Ray Ratto

Better team, not new stadium, key to success for A's Wolff


Better team, not new stadium, key to success for A's Wolff

It doesnt matter whether Lew Wolffs experience at the As FanFest was good or bad, whether he was engaged or enraged by his interactions with the wave of curious or disillusioned customers.Talking with the people who give you money, or are thinking of doing so, is always its own reward. Frankly, he should have done this a long time ago. Even more frankly, he should have cajoled John Fisher, the As real owner, to do it too.But now that the As San Jose project is down to the bribery stage and he feels like its safe to come out, Wolff met both the new customers and the old ones as though he were starting over as a new owner. And he isnt. And neither is Fisher.

Fact is, the best goodwill the As could produce between now and ifwhen they finally agree on a price for the Giants grudging acquiescence -- or better yet, to tell the Giants to take a hike and build anyway is to stop reassembling the product every year, year after year. To build a team with staying power, and then challenge the Giants as equals rather than humble and humiliated neighbors.The example here, if youll pardon the stretch, is Manchester City and Manchester United, the two English soccer clubs. Man U is the perennial power, Man City the long-alluded-to noisy neighbors. Only this year, City is more than just noisy -- it is right in Uniteds grillwork, redefining the rivalry by fighting fire with fire.In short, by no longer tacitly accepting its role as the ones at the kids table.It is the only strategy that has ever worked for the As -- to be the finger in the eye of the Giants. And while the stadium helps the bottom line, at least for awhile, the only thing the As can do that will work is to start playing the game for real on the field.It means no longer mandating to general manager Billy Beane that minding a low payroll is the way to go, that constant turnover in search of the next great unknown prospect whose best-case scenario is to be traded in three years is an idiotic long-term plan.A plan so idiotic that it makes building the ballpark an idiotic idea in itself.The only reason to have a ballpark is not for the real estate. There are lots of more lucrative plans for real estate. You own a ballpark because you believe in the product, and the ballparks only product is the team.In short, Wolffs meeting with the fans Sunday lacked the one statement that would have truly made a difference -- the one in which he said, Enoughs enough. Were not finishing last any more. Were tired to trying to do more with less. Its time to start doing more with more.There is nothing noble about playing the destitute millionaire, and especially not in sport. The As either have the resources to make a long-term stand or they dont, and the we have to husband our resources argument has as its subtext, Were not fully committed to this thing.And even if Fisher and Wolff are indeed fully committed, they have a lousy way of showing it.Holding ones place in a two-team market means engaging the big dog, and making the big dog sweat for his share. Its what worked for the As in the early 80s, and the late 80s, and even the early and mid-2000s. All in or all out, no matter where you choose to make your stand.In fact, if the As get their San Jose dream, the first thing on the non-construction agenda ought to be to rub the Giants nose in it -- to be the truly noisy neighbors. Too many years of not making a peep have taken its toll, except of course in revenue sharing.Its time for the As to rejoin the fight on the field -- past time, in fact. The stadium will take care of itself; if it happens, start buying steel, and if it doesnt, make a stand or sell. But enoughs enough.And to Lew Wolff, thanks for visiting the folks. They appreciated it.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

If eclipse ends life on Earth, it's bad news for fans of one Bay Area team


If eclipse ends life on Earth, it's bad news for fans of one Bay Area team

If the lunatic fringe of the lunatic fringe is right and the total eclipse of the sun is actually a harbinger of the end of life on earth . . .

- It’s good news for the Giants, who have been eliminated from the National League West race for less than 24 hours, or that they will not have to watch the Los Angeles Dodgers put their feet up on baseball for the first time in 28 years.

Besides, there won’t be any more years, so time becomes meaningless.

- It’s good news for the 49ers, who won’t have to endure a harsh week of practice from freshly irked head coach Kyle Shanahan, who finally saw exactly why the job came open for him in the first place.

- It’s good news for Raiders’ fans, who won’t see their team move to Las Vegas, and because they won't be soul-crushed if they can't beat the Patriots -- who will also die en masse despite Bill Belichick's entreaties to ignore the noise of seven billion terrorized shrieks.

- It’s bad news for A’s fans, who will never learn in what location their fabulous new franchise-saving stadium will not be built.

- It’s good news for the Warriors, who can say in their death throes that they were the last NBA champions ever, and that the Lakers will never get LeBron James.

- It’s good news for the Lakers because they cannot be found guilty of tampering with Paul George. It’s also good news for Jimmy Kimmel because he can’t lose a draft choice (some faceless F-list actor as a guest) as a result.

- It’s good news for the Kings, because they’ll never have to have the difficult meeting about Zach Randolph.

- It’s good news for the Chargers, because they won’t have to answer any more questions about why only 21,000 people were announced as the crowd for their second practice game, or to confront the very real possibility that they could become the NFL’s Washington Generals.

- It’s good news for the Jets, Mets, Nets and Knicks because the end of the planet is the only just solution for them all.

- It’s good news for Cal because it can stick its middle finger to the sky and say, “Here’s your $400 million debt. Try to collect it while we’re all dying.”

- It’s good news for Kevin Durant because he doesn’t have to slalom through the Internet trolls any more.

- It’s bad news for Roger Goodell, because he sure left a boatload of money on the table as he was hurtled into space like the rest of us.

- It’s bad news for Nick Saban because he will have never seen it coming. On the other hand, it’s good news for the people who cover Alabama football because they’ve endured their last journalism lecture from Prof. Nick on why they do their jobs so poorly.

- It’s bad luck for Jim Harbaugh because he will feel like a complete nitwit as he learns just what “an enthusiasm unknown to mankind” really means – the end of mankind.

- It’s bad news for all the sixth graders in America who are being offered scholarships that they will never be used by college coaches they will never meet. Of course, that would have been true even  if the world doesn’t end.

- It’s bad news for the hackers who have been spoiling Game Of Thrones because this is Game Of Thrones, only the dragon is the sun incinerating us all.

- It’s bad news for Kyrie Irving, because he will have died a Cleveland Cavalier.

- It’s good news for America, for the obvious reason that the planet will expire before our current political class can murder it.

- And finally, it’s good news for dignity, because the Mayweather-McGregor “thing” will never happen, and that alone means that even as we are torn asunder, we will know that the deity loves us all because both McGrogor and Mayweather are being torn asunder too.

Of course, if you’re reading this Tuesday, you’ll know the world didn’t end, and we’re just as screwed as we ever were. Oh well. Try to find your happy place, and drink like there’s no Wednesday.

Phrase that Matt Joyce left out of his apology is key to talking the talk

Phrase that Matt Joyce left out of his apology is key to talking the talk

Matt Joyce said the word, he did the apology, he’ll do the time, and then we’ll see if he’ll get the forgiveness he asks.
Joyce’s two-game suspension by Major League Baseball for using a gay slur at a fan during Friday’s Athletics-Angels game in Anaheim is well within industry norms (though it might have been more tactically impressive if the club itself had issued the suspension), and his apology did not deflect blame or contain the always-insincere caveat “if I offended anyone.” He did offend people and he knew it, so he didn’t couch it in the phraseology of “I don’t think what I said was improper, but I’ll do the perp walk just to get this over with.”
He even offered to do work with PFLAG, the support group that supports the LGBTQ community, thereby putting his time (which is more meaningful than money) where his mouth was.
In other words, he seems to have taken his transgression properly to heart, which is all you can really hope for, and now we’ll see if he is granted the absolution he seeks.
You see, we’re a funny old country in that we talk forgiveness all the time but grant it only sparingly, and only after a full mental vetting of important things like “Do we like this guy?” and “Is he playing for my favorite team?” and “Do I feel like letting him up at all?”
In other words, forgiveness is very conditional indeed.
Joyce said what he said, but his apology seemed to be given freely and unreservedly rather than crafted to meet a minimal standard of corporate knee-taking/arse-covering. If he follows through on his offer to do face-to-face work with PFLAG or an associated group and absorbs the lesson of not using other people as a weapon for his own frustration, then he ought to be acknowledged for doing so. That’s what forgiveness is.
But if the principle you adhere to is “once guilty, forever doomed,” then you’ve succeeded at giving in to the mode of the day, which is jumping to a conclusion and never jumping back because it’s just easier and more convenient to do so.
It’s up to him. But it’s also up to you.