Ratto: DH-Type Absent from NL Rosters

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Ratto: DH-Type Absent from NL Rosters

Oct. 25, 2010RATTO ARCHIVE
GIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEORay RattoCSNBayArea.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Of the hidden benefits from the 2002 World Series I mean, other than the one that allowed Giant fans to whine about never having a championship team ceaselessly, right up to the present day it also marked the last time a National League designated hitter provided the planet with a postseason home run.Shawon Dunston, top five, two-run job off Kevin Appier. Perhaps the last happy moment in Giants postseason history.But never mind that. It also marked the absolute low-water mark in NLDH history a team that batted its designated hitter ninth in every game. The Giants ostensibly used its designated hitter as a second pitcher. And you wonder why you still get to act like such babies about no ring in 56 years.We mention all this because Bruce Bochy, the noted cleaver-juggler, has new decisions to make about a lineup that looks like it is written in invisible ink. Specifically, who to DH in the three games in Texas.Logic tells you Pablo Sandoval against right-handers Tommy Hunter or Colby Lewis, and perhaps Aaron Rowand against lefthanders Cliff Lee and C.J. Wilson. In fact, the absence of any other sensible candidate tells you that as well (we do not, for example, see Jose Guillen magically reappearing and being granted clemency).Logic, however, has failed you in trying to deduce Bochys moves so far this postseason. The lineup has become Questions 1, 1A and 2 in any Bochistic presser, to the point where he laughs and gives the stock Ill talk about it with the staff answer.But the matters for historical reasons as well as immediately practical ones. The 02 Giants offered up perhaps the worst NL DH collection in World Series history, and thats with all due respect to Dunston and his home run.Heres why: The other Giants DHs were the young and untested Pedro Feliz, pinch-hitter Tom Goodwin and (hold on to your sides) Tsuyoshi Shinjo. If that doesnt say ninth in the order, nothing does.Now there are other candidates for worst DH collection ever. The 08 Phillies won the Series with Chris Coste, Greg Dobbs and Eric Bruntlett. The 04 Cardinals elevated the Red Sox to their first World Series in 86 years by producing Reggie Sanders, Marlon Anderson and So Taguchi. The 99 Braves got swept by New York with Jose Hernandez, Ozzie Guillen and Keith Lockhart.And the 1989 Giants gave us two hitless games of Ernest Riles, then caused the earth to shatter so that the series would end in four games rather than have to go back to Oakland. Now thats taking problem-solving to its extreme.The issue, of course, is that National league teams dont normally have the luxury of carrying a classic DH-type during the regular season, and as a result have to scramble to invent one on the fly. Maybe the closest ever was Ryan Klesko with the Braves in 95 and 96, backed up by Mike Devereaux (not so much) and then Terry Pendleton (better), although the Braves did have Jeff Bagwell in its brief flirtation in 2005.The Giants would seem to have one in Sandoval, and out-of-town observers think him the obvious choice. They havent seen him day in and day out, though, which is why they are surprised when locals are surprised at the out-of-towners surprise at the locals surprise. If you know what we mean, and we think you do.Bochy has not yet announced what his combination will be, and probably wont until hes met with his staff mmpphhzzzzzzzzzzz, since the decision doesnt have to come before Saturday evening.That said, the Giants, who already have enough trouble scoring runs (three per game in the postseason, a ghastly figure for a team which is 7-3), will be offering yet another Kaopectate Choice to a lineup that already is trying to make hide nor hair of itself. Hell, they might decide to let Matt Cain give it a whirl in Game 3 if he gets that assignment.Or they could go with their last hitter in the NLCS the redoubtable Brian Wilson. I mean, he did no better than any other pitcher (Jonathan Sanchez and Cain were the two hits in the Giants 2-for-21 postseason), but he might look fearsomecrazy enough to coax a walk.Which, in truth, is more than Tsuyoshi Shinjo ever did.

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.