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Giants' Hit and Miss; New Pac-2 Commissioner; CFP Shenanigans; Pathetic Stanford Promotion

The San Francisco Giants have been making news over the last week, some positive and some negative.

The Hit: The Giants signed third baseman Matt Chapman, the two-time Platinum Glove winner, immediately improving what was the worst defense in the league last year.

In San Francisco, Chapman will reunite with Bob Melvin, who managed him in Oakland for five years, and also provide the Giants with a powerful, if inconsistent, bat. 

But the contract, originally reported as a three year agreement for $54 million ($20M in '24, $18M in '25 and $16M in '26), is really only a one-year deal, as the team stated in its press release yesterday. It includes player options for Chapman after the 2024 and '25 seasons and a mutual option for '26.

So if Chapman has an excellent season in '24, he can opt out and try to find a new deal in November.

It's a typical caveat in most deals done by super-agent Scott Boras. For the Giants, however, it means that if Chapman proves to be the answer at third base, he could be gone in a year. Or they'll have to pony up considerably more than $18M to keep him.

The Miss: The Giants didn't bring back Brandon Crawford, the best shortstop in franchise history, instead signing veteran Nick Ahmed to serve as a backup to Marco Luciano, Casey Schmitt or Tyler Fitzgerald...whoever wins the starting job. 

Ahmed is an excellent defensive player, having won a few Golden Gloves, but a below-average offensive threat. He batted .212 last season for the Arizona Diamondbacks, who cut him in mid-season, and .234 for his career.

Crawford, who made it clear he was willing to return as a backup and mentor to the young infielders, is superior to Ahmed in every regard, having won four Golden Gloves and sporting a career .250 average.

But the Giants, who have floundered under Farhan Zaidi's watch, blew it yet again, telling Crawford he wasn't wanted. Apparently the team felt Luciano would be intimidated by having to look over his shoulder at Crawford.

If so, he shouldn't be in the lineup.

"The bottom line is I was not wanted back by the one person whose opinion matters," said Crawford, referring to Zaidi. "I had no playing time expectations. Just help out and be a veteran mentor for Luciano, Schmitt, Fitzgerald, whoever I could help out in that capacity."

When Crawford was offered a $2M contract to serve as backup shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals, he went back to the Giants for one last try.

"I was told I could earn the last spot on the roster like anyone else as a non-roster invitee," Crawford told the Athletic. "That was the nail in the coffin."

Full disclosure: Crawford has been my favorite Giants' player for many years. It will break my heart to see him in a Cardinals uniform.

Pac-12 Names New Commissioner: Teresa Gould was named Commissioner of the Pac-12, or perhaps more accurately, the Pac-2, last week. Gould has an impressive background as an administrator at the West Coast Conference, Cal, UC Davis, and the Pac-12, where she's served as deputy commissioner for the past five years. 


She becomes the first female commissioner of a Power Five Conference, a landmark achievement that, under the circumstances, is dampened by the incredible challenges and complications she faces.

The Pac-12 will become the Pac-2 on July 1, when 10 schools bolt for other conferences, leaving only Oregon State and Washington State behind. She will lead the Beavers and Cougars forward into the abyss, a completely uncertain future.

The two schools have made a football scheduling agreement with the Mountain West and become affiliate members of the WCC in 12 sports, including men's and women's basketball.

Gould, WSU and OSU are in uncharted waters, with no real clue as to what the future of realignment might hold. The ACC, with Florida State trying to disengage, could splinter apart. The Big 12 might beckon. The Big Ten and SEC are trying to take over the College Football Playoff (more on that below) and dropping hints that they might break away from the NCAA.

"This crazy, shifting landscape will ultimately translate into opportunity," Gould said at her introductory press conference. "It will be important to make sure we're nimble enough to react to what's happening in the marketplace."

Fifteen years ago, my wife and I sat with Gould at the retirement dinner for Tom Hansen, the league's last competent commissioner. We were impressed.

She has a tough, some might say, impossible job ahead, but I'm confident she'll be more like the highly-respected Hansen and less like the arrogant Larry Scott and the clueless George Kliavkoff.

More CFP Shenanigans: The Big Two Conferences--SEC and Big Ten--are proving once again that today's college football "leaders" are only interested in protecting their own interest rather than doing what's best for the sport.

Before the new 12-team College Football Playoff has even started, the conference commissioners who manage the playoff are looking into a 14-team model that will provide 11 automatic bids--three each for the SEC and Big Ten, two each for the Big 12 and ACC, and one for the top Group of Five team. In this scenario, the top-ranked teams from the BIG and SEC would also be guaranteed a first round bye. 

Apparently, there is no end to the greed and, in this case, bullying behavior by the Big Two.

Unfortunately, right now they have a lot of leverage. The Big Ten will grow to 18 teams next season with the addition of USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington. The SEC will be at 16 with the addition of Texas and Oklahoma. Almost all of the top teams in the country are housed in the two leagues, perhaps a foreshadowing of the "premier league" setup we believe is inevitable in college football.

In fact, there has been some talk that if the two conferences don't get what they want from the CFP, they'll simply hold a playoff between their leagues and declare the winner the national champion.

Their original proposal, in fact, called for four automatic bids apiece, meaning that over half of the teams in the CFP each year would come from the SEC and Big Ten.

This naked power grab, understandably, has a lot of folks upset. Sports Illustrated's Pat Forde charges the two leagues with "next-level gluttony" and "next-level cowardice," claiming that "the two most powerful conferences in America are scared to compete."

He has a point. But don't be surprised if the other leagues go along with this scheme. The ACC and Big 12, frankly, will do well to have two guaranteed spots, given the current quality of their teams. And the Group of Five conferences will not only get the one automatic, but have a chance to add one more from the three at-larges.

Doritos, Anyone? As if the on-court product wasn't bad enough, the marketing folks for Stanford men's basketball came up with one of the sorriest promotions I've ever seen. To promote ticket sales for the season finale against Cal this Thursday, fans were promised this exciting giveaway:

"Arrive early to receive a FREE Stanford chip and dip bowl while supplies last."

A chip & dip bowl? Seriously? I'm sure there will be lines out to El Camino Real on Thursday afternoon.

And if the item itself wasn't bad enough, Stanford is only giving them out "while supplies last." Most promotional giveaways are distributed to the first 5,000 or 10,000 fans. 

The whole thing is pretty lame.

As we've written many times, if Athletic Director Bernard Muir really wants to give something meaningful to Stanford fans, he'll give them a new head coach.

The Cardinal has lost six in a row, dropping to 12-17 overall and 7-12 in Pac-12 play. Coach Jerod Haase's team will fail to reach the NCAA Tournament for the eighth straight season.

Haase should've been shown the door a couple of years ago. This season, the downward spiral may finally be too steep for Muir to ignore.

Betting Binge: According to the American Gaming Association's annual report, the American sports betting industry reported record revenues of $10.92 billion in 2023 and a total handle (amount wagered) of $119.84 billion. The revenue represents a 44.5% increase from 2022, while the handle was up 27.8% from '22.

A recent episode of 60 Minutes focused on this growing national epidemic. It was pretty depressing.

Gambling addiction therapist Harry Levant said that some of his patients are college students who have gambled away their federal student loan money. "I have patients who gamble in the shower," Levant said. "I have patients who gamble before they get out of bed in the morning. I have patients who gamble while they are driving. 

"There are no guard rails."



Gary Cavalli - Bowl and League co-founder, author, speaker 

Gary Cavalli, the former Sports Information Director and Associate Athletic Director at Stanford University, was co-founder and executive director of the college football bowl game played in the Bay Area, and previously was co-founder and President of the American Basketball League.

Get in touch//@cavalli49//

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