BLOOP SINGLES, slam dunks, left jabs and screen passes for a holiday that historically means a lot more than the "opening day'' of the summer. I'm thinking 1993, when the Atlanta Braves added Fred McGriff at the trade deadline and overtook the Giants: When was the last time an NFL/MLB/NBA team got the kind of mileage from a midseason acquisition that the Denver Nuggets are getting from Chauncey Billups? No, it's not Manny Ramirez because he didn't completely change the culture of the Dodgers last season. There's a ton of courage and sass in Allen Iverson's game, but seeing Billups' impact exposes AI's biggest problem. He's just not an exemplary leader. "I'm not knocking it, but it wasn't what I was accustomed to, what I was used to, and I just started just not caring like a bunch of other guys, you know? It kind of rubs off on you.'' — DeAngelo Hall, summarizing his Raiders experience to WJFK radio in Washington. That's called exposing a nugget of truth while giving a lame excuse for quitting. You would think he has found a way to rid the city's streets of crime, lower the unemployment rate and fund the public school system: Terrell Owens, NFL vagabond, showed up for practice and was presented with a key to Buffalo. Phillies star and Encinal graduate Jimmy Rollins last week became one of four active players with 300 steals and 300 doubles. The identity of the other three is just a few paragraphs away. To know Vallejo's own CC Sabathia is to be impressed by him. Yet nothing would be more pleasing to these eyes than another season of Yankees failure — especially given their obscene ticket prices and the $341 million they threw at CC and Mark Teixeira. Speaking of New York, the Giants allegedly have a waiting list of 140,000 for tickets to their new football palace, yet they still have Public Seat Licenses for sale. Sound familiar? Silly protest, sillier ration- ale: Steelers linebacker James Harrison declined to attend the annual Super Bowl championship celebration at the White House because, hey, if Pittsburgh had lost, President Obama would have invited the Cardinals. Welcome back, Dontrelle. If you see Jeff Tedford, offer him a fishing lure and some good mojo. Oaks Christian's (Westlake Village) Cassius Marsh, the third-rated defensive tackle in the nation, has decommitted from Cal and is looking at schools in the Southeastern Conference. And you know what that means: Don't rule out March getting caught up in Hurricane Kiffin, as the new Tennessee coach is blowing through the recruiting trail and the rule book with equal force. The last time we saw an offense in these parts as constipated as that of the baseball Giants was in 2006, when Tom "Bed and Breakfast'' Walsh reinvented futility with the Raiders. When did Ryan Leaf assume the identity of Todd Marinovich? On second thought, any comparison to the Chargers' bust recently indicted in a drug case might be an insult to Marinovich. A couple of former Lakers named Kareem and James kind of like the idea: Rumor out of Phoenix is that Suns star Amare Stoudemire may have to wear protective goggles for the rest of his career. If ever a man's head could have an inferiority complex, it's Dwight Howard. Between those impressive shoulders, it looks like a grape between two boulders. Patience, Billy: Is there an A's fan alive who wouldn't want Carlos Pena, now one AL's leading sluggers, who spent six months in Oakland before being traded away in 2002? The only thing the A's kept from that deal was the cash they received. The three active players who greeted Rollins in their 300 Club (steals, doubles) are Johnny Damon, Omar Vizquel and Bobby Abreu. Got a look at the 16 men who are the 49ers' inaugural inductees for the 49ers Hall of Fame. Nice list. One notable absence (Jerry Rice, a relatively recent retiree) is easily explained, but where is executive John McVay and coach George Seifert, as well as players Roger Craig and Bryant Young? Happy 77th birthday to K. C. Jones, a man of class and serenity. And, finally, congratulations to Emma Holden, the Notre Dame-Belmont graduate who as a freshman at Cal Baptist in Riverside was the winning pitcher last week as the Lancers defeated St. Gregory to win the NAIA national championship.
Contact Monte Poole at firstname.lastname@example.org.