Kings' owners still undecided on team's future

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Kings' owners still undecided on team's future

April 22, 2011
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SACRAMENTO (AP) The future of the Sacramento Kings is headed to another overtime.Kings co-owner Joe Maloof said Friday that his family is still deciding whether to move the franchise to Anaheim, and he confirmed that NBA officials will be in Sacramento again next week to further research the city's viability.Maloof told The Associated Press he's "as anxious as anybody" to find out if Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson can deliver on his promises for more sponsorship support and finally finance a plan for a new arena. He denied reports the team has already made a decision."There's been no decision made," Maloof said. "As far as we're concerned, we're still looking at our options."The Kings have until May 2 to request permission to relocate, and a majority vote by owners is needed to approve any move. While Johnson has become increasingly optimistic that the team will remain in Sacramento next season, Maloof said the team still wants to know more information about the region's proposals.Part of that started to filter out this week.Johnson ended two days of meetings in Sacramento with NBA relocation committee chairman and Oklahoma City Thunder owner Clay Bennett and league counsel Harvey Benjamin. Johnson's desperate pitch to league owners a week earlier in New York was enough for NBA Commissioner David Stern to send out the "fact-finding team," and the mayor's proposals when they arrived swayed the league to dispatch more representatives next week.In the end, the Maloofs could still choose to put a vote before owners."I don't know that Kevin Johnson's meeting in New York swayed the NBA one way or another, but I think that the NBA next week is going to go into Sacramento to verify a lot of the promises Kevin Johnson made to the board," Maloof said. "There were various sponsorship promises and a promise to show the board, once and for all, how a new arena not only will be planned, but financed."For a league that usually rubber-stamps relocation requests, Sacramento certainly seems to have done all it can to fight back.Johnson presented more than 9.2 million in commitments for new advertising, ticket purchases and other financial support from regional businesses and other backers. He said that would help the Kings next season and allow the city more time to complete a plan to build - and finance - a new arena, which the cash-strapped city has refused to contribute public dollars toward for years.Once the meetings were finished, Johnson even rode with Bennett to the airport and said the league's relocation committee chairman - who moved the Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City three years ago - was impressed with Sacramento's latest presentation."They just said to us we delivered on what we were supposed to do," Johnson said, adding that he hasn't heard from the NBA or the Maloofs on a final decision. "It's not a done deal yet. I've heard a lot of rumors. But I don't think we're at a point by any means that we can declare victory."The league has no plans to send a similar investigative team to Anaheim.NBA spokesman Tim Frank confirmed officials will be back in Sacramento next week to continue studying Sacramento's proposals. The league offered no further comment on the meetings other than to say: "Clay Bennett had informative meetings with the mayor, elected officials and business leaders and will be reporting back to the Relocation Committee next week."Sacramento rolled out a purple carpet for the NBA while they could.The business community encouraged fans with all kinds of specials for patrons wearing purple. Everything from margaritas and sangrias to ice cream and popcorn were dyed purple and there were a slew of signs downtown and around the state Capitol asking the NBA for support."Stand up for Our Town. Our Fans. Our City," one poster read.It was hard to walk anywhere around Sacramento and not see Kings colors the past two days. A few dozen Sacramento supporters even rallied with signs outside NBA headquarters in New York, part of social-networking effort that took shape with even those no longer in Sacramento."I'm wearing purple cause we (are) trying to keep the Kings in Sacramento!" former Kings star and TNT analyst Chris Webber wrote on his Twitter page.There's also an effort led by a Sacramento political consultant to thwart a 75 million financing plan that Anaheim's City Council approved to lure the Kings to the Honda Center. In a letter to Benjamin, Sacramento political strategist Rob Stutzman said he will turn in more than 11,000 signatures to Anaheim officials Monday that supports a referendum to reverse the financing package, possibly forcing a public vote that wouldn't take place until June 2012.The Maloofs maintain they have no issue with the efforts by Johnson or Sacramento. They also don't believe their relationship in Sacramento is strained to the point they couldn't return."I think the Sacramento fans appreciate the Maloof efforts over the past several years," Maloof said. "We've spent several million dollars and hundreds of man hours in trying to find a solution for a new arena in Sacramento. It's not like we were there one, two, three, or even four years."We've tried and tried again, in conjunction with city leaders and politicians and city leaders. I think the fans will definitely welcome us back because we've been fair. The question I always ask fans is, 'What would you do?' We've been honest."

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

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Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- Practically speaking, the 50th loss is no different than the one before or the one after, but this sport is built on milestones, and this one came quickly.

The Giants lost their 50th game on August 12 last year. This season, it was clinched when Ryder Jones grounded out in his fourth career at-bat, handing the Mets a 5-2 win on June 24. 

Bruce Bochy called losing 50 of your first 77 games "hard to believe" and "embarrassing." Johnny Cueto, who went seven strong, said the reality was "hard and sad." Brandon Belt, who got Cueto off the hook for a loss, agreed with his manager.

"That's a pretty good word to use -- it is embarrassing to come out and lose every day, especially with the group of guys we have," Belt said. "When you're losing as much as this, it is embarrassing. We're trying to do whatever we can to turn this thing around."

Lately, that has meant changes to the roster. It is officially audition season, and in that respect, it was not a particularly inspiring day for the bullpen. The Giants felt they would have a better mix this year, but it hasn't played out. Instead, they're once again trying to find pieces for the next successful Giants bullpen.

With Hunter Strickland suspended and Derek Law in the minors, two young relievers, a middle-innings stalwart, and a newcomer pitched the final two frames. They gave up four runs.

Sam Dyson was the first on the mound in the eighth. Belt had homered a few minutes earlier, tying a good starter's duel. Dyson gave up a leadoff triple to Curtis Granderson and walked Asdrubal Cabrera before throwing two good sliders past Yoenis Cespedes for the strikeout. With two lefties coming up and the go-ahead run still on third, Bochy turned to Steven Okert. He immediately gave up a seeing-eye RBI single to Jay Bruce. Wilmer Flores doubled off George Kontos later in the frame to make it 3-1. 

In the ninth, Kyle Crick showed some of the wildness that kept him in the minors for seven years. He, too, gave up a leadoff triple, a sin you always pay for. A walk helped put another run into scoring position and a wild pitch extended the Mets’ lead to four. 

Before the game, Bochy talked of getting an extended look at Jones. He was 0 for 4 in his first big league game but he’ll be back out there tomorrow. It’s time to fight for a job, and the same holds true of some relievers who didn’t fare well Saturday. It is a group with a closer locked into a longterm deal and little else decided. 

Are Strickland or Law eighth-inning guys? Will Dyson be a worthwhile reclamation project? Will Kontos be back, and will he carve out a different role? Are Okert and Josh Osich capable of giving Bochy lefties he trusts? Is Crick’s improvement in Triple-A a sign of things to come? There are many questions to be answered over the next three months. 

“This is a good time for them, this is what players get up here for, to show what they can do,” Bochy said. “Because of our situation, we’re going to take a look at these guys and we know there are going to be growing pains.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 50th loss of the season

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 50th loss of the season

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — The promotion of an intriguing prospect can bring a certain buzz to the ballpark. It didn’t last long. 

The debut of Ryder Jones came in the latest flat performance from the Giants, who collapsed late and fell 5-2 to the Mets. The loss was their 50th of the season. They did not lose their 50th game last season until August 12. 

With the score tied in the eighth, Curtis Granderson crushed a leadoff triple into the alley. Sam Dyson walked the next batter and then whiffed Yoenis Cespedes, but Jay Bruce greeted Steven Okert with an RBI single to right. It kept going poorly from there. 

Here are five things to know from a cool day by the water … 

—- Jones grounded out to second in his first at-bat and then flied out to center, grounded out to first, and grounded out to second. He had one chance in the field, starting a double play that ended the second inning.  

—- Johnny Cueto seems to have turned a corner. Over his past two starts, he has allowed just three earned runs over 14 innings. Whether they trade him or not, the Giants certainly could use a nice little hot streak for the next six weeks. 

—- A few seconds after Bruce Bochy shook Cueto’s hand, Brandon Belt got him off the hook for a loss. He hit the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh into the seats in left-center, tying the game. The homer was Belt’s 14th. He’s on pace for 29. 

—- The Mets got eight one-run innings out of Jacob deGrom, who is quietly the most reliable of a star-studded rotation. He struck out seven and gave up just four hits. 

—- If Madison Bumgarner wants another Silver Slugger Award, he’ll have to chase down deGrom, who hit a homer in his last start. His single in the third was his 10th hit, and he finished the day with a .294 average.