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Tom Nakashima's Blog

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Alex Smith.. At Last...

I just want good things to happen to this guy.  No, I didn’t expect him to return to the 49ers this season.  He’s been vilified, spit on, virtually tarred and feathered… and blamed for everything including the Lindbergh kidnapping.  To say his first six seasons were a little rocky is the understatement of the year.  But look what’s happened.  Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter says Alex is “reborn.”  With Jim Harbaugh on board… and with essentially the same roster as last year… the Niners are 5-1.  I thought if Alex Smith was just decent this year, it would be a confidence boost for him.  He’s been better than that.  And this humble kid (who’s the same age as Tim Lincecum), still gives credit to his teammates.  And his guys love him back.  The other day, Frank Gore said “Number 11’s coming!  You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”  If Alex keeps this up, he’ll be more than the Comeback Player of the Year… he’ll be Comeback Player of The Decade.  No, Alex Smith is not Joe Montana.  The good news is…. he doesn’t have to be.  In this week’s SI, Peter King suggests that Alex Smith vs. Aaron Rodgers in the NFC title game is not impossible.  Yes, this is the same Peter King who picked the Rams to win the West. monica’sdad photo
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Bryant Gumbel.. What Were You Thinking?

One of my favorite shows is Real Sports on HBO, which seems to pop up once a month.  Investigative pieces, player profiles, behind the scenes stories.. they’re always top notch, and well worth finding.  But this month’s commentary by Bryant Gumbel on the status of the NBA lockout is what’s drawing a lot of heat.  He made reference to NBA Commissioner David Stern as “a modern day plantation overseer.”  Yikes.  Are you kidding?  A slavery reference?  You obviously knew that would light a fire.  Well, if you just wanted to get Real Sports some attention… you certainly got your wish.  I don’t suppose this discussion will die down anytime soon.  Shaun Powell of ESPNNewYork.com writes, “You can disagree with his tactics and his strategy and his idea of what makes for a financially stable NBA.  But you can’t, under any circumstances, compare the most progressive commissioner in sports to a slave owner.” otterman56 photo
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The Handshake = The Season...

I know, you’ve heard about the overblown Harbaugh-Schwartz incident a hundred times this week.  But I realized that the Handshake and ensuing melee, which took all of about 12 seconds… is a microcosm of what the 49ers have done to most of their opponents this season.  They get under your skin, and there’s nothing you can do about it.  Getting beat by a bunch of no-names is so humiliating that afterward you chase them across the field and yell, “You ruined my day!”  They not only refuse to apologize.. they’re laughing all the way to the locker room.  xoque photo
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Dan Wheldon.. 1978 - 2011

IndyCar racing star Dan Wheldon is gone, following one of the worst crashes in the history of the sport… at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  He was a husband, a father… a champion and friend to many.  Along with millions, I love the sport of auto racing.  Of course, there’s risk and danger.  And some will say that any race track is an accident waiting to happen.  But there have been serious doubts about the safety of the steeply banked Las Vegas layout for years.. that it’s too fast, too dangerous.  When someone as experienced as Dario Franchitti says, “IndyCars shouldn’t be racing here”..  someone should listen.  macahanC6R photo
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The Handshake.. Get Over It...

Let’s face it, the 49ers shocked the Detroit Lions, the team the rest of America has been fawning over for weeks.  Most of the NFL reporters wouldn’t know Delanie Walker from Delaney and Bonnie… and yet that fourth down slant play to the 49ers tight end sealed the deal in a thriller.  But all anyone wants to talk about is The Handshake. Hilarious.  Here’s what I saw:  America’s darling got punched in the mouth by a bunch of no-names.  Well, they do have names.  Like Anthony Davis, Chilo Rachal, Aldon Smith and Teddy Ginn.  And Lions coach Jim Schwartz?  I knew you were in trouble when you implied that the 49ers were intimidated by deferring the kickoff.  From what I can gather, you’re a cocky loudmouth coach who even trash talks other players.  Oh, you heard an obscenity?  Get over it.  A hard back slap?  Wow.  After having your ass kicked for four hours, you’re lucky that’s all you got. monica’sdad photo
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Detroit Disaster.. Black Sunday...

I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.  Well, actually I would.  How about this unlikely scenario for this Sunday… It would be the ultimate challenge for those giddy Detroit fans, who are obviously basking in all this attention.  The Tigers fall to Texas, and miss out on their chance at World Series glory.  Within 15 minutes, the upstart San Francisco 49ers stick a dagger in the heart of America’s new darlings, and shock the Detroit Lions.  Immediately following that, the new owner of the Motor City’s NBA franchise announces he’ll be relocating the team to the West Coast.  After the lockout ends, they’ll be known as the Huntington Beach Pistons.  Eat that.  Well, at least you still have the Red Wings. keithallison photo
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Thuuhhhh Yankees Wiiinnnnn!.. Oh Wait...

Yeah, the three highest payrolls in baseball are done.. finished for the season.  And though Alex Rodriguez took it like a man, to see the highest paid guy in the universe make the final out somehow felt righteous to the Yankee Haters.  And the Red Sox collapse?  Please.  Well, Terry Francona must’ve gotten stupid.  You won’t have him to kick around anymore.  Oh, and the Phillies?  I get the impression they’re still bitter that the San Francisco Giants embarrassed them last year.  The Giants had to have been a fluke, as if they stole their rightful crown.  So this year would be different… Philadelphia put together the best starting staff in baseball.  All that got you is a seat on the sidelines.  How do you like the view?  Now it’s down to the Tigers, Rangers, Brewers and Cardinals.  To be World Champions, just about everything has to go right in October.  For only one of them, everything will. gaspa photo
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The Climbing Addict...

Lots of people like to go rock climbing.  The great outdoors, fresh air..  the exhilaration.  But after seeing Alex Honnold scale the face of a mountain, calling it climbing seems ridiculous.  Lara Logan featured Alex on 60 Minutes…. and it was fascinating, jaw-dropping and more than a little scary.  Alex, who’s 26, is from Sacramento… and he’s the Leonardo da Vinci of climbers.  What he does is called free-soloing.  He climbs mountain faces and rocks without ropes… no climbing gear, no hooks, harnesses… no nothing.  Of course, one little slip… one loose rock and you’re gone.  I know, it’s insane.  He’s the first person to free-solo climb up the northwest face of Half Dome, 2,000 feet straight up in Yosemite.  He’s climbed rock walls people wouldn’t tackle WITH ropes.  Alex, I’d rather you not do this anymore.  I’d like you to see age 30… but I don’t suppose you’ll take my advice.  Lara Logan.. thanks for the story.     ThirdLegReviews photo
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Dream Team Experiences.. A Nightmare...

Oh the 49ers didn’t do much.  They only came from 20 down midway through the third quarter to upset the Philadelphia Eagles on the road… and are now an unlikely 3-1.  Yeah the Eagles, known as The Dream Team, amassed a staggering 500 yards on offense… and Michael Vick is as dangerous as advertised.  So how in the world did this happen?  That’s what Philly coach Andy Reid is wondering.  His tight-lipped post game comments were priceless… he was STEAMING.  Did the Eagles aid in their embarrassment?  Of course… two field goals missed and a couple of big fumbles.  But the 49ers took advantage… and with every first down, every completed pass, every dive into the end zone…. their confidence grows.  And it looks like DeSean Jackson likes to trash talk before the game's over.  You know what that makes you?  1-3.  Hilarious. xoque photo
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Moneyball Is.. Money...

I was wrong about Moneyball.  I thought it unlikely that anyone who’s not a baseball fan would be very interested in stats, on-base percentage and the Oakland As.  But sure enough, it’s scoring big box office numbers… and as baseball movies go, it’s got plenty of mainstream appeal.    But Moneyball is not just about baseball is it?  It’s for anybody who’s ever dreamed of taking on the big guys, of challenging the way things are…  and it’s about believing in yourself.  I loved this movie.  Finding undervalued players is at the core of the story.  And I was wondering if there’s a sabermetrics for offensive linemen?  I mean the 49ers could use some help there… kei! photo
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Red Sox Nation.. Seeing Red...

And I thought the Giants Faithful were a little down.  They’re downright giddy compared to what Boston Red Sox fans must be feeling today.  What happened last night, the culmination of a horrendous free fall… was cruelty personified.  They went into September with a nine game lead.. and squandered it away.  No matter how you try and explain it… injuries, weariness, bad karma, the moon not in alignment… you can’t go 7-20 down the stretch and expect a parade.  And the Atlanta Braves, who had a ten game lead over the Cardinals in late August… couldn’t gather any momentum, and lost their final five games.  Goodnight.  The offseason can be a long, cold stretch.  It’s especially lonely when you can’t help but feel.. that you choked. keithallison photo
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Giants Have Their Loyal Fans.. The Eagle Has Ours...

A T & T Park has been a packed house all season long for the World Champion Giants… and the energy and love from millions of fans is not lost on the players and management.  As the season winds down, I’ve watched Bruce Bochy, Ryan Vogelsong, Tim Lincecum, Cody Ross and so many others express their thanks to a loyal fan base that has allowed them to play their hearts out… to reach for their dreams.  Fans matter.  It reminded me that The Eagle has loyal fans too..  who know us, reach out to us, question us… and appreciate the best in Classic Rock.  You make our shows successful, and help support dozens of worthy causes.  Believe me, without you… we’re not here.  Thank you for allowing us to do what we love.
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Was That The "Deke" Of The Year?

My reaction was…”Wait a minute… what just happened there?”  Late in the Bears-Packers game, the Chicago Bears nearly  pulled off one of the great misdirection plays in the history of televised football.  The Pack, with a comfortable lead, punted to Chicago.  Then, things got more than a little weird.  Devin Hester, the most dangerous return man in football, pretended to drift under the ball… and so did his teammates.  The Packers headed straight for him.  But the ball actually came down on the other side of the field, where it was caught by Johnny Knox, who streaked down the right sideline for a touchdown… or so we thought.  A holding call negated what will be remembered as one of the coolest trick plays in the NFL archives.  Actually, Joe Buck didn’t get too excited about it… I kind of wish Al Michaels had the call. monica’sdad photo
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Put Us Out Of Our Misery...

Of course it’s a dagger in the heart of the ever loyal Giants fans, who’ve grinded out every at-bat, every heartbreaking loss.  But come on, it’s been damned entertaining.  With the absolutely woeful, impotent offense… these guys should have finished in the cellar.  Only the pitching has kept them in contention for this long.  I mean, it seems like they’ve lost 100 games 2-1 or 1-0…. It happened over and over again.  I know, if Tim Lincecum had been with the Yankees, he’d be 21-6.  Same with Matt Cain. We get it.  But it’s a tough game, and there’s a fine line between an empty stadium and a packed house.  You played your asses off, and it didn’t work out.  So hold your heads high.  All in all, it’s been quite a ride.  Can’t wait for spring training. auntijuli photo
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Wait.. You Can't Put Jesus In Jail...

In a story that has rocked the poker community, the US Justice Department has accused principals of Full Tilt Poker... of defrauding thousands of online poker players out of more than $300 million that is still owed to them.  This isn’t some nickel and dime website… it’s been one of the best known, heavily promoted sites out there.   A US attorney said “Full Tilt was not a legitimate poker company, but a global Ponzi scheme.” And those named in the civil suit include Howard Lederer and Chris “Jesus” Ferguson.   Yikes.  Those who follow the game will tell you that these two don’t exactly fit the profile of “sleazy crooks.”  They’re two of the best known players in the world, whose reputations were impeccable.  Until now.  In any case, this doesn’t look good… and I’m anxious to see how this all shakes out.  All I know is… you just can’t put a guy named “Jesus” behind bars. ralphunden photo
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Winning.. Can Be A Problem...

I agree with Monty Poole of the San Jose Mercury News.. who’s recent story suggests that success can be hazardous to your career.  Yeah, prosperity can be costly.  The Golden State Warriors had gone years without sniffing the playoffs.   Then, not long after upsetting top seed Dallas one year, GM Chris Mullin was gone.  The last time the 49ers won the NFC West, they actually made it to the second round of the playoffs.  Not good enough… Steve Mariucci was fired.  Rick Adelman had a marvelous run with the Sacramento Kings, and he was then run out of town.  The Giants took it to Game Seven of the 2002 World Series.  What happened to the manager, Dusty Baker?  Oh, gone.  And now, not even a year removed from the uncontrolled euphoria down Market Street, the World Series Champions’ top guy, Bill Neukom, has been escorted out of the building.  So there it is.  Give it all you’ve got… play your heart out… then watch your back. MarianneO’Leary photo
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Panda-monium...

As the Giants’ season comes to an end, those of us who’ve lived and died with every pitch know the highs and lows of trying to do the near impossible… repeat as World Series Champions.  But they sure have been fun to watch.  There are new kids coming into their own.. Brett Pill, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Madison Bumgarner.  And Ryan Vogelsong has been the feel-good story of the year.  But I don’t think I’ve seen anyone play the game with more joy, more enthusiasm than the Panda.  Pablo Sandoval.  He looks like he embraces every moment of every inning with a free-spirited, unapologetic love of the game, and it infuses those around him with the same spirit.  The other night, I saw his reaction when a teammate hit a home run.  With legs that must be bone-weary, the Panda jumped so high, his head hit the top of the dugout.  Watching Panda.. has been a joy.  Now, Brandon Belt?  He’s kinda dour. SDDirk photo
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Niners-Cowboys.. Let's Get Real...

Of course the 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys have a long history… and plenty of pundits can’t stop bringing that up.  Oh, the “Rivalry”… Oh, it’s “The Catch”… Oh, it’s Bill Walsh and Tom Landry…I know every blogger, tweeter and self-described expert has to fill up time and space.  What does it all mean for Sunday?  It doesn’t mean squat.  This is about 2011, and I’ll go out on the limb and say Jim Harbaugh is living in the moment.  He doesn’t care what Michael Irvin or Troy Aikman thinks.  He’s game planning for Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and holy smokes… what are we gonna do about DeMarcus Ware?    Yes, this is an important game for Mr. Harbaugh and the Niners, who started last year 0-5.  So all the blowhard talk can be distilled into one sentence:  “If the underdog 49ers can find a way to eke out an unlikely win over the Cowboys, they’ll be 2-0 with momentum on their side.”  What’s your deal? Cliff1066 photo
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The Scoop...

With so many beat writers following the San Francisco Giants, there’s naturally a lot of overlapping coverage.  That’s fine with us fans, who want to hear, see and read every morsel of every little detail about the Orange and Black.  But when it all hit the fan yesterday, only one guy, Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News, broke the stunning story.  Mark’s homework obviously paid off, and he had the scoop of the year….that Giants’ managing general partner and chief executive officer Bill Neukom was out as head honcho, after a fallout with the Executive Committee of the Giants’ ownership group.  Derek Moore and I were talking about the fact that anyone can be a blogger… anyone can tweet whatever they want.  But this is old school journalism… a lot of digging, prodding, protecting sources and sifting through what’s fact and what isn’t.  Nice work, Mark.  By the way, the company line is that this is a “retirement.”  Hilarious.  btwashburn photo
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Belichick: A Football Life...

I think the creativity and vision of those at the helm of NFL Films have been, in no small measure, responsible for the skyrocketing popularity of NFL Football in America.  The emotion of Vince Lombardi on the sideline, the booming voice of John Facenda announcing the arrival of the Oakland Raiders, that spiral from Montana to Clark… these moments lovingly captured on film have made a great game even greater.  So when I found out that the producers at NFL Films are behind a new series, A Football Life… well, I wanted you to know about it.  Their first subject is Patriots coach Bill Belichick, the only coach ever wired for sound for an entire NFL season.  By the way, of all the coaches who could have agreed to this kind of access, the last one I would expect would be Mr. Belichick.  Isn’t he the guy under the hoodie who never answers questions?  I mean he makes Jim Harbaugh look like a chatterbox.  So here it comes…  Part I of Bill Belichick:  A Football Life premieres exclusively on the NFL Network tomorrow. keithallison photo
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Harbaugh.. The Phil Ivey Of The NFL...

The thing that drives the media horde crazy about 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh is what I love the most.  He just doesn’t answer their questions with much… well, with much substance.  He’s vague, elusive, snarky and not very forthcoming.  And the dumber the questions get, the less he says.  Hilarious.   I guess people expect him to explain his thought process about the offense, defense, special teams… play calling and what he’ll have for dinner.  His attitude seems to be “I’ll just keep that to myself, thank you.”  Jim Harbaugh reminds me of the best poker players I’ve seen… like Tom Dwan, Patrik Antonius and Phil Ivey.  They say nothing, show nothing,  reveal even less.… then stack you off.  Will this be a fun season?  I’ll just keep that to myself… ralphunden photo
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The Hug...

Alex Smith.. a resurrection?  Too early to tell.  But this was huge for him… seven years of underachieving, and now he wins?  Sure he was only 15 for 20, but what was more significant was what DIDN’T happen:  He didn’t fumble, throw an interception, get sacked…. or run out of time getting a play call in.   It’s only one game, but The Jim Harbaugh Era has begun.. and this means way more than just beating the Seahawks.  Things have changed, and here’s how I know…  It was The Hug.  When Alex came to the bench following his touchdown plunge, the coach hugged his quarterback as if he’d just won Dancing With The Stars.  I thought he was gonna French Kiss him.  That moment told me this team has moved on… from the darkness of Singletary-Nolan-Erickson to something resembling hope.  Yeah, Dallas is coming in and we could lose to the Cowboys 45-3… so what?  For the moment, the 49ers are tied for first place.  And after what we’ve seen the last few years, isn't that worth a hug? monica’sdad photo
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I'm Ready For Fantasy Football.. Oh Wait...

I suddenly felt like jumping into a Fantasy Football League… then I caught myself.  What am I thinking?  I don’t do Fantasy Football.  Oh, I know it’s taken the country by storm…  there are even a dozen sports shows devoting precious airtime to fake roster spots.  I get it.  And all of my friends are ready to roll.  Brian, Derek, Chris and Lizann are obsessed….up to their necks in draft picks, trades and speculation.  They’re wondering when I’ll join the rest of civilization and finally take the plunge.  Being an “imaginary” General Manager/Head Coach?  I don’t think so… I have enough trouble with real life.  And as the All-Pro is carted off the field with a career-threatening injury, you know what the guy on the couch is saying?   “That better not be my tight end!” gongus photo
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Take A Pill.. And Call Me In The Morning...

As the pennant chase takes a dark turn for the Giants, there’s a bright light on the horizon… or at least we hope there is.  And hope is a precious commodity now.  Giants minor league prospect Brett Pill, who will turn 27 tomorrow, finally made his Major League debut on Tuesday and hit the first pitch he swung at off the second deck of the Western Metal Supply Company.  Before Duane Kuiper got to “High Drive..” it was gone.  Then yesterday, ho hum…. he cranked out another home run. And he’s been in the bigs two days.  A lot of fans are wondering why he wasn’t brought up sooner….  he’s actually older than Matt Cain, Panda, Brandon Belt and of course Madison Bumgarner.  Guess he was biding his time.  It remains to be seen if a nickname will stick… “Pill The Thrill,” “The Pill-ager,” “Brett The Threat,”…..Well, if you keep hittin’, who cares? randychiu photo
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The Day It Ended...

Sunday was a Ryan Vogelsong gem.. maybe his finest performance of the year.  In front of a packed house (as every home game is), the series clincher with the D-backs was a microcosm of the season of 2011.  A Giants pitcher puts it on the line and gets absolutely no support when he needs it most.  When you’re last in just about every offensive category, what do you expect?  Pathetic, heartbreaking… and hard to watch.  So what now?  Well, suck it up… give the youngsters some experience, play your ass off and hold your head high.  It’s been a hell of a run. auntijuli photo
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