Urban: Bay Ball news and notes


Urban: Bay Ball news and notes

Nov. 22, 2010


Mychael Urban

Joey Votto is the National Leagues MVP?Cody Ross got hosed!OK, maybe not. But thats the best we can do in terms of Bay Areabaseball conversation starters right now. Monday marked the start of whats typically a very quiet time onthe games calendar. From Thanksgiving week until the start of the annualwinter meetings, which this year will be held in Orlando, Fla.,Dec. 6-9, front offices tend to stay under the radar.Thats not to say there wont be any big news. There justwont be a torrential downpour; thatll come once the big-name freeagents start signing (i.e., setting the market for everyone else).For now, then, well have to make due with making sense of thesteady drizzle of rumors and roster machinations, including ... Oaklands stalled pursuit of Japanese pitching starHisashi Iwakuma. As first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle,talks between the As and Iwakuma, a 29-year-old righty, have hit a wall-- of cash. The As paid a posting fee of between 16-18million for the right to negotiate with Iwakuma for 30 days, and two weeks intothe process the sides are said to be worlds apart on proposed contract terms. Oaklandwont have to pay that fat fee if it doesnt reach an agreementwith Iwakuma, who apparently wants to be paid like an ace. The As,however, already have an ace in 18-game winner Trevor Cahill, and BrettAnderson and Gio Gonzalez have ace potential. Youve heard the adage that sometimes the best deals are thosethat dont go down? This might be one of them. And dont worry about that deal that Vin Mazzaro to the Royals acouple of days after the As won the bidding rights; that was more aboutlanding David DeJesus -- an excellent all-around player -- than it was aboutOaklands supreme confidence in signing Iwakuma.With or without the Japanese import, the As are going to have atremendous rotation in 2011, especially if Josh Outman is 100 percent in hisrecovery from the Tommy John surgery that cut short his breakthrough 2009season. If healthy, Cahill, Anderson,Gonzalez, Outman and Dallas Braden -- with Tyson Ross and Bobby Cramer asinsurance -- would represent the best 1-5 in the American League West.And with the 16-18 million posting fee, plus another 10 million orso for the actual contract, that Oaklandappeared to have earmarked for Iwakuma, theyll have a better shot attruly addressing the glaring need that is their dearth of power. The D-Trains never-ending quest for a return torelevance. Its a sad story, really. Dontrelle Willis was oneof the most charismatic players in the game when he burst onto the scene as arookie on FloridasWorld Series-winning 2003 team, but injuries and anxiety issues have sincerobbed him of his confidence and command.They havent robbed him of his love for the game, though. Thatmuch is obvious. And perhaps because of that charisma, teams continue to givehim chance after chance to find his once-funky, fantastic form. Hes a Tiger! Hes a Diamondback! Hes a Giant! Andas of Monday, hes a Red, signed today. All in the past six months alone. Good luck to one of Alamedasfavorite sons. Darren Ford avoiding time behind bars. TheGiants speedy outfielder entered a pre-trial intervention program that keepshim out of jail in connection with a November 2009 arrest for essentiallystealing 300 from the car dealership at which he worked and making up a storyabout it being taken from him at gunpoint.Ford, who provided one of the seasons more memorable momentswith his mad dash home in a big September win over the Rockies,declined comment after reaching a deal with prosecutors.The deal means Ford wont have a criminal record in his hometownof Vineland, N.J.,and thats probably a relief to Vinelandmayor Robert Romano. Last week, Romano gave Ford a key to the city. The unenviable task of Nick Paparesta.Whos that? The guy the As just hired as their head athletic trainer.And we can neither confirm nor deny that he sprained a finger reaching for thepen with which he signed his contract.
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Reports: Peters to speak on Marshawn’s behalf during appeal hearing


Reports: Peters to speak on Marshawn’s behalf during appeal hearing

First it was Marshawn Lynch coming to the defense of Marcus Peters. Now, it appears the Oakland native is returning the favor. 

The Chiefs cornerback will be speaking on behalf of Lynch during the Raiders' running back's appeal of his one-game suspension, according to multiple national reports. The appeal will take place on Monday.

Lynch was ejected in the second quarter of the Raiders' 31-30 victory over the Chiefs on Thursday night. After the Chiefs and Raiders saw themselves in a heated exchange from a controversial late hit by Peters on Derek Carr, Lynch ran off the sidelines and came to the defense of his close friend Peters with multiple Raiders going after the young defensive back. 

But in doing so, Lynch put his hands on an official and was immediately ejected from the game. He was then handed his one-game suspension on Friday.

“They can say what they want to say, but one thing’s for certain: Family do come first," Peters said to Logan Murdock of The Mercury News on Thursday.

FOX Sports was first to report the news.

Skal Labissiere showing signs of growth: 'The NBA is still super new to me'


Skal Labissiere showing signs of growth: 'The NBA is still super new to me'

The 2017-18 Sacramento Kings season is about development and finding a core to build around. De’Aaron Fox is already showing signs that he is the long-term answer at the point guard position, but the Kings need more than an army of one.

Buddy Hield, Justin Jackson and Willie Cauley-Stein are being given a chance to play rotational minutes early in the season, and flying under the radar is second-year big, Skal Labissiere.

Early in the season, Dave Joerger has relied heavily on veteran Zach Randolph for big minutes at the power forward position, but Labissiere is quietly building momentum. Three games is an extremely small sample size by any standard, but Labissiere is heading in the right direction.

“Whatever coach wants me to do, that’s what I’m going to do out there,” Labissiere told NBC Sports California’s Kayte Christensen after the game. “I’m just going to go out there and play hard and help this team get a win.”

In 23.7 minutes per game so far this season, Labissiere is averaging 11 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, .7 steals and .7 blocks. If he were playing starter minutes, those numbers project substantially higher.

Labissiere burst on the scene in Sacramento after the DeMarcus Cousins trade during All-Star weekend last season. Before getting an opportunity in the rotation, he spent plenty of time in Reno and behind the scenes working on his game with the Kings’ coaching staff. He played 33 total games during the 2016-17 season, including 26 straight to finish the year.

“I’m still trying to get comfortable, I’m still learning,” Labissiere said. “The NBA is still super new to me, I haven’t even played a full season yet. As a group, we’re still learning each other. I think by mid-year, we’ll be fine.”

The 21-year-old Haitian-born big came into the league with a sweet jumper, but he’s added more range in year two. He hit his first 3-pointer Saturday night against the Denver Nuggets, but throughout camp you could see him shooting with the guards and there are plenty of sets where he’ll get opportunities as the season pushes forward.

In addition to adding the long ball to his arsenal, Labissiere has also worked to improve his playmaking ability. He’s averaging 3.7 assists per 36 minutes and that number has a chance to improve as the team’s chemistry on the court improves.

“The offense runs through the bigs, so we have to be able to make plays for the guards,” Labissiere said. “I’ve been watching a lot of tape trying to figure out where the help is coming from, where I can pass the ball, who I can pass the ball to. That’s one thing I’ve been working on.”

Labissiere still has plenty to learn. He’s struggled with turnovers early in the season and he needs to add strength to hold his position in the post. But his offensive game is advanced and it won’t be long before the Kings turn to him more and more as a weapon.

Sacramento has plenty of young breakout candidates entering the season, but few have the ceiling of Labissiere. The early returns are promising.