Urban: Bochy comes up aces yet again

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Urban: Bochy comes up aces yet again

July 12, 2011

URBAN ARCHIVE
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Mychael Urban
CSNBayArea.com

PHOENIX -- It's a familiar sight for national audiences by now: Brian Wilson crossing his arms on the mound as Bruce Bochy turns to hug or shake the hands of his coaches to celebrate another victory on one of the game's biggest stages.It played out again Tuesday night at the annual MLB All-Star Game, which Bochy's National League won in a relatively stress-free affair against the American League, 5-1.

The victory gave the NL home-field advantage in the World Series for the second consecutive season, and it served as further evidence that when it comes to handling a pitching staff, particularly his bullpen, Bochy has few peers.The Giants' skipper is always quick to credit the contributions of the rest of his staff, and it's not hollow or insincere praise.
But Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti wasn't part of Bochy's staff when he managed an overachieving lot in San Diego to division titles and a World Series appearance, nor was Giants bullpen coach Mark Gardner.No, the only common denominator as far as the respective pitching staffs are concerned is Bochy, who used nine non-Giants pitchers Tuesday before turning to his own closer, Wilson, with runners at second and third and one out in the ninth inning."He's my guy," Bochy said by way of typically simple explanation.Wilson rewarded him with two fairly quick outs to wrap things up, and afterward Bochy deftly deflected questions about his decision to use Phillies pitchers Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee over his own stellar starters, Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong.What Bruce said: The Phillies pitchers deserved it more.What Bruce likely told his own guys: I'm gonna feed the media some magnanimous garbage in the name of keeping y'all fresh for the second half.What Lincecum and Vogelsong likely said in return: Dude, it's all good. No need to explain. But we appreciate that you did.That's Bochy. Clever media manipulator, staff-handling genius and respected leader of the men with whom he works.Oh, and he's one more thing, too: Winner. Frequently. Time and again.

Are the 18-3 Warriors better than the Warrior teams of past two years?

Are the 18-3 Warriors better than the Warrior teams of past two years?

When the Golden State Warriors weren’t planet-eating this summer (re: signing Kevin Durant), they were doing some low-level whining about the narratives surrounding their team. Like “planet-eating.”

You know, that “you guys have a job to do” lefthanded compliment/commentary that lets us all know that their real nature would never be revealed by the bombardment of stories about how they had changed themselves, the nature of their business, the culture of American sport and Draymond Green’s wayward legs.

Or whatever.

[POOLE: Warriors first-quarter report card: Only two solid A's]

But now we’re a quarter into their season, and that seems as good a time to pander to the brand . . . err, examine who they really are in the one place where there is least debate. The floor.

So with the other two uber-Warrior teams as a comparison point, let us wallow in the shallow end.

THIS IS THE WORST TEAM: Their 21-game record is 18-3, which is three games worse than last year, and a game worse than 2014-2015. Math all you want, but 18 is less than 19 or 21. Plus, they didn’t even have the best record in the league for the first month of the season. Lesson? They changed too much.

THIS IS THE MOST DOMINANT TEAM: The current margin of victory per game is 14.04, down from 14.90 a year ago but up from the 11.19 of the title year. In another way, though, they are crushing teams with greater facility, with nine of their 18 wins coming by 20 or more points – as many as they have had in the last three years combined. Lesson: After the anticipated adjustment period, they’re figuring it out.

THIS IS THE MOST DETESTABLE TEAM: Winning the Durant sweepstakes was supposed to make them nationally loathed, the league’s new villain du jour, and maybe winning by 23, 26, 21, 24, 37, 43, 24, 29 and 36 sucks the joy out of an athletic contest, thereby making them even more hateable. Lesson? People will be weary of this.

THIS IS THE MOST ENJOYABLE TEAM: More of a qualitative argument, but every game promises more difficult-to-conceive moments than the one before. Monday night, Klay Thompson, whose shooting has been occasionally worrisome and who said in the offseason that he wouldn’t defer to any new pecking order, went for 60 in three quarters, and didn’t touch the ball on the most amazing play of the season so far – Zaza Pachulia wins a jump ball, tips to Draymond Green, who throws a home run ball to Stephen Curry who flips it high into the air for Kevin Durant to follow and slam. Eighty-five feet, no dribbles, and a GIF to keep your children quiet when you just want to enjoy a beer.

THIS IS THE MOST COHESIVE TEAM: After the expected fitful start, in which they managed to lose by 29 on Opening Night to San Antonio and 20 in Los Angeles (to the Lakers, no less) 11 days later, their assist-to-turnover ratio is an absurd 2.15 (32.4 assists, 14.9 turnovers), well up from 2015 (1.67) and 2016 (1.84). They are taking better care of the basketball, and are more active at sharing it.

THIS IS THE WORST DEFENSIVE TEAM: A lot happens to one’s defensive concentration when the opponent has been consumed by your offense, so this is a bit deceptive, but the raw numbers indicate that this team is living on points rather than points allowed. The defense rating has risen from 101.4 (first in 2015) to 104.7 (ninth now), for a team Steve Kerr has always touted for its devotion to the other end of the court, but the offense has gone from 110 (first) to 114.9 (first) to 118.2 (first).

THIS IS A HAPPY TEAM: They seem genuinely happy when one of theirs has a game (say, Thompson’s Monday night), and have either no agendas or have kept what agendas exist on the very downest of lows. In sum, lots of smiles, but if you can’t smile when you win games by an average of five threes per game, then you’re just a drag to be around. Unhappy happens with unhappy results. Plus, who can’t smile with Zaza Pachulia around? To quote a greater man about a greater man, “a certain magic still lingers in the very name.”

THIS IS A TEAM WITH INSUFFICIENT DRAMA PER COLUMN INCH/MINUTE OF VIDEO: Other than Green’s daily dance on the razor wire with the officials and Joe Lacob popping up from time to time as the FTD delivery man, what’s the problem? Do they run up scores? Do they dance a lot in victory? Are they overloved by the media? Underloved by the nation? Too girly basketball? Not girly basketball enough? Just the right amount of girly basketball? Frankly, most of the coverage strategy about this team falls under, “They exist, therefore we must record their existence.” The bulk of their drama comes with people saying things about them, and them contriving those things into a slight worthy of a motivational response. That’s not really drama in the classic, or even tabloid sense.

This differs from 2014-5, when they were the freshest item on the menu, and 2015-6, when . . . well, when they were a lot like they are now, only without Durant.

In short, 21 games in, the Warriors are better and worse and more dominant on offense and less consistently devoted on defense and more generous and less careless with the ball and about as likable or dislikable as we speculated they would be in October – because we’ve speculated about every possibility, and we’ll keep doping it because the beast is endlessly hungry and must be fed.
 

Raiders pleased with Derek Carr’s maturity, focus under national spotlight

Raiders pleased with Derek Carr’s maturity, focus under national spotlight

ALAMEDA – The Raiders started 0-10 and finished 3-13 in Derek Carr’s rookie year. Near that season’s merciful end, but a handful of local reporters attended his postgame press conferences.

There was little interest in that 2014 squad for obvious reasons, especially after Dennis Allen was fired and the Raiders played out a long string of losses. There was some interest in rookie starters Carr and Khalil Mack, but nothing like there is today.

The Raiders are 10-2. Carr is an MVP candidate. The Silver and Black might be the most entertaining team in football, with their penchant for drama and epic comebacks.

Carr used to play for a thin crowd. Now it’s a packed house. That was the case after Sunday’s 38-24 comeback win over Buffalo.

Now this isn’t Dallas or New York. The body count isn’t quite that high, but interest in this team and its quarterback has certainly spiked.

“It’s an exciting time in Oakland, for our fans. It’s really exciting,” Carr said on Sunday night. “Look how many people are in here now. I remember my rookie year, it was like ‘eh.’”

“This is definitely a fun time. We’ve come a long way as everyone here knows and has been with us. We’ve come a long way, we’re enjoying it.”

Wins draw attention in the nation’s most popular sport, and Carr is getting plenty of it as his legend grows.

Everybody, it seems, wants a piece of the next big thing. Carr’s on the ESPN the Magazine cover. He’s been featured on national halftime shows and syndicated radio programs. Many outlets are begging Raiders public relations to let them watch film with Carr and coordinator Bill Musgrave, to get inside the mind of one cerebral quarterback.

The spotlight will be hot all week, heading into highly anticipated Thursday night game against the rival Kansas City Chiefs for control of the AFC West.

Carr’s natural inclination is to accommodate, but the Raiders would like to insulate him some as the attention mounts.

“When the games get bigger, there are more people around,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “You’ve got to protect your time. You’ve got to protect your preparation time. You have to protect the time you get with your family.

“I just think he’s mature. He’s a young player. He’s maturing and that’s probably the thing that I’m most pleased with. Obviously, the productivity is awesome, but the way he has conducted himself, the maturity, the handling it, continuing to heap praise on his teammates, to make it more about us, not about anything he’s doing individually. It’s more about us as a team. I think that’s really healthy for us.”

Carr keeps the focus on others whenever possible and shrugs off MVP talk at every turn.

It’s not just a rise in coverage. Ticket requests go up, as do outside demands on time Carr would rather spend with family or working on his craft. He has learned how and when to say no during this crazy time of year.

“I’m trying to learn as we go through it how to say no and things like that and I think I’m getting pretty good at it now and how to tell people no,” he said. “Because, everyone just wants a piece of what’s going on. They didn’t much want a piece of it when we were 3-13, you know? So, you can really have that inner circle of people you really love and you can trust and you’re just kind to everybody else.”