Cheering Miller, Lamenting King


Cheering Miller, Lamenting King

Jon Miller is an amazing talent, a gracious man and a deserving recipient of the National Baseball Hall of Fames Ford C. Frick Award.

Still, Mondays news that Miller will take his well-earned place in Cooperstown, N.Y., this summer, was bittersweet for me.

Bill King also was an amazing talent and a gracious man, and he would be every bit as deserving of the Frick Award as is Miller.

Sadly, it appears as though King, who passed away in 2005 after 25 years of calling As games, will never receive the games highest honor for broadcasters.

One of my most cherished memories as a professional is that of Bill pulling me aside after hearing some of my rookie-year work at KNBR.

Youre already good on the air, and youre going to get better, he told me, his wiry hand tightly gripping my forearm.

But dammit, stop saying, Ya know! Youre driving me @&! crazy. Youre a fine writer, Mychael. Dont bastardize the language just because the radio allows it. Youre better than that.

That a living legend took the time to offer constructive, colorful criticism meant the world to me. And of course, he was right. I was being lazy. And youll never hear me say those words again, all because of Bill.

Thats just a tiny example of what made him a Hall of Famer as a person, but he was a million times better behind a microphone. And thanks to the As and their web-savvy fans, King was among the 10 finalists for the Frick Award a couple of times in the recent past.

But he didnt even make the finalist cut this year or last, and the old adage is true: out of sight, out of mind.

Probably forever -- at least when it comes to baseball.

Its an absolute shame, because King is the best, most complete broadcaster the Bay Area has ever known. And while he might have been even better at football and basketball than he was at baseball, he was Hall of Fame good at the national pastime as well.

Dont take my word for it. Heres what Lon Simmons -- a Frick Award winner himself, one of Millers idols and a former radio partner of Kings -- told me in 2008:

"I've voted Bill No. 1 on every ballot I've had," said Simmons, who, as the 2004 Frick honoree, is part of the committee that selects the annual winner. "When you think of play-by-play, you have to think of Bill King as one of the best there ever was. ... He certainly has all the qualifications.

I was friends with Bill for a long time and I was on the air with him for a long time, and I really do believe he belongs in the Hall of Fame. He should get in there.

He probably wont, though, so I hope Miller at least gives him a nod when he steps up to the podium in upstate New York later this year.

The mere mention of Kings name at Cooperstown will have do for those of us who grew up convinced that no night was complete without hearing at least one Holy Toledo!

-- Mychael UrbanWhat's on your mind? Email Mychael and let him know. He may use it in his weekly Mailbag.

Raiders counting heavily on lightning rod CB against Patriots


Raiders counting heavily on lightning rod CB against Patriots

MEXICO CITY – The Raiders cornerback David Amerson didn’t practice all week, but ran just well enough to be considered “doubtful” for Sunday’s game against New England.

Translation: Outlook for Sunday is not good, but Jack Del Rio’s fingers remained crossed real, real tight. The Raiders hope there’s a way he can be active against Tom Brady’s buzz saw attack, because their cover men are beat up.

Amerson has missed two straight with a foot injury, and has dealt with injury all year. Gareon Conley’s season officially ended Monday, when he was placed on season-ending injured reserve. Antonio Hamilton and Demetrius McCray were already there.

Reggie McKenzie hasn’t reached out for reinforcements. That leaves TJ Carrie, Dexter McDonald and Sean Smith to play cornerback. Carrie’s been the rock, a sure tackler who hasn’t made spectacular plays but doesn’t give them up. McDonald has been forced into action, with holes let in his game.

Smith should be the No. 1 guy in this group, the steadying presence on the outside. That hasn’t been the case this year, where he lost a starting job in training camp and sub-package snaps during the season, only to have injuries to Conley and Amerson bring him in the fray.

He’s also been dealing with felony assault and battery charges in Los Angeles stemming from a July 4 incident in Pasadena.

Smith has been a lightning rod for fan criticism, a byproduct of his $9.5 million salary this year and explosive plays allowed early in the year.

If there’s an anvil weighing on his mind, teammates insist you’d never know.

“We’re human at the end of the day,” Amerson said. “You feel it, but you have to find a way to remain even keel and professional and do your job well.”

Smith will be counted on heavily Sunday against New England, especially if Amerson can’t play as expected. He has proven vulnerable to speed without help and proper disruption at the line of scrimmage, though that hasn’t been an issue lately because the Utah alum has recovered well after a rough start.

He got pulled after struggling against Vernon Davis in Washington. He didn’t play against the Chargers after giving up two huge plays to Baltimore the week before.

Amerson originally sprained his foot in Week 7 against Kansas City – he hasn’t played since – and Smith was called upon to respond. He wasn’t targeted in that game, and has been strong in coverage ever since.

Smith has allowed three catches for 12 yards in four targets over the last two games. The ninth-year veteran insists he wasn’t doing anything markedly different, and had zero interest in patting himself on the back for recent jobs well done.

“I’m not,” Smith said. “I’m out there doing my job, man, the best way I can.”

Smith says the off-field distractions during a roller-coaster season, one of his career’s most trying yet, haven’t impacted him much

“Nope. Not at all,” Smith said. “As long as I wake up a Raider, I’m all right. I’ll deal with whatever happens. I’ll always be there for my guys, and I’ll do whatever it takes to help our team win.”

Raiders defensive backs laud Smith’s locker room presence, saying he’s an excellent teammate. Cornerbacks in general must have a short memory when things go bad, to refocus and prevent that from happening again. Smith apparently has that in spades.

“I know how things go, especially when you have a target on your back,” Amerson said. “Sometimes you get hit with the perfect pass and you give up some plays. You can’t do anything about that but take advantage of the next opportunity. Sean’s a good player, and he definitely has that mindset.”

Smith will lend experience to this big game, something the Raiders need after suffering so many injuries.

"It sucks that so many of us have gone down,” Smith said. "You want to have all your guys out there, but that’s the NFL. Injuries happen. As long as everybody comes to work and acts like a pro, we’ll be all right. We all have a job to do. We all would like to start, but you have to be ready when your number’s called.”

Kevin Durant takes shot at Zaza Pachulia while center's kid play one-on-one


Kevin Durant takes shot at Zaza Pachulia while center's kid play one-on-one

Kevin Durant doesn't take it easy on anyone. Not even the children of teammate Zaza Pachulia.

After practice on Saturday in Philadelphia, Pachulia's two sons, Davit and Saba, were playing one-on-one at the facility the Warriors were using. Kevin Durant filmed one sequence and posted it to his Instagram Story.

One of Pachulia's sons grabbed the ball and drives around the other without dribbling. As he makes the shot, Durant offers his commentary and took a shot at the Warriors starting center.

"That's a travel. Such a travel. Same thing your pops do," Durant said, taking a shot at Pachulia.

Durant also had another message for Pachulia written on the video.

"Yo, @zazapachulia at some you have to teach the boys how to play off the bounce," Durant wrote.