Ron Agostini

Truth trumps facts

Facts are fine, but the truth rocks:

Fact: Local high school basketball teams enter the prime time of their respective seasons.

The Truth: I often wonder why we (read: The Bee and everyone else) make such a big deal about the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. The vast majority of these games ring anti-climactic in nature and seem to matter only to a handful of bona fide section contenders. The rest feature bracket-filling schools just happy to be there while section officials rake in the gate receipts. A better option for fans is what's happening right now -- intense intra-conference rivals facing off with league titles at stake. Give me the emotion of Downey at Modesto at Panther Palace on Friday night, or the Hilmar at Livingston girls tonight, over any over-hyped postseason game.

Fact: Mike Martz has been named the new offensive coordinator for the 49ers.

The Truth: Remember Mike Martz, the mad scientist of the high-flying St. Louis Rams? The man treated timeouts like firewood -- burned them without thought -- and sometimes coached his team as though he was staggering out of a bar at closing time. He's paired with coach Mike Nolan, who is to game management what Don King is to curly hair. Great pairing: Dr. Hyde and Edward Scissorhands. The 49ers surely have left behind their snooze-infested offense but replaced it with a scream in the night. If you're a fan of irrelevant challenges and scratch-your-head play calls, you'll love the 49ers.

Fact: Billy Beane of the Oakland Athletics basically has exchanged most of the team's stars for prospects.

The Truth: Why do the A's always seem to be building without a clue to why they're building? They've created a ceiling of sorts -- a crowd-pleasing team that can't, or won't, do better than the American League Championship Series. And when the payroll grows too rich, Beane gives away all the important parts. Only now, the cycle includes a conspiracy theory: Are the A's orchestrating their exit out of Oakland toward its planned new ballpark in Fremont? A's fans deserve better than to be used as pawns by management.

Fact: Giants officials such as Brian Sabean have been targeted by this week's latest Congressional hearings involving performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.

The Truth: Sabean, President Peter Magowan and his minions embodied the team's approach to steroids essentially by looking the other way while Barry Bonds, Bobby Estalella and a few others went chemistry set with their physiques. Because of their willful ignorance, the Giants could face sanctions. But the Mitchell Report, if anything, proved that drug use wasn't confined to only the Giants' clubhouse. Wherever a ball was pitched or a bat swung, drugs were there. Punishments must not be enforced selectively.

Fact: By nightfall Sunday, we'll know the qualifiers for Super Bowl XLII.

The Truth: With all due apologies to the San Diego Chargers and the New York Giants, the football world roots for a Green Bay-New England pairing in The Big One. The suits in the NFL front office crave Brett Favre vs. Bill Belichick and his grim warriors chasing history. So does Joe Fan in Section 54. What's not to like about Good vs. Evil, the NFL's most admired player vs. the joyless cheater?

Fact: Cal wide receiver DeSean Jackson has declared himself eligible for the NFL Draft.

The Truth: Jackson, an injured non-factor late in the season for the slumping Golden Bears, teetered toward staying for his senior year after a great performance in the Armed Forces Bowl by freshman quarterback Kevin Riley. Then, reality shouted the orders. Jackson is projected as a mid-first-round selection, and he'd be more dumb than a bag of hammers to turn down the coin.

Fact: A judge in a bad mood doubled O.J. Simpson's bail to $250,000 after the ex-football star contacted a co-defendant in his armed robbery case and violated the terms of his original bail.

The Truth: Simpson was lucky the judge didn't lock him up until his court date April 7. Watching him in the courtroom, a hardened man dressed in jail attire, reminded observers how he has tumbled off the stage. He's been reduced to fighting for old souvenirs, scrambling to save the portion of his life people admired. He would be an object of pity, if not for the deaths of his ex-wife and her friend.

Bee sports columnist Ron Agostini can be reached at ragostini@modbee.com or 578-2302.

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