Photo by Ron Nabity Photography
Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on Nov. 6, 2012
Fans of the Sacramento Kings remained loyal to their team and sold out the “blackout” home opener victory Monday night despite the growing uncertainty that has surrounded the franchise in recent years.
The energetic home crowd helped the Kings defeat the Golden State Warriors 94-92 in the final seconds for their first victory of the season after going 0-3 on their season-opening road trip.
Optimism still remains amongst the team and its fans even after their rough beginning to the season.
“I would like to see them make the playoffs, it would be a long shot but I would like to see them be close to .500, I’d be happy with that,” said Rob Horton, a Kings fan of 25 years. “That would at least be a progression in the right direction, you can’t build a team overnight. They’ve got some studs on this team. DeMarcus Cousins is a superstar in the making.”
Since the arena deal between the Kings and the city of Sacramento fell through this summer, there has been much speculation about where the team will be located next. Among the possibilities that have been raised: moving to Anaheim next season, heading to Virginia Beach, and filling the void in Seattle left when the Seattle SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City to become the Thunder.
Many fans have grown frustrated with Kings ownership due to the lack of certainty over whether the team will remain in Sacramento, but so far, they have kept their frustration aimed at ownership.
“[We’re] not frustrated towards the team itself, but towards the owners, yeah,” said Vicki Burrell, whose family has been attending Kings games for the last 12 years from Applegate. “I guess we’re just not as confident or as sure that they really want to be here as much as we want them to be here.”
Even though the Maloofs have not announced anything concerning their intentions officially, many fans believe that this will be the team’s final season as the Sacramento Kings.
“Knowing that this is going to be the last year here, I’m not a fool, I’m not an idiot,” Horton said. “This arena is so old. I know they’re going to leave, this arena is too old. They had a downtown arena where they didn’t have to pay jack and they said it was a bad deal, that’s because they didn’t have any money.”
Kings fans made it evident that even if the Maloofs’ decisions have influenced their feelings towards the team, they will not give up on their team as they packed Sleep Train Arena with 17,317 fans.
“It does change my feelings but I’ve been a die-hard Kings fan since ’85 so I’m going to stick with them until the end,” said Jaime Juarez, a 36-year-old fan from Sacramento.
Fans attending the game were energetic as they showed up in forces to support their team. The Kings organization put on a special introduction in honor of the blackout during which the lights were turned off and fans stood on their feet, waving around glow-in-the-dark thunder sticks, and cheering as the team was introduced.
Throughout the game, fans filled the Sleep Train Arena with noise reminiscent of the “Arco Thunder” that was prevalent in the early 2000’s, when the arena was named Arco Arena.
Whether it was a made basket, a blown call from the refs, a big dunk, or a turnover from the Warriors, fans made their thoughts known with their voices. They even got a chance to let their wants known when, for the fourth time, a tarp fell from the scoreboard onto the court, stopping play. Fans began chanting “New Arena” as the ref dragged the tarp off the court.
The Warriors orchestrated a late-game comeback that got the Golden State fans into the game, but their efforts were quickly drowned out by the emphatic Kings fans who countered with a “Sac-ra-men-to” chant.
Though fans say they will continue to support the team while they remain in Sacramento, many are hesitant to support the same Kings team should they relocate to another city.
“I don’t like what the ownership has done but I do want to support the team,” said Dennis Johnson, a fan since 1986 and season ticket holder for 22 years. “When the Monarchs relocated, I didn’t follow them anymore and they all split up, so I doubt that I would follow them that much.”
While it remains to be seen how long it will last, the Kings players appreciate the continued support with the uncertainty that has gone on.
“To be honest with you, 0-3, I was surprised to see everybody there,” said backup Kings point guard Aaron Brooks. “We’ve been going through a lot the last couple years, and to see everybody still sticking with us even though we were 0-3 coming back home, it was cool.”
Photography by Ron Nabity Photography
Photo by David Alvarez Photography
Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on Aug. 19, 2012
The Sacramento River Cats came up short on Saturday night as they lost their second game in a row, falling to the Las Vegas 51s 10-4 at Raley Field.
River Cats fans showed up heavily for “Star Wars Night,” with fans dressing up as various Star Wars characters. 14,818 fans showed up in total, making it the third most-attended River Cats game in franchise history.
The loss is Sacramento’s fourth in their last five contests.
Las Vegas got to River Cats starting pitcher Bruce Billings early, racking up six of their 10 runs during Billings’ 4.0 innings of work. Billings finished the night with four innings pitched, allowing six earned runs on seven hits and two walks, while striking out two.
The 51s got on the scoreboard first in the first inning when left fielder Ricardo Nanita hit a two-out, two-run homerun to give Las Vegas the early 2-0 lead.
Sacramento threatened in the bottom of the first inning, working into a bases-loaded situation with two outs. Catcher Anthony Recker was unable to come through with the needed hit as he grounded out to second.
Las Vegas wasn’t done scoring there, nor would they relinquish the lead to the River Cats. Las Vegas got right back to scoring in the second inning when Tuffy Gosewisch hit a double to left field to add two more runs for Las Vegas.
Nanita continued the scoring for the 51s with another homerun in the third inning, his second of the night, which gave his team a 5-0 lead. Nanita added a double in the fifth inning before homering yet again in the sixth inning. He finished 4 for 5 with three home runs and a double, along with four runs and four RBIs.
Sacramento used the long ball in the bottom of the sixth inning in an attempt to overcome the 10-0 deficit.
Left fielder Shane Peterson started the scoring by blasting a three-run homerun to center field to give the River Cats their first three runs of the contest. Shortstop Brandon Hicks continued the scoring with a homerun of his own with one out, cutting the lead to 10-4, but Sacramento’s rally would fall short as those would be the only four runs of the game for the squad.
Las Vegas relievers Clint Everts and Jim Hoey came in and shut down the River Cats for the final three innings, only allowing one hit and striking out seven.
Sacramento concludes their series with the Las Vegas 51s on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. at Raley Field.
Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on Aug. 7, 2012
The Sacramento River Cats’ six-game winning streak came to an end Monday night as they fell to the Nashville Sounds 5-3 at Raley Field.
Sacramento looked to be on their way to another win when they scored the first two runs of the game in the bottom of the second inning. With runners on second and third base and two outs, left fielder Shane Peterson hit one up the middle to give the Cats an early 2-0 lead.
The lead wouldn’t hold up as the Sounds were able to get to River Cats starting pitcher Graham Godfrey in the fourth inning. The Sounds were able to put up two runs in the fourth to tie the game at 2-2.
Sacramento was opportunistic in the sixth inning, capitalizing on a couple of walks by Sounds pitcher Brian Baker to take the lead again.
With Michael Taylor on second and Daric Barton on first due to two walks, Grant Green singled to left field to score Taylor and give the River Cats a 3-2 lead. The run prompted the Sounds to pull Baker off the mound in favor of Juan Perez, who got Peterson to ground out to end the inning.
The lead would once again not hold up as the Sounds came back swinging the very next inning. Designated hitter Khris Davis hit a two-RBI single to give the Sounds back the lead, at 4-3. The lead would prove to be enough for the Sounds. An insurance run was added in the top of the ninth on a home run by shortstop Jeff Bianchi, his second of the season.
Sacramento had a great opportunity to take back the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning when they had the bases loaded with no outs. But from there, ex-River Cat Fautino De Los Santos was able to work his way out of trouble.
After getting Barton to pop out into an infield fly rule, De Los Santos got Green and Peterson to strike out swinging, leaving the River Cats with zero runs on a prime opportunity.
Sacramento takes on the River Cats two more times this series, with the next game occurring Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m. at Raley Field.
Image courtesy of the C.O.S. Foundation
Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on Aug. 6, 2012
Former Sacramento King Donte Greene is set to hold the second annual Goon Squad Classic on Aug. 10 at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, Calif.
Although it appears that Greene will not be playing for the Kings again, Greene wanted to give the fans another chance to attend his charity basketball game, the Goon Squad Classic. The game started last season during the NBA’s holdout, prompting Greene to want to give basketball to the Sacramento region, and benefit numerous charities with the money raised.
“It was in high demand,” Greene said. “I got a great response from the fans, and they wanted me to do another game, and we planned it during the season to hold another one, thinking I will be back in Sacramento. But plans have changed, but I still wanted to hold the game for the fans.”
The game largely benefits Greene’s foundation, the Circle of Success foundation. Greene founded the Circle of Success in 2010 to give back to the community and help younger generations become successful.
“We have after school programs, we have mentor programs, I have a 14-under AAU team that I mentor. It’s to try and be a positive light on the community. I try to brighten people’s day and to hold good events,” says Greene.
The Goon Squad Classic benefits numerous other charities in addition to Greene’s, including Shriners Hospital for Children, Save Our Selves Breast Cancer Organization, Crocker Riverside 4th R after School Care, Jason Thompson Foundation and the American Diabetes Association.
Kings forward Jason Thompson played a part in putting together the game, just as he did last year. Thompson’s L.I.V.E. Like JT foundation is holding a back-to-school drive in an effort to obtain school supplies for those that need them.
Kings players expected to participate include Jimmer Fredette, Tyreke Evans, Jason Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas, Tyler Honeycutt and Darnell Jackson. Other NBA players participating in the event include Del Campo High School’s Matt Barnes, the Washington Wizards’ John Wall, Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford and others.
Tickets can be found at http://gsc2.eventbrite.com/. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the tip-off ocurrs at 6:30 p.m.
Those attending can expect more than just a basketball game, with plenty of side events for the fans.
“A lot of giveaways: autographs, tennis shoes, game basketballs, pictures and a lot of T-shirts,” Greene said. “There will be fan contests, free-throw contests. It is a good family environment and I want the kids to come out and have a good time and see some of the guys outside of the arenas.”
No matter how many fans show up, Greene promises to have a good time with those that do.
“I just want to have people come out and have a good time,” said Greene about the event. “Whether we have 50, or a couple thousand, we are going to go out and have a good time.”
Photo by George H. Young Photography
Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on July 24, 2012
Sacramento River Cats starting pitcher Daniel Straily continued his dominant year against the Pacific Coast League as he led the River Cats to a 6-0 victory against the Tucson Padres at Raley Field on Monday afternoon.
Straily struck out another nine batters in six innings of work, giving him 171 strikeouts on the season. He allowed no runs on just three hits in his six innings of work en route to earning his fourth win for the River Cats.
Unlike the Padres, Sacramento’s offense was able to figure out Tucson’s starting pitcher, Will Scott, early in the game. Jermaine Mitchell scored the first two runs of the game with a two RBI single in the second inning. Scott lasted just four innings while allowing two runs on six hits, three walks and striking out two batters.
The game remained at 2-0 until the fifth inning when the River Cats were able to add to their lead with three more runs. After catcher Anthony Recker plated Grant Green to give them one run, second baseman Wes Timmons hit a double to right field scoring both Recker and first baseman Daric Barton. Adam Rosales then struck out to end the inning, but only after the River Cats had already extended their lead to 5-0.
Even with Straily exiting the game after six innings, River Cats pitchers were able to keep the Padres off of the scoreboard, barely even allowing a threat.
The only two baserunners allowed by the River Cats relief pitchers were due to a walk issued to Jeremy Hermida, and catcher’s interference called on Recker which allowed Matt Clark to reach first base in the ninth inning.
Sacramento added another insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning after designated hitter Michael Taylor tripled to center field. Taylor was brought home on a sacrifice fly from right fielder Collin Cowgill.
The win halted a three-game losing streak by the River Cats. Sacramento now heads out on theroad for their next eight games before returning home on Aug. 1.
Photo by David Alvarez Photography
Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on July 3, 2012
The Sacramento River Cats were unable to continue their win streak as they fell to the Colorado Springs Sky Sox 5-3 on Monday night at Raley Field.
The River Cats entered the game with a modest three-game winning streak but a late-inning rally fell short to give the River Cats the loss.
River Cats starting pitcher Bruce Billings has been exceptional for much of the year, apart from his last two starts, which he lost. Although he struck out seven batters, he also gave up five earned runs on six hits in five innings of work for the River Cats.
Billings started strong with a three-up-three-down first inning, but then the Sky Sox were able to get on the board in the second inning. Following a single by Sky Sox first baseman Matt McBride, designated hitter Chad Tracy hit a two-out home run to give the Sky Sox the early 2-0 lead after two innings of play.
Colorado Springs added to their lead in the fifth inning by putting three more runs on the scoreboard. Just like the second inning, all three of the runs came with two outs already recorded.
After a single to DJ LeMahieu, Billings gave up another two-run home run, this time to Andrew Brown, who hit a deep ball to right field for his 13th home run of the season. The very next batter, Billings gave up another home run to right fielder Tim Wheeler to round out the Sky Sox
scoring for the night, giving them a 5-0 lead after five innings. The home run was Wheeler’s first home run of the season.
With the River Cats down 5-0, Sacramento right fielder Shane Peterson was called out on strikes in the bottom of the fifth inning. Following the strikeout, River Cats manager Darren Bush quickly ran to argue the call. During the argument, home plate umpire Scott Mahoney ejected the River Cats manager.
Sacramento remained scoreless until the bottom of the seventh inning when Stephen Parker singled to score Kila Ka’aihue from second base to bring the deficit to 5-1. The score caused the Sky Sox to replace starting pitcher Edwar Cabrera with Joe Torres, who promptly struck out Jermaine Mitchell to end the threat. Cabrera had a very solid game, pitching 6.2 innings and striking out 13 while giving up just one run on two hits.
The River Cats had one last rally in them in the ninth inning. Following scoring two more runs and having Mitchell on at second base and the tying run at the plate, Sky Sox relief pitcher Zach Putnam got River Cats left fielder Grant Green to line out to end the game, securing the Sky Sox 5-3 victory.
Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on June 30, 2012
The Sacramento River Cats lost their third straight game as they fell to the Salt Lake Bees 10-3 on Thursday night at Raley Field.
The Bees were able to attack River Cats starting pitcher Brad Peacock early, quieting the 6,428 fans in attendance.
After getting the first batter of the game out, Peacock gave up a single and walked Bees left fielder Ryan Langerhans to put runners on first and second with just one out. Peacock was unable to get out of the situation, giving up another single that scored Kole Calhoun to put the Bees on the board first, for the second night in a row.
River Cats Kila Ka’aihue, who usually plays first base but was playing left field for Thursday’s game, was tested early as to whether his arm could get the ball to home plate consistently. Ka’aihue’s first throw was inaccurate and ended up on the line, allowing Calhoun to score easily. Ka’aihue was tested on the very next batter when Bees first baseman Efren Navarro singled to left and Ka’aihue threw home once again but not in time, allowing Langerhans to score and the other runners to advance to second and third base.
Bees catcher Robinzon Díaz finished the scoring for the inning with a single of his own to left field that scored two more runs, allowing the Bees to lead the game 4-0 after just one inning.
Salt Lake continued to add to their lead in the fourth and fifth innings, with one run and four more runs, respectively.
Three of the runs scored in the fifth inning came off a three-run home run, the fourth of the season for right fielder Doug Deeds, which scored Díaz and Paul McAnulty.
The River Cats were able to sustain a small rally in the bottom of the fifth inning and put their first two runs on the board.
With the bases loaded and one out, first baseman Daric Barton hit a sacrifice fly to deep right field that scored Eric Sogard to give the River Cats their first run of the night. The sacrifice fly also advanced Adam Rosales to third base.
Rosales scored the River Cats’ run when Bees pitcher Francisco Rodriguez threw a wild pitch, allowing Rosales to come home and bring the deficit to 9-2.
But the River Cats were unable to produce enough offense to come back, only scoring one more run in the sixth inning when Sogard hit a sacrifice groundout that scored Ka’aihue.
But Bees right fielder Calhoun got that run back for the Bees by hitting a home run against the River Cats for the second night in a row, bringing the game to the final score of 10-3.
Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on June 28, 2012
The Sacramento River Cats struggled on Wednesday night as they dropped their second game in a row, falling to the Salt Lake Bees 7-2 at Raley Field.
The River Cats began to struggle early in front of the 7,741 people in attendance, who accompanied a variety of canine fans brought to the park for Raley Field’s “Bark in the Ballpark” night. The promotion brought a wide variety of fans to the ballpark, from humans, to chihuahuas, to great big St. Bernards, one of which assisted in the throwing of the first pitch.
Sacramento sent out right-handed pitcher Bruce Billings as the starting pitcher. Billings entered the game with a 2.86 earned run average, which was good for being second best in the Pacific Coast League. He also had a 3-1 record at home coming into the contest, but encountered adversity while on the mound Wednesday night.
After striking out the first three batters he faced, Billings gave up three consecutive singles to start the second inning and put the Bees on the scoreboard first. Billings was able to get the next batter, Bees second baseman Adam Heether, to ground out into a double play. But Billings couldn’t capitalize on the double play.
With a runner on third base, Bees designated hitter Paul McAnulty hit a ground ball up the middle that River Cats second baseman Eric Sogard dove for, but was unable to send to first base in time, leaving McAnulty safe at first with an RBI single.
Already down 2-0 with two men on and two outs, Billings then gave up a three-run home run to Bees center fielder Kole Calhoun to put the Bees up 5-0 after just two innings.
Meanwhile, the River Cats offense struggled to give Billings any run support. Sacramento was unable to get anything going until the bottom of the fifth inning.
After right fielder Michael Taylor walked to lead off the inning, Sogard hit a single that allowed Taylor to advance to third base with no outs. Taylor crossed home plate on a single by catcher Anthony Recker that put Sacramento on the board, but still trailing 5-1. But that was all the River Cats were able to score that inning.
Billings was unable to stop the Bees from scoring when he gave up another home run, this time to Ed Lucas, which put the score at 6-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning. The home run marked a new season high for Billings in home runs (two) and runs (six) allowed in a single game.
Sacramento got a run back in the bottom of the seventh inning on a throwing error that allowed first baseman Daric Barton to score from third base.
Relief pitcher Justin Souza was not able to limit the Salt Lake runs, either. Souza came in to relieve Billings in the eighth inning and promptly gave up a home run to the second batter he faced, third baseman Luis Jimenez. Jimenez sent the first pitch he saw from Souza deep over the fence in left field to give the Bees the 7-2 lead.
Bees starting pitcher Greg Smith was stellar, limiting the River Cats to just one run on six hits, spread out over six innings of work.
Sacramento will hope to get back to winning when they face the Salt Lake Bees again Thursday night at Raley Field at 7:05 p.m.
Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on June 4, 2012
The Sacramento River Cats overcame adversity to defeat the Fresno Grizzlies 10-7 on Friday night at Raley Field.
The 10,501 fans in attendance witnessed an offensive outburst that lasted nearly three hours and forty minutes. Fans were able to see a plethora of pitchers, with 11 pitchers seeing the mound throughout the game.
Designated hitter Manny Ramirez was once again a last-minute scratch, being given the day off as a medical precaution for the tightness in his calf that kept him out of Thursday’s game as well.
Adding to the adversity, starting pitcher Bruce Billings faced just two batters, giving up two singles before having to leave the game due to cramping in his left hamstring.
Ramirez’s replacement, Brandon Moss, turned out to be the offensive key to the River Cats’ victory. Moss went 2-5 with a three-run home run in the fourth inning.
Down 3-5, the River Cats opened up the game with a six-run fourth inning that gave them a 9-5 lead. The River Cats sent 12 batters up to the plate in the inning and capitalized on Moss’ 3-run bomb to deep center field.
The Grizzlies weren’t going to go down easy, as catcher Jackson Williams hit his fourth home run of the season to score Brock Bond and bring the Grizzlies to within two and the score to 9-7 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning.
River Cats lead-off man Grant Green was able to give the Cats an insurance run in the very next half inning, hitting his sixth home run of the season and extending the Cats’ lead to 10-7.
Cats pitchers would then keep the Grizzlies off of the scoreboard, with Evan Scribner locking up the save and securing the River Cats 10-7 lead.
Two of the six pitchers used by the Grizzlies attended college right here in Sacramento. Grizzlies starting pitcher Jason Stevenson was born in Redding, Calif. but attended Sacramento City College. Stevenson pitched just two innings, allowed two hits and three earned runs, struck out one and struggled with his command while walking four.
Grizzlies relief pitcher Mitch Lively is also a local product, having attended California State University, Sacramento. Lively pitched 1 and two-thirds innings, giving up two hits, four unearned runs and striking out four batters.
The win gave the series win to the River Cats and also improved the River Cats to 35-21 on the season, just 1.5 games out of first place of the Pacific Coast League, Southern Division.
Image by George H. Young Photography
Originally published on Sacramento Press.com on May 27, 2012
In the second day of veteran Manny Ramirez’s stint at Raley Field, it was third baseman Brandon Inge who shined in the River Cats 10-0 victory against the Reno Aces on the cold Saturday night.
Inge fueled the River Cats offense, going 5-5 with two doubles, two home runs, three runs and seven runs batted in.
Ramirez is currently playing a 10-game stint with the River Cats before being eligible to play with the Oakland Athletics following a 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s drug policy last year.
Ramirez chose to retire last season with the Tampa Bay Rays instead of serving the suspension before coming back this year and signing with the Athletics.
Ramirez is batting .240 with two RBIs and no home runs in seven games with the River Cats thus far, and is eligible to join the Athletics on May 30, the same day he turns 40 years old.
The 11,236 people in attendance applauded Ramirez every time he stepped up to the plate, hoping to see the right-handed slugger hit a homerun for the River Cats, but Ramirez finished 1-5 with a single in the sixth inning.
River Cats starting pitcher Bruce Billings was once again stellar, finishing the game with eight strikeouts and allowing no runs on three hits in eight innings of work. Billings is now 4-1 on the season, with a 2.63 earned run average.
Sacramento pounced all over Aces starting pitcher Patrick Corbin early and often, scoring a run in each of the first four innings.
The River Cats first got on the scoreboard on a home run from Inge in the first inning, giving the Cats a lead that would never be threatened. Inge’s second homer came in the sixth inning. With the bases loaded, he sent a ball soaring over the left field wall for a grand slam, extending the River Cats lead to 8-0.
Inge extended the lead to 10-0 when the bases were loaded once again in the seventh inning, but this time Inge singled to bring in two runs and give him his sixth and seventh RBIs for the night.
The Aces barely threatened the River Cats to get on the board, only tallying four hits during the contest. They threatened in the second inning when outfielder Cole Gillespie doubled to right field to lead off the inning, but Billings was able to get out of the inning, getting two ground outs and a strikeout.
The Aces also threatened in the ninth inning with River Cats reliever Erick Threets pitching. Upon giving up a single, Threets threw a wild pitch that advanced outfielder Jake Elmore to second. Threets was then able to get the batter to fly out to end the game and secure the 10-0 victory.