Ratto: Bochy Mum on Potential Lineup Changes

212011.jpg

Ratto: Bochy Mum on Potential Lineup Changes

Oct. 18, 2010RATTOARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTSVIDEOMLBPOSTSEASON
11 A.M: TUESDAY BLOG UPDATE ON GAME 3 LINEUP SHAKEUP
RayRatto
CSNBayArea.com

Wehave entered yet the latest new phase of Giants Baseball Ought-Ten -the part where everyone re-re-re-falls back in love with Aaron Rowandand Pablo Sandoval.And back out of love with Andres Torres and, for the first time, Mike Fontenot.Manager Bruce Bochy was coy with the potential lineup changes hepromised after Game 2 of the National League Championship Series,saying only that Juan Uribe would play if he got medical clearance andfelt good when he came to the ballpark Tuesday morning. "If he's goodto go," Bochy said in the only specific moment of his press conference, "he's in there."And if not, you've got Edgar (Renteria) and Pablo.In other words, Fontenot will return to the bench after going 2-for-12in four starts and letting a Jimmy Rollins popup fall harmlessly toearth Sunday night. The play did not lead to a run, but it wassymptomatic of Bochy's need to see something new at the position forGame 3.He also danced around the Rowand-for-Torres issue, saying only that heknew what he was going to do but was going to wait until tomorrow toannounce it and the Uribe news.In other words, Rowand is almost certainly back, if for no betterreason than you don't have to wait another day to announce no news.Back where, of course, is another matter, because Bochy also left openthe slim possibility that Big Time Cody Ross might move up in the order.Ross, of course, is the one Giants hitter everyone agrees is worthy oflove from the customers these days. He homers every other time at bat,and has managed to drive in nearly 40 percent of the team's 16postseason runs.But up until a couple of weeks ago, they loved Torres too. Now, he is 5for his last 36 when you include the three-game series with the Padres,with three walks, 14 strikeouts and no runs scored. Now, they wantRowand, who has had his own odd season and was essentially the last addon to the postseason roster.Rowand is essentially a lock to return, but Sandoval is still an openquestion. Uribe's wrist is bruised, although there is also some concernthat he might have also tweaked his left shoulder on the slide intosecond base that finished his game-winning RBI in Game 1.As he has done countless times during the season, though, Bochy istrying to find a way to play Sandoval and get him to magicallyreacquaint himself with his inner 2009.I mean, he did walk in Game 2. That is a radical departure from hiscurrent hitting approach, which is see-any-ball-swing-at-any-ball.He still swings at anything low or wide, which has created even moreagitation under the Bochy cap than the weight, which has merelyimpacted his range at third.But as large as the doghouse in which Sandoval has resided this year,it is again his time to exit to fretful hopes. Perhaps not in Game 3,because of his extraordinary struggles against left-handed pitchers, ofwhich Phillies starter Cole Hamels is one.Both he and Rowand are symptomatic of the wonderful short attentionspan theatre of the standard Giants fan. They know their team is heldtogether offensively by Aubrey Huff, Buster Posey and whomever happensto be going well at any given time (hel-lo, Cody Ross), and everyonedoes their turn in the pooch hut of public opinion.It's called consistency. The Giants offense doesn't really have a lotof it. As a result, Bochy must be the ninja strategist, an image whichis simply too good not to burn in one's lobe. Sort of like the USAToday story about the study of the effects of a night light on mouseobesity rates - you know it is a mostly silly exercise, but you justcan't help yourself.But we digress. Bochy has to make the wild swings of optimism for players he might haveall but buried a week earlier. A week and change ago, Rowand was verynearly a non-combatant, and Sandoval lost his job a week back.That was then. This is now. And Bochy is managing day to day, as itmust be in the postseason. Nothing is forever, not even Cody Ross.Well, maybe that last one is one step over the line.Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

The real issue that lingers now that OJ Simpson is a free man

The real issue that lingers now that OJ Simpson is a free man

O.J. Simpson is free. The system as it is defined by those who run it in the case of the Nevada Parole Board, worked.

But the issue that lingers is whether we can free ourselves of him. That system is far more amorphous, arbitrarty and essentially unfair. And in its own revolting way, it works too.

The O.J. market has always been bullish. The old cliché that people can’t get enough no matter how much you shovel at them is more true for him than for any other sports figure of the last 50 years. More than Tiger Woods. More than LeBron James. More than Michael Jordan. More than all of them.

And now his parole hearing, televised and streamed by every outlet except Home & Garden Television, proved it again. He will never not be O.J.

But he is also 70. He is also planning to go to Florida and be with his family, based on what he told the parole board Thursday. He has assiduously avoided the media in his nine years in Lovelock, and if his family is providing the support it pledges, it will do its utmost to keep him from our prying eyes as he enters his dotage.

There is nothing we have that can do him any good. We have eaten all the forms of O.J. there are, culminating in the Emmy-award winning documentary on him, and finally, his release from prison. If he is wise as well as smart, here’s nothing left of his life but re-airs.

So the question becomes not so much whether he can leave fame alone, or whether fame can leave him alone. Our national appetite is poor on the topic of leaving people be, let alone deciding enough is enough. The fame we make for people gorges, purges and gorges again, in a hideous cycle that demeans all involved.

In sum, O.J. Simpson can, if he is paying attention to the value of normalcy, end his addiction to fame. I have far more serious doubts about fame and its addiction to him.

Quietest time in sports yields a pair of idiotic fascinations

mayweather-mcgregor-ball-weird.jpg

Quietest time in sports yields a pair of idiotic fascinations

Some time not that very long ago, someone in sports management who will almost certainly spend all of eternity bobbing for razor-studded apples in a pool of lava saw an opportunity in the phrase, “The quietest time in sports.” And decided to fill it with filth.
 
It is believed to begin right after the end of the NBA Finals, although that artificial start date has been extended through free agency now that the NBA’s principal entertainment vehicle is the burning of money. It used to be right after the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, though now it has been extended backward. And it ends roughly at the beginning of NFL and/or college training camps, depending on where you live and which of those two beasts you profess your God to be.
 
But let’s get back to the management succubus who has set us on the path that has led inexcusably to the current point. The idea that baseball no longer holds the interest or attention spans of the young, cool and inadequately trained in the value of money is now accepted as fact, and as any marketing nitwit will tell you, nature abhors a vacuum.
 
So here’s what we’ve got. Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor in what is very simply a lazy-stereotype-laden comedy tour that isn’t funny let alone even mildly convincing. They have both been on the stage too long, with a month still to go before the final shame-off August 26, where they simply enter the arena, stand with their backs to each other at the ring rope and spend 45 minutes trying to target-spit into the eyes of the high-rollers. Why the promoters didn’t just muzzle Mayweather and McGregor and use actual professionals like Key and Peele and Aisling Bea and Ed Byrne to work the crowds for a million per is simply a lack of imagination at work.
 
Here’s what else we have. Our idiotic fascination for Lonzo Ball’s two best Summer League games being achieved wearing shoes other than those promoted by his father/huckster as though his skills and intelligence are all in his feet.
 
What this actually is, of course, is people using Lonzo’s momentary and mostly microscopic achievement to call LaVar a tedious swine without ever using his name or his product catalog because he, like McGregor and Mayweather, beats down crowds and calls it entertainment, and people have signed on in a weird backdoor way – by finding reasons to like the son as a weapon against the father.
 
Thus, Lonzo Ball gets to learn how to be a professional athlete of note while carrying the load of his father’s impression upon the nation as well as the loads of those who believe that sins of the father must revert to the son. Popularity’s dominant property is its corrosion, and Ball will have to have very fast feet and well-constructed shoes indeed to dance away from the rising tide of a bored fan base with an ax to grind.
 
It isn’t as instantly gratifying a train wreck as Mayweather-McGregor, but it is a triumph of the new marketing strategy of wholesale idiocy that diminishes the watcher as well as the watched.
 
Neither of these events are in and of themselves interesting. Mayweather-McGregor is simply a kangaroo boxing a bear because circus entertainment no longer has circuses as venues, and Ball’s summer bears almost no relationship to the true test of his career – how to be the best player on a terrible team and then make the adjustment to being the third best player on a rebuilding team.
 
Ball has a longer shelf life because of that single useful component, but it is made less rather than more interesting by the presence of his father, who is now indelibly part of the tale at a time when most parents leave their children to find their fortunes by the virtues of their skills and wits.
 
McGregor-Mayweather has the sole benefit of being cringeworthy both before, during and after the event, a month-long smear of degradation that reduces all involved, including those who buy the fight, into penitents, into rolling apologies. It is an event in which nobody gets out with any shred of dignity, with the single revolting example of the grisly accountant-beasts who will take the Internal Revenue’s cut immediately after the fight.
 
And if that isn’t Satan winning, then you don’t know how to score a game in which Satan plays on all the teams at once and sees to it that the game is scheduled in the middle of July because some client of his told him it was the best time of year for personal and professional disgrace with a scoreboard on the end of it.