Bridesmaids Again; Baer Down, Barbour Up; Sidwell, Stanford Departures
The Giants fell short again in their quest for a high-profile slugger. Last year it was Giancarlo Stanton and Shohei Ohtani. This time it was Bryce Harper leaving them at the altar.
Why do none of the big-name free agents want to sign with San Francisco? It appears that there are three reasons, and two of them aren’t going away anytime soon.
First, the Giants ballpark isn’t hitter friendly. It’s hard to hit home runs in AT&T (err…Oracle) Park, particularly if you’re a left-handed hitter and your name isn’t Barry Bonds. Second, the high California State income tax is a deterrent for many players. And third, most folks don’t think the Giants are going to contend in the near future.
Harper opted for the bandbox in Philly, where he should be able to hit 50 homers, and a Phillies’ team full of talent. Then there’s the Pennsylvania state income tax rate of about 3%, a far cry from the 13% he’d have to pay in California. When you’re talking about $330 million, that’s a big chunk of change for the taxman.
The fact that this is Bruce Bochy’s last year as Giants’ manager probably also didn’t help matters. Boch is viewed as a players’ manager, and there is buzz around the league that the Giants may bring in a younger, more analytics-driven type to succeed him.
Baer Down: All in all, it was a very bad week for the lads at Third and King, capped off by the video that went viral of team president Larry Baer flinging his wife, Pam, to the ground amid a very public argument and tussle over a cell phone.
A shocking and disturbing video, to be sure, punctuated by Pam’s loud screams. One that headlined the nightly news on NBC with Lester Holt. And clearly not the image the public-relations conscious Giants want to project in the politically correct, liberal bastion of San Francisco.
Afterward, both Baer and his wife issued disingenuous statements that bore no resemblance to what was clearly visible on the video. Something about an injured foot and a chair tipping over.
Which only made the whole thing worse.
Today Baer announced he was taking a leave of absence of indeterminate length. Given the Giants' and MLB's alleged stance on domestic violence, it would be the height of hypocrisy if nothing further is done.
Barbour Up: Former Cal Athletic Director Sandy Barbour is flourishing—to put it mildly—at Penn State. Last week, the folks in State College signed Sandy to a new deal paying $6.345 million over the next five years, starting at $1.169M this year with increases of $50K each year thereafter. The contract places her among the highest paid ADs in the country and was a nice bump from her previous deal, which paid about $700K per.
She joined the Nittany Lions in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, which had left the program in tatters. No more. Last year, Penn State brought in a reported $165M in total revenue, with over $10 million in profit.
A much different story than the one she left behind in Berkeley.
Sidwell Moves On: Speaking of Penn State, Barbour made a brilliant hire in pegging USF Athletic Director Scott Sidwell as her Deputy AD. Scott did a fantastic job for the Dons, hiring excellent coaches, improving facilities, and raising money. But he’s the son of a football coach and loves the game; it was only a matter of time before he moved on to a program that competes on the gridiron.
The fact that he stayed eight years at USF is a tribute both to his commitment and to the unique atmosphere on the Hilltop.
Stanford Departures: Stanford football will have some huge holes to fill this fall. That much was already clear on the offensive side of the ball with the departures of running back Bryce Love, wide receivers JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Trent Irwin, tight end Kaden Smith, and several starters on the offensive line.
But the defense has taken some major hits in recent days with the announcements that inside linebacker Sean Barton—the team’s second leading tackler last year—had retired from football, and safeties Frank Buncom and Ben Edwards would not return for their final season of eligibility. Combine those losses with the graduation of leading tackler Bobby Okereke, and suddenly the outlook has darkened considerably.
Coach David Shaw has his work cut out for him, particularly with the nation’s toughest schedule. The Cardinal’s non-conference docket includes Notre Dame and UCF, both undefeated in the regular season last year, and Big Ten Divisional champ Northwestern.