Mayor London Breed clears way for Giants' June return to Oracle Park

Mayor London Breed clears way for Giants' June return to Oracle Park

The Giants expect the construction of their new bullpens to be finished in the next week or so. It might not be much longer before players are allowed to throw off the mounds. 

San Francisco mayor London Breed outlined new reopening rules on Thursday afternoon, and there was good news for professional sports teams. As part of a phase that will go into effect before June 15, professional sports teams can practice in the city of San Francisco with an approved plan. The city is targeting June 15 for the next phase, which states in part, "Professional sports games, tournaments and other entertainment venues allowed with no spectators with approved plans."

The players and owners are still far apart in negotiations, but if they can strike a deal that gets baseball back in July -- the target is to get games back by the July 4 holiday -- the Giants will be cleared to come home. Internally, they are still discussing the next steps and what a Spring Training 2.0 might look like. They're trying to decide between training at Scottsdale Stadium and doing so at Oracle Park, and the current lean is said to be returning to San Francisco.

It's not quite that easy, of course. The Giants would have to make significant changes to the structure at Oracle Park, expanding clubhouse space and finding new areas within the ballpark's footprint to train while following social distancing rules. They're hashing all of that now, and while they were never all that concerned about the restrictions in San Francisco, it certainly is a sigh of relief that the city is officially moving forward with reopening plans. 

[RELATED: Field to Table: How to make Oracle Park-style garlic fries]

The Giants have quietly reopened one of their other facilities in the meantime. Players who remained in the Scottsdale area have been allowed to work out at the ballpark there, although social distancing is practiced and there are limits on how many people can be in the building at one time. The vast majority of the team remains spread out across the country. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

How Esteban Loiaza went from A's pitcher to cocaine dealer, prison


How Esteban Loiaza went from A's pitcher to cocaine dealer, prison

It’s a wild tale of a baseball player who had the world at his fingertips, only to now find himself in federal prison.

Two-time All-Star pitcher Esteban Loaiza spent his 14-year MLB career across eight teams, including 2006-07 with the A’s. He signed with the team on a three-year, $21.4 million contract after the 2005 season. He finished his campaign with Oakland hosting a 4.62 ERA and 1.376 WHIP.

It was around this time that he was arrested after clocking over 120 mph in his Ferrari on an Oakland-area freeway.

He would be convicted of reckless driving and was given a three-year probationary sentence.

This was where it appeared the player filled with so much promise took a turn, as was detailed in an incredible piece by Bleacher Report's Scott Miller.

"He was just a knucklehead guy with some decent stuff upon occasion," longtime Oakland radio broadcaster Vince Cotroneo told Bleacher Report. Cotroneo also called Texas Rangers games when Loaiza was there. "He wasn't a bad guy. He was always helpful for what we needed to do. He was a little quirky, but you can say that with a lot of people.

"I went to Oakland and so did he in '06,” Cotroneo added. “This was the Lamborghini-driving, Maserati-driving, DUI Loaiza that we got. The paint was starting to dry. You were starting to capture the full portrait of the guy. When he got to Oakland, it got stranger."

Fast forward to 2018, and Loaiza would be detained by sheriff’s detectives in the San Diego area several miles north of the Mexican border. Loaiza had been under surveillance for a while in a federal narcotics investigation. And while law enforcement didn’t find anything in his Mercedes-Benz SUV that day, they did discover a note in the garage door opener that had an address written on it.

That address led them to a nearby townhouse that possessed a minivan which held 44 pounds of cocaine hidden in the rear floor panels underneath baseball bags. 

[RELATED: A's should break protocol, sign Semien for long haul]

He ultimately was sentenced to 36 months in prison on March 8, 2019. 

Loaiza was with the White Sox at one point in his career, where he was dubbed a hero of sorts. He made his last public appearance at the team's Fan Fest in 2018 just two weeks before his arrest.

Cal grad Ryan Murphy pushes car as part of Olympic swimming training


Cal grad Ryan Murphy pushes car as part of Olympic swimming training

Ryan Murphy won three gold medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics, setting a world record in the process. After that, he returned to Cal only to add to a historical career.

As the timeline approaches three weeks until what would have been the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Murphy understood he, along with other athletes, had to do their part in order to maintain safety during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“It was really challenging to have that maturity to realize that it’s not all about sports and we’ve got to protect our communities,” Murphy told Mike Tirico on NBC Sports’ Lunch Talk Live.

That doesn’t mean he’s not training, of course.

Murphy credited doing pull-ups on trees, running up hills and even pushing cars in order to stay in shape during a time like this as he preps for 2021. 

No, seriously:

The 2017 Cal grad finished his collegiate career becoming the fourth man in NCAA history to sweep both distances of one stroke all four years (the 100- and 200-yard backstroke).

He remains in Berkeley where he continues to train.