Urban Interaction: Taking all questions

Urban Interaction: Taking all questions

As part of our ongoing effort to engage and interact with as many members of the Bay Area sports community as possible, every Friday morning I'll be trolling through my e-mail, selecting a handful of submitted questions, and answering with no-holds-barred opinions and insight. Most people call this type of content a "Mailbag" or an "Inbox." We just call it another cool way to rap with fans. Keep the queries comin'.Email MychaelHey Mychael, great to see you back online. I'm a huge A's fan and was bummed when I heard you'd left the beat, but now I see you're covering them for Comcast. I assume you'll be doing Giants stuff, too, and baseball in general. What kind of coverage, though? Just columns, or will you do news and notes and game stories, too?
--Rick P., Lodi, Calif.Having covered the big leagues exclusively for the past decade, baseball is my primary area of expertise, and I'll still be providing virtually every type of coverage of the A's and Giants I've provided elsewhere. Working on the TV side for post-game shows figures to prevent me from doing traditional game stories, but being at CSNBayArea.com will allow me the time and freedom to go much deeper into team-related stories than I've ever had.We're also going to create new types of content that will bridge the gap between players and fans; I can't give away any trade secrets before we unveil these bad boys, but trust me -- you've never seen anything like it on the web. And the great thing about said creative new content is that it translates across all sports. We'll use it for everything we cover, and as much as I love baseball, I'm pretty jacked to go back to covering the "other" sports, which I did for the first 10 years of my career.I'm a Bay Area guy, born and raised. I grew up as a fan of every team in the region, and I grew up to eventually cover every team in the region. So when you're sending in questions, by all means come strong with baseball all you want. But I can get into the respective futures of JaMarcus Russell, Alex Smith, Don Nelson or the merits of the "C" on a hockey sweater with equal enthusiasm. And if I don't have a good answer for you, I'll tap into the expertise that's coursing through the halls of our offices and get one for you.And hey, if you want an opinion on Tiger, LeBron vs. Kobe, Sid the Kid vs. Alex O., NCAA hoops, whatever bring it. This is your one-stop shop.You get to be the Giants' GM for one hour. You get three phone calls. Who do you call?
--Cameron J., Hayward, Calif.First I call Bill Neukom and ask him to conference in Larry Baer. Saves me from burning a second call. Then I explain to them how badly the team needs not just an impact offensive player, but a player with whom Giants fans are somewhat familiar and have seen do some serious damage. I add that it'd be nice if the player were a prince of a man, a positive clubhouse influence who might ease the pain among the team's Latin players in the wake of wildly popular Juan Uribe's departure, and highly marketable. I tell them that player is Miguel Tejada.Then I call Tejada's agent and make him an offer he can't refuse. Two years, 16 million? Fine. Heck, Edgar Renteria costs more than that. Miggy needs more? Fine. Hey, I'm out of a job in an hour, anyway. I'll overpay.Then I call Kung Fu Panda and tell him he's a first baseman. Miggy's at third now.That should take about 48 minutes. For the next 12 minutes, I cruise the halls and swipe as much schwag as possible.What are the chances of this Michael Taylor kid the A's got in the Brett Wallace trade making the team and starting out of spring training?
--Lyle F., San Rafael, Calif.First of all, he won't make the team if the A's don't plan to start him right away. He's turning 24 on Saturday, and at this point in his development, he has to play every day, whether it's in the bigs or at Triple-A Sacramento.What are the chances? I'd say decent, because I hear he's a potential beast, but you never know how a kid's going to handle the kind of hype that's going to follow him into camp. And to have any chance at all he's going to have to go off in Cactus League play if the A's are still carrying Scott Hairston and Travis Buck at that point.Oakland didn't exactly steal Hairston from the Padres in that midseason trade, so they're going to want to get some bang for their buck -- not Buck -- out of it. That means getting some production out of him while delaying the start or Taylor's arbitration clock, and flipping him elsewhere when it's financially safer to promoter Taylor.Where does that leave Buck? I have no idea. Personally, I think Buck could be a very good big leaguer if he got another chance to play on a regular basis, but a lot of the moves the A's have made in the past year suggest that they don't agree with me at all.Was it a mistake by the Giants to not make a harder run at re-signing Brad Penny?
--Vicki L., Dublin, Calif.That's difficult to answer because I don't truly know how hard their run was, but I don't think what he got from the Cardinals (one year, 7.5 million plus 1.5 mil in possible incentives) is something that should have scared anyone off. I'm guessing a second year might have brought Penny back, but I've heard the G's didn't want to go there.The problem with not bringing back Penny, whom I think probably overperformed for the Giants but still would have been a valuable member of the 2010 staff as back-end starter, is that it appears to have taken Jonathan Sanchez away as a potential trade chip. I've heard that the Dan Uggla deal with Florida might have been done if the G's were open to parting with Sanchez, but with Penny gone, Sanchez can't as easily be moved.I was never a monster fan of the Uggla thing, anyway, by the way. He's obviously got pop, and the Giants could use his bat, but he's an absolute butcher on defense. I've heard the nod the plan with Uggla on board was to move Freddy Sanchez to third, but that would have weakened two defensive positions on a team that needs to give its pitching all the defensive help it can get.I heard the "Moneyball" movie is back on. Is it the good script that ends with Scott Hatteberg's homer and Billy Beane turning down the Red Sox job, or is it the snoozer than I used to read when I couldn't sleep?
--Tim R., Rocklin, Calif.I'm pretty sure it's the former, and it better be. I've read both scripts, too, and I couldn't agree with you more. The re-write was awful. The first version, though, was terrific. I covered the A's during the season that's depicted in the script, and it's pretty true to life. Certainly there's a little editorial license used, such as the presence of a soda vending machine in the clubhouse to pound home the point that the A's are somewhat frugal, but that's Hollywood.There is not a soda machine in the clubhouse, of course. And the truth is, the A's aren't as cheap as you think. I just got a lovely holiday card from the public-relations staff, for instance, when they totally could have gone the e-card route. And they do have free hot dogs in the press box. The Yankees charge for that.

Four players score in double figures, Stanford takes down Oregon State


Four players score in double figures, Stanford takes down Oregon State


STANFORD -- Even though Stanford has been buried in the lower half of the Pac-12 standings all season, Reid Travis isn't so sure his team is an underdog against No. 6 Oregon.

That might be a stretch considering the Ducks are making a run at the conference title but that didn't seem to matter to Travis.

"The way we're playing now is great for this time of year," Travis said following Stanford's 79-66 win over Oregon State on Wednesday. "I feel like we're really taking off. Even though our record doesn't reflect it I really do feel that we're one of the top teams so take that as you want to."

Travis had 17 points and eight rebounds to lead four players in double figures. Marcus Allen also scored 17, Dorian Pickens added 15 and Robert Cartwright had 10 as the Cardinal beat the Beavers for the 21st time in the last 23 games between the two teams at Maples Pavilion.

Stanford (14-13, 6-9 Pac-12) led by as many as 25 but had to hold on after Oregon State (5-24, 1-15) pulled within 74-63 with 3:28 left on JaQuori McLaughlin's 3-pointer.

Allen and Pickens scored back-to-back buckets for Stanford, and after Stephen Thompson's putback for Oregon State, Pickens made a 3-pointer.

"We're pointing in the right direction on both ends of the floor," Allen said. "Guys are getting good looks . and on defense we're more active. Hopefully that continues."

Drew Eubanks had 21 points and 14 rebounds for Oregon State. Gligorije Rakocevic added a season-high 16 points for the Beavers, who couldn't follow up after beating Utah last week for their first conference win of the season.

Stanford built a quick double-digit lead despite a strong start by Rakocevic. The 6-foot-11-foot center, averaging 3.8 points going into the game, matched his season high in the first half while scoring 12 points on 6 of 8 shooting.

The Cardinal countered with a more balanced attack after adjusting to the Beavers' zone defense. Travis, Allen, Cartwright and Pickens combined for 32 points in the first half to help Stanford take a 43-33 lead.

The Cardinal also controlled the boards while outscoring the Beavers 46-22 in the paint.

"For us to be at our best we're going to score from the free throw line, like we did in the Cal game, or score around the basket," Stanford coach Jerod Haase said. "Smash-mouth is a football term but if it was a basketball term I think that would be a good word for us."

Travis got Stanford going again after halftime and helped push the Cardinal lead to 69-44.

Eubanks nearly brought Oregon State back. He scored 17 points in the second half, including 13 of the Beavers' first 20.


Oregon State: The Beavers hopes of winning back-to-back games for the first time since beating Prairie View A&M and Texas-San Antonio to open the season didn't last long. They didn't play poorly - Oregon State shot close to 47 percent most of the night - but couldn't match Stanford's run coming out of halftime and never recovered.

Stanford: The win pushed the Cardinal into a tie for seventh place in the Pac-12, still nowhere near enough to get a first-round bye in the conference tournament. The outcome was never in doubt, but Haase was concerned about Stanford's mental approach.


Eubanks and Travis were both hit with technical fouls after a heated exchange in the second half. Although no punches were thrown, Eubanks suffered a bloody nose during the incident and had to be treated near the Beavers' bench.

"We're trying to go at each other as hard as possible so of course there's different plays where a lot of contact happens," Travis said. "I like that. That's how competitors act and we just moved on from it. Unfortunately they called a technical on both of us. I'd like to see us play on in that sense."


Oregon State: Plays at California on Friday night.

Stanford: Hosts No. 6 Oregon on Saturday in the final regular season home at Maples Pavilion this year. The Ducks beat the Cardinal 69-52 on Jan. 21.

Cal blows huge halftime lead, dropped by Oregon on Brooks' game-winner


Cal blows huge halftime lead, dropped by Oregon on Brooks' game-winner


BERKELEY -- Dylan Brooks hit a 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds to play to cap a comeback from 16 points down and No. 6 Oregon beat California 68-65 on Wednesday night to keep its hopes alive for a Pac-12 title.

The Ducks (25-4, 14-2) trailed by 16 points early in the second half and were down 10 with just over 4 minutes left before rallying for the win that moved them a half-game behind Arizona for first place in the conference. Oregon holds the tiebreaker.

Brooks led the Ducks with 22 points and Chris Boucher added 18.

Jabari Bird scored 20 points to lead the way for the Golden Bears (18-9, 9-6), whose hopes for an NCAA Tournament berth were dealt a big blow with this loss.

Consecutive 3-pointers by Boucher, Dylan Ennis and Payton Pritchard cut Cal's 10-point lead to one with just under 3 minutes left. Boucher then gave the Ducks their first lead of the game with a layup that made it 62-61 with 1:48 to go.

Grant Mullins and Brooks traded jumpers before Bird missed a contested 3-pointer with 28 seconds to go. Tyler Dorsey hit one free throw before Ivan Rabb tied the game with a putback of his own miss with 9.7 seconds to play.

That set the stage for Brooks, who hit the 3 that set off a wild celebration for the Ducks.


Oregon: The Ducks finished the season undefeated at home where they have a nation's best 42-game winning streak. They need to prove they can win away from home if they want to have success in the postseason. This comeback win was a start but the task will only get tougher in the Pac-12 and NCAA Tournaments.

California: The Bears had been seeking a signature win to boost their hopes for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. But they blew the lead and a chance at that win as they fell to 1-6 against ranked teams with the only win coming last month at then-No. 25 USC. Cal could get another shot at a top team next month in the Pac-12 Tournament.


Oregon: Visits Stanford on Saturday.

California: Hosts Oregon State on Friday.