Why Kyler Murray should win Heisman Trophy (and why A's might worry)


Why Kyler Murray should win Heisman Trophy (and why A's might worry)

Kyler Murray will play baseball in the A’s system next season, and he’ll be the only guy on his minor league team with a Heisman in his trophy case.

That’s if the voters are smart, and if Murray doesn’t change his mind about his career path.

Murray used his arm and legs to lead Oklahoma to the Big 12 championship Saturday, and that should be enough for the dual-threat quarterback to win the Heisman next weekend. Of course, Tua Tagovailoa, Murray’s chief competition for the award, plays for Alabama, the bluest of blue bloods, and he’ll receive votes out of habit and SEC bias.

But Tagovailoa’s SEC title game outing was an injury-marred bust, and even though Alabama won behind backup QB Jalen Hurts, the Heisman should go to Murray. The junior threw for 300-plus yards in nine of 13 games and is on pace for 1,000 rushing yards this season, should the Sooners reach the College Football Playoff National Championship.

And, if the CFB committee allows Oklahoma into its four-team party, that’s where things could get interested.

The national title game will be played Jan. 7 at Levi’s Stadium, where NFL scouts and curious A’s fans could converge. The former will be there to find the best talent, and Murray, his small stature be damned, fits that bill. The latter would be there to a) hope Murray doesn’t suffer an injury and b) see why the A’s choose to invest $4.66 million and a first-round draft pick in a college football star.

[RELATED: Murray recreates iconic Bo Jackson photo in Heisman campaign]

So, Murray would spend championship week checking out the Bay Area — his potential home — but also playing in an NFL stadium in front of a crowd double what he’d likely see in the major leagues. You couldn’t fault him for wondering if the field, not the diamond, would be more his speed.

Because Murray's speed exactly is what would attract executives, scouts and coaches in an NFL that now puts skill players in space, with rules designed to prevent decapitation by tackle-mad defenders. The NFL wants its playmakers upright, its fans salivating over high-octane offenses and its corporate sponsors spending billions. That, plus the $32 million contract that former Oklahoma teammate Baker Mayfield signed with the Browns last spring, might make Murray wonder the grass, if not the money, is greener in football.

Of course, Murray has said even recently that he’s committed to leaving Oklahoma after this season to chase his baseball dreams with the A’s. But he’s not a statue, like the one he deserves to win. He’s human, and the heart wants what it wants.

So, Murray might come to the Bay next month, potentially with a lot more to think about than winning a national championship. First things first, though: He should win the Heisman, then either confirm or really make his choice between football and baseball.

Mark Canha continues Khris Davis impression in A's win vs. Mariners

Mark Canha continues Khris Davis impression in A's win vs. Mariners

OAKLAND — Make no mistake, Mark Canha is not Khris Davis. But, he sure can do a pretty good Khris Davis impression.

Canha homered for the third straight game Friday night, his sixth round-tripper in nine contests since returning from a sprained wrist, as the A's beat the Mariners 6-2 for their seventh consecutive win.

"It always helps when somebody gets on a hot streak," Canha said after the game. "It always helps when you have that one guy where you're like, 'Yeah, he's up!' That kind of happens for different guys at different times and I think it just happens to be right now. This is me kind of knocking on wood and hoping I can keep it going."

Before the game, the A's officially placed Davis on the 10-day injured list with a left hip/oblique contusion. With the reigning home run-champion out of the lineup, Oakland desperately needed someone to fill the void.

Enter Canha.

"I guess you could say it's timely," Canha said of his hot streak. "It's good that I'm filling his shoes. I'm just trying to be Khris Davis right now and this is my best version of it."

A's manager Bob Melvin has certainly taken notice of Canha's recent power surge and hopes to see it continue in Davis' absence.

"It's a lot of homers," Melvin marveled. "If you're looking for a replacement for Khris, that's the guy. He feels good at the plate. He's getting good swings, he's seeing some pitches, taking some walks. It's good, really good."

Friday also marked Canha's third straight game as the A's designated hitter. Many players struggle in that role, at least initially, as it can be challenging to stay mentally sharp between at-bats.

Clearly, that has not been the case for Canha.

"I really like it," he said. "I like not having to run out there on the field. It's nice to just kind of hang out in the dugout and wait for my at-bat to happen. I'm enjoying my time as a designated hitter so far."

[RELATED: A's play song off 'Bash Brothers' album at Coliseum]

It's not like Canha is just hitting home runs. The 30-year-old has raised his on-base percentage to .353, third-best on the A's, and his .953 OPS leads the team and ranks seventh in the American League. 

"I'm in my fifth year now and I think I'm just getting better," Canha said. "I've learned a lot in my career and now I'm being given some time, and I think I'm just getting better as I've matured as a hitter."

A's play The Lonely Island’s ‘Bash Brothers Experience' song at Coliseum

A's play The Lonely Island’s ‘Bash Brothers Experience' song at Coliseum

The Lonely Island's tribute to the Bash Brothers is unauthorized, but it does seem to be A's-approved. 

The A's tweeted at the comedy trio about "The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience," their musical tribute/send-up of Oakland icons Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, on Thursday night.

The "visual poem" dropped on Netflix early Thursday morning, one day before the A's returned the favor when they opened a nine-game homestand Friday night at the Coliseum. First, the A's tweeted a reference to "Let's Bash." one of the tracks from the special.

Later in the game, the Coliseum actually played one. With a sign featuring Andy Samberg (as Canseco) and Akiva Schaffer (as McGwire) wearing silk robes and kimonos shown on the video board, "Oakland Nights" played over the Coliseum speakers.

The A's have bashed after hitting homers earlier in the season, but Mark Canha and some of his teammates did put their arms up like they were about to drink from a cup after his solo shot in the fourth inning. Canha told NBC Sports California's Ben Ross before the game that he had not seen the whole special, but said he was a fan of what he had seen so far.

"I've watched the two music videos," Canha said Friday. "I tried listening to some of the album today. It's funny. I'd like to engage with those guys about it on social media. I'm thinking of how I'm going to work that in. I heard through the grapevine that Andy Samberg is from the area, so that's cool.

"I think it's awesome. It's a nice tribute to [Canseco and McGwire] who are obviously legends in this area. It's nice that they're paying homage to them in a funny way. It's awesome."

[RELATED: A's stay red hot, open homestand with big win over Mariners]

Samberg isn't the only member of The Lonely Island from the East Bay. He, Schaffer and Jorma Taccone -- who cameos as another 1980s Bay Area sports legend in the credits of the special -- all grew up together in Berkeley.

Seeing their childhood team reference their work surely tops their list of Bay bona fides.