Athletics

NBA Hall of Famer passes away

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NBA Hall of Famer passes away

From Comcast SportsNet
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Ed Macauley, one of the NBA's first big stars who won a championship with the St. Louis Hawks and was traded by the Boston Celtics for Bill Russell, has died. He was 83. Saint Louis University announced Macauley's death on Tuesday. The school had no other details. "Easy Ed" was a standout player with the Billikens, leading them to the 1948 NIT title. Macauley was elected to the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 1960. A native of St. Louis, he was a territorial pick of that city's Basketball Association of America franchise, the Bombers. He played there for one season and then was selected by the Celtics in a 1950 dispersal draft. Macauley played for the Celtics from the 1950-51 season until 1955-56. He and the draft rights to future Hall of Famer Cliff Hagan were traded by Boston to the St. Louis Hawks on April 29, 1956, for the rights to Russell, a move that changed the power structure of the NBA. The Celtics went on to win 11 titles with Russell dominating in the paint. After the deal, Macauley and the Hawks faced Russell and the Celtics in consecutive NBA finals. Boston won in 1957, then the Hawks took the crown in 1958. The 6-foot-8 Macauley, who had his No. 22 retired by the Celtics, played three seasons with the Hawks before retiring with a career average of 17.5 points per game. He was a seven-time All-Star, six of the appearances with Boston. He was the MVP of the first NBA All-Star game in 1951. He coached the Hawks for two seasons, compiling an 89-48 record with two playoff appearances. Macauley scored 24 points as Saint Louis University, which finished with a 24-3 record under first-year coach Ed Hickey, beat New York University in the 1948 NIT championship game at Madison Square Garden. Three days later, the team arrived at Union Station by train and was greeted by 15,000 fans for a parade. "It was like a fairy tale," Macauley told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "St. Louis never had seen anything like that. But we didn't really feel special. It was family, all those people, and you don't feel special with family." The next season Saint Louis, with Macauley starring inside, was ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press poll. He was a first-team All-America selection as a junior and senior. He still ranks 10th on Saint Louis' career scoring list with 1,402 points. After his basketball career ended, Macauley worked as an investment banker and a television sportscaster. In 1989, he co-authored a book about writing homilies. When he got his star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame in 2003, he told the story about how he got his nickname when he was a sophomore at Saint Louis. "It was the first time I was appointed captain," Macauley said. "We dressed in the basement of West Pine Gym and it was my role to lead the team from the basement locker room through the door. "But nobody followed me when I ran down the court and made a layup. Then I heard people shout, 'Take it easy, Ed.' I didn't realize it, but they were playing the national anthem. That 'Easy Ed' nickname helped me get a lot of attention."

A's rookie Olson stays humble during record-breaking power surge

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A's rookie Olson stays humble during record-breaking power surge

OAKLAND — Matt Olson is aware of the company he’s keeping in the A’s record books.

His reaction is a mix of reverence and a shrug-of-the-shoulders type humbleness.

That’s the personality of the A’s rookie first baseman. Even as the conversation about him and his awe-inspiring home run pace grows louder, he remains the same steady, grounded presence.

“I’m happy for him,” A’s hitting coach Darren Bush said. “The guy’s worked his butt off. He’s the same today as was when he first got called up.”

Olson cleared the fences once again Friday night, his two-run homer off Nick Martinez in the second inning helping the A’s to a 4-1 victory over the Texas Rangers. At this point, it’s much more newsworthy when Olson doesn’t homer than when he does.

He’s crammed 24 homers into just 57 games this season. Taking into account his first call-up last September, and Olson’s 24 homers over the first 68 games of his career are the second-most in the history of major league baseball over that span to open a career. The Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger also hit 24 and only the White Sox’s Jose Abreu, with 25, hit more over his first 68.

Olson’s 13 homers in September are the most by any rookie in major league history for the month, and there’s still eight games left in it. But Olson’s hot streak dates back to Aug. 27. He’s hit a major league-best 16 homers in 23 games since then.

Among rookies in A’s history, only Mark McGwire (49) in 1987 and Jose Canseco (33) in 1986 have hit more than Olson’s 24. But neither Bash Brother, nor any other player in Oakland history, ever hit 15 homers in a 21-game span as Olson recently did.

“It’s definitely an honor,” Olson said before Friday’s game. “I grew up with a Mark McGwire poster on my wall. It’s a little surreal.”

Who saw this coming?

Olson went 2-for-21 without a single RBI in his first taste of the bigs last September. Then he shuttled five times between Triple-A and the majors this season before getting called up once again Aug. 8 and being told he’d get a shot as the A’s regular first baseman with Yonder Alonso having been traded. The constant shuttling took its toll, though Olson never let on about that publicly to reporters.

“You could see (the frustration),” said Ryan Christenson, his manager at Triple-A. “When he walks in and you tell him ‘You’re getting sent up,’ and he’s like, ‘Well, how many days is it for this time?’ He wouldn’t voice it necessarily, but you could sense it.”

Olson, with help from Bush and others, made an adjustment coming into this season. He began holding his hands out farther away from his body to begin his swing. With his 6-foot-5 frame, Olson had found himself getting jammed inside. Then in trying to adjust to that, he couldn’t square up pitches on the outer half.

“Now, his hands are firing from where he wants them to,” Bush said. “He doesn’t have to fight. You want your hands to have a clean path. Now he can stay in there, stay behind the ball, let his hands work for him.”

Olson, a 23-year-old from Lilburn, Ga., takes this sudden burst of success — and attention — in stride.

“I’ve been hit with so many stats here in the past week, I can’t even keep track of who’s done what, and honestly what I’ve done,” he said. “I kind of try to ignore all that.”

That’s OK. Others are taking plenty of notice.

 

As Dodgers celebrate, Bochy turns eyes to franchise-altering talent

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As Dodgers celebrate, Bochy turns eyes to franchise-altering talent

LOS ANGELES — The Giants left their dugout quickly after Friday’s loss, escaping a celebration on the mound and a fireworks show in the sky. As Dodger Stadium shook with cheers, Bruce Bochy sat in the visiting clubhouse and smiled. He nodded at his laptop, which earlier had been used to pull up highlights of Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani. 

“He’s good,” Bochy said, laughing. “I absolutely would play him every day.”

Earlier in the week, when it became known that Bobby Evans and Jeremy Shelley were headed to Japan to scout Otani, Bochy said he couldn’t imagine a player pitching and then moving to the outfield between starts. What changed? 

Perhaps it was the tape Bochy saw. Otani throws 100 mph and hits homers with ease. Or perhaps it was the game he watched Friday. The Giants lost for the 94th time, with the big blow coming from a 22-year-old Dodgers star. Cody Bellinger’s blast was the difference in a 4-2 win, and the Giants don’t have a Bellinger, or anything close. Otani, 23, is a long shot for a team that very well could finish with the worst record in baseball. Still, he’s the kind of talent that could help pull the Giants closer in a hurry. He’s the  kind of talent they haven’t developed in years, and Bochy certainly sounded a bit wistful as he talked of the power Bellinger has put on display. 

“You call up a guy and he does that — that just doesn’t happen,” he said. “It’s a rare deal.”

The ninth inning of the Dodgers’ clincher reinforced that point for the Giants. They got a homer from Pablo Sandoval, but he’s playing only because Christian Arroyo — the Giants’ best prospect bet this year — is hurt. Ryder Jones, their 23-year-old prospect, struck out to end the night, dropping his average to .180. 

That set off a celebration for Bellinger and the Dodgers. They have won five straight NL West titles, with three of the last four clinched against the Giants. 

“Congrats to them,” Bochy said. “They’ve had a tremendous year across the board, and they’ve played great baseball. They brought some guys up that really did a great job for them. It’s well deserved.”

Bochy said it was not difficult to watch this one. The division has been wrapped up for months, with only a September slide keeping the Dodgers from clinching earlier. 

“We knew what we were facing here,” Bochy said. 

The Giants have two more against the Dodgers and then six more before a long winter. The Dodgers, on the other hand, will host an NLDS series here at Dodger Stadium. Both Bochy and starter Jeff Samardzija made the same observation, that the Dodgers will have a hard time cutting their deep roster down to 25 postseason players. 

That’s a nice problem to have. It’s a foreign one right now for the Giants, who have a serious talent gap and no clear solutions internally. It’s no wonder, then, that Bochy has all of a sudden become so intrigued by a wondrous talent overseas.