David Carr? Yeah?

March 9, 2010

So the 49ers decided to get involved in the free-agency-without-a-cap-year-hoopla and signed……David Carr. The San Francisco 49ers, everybody:

The 49ers will have a new backup quarterback in 2010 with David Carr agreeing to terms Sunday for what is believed to be a two-year deal, according to a source close to the Carr family.

Forget that the secondary sucks and your already putrid offensive line has managed to get worse with the departure of average-at-best Tony Pashos. Let’s focus our efforts on a backup quarterback with the same flaws as our starting quarterback.

It’s just a little bit bizarre. David Carr’s not terrible or anything. He’s just a lot like Alex Smith. Disappointing #1 pick engineered to manage a deep-ball game but without the arm and too many errant throws to actually make it work. Effective at times in a pinch but has never proven to be able to play consistently well.

He’s redundant. Shaun Hill at least offered a change of pace from Smith. Hill, limited as he is, executes a productive enough short-range game. He should be the kind of quarterback Mike Singletary embraces, a workman who hands the ball off and can manage an offense when asked.


So, yeah, he’s just of no particular use. It’s curious that the 49ers front office would even bother to look into David Carr, let alone actually go out and sign him. Just when you think they might start making some sense they throw a head-scratcher at you. Not a difference maker, not necessary, just kind of spinning your wheels.

The media guys agree with me too. Ray Ratto:

After a day of seemingly meaningless jousting, the 49ers and Carr agreed to a deal Sunday that dooms Shaun Hill but in no other way makes San Francisco materially better. Now that he’s signed, Carr becomes nothing more than the new Hill, only Alex Smith is an easier hurdle to clear than Eli Manning was for Carr last year.

I don’t really think fans should be mad over rising ticket prices like Ratto. I think the current regime has shown enough commitment to turning things around, and enough signs of hope now exist, that they can raise the prices some if they so choose. But I don’t understand such a move without merit.

And Tim Kawakami:

And now that they have come to terms on a two-year deal with Carr, the 2002 No. 1 overall pick instantly becomes the flash point to larger questions: What are the 49ers doing at quarterback, and what makes them think Carr is a partial solution?

They can’t duck it: The 49ers have opened themselves to the scrutiny.

They’re the ones who lauded Hill’s leadership and game-management skills seven months ago, then declared that Smith was a natural long-term starter.

So what do they do? Woo and land Carr, who has all the tools but, so far, none of the NFL success or true grit.

Nobody seems to understand it. It’s pretty perplexing.

Photo by flickr user FLC and republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Cold fatigue

February 10, 2010

One of the toughest things for me to deal with around this time of year is what I like to refer to as cold fatigue.

As a west coaster, I’m used to December, January, and February sucking. Those are the winter months, after all. But in the middle, sometimes end, of February you start to see those  kind of light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel kind of days that make you believe Spring is mercifully on its way.

Not so in Boston. Those do not exist. Not in February, at least. February is cold and it sucks. And then March is cold and it sucks. And then April, really, is largely cold and miserable.

It’s awful, I tell you. You associate March Madness with sunny T-shirt days and all of a sudden you make the brilliant decision to go to school on the east coast and all of that’s thrown out the window.

most pictures of winter and snow make it look majestic and inviting. not this one, this one gets to the heart of it. cold sucks.

My own charming self-pity aside, you probably wonder how this relates to Bay Area sports. Well, tenuously, really, but I do have a point here.

At this time of the year for Bay Area sports, and really sports in general, you get kind of a similar cold fatigue. The Super Bowl comes and goes, and you’re kind of left with the ho-hum portions of the NBA and NHL regular season.

Desperate for spring training to start, anxiously anticipating March Madness, and all you have to pass the time is the race for some of the most uninspiring playoff spots in all of professional sports – the bottom seeds in the NBA and NHL, where half the teams in the league make the playoffs anyway.

Like, congratulations, Miami, you made it into the playoffs despite being two games under .500, now go lose four games to LeBron James and enjoy your offseason.

And I don’t think sports cold fatigue sets in especially well in the Bay Area market, where, come February, you’re left with two of the most predictable teams in their respective leagues.

On the one hand, you have the Golden State Warriors (owners of a sparkling  13-37 record, putting them in an exciting race with Minnesota for second-worst in basketball) who you know are going to be bad. They’re bad every year.

Case in point: Golden State of Mind’s pre-game poll for Monday night’s game against Dallas asked fans whether they were rooting for the Warriors, and Don Nelson in his pursuit of basketball’s all-time coaching wins record, or Dallas, and the opportunity to ring another one up in the loss column as the Warriors chase second-to-last place to give them a better shot at landing Kentucky’s John Wall in the next draft.

The result? 63% of respondents (362 votes) were actively rooting against the Warriors just so they could improve draft position. The GSoM tone was equally optimistic:

You know the Mavs, you unfortunately know the Warriors too well. Hopefully the Warriors surprise us with a win. Don’t hold your breath though.

And then on the other hand you have the Sharks, who are remarkably good in the regular season year after year almost to the point where they’re boring. Especially since they flame out in the playoffs equally remarkably year after year.

It’s a little hard to get worked up about any regular season win with a team that has made it an annual tradition of racking them up  before they become most important.

So yeah, cold fatigue.

But at least pitchers and catchers report in 10 days.

Photo by flickr user turbulentflow and republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Normally I’d want to link to a few things to illustrate a woe-is-the-Warriors-post (lord knows there’s no shortage of material to reference), but this time I’ll stick to this weekend’s ESPN Weekend Dime, because there’s just so much juicy Warriors badness packed into one article I think it will suffice.

Exhibit A:

The Warriors, though, are adamant that there was never a shred of validity to the recent report out of Boston suggesting that a deal featuring Allen and Ellis was a legit possibility.

The safest assumption at this point? As mentioned earlier this season when the prospect of Golden State’s trading young Anthony Randolph was raised, teams would almost certainly have to be willing to absorb the contract of Corey Maggette (with nearly $31 million left on that deal over the next three seasons) to get an Ellis conversation started.

The Warriors, being the Warriors, are kinda sorta maybe shopping Monta Ellis around the league. Not to see what they can get, but to see if they can springboard Monta into a way of ridding themselves of the burdensome Maggette contract.

Mind you, this is a contract that was signed before last season. And in the second year of the deal, Maggette is basically having the best year of his career and performing as well as could be hoped for in one’s wildest dreams. And even still the Warriors not only cannot move him to a team that could use his services (many could), they would have to attach their best player to him in order to get out from under that contract.

This is how the Warriors operate. Maggette’s contract was odious when it was first signed, and it’s still bad now, even though it’s miraculously working out almost in a best case scenario. That shows profoundly poor judgment. The Golden State Warriors, everybody.

Exhibit B:

46: Monta Ellis’ 46 points Wednesday night in Golden State’s 110-101 defeat in Dallas represent the highest scoring output in a loss this season. Four other players — Kobe Bryant (Feb. 1), Chris Bosh (Jan. 20), Dwyane Wade (Jan. 6) and David West (Dec. 29) — have scored 44 points in defeat.

I don’t really have a ton to say about this. I think it kind of speaks for itself. Is there another team in basketball more likely to boast the player with the most points in a defeat this season?

And Exhibit C:

16: Houston’s 119-107 victory Tuesday night over Golden State halted a run of 16 consecutive games for the Rockets decided by fewer than 10 points. That was the longest streak of its kind in a whopping 27 years, dating to 1982-83 when Indiana played in 20 consecutive games decided by 10 points or fewer.

For 16 straight games, the Houston Rockets could neither be blown out, nor blow an opponent out. A remarkable stretch of time, really, for a pretty good team playing a pretty volatile sport, in terms of night-to-night outcomes.

That was the longest streak of its kind in a whopping 27 years

Reposted for digestion.

But yeah, the Warriors put a fixing to that right well like.

Is there a moral to the story of this post? Not particularly, other than that the Warriors are a miserable, miserable professional sports franchise and are not likely to be anything different for some time. Pointing out the latest examples of this reality is merely cathartic.

Being a Warriors fan is not, for the most part, a fun existence.

“For the most part” is also a bit of an understatement for a team that has made the playoffs once in the last 16 years in a league where half of the teams make the playoffs every single season.

In a recent Sports Illustrated article the Warriors were named the NBA’s Worst Team of the Decade and owner Chris Cohan is routinely lambasted as being among the worst in all of professional sports.

The shame of Golden State’s decade was that it built several promising teams only to see each one self-destruct — including the inspired No. 8 seed that knocked off the No. 1 Mavericks in the first round of the 2007 playoffs. The Warriors had an energized fan base and a big-spending owner in Chris Cohan, which only made the endless dysfunctionality all the more bitter.

There has been, at least during my brief lifetime, very little reason to ever put any hope into this franchise. Yet I continue to put my weight behind them because, well, because my parents decided it’d be better to raise me in Northern California and move from LA when I was 3, thus denying me a happy lifetime of rooting for the laughably more successful Lakers.

But maybe those fortunes could turn around in the near future. America’s third richest man, for the first time, expressed public interest in buying the Warriors yesterday, after his interest had been rumored for some time (did I just link to Market Watch in a sports blog? Oh you bet I did):

At a public event held at Oracle’s Redwood Shores, Calif. headquarters, Ellison responded to a plea from an audience member that he buy the Warriors by responding: “I’m trying, I’m trying.”

“Unfortunately, you can’t have a hostile takeover of a basketball team,” Ellison quipped.

our savior

Normally I’m kind of reflexively anti-corporate. It’s just my nature, I suppose. And you don’t get much more major of a corporation than Oracle.

But would I disregard all of that and throw it out the window without the slightest of hesitations if it made the Warriors – for once! – a consistently good basketball team? A team one could be proud to be a fan of? Where the season isn’t ostensibly over after the first 25 games and you’re looking forward to the Draft Lottery seven and eight months before it’s even to take place?

Absolutely. Abso-freaking-lutely.

That also appears to be the sentiment shared by the folks over at the Warriors World message board where the topic of Larry Ellison, potential Golden State Warriors owner, is lighting up the switchboards.

The guys at Golden State of Mind are rooting for it too. Their poll is at a resounding 547-13 vote in favor of Mr. Ellison.

But, this being the Warriors. It’s probably too good to be true, because Chris Cohan is a mean old man who likes to crush my most modest of dreams (via CSNBayarea’s Matt Steinmetz):

Warriors team president Robert Rowell quickly downplayed Wednesday’s comments by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison about the software billionaire’s desire to buy the Golden State Warriors.

Rowell spoke exclusively to CSNBayarea.com shortly after Ellison confirmed his interest in purchasing the Warriors, the first time Ellison has made his intention known.

“I’ve been hearing this for years,” Rowell said. “At some point in time, the media speculation will become a reality. But right now, there’s not much to this.”

Well, hey, he said at some point it would become a reality, right? That’s something. And if it seems like I’m grasping at straws, it’s because, well, I’m a Warriors fan. It’s all we know how to do.

Photo by Thomas Hawk and republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Some rights reserved.

There is no more appropriate team for this to happen to than the Oakland A’s. Per Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi, who first reported it this afternoon:

Rob Fai isn’t surprised that Oakland A’s prospect Grant Desme is ending his baseball career to enter the priesthood.

The timing? To him, that’s the shocking thing.

Desme is leaving the game at a time when his fortunes seemed to be rising fast. He batted .288 with 31 home runs and 89 RBIs in 131 games last year. Then he starred in the Arizona Fall League, where some of the game’s top prospects compete. He likely would have started this season at Class AA.

Grant Desme

A little background, first: Desme was a second round pick way back in June 2007, back when America was still an innocent place, free of Sarah Palins and recessions and governments that were trying to give you health care, and up until last season that was all that was really worth noting about him.

Having managed to play just 14 games combined in 2007 and 2008 due to injuries, God smiled on Grant in 2009, and Desme broke out by hitting 31 home runs, stealing 40 bases, and doing  just about everything on a baseball field that makes a baseball player productive.

So instead of continuing to do awesome baseball things on a baseball field, Grant has decided to directly return God’s favor, and become a priest.

I guess it could be worse, if you were of the pessimistic mind on Desme, like ESPN’s Rob Neyer, you probably weren’t expecting great, great things out of Desme anyway:

The point is that Desme wasn’t a sure thing — not a Grade A prospect. He was a Grade B prospect, or maybe a B+ for the people who really loved him. The A’s need star hitters if they’re ever to get somewhere, and Desme didn’t look like a future star.

So that’s some consolation, I guess. He was a prospect not without his flaws, and he was not the best of Oakland’s prospects. But priesthood? As a baseball fan, that’s kind of a tough pill to swallow, especially when your team’s offense stunk as much as Oakland’s did last season.

Perhaps most interestingly, though, is the discussion this has sparked around parts of the web like Athletics Nation and Minor League Ball about whether or not this is the “right” decision on Desme’s part.

It’s not often sports and religion collide so fascinatingly like this.

Desme is about as close to the majors without actually being there as one can get, and is surely passing up gobs more money he would have made in baseball than he will through priesthood. Some people conclude he’s being foolish. It’s not exactly the same decision I would make.

But I tend to agree with John Sickels’ take at Minor League Ball:

I’ll say this about it: I have a lot more respect for this than I do for people who thank God for helping them make the touchdown or win the big game. Grant Desme is showing genuine courage today, doing what he thinks is the right thing no matter what the rest of the world says.

So good for Desme.

But man, it would have been nice to have a 30-home run power outfielder that could swipe a bag or two. Only in Oakland.

Photo by Chris Lockard and republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Some rights reserved.