Bay Area gets shunned

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Bay Area gets shunned

Robert Braunstein

On Sunday the CIF announced the teams and sites for the first ever NorCal regional playoffs. The winning teams earn the right to play for a state title the following week, December 15 at the Home Depot Center in Southern California.

You can certainly argue the merits of one team making the regional game over another. Sacred Heart Prep as Section champs has a right to be upset not being chosen after a one loss season and section title. Both McClymonds and Central Catholic have more losses as the two teams chosen to play for the D-IV NorCal crown.

What you cannot argue is how the Bay Area is being slighted by the CIF. With five Bay Area teams earning spots in the NorCals, not one of the games will be played in the Bay Area. All five games will be played in Sacramento or North. In fact, no CIF event in any sport will be played in the Bay Area this year.

I shot the De La Salle game in a downpour Saturday night at Dublin High School, a site that works well for the section title games. I talked with NCS Associate Commissioner Karen Smith at the game and expressed my concern I was only hearing about Sacramento sites for the NorCal games. She assured me there were sites in the Bay Area like Dublin High and Diablo Valley College also being considered.

But neither was chosen, so national power De La Salle will, in effect be the visitor when the Spartans play Folsom at Sacramento State University this Saturday night. I asked the CIF in a conference call why all five Bay Area teams have to travel when there were other options in the Bay Area.

There was no real answer.

They talked about fine facilities where both schools will be honored to play. Sure, the facilities are great, they’re just not in the Bay Area. Clayton Valley is an easy choice to play at Diablo Valley College instead of Lincoln High school. Instead the Ugly Eagles will drive to Lincoln High in Stockton to play Oakdale, a big drive for both teams and against what the CIF tries to avoid in having a neutral site in the middle.

None of this seems to make any sense. The Southern Section has its regional games being played all over Southern California, one game in Long Beach, another in San Diego, another in Orange County. So why is Northern California different? Why is there not a single CIF event scheduled for Northern California this year? Basketball regionals and finals are also in Sacramento and Stockton. The state football finals are in Southern California, as is wrestling, golf, and track and field. Cross Country is in Fresno.  The Volleyball finals were just held in Irvine where the South won three out of the five matches. Sacred Heart Prep lost a fifth game 15-13 after traveling 300 miles to play.

It wasn’t too long ago when CIF final games were played in the Bay Area. The Oakland Coliseum was the site for many state basketball final games. Volleyball finals were played a few years ago at San Jose State’s Events Center. We have lots of great facilities in the Bay Area. Kezar stadium would be a great place to host the St. Ignatius vs Granite Bay game this Friday night. UC Berkeley hosts the NCS Meet of Champions and would be a fine location for a state meet. The CIF doesn’t seem to consider how people will get to these events. How do you get to Bakersfield from the Bay Area for the wrestling finals? You can’t fly there, you have to drive. Not a problem if you live in Southern California, but if your home is the Bay Area it’s kind of a big drive.

Money is the main reason the state basketball finals are at Arco Arena every year (or whatever it’s called now). I understand you get a great deal, but could you not get just as good a deal at UC Berkeley, Maples Pavilion, or San Jose State?

It all comes down to fairness. Bay Area schools are at least an equal part of what should be the equation in putting together sites each year for these games. Bay Area teams shine every year with great representation in every sport in the final games. To not have a single CIF event hosted at a Bay Area site is inexcusable.

Giants get blanked by Braves, now have lowest-scoring team in majors

Giants get blanked by Braves, now have lowest-scoring team in majors

SAN FRANCISCO — Over in Cleveland earlier Friday, Brandon Moss hit a three-run homer for the visiting team and five other players chipped in a pair of hits. The Royals had six runs, which meant that when Jim Johnson closed the Giants out a few hours later, what has seemed true all season became officially true. The Giants have the lowest-scoring lineup in the majors.

At 3.32 runs per game, they have dipped below the equally-disappointing Royals (3.38). They are capable at the moment of making any pitching staff look dominant. A 2-0 shutout was the first of the year for the Braves, who previously had just two games this season where they allowed fewer than two runs. 

“Six runs in (the last) four games … I thought we would come home and get some rips in tonight, but it didn’t happen,” Bruce Bochy said. 

The manager’s frustration showed late in this one. After the only rally of the game — a two-run single by opposing pitcher Jaime Garcia — Bochy took his cap off and rubbed his forehead. He dipped his head and briefly stood as if he was going to fall asleep on the rail. The bats were equally still. 

The Giants had just four hits, all of them singles against Garcia, who is a nice pitcher but hardly one of the league’s best. One was an infield single by Eduardo Nuñez, another a single through Garcia’s five-hole, and a third a generous ruling by the official scorekeeper. 

“It comes down to, you’ve got to get some hits and create opportunities, and we’re not doing it very often,” Bochy said. “It’s just a matter of guys getting somewhat hot. We did, we had some success, and we won some games. The thing you like to see is some good cuts and I didn’t think we got enough of those tonight.”

That run, which spanned the last homestand and small parts of two road trips, has come to a screeching halt. The Giants have lost five of six. It seems silly to scoreboard-watch in May, especially when a team is playing like this, but it’s worth noting that the teams the Giants eventually need to catch keep winning. They fell 12 games back of the Rockies and 11 back of the streaking Diamondbacks. They are 9 1/2 back of the Dodgers, who might be the best team in the whole league. 

Matt Cain did his part to allow the Giants to keep pace. He got beat just once in seven sharp innings. The Giants intentionally walked Dansby Swanson to get to Garcia, who bounced a single into left. Brandon Belt had a play at the plate, but his throw was short and hit the runner. A second run scored. 

“That’s tough,” Cain said. “(Garcia) was throwing the ball really good and that’s what it comes down to, you’re looking for that one hit and he did it. He’s a good hitter. We’ve seen it in St. Louis. But it definitely is tough when the pitcher does that … it just stinks on my part to give up a hit to the opposing pitcher.”

Lowrie's big hit sparks A's, gets road trip started right

Lowrie's big hit sparks A's, gets road trip started right

NEW YORK — Jed Lowrie is the counterpoint to the A’s home run-crazed offensive attack.

Sure, the A’s switch-hitting second baseman can muscle up and clear the fence. But Lowrie’s approach is more about spraying base hits all around and using the whole field. He was at it again in Friday’s 4-1 A’s victory over the Yankees, going 3-for-4 and delivering an RBI single that snapped a scoreless tie in the eighth.

“I always have to carry his glove out to second for him because he’s always on base,” shortstop Adam Rosales said. “He looks really good at the plate right now, and he’s kind of just putting us on his back. It’s contagious to see a guy like that doing so well.”

Lowrie bumped his average up to .310 with Friday’s game. Until he grounded out in the sixth, he’d notched hits in seven consecutive at-bats dating back to Tuesday night. That streak fell one shy of the A’s record for most consecutive hits. Three players share the record at eight — Josh Reddick (in 2016), Dave Magadan (1997) and Brent Gates (1994).

“It’s all about the work,” said Lowrie, whose 15 doubles are tied for third in the AL. “Everything comes together when you’re seeing it well. I’m seeing it well but the approach hasn’t changed.”

With two runners aboard and two out in the eighth, Lowrie punched an RBI single to right off Tyler Clippard for the game’s first run. It was the breakthrough the A’s needed after they’d struck out 13 times in seven innings against Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka. Khris Davis followed Lowrie’s hit by beating out an infield single to score another run. Then Stephen Vogt added a two-run homer in top of the ninth to make it 4-0, and that provided some cushion as closer Santiago Casilla gave up a run and made things tenser than they should have been in the bottom half.

Davis, the most fearsome hitter in Oakland’s lineup, is thrilled to have a productive Lowrie batting in front of him as the No. 3 man.

“Somebody’s gotta hit .300,” Davis said. “All year he’s been our most consistent hitter and best hitter. I hope he keeps going.”

The A’s have won four in a row at Yankee Stadium dating back to last year. It’s their longest winning streak in the Bronx since a four-gamer at the old stadium in 2006. And it was a good way to begin a seven-game road trip for the A’s, who came in with the league’s worst road record at 6-15.

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Rosales had puffiness under his right eye and said he was anticipating a shiner after his hard head-first dive into third base didn’t go as planned in the eighth. He scraped up his face pretty good after going first to third on an errant pickoff throw and taking a hard dive into third, only to find the dirt wasn’t giving.

After addressing reporters, Rosales said he was on his way to find an ice pack.