Ratto: Busy day for 3B coach Flannery's gremlin


Ratto: Busy day for 3B coach Flannery's gremlin

Aug. 7, 2011


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This would have been the day for the little gremlin at the back of Tim Flannerys head to get his own way. A lot. And with predictable result.

Yeah, hes the part of me thats completely irrational, the Giants third base coach said. Hes the one I know will always get me in trouble.

And Lord, did he speak up Sunday. Loud, and often. The Giants, who have avoided third base like it was smeared in plague the last three weeks, turned it into a bus station Sunday in their face-saving 3-1 victory over Philadelphia.

Yes. Third base was very crowded indeed, on a day the Giants rolled up three entire runs. This is how they do, this is who they are. They even managed what seems to be a preposterous feat to get three hits in one inning with men in scoring position and score one run.
RECAP: Lincecum, Giants avoid sweep; hold of Phils 3-1

News which only makes Flannery and the voice inside his head laugh.

You should be in here after the games when we just look at each other and wonder how we do that, he said. Its amazing.

The Giants had been in a free-fall for more than a week, having lost eight of nine before Sundays game and holding first place in the National League Weak (cq) by the skin of Flannerys head. Sunday, though, they broke out, and kept breaking out, and kept breaking out against Philadelphia starter Roy Oswalt. They just couldnt break through, and as many times as Flannery could have sent runners, his good angel shouted down his bad one.

To the great consternation, it must be added, of another full house at the Thing On King.

Oh, I heard them every time, he said of the three noteworthy opportunities he had to send runners home on coin-flip plays. I wanted to, but I knew better. These were actually no-brainers when you remember they were all lower-half of the order, and they (the Phillies) have two of the best outfield arms in baseball in center (Shane Public Enemy No. 1) and right (Hunter Pence).

Indeed, Flannery and Victorino are good friends from Hawaii, and text each other over moments like Sundays: Ill let him know if I got one by him, and hell text me if he got one of ours, Flannery said.

But I always tell people its not where the ball is hit, its how we react when the ball is hit. We didnt get great looks right away, and knowing who was out there and who we had running, it wasnt close. I know the fans wanted it, but I knew.

The first such moment came in the bizarre fourth inning, when Pablo Sandoval led off with a double, couldnt advance on Aubrey Huffs bloop single behind shortstop Jimmy Rollins and then had a shot when Nate Schierholtz lined a single to Pence.Giants Insider gallery: Small ball rules the day

The ball was kid of hit behind Pablo and he didnt get a great jump, Flannery said, and I knew pretty quickly I had to hold him. When youre struggling like we have been, you want to take chances, you want to make things happen, but if I get him thrown out there, thats a real mood-killer.

The others, with Huff and Chris Stewart, seemed less troublesome but still had that element of Oh, go ahead and give it a try to them. Huff was held on Stewarts RBI single to center and was forced out at home on Tim Lincecums failed bunt, and Stewart was held on Andres Torres single to left-center.

Stewart didnt get a great jump either, but it worked out because we got him home (on Jeff Keppingers sacrifice fly), Flannery said. Again, it was one that you wouldnt even think about, but the way weve been going, you have to be careful not to try to take some chances.

As a result, the Giants managed to convert 13 hits, four with runners in scoring position, and four walks spread throughout the lineup into three runs. It was a day made for Tim Flannerys bad voice, only Flannery decided to be no fun at all.

To the Giants benefit, as it turned out. They needed the win more than they needed the boldness, and Lincecum muzzled the Philadelphia lineup well enough to save Flannery from the kind of alcohol-driven secondthirdfourth-guess that makes days like Sunday so deliciously maddening.

Yeah, he smiled. It worked out today. Fortunately, the players understand that if Im holding them up, they know theres a good reason.

The day ended with hundreds of kids running around the bases, as is the typical Sunday tradition. None stopped at third, none needed to be held up, none were stranded. Tim Flannerys bad voice was ringing loudly in all their ears: Go! Make a break for it! Make the imaginary outfielder make a play!

The little show-offs.

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.

A sports-related pie-fixing scandal? Hell never felt so fun


A sports-related pie-fixing scandal? Hell never felt so fun

I’m liking this 2017 so far. Then again, after 2016, nearly any year would be an improvement.

Just this last weekend we got a flat-earth scandal that turned into a mock-up about media self-importance and fake news (yay Kyrie Irving and his impish sense of satire!).

We got the overblown Russell-Hates-Kevin narrative, and the faux Russell-Secretly-Loves-Kevin counternarrative, all because we are stunningly attracted to meaningless and utterly contrived drama (yay our ability to B.S. ourselves!).

We got the NBA All-Star Game ripped for having no defense even though last year’s game was, if anything, worse (yay short attention span!).

We got the Boogie Cousins trade and the national revulsion of all the thought processes the Sacramento Kings put into this perpetually rolling disaster (yay making Boogie and Vivek Ranadive household names!).

And now we got the Great Sutton United Pie-Fixing Scandal. Yeah, pie-fixing. Hell never felt so fun.

So here’s the deal. Sutton United, a very small fry in English soccer, got to the fifth round of the FA Cup, a competition in which all the clubs in England are commingled and play each other until one team remains. The big clubs almost always win, so any time a small club goes deep, it’s a big deal.

Anyway, Sutton went deeper in the competition than nearly anyone in the last century, a charming development given that it is such a small club that it had a stadium caretaker, goalie coach and backup goalie all in one massive fellow, a 46-year-old guy named Wayne Shaw. Shaw became the globular embodiment of the entire Sutton Experience, a jolly lark for everyone involved and especially when he ate a pie on the bench in the final minutes of Sutton’s Cup-exiting loss to Arsenal.

And now he’s been eased into resigning his jobs with the club, because – and this is so very British – there were betting shops taking action on whether he would in fact eat a pie on the bench, and he either did or did not tip off his pals that he was going to chow down on television.

He did eat the pie. His pals collected on their bets. The sport’s governing body opened an investigation into market manipulation by gambling – which is hilarious given that no fewer than 10 gambling establishments have advertising deals with English soccer clubs. Shaw was invited to quit to kill the story, and he took the hint.

Hey, dreams die all the time. But it’s still pie-fixing. Let that rattle around your head for a minute. Pie-fixing. Not match-fixing. Not point-shaving. Pie-fixing.

Now how can you not love this year?

Sure, it sucks for Shaw, but it serves as a series of cautionary tales for athletes around the world.

* Gambling is everywhere, and every time you inch toward it, you dance on the third rail.

* If you want to help your friends, give them cash.

* This is a horribly delicious way to lose your gig.

* And finally, fun in the 21st century isn’t ever truly fun because someone in a suit and a snugly-placed stick is going to make sure you pay full retail for that fun.

But it is nice to know that something that has never happened before is now part of our year. Pie-fixing is a thing now, as silly in its way as Irving’s flat-earth narrative was. And as we steer away from normal games as being too run-of-the-mill-fuddy-duddy entertainment, we have replaced them with sideshows.

Or do you forget how many people complained Saturday and Sunday that the dunk contest wasn’t interesting enough? How stupid is that?

Lots. Lots of stupid. But against pie-tin-shaped planets and pies turned into betting coups, how can it possibly compare?

We chase a lot of idiotic narratives in our sporting lives. The great What Will The Patriots Do To Roger Goodell story died like the old dog it was. We still try to flog Warriors-Thunder as a rivalry in search of better TV ratings when all the obvious evidence is that it is no such thing unless you think a couple that broke up nine months ago is still a solid story. We have Bachelor fantasy leagues, for God’s sake.

This would leave most normal folks in despair, thus matching their everyday experiences, but yin meets yang, and every time it looks like we are all barrel-rolling into the sun, we get Irving, and then we get Wayne Shaw.

In short, 2017 is going to be fun of grand surprises for us all. I look forward to the day President Trump tries to fete the Patriots and only gets to Skype with Bob Kraft and the equipment guys who midwifed DeflateGate, and Mark Davis in Las Vegas, just to see if he can get a P.F. Chang’s into the Bellagio.

Why not? This is sport’s year-long tribute to sketch comedy, and evidently everyone is signing on enthusiastically to replace lessons of morality and honor and equality and dignity and sportsmanship with slackened jaws and belly laughs.

So yay sports! Or as it is clearly becoming, A Night At The Improv.