Ratto: Numbers don't lie for Giants


Ratto: Numbers don't lie for Giants

Sept. 1, 2011

Follow @RattoCSNRay Ratto

You all realize what you could be staring at come Sunday evening, right? You know what kind of cricket bat across the chops is awaiting if the Giants dont find the cure quickly?Well, try this:NL WEST STANDINGS W L PCT. GB LAST 10Arizona 81 59 .579 ---- 10-0San Francisco 72 68 .514 9 3-7Nine back. With 22 to play. Nine. Twenty-two. The math sucks.Of course, the standings could also read:NL WEST STANDINGS W L PCT. GB LAST 10Arizona 78 62 .557 ---- 7-3San Francisco 75 65 .536 3 6-4
Were just a little suspicious of the powers of the Post-Rowand Euphoria. We have our doubts about the medicinal benefits of the Tejadaectomy. We need to be shown.Look, we know you, and we sympathize. You desperately want to believe the glass if half full, that there is still magic at the Ballpark on the corners of Down In Order and Left On Base. And surround yourselves with like-minded people because, well, why wouldnt you?And you want the standings to reflect that, and in the best-case scenario, they could. Three is doable, Nine isnt. Seven isnt very heartwarming either, and five is cutting it close.But on the likelihood that the happy talk days are over, you must consider the fact that 2010 is a long time gone, and that the Giants have showed you with all the elegance of a rhinoceros horn to the delicates how fleeting glory truly is.I mean, you can name a baby giraffe imported to an amusement park after Brandon Belt all you want, but hes hitting .219. Which is still two points better than the team is hitting its current Home Stand In Hell, but still not the stuff of mammalian legend.And its not like this has been an aberration, either. They have taken good pitchers and made them brilliant, They have taken good pitchers with bad records and made them exemplary. They have taken bad pitchers and made them good.And theyve done this for more than a month, and theyve done it so profoundly that even Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow and Jon Miller and Dave Flemming no longer have it in them to keep pumping the tires. They may be your favorite announcers ever, but they cannot make a grounder to second into a bases-clearing triple.And Lord knows theyve tried. Is Pat Burrell the answer? Cant say that one could make a case for it except that fans love the guy who isnt there. Brett Pill? Until it became clear that Belt still has some rough edges to navigate, nobody was mentioning Pill. They were fixated on Gary Brown, who is still a Single-A player.And while you were dancing gleefully on the departures of Rowand and Tejada and wished only that there could be more to satisfy your administrative bloodlust, the truth is this it's still going to be a very hard pull indeed, and it would have been if Rowand and Tejada had been croaked two weeks ago.They werent the reason for the lesion, in short. They were symptomatic, but the bigger problem was one that could not be averted a lot of important players either getting hurt or, in greater numbers, having significantly poorer years. And Bruce Bochy had long ago run out of creative options to breaking the code on this team.And now the season shakes down to a single pre-Labor Day series because of it. A sweep makes all things possible. Getting swept makes third place possible. In an entire month of This is the biggest series of the year, this is the biggest series of the year. It will define everything the Giants do, and are, from this moment forward.Three, five, seven or nine. It doesnt get any simpler than that.

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


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


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.”