Urban: Bochy Bolsters Panda's Confidence

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Urban: Bochy Bolsters Panda's Confidence

June 29, 2010

URBAN ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEOChat withMychael from thestart of the 4th inning through the end of the 6th inning of Tuesday'sGiants-Dodgers game!Mychael Urban
CSNBayArea.comA great many Giants fans likely looked at Bruce Bochys lineup for Tuesdays tilt against the Dodgers, saw Pablo Sandoval in the No. 3 spot and slapped their foreheads. A few WTF?!? Tweets or texts to friends might have immediately followed.Given the Kung Fu Pandas quasi-cartoonish struggles of late, thats an understandable reaction. But take a step back from it all and youll see that this isnt a head-slapper at all.Its a stroke of managerial genius by Bruce Bochy.
Look, we all know that Sandoval hasnt been hitting like a true No. 3 hitter since April. And most agree that a sense of urgency -- the playing of hot hands -- should carry the day for Bochy right about now.But we also know, or should, that managing or coaching any professional sport at the highest level is as much about managing egos and personalities as it is about talent, lineups and strategy.Sandoval batting third, a night after (a) taking Giants out of an almost-sure run with the worst baserunning mistake seen in these parts since Ruben Rivera, and (b) being lifted for a pinch hitter with the game in the balance in the bottom of the ninth, was Bochy smartly acknowledging the baby-sitting aspect of the job.This is a 23-year-old dealing with failure for the first time in his baseball life, remember, and Monday night was pretty much rock bottom. Sitting him on the bench Tuesday or batting him in the bottom half of the order again would have been the absolute worst thing to do for the kids waning confidence.Whether it pays off on the field or not -- Sandoval actually had a hell of an at-bat to get on base before his brain cramp and had a solid night at the plate in general -- it will pay off in the clubhouse, in the dugout and in the managers office whenever Sandoval might next be summoned.The message Tuesday, from Bochy to Sandoval, was this: We still believe in you. I still believe in you. We need you. We trust you. We love you.It might sound a little sappy for some, but its part of the failure-based game of big-league ball. Sometimes, as the leader of highly paid men, you have take care of someones head even if your heart is saying something else.

Warriors, Cavs to square off in ultimate NBA Finals trilogy

Warriors, Cavs to square off in ultimate NBA Finals trilogy

The Trilogy has arrived.

The Warriors. The Cavaliers. Facing each other in the NBA Finals for the third consecutive postseason. The series begins June 1 with Game 1 at Oracle Arena.

With a 135-102 victory over the Celtics Thursday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cavs advance to face a Warriors team riding the wave created by being the first club in NBA history to start the postseason with 12 straight wins.

With the teams splitting the first two Finals, the Warriors winning in 2015 and the Cavs prevailing last June, this one is to break the tie.

In the meantime, both teams have done some significant retooling.

The Warriors last summer added four-time scoring champion Kevin Durant, along with veterans JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia and David West.

Though LeBron James remains the hub of the Cavs, the team made several in-season changes, most notably adding veterans Kyle Korver and Deron Williams.

The Warriors came into the playoffs having earned the No. 1 overall seed by virtue of their NBA-best 67-15 record. They’re 27-1 since March 11, having ended the regular season by winning 15 of their last 16 games before taking out Portland, Utah and San Antonio in four games each to reach The Finals.

The Cavaliers (51-31) held the top seed in the East for most of the season before staggering over the final six weeks, going 9-12 over their final 21 games, including four consecutive losses to end the season.

Cleveland seems to have recovered from its late-season slump, sweeping Indiana and Toronto in the first two rounds before ousting the Celtics in five.

The Warriors and Cavs split two games in the regular season, each team winning on its home floor. Cleveland took a 109-108 decision on Christmas Day, while the Warriors came back for a 126-91 on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Oakland.

The NBA Finals schedule can be seen below. 

Game 1 – Thu  June  1  Cleveland at Golden State          6:00PM  

Game 2 – Sun  June  4  Cleveland at Golden State          5:00PM  

Game 3 – Wed  June  7  Golden State at Cleveland          6:00PM  

Game 4 – Fri  June  9  Golden State at Cleveland             6:00PM  

Game 5 * Mon  June 12  Cleveland at Golden State          6:00PM  

Game 6 * Thu  June 15  Golden State at Cleveland          6:00PM  

Game 7 * Sun  June 18  Cleveland at Golden State          5:00PM    

Dusty chooses son's graduation over Nationals game against Padres

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USATSI

Dusty chooses son's graduation over Nationals game against Padres

WASHINGTON — Dusty Baker will miss the Washington Nationals weekend series against the San Diego Padres to attend his son Darren’s graduation.

Baker said he will rejoin Washington when it begins a three-game series in San Francisco on Monday, near Baker’s offseason home. Bench coach Chris Speier will assume managerial duties against the Padres.

Baker’s son Darren is graduating from Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California. He’s committed to play college baseball at Cal.

As a 3-year-old bat boy, Darren was rescued from a potential home plate collision by J.T. Snow in Game 5 of the 2002 World Series between Baker’s Giants and the Angels.