Urban: Here's to 'The Kid'


Urban: Here's to 'The Kid'

June 3, 2010
Its a little bit sad that Ken Griffey Jr. is going out like this, on the heels of a mini-controversy about alleged clubhouse napping.Then again, good luck jogging your memory for another controversy in which Junior was involved over his 22 years in the big leagues. Better pack a lunch if youre going in search of something sordid in his past.Its also a little sad that Griffey is basically retiring because hes just not a very good player anymore.Then again, that happens to a ton of once-great athletes, and at least hes bright enough to recognize it. Nothing worse than seeing a former star forced out of orbit by lack of employment options, against his will.And finally, its sad that Junior, as phenomenally gifted as he was, never quite realized his full potential. His body betrayed his talent, and it boggles the mind to consider what that gorgeous swing and graceful ease of athleticism would have produced over an uninterrupted run of 20 healthy seasons.Then again, look at what he did accomplish despite the myriad injuries. He saved baseball in Seattle. He reinvigorated the game in his hometown of Cincinnati. He made enough highlight-reel defensive plays to win 10 Gold Gloves and earn a spot on the short list of all-time outfielders.Oh, and he went deep a few times. Like, 630 times. Without ever being even remotely associated with the scourge of the modern game that is performance-enhancers.And then there was that smile. That joy. That inner 10-year-old, hat turned backward, loving every minute of it.Junior didnt love every minute of it, of course. There isnt an athlete who does, especially among those whove spent so much time in rehab.But Junior loved his job, and his obvious love and gift for the game will be Topic 1 in six years, when hes inducted into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.I dont have a vote, but hed certainly get mine.

Raiders enjoying change of scenery in Florida, but focused on football

Raiders enjoying change of scenery in Florida, but focused on football

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Raiders hope central Florida is a home away from home. They’re treating this week in picturesque Sarasota as a normal practice week, with freedom to roam after practice and meetings and meals.

While that makes it sound like Raiders can take advantage of this beautiful beach town and the Ritz Carlton amenities, that isn’t exactly true. While there have been dinners and trips to the hotel’s beach club, most have become familiar with the quarantined event space housing most non-practice activities.

“I looked out this morning and realized there was actually water close by,” head coach Jack Del Rio said with a smile. “It only took me three days to realize that. We’re just going about our business really. Happens to be a beautiful city, but the work’s the same. Put the last game behind you, get ready for the next. Understand what they like, what they’re good at, who their strong players are. Who are some guys that are not as strong? We want to make sure we attack them, things like that. It’s very normal in terms of the preparation and the way we’re going about our business.”

The Raiders have a fixed routine through the heart of his practice week. They have morning meetings as always, with a walk thru conducted in a hotel ballroom. Then they eat and head out to the famous IMG Academy, located 16 miles north in Bradenton. Their first full practice was conducted Wednesday afternoon. 

The school/training space has some famous alumni and trainees including Cam Newton, Tim Howard, Andre Agassi and Amar’e Stoudemire.

A few Raiders have trained there as well. Amari Cooper participated in a national 7-on-7 tournament there, and three offensive linemen did pre-NFL draft work at a massive facility that also acts as a school for athletic children.

“I’ve never seen anything like that. It’s pretty nice,” Crabtree said. “I just don’t when all those guys go to school. It seems like it’s sports year round. That’s a nice facility and that’s good.”

The Raiders hope to mimic a typical game week, but it’s not always easy. This still feels like a road trip, though it’s a pretty nice one with perfect weather and a postcard’s backdrop.

“It’s just a change of scenery. I feel like we’re just enjoying it,” Crabtree said. “It’s beautiful. Sarasota, this is nice. Taking it all in and at the same time, we’re working every day. You can’t beat this weather. You can’t beat this scenery, the Ritz, you can’t beat none of this. I’m just taking it all in, enjoying it and playing ball.”

Raiders linebacker Malcolm Smith compared this experience to training camp in Napa where a team really comes together, though it comes with a bit less stress.

“As far as team bonding goes, this has been a great experience,” he said. “It’s better than camp because we’re not fighting for jobs and things like that. This is our group, and we’re focused on getting ready to play."

There are ancillary benefits to a long Florida trip as well.

“I love it, man. The weather’s nice and there’s no state tax here,” Carr said with a laugh. “That’s always a good thing for the people that live here. (laughter) It’s been awesome. The people here have been great.”

NBA Gameday: Kings open campaign against young, talented Suns

NBA Gameday: Kings open campaign against young, talented Suns

The beginning is here. The Sacramento Kings open their 2016-17 campaign Wednesday night in Phoenix when they battle the young, but talented Suns.

Opening night marks the official start of the Dave Joerger era of Kings basketball. Joerger ran a 147-99 record with the Memphis Grizzlies over three seasons, including back-to-back-to-back playoff appearances. He’s taxed with ending the Kings decade long playoff drought, which has slayed the previous eight head coaches in Sacramento.

Eight new faces don the Kings’ purple and black, including two starters and five rotational players. A new coach. A new roster.  A new offense. A new defense. None of that matters when the ball gets tipped. The NBA schedule waits for no one.

[HAM: Player-by-player examination of the 2016-17 Kings]

The Suns have made subtle tweaks to a roster that won just 23 games last season. But they come into the season mostly healthy and ready to prove that 2015-16 was the beginning of a build in Phoenix.


Suns by 2.5


Ty Lawson vs. Eric Bledsoe -- Lawson is getting a career re-boot in Sacramento and a golden opportunity to shine during the team’s first eight games as a starter. He’ll face the high-scoring, but injury-prone Bledsoe that suited up in just 31 games last season. Bledsoe is an explosive and powerful athlete. Lawson is quick and will look to set up others.


Kings: G Darren Collison (league suspension) out.

Suns: F P.J. Tucker (back) questionable.


The Kings won the season series 3-1 last year, including the final three contests. Phoenix leads the all-time series 130-88 and they hold an 83-49 advantage during the Sacramento-era.


“I have one goal, that’s playoffs. That’s success for me right now.” -- DeMarcus Cousins