Category: Sports

San Francisco Giants, Are They For Real?

By Jonas Shladovsky

Buster Posey, the Father time-defying, hot-hitting 37 year old catcher pivotal to the Giants’ success

This past March, an old, very good friend of this newspaper’s editor, Bruce Riordan, drove from Berkeley to Reno and made a slightly dicey bet: he put his money down on the San Francisco Giants winning more than 74 games this season, a slightly smaller proportion of wins than they had during last year’s shortened, 60 game schedule.

However, at the midseason All-Star Game, the Giants are flying high, with 57 wins and only 32 losses, a record telling us Bruce will be collecting his winnings soon. Having won 64 percent of their games, the best won/
loss ratio in Major League Baseball, the Giants now sit first in the National League West, outperforming the
astounding starpower of the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers with a squad of overachievers.

Foundational to the San Francisco ballclub’s success has been the return of three-time World Series winning catcher Buster Posey. Coming into the season, the impact Posey would have was unknown; the three-
time champ was approaching his 34th birthday and hadn’t swung a bat in over a year, having opted out of the 2020 season after he and his wife adopted newborn twins.

The time off didn’t spell an end to Posey’s prime. It revitalized his game, perhaps because it allowed him to
fully recover from his 2018 hip surgery. He’s enjoyed his first double-digit homer season since 2017, and at the
All-Star break, he’s 2nd in the MLB in on-base percentage, getting on base over 4.2 times per 10 at-bats. Posey’s mentality fits in perfectly with the Giants organization’s current transition into a Gabe Kapler
led, analytics-informed era, according to President of Baseball Operations for the Giants, Farzan Zaidi.

“He’s very open-minded, but he holds new concepts or thoughts on the acquisition of players to a high standard.
You want that. Things should be vetted. For someone who has accomplished a lot, he’s very forward-thinking,” said Zaidi in an ESPN interview.

Just as integral to the Giants as Posey’s revitalization has been the transformation of Kevin Gausman into an elite
starting pitcher. Gausman experienced spotty success during stints with the Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds, underutilizing the top-drawer fastball and splitter pitches in his arsenal.

San Francisco signed Gausman as a free agent in 2019 with one condition: they wanted him to throw his two best pitches 90 percent of the time, upping his splitter to 50 percent of his repertoir. Calling on his best moves, Gausman is one of the top three starters in baseball by several statistical measures. He’s limited opponents to .163 and .136 batting averages against his fastball and splitter, and has bored proponents of offense to death, only allowing 3 or more runs on two occassions.

Beyond Posey and Gausman, the offensive resurgence of veteran shortstop Brandon Crawford, the depenable pitching of Anthony DeScalfani, and the versatility of outfielder Mike Tauchman, cannot be underestimated in their roles in the Giants’ success.

When a team like this, built on overlooked, undervalued pieces, begins to lose momentum, one can only
assume a definitive return to Earth will occur during the second half of the season. However, a May 28 moment
might be an omen favoring the Giants ability to keep on rolling throughout the 2021 season. On a Friday night
at Dodger Stadium, Albert Pujols began jogging to first after hitting a game-winning home run that spelled the
Giants’ fifth loss in seven games, a worrisome streak of regression. But it wasn’t a game-winning dinger; it
was a monster, wall-climbing catch by Tauchman that kept a night that eventually led to a Giants victory going, that turned the tide for the Giants to take three straight from the star-studded Dodgers.

The Tessa Jackson Sports Update [7/15]

By Tessa Jackson

Steven Stamkos, captain of back-to-back NHL Stanley Cup Champions Tampa Bay Lightning.

There is so much to talk about this week I’m just going to do a quick rundown of everything going on, starting with the Tampa Bay Lightning being crowned champions of the NHL last week for the second year in a row. Nikita Kucherov was the star of the playoffs for the Lightning, and he is certainly celebrating. It seems that the whole city of Tampa is celebrating a little too hard; they managed to dent the Stanley Cup during one of their many boat parades.

The Milwaukee Bucks will have been looking to tie up the NBA Finals series on Wednesday, so you will know by the time you read this whether they were successful. While the Bucks killed the Suns in Game 3, I thought that Game 4 would be closer, and I was right, with the Bucks squeezing out a crucial six point win. I still think The Phoenix Suns will win the Championship, the question is, in how many games? My prediction is Suns in six games, they are just too good at home. Game 5 is on Saturday, July 17, and Game 6 (if necessary) is on Tuesday, July 20, and Game 7 (if necessary) is scheduled for Thursday, July 22. (Editor’s note: Game 5 has since taken place, in which the Bucks defeated the Suns 123-119)

Fun fact: Whenever tennis star Novak Djokovic is at Wimbledon, he eats grass. He says it tastes like sweat.

I was right about Roger Federer having a hard time beating Hubert Hurkacz in the Wimbledon quarter-final; he
lost that match and the men’s singles final match ended up being between Serbia’s Novak Djokovic and Italy’s Matteo Berrettini. Djokovic won his 20th Grand Slam title, tying Federer and Rafael Nadal for most men’s titles. Australian, Asheligh Barty, claimed the women’s singles title and looks like she is going to be a force to be reckoned with.

Everyone’s favorite MLB team (note the sarcasm) the Houston Astros, have really been heating up. They have taken the top spot in the American League West, a division they share with the Oakland A’s. The A’s are still in the wild card position; I just hate seeing the Astros at the top. But the man that everyone has been talking about is on a team that barely has a winning record, also in the American League West, Los Angeles Angel’s Shohei Ohtani. People have been comparing him to Babe Ruth because he is a pitcher who can also hit. To be honest, I don’t really know that much about Babe Ruth, but from what I’ve read, Ohtani is better, much better.

People are calling him a “once in a century player” so do yourself a favor and check him out. The Los Angeles Angels can still hardly win a game, but at least they have a winning record so far this season, unlike the last five years. Maybe when All Star, Mike Trout, a man who has been loyal the Angels despite being one of the best players in the league on a mediocre team that almost never makes the playoffs, comes back from injury
they will have a chance.

Well, the Dustin Poirier vs Conor McGregor fight didn’t last very long. Poirier beat McGregor by Total Knockout when McGregor broke his leg in the first round. It looked like he stepped on his foot wrong, and his leg just snapped, but it turns out he actually kicked Poirier’s elbow, which caused the fracture before he stepped down. With an ending like that, I’m sure we’ll have to see these two fight again.

Coming up in just one week will be the Summer Olympics opening ceremony, so we will talk more about that next week.

Soccer News: Roots vs Republic [7-8]

By Jonas Shladovsky

Members of the Tower Bridge Battalion, Sacramento Republic FC’s Supporters Union, Entering Heart Health Park

Following an electric 3-3 draw between the Oakland Roots and Sacramento Republic FC on June 2, the two NorCal-based USL Championship (second tier) clubs produced another lively affair on Wednesday, albeit one ending in a 0-0 scoreline. Republic controlled the tempo from minute 1 to 90, enjoying ample possession in Oakland’s half and getting into goal scoring positions. A surprise attacking catalyst for the home team was fullback Leo LaCroix, who
fearlessly drove forward and played multiple incisive passes into the 18-yard box. LaCroix, along with dynamic midfielders Petteri Pennanen and Mario Penagos, made plays in both halves. Their efforts went unrewarded as Republic’s forwards often dilly-dallied on the ball, spurning shooting opportunities.

The Roots will be happy to exit this clash with a point (a tie). The Oaklanders were in defensive disarray at many times, however, a convincing, statement performance by backup keeper Taylor Bailey and some scrappy late-game tackling were enough to eke out a shutout. Going forward, the visitors found their rhythm in the last twenty minutes, stringing together some crisp, line-breaking passing combinations. Their endeavors to create chances were ultimately thwarted by a couple offside calls and decisive defending by the Republic led by strongman center-back Mitch Taintor.

At Republic’s last home game against Phoenix Rising, the rowdy atmosphere at Heart Health Park was palpable; the chorus of fans chanting for minutes on end were more than audible on my ESPN+ stream. I believe, as the Roots start to establish themselves as a Championship club (this is only their first season in the division), this fixture will begin to take on the implications of a fiesty, East Bay versus Sacramento Valley rivalry for both sets of fans to pour
their hearts into.

Sac Republic: (2 W, 3 T, 5 L, 9 PTS, 7th in Pacific Division)
Oakland Roots: (1 W, 3 T, 3 L, 6 PTS, 8th in Pacific Division)