Urban: Giants Road Trip Truly a Trip

163502.jpg

Urban: Giants Road Trip Truly a Trip

Sept. 26, 2010
GIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEOMychael UrbanCSNBayArea.com

DENVER -- Prior to departing for Chicago on Monday, it had been almost a year to the date since Id been on a multi-city road trip. I did the road thing for 10 seasons as an As beat guynational writer for my previous employer, and I have to admit that I didnt miss it at all during the first five months of the 2010 season.When the calendar turned to September, though, it was obvious that I needed to get back out there. The Giants are better than theyve been in years, and you simply dont have any credibility as a baseball writer -- or TVradio broadcaster -- if you arent with the team while its playing its most critical games.Thus, it was decided that I would accompany the team the rest of the way, starting with the series in San Diego a couple of weeks ago. And today, as the Giants play their final game of a six-game trip through Chicago and Denver, and their final road game of the regular season, I offer to you some of the highs, lows and in-betweens of the past week The Giants were off last Monday, and I got into the Windy City at about 9 p.m. local time. By 10:30, I had been hit up by no fewer than 35 people asking me for money, and most of them wanted at least 1. When did the begging rates increase? On Tuesday I toured Wrigleyville and was blown away by how many Giants fans were there. Im not talking transplants, either. These were people who made the trip from the Bay Area -- tons of them. I knew thered be a lot of Giants fans in San Diego, but all the way out to Chicago? Thats passion. The Giants won my kind of game Tuesday night, Matt Cain and Carlos Zambrano took turns shoving bats up butts, and Buster Poseys solo homer to dead center was the only run in a 1-0 final. In short, a nice little signal that its about playoff time. The Cubs won 2-0 the next night, and all of a sudden it was panic time again in relation to the Giants offense. Makes me wonder if the teams fans suffer from collective short-term memory loss. Its not like we havent seen this before. It was the 16th shutout loss of the year! One of the things I really wanted to do at Wrigley was check out the bleachers, but my ALL ACCESS press pass wasnt enough to get me out there. What a joke. Im still bitter. Weve seen this quite a bit before, too: The Giants bounced back with a 13-0 win on Thursday to claim the series victory. The Giants must have short-term memory issues, too, and it works rather well for them. Note to self: While staying out until 5 a.m. is absurdly easy to do in Chicago, it is not required. My professional idol is Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle. His father, Gordon Jenkins (about whom Bruce wrote a phenomenal book), was a brilliant musician who worked with, among others, Frank Sinatra. So imagine the rush it was for me to hang out with Bruce in a Sinatra-themed bar in Chicago, listening to Old Blue Eyes. Incredible. Friday brought with it my first-ever trip to Coors Field, and Tim Lincecum held the Rockies to two hits in a 2-1 victory. As I walked the six blocks from the ballpark to my hotel, I wondered, Whats the big deal? Coors Field is overrated as a launching pad. And then came Saturday. Oops. Is that humidor thing broken? You know what needs to be broken? Dingers legs. The Rockies Triceratops mascot somehow gets away with standing behind home plate and waving his stubby little arms while the opponents closer is in his windup. So bush league its ridiculous. But not as ridiculous as the notion of a mascot running around without pants and spinning his head like Linda Blair in The Exorcist. That thing is going to traumatize children in the Mile High City for life if he isnt stopped. Troy Tulowitzkis walkup song is Party in the U.S.A. by Miley Cyrus. Hey, when you hit a homer and drive in three runs every day down the stretch, you can pretty much get away with anything.

Reports: Bogut agrees to buyout with 76ers, considering four teams

Reports: Bogut agrees to buyout with 76ers, considering four teams

Andrew Bogut is reportedly searching for a new home.

The big man agreed to a buyout with the 76ers on Monday and is considering four teams for his next destination, according to The Vertical's Shams Charania.

Cleveland, Houston, San Antonio and Boston are reportedly in the running for Bogut's services.

On Sunday, ESPN's Tim MacMahon reported that two of his sources said they expect Bogut to sign with the Cavs.

Last week, Dallas traded Bogut to Philadelphia.

The Warriors are eligible to re-sign Bogut, but Golden State is looking to add a guard in the coming days.

Ahead of trade deadline, Sharks must decide on top line

hockey-generic.jpg

Ahead of trade deadline, Sharks must decide on top line

SAN JOSE – Less than 48 hours before the NHL trade deadline on Wednesday at noon, the Sharks’ brain trust has at least one important decision to make.

Are they comfortable rotating left wingers in and out of the Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski line, or should an upgrade be attempted via the trade market? There are a number of players said to be available that could provide the team with some forward depth and scoring punch ahead of the playoffs.

Seven different wingers have played on that so-called top line, none of them lasting more than one continuous stint there than Patrick Marleau from Nov. 21 – Jan. 3. 

In total, seven different players have started a game on that line, including Marleau (25 games), Tomas Hertl (13 games), Kevin Labanc (6 games), Mikkel Boedker (5 games), Timo Meier (4 games), Joel Ward (4 games) and Melker Karlsson (4 games). Injuries have played a role, of course, but it seems as if coach Pete DeBoer has been looking for someone to seize that position. 

Pavelski, though, didn’t seem overly worried about the ongoing alternation.

“We’ve had a few different players there, and I don’t think it’s a concern,” said the captain. “You’re always looking for chemistry and something set in stone if you can get it, but throughout a game, things change.”

DeBoer laid out what he’s looking for in a player to skate alongside Thornton and Pavelski, as well as the kind of player that wouldn’t fit in that role.

“You have to play [at Pavelski and Thornton’s] level and their work ethic,” said the coach. “They want the puck. They want to hunt the puck and want someone to get in there and retrieve pucks so that they can have possession. 

“I can tell you a guy who doesn’t fit would be a guy who is strictly a shooter, or kind of lets other people do the work and just goes to holes. They need somebody that’s going to work at their level and hunt the puck, so that’s got to be part of it.”

Labanc is the latest player to hold down that spot, starting there for the last four games and remaining there for Monday’s practice at Sharks Ice. Just 21 years old, Labanc has contributed a respectable seven goals and 18 points in his first 46 NHL games. Still, he hasn’t scored a goal in his last 22 games, and has just one assist and four total shots in the last four games.

It’s debatable whether the still-smallish Labanc is ready for the rigors of an NHL schedule on a full-time basis, which would make it dangerous for the Sharks to go into the postseason with someone like him in such a key position. DeBoer, though, praised the rookie’s recent efforts.

“I thought he’s done a good job. He’s got some of those [aforementioned] attributes,” DeBoer said. "He’s an offensive guy, [and] he thinks on their level offensively.”

Other teams in direct competition with the Sharks for a Western Conference title are adding pieces, particularly up front. Anaheim acquired scoring winger Patrick Eaves from Dallas, the Blackhawks brought in Detroit forward Tomas Jurco, and Minnesota gave up a haul to Arizona for center Martin Hanzal.

If the Sharks don’t make a move, they will likely go the whole season without bringing in a single player from the outside other than their young prospects. That would be unique, especially for a team that has championship aspirations.

Pavelski seemed to insinuate that he expects at least one body to arrive.

“Whoever we get, hopefully they’ll fill a little depth or add a little something, and we’ll go from there,” he said.

But if not?

“It doesn’t change anything if nothing happens, that’s for sure. We’re going to keep trying to get better.”