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Where’s the Giant love?

Went to Barnes & Noble last night for my annual purchase of baseball and NFL draft preview magazines.

I picked up the Athlon Sports baseball mag that had a nice shot of Timmy and Trevor gracing the regionalized cover.

It had the typical dose of East Coast love, predicting deep-pocketed Boston would beat Philadelphia in the World Series. It had the Giants winning the division and losing to Philly in the NLCS. It had A’s finishing third with a very real possibility of winning the fairly weak American League West.

What surprised me, however, was its “15 Things to Watch in 2011” and the No. 1 headline: “Best rotation in history?”

I thought, cool, maybe a mention of this year’s Oakland A’s staff or, most likely, a reference to the Giants Fab Four (Sorry, Zito). As much as I hate to admit it (I’m an A’s fan), the starting rotation of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Jonathan Sanchez could tread on history if it sticks together.

Now, I do think the A’s foursome of Trevor Cahill, Dallas Braden, Gio Gonzalez and Brett Anderson is just as good. If the A’s were on KNBR, and had the 50,000-watt cheerleading machine behind them, maybe their foursome would be lauded as the greatest in the land, let alone the Bay Area.

But, I digress. Back to the magazine.

What team this year did Athlon Sports say has possibly the best rotation in history? That would be the Phillies, who boast Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.

They’re definitely a formidable four … no doubt about it. And I’ll give them that Halladay, in my book, is the best pitcher in baseball.

But, top to bottom, I’ll take the Giants’ four over Philly. Give the A’s staff another year or two to stick, and it could be the A’s four that lay claim. After all, A’s starters last year had a major-league best ERA of 3.47, which was the lowest since Boston’s starting staff posted a 3.32 in 1990.

Back to the Giants. Off the top of my head, Halladay edges Lincecum, Cain over Lee, Sanchez and Oswalt are a tossup and I’ll take Bumgarner over Hamels.

Do either of these staffs match up to Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz and Avery? How about the early 1970s Oakland staffs led by Catfish Hunter, Vida Blue and Ken Holtzman? What about the O’s Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar and Pat Dobson, all 20-game winners in 1971?

Fun topic to discuss, no doubt. But if you’re going to bring up the Philly’s Fab Four, let’s at least acknowledge San Francisco. After all, I do believe it was the Giants’ arms that silenced Philadelphia in the NLCS.

What do you think? Is there another staff out there we’re forgetting? Let me know by leaving a comment.

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Posted by on March 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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The dreaded walk across Floyd at Millbrook

I would be curious for anyone’s thoughts on the marked crosswalk painted across Floyd Avenue at Millbrook Avenue six months ago.

If you’ll recall, a Dan Savage Middle School student was struck there by a sports utility vehicle in August. A month later, city crews put in a marked crosswalk and added warning lights to alert drivers heading east and west on Floyd.

Does the marked crosswalk make you feel safer or ease any concerns you have about your child walking unattended across what I like to refer to as “Floyd Avenue Speedway”? (I was walking the dog there the other night and saw someone I’d estimate racing 70 mph in a souped-up sedan.)

To be sure, the boy was found to be at fault, having darted in front of the SUV, police said. When I spoke with him last year, Jeff Barnes, the traffic engineer for the city, did talk about children needing a certain level of maturity when crossing “arterial roads.”

I get that.

Still, it’s a bad intersection for a couple of reasons.

1. Even as an adult, I don’t like crossing Floyd. The biggest reason are the drivers. They either drive too fast or don’t understand how to drive … or better yet, how to stop … at a crosswalk. How many times have you stepped into the intersection when it’s all clear on your side, only to see an oncoming car on the other? Then, as you continue walking to get to the median, the oncoming car blows through the crosswalk at the same speed or, seemingly worse, slows down but continues through giving you a sheepish look like “Oh, I think I was supposed to stop for you, but I’m not sure, so I’m going to keep driving.”

2. Seemingly worse is playing “Frogger” in the mornings or afternoons on school days when driving to work or driving my son home from school. I try to avoid the mess altogether by leaving early to work or finding an alternate route after school. But how many of us have been stuck in a line of cars at the stop sign on Millbrook … in either direction … trying to cross Floyd? You’ve got three issues: 1. Trying to find an open spot between cars on Floyd. 2. Predicting if the oncoming car on Millbrook is going straight or turning left. 3. Appeasing the person behind you who’s on your bumper thinking, “Why isn’t this person going?”

In the end, I think the marked crosswalk has been the best solution. I couldn’t see waiting at a stop light or stopping at a stop sign on Floyd at 10 p.m. on a Saturday night when nobody was around. When I spoke with the city traffic engineer last year, he laid out a fairly well-reasoned response as to why, at least for now, a marked crosswalk is the best solution.

One potential, and obvious solution to help ease tension at that intersection, is to walk more. Yeah, I know. I stated above that the intersection is dicey for pedestrians. But the more drivers see people in that crosswalk, the more they’ll get in the habit of actually stopping. As I’ve learned in my 20 years in Modesto, drivers will eventually come around to learning the rules of the road.

What are your thoughts? Do you want to see a light or a stop sign? Do you think a crosswalk is enough? Is the intersection even an issue for you? Let me know by leaving a comment.

VOICEOVERS: If you don’t know or haven’t heard, all the baseball games at Bel Passi today have been rained out. Last Saturday’s game was the coldest day game I had ever attended. No way with the rain today. That’s unfortunate. Losing an entire Saturday is rough for the hard-working schedulers. … Earlier this week, I was extolling the virtues of the A’s flagship station, KTRB (860-AM). Now, it seems, there might be an issue and the team might be hunting for a new station. Not a good thing a week before the season starts. Here’s a story about what’s going on. … I have to admit, I’m an NFL draftnik. Anyone see a good draft magazine out yet?

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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East Modesto downpour quite a sight

A hailstorm on March 24, 2011, left a layer of hail in the back yard of a home in east Modesto's Village I.

Not sure how many of you were home during the hailstorm that hit the Village on Thursday at about 4:40 p.m.

The brunt of it lasted about one minute, leaving behind a layer of hail stones and rushing water down my street near Floyd and Millbrook avenues.

I can recall when moving here in 2000 the talk about unresolved infrastructure issues, some centering on roads but other concerns tied to flood control.

In my decade here, and during downpours like the one yesterday, I can’t recall any street-flooding issues near my house. Before Floyd Avenue between Roselle and Fine was finished, you’d see little lakes on the side of the two-lane road. But nothing within the walls of Bright’s Millbrook development from what I’ve seen.

I heard on one of the YouTube videos uploaded yesterday within minutes of the late afternoon downpour somebody mentioning they hadn’t seen anything like this ever in Modesto. No doubt, a lot of water fell here because the rushing water extended at least three feet beyond either gutter in front of my house, and I don’t ever recall seeing anything like it.

A quarter-inch of rain was recorded in downtown Modesto in the 4 o’clock hour yesterday. Seemed like we had more in our area.

How has your street or property handled the rain over the years? Any issues or problems? Leave me a comment.

VOICEOVERS: Pretty easy to understand the American Idol judges keeping Casey Abrams. The decision had to be tied to ratings and the concert series. You either like Casey or you don’t. There’s no in-between with him, and that’s what makes him so important to the show. A quick check of Twitter Nation last night illustrated that very fact. Could not believe Haley and Lauren weren’t in the bottom three. Understood Stefano’s place there. I mean really. “Hello”? Surprised, too, by Thia’s presence. She, by the way, is from Mountain House. Overall, a fun show last night, including Stevie Wonder singing Steven Tyler “Happy Birthday.” Did not understand Hulk Hogan’s appearance, though. … My Aztecs were dumped from the NCAA Tournament. Still, a 34-3 season and a trip to the Sweet 16 left me pretty satisfied. Not sure I’ll watch another game of this tournament, though. … Saw the A’s named Trevor Cahill their Opening Day starter next Friday against the Seattle Mariners. Solid choice among many solid choices the A’s have at starting pitcher. The race for the No. 5 starting position is coming down to Brandon McCarthy and Tyson Ross. Either one is fine by me. McCarthy pitches today for the A’s, who play at 1:05 p.m.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Coffee, American Idol and an Alternative

It’s been about two years since Starbucks took its ball and left Village One Plaza, leaving somewhat of an eyesore-ish vacancy at the shopping center’s northwest corner.

Enter Old Plantation Coffee & Cafe, which is expected to open soon, according to a story in The Bee.

In its former life, Old Plantation was in the shopping center on the northwest corner of Coffee Road and Floyd Avenue. I used to frequent it a lot, usually downing multiple cups of coffee with my bagel and cream cheese while reading a couple of newspapers.

The clientele was great, a mix of educators and retired folks sharing opinion and various other people coming and going. I don’t recall what it sounded like outside of people’s voices and the din of clanking coffee cups and dishes. It was a place to be comfortable. The owners and employees made it that way.

It’s definitely not Starbucks, and that’s not a bad thing. Don’t get me wrong. I like Starbucks. A lot. But have you tried to find a seat in one in Modesto? Floyd and Coffee? Briggsmore and McHenry Avenue? On more than one occasion, I’ve been left to go sit in my car to enjoy my coffee when all I wanted was a place to read and listen to music.

In hindsight, Starbucks was maybe a little too impatient in departing Village One Plaza. Hard not to blame them. The big concern at that plaza, beyond lease prices that no longer were a fit with the economy, is the place went dead after 7 p.m. on weeknights. That was true at one time. But it seems that since last summer, business there is picking up.

Anyway, here’s hoping those in the neighborhood take some of their coffee business to Old Plantation. Beyond good coffee and what’s likely to be a great menu, if offers us Villagers one more reason to stay in the area.

What are your thoughts? Are you looking forward to a return of a coffee house? Do you really care if there’s a coffee place or not in VI Plaza? Is Peet’s inside Raley’s enough to satisfy your coffee needs?

Let me know.

Voiceovers: Lauren or Haley will be the next American Idol contestants to go. At least to me, they seemed a little flat compared to the others on “Motown”. A few of my takeaways from last night? Casey (bearded one) was better than I thought. James Durbin has presence. I love Scotty, but country is his only path, which is fine. Stefano, I have to ask, why would you sing “Hello.” Is it even Motown? Here’s a good story, and video, of both Stefano and David Cook performing “Hello”. I’ve only been watching for three weeks, but last night was the best. … Any Aztec alums out there in the Village? When I was there in the early-to-mid1980s, we had decent basketball teams led by Michael Cage and Anthony Watson. I think we made it as far as the National Invitation Tournament one year, losing in the first round to UC Irvine. If it comes down to guard play, UConn will be impossible to beat. … Lots of Giants fans in the area, so with KNBR, you’re never at a loss for coverage. Fans of East Bay teams (like me) might not know that KTRB-AM (860) in the Bay Area has turned into local sportstalk. If you recall, KTRB used to pipe its 50,000-watt signal from Modesto. It took its tower over the hill, and is the flagship station of the A’s. Recently, though, it added local sportstalk. Ken Dito hosts a show from 9-10 a.m. that features Bay Area sportswriters. It’s good stuff. In the afternoon, you can listen to JJ and the Mouth (ex-49er JJ Stokes and Geoff Sheen), who used to have their show on Modesto’s 970-AM.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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