Closing the Book on Buck, A's

Closing the Book on Buck, A's

Feb. 4, 2010A'S PAGE

This likely sets a record for words and time spent dealing with a backup outfielder who hasnt batted higher than .230 or played in more than 40 games two years running, but heres one last blast about Travis Buck of the As.Ive gotten an avalanche of e-mails on the topic since my piece on Buck was published Monday, and some legitimate questions were raised. In closing the book on the subject -- at least untilunless it rears its head in Arizona -- Ill answer three that pull back the curtain, so to speak.Q: Why write about such a player in the first place?
A: Because its an interesting story. This is a former first-round draft pick who rocketed through the minors, essentially skipped Triple-A ball, became a fan favorite during a strong rookie year, and appeared to be a future cornerstone of the franchise. His swift fall from grace, and the various reasons and theories as to why hes fallen, is compelling. Extremely. Q: Shouldnt Buck keep his mouth shut and just play better?
A: Thats a tricky one. In theory, yeah. This would be a non-story, or at least a very different story, if Buck had lived up to the expectations that his own talent created. Thus far, he hasnt. Hes kind of been the outfield version of Bobby Crosby -- great start to the career, but oft-injured and largely unproductive thereafter.At the same time, Buck didnt interview himself for my piece. I contacted him, and because we have a good relationship and hes a cooperative kid, he opened up. He didnt exactly bash the As, but he did shed some light on his perception of the situation and vented a little. He was fine with the piece when he read it, too, and he understands that some people will think hes whining. He also understands that he needs to play better baseball, and by doing that, hell win everybody -- Bob Geren included -- over again.Q: What does Billy Beane think about all of this?
A: I spoke with Billy about it yesterday, and while he wasnt thrilled with the suggestion that anyone in his organization would mistreat a player, hes certainly not upset with Buck. Not even disappointed in him. In fact, its quite the opposite. I love Travis, Beane told me. I really do. I think hes a great kid, and I still think he has the potential to be a great hitter in the big leagues.Thats part of why Beane is in no hurry to trade Buck; he sees a 26-year-old with a ton of talent and drive who has suffered through some injuries and -- to Bucks admission -- occasional crises of confidence. Theres still a considerable upside to Buck, but his value is at an all-time low, and if you know anything about Beane, hes not one to sell low. In other words, Buck is going to get his chance to shine in green and gold. He simply needs to do what Eric Patterson did with his chance last September and October make the most of it, once and for all.-- Mychael UrbanWhat's on your mind? Email Mychael and let him know. He may use it in his weekly Mailbag.

Instant Replay: Warriors erase early woes for big win vs Spurs

Instant Replay: Warriors erase early woes for big win vs Spurs

BOX SCORE

The Warriors won their ninth consecutive game, and this one was profoundly more significant than the previous eight.

With a 110-98 win over the Spurs at AT&T Center in San Antonio Wednesday night, the Warriors took a giant step closer to achieving their goal of the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs.

They now lead the Spurs by 3.5 games in the Western Conference. The magic number is five, meaning any combination of Warriors wins or San Antonio losses adding up to five would give the Warriors (61-14) the top seed throughout.

Stephen Curry scored 29 points, Klay Thompson tossed in 23, David West a season-high 15 and Andre Iguodala 14 as the Warriors, coming off a win at Houston on Tuesday, swept the toughest back-to-back set of the season.

Kawhi Leonard paced the Spurs (56-17) with 19 points, on 7-of-20 shooting. The Warriors offset a 42-34 rebounding disadvantage by limiting San Antonio to 41-percent shooting.

STANDOUT PERFORMERS

Curry carried a large measure of the scoring load, but Iguodala and West had terrific all-around games that included timely scoring.

Curry’s line: 29 points (9-of-20 shooting from the field, 4-of-8 from deep, 7-of-7 from the line), 11 assists and three rebounds. He played 35 minutes and finished plus-6.

Iguodala’s line: 14 points (6-of-9, 2-of-3 from deep), six rebounds, two steals and one assist. He played 30 minutes and was plus-17.

West’s line: 15 points (7-of-11, 1-of-2 from deep), five assists, four rebounds and two blocks. He played 22 minutes and finished plus-23.

TURNING POINT

When the Spurs went up 43-29 on a jumper by Kawhi Leonard with 6:46 remaining in the second quarter, the Warriors went on a 16-2 run to pull into a 45-45 tie on a Shaun Livingston jumper with 3:29 left in the half.

That wiped out a deficit that had ranged as high as 22 points.

The Warriors took the lead for good 80 seconds into the second half. San Antonio got no closer than five in the fourth quarter.

INJURY UPDATE

Warriors: F/C James Michael McAdoo (L eyebrow laceration) was listed as probable and made available. F Kevin Durant (L knee sprain, bone bruise) and F Kevon Looney (R hip strain) were listed as out. C Damian Jones is on assignment with Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League.

Spurs: G Dejounte Murray (L groin strain) was listed as out.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Warriors return to action Friday night, when they close out their season series with the Houston Rockets at Oracle Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:35 p.m.