Ratto: Giants Dancing All the Way to Texas

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Ratto: Giants Dancing All the Way to Texas

Oct. 28, 2010RATTO ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEOMLB POSTSEASONRay Ratto
CSNBayArea.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Its been another hellishly bad postseason for pre-series analysis. But well be back at it next spring, undeterred by the fact that the Giants are laughing at us all for the dolts we surely are.

They didnt hit for six months and three weeks, and now they have a hundred runs and a thousand hits in two games of the World Series nobody thought theyd ever see.

They faced pitchers who made them scrape for everything they got for 172 games, and now they find the one team in baseball that lets them do whatever they want.

They sweated bone marrow and spinal fluid to get past San Diego, Atlanta and Philadelphia, and now theyve formed a conga line around the basepaths in the Series.

Anyone see this coming? Liar! Anyone see 20 runs and 22 hits in two games against the Texas Rangers, including seven with two outs and nobody on (a Series first)? Falsifier! Anyone not believe there was the dreaded T-word (torture) looming in every at-bat? Fibster!

Anyone see these guys two games away from The Parade That Dare Not Speak Its Name? You Prevaricating Swine!

Fortunately, there is the nagging fear all Giant followers still have, that the Rangers arent this bad, that the invigorating waters of Arlington will purify and revivify them and change this World Series before Monday dawns.

Hint: The 1960 Yankees scored 20 runs in the first two games against Pittsburgh and split. They also scored 21 runs in the last two games and split again. They lost that Series. They were mighty unhappy.

But thats it. Thats your look-out-theres-a-trap warning. Because right now, the Giants couldnt look better, and the Rangers couldnt look more like the Washington Senators from which they were spawned.

If you had to organize the heroes in the first two games in order of importance, youd have to start with Game 2 starter Matt Cain, whose third consecutive masterwork made him the pending new face of the franchise. He pitched through and around the Rangers for 7 23 innings, needing neither an overpowering fastball or luck behind him to stifle the Texas hitters.

But after that, what you have is a list of the forgotten, the slandered and the worse-money-after-bad.

Freddy Sanchez doubled three times and drove in three runs in Game 1. Edgar Renteria homered and drove in three runs in Game 2. Aaron Rowand tripled home two runs in Game 2. Juan Uribe hit a three-run homer in Game 1. Nobody has, when the hat has been passed, not kicked in more than his share.

Heres another one. Only three Giant starters, Buster Posey in Game 1 and Andres Torres and Sanchez in Game 2, have not scored. Only Sanchez, Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff in Game 2 have not had hits. The Giants have had 11 extra-base hits after having only 20 in the previous 10 games.

In the meantime, even the two things the Rangers could hang their hats on, the C.J. Wilson start that ended with a blister and the Ian Kinsler 398-12-foot double, ended up kicking Texas right in the cash-and-prizes.

Kinsler ended up at second on the ball that bounced off the tippy-top of the fence looking like someone had just spit in his plate. And Wilsons departure turned into a Family Guy skit -- 19 balls in 22 pitches, followed by Renterias single, Rowands triple and Torres double.

In summation, this has been preposterous. Unfathomable. Not even the uncounted legions in the Downtown Pot Brigade could have emptied out the entire Mendocino County Storehouse Of Fun and hallucinated this.

So the whole of GiantsWorld now boils itself down to a single existential answer to a single existential question, namely:

Is this team -- the one that spent the whole season laying naked on the third rail daring the 12-car train from the airport to come barreling down the track -- prepared to finish the job in Arlington?

Bruce Bochy, who has managed like his mortgage was on every at-bat, will try to manage that way in Games 3, 4 and If Necessary, but can the Giants actually make his job this easy twice more?

In other words, is torture at last an outmoded construct here at the corner of King and Ball Four?

The quiz resumes Saturday, with Jonathan Sanchez, who blew up in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series, against Colby Lewis, who was an As mop-up man in 2007 and a nearly-ex-player in 2008 and 2009.

So yeah, this can get a hell of lot weirder. But after these two games, the bizarro-bar is pretty damned high.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

A's stripped of little-engine-that-could classification at a bad time

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AP

A's stripped of little-engine-that-could classification at a bad time

As rumored over the past two months, Major League Baseball just lowered the Oakland Athletics’ revenue by $34 million, and now all the other developments of the past few weeks have finally become a call to arms by an organization that has always been strident pacifists when it comes to money.

In other words, The Little Engine That Occasionally Could has now been stripped of its little-engine classification, and the conditions that allowed them to play the cute little underdog are gone. No more waiting for more clement economic circumstances, or a more favorable political climate, or for the ever-nebulous “future” which the A’s always dangled before its dwindling fan base.

That was the news of Wednesday. Thursday, reports from ESPN’s Jim Trotter indicated that San Diego Chargers owner Dean Spanos is going to swallow his pride to exercise his option to join Stan Kroenke in Los Angeles, thus reducing Mark Davis’ viable options to Las Vegas and the tender mercies of the NFL, or Oakland and the tender mercies of whoever decides to tackle the problem of a new football-atorium.

In other words, push and shove are now jockeying for position in what is expected to be a crash.

First, the A’s.

With the news that Major League Baseball is going to hack the team’s revenue sharing check by 25, 50, 75 and then 100 percent over the next four years, the margin of error for new front man Dave Kaval to get a stadium built has been reduced to those four years. He is following the dictates of his boss, the persistently hologrammatic John Fisher, who essentially shoved Lew Wolff out the door for preaching San Jose and then caution.

The A’s don’t want to share anything with the Raiders, which rules out a Coliseum site. They have investigated Howard Terminal, which is not without its issues. And there is a new darkhorse site, the land around Laney College which, in a tart bit of irony, is the site of the Raiders’ first Oakland home, Frank Youell Field.

The city and county are in the early stages of a deal to sell the Coliseum land to a group faced by Ronnie Lott and the money-moving Fortress group, and get out of the landlord business entirely. It has pledged somewhere between $190 and $200 million in infrastructure improvements, though in the case of two stadia, the question of whether that amount is split remains to be politicized.

But the real point here is that the Gordian knot that is Oakland’s weird hold on its franchises remains tightly raveled. The Fortress announcement was supposed to be a point of clarity, but the revenue sharing news and now the Chargers-to-L.A. rumors have returned chaos to its usual position at the tip of the food chain.

And chaos makes for hasty decisions, and hasty decisions are often regretted. But hey, what’s life without rich people awash in regrets?

The new developments ratchet up the pressure on the City of Oakland and Alameda County to decide what support – if any – to provide a new A’s stadium, and coincidentally what support – if any – can be provided to the Raiders if they are forced to stay in Oakland by the NFL.

It even ratchets up the pressure on the NFL owners to decide among themselves whether their actual end-game goal – to have the Raiders controlled by someone other than Mark Davis – is better served by allowing him to move his team to Las Vegas or denying him his escape route.

But now for the first time there are time constraints – a few months for Mark Davis, a few years for John Fisher and Dave Kaval. The principles of subsidized Moneyball are now conjoined with the principles of Darwinism, and as the A’s have had innovate-or-die thrust upon them, the Raiders have approached the day of reckoning they’ve been desperately kicking down the road since Al Davis’ death. Plus, the political structures of Oakland and Alameda County will catch the holiest of hells either way, and probably across the board.

But as Paul Weller once wrote, “That’s entertainment.” Find shelter, children. The acrid smell of roasting money is in the wind.

Defying common sense makes another official look inhuman

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AP

Defying common sense makes another official look inhuman

Officials are a pet cause of mine, since they are uniquely hired and set up for daily failure as a condition of having the job at all. They are given a supervisory role against a group of mesomorphs running, jumping, colliding and athletick-ing all over the place, only so that they can interpret a rulebook written in Cambodian script in such a way that he or she angers everyone involved, and is supported by none of the people who gave him the rulebook to defend.

But sometimes, despite all this, officials need to be left alone to apply common sense in direct defiance of the dictates of the bloated swine who made the rulebook a tool of the socially ignorant.

And no, I am not talking about Doc Rivers snapping like a stretched bobblehead the other night after Ken Mauer tossed him from the Los Angeles Clippers-Brooklyn Nets game for being geographically inappropriate with fellow official Lauren Holtkamp (he crossed the midcourt line, and curb your dirty minds). Screw him. He had it coming.

No, this is about Frank Schneider, who refereed the otherwise unremarkable Paris Saint Germain-Angers match in Ligue 1, the top division of French soccer, and felt compelled to yellow-card PSG goalscorer Edinson Cavani for doing this.

For you link-averse weenies, Cavani scored a goal and then took off his shirt to reveal an undershirt that read “ACE FUERZA” in support of the Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense, the team involved in the plane wreck that killed 77 of 81 passengers, including all but a few of the team’s players and staff en route to the championship match of the Copa Sudamericana in Colombia against Atletico Nacional.

It was a thoughtful gesture, one we want our athletes to produce to show that they are not just mercenaries with expensively shod feet. It was a credit to Cavani, who is Uruguayan and who knew none of the players involved. He did it to be a human being.

And Schneider knew that. But the rules say he had to give Cavani a yellow card for removing his shirt as an act of celebration or in this case, sympathy, and if Schneider had ignored it, his supervisors would have punished him knowing full well that ignoring it was exactly the correct and decent thing to do.

This right here is one more reason why people hate officials, even more than they used to. They are not allowed to apply their own common sense to a situation that demands it, and if honoring fellow athletes who died in an accident doesn’t demand the common sense of saying, “Heartwarming thought there, Scooter. You’re a good lad. Run and frolic with the other woodland creatures, unconcerned with any notion of punitive action.”

Maybe Schneider walked up to him as he presented the card and said, “Listen, this is crap. You know it and I know it, and I will back your play in the game report, but I have to do this. Please find it in your heart to forgive my bureaucratic obligations.”

That’s not the zenith of understanding as we would wish it, but it would be a way to try and shield Cavani from the withered arm of the law.

Or maybe Schneider said, “I give this card to you in my role as a strident and iron-willed defender of mindless regulations. I spurn you as I would spurn a rabid wolf.”

I don’t know. All I know is, Schneider ends up looking stupid for carding Cavani for supporting his soccer-playing brethren, and officials across the globe cry out as one, “You put him in a ridiculous position, you suit-wearing filth. Where is your compassion? Where is your dignity? Why can’t we line up in an orderly fashion and kick you squarely in the groin 30 to 70 times?”

And a decent human instinct is stamped out as though it were caught stealing office supplies.

You can extend this lesson as far as you wish, including the No Fun League’s old-white-guys fetishistic ban on post-touchdown self-expression, but right here is where that sort of mockable nonsense starts. People died, some of them soccer players. A fellow soccer player honored them on the field of play without disrupting the game itself. He was sanctioned. This is idiocy.

But Doc Rivers getting flipped in Brooklyn? Sorry. There’s only so far we can go with this, and in this case, well, to quote the old philosopher, “Nice tantrum, Glenn.”