Ratto: Lee's signing is Phils' direct response to Giants

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Ratto: Lee's signing is Phils' direct response to Giants

Dec. 14, 2010RATTO ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEORay Ratto
CSNBayArea.com

See what the Giants went and done? See how it works? They reinvented the wheel, and now someone went and re-re-invented it.

The Philadelphia Phillies just signed Cliff Lee at the crypto-home-town-discount price of 120 million (well, Ok, Philly was his hometown for a little while), for one reason and one reason only.

To close the Madison Bumgarner Gap.

NEWS: Lee signs with Phils, spurns Yankees

The Phillies got beat in the National League Championship Series by The Battling You-Know-Whos because their hitters got outpitched by a team that didnt really hit all that much. So what does Ruben Amaro go out and do with Dave Montgomerys money?

Fix the problem.

The key here being Dave Montgomerys money. The Phillies are big spenders on baseballs timespacemoney continuum. They dont seem like it because they arent the Red Sox or Yankees, but since 2004 theyve been among the heaviest hitters, and particularly since tying up Ryan Howard.

Now, with Lees five-year, 120M deal, their payroll will nudge, if not actually exceed, 170 million. They have nearly doubled their payroll in four years.

All because they didnt have Madison Bumgarner.

Thats our theory anyway. I mean, theyve already got more hitting than the Giants, and thats even allowing for Jayson Werth going to the Washington Nationals. Thus when they invested in Lee, they were going toe-to-toe with those dysfunctional, misshapen, weirdo, all-arm-and-no-wood, costumed geezers in San Francisco.

Put it this way. Cliff Lee or Tim Lincecum? Except for age, its a wash, and Lee is at the top of his powers right now. Roy Halladay or Matt Cain? Again, Halladay, for the same reason.

Now it gets interesting. Roy Oswalt or Bumgarner? Any fair-minded person would have to say that Oswalts track record gives him the edge, but if you want to put Cole Hamels against Bumgarner instead ... well, the edge is smaller but its still there.

And in the four-slot, you have Oswalt or Hamels against Jonathan Sanchez. Go on, make a case for Sanchez. Weve got all the time in the world.

Yeah, thats what I thought.

We wont go fifth starter against fifth starter, because in a short series, nobody uses the fifth starter except as an innings-eater in a rout, and there, Joe Blanton or Antonio Bastardo is more valuable than Barry Zito. So even if you want to include the five, the Phillies win there, too.

In short, the Phillies have the starters and the batting order covered, and they are willing to let the Giants have the bullpen edge, knowing as we all do that bullpens are particularly volatile year to year, and that last years Jeremy Affeldt becomes this years Javier Lopez only if youre very very lucky. You can buy closers, yes, but finding setup guys who can get you to the closer -- now thats an art form.

All of this happens because the Phillies charmed Cliff Lee despite coming in lower on the money than the Yankees. All because the Yankee fans were mean to Mrs. Lee. All because New York isnt for everybody.

And maybe thats the lesson here. Maybe when you are confronted by a opposing players WAG (wife and girlfriend for you acronym junkies) at the ballpark, you should show extraordinary-without-being-creepy kindness. If you must heckle her significant other, maybe it should be something classy, like, How does a bum like you get a wife like her? or You really overclubbed with your spouse, you mullion! Women love it when you dog their dates, as long as they are spared.

Or maybe not. We hate to generalize.

But the Phillies had an edge with Lee here, and it was familiarity. If down the road there is a Cliff Lee you would like your team to acquire (and this advice goes for the As as well, in case they ever decide to invest in something pricey and in his prime), you should have already shown them your very best behavior.

In the meantime, know that the Phillies just responded to the Giants World Series rings in a huge way, and by check-raising Madison Bumgarner with Cliff Lee. Hey, its the circle of life. Get over it.

And then, get on with it.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

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

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USATSI

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

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Geology.com

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.