Monday, April 30, 2012

Niners saw need, addressed it with speed

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh believes "self scouting" is an important and often-overlooked aspect of being successful. The team's just-concluded work in the NFL Draft is evidence the Niners did some self-scouting and addressed a weakness.

Draft just a tiny part of Raiders' rebuilding process

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: GM Reggie McKenzie's first Raiders' draft picks aren't likely to make a huge impact on team this season. But McKenzie's philosophy might.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

49ers waited, then got the guard they wanted

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area. You have to hand it to HarBaalke, the Jim Harbaugh/Trent Baalke leadership of the 49ers for the way the draft was approached. Waiting to take a guard on Saturday -- a guard they had their eyes on -- was a smart move.

Raiders hope for high quality from low picks

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Miles Burris isn't a well-known name, but he's the type of player Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie is looking for these days.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Niners going for impact players in draft

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: With his first two picks in the draft, 49ers GM Trent Baalke  is focusing on impact players over trying to find a certain piece to fit his puzzle. LaMichael James could be a very versatile addition.

Raiders get their (dull) man

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: The Raiders had to wait a long time to pick someone in the NFL Draft, and when they did they picked a hard-working, stay-at-home, family-oriented tackle. Just their kind of guy in the post-Al Davis era.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Raiders might want to draft players who can tackle

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: When Reggie McKenzie finally gets to pick a player in the draft for the Raiders Friday, he might want to focus on a defensive lineman or linebacker who can stuff the run.

Was Jenkins a 'reach' for the 49ers?

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Critics immediately took shots at the Niners' pick in the first round Thursday, saying that receiver A.J. Jenkins of Illinois wasn't worth taking so early. But GM Trent Baalke has earned the trust of Niners fans; he's done OK so far.

Jeopardy for's Playbook

So what hockey player holds the dubious record for losing the most teeth in games? My Jeopardy for's Playbook page for April 27:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Raiders' McKenzie will be waiting, watching

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Reggie McKenzie doesn't have a first-round pick or a second-round pick in this draft. But he'll be taking notes as he approaches his first choice, No. 95 overall.

49ers shouldn't draft for "need" in first round

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: the Niners have a rare luxury going into this draft to pick the best player available ... don't worry about a specific need, Trent Baalke. Get the best guy out there.

Dear Rams: Come home. All will be forgiven.

For nearly 50 years, the Los Angeles Rams were a Southern California team, the first major professional sports team to play on the West Coast. But owner Georgia Frontiere yanked them away and deposited them in St. Louis. Now a small group of dedicated fans is working to spread the word that the Rams belong in only one place: Los Angeles. It's a long shot, of course, but they believe their fans will return if the team does... and without the hated Frontiere. My story for's Playbook:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Raiders' new motto? "In Reggie they trust"

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Reggie McKenzie, as first a scout and then a player personnel director, was praised as an uncanny judge of talent for the Green Bay Packers. Now, he gets to show what he can do for the Raiders.

Niners fans will need to gaze through the hype on draft day

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: What gets more hype and attention than the NFL Draft? Well, hardly anything. So Niners fans might want to remember that all those talking heads know about as much as you do about whether San Francisco's draft picks this week will be able to make an impact in the NFL.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

On draft day, 49ers' Baalke trusts his gut

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: General manager Trent Baalke does his homework before the draft, but when it comes time to making a decision on draft day, he trusts his instincts and first impressions. So far, it's worked.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Can you guess 49ers' first-round pick? Probably not

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website. It's impossible to guess along with the 49ers going into Thursday night's first round of the NFL Draft. Because the team is stocked, their Round 1 selection is clouded in mystery.

Dynamic pricing is the new trend in professional sports

What's the price of a ticket to a baseball game these days? Well, it depends. The days are gone when a set price is placed on a seat before the season. Now, through what's called "dynamic pricing," the cost of a ticket goes up or down based on the opponent, the day of the week, a pitching matchup, the weather or the history of sales on that particular date. Mostly, the prices go up as a season moves along. But teams know they need to offer bargains, too, so savvy buyers can keep their eyes peeled for cut-rate tickets to some games. My story for's Fandom section of Playbook.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

America's trees tell the history of a nation

Eric Rutkow's first book, "American Canopy," uses the vast forests of the United States and the trees transplanted from Europe to tell the story of our nation's evolution. From exploitation to conservation to preservation, the abundant trees on the continent helped the country in almost every endeavor. My book review of "American Canopy" for the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Friday, April 20, 2012

Even the humans get dog tired in this class

Personal fitness trainer Dawn Celapino, after getting her dog Jack several years ago, decided to start physical fitness classes for people and their dogs together. The program, called Leash Your Fitness, has been popular -- though some of the humans leave with their tongues hanging out, just like Fido. My story on Celapino and her course for the San Diego Union-Tribune's Pets Page:

Kyle Williams' future with 49ers may be tenuous

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: The Niners say they like receiver Kyle Williams, and have moved past his mistakes as a punt returner in the NFC Championship Game. Yet as the 2012 season approaches, the roster numbers may be against him -- especially if the team adds another pass catcher in the draft.

Jeopardy for's Fandom page

So who was that NFL quarterback seen cuddling with a supermodel at the Coachella music festival? My Jeopardy for's new Fandom page on the Playbook section of the website:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A house divided in the Buckeyes-Wolverines rivalry

The Ohio State-Michigan rivalry is one of the greatest in college sports. A Buckeye and a Wolverine just don't mix. But in northwest Ohio, in an area where allegiances are mixed between Ann Arbor to the north and Columbus to the south, sits the Buckeye & Wolverines Shop, a store that sells both Ohio State and Michigan gear and memorabilia under one roof. It's been around since 1980 -- now in its third spot and third ownership -- but fans of both schools still get a kick out stopping by ... as long as they don't have to touch the "enemy" items. My story for's Playbook section:

Raiders encouraged by McFadden in workouts

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Darren McFadden appears healthy and fit in offseason workouts, giving new head coach Dennis Allen hope that the Raiders' biggest "weapon" will be available in 2012.

49ers' Baalke is a man with a (draft) plan

Daily 49ers' blog for NBC Bay Area website: General Manager Trent Baalke says he has a name circled on his draft board that he believes will be there when the 49ers make the 30th pick in the NFL Draft. And, he believes that player will be a keeper. But if that plan falls through, he has other players he likes.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Countdown is on: It's 100 days until London Olympics

Swimmer Natalie Coughlin can't believe it's almost time for the London Olympics. To Coughlin, who won six medals four years ago in Beijing, it seems the Summer Games just ended. Now, with 100 days to go, Coughlin and tennis player John Isner, America's No. 1 player, talk about the impending London Games. My story for the U.S. Olympic website:

New-look Raiders will debut in primetime game

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: The Raiders, who have gone through many changes since the end of last season, will get the chance to start the season in front of a national audience with a "Monday Night Football" game against the Chargers to open the 2012 season.

Suddenly, 49ers are media darlings

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: After going 13-3 and coming within one victory of going to the Super Bowl, the 49ers a hot item for networks that carry the NFL. The Niners will be on primetime in the 2012 season five times, the maximum allowed. And, they'll open with a marquee matchup against the Packers in Green Bay.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Did you hear the one about the comedian on the Paralympic soccer team? Josh Blue is a funny guy ... and he can dribble, too

Josh Blue was born with cerebral palsy, but he's never let it stop him from doing anything he set his mind to. Now a standup comic with a blossoming career, Blue also has been a lifelong athlete. As a member of the U.S. Paralympic soccer team, he's traveled the world with a soccer ball -- he always has one with him -- to tell jokes and score goals. Now he's hoping to make the U.S. team that will play in London this summer. My story for's Playbook page:

Megan Kalmoe is rowing toward London while also giving back to her sport

Megan Kalmoe didn't know a thing about rowing when she enrolled at the University of Washington. But the versatile athlete walked on to the strong Huskies program and eventually became a team captain before moving on to the national team. In Beijing she made the finals in the double sculls, finishing fifth; now the World Championships medalist is hoping to make the quad boat for the London Games -- while also working to contribute to USRowing's Row to London program. My story for the U.S. Olympic site:

After fleeing Iraq, he's living the American Dream

Lee Wazzi and his family came from Iraq years ago to seek a place where they could live in peace and give their young people a chance to prosper. As Christians, they felt persecuted in their homeland. But since coming to America, Wazzi has worked hard, saved his money and operated a successful business in Santee. He's a loyal American citizen who feels blessed to finally be home. My profile of Wazzi for the "On the Job" series for Santee Patch:

After sterling 2011 season, expect 49ers to get primetime love in 2012

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: The 49ers were on primetime TV only twice in the 2011 season, but expect much more when the 2012 NFL schedule is released this afternoon.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Niners QBs prepare for new phase of offseason

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: The 49ers' structured offseason conditioning program begins today, meaning the three quarterbacks vying for a place on the roster and the No. 2 job behind Alex Smith will begin a new phase of competition.

Betcha can't eat this giant ballpark sandwich

It's called the Moby Dick, and it's a whale of fried fish sandwich served at the ballpark of the Lake County Captains Class A team near Cleveland: a 3-pound, 4,000-calorie monster that nobody -- yet -- has been able to conquer. My story for's Playbook:

Saturday, April 14, 2012

As a handyman, Don Arnold has fixed his life, too

Don Arnold did a lot of things before he became a handyman, working as a professional musician in a band and then a pastor. But since becoming a handyman in North County San Diego, Arnold has found something that fits him well. My story for the San Diego Union-Tribune's "On the Job" series:

Raiders' signing of Hardy is low-risk, high-reward move

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Why sign a college basketball player who's never played a down of college football? Because Andre Hardy may have some talent ... and it's a low-cost gamble.

Friday, April 13, 2012

For 49ers, a changing trend with mock drafts

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Those who compile mock drafts are changing their focus on who the 49ers will take with their first-round choice, moving away from wide receivers and toward a couple of linemen.

Jeopardy for April 13

So what team is giving away young saplings on "Grow your own bat night"? My Jeopardy for's Page 2:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

History shows 49ers that 30th pick has high value

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: What to Joseph Addai, Dustin Keller, Kenny Britt, Reggie Wayne, Keith Bullock and Heath Miller all have in common? They were taken with the 30th overall pick in the first round of the NFL Draft since 2000. As the 49ers prepare to pick 30th in this draft, they know they can get high value at that position.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Death of Olympic diving champ Lenzi mourned

Mark Lenzi, the last American diver to win an Olympic medal, died at the age of 43 Monday in a North Carolina hospital. Lenzi, who was inspired to take up diving in high school while watching Greg Louganis in the 1984 Olympics, was mourned Tuesday by former teammates, coaches and friends as an inspirational and tough athlete. My story for the U.S. Olympic website:

Could Marcus Allen have been a great NFL quarterback?

Well, no. Though Allen could throw, the Hall of Fame running back said he always preferred hitting people to throwing a football. He didn't have the mentality to be a quarterback. In my Q&A for's Page 2, Allen talks about how he tried to fumble his way out of playing QB in high school, his career as a running back at USC and the NFL, his golf game and whether kids today know him as a former football star ... or just another talking head on TV.

Raiders GM is upbeat about Palmer at QB and draft possibilities

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: You'd think Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie would be feeling woeful about his lack of picks in April's NFL Draft, and the fact he has a starting quarterback who may not be to his liking -- but you'd be wrong. Outwardly, at least, McKenzie is fine with both.

Two receivers linked to 49ers spark speculation

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website. Niners fans want to know what player the team will take with its first-round pick in the draft, the 30th overall. But two receivers who have been studied by the Niners -- Notre Dame's Michael Floyd and CSU Fullerton's Andre Hardy -- are sparking interest by observers.

Monday, April 9, 2012

New 49er back Jacobs happy to play backup role

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Former Giants running back Brandon Jacobs, who's now signed as a free agent with the 49ers, says he's willing to back up No. 1 back Frank Gore and play whatever role the team deems necessary for him.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Many 49ers outraged by revelations of 'Bountygate' coach

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: When a tape was made public that caught Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams urging his players to injure key 49ers players before their playoff game last season, several Niners understandably were upset.

Jeopardy for April 6 on

So where was Rory McIlroy going to play college golf in the U.S.? My Jeopardy for's Page 2:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

How long is Tiger's Masters drought? iPhones hadn't been released yet

From 1997-2005, Tiger Woods dominated the Masters, winning four times by the age of 29. But since that time, Woods is 0-for-Augusta. How long has it been? Well, when Tiger last put on a green jacket, nobody had an iPhone, Lindsay Lohan had never been arrested and Facebook was still Thefacebook. My story for

Willis says 49ers love their 'crazy' coach

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: What's different about Jim Harbaugh? Well, as linebacker Patrick Willis sees it, the 49ers' head coach is crazy ... and that's a good thing.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Niners' offseason moves warrant an 'A' grade so far

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: When ESPN recently rated the offseason moves of all 32 NFL teams, San Francisco got an "A" -- and it's certainly deserved. The 49ers have retained their key players and strengthened some weak areas. But, there's still more work to do.

Raiders' McFadden says he's healthy, good to go for next season

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Running back Darren McFadden was have a terrific season in 2011 until the seventh game, when he injured his foot. He never played again. Now McFadden, who's been quiet since incurring that injury, says he's healthy again and excited for 2012 season.