Urban: Giants Road Trip Truly a Trip

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Urban: Giants Road Trip Truly a Trip

Sept. 26, 2010
GIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEOMychael UrbanCSNBayArea.com

DENVER -- Prior to departing for Chicago on Monday, it had been almost a year to the date since Id been on a multi-city road trip. I did the road thing for 10 seasons as an As beat guynational writer for my previous employer, and I have to admit that I didnt miss it at all during the first five months of the 2010 season.When the calendar turned to September, though, it was obvious that I needed to get back out there. The Giants are better than theyve been in years, and you simply dont have any credibility as a baseball writer -- or TVradio broadcaster -- if you arent with the team while its playing its most critical games.Thus, it was decided that I would accompany the team the rest of the way, starting with the series in San Diego a couple of weeks ago. And today, as the Giants play their final game of a six-game trip through Chicago and Denver, and their final road game of the regular season, I offer to you some of the highs, lows and in-betweens of the past week The Giants were off last Monday, and I got into the Windy City at about 9 p.m. local time. By 10:30, I had been hit up by no fewer than 35 people asking me for money, and most of them wanted at least 1. When did the begging rates increase? On Tuesday I toured Wrigleyville and was blown away by how many Giants fans were there. Im not talking transplants, either. These were people who made the trip from the Bay Area -- tons of them. I knew thered be a lot of Giants fans in San Diego, but all the way out to Chicago? Thats passion. The Giants won my kind of game Tuesday night, Matt Cain and Carlos Zambrano took turns shoving bats up butts, and Buster Poseys solo homer to dead center was the only run in a 1-0 final. In short, a nice little signal that its about playoff time. The Cubs won 2-0 the next night, and all of a sudden it was panic time again in relation to the Giants offense. Makes me wonder if the teams fans suffer from collective short-term memory loss. Its not like we havent seen this before. It was the 16th shutout loss of the year! One of the things I really wanted to do at Wrigley was check out the bleachers, but my ALL ACCESS press pass wasnt enough to get me out there. What a joke. Im still bitter. Weve seen this quite a bit before, too: The Giants bounced back with a 13-0 win on Thursday to claim the series victory. The Giants must have short-term memory issues, too, and it works rather well for them. Note to self: While staying out until 5 a.m. is absurdly easy to do in Chicago, it is not required. My professional idol is Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle. His father, Gordon Jenkins (about whom Bruce wrote a phenomenal book), was a brilliant musician who worked with, among others, Frank Sinatra. So imagine the rush it was for me to hang out with Bruce in a Sinatra-themed bar in Chicago, listening to Old Blue Eyes. Incredible. Friday brought with it my first-ever trip to Coors Field, and Tim Lincecum held the Rockies to two hits in a 2-1 victory. As I walked the six blocks from the ballpark to my hotel, I wondered, Whats the big deal? Coors Field is overrated as a launching pad. And then came Saturday. Oops. Is that humidor thing broken? You know what needs to be broken? Dingers legs. The Rockies Triceratops mascot somehow gets away with standing behind home plate and waving his stubby little arms while the opponents closer is in his windup. So bush league its ridiculous. But not as ridiculous as the notion of a mascot running around without pants and spinning his head like Linda Blair in The Exorcist. That thing is going to traumatize children in the Mile High City for life if he isnt stopped. Troy Tulowitzkis walkup song is Party in the U.S.A. by Miley Cyrus. Hey, when you hit a homer and drive in three runs every day down the stretch, you can pretty much get away with anything.

Clippers have more to prove in first clash of 2016-17 with Warriors

Clippers have more to prove in first clash of 2016-17 with Warriors

LOS ANGELES – On the scale of NBA regular-season epic, Warriors-Clippers on Wednesday night rates a solid 8 for the Warriors. It’s circled on the desk calendars in pencil, a game they want for development and vanity.

For the Clippers, though, it’s a 9.5. Might be a 10. It’s stamped on the calendars embedded in their minds.

They need this game, psychologically, to prove they can stand up to the team that has spent the past two seasons winning a championship and setting a record for regular-season wins, simultaneously suppressing the notion of the Clippers being legitimately elite.

Los Angeles also needs to win the clash at Staples Center if these Western Conference titans are to reignite what once was the hottest rivalry in the NBA.

“We get to see what they do; they get to see what we do,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr says.

“It’s a new four-game journey against this team,” guard Stephen Curry says. “We have history that, when you play in the division, year after year, we’re fighting for the same goal of not only winning the division but playoff seeding and coming out of the west. It’s been a nice little back and forth.”

It has been mostly forward for the Warriors, generally backward for the Clippers.

A rivalry is defined somewhat by geography but mostly by hostilities over both the regular season and the postseason. In the very best rivalries, the teams are hunting the same bounty and end up exchanging feelings of ecstasy and heartbreak.

That has been missing the past two seasons, with the Warriors winning seven of the eight games and the last six in a row. It has been Curry over Chris Paul, Draymond Green over Blake Griffin, Klay Thompson over J.J. Redick and Kerr over Clippers coach Doc Rivers.

The contempt that began percolating back in 2012, reaching its apex in 2014 during a spellbinding seven-game playoff series won by LA, has been submerged by this wave of Warriors success.

The “rivalry” has declined considerably, leaving nothing but memories of the days when the teams were striving to reach the same level.

“We were a team trying to break through and make the playoffs,” Klay Thompson says. “They were trying to do the same thing, as far as trying to make noise in the playoffs. We both had an edge to ourselves and we haven’t lost it. They’re still hungry to get to that championship level. You can see that. And so are we.”

Curry traces the origin of the rivalry to Paul’s arrival in December 2011. The decorated point guard brought instant credibility to a franchise that had been every bit as much of a laughingstock as had the Warriors.

“When CP got there and the organization took a different turn, for the better obviously,” Curry recalls. “It was probably that first year we both made the playoffs (2012-13) because the records were a lot better than they usually were and there was a little more excitement around the new and up-and-coming teams.”

Games have featured ejections, multiple technical fouls – once in a preseason game – with an overdose of grabbing and posturing. One beef went postgame, nearly becoming physical in a hallway near the locker rooms.

There has been verbal warfare, sarcasm and slights and insults, though most of it lately has come from LA.

With the Warriors at 18-3 and the Clippers at 16-6, this may be the last season to reignite the conflict, and the first of four meetings will provide a sense of placement. The Warriors are 18-3, having won 14 of their last 15. The Clippers are 16-6, having lost four of their last six.

“It’ll be fun to see how it plays out,” Kerr says.

The Clippers, however, showed up for this season with a sense of urgency. Paul and Griffin both have opt-out clauses and will be free agents in July. The perennial All-Stars have been teammates for five-plus seasons, but this may be the last.

“Their continuity is really key; it’s one of the things that has helped us the last couple years,” Kerr says. “When you have basically the same team for a while, and you’re already a good team, you tend to get better. You tend to grow more and more comfortable with what you’re already doing and then, maybe even have the ability to add on some things.”

So maybe it’ll be different this season. Maybe we’ll have actual back-and-forth.

“They could be a team down the road that we need to get through to get where we want to go, and they probably see us the same way,” Curry says.

Oh, there is no doubt about that, certainly not among the Clippers.

A's reeling after death of minor league video coordinator Mark Smith

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ATHLETICS/TWITTER

A's reeling after death of minor league video coordinator Mark Smith

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — A’s officials at the winter meetings carried heavy hearts Tuesday following the death of minor league video coordinator Mark Smith.

Smith died unexpectedly Monday in Arizona at the age of 41. No cause of death was known, a team spokesperson said, and the A’s traveling contingent at the meetings were still processing the news Tuesday night.

“We’re still sort of absorbing this whole thing. As you can imagine this came as a shock to everybody,” said Billy Beane, the A’s executive vice president of baseball operations. “He had such a commitment to the organization and was such a diligent worker. He’s a tremendous loss. Everybody thought the world of him as an employee, a person. It’s shocking.”

Smith worked for the A’s for eight years and was instrumental in creating the team’s minor league video department in 2009. Manager Bob Melvin, who crossed paths with Smith every spring at the team’s minor league training complex, said Smith went above and beyond the expectations of his job to help everyone in the organization.

“He was the first guy you saw,” Melvin said. “Just a great guy that everybody felt close to. He couldn’t do enough to help wherever he could. … He’d send me video during the year of guys he thought I might see at some point, and I never even asked for them. Just a hard-working guy who was very aware of what each guy he was working with was looking for and needed.”

Funeral services are pending.