Jackie Robinson’s story reminds us that we can change the world

One thing that I am always reminded about when we do Jackie Robinson day in the big leagues is his impact on not only baseball, but in the world. You can imagine how hard it was for him to stand out and be the target of hate. Yet he knew that what he was doing was going to change the world.

Robinson believed that it was unfair for his skin color to his only identity — an unfair portrayal of who he is as a man. The racism that followed was tough but he knew that if he was able to succeed and be that pioneer, then more will follow and the times will change.

As we look at all the people wearing #42 today, we are reminded that our individuality is unique and it’s what makes this world great. Robinson had to do that when the rest of the world was against him. Honoring Robinson is great but we can’t lose what he meant to the game of baseball and the world.

Don’t be afraid to stand for something you believe that is right. Be strong, be humble and take on the challenges that come with it. Robinson reminds us that we can make a huge difference. The world can change and sometimes, it just takes one person to help show the way.

Thanks, Jackie.

Is the window closing for the 49ers’ chances of winning a Super Bowl?

Are the 49ers’ chances of winning the Super Bowl slipping away?

In hindsight and in the big picture, the 49ers have accomplished a lot since Jim Harbaugh arrived as head coach. Three straight NFC Championship Game appearances, including an appearance in the Super Bowl, is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s hard enough for a team to continue that kind of successful consistency but the 49ers have done that.

However, in all three seasons, the 49ers were good enough to go to the Super Bowl and win. They are that good of a football team and can only get better. At least that’s what it appears for this team.

But as this 2013 season has come to an end, the 49ers have a lot of decisions to make in order to return to the playoffs and finish off what they started. They have injuries (NaVorro Bowman, Mike Iupati) that they have to monitor this offseason. They have key free agents like Donte Whitner and Anquan Boldin that they have to figure out if they can keep.

Can this team be this good and maintain all this kind of success? How much longer can they hold on to this core before they have to restart all over again?

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I am not upset over Dan Le Batard’s decision to give Deadspin his vote

For a quick recap of the above story: Dan Le Batard has a National Baseball Hall of Fame vote and he decided to let the readers of Deadspin decide who he should vote for. He had reasons to do this, mainly to show that the current voting system was flawed. He received no compensation and the votes he submitted via Deadspin was actually pretty on point with what I think was a good ballot. However, the fallout has been harsh from some media types while others have praised him.

I don’t understand the issue. If the votes were absurd, there would be a problem. But the votes that were submitted all had valid reasons. The reaction also shows that maybe the old writers just don’t like change.

What did he do that is different from asking a friend for an opinion on the matter? Just think that Le Batard asked for thousands of opinions.

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49er Faithful recall good and bad memories of Candlestick Park

Farewell, old friend.

Barring any major upsets in the playoffs, Monday’s home finale will be the final NFL game ever at Candlestick Park.

For many 49ers fans, the stadium holds a lot of memories of Hall of Fame players, unforgettable games and games that will live forever. But of course, the stadium isn’t all peachy. Traffic and weather had always been the biggest issues with fans at the game and it still remains today.

On Twitter, I asked for 49ers fans to share their memories (good or bad) about the stadium. Here’s their story:

 

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We’ve given our sports heroes too much

The drama that is the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito saga has not ended yet, but it appears that it might be getting somewhere closer to its finality. Incognito is done of the year and Martin has been away for some time.

And it’s a shame that this even happened at all. This is a reminder that has been repeated over and over again. The macho lifestyle of the NFL has turned certain players into what they shouldn’t be. They feel that they must maintain an image, their masculinity to an extent. Some handle it well, some don’t.

This isn’t to excuse either Martin or Incognito. Assuming what we know so far is true, both are in the wrong. But how much of this case can be attributed to everyone else outside the two?

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Yasiel Puig’s exuberant bat flip triple was what we needed

This was wonderful to see.

This was wonderful to see.

Remember when I was praising Johnny Manziel for being this over the top wild horse that has people all wild up? I am officially proclaiming Yasiel Puig as baseball’s Manziel.

I know, I know Carlos Beltran. You want him to tone it down a notch.

“As a player, I just think he doesn’t know [how to act],” Beltran said via ESPN. “That’s what I think. He really doesn’t know. He must think that he’s still playing somewhere else.

“He has a lot of passion, no doubt about that — great ability, great talent. I think with time he’ll learn that you’ve got to act with a little bit more calm.”

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My final farewell to the great Mariano Rivera

I’m still thinking about his exit at Yankee Stadium earlier this week. Who didn’t get emotional seeing that? For such a great, classy professional, this was the most perfect sendoff for him. And to see Mariano Rivera cry also, shows how much he cares about the game and is appreciative for everything we’ve given him.

Even though I despise the Yankees, there was always an exception to a few players on the team that I did like. Hideki Matsui was one that I felt didn’t fit in with the “Evil Empire” identity of the team. Derek Jeter was also another one I admired and respected — especially after that flip to Posada to tag Jeremy Giambi. But Mariano Rivera was the one I could not hate.

As it has been documented over the years, and a lot more this week, Rivera was the perfect baseball player. He took advantage of an opportunity, excelled at something nobody else could do and ended up on the top. On the way up to the top, he didn’t look down at the people below. Instead, he brought them up with him. Whether it was teaching them how to throw the cutter or just encouraging them, Rivera was the kind of player that baseball needed. He gave us, the baseball world, a gem to hold onto.

This exit from Yankee Stadium was perfect for a man that was the perfect player and teammate.

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Why A.J. Jenkins and the 49ers just didn’t work out and who is to blame for this separation

About 16 months later, the dream is gone for the 49ers and A.J. Jenkins.

San Francisco 49ers WR A.J. Jenkins was traded to the Chiefs for receiver Jon Baldwin. This ends Jenkins’ short and disappointing tenure with the 49ers after being taken 30th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft.

In his brief time with the 49ers, he was on the field for 47 total snaps all of last season including the playoffs, He ran 22 routes, and dropped the only pass that came his way. What looked to be a potentially promising career with the 49ers is now over.

But where did it go wrong?

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The first round off the 2012 NFL Draft had just concluded. The 49ers had just taken Illinois wide receiver A.J. Jenkins with the 30th overall pick about 20 minutes earlier. It was a pick that nobody except for the 49ers’ front office expected. Jenkins wasn’t the top receiver available by most draft boards and it felt like a reach for the team.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke were convinced that they landed a diamond in the rough with their first selection of the draft.

“Trent Baalke last night put his name in an envelope and said ‘this is who we’re going to pick’,” Harbaugh recalled that night with a smile on his face. “We all agreed on it and it held true. That was the guy we wanted. That was the highest player on our board when the time came to pick him. We’re very excited about the pick.”

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Is there a solution to preventing all these offseason injuries?

So many injuries this offseason.

Torn ACLs. Achilles’ injuries. Surgeries. Fractures.

All these are so common these days, and apparently more common this offseason than any in my recent memory. The NFL is entering their 2013 season with players suffering bruises left and right. However, these injuries are piling up and costing players significant playing time. For some, it will be the entire season.

How come these players are getting hurt so much this offseason?

One could easily blame that there are too many offseason programs and practices. And that might the easiest way to go in our quest to figure out the root of all these injuries But it can’t be that simple. The offseason programs have been pretty similar in years past. There might be more workouts, but all of them are safely monitored and none of the activities are out of the ordinary.

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Albert Pujols’ latest injury is a lesson on how not to overspend

Albert Pujols is on the DL with a tear to his plantar fascia ligament in the left foot. He could be out for the remainder of the season.

At the age of 33, he still has eight years and $212 million left on his 10-year, $240-million contract.

And now in hindsight, the Angels might have to be wondering whether or not signing Pujols to that kind of a contract was a good idea.

When the Angels first signed him, I was concerned about how much the slugger had left in him. Considering that he had to adjust to a new league and he was already entering his “twilight” years as a professional, the contract was way too high.

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