Balls: Plenty of reasons for Rabb to pick Cal, but ... 

Today isn’t just a big day for Cuonzo Martin and Cal men’s basketball. It’s somewhere between extremely important and drop-dead urgent.

That’s because Bishop O’Dowd High School of Oakland stud Ivan Rabb will announce whether he’ll enroll at either Berkeley or Arizona this fall. John Calipari and Kentucky are said to be long shots, but the mere mention of them should make Cal fans a bit nervous.

Rabb is on the short list of top recruits in the country, and the program needs him in the worst way. Martin had his sights on the 6-foot-10 kid since he became Cal’s coach last spring. If Martin can knock over his first big domino, it becomes that much easier to tip over the next one and the one after that. Cal had a sniff of the NCAA Tournament only eight times in the last 18 years. Pure and simple, if the Bears want to become a factor in the Pac-12 Conference and beyond, they have to do better in their own backyard.

After Caleb Swanigan chose Michigan State on Friday, Cal could only hope that wasn’t an omen of things to come. If the Internet was to be believed — insert punchline here — Indiana’s Mr. Basketball was on his way to Berkeley. One report even had the 6-9 center and Rabb bound headed West in a package deal. Swanigan chose Michigan State instead, which led to speculation that he could convince Rabb to do the same.

Cal received some better news one day later, when 6-4 guard Tyson Jolly of Oklahoma City announced via Twitter his intention to attend the school. Martin and his staff were able to sell the three-star recruit on his fit in the system, but Rabb is the centerpiece they need a whole lot more.

Sure, the chance to play for coach Sean Miller in a top-10 program would be difficult to turn down. But Arizona could lose as many four starters next season, which means Rabb might be stuck in a partial rebuild in his only season there. And have you been to Tucson lately? Not exactly the Bay Area, is it? Here the kid could help elevate a program in front of family and friends and become a local hero in the process.

Hey, don’t say Balls didn’t do its part.

TIGER WATCH: Tiger Woods injured his right wrist on a swing in the final round of the Masters on Sunday afternoon, which jeopardized his chances to compete in the World Golf Championship Cadillac Match Play at TPC Harding Park in two weeks. The smart money says he won’t play competitively for at least one month.

That would be a shame for local golf fans who waited a long time to see Woods up close. For the better part of the Masters, he looked more like the old Tiger than the same old Tiger. And when was the last time anyone could say that?

ANOTHER POINT FOR CURRY: There’s no doubt that Stephen Curry will be selected Most Valuable Player in a few days — after all, Balls declared him the winner a while ago — and here’s one of the best reasons why it will happen: He’s the best shotmaker on the planet — period.

There’s a popular metric called effective field-goal percentage, which is a more accurate measure of efficiency because it adjusts for the fact that a 3-point field is worth one more point than a 2-pointer. Curry (.593) ranks second behind the Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan (.710) in the category, but Jordan has attempted exactly three shots outside the paint, NBA.com tells us. The Clippers’ J.J. Redick (.586) and Atlanta’s DeMarre Carroll (.584) are the only noncenters close to Curry right now, and that’s because they shoot almost exclusively from beyond the arc.

That leaves Curry as the only one among the leaders who can score efficiently from short range, midrange, long range, pretty much any range. Gunners James Harden (.512) and Russell Westbrook (.449) aren’t within a 65-foot heave of him.

Oh, yeah, Curry’s team also has a 65-15 record. That’s 50 games over the .500 mark. Five-oh.

BIGGER, STRONGER, WIMPIER? The Giants will open their home season today with just about everyone except Mike Krukow on the disabled list, but that’s not as unusual as it seems. A record 115 players began the regular season on the disabled list, 14 percent spike from a year ago. There were some familiar names here — Yu Darvish, Josh Hamilton, Kenley Jansen, Cliff Lee and Justin Verlander to name a few.

In an age of personal trainers and sophisticated offseason regimens, one would think bodies should break down less often. So what gives here? Are injured players less apt to play hurt in order to extend their careers? Is it time for pitchers to seriously rethink how they prepare between games and seasons? How much do the effects of PEDs have to do with the epidemic? Whatever the reasons, there’s a lot more money on the disabled list than teams owners would care to pay right now.

IN SEARCH OF GRACE SLICK: Balls didn’t find the Hall of Fame rocker the other day, but it did spend some time around old Kezar Stadium, which would still beat the heck out of that wine factory in Santa Clara on any given Sunday.

Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? (A compliment?!?) Send them to pladewski@sfexaminer.com and you may get your name in the paper one day.

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