Comparing Belt, Hamilton struggles


Comparing Belt, Hamilton struggles

Programming note: Padres-Giants coverage gets underway tonight at 6:30 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live, and baseball follows from AT&T Park at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area!

Attention Brandon Beltniks: Your guy is not being abused by the Giants. At least no more than Josh Hamilton, and so far, Brandon Belt is so not Josh Hamilton.
And this isnt about Brandon Belt, so calm yourselves before you start building up lactic acid.RELATED: Bochy on Belt: 'He needs a break'
Let us guide you instead to Nolan Ryan, the former major league pitcher who runs the Texas Rangers and as such gets to say pretty whatever the hell he wants to say. This was his analysis of Hamilton, who many people think might be the best player in the game:I think were all seeing the same thing, he said during an interview with a Dallas-area radio station. Youre right that some of his at bats arent very impressive from the standpoint that he doesnt work deep into the count, hes swinging at a lot of bad pitches, he just doesnt seem to be locked in at all. So what youre hoping is that his approach will change and hell start giving quality at bats because theres a lot of those at bats that he just gives away. One of the things Ive always commented on is I cant ever say that I ever saw Henry Hank Aaron give an at bat away.He later went on to add, and tell us when this starts sounding like Bruce Bochy:I dont go down and hang around when (Rangers hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh) works with him in the cage and on the field as far as batting practice is concerned and what theyre trying to accomplish . . . I just dont know where Josh is. Sometimes hitters just get out of sync and it takes them awhile to get their rhythm back and get their swing back. Right now, you cant say, Well, it looks like something with his swing. Hes just not being selective and dug himself a hole that he needs to get out of.This may not exactly be Belts issue, but thats not the point here. The point, if you must be provided with one, you sniveling weasels, is that everyone gets grilled when they hit a dead spot, and Hamilton has hit his share. And if the best outfielder in the game can have a bad stretch and have the boss take the birch to him, then Belt can consider himself relatively fortunate by comparison.The reason: Youre as good as your last 40 at-bats, tops. It doesnt matter who you are or why you are who you are baseball is about yesterday and today, and maybe tomorrow in some special cases.Belt has struggled mightily throughout his brief career for a number of reasons, which Jeopardy Boy Baggarly has and will continue to enumerate for you in his squalid little corner of our Internet home. And some of you have fulminated mightily about those reasons, blaming Bochy for preferring veterans to production, or not wanting to give the lad his chance, or hating Belt because he has a plush toy for sale at Giants stores, or for having too small a cranial size.And by the way, you neednt start in yelling at me about it. I am an agnostic on this topic, so direct your vitriol where it belongs to Jeopardy Boy.This is just to tell you all that before you complain yet again, understand that these are the conditions that have always prevailed in baseball, and always will. Belt has been treated as all young players have when they struggle, because unless youre Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera, theyre all going to get it at some time or another.And the first solution is for Belt to stop living inside his own head and overthinking every result as though it were time added onto a jail sentence. He should, if nothing else, consider himself lucky that Nolan Ryan isnt his boss. After all, there are kicks in the butt, and then there are kicks in the butt, and Ryan has never been shy about kicking what needs to be kicked.Ray Ratto is a columnist for

Frank Deford's longform storytelling made him worthy of our attention


Frank Deford's longform storytelling made him worthy of our attention

Frank Deford’s death over the weekend did not mark the end of longform sportswriting as we knew it; he had long ago become part of the electronic commentariat that has reduced longform’s place in the public’s attention span.

But there is still longform writing and storytelling to be found in many places, and it is still worthwhile. It has more production value, as the TV folks like to blather, and the words have to fight for their place between the cracks left by the pictures and the mutated graphics, but longform lives, and it should, lest we all agree as one people to further desiccate that attention span like a grapefruit left in the sun.

Deford’s death, though, reminds of when longform was the zenith of the storytelling art. It could, and still can, give you access and depth and breadth that a TV crew simply could not, and cannot. Even extended TV features are by their very nature so contrived by all the equipment that nothing is natural, nothing is a surprise, and the act of writing is almost an afterthought.

Deford knew this. He more than merely dabbled in TV himself, playing the wizened old raconteur who was as much character in his pieces as storyteller. He was also a star and a starmaker with The National, a daily sports network in newspaper form that was long on talent and ideas but short on delivery and distribution. It lasted 17 months, until mid-1991, but it led to grander attempts decades later, and could if you squint your eyes hard enough be the natural parent of Grantland and The Ringer and Vice and SB Nation and dozens of others – all bigger ideas, positioned in the post-typing world. Some lasted, more didn’t, but capitalism is like that – making fuel to keep the fires burning and the engines churning.

Deford could have thrived in such a world, to be sure. He was not, in the hideous phrase, “a man of his time.” Indeed, he was a crossover figure years ago in ways that other longform writers attempt to resist even now. They want to be Deford at the height of his powers at a time when the instruments for their gift are either dying or veering away from anything that hits the 600-word mark.

But his passing did not kill the art of clever writing and incisive storytelling. There are far too many people who can do that still, even if the market for their gifts is neither as pronounced nor as eager for the product as it once was. It did remind us not only that he was a giant, but that there are still giants among us should we deign to take the time to seek them.

Thus, Deford’s death marked his passing but not the thing that made him worthy of our attention. Storytelling, longform and otherwise, remains the heart of why this is still worthwhile to a culture, and when the generation his work spawned starts to die off, I suspect we’ll still be saying the same thing then. Notebooks are smartphones, photographs are streams, but the human eye and ear and hand still remain pre-eminent.

That is, until the robots take over, at which point reading won’t be worth it.

Does St. Louis' suit against NFL mean hope for the City of Oakland?

Does St. Louis' suit against NFL mean hope for the City of Oakland?

You thought you were done worrying about the Raiders. You thought the votes were in, the moving vans booked for three years down the road, and all gnashing and sharpening of teeth was over. You thought you were free.

Then those buttinsky-come-latelies from St. Louis decided to rear their litigious heads, and now you find yourselves slipping back into that desperate-hope world from which no one escapes.

It seems the city and its regional sports authority has decided to sue the National Football League and its 32 semi-independent duchies over the relocation of the Rams 15 months ago because, and you’ll like this one, the league allegedly did not follow its own relocation rules when it moved the team.

As you know, there is no such thing as a rule if everyone governed by the rule decided unanimously to ignore the rule. This doctrine falls under the general heading of, “We’re billionaires, try and stop us.”

But all lawsuits have a common denominator, and that is that there is money at the end of the rainbow. St. Louis is claiming it is going to miss out on approximately $100 million in net proceeds (read: cash) and has decided that the NFL and especially their good pal Stan Kroenke is going to have to pay for permission to do what they have already done -- specifically, leave.

Because the suit was filed in St. Louis, the benefits of home field advantage apply, and the league is likely to have to reinflate their lawyers for some exciting new billable hours.

As to whether it turns into a windfall for the jilted Missourians, well, as someone who has known lawyers, I would list them as prohibitive underdogs. But there is nuisance value here, which brings us to Oakland.

The city and county, as we know, did not put its best shoe forward in trying to lure the Raiders into staying or the other 31 owners into rejecting the team’s pleas for geographical relief. By that, we mean that the city and county did not fall all over itself to meet the league’s typically extortionate demands.

But they did play angry enough to start snipping about the 2019 part of the Raiders’ 3-More-Coliseum-Years plan, and they are threatening to sue over about $80K in unpaid parking fees, so filing their own breach-of-rules lawsuit might be a possibility.

Because, hey, what’s the point of sounding like a nuisance if you can’t actually become one?

By now, it is clear that everyone in SuitWorld got what it needed out of the Raiders’ move. The city and county could concentrate on guiding the A’s into activity on their own new stadium. The team could go where Mark Davis has been agitating for it to go for at least three years – somewhere else. The state of Nevada could find a place for that $750 million that was burning a hole in its casino vault. And the league went to a market that it, at first reluctantly and then enthusiastically, decided should be its own.

The fans? Oh, please. Who cares about them? To the NFL, and to all corporations in all walks of business, folks are just walking wallets.

But for some cash? Well, climb on board, suckers. The gravy train is pulling out on Track 3.

Nobody is fool enough to think the Raiders would be forced to return. Hell, even St. Louis isn’t asking for the Rams back. They just want to get paid for the money they probably banked on in the good old days before Stan Kroenke decided to head west.

And that would doubtless be Oakland’s stance as well if. Now the circumstances are slightly different, in that St. Louis worked harder to keep the Rams than Oakland did to keep the Raiders. St. Louis scared up $350 million toward new digs for the Rams, well short of what Kroenke would have accepted, while Oakland said it could get its hands on some infrastructure money and no more.

But Mayor Libby Schaaf complained in her relocation post mortem that the league didn’t follow its own guidelines (yay correlation as causation!), maybe with an eye toward throwing a few lawyers into the fire to see how long it would burn.

There is not yet any indication that the city and county are going that route (and the silence may simply mean that they are sick of the Raiders’ saga as everyone else seems to be), but if they do, well, don’t freak out that the team might be forced to return.

Except, of course, in that place where migraines start. Dragging this back up is a bit like the phantom pain amputees feel -- but hey, people will do a lot for a bit of court-ordered cash. Anyone who has ever watched Judge Judy will understand.