Reading time, two minutes:
▪ Willie Mays, 84, returns to spring training after a one-year absence. All is back to normal.
▪ It’s said that Mays’ upbeat dugout chirping is baseball’s second-best sound in February. Next to the crack of the bat, of course.
▪ Passionate baseball men who will be missed: The San Francisco Giants’ original third baseman Jim Davenport (82) and the Oakland Athletics’ Tony Phillips (56), an invaluable ingredient in their 1989 title.
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▪ It will date me, and I don’t care: My first autograph was Jim Davenport’s. 1962 Crosby Clambake.
▪ I told him about it three decades later when he worked for the San Jose Giants. He spat, sort of snarled, then grinned.
▪ Classic quote by Davenport, whose hand was fractured by one of Don Drysdale’s pitches: “You have to hit him before he hits you.”
▪ One of the best friends the Modesto Athletics/Nuts ever had: The late Darlene Westley. It won’t be the same around Thurman Field this season.
The improving Cal Bears appear to be NCAA bound, but their free-throw shooting won’t keep them around long.
▪ The Sac-Joaquin Section basketball brackets have been released. Remind me after the first round is completed.
▪ A national poll listed the Giants’ broadcast team as the best in MLB. No surprise.
▪ A leftover from Super Bowl 50: Wade Phillips, the Broncos’ defensive coordinator whose team cuffed Tom Brady and Cam Newton in back-to-back games, gets his first ring in 38 years in the NFL. His father, Bum, would tip his big hat.
▪ Levi’s Stadium appeared to be better suited for the Super Bowl than for the 49ers. Methinks the Big One will return to Santa Clara – with or without the Niners – before 2025.
▪ Peyton Manning’s playing days must be over. He’s shilling products at a record pace.
▪ Texas A&M, stung by all that Johnny Manziel fallout, found its counterbalance with Super Bowl MVP Von Miller.
▪ Terrell Owens must wait another year for his Hall of Fame call, the one Eddie DeBartolo Jr. just received.
▪ The Rams released defensive end Chris Long, Howie Long’s son. Wonder if the Raiders like that bloodline.
▪ Must-watch: Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams’ emotional and heart-tugging eulogy to his wife.
▪ The NFL scouting combine is next week. I’m worried. My three-cone drill is rusty.
▪ A consensus beginning to form: Cal’s Jared Goff is the most NFL-ready quarterback.
▪ Duke’s Grayson Allen hits a buzzer beater while basketball fans coast to coast thought he walked. Just another night at Cameron.
▪ The improving Cal Bears appear to be NCAA bound, but their free-throw shooting won’t keep them around long.
▪ Just because: Cherokee Parks.
▪ About McHenry Golf Center, closed since Jan. 10: It will reopen. Soon.
▪ The Haiti women’s national soccer team and its local connection: Samantha Brand (Turlock Christian, USF).
▪ Given that Golden State has built the most magical skill-athleticism-chemistry mojo seen in recent years in the NBA, a question to the Warriors: Why even think about Kevin Durant after this season?
▪ If I’m the Warriors’ Luke Walton, I hold the keys to the NBA kingdom in 2016-17.
▪ And on the other corner of the world: The Kings fire George Karl’s assistant Vance Walberg because, you know, it was just time to shake things up.
▪ When are things not shaken up in Kings World?
▪ The Kings are supposed to be encouraging people to flock to Golden 1 Center next season. Instead, more dysfunction.
▪ While the Giants like their new center fielder Denard Span, another restart: Barry Bonds, beginning work as the Marlins’ hitting coach.
▪ Mays called Span “Bernard.” Hey, it’s even spring training for the Say Hey Kid.