Urban: NLDS Live Playoff Blog, Game 2


Urban: NLDS Live Playoff Blog, Game 2

UPDATED: 9:30 P.M.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Boy, was I wrong.All night long, since Pat Burrell's three-run homer in the first inning, I've been saying the game was over. But Sergio Romo couldn't get an out in the eighth, leaving runners atthe corners for Brian Wilson, and an error by third baseman PabloSandoval, a sacrifice bunt, and a two-run double by Alex Gonzalez justtied the game at 4-4 in a matter of minutes.Torture, anyone?Of course. What was I thinking? These are the 2010 Giants. Nothing comes easy. UPDATED: 8:52 P.M.
Matt Cain, who came up empty exactly a week ago when he had a chance to clinch the NL West championship against the Padres, just walked off the mound at AT&T Park to a loud and well-deserved standing ovation.Following the lead of Tim Lincecum, who refused to be overwhelmed by the pressure of pitching in his first playoff game Thursday night, Cain was only slightly less effective Friday.Cain's outing wasn't nearly as flashy as was Lincecum's, but that's pretty much always the case. If Lincecum is Hendrix. Cain is Andy Summers, the quietly spectacular guitarist for the Police.All Cain did was work 6 23 innings, allowing only an unearned run while scattering seven hits and two walks. He struck out seven.Not exactly the Rembrandt that Lincecum painted on Thursday. More like the reliable, affordable, durable work provided by the local house painter who buys you a beer when he's done with the job.Cain left the game with two out and a runner on first. Lefty Javier Lopez came on to retire Jason Heyward, a left-handed hitter, leaving the Giants six outs from taking a commanding 2-0 lead in the first-to-three-wins series.Im not even going to mention that I think this games over anymore. The standing-O that just washed over Cain as he strolled off the field said it best.
UPDATED: 8:29 P.M.The Braves finally made their first offensive noise of the series in the sixth inning when Brian McCann's single scored Derrek Lee from second base to make it 4-1 with nobody out.But it wasn't exactly the kind of outburst that had anyone associated or rooting for the Giants quaking in their Uggs.Lee was at second only because Giants left fielder Pat Burrell, who has only a slightly better chance of wining a Gold Glove than does Edward Scissorshands, bobbled Lee's single.McCann's single was legit, as was Lee's, but Cain quickly righted himself after a mound visit from pitching coach Dave Righetti.What, you have to wonder, went down during that discussion? Rags: Sorry, man. He's Pat the Bat, not Pat the GloveCain: No worries, brah. Pat hit a three-run jack. He's still plus-two.Rags: Did you just say, "Brah"?Cain: No, Urban pretended I did. Come on, dude, I'm from Memphis. We leave people who say "Brah" bloodied in the fetal position behind the bait-and-tackle shop down on General Grant Street.Rags: OK. Go get 'em.And he did. Three up, three down, disaster averted.Did I mention that I think this game is over?UPDATED: 8:11 P.M.I pride myself on paying attention to detail, but I missed a biggie here in the first few innings.The rally towels -- a tired notion if there ever was one -- have been replaced by orange pom-pons.Pom-pons? That's actually the correct spelling, by the way, and who on earth knows why?
This is what goes though my head when the game starts dragging a little. But guess I should give you a game update, huh? Matt Cain gave up a single to Nate McClouth, who was pinch hitting for Braves starter Tommy Hanson, with one out in the fifth inning, and Omar Infante followed with a walk.All of a sudden, the Braves had a little life. In bars all across Georgia, the tomahawk chop was in full force. Jason Heyward was stepping to the plate, and here was his chance to show everyone that Buster Posey isn't the only rookie with a flair for the dramatic. One big swing and it's 4-3. New ballgame. Alas, Heyward's swing did nothing more than produce a ground ball to shortstop Juan Uribe that was tailor-made for an inning-ending double play, and for the 74th time of the night, the crowd went nuts.Cain's working on a four-hit shutout, by the way, and Hanson's gone after four innings. Did I mention that I think this game is over?UPDATED: 8 P.M.Is Chipper Jones managing the Braves with Bobby Cox out? he's being interviewed on the telecast as I type, and it just looks weird. Whatever. Chipper's a stud and a likely Hall of Famer. Let the guy wax all he wants.Meanwhile, the rest of us are being entertained by the "Kiss Cam" here at the yard. I swear, it's my favorite between-innings entertainment of all time. I don't know why, but it just cracks me up. And whenever it pops up, I warn those around me: If the camera finds us, we WILL play tonsil hockey. I don't care if it's Ray Ratto. I'm all about entertaining the masses, and I'll take any cheap laugh I can get.Don't think I'm kidding, either. In Kansas City a few years ago, the "Kiss Cam" found me and a friend of mine from MLB.com sitting together. Imagine his surprise when I went for him like a Serpent Gone Wild.He resisted, of course, so the scene nobody in the Midwest wanted to see never happened, but it did get a big roar from the crowd, and that's all that really matters. UPDATED: 7:33 P.M.Love that the Giants voted to wear their orange jerseys tonight. They opened the season 9-0 on Orange Friday, but they never won at home on Friday again during the regular season, including that deflating loss to the Padres in which Matt Cain could have slammed the NL West door on the Friars.It would have been easy to ditch the Mike Ivie look for the playoffs, but these Giants don't bail on anything. Orange Friday is almost like a holiday, and the playoffs are like Christmas to begin with. Thus, Orange Friday during the playoffs is like the product of Easter and Halloween mating and putting the little one on HGH.What does that even mean? I don't know. I'm kind of caught up in this whole deal, too. What I do know is that what I just saw from Cain is a very good sign.
As soon as Derrek Lee lifted a fly ball to left field with two out in the top of the third inning, Cain didn't look at the ball or Lee or anything but the dugout, to which he purposefully strode like a man certain that the world is his for the night.Did I mention yet that I think this game is already over?Braves manager Bobby Cox has been tossed out of more baseball games than Kenny Powers has been tossed out of bars.Only Cox isn't fictional. His reaction to an incredible play by Giants shortstop Juan Uribe for the second out in the top of the second inning, however, suggested that he's living in a different world.Uribe, ranging deep into the hole to his right on a smash off the bat of Alex Gonzalez, unleashed the beast that is his right arm and got Gonzalez by a good half-step. Cox, though, saw something different.Maybe it was an homage of sorts to umpire Paul Emmel, who thought he saw Buster Posey steal second base in the fourth inning of Game 1. Or maybe Cox finally wanted a piece of Emmel, who deliciously enough is the ump at first base tonight. UPDATED: 7:24 P.M.Whatever the case, Cox got himself tossed again by arguing the call a bit too vociferously, and the momentum is squarely in the Giants' corner at this point. Cody Ross just ran in the face of Braves left fielder Melky Cabrera on what for most people would be a routine single to left, and Matt Cain followed with an RBI single that made it 4-0, Giants.As I said in my earlier post, this game is over. No way Cain coughs this up. A choker he is not.Cox, meanwhile, is probably choking down a few pops in the clubhouse at this point. He's been around. He probably saw this coming.
UPDATED: 7:11 P.M.As if Pat Burrell hadn't already been fully embraced by Giants fans as a god of sorts, he cemented such a few moments ago when he pummeled a three-run homer into the left-field bleachers with two out in the bottom of the first inning. It came just as another sellout crowd was staring to get a bit edgy, but the mood quickly turned to ebullient when Burrell's deep drive cleared the wall.Remember my keys to tonight's game? One was Matt Cain handing the adrenaline sure to surge through his veins during his first playoff start, and he did that by throwing up a zero in the top of the first. He allowed a leadoff single to Omar Infante and walked Brian McCann with two out, but he wiggled out of the mini-jam by rolling Melky Cabrera to second base to the delight of the 43,000-plus fans fired up for Orange Friday.That was nothing compared to how fired up the crowd got when Burrell, after a one-out single by Freddy Sanchez and a two-out walk by Buster Posey, went souvenir guy.The story keeps getting better for Burrell, and the collision course with his former club in Philly seems almost predestined at this point,Another key was getting Cain an early lead. The Giants are 19-2 in the past 21 games in which they've scored first. Lock it in now. This is a given. The Giants will win this game, and the record will move to 20-2.

Cousins buys chocolate from kids for charity, donates bars to flight staff

Cousins buys chocolate from kids for charity, donates bars to flight staff

DeMarcus Cousins leads the NBA in technical fouls. He also leads the league in scowls and he’s even kicked over a few garbage cans following the Kings' loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night. But that’s just a small portion of who he is.

According to a source that travels with the team, Cousins went out of his way Sunday morning to make an impact in the lives of a couple of local youth in Chicago.

Kids were selling chocolate bars outside the team’s hotel trying to earn money for charity. Plenty of people walked by, avoiding the youth, but Cousins stopped, reached into his pocket and purchased all of the boxes they had to sell.

Later on in the day, Cousins donated the candy to the flight service staff for use on the flight to Detroit.

Cousins gets plenty of negative press for his antics on the floor, but off the court, he is extremely generous. He plays Santa-Cuz during the holidays, buying gifts for underprivileged children in Sacramento and his hometown of Mobile, Alabama. He has also purchased a new scoreboard for a local high school and even paid for the funeral of a local high school football player who lost his life in a drive-by shooting.

No one is perfect, Cousins included, but he also has a genuinely good side that he often doesn’t seek or receive press for.


Kirk Cousins watches Kyle Shanahan's offense carve up Packers

Kirk Cousins watches Kyle Shanahan's offense carve up Packers

Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. His uncertain status has led to speculation presumptive 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan will be interested in acquiring him in the offseason.

On Sunday, Cousins got a first-hand look at his former coach’s offense.

Cousins posted a photo on Instagram from the stands at the Georgia Dome, where the Atlanta Falcons and their high-octane offense blasted the Green Bay Packers, 44-21, in the NFC Championship game.

Cousins wrote the caption, “Watching two of the best in the world do what they do & taking notes to make it to this game next year -score a lot of points!”

Washington finished third in the NFC East and out of the playoffs with an 8-7-1 record.

Shanahan, the Falcons’ offensive coordinator, coached Cousins for the first two seasons of his NFL career with Washington on the staff of his father, Mike Shanahan. Cousins appeared in just eight games with four starts in 2012 and ’13.

Cousins' career has taken off in the past two seasons while starting all 32 regular-season games. He completed 67 percent of his passes this season with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and a passer rating of 97.2.

Washington placed the franchise tag on Cousins this season at nearly $20 million. He franchise tag is expected to be approximately $24 million in 2017.

If Washington places the non-exclusive franchise tag on Cousins, a team could sign him to an offer sheet at the cost of two first-round draft picks or negotiate a trade with Washington for a lesser amount.