Ryan Braun's 'act' is Oscar-worthy . . .

Darting here and there . . .

_ So Ryan Braun says he'd bet his life that an illegal substance was never in his body. Hey, maybe MLB can nail him for gambling.

_ Baseball can be as "vehement" as it wants, but it didn't just drop the protocol ball on the handling of Braun's drug test. It dropped the whole Tupperware set.

_ Part-time urine courier leaves sample on desk in basement over weekend. Look, you can't have effective anti-doping administered by dopes.

_ Don't know about you, but the term "sloppy handling of the sample" just gives us the heebie-jeebies.

_ Because we've become so sensitive about all of the past PED lies, Braun will never completely regain his credibility as a clean player. But if his news conference was an act, give him the Academy Award on Sunday, not George Clooney.

_ Meanwhile, only a few miles away from the Braun bombshell, "reborn" Manny Ramirez certainly wasn't lacking for fawners at A's camp. So maybe credibility has become irrelevant anyway.

_ Between Ramirez, Brandon and Amanda McCarthy and Billy Beane at the Oscars, the A's already have demonstrated they can still compete for attention, if not a pennant.

_ Only one word for the McCarthys' ESPN the Magazine cover: Ace!

_ Ramirez will wear No. 1 with Oakland. Somewhere, Billy Martin is punching the lid of a box.

_ Quote from Dan Haren on the current A's in USA Today: "It's amazing that two or three years after I left, I couldn't name two or three guys that I played with that were still on the team."

_ To be exact, Dan, it's three: Kurt Suzuki, Dallas Braden and Daric Barton. How quickly they forget.

_ It's been a month and a half since Bud Selig said the A's were on the front burner. Geez, how long does it take for a bad egg to come to a boil?

_ From this view, the A's ballpark situation still is not a subject for one of those "hot stove" shows.

_ Hideki Matsui still a free agent? Oakland clearly has cut that cord, but heavens, he wasn't that bad. Call us when Manny gets to 72 RBIs.

_ Tim Lincecum reported to spring training with a stiff back. Could it be all that added weight he's carrying around in his wallet?

_ Brandon Belt vs. Aubrey Huff at first base hasn't fully heated up yet, but it will. That's because Melky Cabrera is going to play left field.

_ The latest chapter in the Angel Villalona story is truly bizarre. Since when do people get denied a visa for being fat?

_ Nice to see John Bowker back with the Giants. Oops, that would be the Yomiuri Giants.

_ Knowing what we know now about Jeremy Lin, we can't help but wonder if Jeremy Tyler might be the next Hakeem Olajuwon . . . for somebody else.

_ Ah, but did the Miami Heat burst the Lin bubble? For a night, yes. But not to worry, the Knicks' next game is against Cleveland.

_ Chamberlain-sanity: The Wilt 100-point game tribute on the Warriors page at NBA.com is worth a look. Fifty years later, it's still one of the most unfathomable achievements in sports history.

_ Fantasy basketball stat: Heading into Friday night, the Warriors would be 23-7 if you gave them a win for every game in which they led at some point in the fourth quarter. Like we said, fantasy.

_ Lots of local connections on the Basketball Hall of Fame's dozen finalists: Don Nelson (again), Bernard King, Jamaal Wilkes, even Ralph Sampson. But the biggest news is that the late Don Barksdale, Oakland native and Berkeley High grad, was directly elected to the Hall. Overdue but welcome honor.

_ All that 49ers fans want to know from the NFL combine: Have they found a receiver yet? Have they found a receiver yet? Have they found a receiver yet?

_ Meanwhile, the Raiders are all over those potential fifth- and sixth-round picks. They don't have first-, second-, third-, fourth- or seventh-round choices.

_ Between the Raiders and Chiefs throwing so much money at him, Stanford Routt could be on the Forbes 500 list at some point this year if he invests wisely.

_ Hannibal went on shorter road trips than the one the Sharks are currently navigating. Wouldn't want that laundry assignment once they get back.

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