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The Rundown: June 5, 2014

San Francisco Giants keep rolling along: Not-So-Rapid Reaction

Another series, another win for the red-hot Giants. And, this time, they did it in a park they haven’t done well in during the regular season.

After losing their first game at Great American Ball Park, home of the Cincinnati Reds, by a substantial margin, the San Francisco Giants claimed the next two games – including a resounding 6-1 victory earlier today – to tack onto their league-best 39-21 record.

It didn’t start very well in this series finale, pitting Giants ace Madison Bumgarner (8-3) against Cincinnati’s Mike Leake. Cincinnati got the early lead with a Todd Frazier solo home run to start things off in the first inning. After a Brandon Phillips single to left immediately following Frazier’s initial run, Bumgarner got back into a rhythm, and only allowed one more hit over 8 innings. He threw no-hit ball after the 3rd.

Meanwhile, the Giants’ collective bats continued its impressive production. Two home runs powered San Francisco, as Michael Morse hit his 13th of the season, a two-run shot in the 2nd inning to take the lead, while Brandon Crawford piled on with a three-run shot of his own in the 4th.

Michael Morse (center) continues to set a torrid offensive pace for the first-place Giants.

Michael Morse (center) continues to set a torrid offensive pace for the first-place Giants.

Again, it was all they would need with Bumgarner on the mound. After a slow start, the 24-year-old sidewinder has rattled off six straight decisions, compiling a 2.68 ERA in the process. At this point, his impressive 2014 resume has pundits hinting at a Cy Young season – at the very least, he is a front-runner to start this year’s All-Star Game in July.

The Giants finished their 7-game road trip with a 5-2 record, and now get to stay within the friendly confines of AT&T Park for a ten-game homestand against the Mets (currently 28-32), the Nationals (currently 30-28) and the Rockies (currently 28-30).


Another Note on Colin Kaepernick’s Contract Extension

A lot of talk has been going around about San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick’s recent mega-contract extension, initially reported for 6 years, and over $110 million.

Initial reaction went one of two ways:

1) “That’s way too much for a guy who’s only been a starting quarterback for one full season – more than $18 million a year?!”

2) “It may be a lot, but that’s the going rate for franchise quarterbacks. I don’t know how they’re going to keep the team together, though.”

Now, I’ve generally been in the camp of reaction #2. And, considering the initial reports of the contract value, and past questions about whether a signal-caller like Kaepernick was worth that much, I understood reaction #1.

However, as more details have come out, it seems like both initial reactions were ultimately based on half-truths and speculations.

As has been pointed out in articles like this one, Kaepernick’s contract extension is not meant to be as cap-killing as initially thought. In fact, upon Kap’s request, the contract is essentially for two years and $28 million, with a number of player escalators that, if the new franchise QB performs well throughout the length of the deal, could be worth around $116 million by 2020.

Not as money-hungry as pictures like this would lead you to believe.

Not as money-hungry as pictures like this would lead you to believe. (Well, not totally.)

However, if he dips drastically in production in the near-future, the 49ers can use a built-in escape hatch without long-term financial damage. Additionally, the signing bonus was miniscule ($12.3 million) compared to other astronomical contracts. There are also a number of de-escalators built in to his deal, which require Kap to either make a Super Bowl or reach an All-Pro team, lest he lose $2 million per season on his contract.

On top of the fact that the NFL salary cap is expected to go up in the near-future, the deal is meant to be financially friendly to the organization, in order to keep the talent they have – say, like WR Michael Crabtree, DT Justin Smith and OG Mike Iupati.

The moral of the story: Don’t overreact until you read the fine print.


Sharapova vs. Halep: An Interesting French Open Women’s Final

It’s a popular veteran vs. a relatively unknown phenom at the Women’s final of the year’s second Grand Slam tournament.

On one side, you have Maria Sharapova – the talented and beautiful Russian gunning for her fifth Grand Slam singles title and a second French Open title. Her up-and-down career is currently on the upswing, as this is her third straight French Open Championship match, having won it all in 2012.

Can Tennis Darling Maria Sharapova win her second French Open in three years?

Can Tennis Darling Maria Sharapova win her second French Open in three years?

And Sharapova, it seems, has done it the hard way, having won three straight 3-set matches to get to this point, dropping the first set in each. It actually isn’t very surprising, considering she has thrived on three-set matches on clay – she has won her last 19 matches in these situations.

On the other, you have Simona Halep, the 22-year-old Romanian phenom that experienced a meteoric rise in the ranks, seeded No. 4 in this year’s tournament. While possessing a vast amount of talent when she first burst onto the tennis scene in 2008.

Believe it or not, Halep’s sudden success on the tennis court can be attributed to a cosmetic surgery of sorts – breast reduction surgery in 2012. Going from 34DD (which gave her back problems) to a more manageable 34C led to a marked improvement in reaction time, and a dramatic improvement in her game.

Can Simona Halep propel herself from "Young Phenom" to "Grand Slam Winner"?

Can Simona Halep propel herself from “Young Phenom” to “Grand Slam Winner”?

Now the two will collide for the championship at Rolland-Garros. It is already a battle of experience vs. youth; raw talent vs. veteran toughness. Who will win? We’ll see on Saturday, June 7th.

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