving nine other players to share in the 22 total miscues for Sacramento.

“We just don’t pay attention to detail and it always comes back and bites us in the ass at the end of games,” Barnes said.

Despite all of the messy play, Sacramento still had a chance. The Kings had an outside shot to erase an enormous deficit and come back and beat OKC. But that has become their modus operandi.

During their six-game homestand, they have trailed by 14 or more points in every contest. On Sunday against the Thunder, they fell behind by 17 and still were able to cut the lead to just three with 26.5 seconds remaining. In a game that often comes down to a few opportunities that go one way or the other, the Kings are more often the team that makes the crucial error.

“It’s a few plays here and there that we think don’t matter early in the game and we end up losing a four point game,” Barnes said. “We’re a hell of a team in the last three minutes of a game. We make it exciting, but most of the time, by that time, it’s too late.”

Kosta Koufos picked up a tech in the second quarter. Barnes picked one up during a crucial moment in the fourth. Cousins had one as well, giving him 11 on the season, but it was the double-tech variety with Russell Westbrook, so it had no impact on the score.

“We complain too much to the refs, you know what I mean,” Barnes said. “We’ve got to worry about the other team. I think we worry about the refs too much.”

Those two points came back to play a major role in a close ball game and they carried no favor with the officiating crew either. It’s possible that the game would have had the same outcome, but it’s difficult to say for sure.

“Stop talking to the officials and let it go,” Temple said. “They’re going to call what they call; I’ve never seen a call changed because a person is talking to the official. It is what it is.”

There is no benefit of the doubt for a team like Sacramento. They have a reputation with the officials that they live up to on most nights. They are in the refs ear from start to finish. When technical fouls are called, it isn’t a surprise to anyone in the building.

“They’re human beings just like us, so if you constantly berate them about calls, that’s not going to help you,” Temple added. “So we’ve just got to leave them alone, try to control what we can control.”

At some point, the Kings need to learn from their mistakes. But at the halfway point of the season, they appear to be regressing. Frustrations are mounting as their playoff hopes once again dim in the month of January.

With the loss, Sacramento fell to 16-24 on the season. They have one game left at Golden One Center on Wednesday against the Indiana Pacers before embarking on a brutal eight game road trip.