Ratto: What if the Giants don't make a deal?


Ratto: What if the Giants don't make a deal?

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Ray Ratto

Hey, heres an idea. What if the Giants dont get the shortstop and the second baseman and the catcher they desperately need to finish the season? What if Brian Sabean doesnt throw the roster up in the air? What if he does nothing at all, just to spite you?All for it. In fact, the position here in this squalid little corner of your favorite web site is that Sabean shouldnt do anything at all, and show the panic freaks his hand.Not necessarily because improving the side would be a bad idea, mind you. Who among the Giant fan base wouldnt want a more reliable option at second base until Freddy Sanchez (a player most of you hated for a good long time, by the way) returns?No, our position is that the fan base needs to be dead wrong again, as it was a year ago, as it was when it screamed that Bruce Bochy was a terrible idea as a manager, as it seems to be every time the boys either win two games in a row or lose two games in a row.
Put another way, Nate Schierholtz was regarded as a disaster two days ago. Today, he is considered Roberto Clemente. And both times, those analyses are wrong.URBAN: Nate makes it worth the wait
The Giants, you see, have built a profoundly loyal but decidedly schizophrenic fan base since moving to the Thing on King. They leap back and forth from conclusion to new conclusion with a speed and alacrity that shames even Red Sox fans, and they hate and love the same players with almost preposterous fervor, and often at the very same time.Or do we have to wave Barry Zito in your faces again?What seems to be missing in the We Gotta Get A Fill In The Blank discussion is, as always, what the Giants have to attract that blank. And the answer is too much. Way too much.First, understand that what the Giants have is pitching. Second, understand that they dont have as much as you think they do, at least not for depth or dealing purposes. The market for Jonathan Sanchez is understandably depressed, the market for Zito does not and will not exist, and the Giants like Madison Bumgarner too much to give him up.In addition, Sabeans history not only suggests but veritably screams that he moves pitchers who do not thrive after being moved. Joe Nathan was moved in the A.J. Pierzynski deal because (a) the Giants had no catcher and (b) because Felipe Alou had lost all confidence in Nathan and vice versa. Next up -- Kevin Correia, who would on this staff be at best the fourth starter and more likely another fifth starter.For the most part, though, the Giants have made very few poor moves with pitchers (and we neednt go through who wanted Zito and how and why he was again, do we?). Sabean understands pitching value, whether you wish to acknowledge it or not, and he knows who can be moved and who should be moved.URBAN: Giants at midseason still hard to believe
Second, other general managers know what Sabean needs, and the price he is quoted is higher than most. Cincinnati doesnt want Zach Wheeler for Ramon Hernandez, Cincinnati wants Bumgarner or better. Are you doing that deal? Let me help you with that. No. San Diego doesnt want Brandon Belt for Orlando Hudson, San Diego wants Belt and Wheeler, or two other prospects. Are you doing that deal? Only if you have convinced your insurance company to cover your brain-for-turnip transplant.And third, and most important, these offense-deficient Giants are the Giants you have become accustomed to, and the notion of being the first team since 1968 to score fewer than 600 runs in a full season and make the postseason is an ideal metaphor for the least offensively potent season in nearly 30 years. The Giants are on a pace for 591, which I know you think seems too high for this offense.But this is who and what they are, and I as your guide and mentor can assure you that you, being suckers for sloganeering, want to replace Torture with a new battle cry -- like How The Hell Do They Do This?Bruce Bochy asks that question all the time. So does Sabean. So do the broadcasters and the players and the rest of the baseball and you and you and you. This is a team that defies all logic in a season that defies all known patterns, and you desperately want to tell all your non-believing pals, We lost our two best players and still kicked hinder, and we dont know why. We just accept what is true. What you got, Skippy?Dont forget, 2010 was not just about surprise for you, it was about We know things you dont, and the Bay Area loves to pretend it knows things the rest of the world doesnt. It plays to our vanity, and we are as vain as everyone else when it comes to our sports teams.Everything we see in this season suggests that the Giants know things everyone else doesnt -- again. So why not prove that theory by standing pat with a mutant offense, too many fifth starters, and holes at three most important interior positions? Why not stick your middle finger in the air to baseball convention?Trust me, however it plays out, youll be happier than if you wake up on August 1 with John Buck. I know how you are.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.

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.”