Urban: Giants' shakeup a no-brainer


Urban: Giants' shakeup a no-brainer

Aug. 31, 2011


Follow @MUrbanCSN
Mychael Urban

SAN FRANCISCO -- Desperate times call for desperate measures? Fine.But what was so desperate about the Giants cutting ties Wednesday with Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada? Nothing.These weren't desperate moves by any stretch. You could make the case, in fact, that they were no-brainers. Rosters can expand to 40 men on Thursday, and Brandon Crawford will be on the roster when the Giants reconvene Friday after taking a day to enjoy their sole victory over the Cubs. He'll get plenty of playing time, too. Nobody's given the Giants jack offensively out of the shortstop position, so they might as well focus on run prevention over run production there, and as underwhelming as Orlando Cabrera's time in orange and black has been, it's been less underwhelming than Tejada's.
NEWS: Giants DFA Tejada, Rowand; Burrell reinstated
Underwhelming doesn't really start to describe Rowand's time with the Giants. The five-year, 60 million deal he got as a free agent was panned the day it was announced, and less than four years later, said panning has been more than justified.
Rowand wasn't a bad Giant in terms of intangibles -- professionalism, work ethic and class; he's flat-out a good dude -- but let's be honest here: he was a bad Giant in the batter's box, and you don't pay the kind of glue Rowand got paid for intangibles.Why Wednesday? Simple. Tejada, as noted above, would have represented redundancy come Friday, and because you have to have a player on your active roster before Sept. 1 to have him eligible for the postseason, designating Rowand for assignment had to happen early on Aug. 31 at the very latest.RATTO: Rowand Era ends seven months early
The thinking likely was that if there was a team out there looking to add him as an extra outfielderpinch hitter for the stretch drive and playoffs -- he's got two rings, you know -- that team might be willing to take on some of the 14 million or so the Giants will be paying him to go away.Not much of it, mind you. Maybe as little as 1 million or 2 million. But you save where you can, and it's easier to choke down 12 million or 13 million than it is to choke down 14 million. So there's the why. Next question: What does it mean?It means plenty.It means that what we saw late last season, when Rowand was planted on the bench and Barry Zito was left off the playoff roster, wasn't an aberration.
Wednesday's move made it clear that money really does take a back seat to performance. Tejada and Rowand weren't getting it done, so they're gone. And if you don't think that sent a message to the rest of the Giants' handsomely compensated veterans, give some thought to what Mark DeRosa had to say after Wednesday's face-saving win over Chicago.RECAP: Bumgarner brilliant, Giants hit and beat Cubs
"Nobody's safe," DeRosa offered. "The team expects a certain level of play, and they haven't been getting it. And when you don't get it, these are the types of things that can happen."Whether that message is what prompted Wednesday's win, DeRosa couldn't say. Madison Bumgarner carving the Cubs like a tender young turkey had an awful lot to do with things, to be sure."It's not like Tejada and Rowand were cancers in this clubhouse," DeRosa said. "They weren't. At all."But they weren't curing anything that ailed the Giants, either. And while the players who took their places on the active roster, Pat Burrell and prospect Brett Pill, didn't factor in the victory, the aforementioned message just might have.It was time for a change. It was time for a statement. It was a time for a win.
And hey, embrace the result for the next 24 hours or so. Brian Sabean went 3-for-3 on Wednesday, and when's the last time anyone associated with the Giants did that?

Stanford tops North Carolina on PKs, advances to NCAA final


Stanford tops North Carolina on PKs, advances to NCAA final

HOUSTON — For the second straight season, Stanford found itself depending on penalty kicks to advance to the College Cup final.

Like last season, the Cardinal came out on top. After each team converted its first nine attempts in the tiebreaker, Amir Bashti made it 10-for-10 for Stanford. Tar Heels defender Alex Comsia then sent his try over the crossbar to end it, giving Stanford a 10-9 win.

"They had just as many good chances as us, and it could have been a 1-0 game either way," Stanford coach Jeremy Gunn said.

Stanford (14-3-5) will face Wake Forest in the College Cup final on Sunday in search of its second straight national championship.

"It's not his fault. We could have done things in the game to have his back," North Carolina defender Colton Storm said of Comsia's miss. "It could have been any of us."

"It's the nature of the game," North Carolina coach Carlos Somoano said. "Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don't. Sometimes there's moments you seize the moments, and sometimes it runs away from you."

North Carolina (14-3-4) had the two best chances of the game. Late in the second half, forward Alan Winn was denied by goalkeeper Andrew Epstein, who made a nice save with his legs.

Later, Epstein made the best save of the match in the final seconds of the second overtime on a shot from forward Tucker Hume. After gaining possession in the right side of the 18-yard box, Hume unleashed a shot that Epstein deflected wide with his legs.

"He made the plays to keep the game at 0, and he deserves credit," Somoano said.

After a flurry of corner kicks and a free kick in an attacking area, Stanford had the best opportunity to score in the first overtime on a header from Drew Skundrich, but he put if over goalkeeper James Pyle, who had six saves. Foster Langsdorf, the Stanford goal leader who scored in the team's first three tournament games and has 15 on the season, had three shots and two on goal but was unable to break the deadlock before the game went to penalty kicks.

"Any result like that is going to be tough to swallow," Storm said. "Stanford's a really good team. We each had our chances. National semifinal, it's going to be tough to swallow no matter what."

While Epstein was unable to stop any of North Carolina's penalties in the shootout, his saves late in the game enabled Stanford to continue its quest for a repeat.

"Andy's never really attracted much attention, but when you're his coach you appreciate him," Gunn said. "You can depend on him."

Stanford has won 15 of its last 18 games after starting the season with three ties and a loss. The Cardinal have yet to concede a goal through four tournament games, while North Carolina's season ends after a third consecutive tournament shutout.

After winning the first national championship in program history last season, Gunn praised his team for continuing to push forward this season.

"It's incredible," Gunn said. "You've always got to be optimistic. There's no point in being anything else. We started the year so well in January. I thought, 'These players are so hungry.'"

Rewind: Sharks fall behind early again, lose 3-2 to Ducks

Rewind: Sharks fall behind early again, lose 3-2 to Ducks

ANAHEIM – Spotting a team the first two goals is a difficult recipe for winning hockey games. That’s even truer when you’re the Sharks, and you’re having tremendous difficulty scoring more than two goals on any given night in the first place.

While the Sharks hung with Anaheim in a closely contested game at Honda Center on Friday night, the Ducks got that extra necessary score. Brent Burns and Kevin Labanc answered first period goals by Rickard Rakell and Antoine Vermette, but Hampus Lindholm’s marker with 5:38 to go in the third period was the difference.

For the fifth time in their last six, and ninth in their last 12, San Jose's scuffling offense couldn’t eclipse the two-goal plateau in a 3-2 defeat.

Coach Pete DeBoer said giving up the first two scores, like they also did on Wednesday in a similar loss against Ottawa, “is not optimal, obviously. But we battled back, and I thought the game could have gone either way. 

“I give our guys credit for battling back. … We didn't hang our head, we battled, and we're just finding a way to lose right now instead of win, which, we've been winning games like that."

For the second straight game, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski had numerous prime chances but couldn’t find a way to get one. An early third period opportunity stood out among the rest, though, when Pavelski was staring at a wide open net in a 2-2 game from close range.

Typically that’s an automatic score for Pavelski, who led the league in game-winners last season. But this time, it went five feet wide.

“Kind of rolls up, catches the blade, and it’s not even close,” Pavelski said. “Those are the moments you’ve got to cash in on. I haven’t done that.”

The Sharks’ best stretch came early in the second period, when they outskated the Ducks and peppered Jonathan Bernier while trailing, 2-1. The Ducks goalie turned them all away until Labanc squeezed one through at 8:40 after the rookie was nicely set up by linemate Logan Couture.

“He didn’t give me much room. You just want to get that off as quick as you can,” Labanc said. “Just took a quick shot, and it went in the net.”

In a game of momentum swings, though, the Ducks outplayed San Jose in the third. They took the lead when Joel Ward gave Lindholm a little too much room to pick his spot on a wrist shot from the top of the circle.

After looking like they were in good shape after two periods, Labanc thought the Sharks were “a little too confident” headed into the third.

“We stopped skating, stopped dumping the puck in, and working hard in the corners,” he said.

Pavelski bemoaned the fact that for the second straight game, a regulation loss in the final minutes, that the Sharks didn't even manage to get the point in the standings for forcing overtime despite fighting back.

"The last few games you have a chance to at least push it to the end," he said. "We're not giving up a whole lot."

The Sharks nearly did tie the game with Martin Jones pulled for an extra attacker, though. After Burns made a pair of remarkable shot blocks on Andrew Cogliano bidding for an empty netter, DeMelo and Ward each had whacks at the puck, but somehow it remained out. 
“A bunch of chaos, really,” is how DeMelo described it. “It was really tight. I think we were just inches away from getting the equalizer.”

Again, though, they just couldn’t find a way to get that third score.

“We were close,” DeBoer said, “but not close enough."