Ray Ratto

Focus shifts to Scutaro with Pagan signed


Focus shifts to Scutaro with Pagan signed

Angel Pagan has four more years to contemplate his place in San Francisco Giants lore. In short, a nagging problem averted.The Giants and Pagan decided Monday that 40 million over the next 48 months was a grand expenditure for leadoff hitter and center fielder, especially on a championship team that doesnt have either in abundance. And for that, general manager Brian Sabean can feel like staying home to tend to his respiratory issue was a better choice than going to Tennessee.I mean, at least he got the big item on his shopping list done.Pagan was the player the Giants were most worried about retaining, because the outfield market was so thin, made even more so when B.J. Upton signed his five-year, 75M contract with Atlanta.Thus, to get Pagan in at a reasonable rate seemed less likely to the Giants than resigning second basemanfolk hero Marco Scutaro.As it turns out, it was the other way around. The New York Yankees have expressed interest in the versatile Scutaro, and bidding wars with the Yankees are usually fruitless affairs. In short, the Giants aching need for an outfielder is now much lessened, while their hole at second base may have been reopened.That is how the Giants will be defending this title with the deftness of the classic one-armed paperhanger. They have holes in some places, too much in others, and the task of changing enough of the roster to keep it fresher than the one in 2011 is one of Sabeans secondary priorities.Pagan is not one of those freshening agents, but he elevated himself into a need item both by his play down the stretch and by his scarcity in the off-season. Scutaro is less of a need because he is older and can be more easily replaced, but he remains a very definite want.But losing Scutaro will sting, if that is in fact what happens. It just wont sting as much now that Pagan has been retained. And you may rest assured that if Scutaro is lost, the Giants will chalk that up to freshening up the roster. Whether it is actually true or not.The Giants paid dearly for their loyalty to 2010 players in 2011, and going into 2013 with the same hand as they held in 2012 is not the best way to maximize value. But they at least solved the greater issue with Pagan, and even if Sabean never leaves his apartment this week, hell have considered it good work well done.

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.

Promotion and relegation would be a great idea in all sports


Promotion and relegation would be a great idea in all sports

There is no inherent reason why you should care about Miami FC or Kingston Stockade FC, two lower level professional soccer leagues in the lower right quadrant of the nation.

But when they joined together to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the international governing body for any sport not run by Americans for Americans, to demand that all American teams submit to the concept of promotion and relegation, from MLS to, presumably, your kid’s under-8 team, they became interesting.

And the best part about soccer, except for Neymar being worth twice as much as all other humans in the history of the sport, is promotion and relegation.

In fact, it would be a great idea in all sports – although the idea of the Giants and A’s in the Pacific Coast League might scare the bejeezus out of Larry Baer and John Fisher.

Now we are not optimistic that the CAS will see this Kingston and Miami’s way. Americans like their sports top-heavy, where only a few megaclubs get most of the money and attention while the rest sort of muddle along, safe but unremarkable. And to be frank, promotion and relegation is most a fun media construct for making fun of bad teams – say, like the A’s and Giants.

But we can agree, I think, that having Jed York pay Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch to keep his football team out of the Canadian Football League, or better still, the Mountain West Conference, would add to healthy dose of spice to what promises otherwise to be a pretty humdrum year.

And promotion/relegation would certainly reduce all that troublesome tanking in the NBA people endlessly whinge about.

So here’s to Kingston Stockade and Miami FC. Your cause is just. Persevere. After all, in this rancid period for American sporting culture, someone's got to stand for the quixotic yet indisputably correct thing.

And when it fails, and it probably will, just know you sleep with the angels -- if that’s what passes for fun at your house.