Ray Ratto

Lincecum deal merely sets bar for 2014


Lincecum deal merely sets bar for 2014

PROGRAMMING ALERT: Tune in to SportsNet Central: Hot Stove tonight at 6:30 p.m. for a complete breakdown of this developing story.

Tim Lincecum won his arbitration hearing without going to arbitration, which is of course nice work if you can get it.

In signing a two-year, 40.5 million deal with the Giants, he retains his free agency years, comes to within 1.25 million per year of getting what he asked for in arbitration (a little more than two starts worth), and all the fevered stories about him being sick and tired of pitching in San Francisco for a team that gives him no run support can die down.

For two years, anyway.

RELATED: Lincecum stats splits game logs

Mostly, though, this was just bidness -- the Giants were not in a position of strength after the Cliff Lee contract set the new bar for top-of-the-game starters to 24 million per annum, and five years was nuts for the gambler in Lincecum and the accountant in Brian Sabean.

What this deal does, in truth, is set the bar for his next contract at 20.25M (even though he is making 18M this year and 22M next, with a 500K tip-money bonus), which is what the arbitration number was trying to do, and if Lincecum can stay both healthy and elite, it provides the logical springboard for the big cash-in in 2014.

Yes, this deal is a transition for Lincecums earning potential, though it is as close to the top end as can be imagined by our paltry math. Given that he has gone from 405K to 650K to 8M to 13M to 18M to 22M in his pre-free agency seasons, we can say that if the sky isnt the limit, it isnt far from his sights.

I mean, the man has increased his annual salary exactly 50 times its original, makes him 17th on the all-time yearly salary list, between Carl Crawford and Manny Ramirez, and the fifth-highest paid pitcher behind Lee, Roger Clemens (who holds the record at 28,000,022 in 2007), CC Sabathia and Johan Santana. Plus, he is entering what should be his prime years as a pitcher -- ages 27 and 28.

But all this money talk is moot if he has the bad year that most pitchers have by this point in their careers, or if his arm or some other extremity goes hinky. The performance is still what matters, and that is the message that should be taken from this. The Giants can rationalize that they are merely paying him Barry Zitos salary, but in fact they are codifying the teams pitching-first philosophy for the foreseeable future.

In short, nobody is worth that kind of jack until someone says so, and the Giants merely stated the obvious -- that they cannot conceive of good times ahead without him. Yes, that money could have poured into a hitter or four, but it can still only be spent once. The Giants have chosen to make their stand with T. Leroy, and if that isnt kicking the hell out of the tires, nothing is.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.

National SOB League can never forget the noble man who brought them together


National SOB League can never forget the noble man who brought them together

So after one day, the NSOBL (the National Son-Of-A-Bitch League, as if you couldn’t guess) has survived the contemptible brain-burps of the Panderer-In-Chief. Now we’ll see if the players’ fury has true staying power.
And by staying power, we don’t mean whether they will continue to defy the call of the National Anthem (an easy enough task), but whether they view their newfound solidarity as something that needs to be nurtured to truly endure.
After all, it’s easy to be galvanized by the noisy neighbor who spends his day on the porch shouting irrational obscenities at the neighbors. But Donald Trump isn’t the issue; he never was. All he did was put a face to the idiocies that prevent us from being the country we should be.
But this started a year ago with a single knee, a single person, and a broader cause than a President who needs to pick fights the way a vampire needs naked necks. Colin Kaepernick, whose career as a football player is essentially over because he caused the NFL a headache by honoring his conscience, took his knee to protest police excesses, and didn’t need to be called a son of a bitch to do so. He was later, of course, part of the medley of all the other insults that followed, but he didn’t kneel because he was insulted. He knelt because other were, and worse.
But the beauty of these days is that we take any idea or action and immediately change its meaning to fit our own prejudices. Kaepernick’s message was too nuanced for a lot of people’s facilities because they value symbols more than people, but nobody doesn’t understand being called a son of a bitch by a boss you hate.
So the new NSOBL is just starting to coalesce. There will not be a shortage of reasons for players to find their voice and conscience, and to break the bonds that required them to ask permission before speaking or thinking. If they are as they purport to be, they will remember that change happens with a single son of a bitch.

In retirement, Andre Ward will have days when he desperately wants back in


In retirement, Andre Ward will have days when he desperately wants back in

Andre Ward finally did what he said he would do – retire before the sport of boxing retired him.

Now we’ll see if boxing intends to leave him be.

Ward announced his retirement via Twitter Thursday morning, seemingly ending the career of one of the world’s greatest fighters in the elusive pound-for-pound category. He now plans to get into media, which is a battle of its own (ask Teddy Atlas when he talks with Stephen A. Smith how rewarding that can be).

But there’s that word “seemingly.” Boxers have a greater incidence of unretirement than any other sport because they miss what they do, they are typically surrounded by people who like the paydays the boxer’s fights provide, the unpaid tax debts some incur never go away, and sometimes they just don’t have anything better to do.

And then one day they find out they can’t do anything at all because of the punishments that come with violent sport, and then they become either tragedies or cautionary tales. Almost nobody gets to 95 like Jake LaMotta did.

Ward has said repeatedly that would never happen to him, that he was in control of his destiny and would remain so. And you want to believe him, because he would be that rarest of boxing stories – the unmitigated success.

It will be his toughest fight, however, far tougher than Sergei Kovalev. Boxing has this weird thrall upon its practitioners that can prove irresistible, if not outright necessary, and Ward will have to train as hard to repel its call as he did when he was neck-deep in it. It will not be easy, and he will have days when he desperately wants back in.

But retired fighters typically make poor unretired fighters, and the more one unretires, the worse the future becomes. So Andre Ward has to win this one more than any other fight.

And maybe it will be an easy victory for him – but it is a victory that will have to be achieved every day, almost like fighting alcoholism. Boxing is bad for you, and though it has been good for Andre Ward (as far as anyone knows), being an ex-boxer will be even better. He has done what needs to be done, and now he needs to do something else, one that doesn’t require putting his body and brain at risk for our amusement.

If this can be done, Andre Ward can achieve it. But neither he nor anyone else should think it will be any easier than understanding an Adalaide Byrd scorecard. Post-boxing will be difficult and rewarding business. All he has to do is master it every day for the rest of his life.