Urban: Giants' five differences from 2010


Urban: Giants' five differences from 2010

July 25, 2011


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Mychael Urban

SAN FRANCISCO -- The easiest answer to what's different about the Giants in 2011 is a kidney shot at the Phillies: They wear 2010 World Series rings to dinner these days.Eschewing the petty, junior-high route in favor of fairly serious baseball analysis, however, henceforth are presented five ways in which the Giants of 2011 can be easily distinguished from the 2010 version that stunned the baseball world by beating the Phillies in last fall's National League Championship Series on the way to setting off the biggest party that the City by the Bay has ever seen.

1) No Buster Posey: One of the two most pure hitters on the team, even as a rookie last season, is out for the season after suffering horrific injuries in a controversial collision at home plate that still sparks high emotion in San Francisco. Against all odds, the Giants have actually hit better and compiled a better winning percentage without Posey this season than with, but there's no question they miss his steady presence behind the plate and his steady production in the middle of the order.2) No Freddy Sanchez: The Giants' second baseman is as pure -- if not as powerful -- as Posey at the plate, and as he recovered from surgery on his right shoulder with an optimistic eye toward returning for the stretch run, Sanchez, there was a revolving door of far less gifted fielders at his position until the recent arrival of Jeff Keppinger via trade. While the Giants clearly miss his bat control and professional approach at the plate, they miss his rock-steady glove work every bit as much.3) Ryan Vogelsong: Although the Phillies aren't expected to see San Francisco's unexpected breakthrough pitcher, Vogelsong's ascent from non-roster camp invitee to National League All-Star has forced at least a touch of reconsideration among those who, prior to the start of the season, considered the Phillies' rotation the best in the league by a long shot. Vogelsong's emergence has further infused the Giants with the confidence that they'll send out a starter with a tremendous shot at winning every single game.4) An utter lack of fear: Winning the World Series does wonders for any club's confidence, and the Giants are no exception. They're convinced they can beat anyone, any time. But that sense stems not solely from winning their rings. It stems from having proved, time and again, that they are among the best -- if not the best -- in the game at winning tight, pressure-packed games, often overcoming late-game deficits with contributions from up and down the roster. Two down in the eighth? Even on the road, the Giants feel right at home.5) A better bullpen: That might be difficult to fathom for Philly fans who watched the parade of relievers who prevented Game 6 of the 2010 NLCS in Philly from spinning out of control after Jonathan Sanchez's early struggles, leading the a riveting comeback and the series-clinching win, but it's true. Lefty Jeremy Affeldt is back to his 2009 form, lefty Javier Lopez has proven he can get righties out, too, giving manager Bruce Bochy incredible flexibility in terms of matchups, and righty Sergio Romo has ramped up his game. That trio, combined with closer Brian Wilson's standard excellence, is a huge reason why those close games for which the Giants have a penchant for playing have become so winnable.

NBA expands use of Replay Center for 2016-17 season

NBA expands use of Replay Center for 2016-17 season

NEW YORK – The NBA announced Friday that it will expand use of the Replay Center beginning with the 2016-17 regular season.

This season, active referees in the NBA Replay Center will be responsible for determining the outcome of all replay situations except for player altercations and flagrant fouls, which will continue to be decided by on-court referees.  Examples of replays that will now be determined by the NBA Replay Center are foul calls coinciding with shot-clock violations as well as clear-path and end-of-quarter fouls.   

Last season, the second year for the state-of-the-art NBA Replay Center in Secaucus, N.J., current referees were added to the Replay Center for all games to make decisions on certain replay situations and facilitate the on-court review of others.  The Replay Center ruled on 72 percent of all replays and the average review time for all replays was 31.9 seconds, a reduction of nearly 25 percent from the 2014-15 season (42.0 seconds).

For the 2016-17 season, on-court referees will continue to trigger all replay reviews.  Replays determined by referees in the Replay Center will continue to be communicated to an on-court referee for administration of the call.  The current standard for overturning a call made on the floor (“clear and convincing evidence”) will remain for all replay reviews.  

The expanded use of the NBA Replay Center was unanimously approved by the Board of Governors.  Measures to extend both the coaching box and the players’ substitution box were also approved.

In July, the Board of Governors approved rules changes for the 2016-17 season pertaining to deliberate away-from-the-play fouls. 

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No Indians first pitch for 'Wild Thing' in World Series


No Indians first pitch for 'Wild Thing' in World Series

CLEVELAND -- Wild Thing will have to stay in the bullpen during the World Series.

While actor Charlie Sheen, who played Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn in the movie "Major League" offered to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before one of this year's World Series games, Major League Baseball said the choices have already been made.

A spokesman told the AP on Friday that MLB has worked with the Indians to identify "former franchise greats" to throw out the first pitch for the games in Cleveland. An announcement is expected early next week.

The Indians host Games 1 and 2 on Tuesday and Wednesday. If necessary, Cleveland will host Games 6 and 7 on Nov. 1-2.

There had been a movement by fans on social media for Sheen to throw the first pitch and be part of the pregame festivities.

Sheen got wind of the buzz and responded on Twitter, posting a photo of himself as Vaughn in his Indians uniform and wrote, "Major League continues to be the gift that keeps on giving! if called upon, I'd be honored."

Sheen made an appearance during the playoffs at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday when the Chicago Cubs beat Los Angeles in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.

Released in 1989, "Major League" is a fictional account of the Indians finishing in first place with an unconventional group of players including Vaughn, who struggled to find the strike zone and warmed up to "Wild Thing," a No. 1 hit song in 1966 by The Troggs.

The real Cleveland Indians, who overcame injuries to win the AL Central, before knocking off Boston and Toronto in the playoffs, took a page from "Major League" this season.

Slugger Mike Napoli and second baseman Jason Kipnis constructed a shrine in an empty clubhouse stall between their lockers like one in the movie. In the film, character Pedro Cerrano practices Voodoo and prays to an idol named, "Jobu" to help him hit curveballs.

Like Cerrano, Napoli and Kipnis have their own "Jobu" and have left gifts, including small bottles of rum and cigars, to keep them out of hitting slumps.