Urban: No need to govern collisions at plate


Urban: No need to govern collisions at plate

May 26, 2011
SLIDESHOW: Scott Cousins vs. Buster PoseyMychael

One of the great benefits of working for a television network is that when a single play merits serious discussion, as does Scott Cousins' devastating collision with Buster Posey on Wednesday night, you can ask someone to cue up the video and spend 10 minutes -- or 20 minutes, an hour, an eternity -- breaking down the play, frame by frame, backward and forward.So, of course, that was priority No. 1 upon arrival at the CSN Bay Area offices early this afternoon. The same exercise played out late last night at home thanks to the genius of DVR, but DVR can't hold a candle to what the geniuses in our San Francisco studios can do.On a monitor at a desk in the newsroom, the play -- Nate Schierholtz's one-hop dart to Posey that beat Cousins to the plate by a good 10 feet before Posey dropped the ball and saw his season placed in jeopardy by a strong-safely style blast in the chest -- played over and over and back and over and back. For a good, long while. Thus, now more than ever, there is no hesitation in issuing the following unequivocal, iron-clad-confidence-based statement: Clean play. Based on frame-by-frame examination, Cousins did the only thing he could have possibly thought to do in order to score that run.Anyone who wants to say it was a cheap shot is wrong. They haven't seen the video like this. Sorry guys. You're wrong.Still need convincing? Take a look at the slide show we've put together.SLIDESHOW: Scott Cousins vs. Buster Posey
The cleanliness of the play has been the subject of much debate. Hopefully you'll check out the slide show and see why those calling it a clean play are correct.The play has spawned another hot debate, though, too, and that one's even more lopsided than the first.It's been suggested, in the wake of the play that might cost Posey his season, that MLB needs to take a long, hard look at home-plate collisions and consider legislature that makes life safer for catchers.Anyone got a puke bucket? How about a tutu? Perhaps a red jersey, like the quarterbacks wear in practice in the NFL, a non-verbal "Don't Touch Me" sign?Please. If it were Buster Posey who blew up the Marlins' catcher Wednesday night, Giants fans would be talking about what a gamer he is. What a hard-nosed, country hardball stud! Heck, if Posey hadn't been hurt, we might be saying the same thing about Cousins and Buster. No harm, no foul, right?But there was harm. Lots of it. All to Posey. And as a result, some Giants fans are calling foul.Please. Knock it off. Collisions have been part of the game forever, and only a handful of catchers have been seriously injured in them. Ray Fosse's career was greatly compromised by the unnecessary hit he took from Pete Rose in the 1970 All-Star Game, for instance. And if you want to come up with a rule that rules out collisions at All-Star Games, fine. That makes sense.So does a fat fine and lengthy suspension for anyone deemed by MLB to have administered an NFL-style hit, a free-safety launch that ends with helmet-to-helmet contact. That would serve as an effective deterrent for runners who go in search of damage for the sake of damage.Were such a rule in effect, however, Cousins wouldn't have draw a fine. He did what he felt he needed to do to win a game. Nothing more, nothing less.Outlaw collisions at the plate? Why not eliminate takeout slides, too? And while you're at it, immediately toss anyone who hits a batter with a pitch, intent or not. Come on, people. Too many folks are overreacting here, and it needs to stop. What happened to Posey stinks. No question about it. It's awful. But it happened for no reason other than a baseball play that happens many, many times over the course of a season went awry through no fault of the play's participants.Change the rule? No. Collisions at the plate and injuries are part of the game. Pure and simple. If you want a contact-free game, head to your local softball field and get behind the 50-and-over league.You want real baseball, risks and rewards, all of which the players were well aware of, and well-compensated for? Stay with your Giants, hope they can gut it out without Posey. and don't change a damn thing.Oh, and one last thing. All the people calling for a rule change? Not one of them has presented an actual idea, much less a good one, for what would go into such a change.Why might that be? You figure it out. Baseball did a long time ago.

How John Pagano plans to impact Raiders defense: ‘There is always room for change’


How John Pagano plans to impact Raiders defense: ‘There is always room for change’

ALAMEDA – John Pagano can’t implement his scheme in a week. He can’t import his plays and preferences cultivated during five seasons as Chargers defensive coordinator. Full offseason programs and training camps are required for that.

Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. was fired on Tuesday. Pagano will call his first Raiders game five days later against Denver at Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders’ assistant head coach – defense believes he can impact how the Silver and Black does business.

“There’s always room for change and there’s always room for doing things better,” Pagano said Thursday. “Without telling you our game plan, it’s about how we go out and execute the call, bottom line.”

Head coach Jack Del Rio said the Raiders weren’t playing fast enough. They weren’t creating enough turnovers, weren’t doing well enough on third down and weren’t regularly affecting the quarterback due to a lack of both rush and coverage.

That’s why Norton had to go.

Pagano’s first objective, which must get accomplished in a few days, is getting the Raiders to play with confidence. Then he can add some design wrinkles with some of his personality.

“You have to have that ability of going out there, knowing your assignment and playing faster,” Pagano said. “It’s not to say that there have been times where we’ve simplified things, but taking the thinking out of the game and making them react is, I think, most important. Going out there and playing fast and that’s doing the little extra things, the attention to details of studying and getting those things processed. See ball, go get ball.”

That last sentence sums up how Pagano wants his guys to play. He’s a quality play caller and creative blitzer with a knack making simple plays look complex. He can find and exploit opposing weak links. His defenses have always been good creating pressure and turnovers alike. The Raiders need more of both.

To do that Pagano wants to relieve a player’s mental burden and keep them focused on using talent well.

“The one thing I’ve always stressed and always been about is technique, fundamentals and unbelievable effort,” Pagano said. “I think those three things can get you home.”

The Raiders haven’t been home much as a defense. They’re tied for last with 14 sacks. They’re dead last with six turnovers. They’ve gone 10 games without an interception, the longest single-season drought in NFL history.

A lack of big defensive plays has killed the Raiders this season. It obviously increases points allowed. Good field position has been hard to come by. The offense has to earn everything the hard way. That’s a recipe for losing football, a maddening turn after the Raiders finished second with 30 takeaways last year.

Pagano has a chart listing “MOPs,” short for missed opportunities. There have been many, especially in a secondary he oversaw before this week.

“I talked to these guys this week about we need to do simple better,” Pagano said. “What is simple? It’s fundamentals of covering. It’s tackling. It’s communicating. It’s catching the ball when it comes. We’ve had opportunities. It’s not like we’re out there struggling and straining to dive and layout for the thing. It’s hit us in the hands where we’ve had many, many opportunities.”

Missed opportunities have also plagued a pass rush featuring reigning defensive player of the year Khalil Mack. Pagano brought up a moment early in Sunday’s lost to New England, when Treyvon Hester forced a fumble near three teammates that the Patriots somehow recovered.

Pagano’s goal is to improve performance. Players must buy in to do that. Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin headline a large group close to Norton, one with enough pride and professionalism to get behind a new playcaller in Pagano, who could be here long term.

“There is a human element to this,” Pagano said. “We are family. It’s sad any time a member of your family gets dismissed or something. At the end of the day, we have the Broncos coming in here on Sunday and we have to get our minds right to go play this game. That’s something that they’ve done a great job with this week, truly focusing in on what we need to do.”

Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'


Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'

Warriors rookie Jordan Bell made an instant impact for the team this season. But as of late, his playing time has dwindled. In four of the Warriors' last five games, Bell has been inactive. 

“It's just the life of a rookie,” Bell said to The Athletic. “That's what Steve Kerr always tells me. It's not because I'm playing bad. Just gotta be professional about it and stay ready. It's like being a freshman all over again.”

While Bell wants to be on the court with his teammates, what he appreciates most from Steve Kerr is his communication. Kerr is always honest about when he won't play Bell and he keeps the former Oregon Duck encouraged. 

“He talks to me about it every time he sees me,” Bell said. “Lets me know I'm not going to be active. Keep doing what you're doing, you're doing good. But it still f------ sucks. You're playing well and it doesn't mean anything because you're younger. It sucks, but you got to be professional about it.”

Bell has played in 12 of the Warriors' 18 games this season. The 22-year-old is averaging 3.2 points and 2.2 rebounds per game over 8.3 minutes per game. 

The Warriors bought the 38th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft from the Chicago Bulls and selected Bell. On Friday night, the Warriors, and perhaps Bell, play the Bulls for the first time this season.