Bay Area gets shunned

cal-hi-sports-bay-area-logo.jpg

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.

49ers already spend more in free agency than a year ago

fullsizerender-35.jpg

49ers already spend more in free agency than a year ago

Under the 49ers’ new regime, the club has already invested more in the free-agent market than a year ago under then-general manager Trent Baalke.

Just a reminder: The free-agent signing period does not officially open until March 9.

The 49ers on Friday reached a contract agreement with veteran defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, who is penciled into be a starter in the team’s new 4-3 base scheme under defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

It was the first significant move under new general manager John Lynch, who also signed a player with NFL experience earlier in the week.

The 49ers also added cornerback K’Waun Williams to a one-year contract. Williams served as the Cleveland Browns’ nickel back for two seasons. The Browns released him before the start of last season and he was unable to play due to an ankle injury.

Mitchell was available to be signed before the start of the new league year because the Miami Dolphins released him last week in a move to save the team $4 million in cap space.

Mitchell took four free-agent visits and after wrapping up his tour with the Atlanta Falcons on Friday, he and the 49ers quickly agreed on a four-year, $16 million contract that includes $5.5 million of money in the first year, according to a source.

Last year, Baalke did little to improve the roster for coach Chip Kelly. The 49ers, who finished 5-11 in Jim Tomsula's one season, dropped to 2-14. Just hours after the season concluded, the 49ers announced the firings of Baalke and Kelly.

The only veteran free-agent addition who stepped on the field for the 49ers last season was offensive lineman Zane Beadles. The 49ers signed Beadles in late-March to a three-year, $9.75 million contract with a $1.75 million signing bonus. Beadles had a good season for the 49ers, starting 13 games at left guard and the final three games at left tackle.

The 49ers have already shown more willingness to be aggressive under Lynch’s leadership.

Mitchell, 29, is a seven-year veteran who began his NFL career from 2010 to ’13 with the Houston Texans. He was a rookie in Saleh’s final season as assistant linebackers coach in Houston.

Mitchell joins DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and Quinton Dial on the 49ers defensive line. The 49ers view Mitchell as a high-energy player who bring good character to the locker room.

With 5.5 sacks in seven seasons, the 49ers do not figure to use Mitchell in passing situations. The club must try to bolster its pass rush in free agency or the draft. Last season, Buckner and Ahmad Brooks shared the team-lead with six sacks apiece. In 2015, Brooks and Aaron Lynch both led the way with 6.5 sacks.

Bumgarner allows two runs, Giants start spring training with walk-off homer

Bumgarner allows two runs, Giants start spring training with walk-off homer

BOX SCORE

At Scottsdale, Arizona, Chris Marrero hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth and drove in four runs as the Giants rallied after Madison Bumgarner gave up two runs on two hits in the top of the first.

Marrero, a 2006 first-round draft pick of the Nationals trying to revive his career as a non-roster invitee, had an RBI single in the fifth.

Kevin Shackelford, the seventh Cincinnati pitcher, walked Orlando Calixte to open the ninth and Christian Arroyo blooped a single into left field before Marrero hit a line drive over the wall in left centerfield.

Patrick Kivlehan had a two-run single off Bumgarner in the first and Hunter Pence doubled in a run off Reds starter Rookie Davis. Davis, acquired from the Yankees in the Aroldis Chapman deal, is likely to open with Double-A Pensacola this year.