Ratto: Cain Shuts Down Phils' Mutiny


Ratto: Cain Shuts Down Phils' Mutiny


SAN FRANCISCO -- Buster Posey is young for a catcher, and careful about what he says. So when he grows quiet in response to a question, youre never sure whether hes trying to say the right thing, or the truthful one.

So when he was asked which Giants starter at his best is the easiest to catch, he paused, stroked his chin (well, sort of) and said, Probably (Matt) Cain.

And why? Because of what you saw Tuesday.

Just his command, the Giant rookie said. Jonny (Sanchez) and Timmy (do you have to ask?), their stuff is so electric. Timmys fastball moves all over the place, and Jonny has so much deception. But Matt? Just the command thing again. All four pitches. Thats it.

So to summarize the Giants 3-0 win over Philadelphia in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, Cain simply commanded the Phillies to death. All four pitches. All four corners. Not so much surgically as cold-bloodedly. Morticians have more expressions, but few pitchers have more ways to make an at-bat end.

Cain allowed the Phillies seven baserunners in seven innings, three as far as second base. Only five saw a 2-0 pitch, and only one, Ryan Howard in the second, made you wonder if a Giant defender could track down the ball.

He was Matt Cain in his totality.

When he needed a fastball to run up and in to make a statement, it went up and in. When he needed a changeup to go away, it landed there. Of his 21 outs, 11 came on fastballs, six on changeups, two on curve balls and two more on sliders.

But while Cain has no beard to fear, or rodeo stories, or really anything that suggests a wacky secret life, thus precluding a killer quote that sums up his day, his year or his life, maybe the quote that works best is Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuels:

You know, when the game starts, thats when youre supposed to hit, he said. Now if you dont hit, thats kind of . . . youre kind of on your own when you leave a dugout.

He was speaking specifically of Chase Utley, the second baseman who took a quiet 0-for-4, but there wasnt a lot that separated Utley from his eight teammates. Cain threw 119 pitches, 17 per inning, but never looked like danger truly loomed. A few questioners asked Posey to break down the Shane Victorino at-bat in the seventh, with Carlos Ruiz at second and Ross Gload at first, but Posey could only shrug and say, It was a fastball.

Yes, it certainly was, one which he bounced harmlessly to second baseman Freddy Sanchez. It was one the 17 outs he kept within the confines of the infield, one more reason why he made the Phillies looks so thoroughly inert. They drove one ball, Howards in the second.

Given that, Cain needs no beard, no rally rag, no deep inspirational speech to get him to his happy place. Even when Bruce Bochy went to check on him in the seventh, he asked Cain if he was all right to keep going.

He was just asking how I was feeling, just kind of instilling that he had confidence in me, Cain said. It didnt sound like he wanted to take me out of the game, but he was trying to -- Weve got confidence in you, make your pitches and we can get this guy out.

Resisting the temptation to say, Who is this we of whom you speak? Cain nodded and said, Yes. And five pitches later, he and the Giants were home and dry. This postseason just gets easier and easier -- yeah, right.

Theres a lot more pressure on you, he admitted afterward, but you find your ways to think of little things, whatever it is to be able to think of it as another pitch or another starting day, just go out there and stay to your plan and stay to your strengths.

The Giants arent home and dry, of course, because Wednesday is another kettle of meat entirely. As Comrade Urban will tell you elsewhere on this, your favorite wed site, Joe Blanton is a more difficult equation than he seems on this stage, and Madison Bumgarner is still burdened not so much by youth but by small sample size.

But if this helps at all for Giant fans who dont want to miss a moments torture (you sick weasels), Matt Cain will be back in case theres a Game 7. Expressionless stares, reptile blood, all the pitches a fellow could need in all the places a fellow could need them.

Im a guy whos usually going to throw a lot of fastballs, he said, but I think the biggest thing today was really making sure the location was better than the previous times (he faced the Phillies, without success). I think the main goal today was to go out there and try to keep the ball closer to the knees and stay at the bottom of the strike zone.

And as an added bonus, to make it easier for Buster Posey. It isnt Job One, but it makes Job One a better days work.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

Internet immediately goes to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal


Internet immediately goes to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal

In what can be considered your standard bolt out of the blue, California head football coach Sonny Dykes has reportedly been fired.

In what can be considered your standard spur-of-the-Internet-moment-connect-the-dots inspiration, the Internet went immediately to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal rumors.

The logic, of course, is impeccable. Dykes never really snapped the Cal program around, taking a bad program and making it, well, mediocre, and he has spent much of the past two years aggressively seeking out other jobs, so one can assume there was at least some trouble in paradise, even if you want to make the case that Cal football and paradise are somehow connected.

And Kelly just got canned by the 49ers as part of Jed York’s latest I-will-not-be-made-to-look-ridiculous twitch, so he could sign a properly modest contract at Berkeley and still get his full $6 million with the offset from the three years left on his Jed deal.

So it makes perfect sense . . . which is why it should be judged with considerable skepticism.

For one, Kelly can almost surely do better in the college job diaspora. Cal is a big name with modest ambitions due in part to constant budget constraints, and there are better jobs out there even if he sits for a year.

For two, Cal and Kelly are an odd fit, given the persistent tensions between academia and athletica at Berkeley.

For three, the job comes with massive roadblocks, including Stanford, USC, Washington and (potentially) a resuscitation of the Oregon he left behind. Success will not come easy, if it does at all.

For four, Cal just finished four years of gimmick offense and overburdened defense, and Kelly would provide a more successful version of the same.

And for five, this is too easy, too simple, too convenient. Something about this scenario must be wrong somewhere. When people hit the Internet with photoshopped Kelly-in-Cal-costumes within minutes of the Dykes announcement, you know this is too obvious to actually come to fruition.

Why? Because we don’t live that well, that’s why.

The beauty of a triumphant Kelly at Cal glowering down at the charred ruin in Santa Clara seems more appealing than it actually is, because try as they might, Cal fans will never be backing the more popular horse here, and Kelly won’t win that battle unless he takes Cal to the Rose Bowl while the 49ers are still grappling over draft positions.

In that way, reality sucks. The idea that Jed York could be mocked in collegial absentia by his two biggest coaching hires is delicious but almost surely illusory.

But until we get more on why Dykes got canned 43 days after the team’s last game – recruiting, academic issues, legal issues, photocopier problems from him sending his resume out so often – all we have is the Chip Kelly rumor-ette to keep us intrigued.

Okay, to keep us amused.

Okay, to keep us from falling over in a coma. Cal should matter more than it does, but it’s been 13 years since the Holiday Bowl zenith of the Jeff Tedford Era, and 25 since Bruce Snyder took the Ursines to the Citrus Bowl. The evidence since 1990 is of a team with bigger dreams than means that is slightly below .500 (160-164). Sonny Dykes leaving means one more coach who didn’t make an impact unless his departure leads to either reassessment of the program’s standards, internal or external sanctions . . .

. . . or what the hell, Chip Kelly. Let’s face it – in these dismal days for wacked-out rumormongering, this is pretty intoxicating stuff.

Warriors are most geographically vague team in history of American sports


Warriors are most geographically vague team in history of American sports

The Philadelphia/San Francisco/Golden State Warriors have always had a casual attitude about their home court, even by the once-flexible standards of the National Basketball Association.

Thus, it should be only slightly amusing but not actually surprising that Warriors chief arenologist Rick Welts is now waffling a bit (courtesy Comrade Poole) on whether the team will change its name to San Francisco Warriors when it moves across the pond in 2019-20, or retain its current geographic association with Narnia.

I mean Golden State. I often confuse utterly fictional locales – when I can be bothered to give a toss either way.

But the Warriors, whether they play in Oakland, San Francisco, Pier 30, Pier 32, Westeros, Hobbiton, the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, Curryvania, the Klingon Empire, the Death Star or Planet Nine, are relocating, and once they break the seal on the earth in 12 days, Welts and his fellow elves will almost surely play the team’s future name as a mildly tedious cliffhanger.

Hey, fun is where you find it.

The matter of the team’s relocation will be a sore subject among lifelong East Bay residents, who have put up with the Warriors for 45 years in various stages of development, including the current “We Almost Never Lose” stage. They regard the Warriors’ transplantation to San Francisco to be an unspeakable crime given the high level of fan allegiance afforded them in Oakland.

And yes, they regard Oakland and San Francisco as very real places, as opposed to Golden State, Freedonia, Vulgaria or the Nexus of All Realities.

It is not yet fully known what San Franciscans think of this development, but that’s the nature of the gamble here. They may embrace the Warriors as the new toy in town and then lose interest, and frankly, neither Welts nor anyone else knows the answer to that.

Either way, their die is cast, and Joe Lacob and Peter Guber are now future former Oakland fixtures. Yes, they are quite fond of the exciting new real estate values and their exciting new unobstructed view of the bay, but it has long been assumed that the move would also entail changing the name back to “San Francisco” for the snob appeal.

Now Welts, who has overseen both arena projects (including the one at Piers 30 and 32 which ended up with the piers beating the Warriors in a rout), tells Comrade Poole that the San Francisco Warriors might not end up as the San Francisco Warriors after all.

“Four years ago, I think the conventional wisdom in our building here in Oakland was that yes, we should attach a city name to the team, then it becomes a more global franchise,” Welts marketing-gobbledy-gooked. “There was a lot of head-scratching four years ago about where the Golden State Warriors even played, in other parts of the world. What’s happened with the team over the course of the ensuing years, until today, has made the Warriors if not the preeminent, at least among the three best-known NBA franchises around the world. And everybody who didn’t know where the Golden State Warriors were four years ago, if you’re a fan today, anywhere in the world, you know where the Golden State Warriors are.”

In Oakland.

Now, the mic drop.

“The team’s success has caused us to really rethink whether or not that’s something we should or want to do,” he added. “I guess it’s fair to say there’s been no final decision made. But if you were a betting man, I think you would probably want to wager that the name might remain the same.”

Of course. Why not stay fictional when specificity might move fewer hoodies?

Then again, this is a team that in its 70 years has played home games in Philadelphia (the Arena, the Civic Center, Lincoln High School and Convention Hall), Hershey and Bethlehem PA, Atlantic City, Trenton, Collingswood and Camden NJ, and Saratoga Springs NY . . .

(a moment’s rest here to catch our breaths)

. . . and then after moving west in 1962, the Cow Palace, San Francisco Civic Auditorium and USF’s Memorial Gym, the Oakland Auditorium, San Jose Civic Auditorium, San Jose Arena, Richmond Auditorium, then Sacramento, Bakersfield, Fresno, San Diego, Eugene, Seattle, Phoenix and Salt Lake City.

In fact, and you can swindle the gullible at your neighborhood tavern with this one, the Warriors’ first game in San Francisco occurred almost three years before the team left Philadelphia. The Warriors played the visitors to the Minneapolis Lakers, who moved to Los Angeles a year later and had already played a regular season game at the Cow Palace earlier in the year, so this game, January 31, 1960, could have been considered a civic scouting trip for both teams as they sought new homes.

In other words, the Warriors are almost surely the most geographically vague team in the history of North American sports. Moreover, they are about to become the first team in sports history to go home for the third time under three different city names – Philadelphia, San Francisco and Krypton, or whatever the hell they want to call themselves this time.