Urban: World Series Live Playoff Blog, Game 1


Urban: World Series Live Playoff Blog, Game 1

UPDATED: 8:08 P.M.
Mychael Urban

SAN FRANCISCO Baseball, were told, has a way of evening things out.Tonights a pretty good example of that. Cliff Lee, prior to Game 1 of the World Series, had turned the playoffs into his personal playground, bullying opponents around the swing sets, the jungle gym and the balance beams.Tonight the Giants did the bullying, essentially slamming Lees jaw on the cement base of the drinking fountain as he leaned in for a sip.The Giants have been different-hero-every-night kind of team this postseason, but Freddy Sanchez hadnt yet gotten his turn.Three doubles tonight changed that. Two of them were huge.
And finally, it was the Giants who stumbled through the first couple of innings like 21-year-old sailors on birthday leave. But it was Texas Ian Kinsler who, in the top of the eighth inning, looked like the drunk when he rounded first on an infield single and had to just stand there as Aubrey Huff tagged him out.What goes around comes around, right? It sure did tonight.UPDATED: 6:14 P.M.
Its the fourth inning, and its incredible that the game is now tied.The Giants looked like nervous children in the first two innings, ceding a two-run lead to playoff god Cliff Lee in the process, and wow, did things look bleak.Top of the first, runner on third, roller up the line fielded by Tim Lincecum. The runner was caught too far off third, and Lincecum did the right thing by running him back in that direction. But dude, youve gotta give up the ball. Lincecum didnt, everyone was safe.
Amazingly, it didnt hurt the Giants. Freddy Sanchez brain-cramping in the bottom of the inning might have. On second after a double, he apparently was the only person in the park who thought Buster Poseys bloop was going to drop, and he got doubled off second to end the inning.Then, in the top of the second, with Bengie Molina at third base, Elvis Andrus hit a medium fly to center. Anyone else in the world, its an easy run. But it was Molina, who is to fast what Ochocinco is to humble.Torres throw was awful. Johnny Damon was probably watching at home thinking, I couldnt have thrown Molina out. And thats quite something. Molina was safe by a mile when he should have been out by a half-mile, and 2-0 led the Rangers.Now its 2-2, and it sure feels like the Giants dodged a bullet. They played some of their worst baseball of the year in the first two innings and got away with it.UPDATED: 4:40 P.M.Nuts. Thats what it is. Absolutely nuts.You cant move on Willie May Plaza. You cant move in the Public House. You cant move on the field during batting practice. The crowds, everywhere, are ridiculous. The World Series. In San Francisco. Are you kidding me?No, youre not. Because its real. There actually are women here with newborns wearing orange and black bibs.There actually are grown men waxing what they think is poetic about Aubrey Huffs thong. There actually are 20-something girls toting signs paying homage to a strangers facial hair, at the same time proposing marriage. The World Series does strange things to people.One bit of evidence of such: I ran into a man, in his early 50s, wearing a wedding gown. This is San Francisco, so I didnt bat an eye. But I had to ask. Dude, who you getting hitched with?Heres his answer: Nobody. Im in love with myself, with the Giants, with my city. And to tell you the truth, with myself again. I love myself. I love the Giants. And I love to feel pretty. So here I am.Ok, bro, Knock yourself out. But whats this dress got to do with the World Series? Duuuude, he said. Whats a wedding? Happiest day of your life, right? This is it. Happiest day of my life. Might as well wear the dress.

Jay Gruden anticipates Kirk Cousins returning to Washington

Jay Gruden anticipates Kirk Cousins returning to Washington

Quarterback Kirk Cousins is, perhaps, the top NFL player scheduled for unrestricted free agency in March.

But if Washington is unable to sign Cousins to a long-term contract before the start of the free-agent signing period, the club appears likely to place the franchise tag on him for the second year in a row.

Washington coach Jay Gruden appeared to confirm that suspicion on Tuesday while speaking to reporters at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

"We totally anticipate Kirk coming back to (Washington)," Gruden said via CSN Mid-Atlantic. "We're excited about parlaying two very good years as the starting quarterback with a third year and continue to watch him grow."

But does Gruden anticipate another team willing the pay the price it would take to acquire Cousins?

If Washington places the franchise tag on Cousins at approximately $24 million for one season, another team could sign him to an long-term offer sheet and pay the price of two first-round draft picks as compensation.

The 49ers – and presumptive head coach Kyle Shanahan -- are expected to be interested in acquiring Cousins. If the cost of two first-round draft picks is considered exorbitant, the 49ers could attempt to negotiate another deal with Washington.

Washington can end any possibility that the 49ers or any other team could acquire Cousins this offseason if they tag him as an exclusive franchise player at a cost expected to be slightly higher than $24 million.

Cousins, who turns 29 in August, started every game the past two seasons for Washington. In 2015, he completed 69.8 percent of his pass attempts while throwing 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions for a passer rating of 101.6. Last season, he finished third in the NFL behind Drew Brees and Matt Ryan with 4,917 yards. He averaged 8.1 yards per attempt and had a rating of 97.2.

Falcons C Mack explains what makes Shanahan's offense so effective

Falcons C Mack explains what makes Shanahan's offense so effective

The Atlanta Falcons had the highest scoring offense during the 2016 regular season, averaging 33.8 points per game, and they racked up 6,653 total yards.

In two playoff games, they've scored a combined 80 points.

The architect of that high-powered offense is Kyle Shanahan, who is the presumptive head coach of the 49ers.

So what makes Shanahan's scheme so effective?

Falcons starting center and former Cal Bears star Alex Mack answered that on ESPN's Mike and Mike show on Tuesday.

"He does a really good job of just having a very balanced offense. We want to run outside schemes. we want to run outside zone, we want to be really effective at doing that. And when a team stops you from doing that, when they put people over there, or they slant out or whatever they do to stop that, he has the backup plan," Mack said.

"He knows exactly when they bring that safety down to make it really tough to run outside zone, well that's going to open up some throws later down the field. And then when they put someone out there on the throws, well, there's a bigger cutback lane, so he calls a different run for that. So our offense is really built around being balanced and having an answer for what the defense wants to do to stop us," Mack continued.

Mack, Shanahan and the Falcons are set to put their No. 1 scoring offense to the test against the Patriots' No. 1 scoring defense in Super Bowl 51 in Houston on Feb. 5, 2017.