The Giants are World Series champs again

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The Giants are World Series champs again

From Comcast SportsNetDETROIT (AP) -- Smart pitching. Clutch hitting. Sharp fielding. Plus an MVP Panda.All the right elements for a sweet World Series sweep for the San Francisco Giants.Nearly knocked out in the playoffs time and time again, and finally pressed by the Detroit Tigers in Game 4, Pablo Sandoval and the Giants clinched their second title in three seasons Sunday night.Marco Scutaro -- who else? -- delivered one more key hit this October, a go-ahead single with two outs in the 10th inning that lifted the Giants to a 4-3 win."Detroit probably didn't know what it was in for," Giants general manager Brian Sabean said. "Our guys had a date with destiny."On a night of biting cold, stiff breezes and some rain, the Giants combined the most important elements of championship baseball. After three straight wins that looked relatively easy, they sealed this victory when Sergio Romo got Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera to look at strike three for the final out."Tonight was a battle," Giants star Buster Posey said. "And I think tonight was a fitting way for us to end it because those guys played hard. They didn't stop, and it's an unbelievable feeling."Posey, the only player who was in the starting lineup when San Francisco beat Texas in the 2010 clincher, and the underdog Giants celebrated in the center of the diamond at Comerica Park.They built toward this party all month, winning six elimination games this postseason. In the clubhouse, they hoisted the trophy, passed it around and shouted the name of each player who held it."World Series champions!" Giants outfielder Hunter Pence hollered.A total team triumph."When pitching is your strength, you want a good defense," manager Bruce Bochy said. "That shows up every day. ... Hitting sometimes, it comes and goes. But as long as you can stay in more games, the better chance you have of winning them, and that's how we play."Benched during the 2010 Series, Sandoval, nicknamed Kung Fu Panda, went 8 for 16, including a three-homer performance in Game 1."You learn," Sandoval said. "You learn from everything that happened in your career. ... We're working hard to enjoy this moment right now."Cabrera delivered the first big hit for Detroit, interrupting San Francisco's run of dominant pitching with a two-run homer that blew over the right-field wall in the third.Posey put the Giants ahead 3-2 with a two-run homer in the sixth and Delmon Young hit a tying home run in the bottom half.It then became a matchup of bullpens, and the Giants prevailed.Ryan Theriot led off the 10th with a single against Phil Coke, moved up on Brandon Crawford's sacrifice and scored on a shallow single by Scutaro, the MVP of the NL championship series. Center fielder Austin Jackson made a throw home, to no avail."That's what makes it so much special, the way we did it," Scutaro said. "We're always against the wall and my team, it just came through first series, second series and now we sweep the Tigers."Romo struck out the side in the bottom of the 10th for his third save of the Series.The Giants finished the month with seven straight wins and their seventh Series championship. They handed the Tigers their seventh straight World Series loss dating to 2006."Obviously, there was no doubt about it. They swept us," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "So there was certainly no bad breaks, no fluke."Simple, they did better than we did," he said. "It was freaky. I would have never guessed we would have swept the Yankees and I would have never guessed the Giants would have swept us."The Giants combined for a 1.42 ERA, outscored the Tigers 16-6 and held them to a .159 batting average."I think we never found our confidence at home plate," Cabrera said. "It was not the same game we played. We could not find our game in the World Series."Bristled slumping Tigers slugger Prince Fielder: "This is not about me. This is about the team."An NL team won the title for the third straight season, a run that hadn't occurred in 30 years. Some find the streak surprising, considering the AL's recent dominance in interleague play. Yet as every fan knows, the club that pitches best in the postseason usually prevails.Until the end, the Tigers thought one big hit could shift the momentum. It was an all-too-familiar October lament -- Texas felt the same way when the Giants throttled it in 2010, and the Tigers knew the feeling when St. Louis wiped them out in 2006."For one, we didn't allow doubt to ever creep in," Pence said. "You know, the thing that made this team so special is just playing as a team, caring for each other. We had our backs against the wall and we knew it wasn't going to be easy. It's not supposed to be."Howling winds made it feel much colder than the 44 degrees at gametime. Two wrappers blew across home plate after leadoff man Angel Pagan struck out, and fly balls played tricks in the breeze.The Giants started with their pregame ritual. They clustered around Pence in the dugout, quickly turning into a bobbing, whooping, pulsing pack, showering themselves with sunflower seeds. A big league good-luck charm, Little League style."That was one of our mottos, and we went out there to enjoy every minute of it and it was hard earned. Just an incredible, incredible group of guys that fought for each other," Pence said.Once again, San Francisco took an early lead. Pence hit a one-hop drive over the center-field fence for a double and Brandon Belt tripled on the next pitch for a 1-0 lead in the second.The next inning, Cabrera gave the Tigers a reason to think this might be their night.With two outs and a runner on first, Cabrera lofted an opposite-field fly to right -- off the bat, it looked like a routine out shy of the warning track. But with winds gusting over 25 mph, the ball kept carrying, Pence kept drifting toward the wall and the crowd kept getting louder.Just like that, it was gone.Cabrera's homer gave Detroit its first lead of the Series, ended its 20-inning scoreless streak and reaffirmed a pregame observation by Tigers Hall of Famer Al Kaline."The wind usually blows to right at this time of year," Kaline said.In the fourth, Max Scherzer and catcher Gerald Laird teamed on a strike em out-throw em out double play.Trailing for the first time since Game 4 of the NL championship series, Posey and the Giants put a dent in Detroit's optimism. Scutaro led off the sixth with a single and clapped all the way around the bases when Posey sent a shot that sailed just inside the left-field foul pole for a 3-2 lead.Detroit wasn't about to go quietly, however. Young, the ALCS MVP against the Yankees, made it 3-all with another opposite-field homer to right, this one a no-doubt drive.Fielder finished 1 for 14 (.071) against the Giants without an RBI. Minus key hits, the Tigers remained without a title since 1984.All 24 teams to take a 3-0 lead in the World Series have won it all. In fact, none of those matchups even reached a Game 6. This was the first sweep for an NL team since Cincinnati in 1990.Working on nine days' rest and trying to extend the Tigers' season, Scherzer kept them close into the seventh. Often recognized for his eyes -- one is light blue, the other is brown -- he's also known as a solid postseason pitcher.Ditto-plus for Matt Cain, who was working on a nearly perfect year.The Giants' ace threw a perfect game in June, was the winning pitcher in the All-Star game in July, beat Cincinnati to clinch the division series and topped St. Louis in Game 7 of the NL championship series.After they left, the relievers decided it.Octavio Dotel shouted, "Yeah! Let's go!" toward his dugout after striking out Posey to end the eighth. In the bottom half, winning pitcher Jeremy Affeldt got around a leadoff walk when he struck out Cabrera, a flinching Fielder and Young.Coke returned the favor in the top of the ninth, fanning the side. With Jose Valverde having lost his closer role during a shaky month, Coke stayed in for the 10th and faltered.The Giants became the first champion that hit the fewest home runs in the majors since St. Louis in 1982. Sandoval's three drives in Game 1 started San Francisco's romp, and its dominant pitching took over from there.The parade to a sweep masked the problems San Francisco overcame to get this far.Closer Brian Wilson pitched only two innings before an elbow injury ended his year. All-Star game MVP Melky Cabrera was suspended 50 games for a positive testosterone test, and not welcomed back when the ban ended. Two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum struggled and wound up in the bullpen.Swept in a three-game set at Arizona to start the season, the Giants were floundering under .500 in mid-May. They soon hit their stride and, boosted by trade deadline deals for Scutaro and Pence, passed the Dodgers in the NL West for good in late August and posted 94 wins.Getting past Cincinnati and St. Louis in the playoffs presented challenges. Down 2-0 in the best-of-five division series, they rallied for three straight victories in Cincinnati. Trailing the defending champion Cardinals 3-1 in the NLCS, they again took three in a row to advance, clinching in a driving rainstorm.Six elimination games, six wins. Facing the Tigers, San Francisco proved it could play with a lead, too.The Giants became the first NL team since the Big Red Machine in the mid-1970s to win two titles in a three-year span. Shut out for 56 years -- Juan Marichal, Willie McCovey and Barry Bonds never won it all -- their self-described "misfits" captured that elusive crown in 2010.The Tigers' flop finished off a season in which Cabrera became baseball's first Triple Crown winner since 1967. Detroit overtook the White Sox in the final week to win the AL Central and wound up 88-74, the AL's seventh-best record.NOTES:Detroit 2B Omar Infante broke his left hand when he was hit by a pitch from Santiago Casilla in the ninth. ... Theriot and Laird had a nice reunion at the plate. They were St. Louis teammates last year when the Cardinals won the title. ... Laird started after Alex Avila was scratched. Avila's right arm was still sore after being hit by a foul tip in the opener. ... Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, was at the game. ... Cabrera has reached base in all 24 of his postseason games with Detroit. ... Only two of the last nine World Series have gone longer than five games.

The Warriors have rest of NBA scrambling, shuffling, trading, posturing

The Warriors have rest of NBA scrambling, shuffling, trading, posturing

OAKLAND -- For the Warriors, the NBA Draft was about two things: Waiting for the right time to buy the rights to a player they love and being entertained, for the fourth consecutive day, by the earnest efforts of the league’s underclass.

Not that they would put it quite so impolitely.

“It’s a competitive league. All we do is try to get better,” president/general manager Bob Myers said late Thursday night, insisting that the Warriors are too immersed in their own challenges to look down their noses at the other 29 teams.

But the truth is inescapable. This is the week that touched off the flailing of franchises feeling particularly feeble and futile in the wake of Warriors destructive run through the postseason.

The Warriors were 16-1, the best record in NBA postseason history. Their average win margin, 13.5 points, is No. 2 all time. They demolished LeBron James and the Cavaliers in The Finals, after the Cavs had annihilated all comers in the Eastern Conference. Part III of The Trilogy was by far the most lopsided.

And the Warriors followed that up by buying a second-round pick to get, by most accounts, a first-round talent in Oregon’s Jordan Bell.

[POOLE: Warriors stay ready, strike gold amid the 2017 NBA Draft scramble]

The rest of the league is determined to fight back and, therefore, is scrambling and shuffling and trading and posturing in an effort to close the gap on the champs. Those teams, staring up at the Warriors, have to do something to feel productive today while trying to keep their fans from giving up on tomorrow.

No team did more draft-night hustling than their neighbors in Sacramento, who after using their No. 5 pick to select the player they coveted most, Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox, traded the No. 10 overall pick to Portland for Nos. 15 and 20, choosing North Carolina forward Justin Jackson and Duke forward Harry Giles.

The 76ers chose Markelle Fultz, believing he is the final piece to assembling the best young team in the East. The folks in Philly, who avoided the team for nearly a decade, suddenly are on board, buying 14,000 season tickets -- a franchise record.

The Lakers grabbed UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, who will generate an enthusiasm missing at Staples Center since the best days of Kobe Bryant.

The Timberwolves and Bulls completed a major trade, with Minnesota getting All-Star guard Jimmy Butler in exchange for guards Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, with the teams also swapping draft picks.

This all followed several moves made earlier this week, beginning with the Cavaliers dumping general manager David Griffin precisely seven days after being run over by the Warriors in The Finals.

Griffin’s dismissal preceded by a day the Hawks trading once-imposing Dwight Howard to the Hornets, as well as the Lakers dealing D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Nets for All-Star center and Stanford product Brook Lopez.

Meanwhile, as the Warriors examine their various free-agent contingencies, so much more is percolating around the league:

-Trade talk swirls about Pacers All-Star forward Paul George, who is destined to get out of Indiana, perhaps sooner than later.

-The Cavs are searching, so far without much success, for a team willing to engage in serious negotiations regarding power forward Kevin Love.

-Knicks top executive Phil Jackson, committed to a mission of unknown purpose, announced he’s now willing to shop 21-year-old wunderkind Kristaps Porzingis.

-The Spurs are ready to move on from LaMarcus Aldridge and Danny Green.

-The Clippers -- already with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and JJ Redick set to become free agents -- reportedly are willing to ship out DeAndre Jordan.

-The Rockets seemingly are ready to swap anybody not named James Harden.

-And the Celtics also are known to be on the market, though that is not unusual when Danny Ainge is sitting in the corner office.

The Warriors are the cause for such a mad frenzy, and the sight of their competitors making mad dashes toward their respective futures is the effect. They are two cuts above and that’s tough to take in a league of men who may not mind losing but do not care to be humiliated.

“We never looked at it as far as catching anybody, or people catching up,” Myers said. “Our job is to try to get better each day. And whether that’s through personnel, coaching, developing our players or us in the front office learning and growing.

“I guess I don’t view us as ahead of everyone,” he added. “I know it’s been mentioned by everybody else, but once you start thinking that, you’re in trouble. You’ve to start believing and keep pushing.”

Warriors stay ready, strike gold amid the 2017 NBA Draft scramble

Warriors stay ready, strike gold amid the 2017 NBA Draft scramble

OAKLAND -- Considering their status as reigning champs without a pick, members of the Warriors personnel department could have turned out the lights and left team headquarters to watch the NBA Draft from a nearby tavern.

They instead stayed in business mode Thursday night, observing the draft-night chaos up close, waiting for the right moment and the right player.

And for the second consecutive year, the Warriors paid a team for its 38th overall draft pick, sending a reported $3.5 million to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for the rights to Oregon big man Jordan Bell, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.

“Everybody we talked to had a lot of good things to say about him,” president/general manager Bob Myers said. “He’s one of the few guys we looked at and really wanted to see if we could get. I actually was not optimistic we would be able to get him. But somehow it came to fruition.”

Myers added that the Warriors, along with many mock drafts, projected Bell as a first-round pick.

Bell led the Pac-12 in field-goal percentage (63.6) while shooting almost exclusively in the paint. The 6-foot-9 center/forward was sixth among Pac-12 rebounders at 8.8 per game and 13th in steals at 1.3 per game.

The Long Beach Poly High product possesses a wingspan a fraction shy of 7-feet and bears, by some accounts, a resemblance to Draymond Green inasmuch as he is a defense-first player with a deep reservoir of energy.

It’s a comparison that Bell, asked about it, embraces.

“Draymond, because people always say I’m undersized,” Bell told Basketball Insiders last month. “He’s one of those players you can’t really say what position he is, but he’s a force on defense.”

Moreover, Myers cited Green as one of the players best suited to mentor Bell.

“Draymond is a good one,” the GM said. “He’s not afraid to tell players what he thinks. He’s going to be a good teacher.”

Bell in three seasons became the Ducks’ all-time leader in blocks. He blocked eight shots in a Midwest Regional win over Kansas that sent Oregon to the Final Four. He became during the NCAA Tournament the first player since Hakeem Olajuwon (in 1985) to snag at least 12 rebounds in five consecutive tournament games.

“Defending is one of my best attributes,” Bell told Basketball Insiders. “Being able to switch 1-through-5. Play small ball. Blocking shots. Timing. Decision-making on offense.”

These are the characteristics that prompted the Warriors to put a red-letter “B” next to Bell’s name on their draft board -- even though his offensive skills are unrefined.

“We love his ability to defend,” Myers said. “He could probably defend most positions, and in the NBA that’s huge. To be able to switch pick-and-rolls, rebound, block shots, finish, there are a lot of boxes he checks.

“ . . . We just like the way he plays basketball. We’ll find a place for him.”

The Warriors also are closing in on a deal for one of Bell’s Oregon teammates. Forward Chris Boucher is expected to sign a two-way contract with the team.

“That’s something we’re trying to move toward,” Myers said of Boucher, who is rehabilitating an ACL surgery.

“But we like players that win. We like players that can play. I don’t care what school they are or what their background is, or what position. Winners. That’s what we’re trying to do, is win. If we end up getting that done, that’s another player that was on a very good team.”