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

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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.

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

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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.