Giants explore ways to keep pesky seagulls away

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Giants explore ways to keep pesky seagulls away

July 29, 2011
GIANTS PAGE GIANTSVIDEO

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- For years, the San Francisco Giants' regular seagulls cooperated so nicely: They flocked to AT&T Park after the final out to scavenge for treats like leftover popcorn, pizza or garlic fries.Those gulls have become more pesky and plentiful of late, creating a problem for fans during games on occasion this season. So, now, the Giants are considering bringing in a resident falcon to help fend off the birds and keep them at bay out where they belong - above the bay."The gulls are more like your guests. They see a food source and opportunity. They're transient. There's a window of time they're around: they see it, they hear it, they smell it," said Jorge Costa, the Giants' longtime senior vice president of ballpark operations. "Most of the time they're up on the roof of the building, on the glove (in left field), on the light towers. When people leave, they come down."While the issue won't be solved by the time the defending World Series champions return for a 10-game homestand starting Monday, the Giants are working on it.Bringing in a falcon to nest around the ballpark is an expensive endeavor that requires budgeting, which might take until next year. Unless the problem persists and requires immediate attention.Costa declined to say how much it might cost. Other ballparks near the water have faced similar situations with seagulls. They even turn up across San Francisco Bay at the Oakland Coliseum after the Athletics play.This is right up there with the strangest things Costa has dealt with and studied in his 23 years with the Giants and 40 years in the stadium business - along with such serious issues as terrorist threats in the wake of Sept. 11 and the effects of weather and how grass grows and reacts.While the Giants have found humane ways to keep pigeons from roosting in their 12-year-old ballpark, the hovering gulls that come in from McCovey Cove and elsewhere are different. Their postgame snacking has long played a part in aiding San Francisco's extensive cleanup process in the stands after each game.But the 2011 crop appears to be growing impatient. And fans who pay lots of money for tickets and concessions don't like to be bugged by the unfriendly visitors in the middle of a ballgame.Studying bird behavior and various populations has become a new part of Costa's job description."This year we're seeing larger numbers of the seagulls, and sometimes they've not been stationary," Costa said. "There have been a couple of games this year when they've started swirling around while the game's still going on. It's not pleasant if they're dropping things and they're sitting there (with fans)."With the help of Wingmaster Falconry Inc., which states that it works "to provide our clients with the most effective, natural, humane methods available for pest bird abatement," the Giants are exploring their options regarding the falcons.If all goes as planned, the gulls get to the point where they can sense when the falcons are in the area and stay away.Birds of prey have often been part of the big league scene.The Minnesota Twins' Target Field attracted a male American Kestrel last year. He became a fan favorite and even generated a Twitter account with the username TargetFieldHawk and was named Kirby the Kestrel.In other baseball bird news, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said Thursday it was sending a thank-you note to Giants outfielder Cody Ross "for being a fine friend to the feathered."A press release from PETA - subject line: "Goose Abuse Makes Major League Champ Cody Ross Gag" - said that when Ross "learned that foie gras is made by shoving tubes down the throats of ducks and geese, often causing serious injuries, and force-feeding the birds until their livers become painfully engorged, he immediately decided to change ducks' luck and dump foie gras."

Sharks' Marleau strengthens his case for Hall of Fame with career night

Sharks' Marleau strengthens his case for Hall of Fame with career night

Whether Sharks all-time leading scorer Patrick Marleau is worthy of the Hockey Hall of Fame is a subject that can be hotly debated in sports bars throughout North America.

Monday’s performance in Colorado gave some major ammo to the side that argues in his favor.

Marleau had one of the greatest single game performances of his 19-year career, scoring four goals – all in the third period – of the Sharks’ 5-2 win over the Avalanche. 

How rare is four goals in a single period? It’s happened just 12 times, the most recent of which was Mario Lemieux on Jan. 26, 1997 at Montreal, according to Elias. Just five months later, a teenage Marleau would be drafted by the Sharks with the second overall pick.

Marleau spoke with NBCSN and CSN analyst Bret Hedican after the game.

“Everything seemed to click there in the third,” he said. “Some really good plays from a lot of different players. Was able to finish them off.”

What seemed to spark Marleau was a line change by coach Pete DeBoer to start the final frame, after the Sharks had managed just four shots in the second period, and 13 through 40 minutes. Marleau was taken off of the Joe Thornton-Joe Pavelski line, and put on the left side of the Logan Couture line, with Mikkel Boedker on the other wing.

Boedker’s hard work in getting the puck to the point resulted in Marleau redirecting a hard Marc-Edouard Vlasic pass to the front of the net to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish.

He scored three more from there: a wraparound, a two-on-one with Pavelski, and a breakaway.

Switching lines is not unfamiliar to Marleau, who has played up and down the Sharks lineup this season after spending most of last season as the third line center.

“I play a bunch of different positions. Over the years you get a little experience and you know how to handle those situations,” Marleau said of his versatility. “It was a fun period.”

Vlasic said: “He was everywhere in the first two periods, and all of a sudden he exploded in the third. … He’s fast, he’s skilled. There’s a reason he can score four.”

Marleau’s second goal of the night was the game-winner, and even that was a bit historic. It was his 96th career game-winning goal, and he’s now tied for 10th all-time in that category with Mats Sundin (courtesy Darin Stephens). He is already one of just three players to have a game-winning goal against 29 other teams (Sundin, Brendan Shanahan), after getting one against Philadelphia on Dec. 30.

Four of Marleau’s five career hat tricks have come on the road, including his most recent one, also at Colorado on Nov. 20, 2011. He is just the third Sharks player to record four goals in a game, joining Owen Nolan and Tomas Hertl, and is the first to do it in a single period.

Marleau now sits just three goals from 500 in his career. Reaching that milestone seemed like a tossup to start the year, but now it’s virtually inevitable that he’ll become just the 45th player to reach that lofty mark before the end of the season.

He remains, of course, the Sharks’ all-time leader in games played (1459) and points (1059).

It all adds up to a few extra strides towards that hockey cathedral in downtown Toronto.

Jazz finally explain how a team and city should co-exist, but rarely do

Jazz finally explain how a team and city should co-exist, but rarely do

Despite the planetary systems of evidence to the contrary, sometimes a sports owner understands the duties and responsibilities of the job and foolishly (read: admirably) acts in accordance with them.
 
In other words, there are more than a hundred owners across North America looking at Gail Miller and wondering if she is (a) nuts, (b) dangerous, (c) evil, or (d) all the above, with oak leaf clusters.
 
Gail Miller owns the Utah Jazz, having taken the basketball team over upon the death of her husband Larry in 2009, and will do so until she turns it over to a legacy trust of family members who will be required by contract to reinvest any and all profits generated by the NBA franchise back into the care and upkeep of the team (h/t Aaron Falk of the Salt Lake Tribune).
 
That is, as opposed to turning the profits into a bank for the family, or a way to get rich before selling the franchise to someone who moves it to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland or Zagreb.
 
In other words, she has set up a system by which the team will almost surely stay in Salt Lake City for decades to come, as opposed to playing arena blackmail, city blackmail or other kinds of popular ownerly games. No whining, no sniveling, no milking the citizens without their consent – why, by modern ownership standards, this is a scandal.
 
All because of an antiquated notion she clings to despite all rationality – the right thing to do.
 
Compare and contrast the events in our own local burgs, and shake your head in admiration.
 
In fairness, there are tax advantages for her and her family in doing this, and the bar for decency is so low that getting tax breaks for not doing something despicable seems like an entirely equitable deal.
 
Nevertheless, her decision to keep the team (a) in the family and (b) in the city where they reside is such a stunning development that it took more than a year of fevered negotiations with the NBA to make sure that what she chose to do would meet with the league’s approval.
 
“We worked with the NBA for probably more than 12 months trying to put together a package that satisfied the NBA's needs for financial covenants, eventual opportunities for participation in management and the governance,” team president Dennis Haslam said. “It took a long time, but we got there.”
 
Larry and Gail Miller bought the Jazz for  $22 million 30 years ago, which are currently valued at a hair beneath $900 million. In other words, the family has done reasonably well by the city, and the city by the family. And the annual profits are more than sufficient to keep everyone living in spectacular comfort.

But what she has done is introduce a foreign concept to modern wealth. Enough money for everyone.

“The Jazz are not our family's team,” son Steve Miller kind of fibbed, because it remains the family’s team. “They are a community asset. They are the Utah Jazz.”
 
Even allowing for the discordant nickname that has endured for those 30 years, again despite all logic, the Jazz have finally explained what the relationship between a team and its town ought to be, and almost never is. Owners long ago decided that their teams were theirs and only theirs, and the fans to whom they pay lip service in exchange for all the money their fans pay them have come to know that love unrequited is just a scam with free T-shirts.
 
The people of St. Louis, San Diego, Oakland and whoever is next in the discard bin have discovered that loving a team is typically an act of misplaced faith.
 
But Salt Lake City got the right owner, one who knows what the true debt really is, and how best to repay it. Gail Miller is not a hero, but she is someone who gets how sports is supposed to work, which is frankly a much rarer thing than mere heroism.
 
If she drinks, she’s earned one – even if all she did was momentarily shame her financial compatriots by showing the kind of loyalty that usually ends up only going the other way.