Thursday, June 24, 2010

Giants' Linceum looking more like his freakish self in latest start

Earlier this month, it looked as if the Giants’ Tim Lincecum might need a new nickname. The Freak’s fastball was hovering around a very un-freakish 90 mph. Almost everyone in the big leagues – freaks and non-freaks alike -- can hit 90 on the radar gun.

Some wondered if Lincecum had a dead arm or if sadly, at just 26, the two-time NL Cy Young award winner had lost the sizzling fastball that, combined with his small stature – just 5-foot-11 and 170-pounds with his pockets filled with rocks -- made him so unusual.

But when Lincecum took the mound Tuesday at Houston, he started pumping 94 mph fastballs, one after the other, at the Astros in the early innings. He even hit 95 on the radar gun.

Giants fans can breathe a bit easier. Lincecum’s latest start showed that his loss of velocity likely has more to do with mechanics than arm issues. He still has work to do on that mechanical front, but in the early going Tuesday, Lincecum got into a groove, and his fastball had some of its old electricity. If he could do that one day, he can certainly do it again.

I loved the fact that catcher Bengie Molina kept calling for a heavy dose of fastballs. Too often this year, Molina and Lincecum have fallen too deeply in love with his change-up and curveball. Granted, they’re great pitches, and they’ve helped him rack up many of his best-in-baseball 113 strikeouts, but it’s Lincecum’s fastball that sets the tone and sets the stage for his off-speed pitches.

When it comes to the fastball, it’s a matter of use it or lose it. Lincecum’s far too young to become overly reliant on off-speed pitches. He’s got to keep pumping fastballs and get back to being The Freak. Tuesday’s start was a great sign.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Warriors' Cohan putting finishing touches on his tarnished legacy as team owner

Warriors owner Chris Cohan put the for-sale sign up months ago. Apparently, he’s having a fire sale before he turns the team over to a yet-to-be-determined new owner.

On Monday, the Warriors traded down 10 spots in the second round with Portland – swapping the 34th overall pick for the 44th – and pocketed $2 million in the deal.

Then on Wednesday they shipped small forward Corey Maggette and that second-round pick to Milwaukee for guard Charlie Bell and center Dan Gadzuric.

That was a great deal – for the Bucks.

Maggette averaged 19.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists last season. For his career, his numbers are 16.6, 5.1 and 2.2.

Bell’s career numbers? Try 8.9 points per game, 2.4 assists and 2.2 rebounds. Gadzuric has averaged 4.9 points and 4.5 rebounds.

Then there’s the fact that Maggette was the Warriors’ only legitimate small forward. Of course Cohan could care less. He’s got one foot out the door and faces bigger problems from the IRS, which is after more of his money.

Warriors fans can only hope Cohan doesn’t order GM Larry Riley to trade Monta Ellis for two re-treads and a vault-full of cash before he sells the team.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pac-10's plans thankfully go up in smoke

The Pac-10’s plans to mega-expand to 16 teams imploded this week, and I’d say that’s cause for celebration.

It’s been sickening to watch the Pac-10 join what’s become an insane pursuit by conferences throughout the nation of television money at the expense of tradition and geographical reality.

Nothing says “Pacific” like Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

Thankfully, those teams turned down the Pac-10’s invitation, most likely because they figured they could make more money if they stuck together and saved the Big 12. There are few if any saints in this ongoing story.

The Pac-10 has already added Colorado, and there’s apparently a good chance it will add Utah. That would give them 12 teams, the minimum required to break into two divisions and hold a Pac-10 football championship game. And yes, that’s another decision driven by the pursuit of TV dollars. But at what cost?

The Pac-10’s oh-so-fair round-robin football format is dead. That format produced truly legitimate champions because every team played every other team each season. Now, some teams will have easier schedules than others and, most likely, one division will turn out to be easier than the other – which is one of the problems Big-12 football has faced.

You have to wonder when this mad scramble will end. Are conferences going to continually raid each other, year after year, and continually re-align?

Who knows? Maybe one day Florida, Florida State, Miami, South Carolina, North Carolina and Duke will be part of the Pac-24 Southeast.