Ratto: Overachieving Giants give fans day of respite


Ratto: Overachieving Giants give fans day of respite

Aug. 3, 2011


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In a bad blow to Giant fans everywhere, the local nine scored four runs in a single inning Wednesday. Yes. Four. Runs. You know those things where a guy runs around the bases and touches the five-sided pointy thing with his foot?

RECAP: Giants score season-high at home, salvage win
Bad blow? Yes. Even though you have a thing for your team and approve of days like Wednesdays, in which the lads took and held a lead for Ryan Vogelsong, and regained the lead in the National League Amish Division.
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Bad blow? Yes, because youre the ones who started this fetish with torture and cling to it even though it was last years meme and should have been gracefully retired with Jose Guillen.

Fact is, the Giants are overachieving at an almost galactic rate, and for you to fret that the boys arent hitting enough (which they arent) is exactly one of the reasons why they have any charm at all.They are one of eight teams in the last decade to have reached the first week of August with such a meager attack. For the record, here are the others, and the reason why you need to know this will become clear shortly.YEAR TEAM RUNS ON AUG. 3 FINAL RECORD
2003 Detroit 362 43-119
L.A. Dodgers 371 85-77
2004 Montreal 377 67-95
2010 Baltimore 379 66-96
Pittsburgh 359 57-105
Seattle 344 61-101
2011 San Francisco 391 90-62
Seattle 361 71-91

Those last two are projections, of course, but the message is a pretty clear one. To score such a miserable number of runs this late in the season, you need to plan on finishing 67-95. Or worse, since the last Giants team to hit this poorly after 111 games was the 1985 model, which stands alone as the franchises one 100-loss team.Now thats the kind of rancidity you always said you enjoyed last year -- WHEN THEY WERE SCORING 100 MORE RUNS THAN THEY HAVE NOW. That was the sort of agony you said explained your love for this team -- WHEN THEIR RUN DIFFERENTIAL WAS PLUS-94 INSTEAD OF PLUS-3.So what is it, you big bunch of candies? Are you men (as in family of man) or mice (as in small obnoxious rodents who mostly make dumpsters come alive)? Are you up for this or not?Wednesdays game was so not-Giantic that it is a wonder that the crowd followed the rules. Multiple crooked-number innings (fours in the third and fifth innings), and the first six-run game at home all year -- IN ONLY THEIR 53RD HOME DATE.In the past nine years, the Giants broke the mythical six-runs-at-the-Phone mark in their third, first, first, fourth, first, seventh, sixth, first and third games. So waiting until 53 to nail down this arbitrary achievement tells us one thing.You folks better be up for the next two months. And days like Wednesday will not toughen you up properly.Sunny day. Wind blowing stridently to left field. Vogelsong pillow-smothering an all-right-handed hitting Arizona lineup. Carlos Beltran tripling and singling twice. Orlando Cabrera, mocked as a five-hitter, doubling home two runs. It couldnt have been easier on the eyes, the heart or the nervous system.But thats not how this is going to be. This was a day off for you, a freebie after two weeks of two runs a game. Frankly, we suspect Wednesday was just one more way to suck you back in when you were ready to take a hike on this team. Especially, as it turns out, with Philadelphia coming to town for a four-game series that will be falsely sold as Armageddon.No, this is a spectacularly modest team offensively, almost epically so. They will make you bleed through the eye sockets for your entertainment, but it wont be torture. Anything but.Frankly, children, youre playing with the casinos money here. With these numbers, your team should be 56-55. With the history of non-hitting teams over the last decade, your team should be 46-65.Torture? Hell. Day to day, this may be hard on your guts, but as large sample size matter, this is cashing a Scratcher. Now rub some dirt on your brains and walk it off. Youve got 51 more to go, and most of them wont be like this.

NFL disregards domestic violence, as Giants extend its tolerance scale


NFL disregards domestic violence, as Giants extend its tolerance scale

The National Football League has been reminded yet again that it neither understands nor cares to understand about domestic violence.

But it will do better, you may rest assured. They’ll have a week where all the on-field personnel wear purple to commemorate the bruises.

That’s what the NFL does when it can no longer ignore its own tone-deafness – they turn their stupidity into a marketing opportunity. After all, every social problem can be solved in the league’s eyes by figuring out a way for the league to monetize it.

The latest example of the NFL’s slack-jawed world view comes from New York, where the Giants could not and still cannot figure out what to do about kicker/serial domestic abuser Josh Brown except not let him go to London for the weekend.

This means the league has learned nothing from the Ray Rice incident, even as Rice of all people is showing on a regular basis how to learn from it. More than that, it means it has no interest in learning anything about it, and will never prioritize it beyond crisis-management level – “Uh-oh, something bad just happened. Quick, put it behind us.”

Then again, the league has been so relentlessly ham-handed on so many things that, as convenient as this may be for it, we should stop expecting it to do so, to the point that when someone from the league wants to explain some social issue to us we should simply say with one voice, “Oh, shut up, you yammering frauds.”

It is difficult to prioritize the number of ways the Giants failed to comprehend the problem currently smacking them between the numbers, although owner John Mara’s “He admitted to us he'd abused his wife in the past. What’s a little unclear is the extent of that” may summarize it nicely.

Put another way, one could make a case that the Giants extended the universal talent-tolerance scale (if you have the talent, anything can be tolerated until it can’t) to include placekickers.

That seems less likely, though, than the more obvious point that the league doesn’t regard domestic violence as something worth concerning itself with, while bloviating all the time about all the things with which it is concerned. The league is the beat cop who never gets out of his car to see what is happening on his beat, and is shocked when something does.

And while it will be handy to pile this atop the list of reasons why Commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t get it, the truth is he is merely the painful rash that reveals the league’s case of shingles. The league’s 32 constituent elements are culpable here because ignorance in the face of so much evidence becomes willful, and Goodell’s skill is not in guiding the league but in figuring out where his 32 bosses want him to go, and avoiding all the places they don’t.

Hence, domestic violence. This is not an easy problem to solve, as any expert will say, but Mara trying to decide how many punches are enough isn’t it. The league’s six-game suspension guideline that is now four years old has never been imposed on any player. It wants the power to use the talent-tolerance scale at whim to do what it wishes when it wishes to do it.

Or in this case, not do anything at all until it has to, and then in as minimal a fashion as it can manage.

So, Josh Brown loses a week in a foreign country on the company dime as a trade-off for continually terrorizing his wife. The league says it punished him for a game but was powerless to do anything else while knowing all along how severe the problem had become.

In short, it did the minimum. Now that everyone knows the fullest extent of Brown’s abuse, and how much the league knew without doing anything, it will now extend the minimum out to what it thinks is a new minimum.

So we now know that the NFL is looking for some metric that will determine the transactional “extent of that,” as John Mara so eloquently put it for us. When it comes up with that formula, it will surely ignore that standard, because the real standard is still “talent-tolerance,” and the world is made up of concentric circles surrounding the people who make the league and its members a dollar more tomorrow than it made today.

And spouses are a long way from the center.

Silent but effective Sharks look to be an under-the-radar power

Silent but effective Sharks look to be an under-the-radar power

The National Hockey League began its 685th season (or whatever the hell it is; the other reason to know is for the yobs who have to authenticate the shoulder patches), and apparently is going to belong to Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid and the new focus on speed and attack and goals.

At least that was the talk after Night One of 179, in which the first three games of the new season featured some mid-‘80s level run-and-run play. The Ottawa-Toronto game gave us Matthews’ first four NHL goals in a game his Torontos lost, 5-4. The Edmonton-Calgary game finished 7-4, with the nonpareil McDavid scoring twice. Even the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks engaged in some fun-time up-and-down play in a 5-2 St. Louis victory.

But here, we get cold, hard sanity – the discipline and territorial integrity that is the hallmark of the new-ish and ever-so-slightly improved San Jose Sharks. They opened their defense of the Not-Quite-Stanley Cup with a very grind-y 2-1 win over the allegedly declining but still obstinate Los Angeles Kings.

[KURZ: Instant Replay: Couture, Burns push Sharks past Kings]

Guess which game won’t be talked about come the morning’s national rehashes. And guess who won’t give a farthing’s worth of damn.

Matthews and McDavid will of course dominate – Matthews, because he is a Toronto Maple Leafs and all things Leaf trump all things anything else in this still-defiantly Canadian league, and McDavid, because he helped usher in the brand new civic boondoggle . . . err, arena in Edmonton with two goals and the quote of the night.

“I don't think I touched the puck four times in my first game,” McDavid said, telling what is clearly a monumental whopper because he knows a good story when it is thrust upon him.

That will get run.

The Sharks, on the other hand, have resumed their plan running silent and running deep. Despite having the territorial and chance edges, the Skating Selachimorpha needed to stay true to their truth, which is that 11-goal games are not to their advantage, and that the sum of the whole must exceed its parts.

That’s how they got to hang a new banner from the rafters of The Old Grey Girl on Santa Clara Street – by keeping their heads when all about them are scoring theirs off.

Then again, the Sharks have older legs in key positions, greater expectations than Get The Puck To The Young’uns and Try Not To Finish 13th, and a coach in Peter (Chuckles) DeBoer who has the pressure of taking last year’s stealth success and finish the job the Pittsburgh Penguins prevented them from doing a year ago.

In short, the Sharks are likely to be just as under-the-radar this year as they were last, and assuming health and focus, they are still one of the two or three best teams in the Western Conference.

It’s just that they can’t run hither and yon chasing whatever puck looks tempting to them. Their first duty is to maintain defensive integrity, which they did with fervor and purpose Wednesday night, and their second is to see to it that goaltender Martin Jones is not oppressively treated by the opponent (San Jose outshot Los Angeles 31-22, and totally outshot the Kings, 73-58).

There was, in short, relatively little to make anyone wax euphoric about this team off one game, and in fairness, Kings coach Darryl Sutter knows how to keep games into the race-to-three stage, which may color the judgment some.

But the Sharks are playing the way they have learned works best for them, and that means gumming up passing (15 takeaways) and shooting lanes (21 blocked shots). They are like the Kings – well, the Kings of a couple of years ago – than they are the newest incarnations of the Oilers or Leafs, and based on history, that shall be considered a good thing.

Of course, the game, she is a’changing, and at some point in the next couple of years the changes that every season brings will become substantive ones, the old core will give way to a new one, and the current orthodoxy that speed is the most important component to happy-happy-win-joy will overtake San Jose.

DeBoer, though, showed against last night that is perfectly comfortable dancing with who brung him, as the kids no longer say, and making the most of what Providence has offered him. And Wednesday, as it did for most of the past year save the lost fortnight in Pennsylvania, that philosophy once again came up trumps.

Well, maybe that’s a saying we should probably forgo for awhile. Let’s just leave it at “Sharks, twice as many as Kings.” That’s a good enough result to get paid off in this league, and until DeBoer is asked for style points, that will more than suffice.