Walcoff: Pro Bowl still a meaningless event 

Great idea moving the Pro Bowl to the same city as the Super Bowl. Smart too, to schedule the game the week before the Super Bowl. Now all the NFL needs to do is find a reason for anyone to tune in to Sunday’s all-star charade.

How ironic. Sandwiched between the league’s most must-see weekends we get the most unwatchable of all games. The NFC-AFC showdown is a glorified scrimmage masquerading as real football. Nobody blitzes, nobody seems to try very hard and virtually no one cares who wins.

Here’s a solution. Replace the Pro Bowl with a 7-on-7 skills day. If you’ve ever been to a team practice you know those passing and running drills are more exciting than many games. How cool would it be to see the best quarterbacks, receivers and running backs matched up against the top cornerbacks, safeties and linebackers without any tackles, guards or defensive ends to get in the way? Since blocking is an afterthought in the Pro Bowl anyway, just leave the linemen home.

Now you are probably wondering how the league would get its superstars to buy into a gridiron version of home run derby.

Easy. Offer big cash prizes for touchdowns, long runs and great defensive plays. Maybe a round-robin skills competition to crown the NFL’s most accurate passer, best runner and man-to-man defender. Bring back the NFL’s fastest-man competition and a kicking contest for the longest field goal and punt. This year the Pro Bowl finally left Hawaii. It’s time to say Aloha for good.

‘... and russell goes long!’

What kind of play-caller will new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson be with the Raiders? As the Ravens’ quarterbacks coach in 2008, Jackson helped design a play that had Joe Flacco line up at wide receiver against the Raiders and catch a 43-yard pass from backup QB Troy Smith.

So next season, when you see JaMarcus Russell line up at wideout chasing a pass from Darren McFadden, you’ll know Hue is serious about getting the big guy in shape.

Oakland’s turnaround

Just when you thought Oakland was headed for another forgettable baseball season, in one fell swoop the A’s made themselves relevant. Newly signed right-hander Ben Sheets, a four-time All-Star, will anchor a starting rotation that now rivals any in the division with Justin Duchscherer, Dallas Braden, Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill.

Throw in a solid bullpen, the return of Eric Chavez, the addition of proven veterans Kevin Kouzmanoff, Coco Crisp and Aaron Miles plus minor league sensation Michael Taylor, the 6-foot-6, 250-pound former Stanford slugger, the A’s could actually go from worst to first in the AL West.

Too bad Billy Beane couldn’t resist the temptation to bring back feast-or-famine designated hitter Jack Cust. In three years with the A’s, the free-swinging Cust has averaged about .240 with 30 homers and 182 strikeouts per season. Hitting one home run a week isn’t worth all the rallies he kills unless you long for the days of Dave Kingman.

KGO (810 AM) Sports Director Rich Walcoff can be heard weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. on the KGO morning news and is also the co-host of “Raiders Gameday” and “Recap” talk shows on KSFO (560 AM). He can be reached at RichWalcoff@gmail.com.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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