Urban: Sunday was microcosm of Giants' season


Urban: Sunday was microcosm of Giants' season

September 5, 2011


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Mychael Urban

Whomever is charged with putting together the DVD highlights of the 2011 season can save themselves a lot of time and editing by simply copying Sunday's death knell of a loss to the Diamondbacks.It was the season in a nutshell in virtually every way.It started with a little magic, just as the season did, what with all of those riveting comebacks and tense triumphs. Cody Ross' leadoff homer in the first inning put a charge into sellout No. 72 for the year.It featured, as has the season as a whole, more than little brilliance on the mound, and it was fitting that on Sunday it was supplied by the surprising Ryan Vogelsong. He was terrific for seven innings.Eventually, though, every one of the Giants' problems this season came to the fore. RELATED: Nail in coffin? Giants crumble, D'Backs win series
The failure to advance runners, to cash in those rare opportunities to give the pitcher some breathing room.The same stubborn refusal to sacrifice an out with a bunt, one of the game's most basic but vital skills and largely ignored all year.
The inability to come up with the kind of defensive play that separates champions from also-rans.And finally, the pitching buckling late under the pressure of having to be perfect. Arizona's four-run uprising in the eighth inning was almost comically predictable, turning what should have been a victorious and uplifting afternoon for Vogelsong into yet another disheartening loss.Just like that, less than 48 hours after Matt Cain had given the Giants a glimmer of hope with his latest I'm-the-man masterpiece, the season felt as though it had ended.It isn't officially over, of course. Twenty-two games remain. Yet as badly as their fans would like to point to historical precedents, and to the 2010 season as an example of this team's unwillingness to fold like pup tents, the Giants are at least pouring water on the campfire and packing their trash.Seven games back? Might as well be 17. There's been nothing in the past two months to indicate that the defending champs won't soon be putting that well-traveled trophy back into its case once and for all, and start facing facts.These are the facts: You can't sustain the kind of magic they enjoyed in April, May, June and part of July through the end of July, August and September.
August was not an aberration. It was the month in which the injuries and age finally caught up, and September is the month in which the focus must shift to how to get younger, healthier and better in 2012.October? Likely to be spent at home, staring at that unopened DVD, wondering how badly it's going to hurt to see it all boiled down to that one ugly game when the season effectively ended.

A's lineup: Alonso returns for opener against Marlins

A's lineup: Alonso returns for opener against Marlins

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Marlins-A's coverage begins at 6pm with Pregame Live on NBC Sports California and streaming right here.

After missing four games, Yonder Alonso is back in the lineup as the A's begin a series against the Marlins Tuesday night.

Miami Marlins:
1. Dee Gordon (L) 2B
2. Giancarlo Stanton (R) RF
3. Christian Yelich (L) CF
4. Marcell Ozuna (R) DH
5. Justin Bour (L) 1B
6. J.T. Realmuto (R) C
7. Derek Dietrich (L) 3B
8. J.T. Riddle (L) SS
9. Ichiro Suzuki (L) LF
Jose Urena -- RHP

Oakland A's:
1. Rajai Davis (R) CF
2. Mark Canha (R) RF
3. Jed Lowrie (S) 2B
4. Khris Davis (R) LF
5. Yonder Alonso (L) 1B
6. Ryon Healy (R) DH
7. Stephen Vogt (L) C
8. Trevor Plouffe (R) 3B
9. Adam Rosales (R) SS
Jesse Hahn -- RHP


Bowman guarantees he will not be odd-man out of 49ers' competition

Bowman guarantees he will not be odd-man out of 49ers' competition

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers’ biggest free-agent acquisition on defense and one of the team’s first-round draft picks play the same position.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said he is holding off on thinking about how everything is going to play out this season at the linebacker position.

“I really try not to envision it too hard because I see a lot of good players there,” Shanahan said Tuesday during the 49ers’ first week of organized team activities.

The 49ers awarded weakside linebacker Malcolm Smith guaranteed money as an unrestricted free agent totaling approximately $12 million. Then, on the first day of the draft, the 49ers’ No. 3 rated prospect experienced a free fall, and the club traded into the back end of the first round to select him.

While Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster has been sidelined through the offseason program as he recovers from shoulder injury, he figures to compete with Smith for the starting job. Foster will also learn middle linebacker, where NaVorro Bowman has earned first-team All-Pro honors in four seasons.

Bowman looks to be nearly all the way back from a torn Achilles that limited him to just four games last season.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen,” Shanahan said. “Seeing Bow out here and how healthy he’s been, knowing we’ve added some good free agents, and the way the draft worked out, having a linebacker we had ranked very highly fall to us at the end of the first round. We got a lot better pretty fast.

“When you ask me how it’s going to play out, I’m not sure. It’s a good problem to have. It’s something you’d like to have any every position. There’s going to be a very good player who’s not out there all the time. That’s not a bad thing. That makes the two guys who are out there go a lot harder and play better. It makes special teams better and it allowed you to survive injuries, which almost always happen.”

Bowman’s vision for the upcoming season includes him retaining his role in the middle of the 49ers’ defense.

"I won't be on the sideline, I'll tell you that right now,” Bowman said.

Bowman said he was not fazed with the 49ers selected Foster in the first round. Foster is likely considered the heir apparent to Bowman.

Shanahan called Bowman after the selection of Foster was made, but Bowman said he did not need to speak with the coach about why the selection was made.

“I wasn’t expecting it,” Bowman said of the phone call, “but it was good to hear from him, to see that he had something to say or an idea of what he wanted to get across to me.

“But we haven’t talked about it. I did that on purpose. It doesn’t matter to me. I’ll compete with anyone, whether he’s 21 or 35. It doesn’t matter. I’m a guy who’s going to give my best effort and have full confidence in my abilities to play this game. I know how much I study this game. I know how good I am and that’s what was going to bring back here.

“It’s always a competition. There’s always someone trying to take your spot. As a player, if you keep that in mind, you’ll always put the work in that’s needed.”