Balls: Would be nice for Kazmir to stay a while 

click to enlarge Scott Kazmir
  • Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP File Photo
  • A's pitcher Scott Kazmir was lights out in his season debut Wednesday, striking out 10 Rangers.
Brace yourselves, A’s fans. You’ve see this tear-jerker before.

The other team in the Bay Area is off to a great start, none better than Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir, who were positively lights-out against the Texas Rangers in their first starts of the season.

Kazmir allowed one hit and struck out 10 in seven innings Wednesday. His fastball still was in the 91 to 93 mph range in the final inning. Balls felt so bad for the overmatched Rangers, we wanted to take them to Dairy Queen after the game.

The only blip was back stiffness, which Kazmir blamed partly on his teammates, who had the audacity to bat around while he sat on the bench. The guy has a sense of humor, too.

Trouble is, Kazmir is 31 years old, has a $13 million salary and is in the final year of his contract, which makes him a prime candidate to be moved in the near future.

Lest we forget, Kazmir was an 11-game winner in the first half of last season before his trade value fell off Mount Davis all of a sudden. But if Kazmir can put two good halves together, then maybe general manager Billy Beane won’t have to rent a Jon Lester like he did last season. And the A’s can actually finish a season with the same nucleus they started it.

Wouldn’t A’s fans just love to watch that movie for a change?

BULLISH ON CANHA: How good was A’s outfielder Mark Canha in his big-league debut? The kid had three hits and four RBIs in a victory, yet his most impressive performance came afterward.

“I’m just trying to help the ballclub and give it my best shot,” Canha quoted from Crash Davis in “Bull Durham,” a straight-faced reply that went completely over the heads of reporters. “Good Lord willing, things will work out.”

Yep, best rookie debut ev-er.

SAME AS THE OLD BOSS: Nice to see the old Jim Harbaugh is alive and well in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Even though the University of Michigan canceled the screening of “American Sniper” after a student petition complained about its content, Harbaugh would have none of it. The coach intended to show the Clint Eastwood film to his team, anyway, because Harbaugh plays by his own rules. Got that?

Harbaugh announced in a tweet: “Michigan Football will watch ‘American Sniper’! Proud of Chris Kyle & Proud to be an American & if that offends anybody then so be it!”

Later, university officials agreed to show “American Sniper,” as well as an alternative movie to placate the freedom-of-choice crowd. But the reversal didn’t come before Harbaugh had once again revealed his pompous, abrasive, uncontrollable side, one that convinced 49ers management to cut the cord for better or for worse last fall.

R.I.P., J.D.: There’s a name on the 49ers’ all-time list that probably makes you say “Huh?” He’s J.D. Smith, and it’s too bad you missed him back in the day. The 15th-round draft pick was a helluva running back.

When Smith passed away at 83 this week, he was still the sixth-ranked ground-gainer in team history. Forty-nine years after his retirement. If some of the locals had their way, it wouldn’t have happened. He replaced the great Joe “The Jet” Perry, a future Hall of Famer and one of the most popular 49ers of them all.

There was a time when Smith was the best running back not named Jim Brown in professional football, and that’s about all you need to know about him as an athlete. The North Carolina A&T product also was a recipient of the Len Eshmont Award for courageous and inspirational play, which is all you need you know about him as a man.

THUS JUST IN: In a stunning development, Mel Kiper, ESPN Draft Expert, had the 49ers selecting defensive lineman Arik Armstead (Oregon) in his second consecutive mock draft. In version 1.0, he said they would take wide receiver Breshad Perriman (Central Florida). In version 2.0, he liked wide receiver Kevin White (West Virginia).

Balls doesn’t like to tell anyone how to do his job, but wouldn’t it be easier for the guy to just give us one pick before the draft and be done with it?

THE LIST: At least for now, A’s have pulled “Celebration” in favor of “Theme for Oakland” (by the Phenomenauts) as their victory anthem. Five reasons why fans should petition for Kool & The Gang to make a comeback:

1. Baseball is about tradition, and “Celebration” has been part of Coliseum for four decades.

2. Stability. If any franchise needs it, pal, this is the one.

3. Kool & The Gang? Very Kool! Phenomenauts? Phenomenot!

4. Two words: “Woo hoo!”

5. Celebration is world famous and a potential lure for high-priced free agents. (Oh, never mind.)

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

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