Best Story Of New Season? It’s Burns, Baby, Burns 

click to enlarge A's outfielder Billy Burns is a virtual lock to start the season on the Opening Day roster. - BEN MARGOT/AP PHOTO
  • Ben Margot/AP Photo
  • A's outfielder Billy Burns is a virtual lock to start the season on the Opening Day roster.
He’s listed at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds, which means he’s no more than 5-8½, 175 in real life. He’s a career overachiever, a guy few scouts thought had a future in the big leagues not that long ago.

Any questions why Athletics outfielder Billy Burns may be the best local story of the early season?

Burns is a virtual lock to start the season on the Opening Day roster, and Balls has a feeling the fans at Coliseum will like him a lot. If ever a guy was born to be an A’s player, he’s the one.

“Yeah, I know what you’re talking about, absolutely,” Burns told me the other day. “Definitely, I can see myself . . . When I was traded last year, it was one of those things like ‘Wow, I got traded.’ Then when I got over the shock of things, I was like ‘That [team] actually seems like a good fit.’”

This spring, Burns switched to a bat with a bigger barrel, tweaked his load mechanism and became more aggressive at the plate. Bingo! The switch-hitter became a line drive machine. A lot of people said it wouldn’t last, but the hits kept on comin’.

“He’s a little bit stronger,” manager Bob Melvin noticed. “Certainly, left-handed, we’ve seen him pull some balls down in the corner and get some good swings as opposed to just slapping it the the other way. You don’t have to play his as cheap. His all-around defense and the way he threw the ball have come a long way. For a guy who had a great spring last year, he had an even better spring this one.”

In the opener of the Bay Bridge Series, Burns smoked a double down the right-field line. Managers just love when a player makes them look good, you know.

NEW DEFINITION OF SMALLBALL: The A’s may be able to start Burns, 5-foot-10 Coco Crisp and 5-foot-10 Sam Fuld in the same outfield before long. Which means Melvin can resort to a three-guard offense if necessary.

Who would win the HORSE game?

“I have no idea,” Burns said. “I’ve never seen the Coco or Sam shoot a basketball, and they’ve never seen me shoot it. I can’t shoot actually, but I can play really good defense.”

ROYAL FLUSH: This weekend the A’s unveiled their new President’s Suite, which will accommodate 30 guests per game. For $5,500 bucks and up, fans will be treated an an extensive food and beverage package, VIP parking and game-day magazines. They’ll also be able to watch brand new TVs in comfortable seats. You know, just in case the Warriors have a game that night.

As for the restroom facilities, well, flush at your own risk, pal. SWEET HOME L.A.: Add another to the long list of reasons why the Warriors will beat the Clippers in the playoffs if they were to meet there.

When the teams played at Staples Center last week, about 25 percent of the crowd consisted of Warriors fans, according to several guesstimates. They flat out took over the place with chants of “M-V-P!” when Stephen Curry was at the free throw line.

That fact wasn’t lost on the Clippers’ Blake Griffin, who sounded like a guy who was about to throw in the towel already.

“Homecourt advantage is just not there for us,” Griffin groused afterward. “If that’s how it feels in the playoffs, it’s not looking good.

“I don’t know what we could do, but it would be great if it wasn’t that way. It’s kind of like when we play the Lakers — I don’t know, maybe worse. It’s one of those things where it would be great if it wasn’t like that.”

Here’s what the Clippers can do for starters: Win two playoff series in the same season. They’ve done it zero times in their 31-year history.

SHOOT THE PUCK!: Balls has no problem with the no-trade provision in Joe Thornton’s contract.

Balls has a small problem with it.

Check that -— Balls has a medium-sized problem with it.

It’s the no-shot clause that really concerns us. The Sharks center ranked 217th in shots on goal at the start of the weekend. That’s only a few spots ahead of Antti Niemi, and he’s a goaltender.

WELCOME TO NEW MILLENNIUM: Nice to see the Indiana lawmakers amend Senate Bill 101, the hopelessly outdated legislation that could have discriminated against gays and lesbians and who knows who else.

Of course, when you’re about to lose every major sports event in your state and the millions of dollars that go with it, it’s easy to have a change of heart, isn’t it?

Can’t wait to see the new signs that say You Are About to Enter Indiana and the 1970s.

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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