<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Bay Area Sports News, Sports Teams, and Scores for the Sharks, 49ers, Raiders,Giants, Bears and More]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Sun, 26 Apr 2015 18:53:08 -0700 Sun, 26 Apr 2015 18:53:08 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Six Players Suspended After Brawl]]> Sun, 26 Apr 2015 01:33:43 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sale+and+samardzija.jpg

In the aftermath of Thursday’s brawl between the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals, Major League Baseball has handed out suspensions to six players involved in the fracas.

The White Sox were hit with two of those suspensions, as starting pitchers Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija were each suspended for five games. If the suspensions are upheld after appeal, both pitchers would miss one start for the White Sox.

As for the Royals, a total of four players were hit with bans. Starting pitcher Yordano Ventura was slapped with a seven games suspension, and pitcher Edinson Volquez was suspended for five games. Royals outfield Lorenzo Cain and pitcher Kevin Herrera were also suspended for two games apiece.

Five of the six players that were hit with suspensions were ejected from the game as a result of their actions, with Herrera being the only one not ejected from the game on Thursday.

The two teams have had bad blood simmering this season with beanballs flying between the two sides, but Thursday’s game marked a serious escalation. When Ventura fielded a groundball off the bat of Adam Eaton, he reportedly mouthed a profanity as the outfielder jogged to first base, and that’s when the benches cleared.

After the fight and after the game, Sale reportedly tried to get into the Royals’ clubhouse to have words with Ventura, but former White Sox outfielder Alex Rios (now with the Royals) calmed him down according to reports.

All six players have the option of appealing the suspensions, and if they choose to do so, they will not take effect until after the appeal is heard by MLB.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Islanders Defeat Capitals, 3-1, Force Game 7]]> Sat, 25 Apr 2015 15:09:05 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/caps+islanders+game+6.jpg

The New York Islanders defeated the Washington Capitals 3-1 Saturday, forcing the playoff series to Game 7 in Washington Monday.

The game was rough and marked by big hits, including Alex Ovechkin's hit on John Tavares in the middle of the third period, which led to the Caps losing track of the puck and the Islanders breaking a tie that had lasted most of the game.

The Caps thought they had tied the game again with a goal later in the period, but under review it was clear the puck had hit the crossbar of the goal and had not scored.

The Islanders scored again on an empty goal with less than a minute to go.

The Islanders played with passion in what could still be the last game of professional hockey in their home, the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The team moves to Barclays Center next season.

Now, the series returns to Washington for the final game on Monday.

Stay with News4 and NBCWashington for updates on this story.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Donate $50K to Biletnikoff's Anti-DV Fund]]> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 16:11:22 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/042115-biletnikoff-3.jpg

The Oakland Raiders donated $50,000 to a foundation honoring a former legend’s murdered daughter in the hopes of taking a stand against domestic violence.

Cheers erupted as Raiders’ owner Mark Davis presented a check on Monday to Fred and Angela Biletnikoff at the Biletnikoff Foundation’s annual golf tournament in Pleasanton.

Fred Biletnikoff, a legendary player who played 14 seasons for the Raiders and then coached the team until 2007, lost his 20 year old daughter Tracey Biletnikoff in 1999 when she was strangled to death by her boyfriend Mohammed Haroon Ali. Just after Tracey was killed, her family established the Biletnikoff Foundation to support young and at-risk adults dealing with domestic violence and substance abuse.

Davis said that domestic violence is an issue that hits home for the Raider family.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to work with this tremendous organization and assist them in reaching the ultimate goal: ending domestic violence and sexual assault,” he said.

The donation comes at a time when the NFL is trying to recover from a year of player entanglement with domestic violence cases: From Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens who was videotaped knocking out his fiancé in an elevator to Minnesota Viking’s Adrian Peterson who was suspended during the 2014 season for pleading “no contest” to misdemeanor and reckless assault.

The Raiders say their donation to the Biletnikoff Foundation is more than just a monetary one, the team wants the public to know that the team taking a leading role to curb domestic violence by helping with the nonprofit’s public service campaigns.

A spokeswoman for the Raiders told NBC Bay Area that Monday's donation is part of a larger call to action. "We want to call on the Raider Nation and the entire world to help end domestic violence and sexual assault, not only through personal responsibility but also through educating our youth,” the spokeswoman said.

The Biletnikoffs plan to use the funds towards a longstanding project called Tracey’s Place of Hope which is a residential recovery program for at-risk young women. The money will go toward improvements on the home.

“This is a goal that we’ve been wanting to attain for three years now, it has been a three-year, half-million dollar project and the Raiders just let us cross the finish line,” Angela Biletnikoff said in a statement.

Photo Credit: Oakland Raiders]]>
<![CDATA[Bettor's Guide to the Kentucky Derby]]> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 11:49:01 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP718172799342.jpg

Fancy putting down a wager on the Kentucky Derby but don't want to look like a novice when you place your bet?

American Pharoah remains the current favorite to win the Run for the Roses on May 2 (watch it live on NBC from 4 p.m.) with odds of 2:1, with Dortmund (9:2) and Carpe Diem (7:1) also heavily favored. Last year's winner, California Chrome, entered the race as the favorite at 5:2.

American Pharoah has won both the Rebel Stakes and the Arkansas Derby so far in 2015, with Dortmund having picked up victories in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes, the San Felipe Stakes, and the Santa Anita Derby. Carpe Diem is coming off wins in the Tampa Bay Derby and the Toyota Blue Grass.

For all you inexperienced bettors out there, here's a quick guide to betting on the Kentucky Derby that'll have you sounding like a serious handicapper by the time American Pharoah approaches the starting gate.


Odds-on many racing newcomers may not know what the odds actually mean. Whenever there are two numbers (e.g., 2:1 for American Pharoah at time of writing) displayed on a tote board at a racetrack or on a list of wager options, the first number (2) denotes the minimum amount of profit the wager will pay. The second number (1) is the amount you need to wager to win the first amount.

Once the final finishing places of a race are official, the track will post the prices of the winning wagers. In the above example, the horse will pay $2. The track will then add the $2 profit and the $1 wager together to derive the payout: $2 + $1 = $3. Dortmund at 9:2 would therefore pay $11 on a $2 bet.

If a horse is quoted with only a single digit, it is implied that the missing second number is a 1. In other words, a 7 on the tote board means 7:1. So if you made a $2 wager, a bet on a horse with 7:1 odds would pay $16. That's because 7:1 is the same as 14:2, so $14 + $2 = $16. (In betting on horse races, payouts are generally based on a $2 wager.)

Now that the odds makes sense, it’s time to decide the type of wager you want to make. Here are some of the most popular bets:

Win Your horse must finish first to collect.

Place Your horse must finish first or second to collect.

Show Your horse must finish first, second or third to collect.

Exacta You play two horses, and they must come in first and second in the exact order specified in order to collect.

Exacta Box You play two horses, as above, but here they must come in first and second in either order to collect.

Trifecta You play three horses, and to win, they must come in first, second and third in exact order to collect.

Trifecta Box You play three horses, and they must finish first, second and third in any order to collect.

Superfecta You play four horses, and they must come in first, second, third and fourth in exact order.

Superfecta Box You play four horses, and to win they must finish first, second, third and fourth in any order.



But novice bettors need to take into account more than just the odds for the Kentucky Derby. To further boost your chances of making a winning bet on May 2, you should also consider the following:

Distance: The Kentucky Derby is run over a distance of a mile and a quarter. Some horses are bred for distance and are usually better candidates than one without a lineage of success at long races that place a premium on endurance.

Weather/Track Condition If there is a chance for bad weather and/or an off track, it’s essential to consider that when handicapping the race. To measure a horse’s ability in this type of race, take a quick look at his past performances, and see if he has any experience on a muddy or sloppy track.

Coverage of the 141st Kentucky Derby will air live Saturday May 2 starting at 4:00 p.m. ET on NBC.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Design Overhauled for Carson NFL Stadium]]> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 10:29:16 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/04-24-2015-carson-nfl-stadium-3.jpg

New renderings of a proposed NFL stadium in Carson show an overhauled design that features a sleek sports-car inspired exterior with a 120-foot tower that rises above the main concourse.

The renderings released Thursday are concepts from the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders franchises that were presented this week to NFL officials. The original renderings presented two months ago were created in collaboration with Chargers representatives and the stadium architect.

"We wanted the building to be iconic and sleek, like a luxury sports car," David Manica, president of Manica Architecture, told the Los Angeles Times. "Very aerodynamic, in motion, flowing lines from every angle."

The tower's can transforms to represent the team playing in the stadium, such as generating simulated lightning bolts when the Chargers are in action. The stadium has a horseshoe configuration, leaving one end open.

The design is likely to change again as the stadium process moves forward.

The Chargers and Raiders announced Feb. 19 they are working on a joint proposal to build a 72,000-seat stadium at Del Amo Boulevard and the 405 Freeway in Carson if they are unable to strike deals for new facilities in their respective cities. The Carson City Council voted 3-0 earlier this week to approve plans for the $1.7 billion football stadium that could house the team.

The council's move places Carson in direct competition with Inglewood, where the City Council voted unanimously Feb. 24 to approve an initiative allowing for construction of an 80,000-seat stadium planned by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke at the former Hollywood Park racetrack site. Although Kroenke is behind the project, the Rams have not announced any intention of moving back to the Los Angeles area.

An NFL team has not played in the Los Angeles area since 1994, when the Raiders and Rams relocated.

Photo Credit: Manica Architecture]]>
<![CDATA[Scientists Create Algae-Based Sustainable Surfboard]]> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 07:45:04 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Algae+surfboard.jpg

San Diego scientists say they have created the world’s first algae-based sustainable surfboard.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego and Arctic Foam, an Oceanside Company, made the polyurethane foam core and glassed the board before presenting it to San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer before Earth Day.

The project began several months ago when undergraduate biology students collaborated with chemistry students to solve a simple question: how do you make the precursor of a surfboard’s foam core from algae oil? Most surfboards today are made exclusively from petroleum.

Steven Mayfield, a professor of biology and algae geneticist at UCSD, lead researchers when making the board. Mayfield and his team worked to chemically change the oil obtained from laboratory algae and morph them into types of “polyols” to produce the core of the new surfboard.

“In the future, we’re thinking about 100 percent of the surfboard being made that way—the fiberglass will come from renewable resources, the resin on the outside will come from a renewable resource,” Mayfield said in a statement.

The board was built at Arctic Foam’s headquarters in Ensenada, Mexico and brought to Oceanside. It looks just like other surfboards, Mayfield said, but because of the material it is built from, is sustainable.

Mayfield, a surfer himself, said he and others have been faced with the sustainability contradiction when on the water. His connection to the ocean requires a surfboard made of petroleum, an unsustainable board.

“This shows that we can still enjoy the ocean, but do so in an environmentally sustainable way,” Mayfield said.

Mayfield said they hoped Faulconer would display the board so others would see how the city could be a hub for innovation and collaboration on many levels. 

“It perfectly fits with the community and our connection with the ocean and surfing," Mayfield said. "And it also shows the biotechnology and innovation that we can bring to bear here in San Diego in a very collaborative way.”

Photo Credit: Erik Jepsen, UC San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Watch Parties Draw Crowds, Unite Warriors Fans]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 23:41:19 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0423-2015-WarriorsFans.jpg With the Golden State Warriors on the road in New Orleans, several NBA playoffs watch parties were held in the Bay Area Thursday night. Cheryl Hurd reports.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Possible 49ers' Target Armstead Has Some Critics]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 11:39:09 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/454816686.jpg


For several weeks now, 49ers fans have been reading reports that Oregon defensive lineman Arik Armstead could be the team’s choice with its top draft pick on April 30, the 15th overall of the first round.


Armstead is an athletic, versatile 6-foot-7, 292-pounder who also played basketball his first two years at Oregon, and the 49ers definitely want to add playmakers to their front seven.


But this week, Chase Goodbread, who writes about college football for NFL.com, noted in a story that Armstead is a player with big pluses -- and possible big minuses.


Goodbread noted that one NFL scout, who chose to remain anonymous, had this to stay about Armstead to a New Jersey newspaper:


“Talented and big as hell. He’s the one guy I’ve had a hard time grading. You watch him and you see the talent of a first-round pick. But then he plays like a fourth-round pick.”


Goodbread said the criticism isn’t isolated. Other scouts also love Armstead’s raw talent but have questioned his production, particularly the fact he had just 2.5 sacks in 13 games this past season.


Still, Armstead’s size and talent may be hard for teams to pass on, and many see him as a player with a high ceiling.


NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock ranks Armstead as the No. 2 interior defensive lineman in the draft, only behind Leonard Williams of USC.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders' Carr Admired by Gruden]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 11:15:17 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/189*120/460756796.jpg

As a rookie, Derek Carr wasn’t perfect. The quarterback from Fresno State won just three games and averaged just 5.5 yards per pass attempt.

Some analysts looked at his performance and were troubled by the fact he too often threw very short routes and didn't challenge defenses with deep balls.


The analytics website Numberfire.com looked at his season in February and questioned just how good Carr really is, using a stat called Net Expected Points to conclude that Carr wasn’t as good as some of his stats indicated. After all, Carr threw 21 TD passes against just 12 interceptions and threw for more than 3,200 yards, a Raiders rookie record.


But sometimes numbers don’t tell the whole story.


The Raiders believe they found a franchise quarterback in Carr, and so does former Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, now an ESPN analyst.


Gruden spoke this week about Carr this week in a conference call with the media about the upcoming NFL Draft, and Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group noted that he voiced strong support for Carr.


“I just love the way he took control of that football team,” Gruden said, according to McDonald. “He looked like he was in complete control. As a leader, he didn’t look like he was pressing at all. He had very good command.”


Gruden, in fact, believes that with a better cast around him in 2015, Carr is a good enough quarterback to lead the Raiders to make a move forward in the AFC West.

Gruden cited Carr’s “cannon” arm and his athleticism.


“If they can just continue on the path they’re on, add maybe a couple more guys to that set of receivers, the Raiders can make their way back. I’m excited for the Raiders as an ex-Oakland Raider myself. I really am impressed with Carr. I really root for him.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gear Up For the Big Day at the Spiral Stakes]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 10:33:31 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/215*120/Screen+Shot+2015-04-22+at+2.43.01+PM.png Meet the horses, jockeys and owners at the Spiral Stakes as we gear up for the Kentucky Derby. ]]> <![CDATA[Meet a Special Yearling at Winstar Farms]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 10:27:20 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/Screen+Shot+2015-04-22+at+2.22.27+PM.png Audrina returns to Winstar Farms to meet the yearling she helped deliver just last year. ]]> <![CDATA[Train to Be a Jockey With the Pros]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 10:22:57 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/215*120/Screen+Shot+2015-04-22+at+2.07.16+PM.png We're at the North American Racing Academy to learn how to be a professional jockey. ]]> <![CDATA[SF Giants Celebrate Earth Day, Work to Conserve Water]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 18:01:11 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0422-2015-GiantsEarthDay.jpg

The San Francisco Giants are celebrating Earth Day by composting peanut shells and asking fans to pick up after themselves.

The team is very close to eliminating landfill waste, but need help on conserving water.

Giants Senior Vice President of Ballpark Operations Edgar Garcia said the team has been cutting back on watering the field for sometime. Power washing also is something the team is working to cut back on.

Before every game, AT&T Park cleanup crews are using high-pressure hoses to wash down seats and concrete in the park.

The Giants said 4,000 pounds of peanut shells are picked up after every game. The shells are thrown into a recycling center underneath the stands.

Major League Baseball awarded the Giants a green glove every year for the past seven seasons for being a recycling leader.

The Giants are now asking fans to help battle California's historic drought by cleaning up after themselves so crews do not have to resort to power washing.

"People are not accustomed to thinking about that when they come to ball games and we got to start thinking that way," Giants Senior Vice President of Administration Alfonso Felder said.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Greg Hardy Suspended for 10 Games]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 18:57:21 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/greg-hardy-jason-garrett.jpg

Dallas Cowboys fans will have to wait quite awhile to see defensive end Greg Hardy on the field.

The NFL announced Wednesday that Hardy has been suspended 10 games without pay for conduct detrimental to the league.

Hardy was informed of the suspension in a letter from league commissioner Roger Goodell, which detailed the findings of the two-month investigation into Hardy’s case that followed his last court appearance.

"This suspension is something that we anticipated prior to Greg's signing, and we respect the Commissioner's ruling," said Jerry Jones. "Our organization understands the very serious nature of this matter. We will use our resources --work closely with Greg and with the league -- to ensure a positive outcome."

According to a report by The Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys and NFL are now awaiting an appeal by Hardy to see if he can get the 10-game penalty reduced.

Hardy was found guilty of assault on a female and communicating threats in a bench trial last July, but he appealed and was granted a jury trial. When that jury trial was set to begin in February, the prosecution couldn’t locate the accuser and the charges were dismissed.

The next month, Hardy signed an incentive-heavy, one-year deal with the Cowboys, who of course were well aware that the 2013 Pro Bowler was facing league discipline.

Now, Hardy is set to make his Cowboys debut on Thanksgiving Day against his old team, the Carolina Panthers.

<![CDATA[Race to the Triple Crown]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 10:49:56 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/orb-wins.jpg

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Blackhawks Give Fans Late-to-Work Excuse Note ]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 08:41:04 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Blackhawks-Predators-21-April-2015.jpg

For many diehard Blackhawks fans, Tuesday night’s game was filled with excitement, suspense, and a lot of yawns.

The game, which ended early Wednesday morning after Brent Seabrook scored the winning goal in triple overtime, lasted nearly five hours and had many fans staying up well beyond their bedtimes to watch.

For the many fans likely wishing they could call in “hockey,” er "late," to work, the Blackhawks have you covered.

The team tweeted out an excuse note signed by “The Chicago Blackhawks” to excuse any lateness or sleepiness for those who were “up too late celebrating the win.”

For that, and for the glorious goal that ended Game 4 with a big win, many Hawks fans say “Thank you.”

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Seven Ways to Fake Being a Racing Expert]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 10:33:26 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP233467296026.jpg

You're not a horse racing expert, but you can act like one for the Kentucky Derby.

Amid all the hats, the mint juleps and the gambling, the real focus May 2 will be on the potential for something historic, as a narrowing field of elite young racehorses aims for the first Triple Crown victory in 37 years.

Don't know the first thing about horse racing? It doesn't matter. These seven tricks will help you get in on the spectacle as though you do.

1. Learn the lingo, and use it liberally.

You'll actually get to know something about racing later. For now, just pepper your comments with some jargon.

Before the race, check out race handicappers' predictions, check the tote board for the odds and watch the horses head from the paddock to their posts. Once the race begins, listen to the call, or the horses' running positions — but don't expect to have the foggiest idea what the caller is saying. (Don't worry, the race will only take a few minutes.)

A horse that's a closer runs his best later in a race, a stayer or router is good at running distances and a front-runner runs best at the head of the field. A horse is pinched back if it's held in close quarters, and if it's boxed in it's shut off or pocketed.

Horses' distances from each other in the stretch, or the last straight section of track, are measured by a head, e.g., the length of a horse's head. At the finish line, a photo finish is so close the finish-line camera has to figure out who won, and a dead heat is an exact tie. A horse finishes on the board if he's one of the first four to finish.

2. Know what's at stake, and tell everybody else.

You probably already know that only 11 horses have ever pulled off the feat of winning all three legs of the Triple Crown: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. The last to manage it was Affirmed, back in 1978.

You might also know that since 1978, 11 have won the the first two legs only to flame out at Belmont. That was the case last year, when California Chrome fell short in the 1.5-mile, tough-to-handicap race that's often called the "Test of the Champion," with good reason.

There's plenty that can go wrong for a would-be Triple Crown winner: A great horse can get pocketed or pinched back, especially in the Derby's and the Preakness' crowded fields.

Or, in the Belmont, it can be overcome by better-rested rivals that ran in Louisville, then skipped the Preakness. Other horses have had their hopes dashed by jockey error at Belmont, where jockeys' tactics play a bigger role and riders may be tempted to accelerate too early in the comparatively long race.

3. Handicap the race yourself. (Remember that term?)

You can't feign some authority on horse racing without concocting a fervently held opinion on which horse will win.

Which horse has home-track advantage? What's its breeding like — geared for speed, or distance, or something else? What sort of races has it been running lately? Has it had any injuries? Who trains it?

The field for the Kentucky Derby is still shaping up. But more than a week out from the race, American Pharoah looks like a probable favorite, and Dortmund remains undefeated.

4. Bet on it.

Nothing screams "I know what I'm doing!" like advising your friends on how to spend their money, right? Right — well, as long as your friends aren't big gamblers. In that case, pay close attention.

Use Colin Bertram's primer to get a handle on what horses' odds mean and what they don't. Remember, a horse's odds reflect not how likely it is to win but how heavily other people are betting or expected to bet on it to win.

Once you've picked your favorites from the field of contenders and decided what kind of bet you want to make, examine the morning-line odds, which predict what people will probably bet on each horse. (The odds will change once betting actually has begun.)

The first number tells you how much profit your bet will get you should you win, and the second tells you how much you must bet to get it. If the horse you pick has 3-5 odds at the time of writing, that means you have to bet $5 in order to win $3 profit, so if you bet $10 and your horse wins, you'll get back $16.

5. Trot down Memory Lane.

Recall those halcyon days of horse racing — you know, when the only other sports worth their salt were baseball and boxing, and when your parents hadn't even met yet.

The mechanics of horse racing have changed plenty over the decades. Wealthy dynastic families ruled breeding, not commercial breeders, and as a result, horses were bred for stamina. Today, they're bred for speed.

But most fundamentally, horse racing doesn't have nearly the fan base it did in its heyday, back before pro football, pro basketball, casinos and, well, the internet horned in on its popularity. At racing's zenith, the track was the automatic mecca for gamblers.

6. Honor the greats.

Now you get to the really fun part of exercising your newfound authority: Breathlessly regaling your friends with tales of great races of yore as though you were there.

Bloviate about Secretariat's astounding 1973 Triple Crown, which he won by an unheard-of margin of 31 lengths. As the victor crossed the finish, the runner-up couldn't even fit on the television screen.

Wonder what would have happened if Man o' War, ranked the 20th century's best by Blood-Horse magazine and The Associated Press, had ever run for the Triple Crown. It wasn't around yet when Man o' War raced in the early 20th century, though he did sire some Triple Crown horses.

Reminisce about Kelso, who ran in the early '60s until he was 9 years old. Now all the Belmont contenders are 3-year-olds, and most horses are retired soon after that age to stud duty, which is far more lucrative than racing. (That was impossible for Kelso, who was a gelding, or castrated horse.)

Wax poetic about legendary filly Ruffian — even Secretariat's trainer said she might be better than his most famous horse — whose career was cut tragically short by a broken leg at Belmont in 1975. (You can still pay your respects at her grave at Belmont.)

7. Get ambitious.

If you really want to boost your expert cred, do your homework, and stake out a controversial stance or two. Read up, and weigh in, on hot-button topics like horse breeding habits, nasal strips and the sport's undeniable decline in recent decades, and what could reverse it.

Steve Coburn, the co-owner of last year's Triple Crown contender California Chrome, has grumbled that the growing numbers of Derby contenders that sit out the Preakness before returning for the Belmont have made Triple Crown wins all but impossible. He wants the rules tweaked so that only colts that run the Preakness can compete at Belmont.

He said last year that if his horse didn't win the Triple Crown — which it didn't — he doubted he'd ever see another winner. "There are people out there trying to upset the apple cart," he said. "They don't want a Triple Crown winner. They want a paycheck."

Indeed, the decades-long Triple Crown drought, and the sport's waning popularity, have encouraged talk of tinkering with the format and timing of the three key races, and not just among figures who have, quite literally, a horse in the race. Weigh in on what you think should be done, too.

But don't limit your expressions of your newfound expertise to such existential hand-wringing.

Try picking an underdog to root for Saturday. When you place your bet, try a superfecta, naming the top four horses in the order you expect them to place.

And whatever other stories you tell your friends, make sure to leave room for one still in the making: the first time you bluffed your way through the Triple Crown.

Just wait until the next big race to tell it. By then, you might actually be an expert.


This story has been updated from an earlier version.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Show Interest in Clemson Pass Rusher Beasley]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 09:04:49 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/175*120/beezleye.jpg

Receivers Amari Cooper and Kevin White, plus defensive lineman Leonard Williams, have been the prime names talked about for the Raiders’ fourth overall pick in the draft on April 30.

But lately, another player is being linked to Oakland with its top pick: Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley.

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported that the Raiders sent four staffers to South Carolina last Friday – including new defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. – to see Beasley work out in person.

If the Raiders decide to move down a few spots in the first round, Beasley could turn out to be their target.

Beasley is considered a top-10 pick, but not likely someone the Raiders would take at No. 4 overall, noted Bryan Fischer of NFL.com. Beasley – who performed very well at the NFL Combine and his pro day -- is ranked as the third-best edge pass rusher available in the draft by NFL analyst Mike Mayock.

At 6-foot-3 and 246 pounds, he’s considered a bit light for a defensive end, but has great speed and is explosive. His presence at defensive end in Oakland’s 4-3 defense – especially in front of outside linebacker Khalil Mack – could put tremendous pressure on opposing pass-blocking schemes. Some project him as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, however.

In four seasons at Clemson, Beasley had 33 sacks, a school record. Twice he was a first-team All-America pick.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gamblers Are Betting 49ers Will Fall in 2015]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 08:11:41 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/tomsulaaa.jpg

With the release of the 2015 NFL schedule Tuesday, we now know a few specifics about what the 49ers face under new head coach Jim Tomsula.

They’ll open with a Monday night game against the Vikings – one of four times the 49ers will be on prime time – have to face the Seahawks in another Thursday night game (at home on Oct. 22) and only play one division foe in their first six games.

Various analysts took a look at their schedule when it was released and made their predictions and, after the Jim Harbaugh era, there was at least one consistency: no longer is anyone predicting the Niners-- who slumped to 8-8 in 2014 -- will compete for the NFC championship.

There’s another consistency, too: Long-term future bettors in Las Vegas are betting that the 49ers will under-perform rather than exceed expectations.

David Purdum of ESPN.com noted this week that in February, a major Las Vegas sports book set the 49ers’ projected wins at 8.5. Since then, that projected win total has dropped to 8.0.

Major bettors flocked to put money down on the 49ers not reaching that 8.5-win figure, wrote Purdum. Only when the total was dropped to 8.0 did bettors stop betting so heavily against the Niners.

Of course, there are still several months to go until Week 1, when San Francisco shows what it can do against Minnesota.

Between now and then, the 49ers could score big in the NFL draft, make a trade or add another key free agent, have defensive end Justin Smith announce he’s returning for another season and see a completely remade Colin Kaepernick wow everyone in training camp and preseason games.

If that happens, perhaps bettors will start thinking the 49ers will surprise some people.

But for now, it appears the smart money is betting the 49ers are in for a rough time in 2015.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[49ers 2015 Schedule Released]]> Tue, 21 Apr 2015 17:57:03 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/176*120/ckversuschar.jpg

The 49ers' 2015 regular season schedule was released Tuesday evening.

The 49ers will play in front of a national audience four times during the 2015 regular season, including the first-ever Monday Night Football game at Levi’s Stadium in the season opener against the Minnesota Vikings.

The 49ers host the division-rival Seattle Seahawks on Thursday Night Football in Week 7. San Francisco will also appear twice on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, at the New York Giants in Week 5 and at home against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 15.

The Washington Post says the 49ers have the hardest path to the playoffs

For more on the 49ers schedule, view CSN Bay Area 49ers Insider Matt Maiocco's assessment and a week-by-week breakdown here.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA["This Isn't Just Any Super Bowl:" Plans Unveiled]]> Tue, 21 Apr 2015 18:18:00 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/superbowlcitymarketview.jpg

There's 291 days to go.

But the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee unveiled plans and images on Tuesday, which boast a temporary “Super Bowl City,” showing happy football fans lining the streets of San Francisco - the iconic Ferry Building and Bay Bridge gleaming in the background.

"This isn't just any Super Bowl," San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said at a news conference. "It's the 50th."

Members of the host committee took off black cloths from renderings that revealed what the "Super Bowl City”  fan village will look like, and the new black and gold logo, with artistic symbols of the city's famous Coit Tower and bridges in the background.

In all, host committee spokesman PJ Johnston told NBC Bay Area that  more than $40 million "in money and services" has been raised so far for the "entire set of host commitee responsibilities." But that number doesn't accurately portray the final sum that will cover the cost of the entire "Super Bowl City."

The final cost is "not yet determined," Johnston said. "The more money we raise, the more we can do, and the more we can give to charity."

Host committee chairman Daniel Lurie said 25 percent of what is raised will go to charities. And all the money that will be used, organizers stressed, will come from the private sector.

A highlight of the news conference is when former San Francisco 49er Ronnie Lott addressed the crowd, saying how "excited" he was about this "great day." Then he bowed his head for Bob St. Clair, a legendary 49er offensive lineman who died Monday at the age of 84.

Most of the announcement focused on the Super Bowl 2016 amenities for the one million expected to come out in force and experience the non-game aspects of the country's biggest football display:

The temporary "Super Bowl City" will be free to the public beginning on Jan. 30, 2016, at Justin Herman Plaza at the foot of Market Street. The village will offer a week of family-friendly activities, cultural displays, food trucks, according to the host committee.

That experience will be accompanied by an interactive theme park at Moscone Center in San Francisco. The host committee is billing this as the ultimate “NFL experience” with games, displays, youth football clinics, a fan viewing gallery and free autograph sessions with pro players. The Lombardi Trophy will be trotted out for the public to see before it’s handed over to the Super Bowl champs.

And of course, there’s the Big Game on Feb. 7, hosted at the new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, about an hour’s drive south from San Francisco.

“Many people don’t realize that Super Bowls are more than just a game,” Host Committee CEO Keith Bruce said. “They are week-long extravaganzas.”

More information is kept on the Super Bowl City website and Facebook page.

NBC Bay Area's Mark Matthews contributed to this report. 

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Super Bowl City
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