The future is now for Athletics
Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .
The pressure to win right now is on the Oakland Athletics. The A’s are no longer the underdogs. General manager Billy Beane sent a clear win-now signal to his team on Thursday by trading slugger Yoenis Cespedes to the Boston Red Sox for pitcher Jon Lester. If the A’s do not at least get to the World Series this October, the trade is a failure for the A’s.
Lester is a three-month rental for the A’s. Cespedes was under contract through 2015.
But give Beane credit. Cespedes, a big money player who doesn’t walk, was never really a Moneyball-Billy Beane type of player anyway. Beane is going for it. He knows as well as anyone that legitimate chances to win a World Series don’t come along often in Oakland.
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A couple of Nevada Wolf Pack football predictions to keep in mind with the season just 29 days away: The Wolf Pack will get its first 30-point victory in almost two years on opening day against Southern Utah on Aug. 30 and the Pack will get just its second victory since 1998 against Boise State on Oct. 4. Yes, we know the Pack is just 1-13 against Boise State since 1998 and that one victory (2010) took a miracle. But Boise is not Boise anymore and the game on Oct. 4 is at Mackay Stadium at night. The Pack has played Boise State at home at night just once before. And a miracle indeed took place.
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Boise State might not be the Boise State that thrilled the nation from 1999-2012 but it’s still the model program for a non-BCS Conference school. The Broncos are what the Wolf Pack hopes to become on and off the field. Everyone knows what the Broncos have done on the field. Two BCS bowl games. Eight seasons with less than two losses in a 10-year span (2002-11). A first or second place finish every year since 1998. A dozen 10-win seasons in 14 years (1999-2012). Bowl games in 14 of the last 15 years. But they are also the model off the field. A lot of programs tell their fans what colors to wear at home games. The Broncos get so much support they even tell their fans what colors to wear on the road. They will be wearing orange on Oct. 4 at Mackay, by the way. Pack fans better buy tickets for Oct. 4 before the Boise fans fill half the stadium.
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Aces Ballpark was the site of one of the best baseball fights in recent memory last Saturday night. The Reno Aces and Albuquerque Isotopes emptied their benches and bullpens and threw some of the best punches seen in northern Nevada since Jack Johnson and James Jeffries squared off more than a century ago. The base brawl also featured the best helmet throw (by Albuquerque’s Erisbel Arruebarrena at the Aces’ Mike Jacobs) in northern Nevada since Quincy Sanders took aim at Chris Ault two decades ago. All of the internet videos and the television coverage do not do the fight justice. There were some violent punches thrown only those seated behind home plate could see.
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The incident gave northern Nevada its most national sports coverage since the Mackay Miracle over Boise State in 2010. Lost in all the coverage, though, is the fact the Aces, which pride themselves on their so-called family atmosphere at Aces Ballpark, had been celebrating Christmas in July that night. They gave out Archie mascot snow globes at the gate and Santa was on the concourse greeting young fans while the players were punching each other in the face on the field. The fight is the last thing Little Leaguers need to witness. The incident was ugly enough but it could have easily gotten uglier. The Aces were lucky the netting behind the plate didn’t come loose and allow the fighters to spill into the crowd. And it was fortunate Arruebarrena immediately dropped his bat and didn’t go Juan Marichal on Aces catcher Blake Lalli’s head.
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The Oakland Raiders would be fools to leave Oakland for San Antonio. Leaving Oakland is not such a bad idea but San Antonio? Yes, it’s true the Raiders already have San Antonio Spurs colors but why go to a state where you would be just the seventh or eighth favorite football team behind the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, University of Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, Texas Tech and Odessa Permian High School? If the Raiders really want to leave the Bay area they need to repeat history and head back to Los Angeles.
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Vin Scully, who announced this week he will return for his 66th season with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015, is the greatest sports announcer we’ve ever known. Scully’s secret is he treats the game, the players, his listeners and the moment with the utmost respect. He doesn’t yell into the microphone. He’s the same whether the Dodgers are winning 10-0 or losing 10-0. He doesn’t rely on cheap gimmicks like ESPN anchors. He does his homework and informs his listeners. He doesn’t treat players like they are the greatest or worst human beings on the planet. Other organizations build statues of their heroes and put them in and around their stadium. The Dodgers let him broadcast their games.