Ratto: Dirty hit mars Sharks' Game 1 victory


Ratto: Dirty hit mars Sharks' Game 1 victory

Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com

On a night with too many close calls and one noteworthy non-call, Kyle Wellwood made the best call, and the easiest one, to give the Sharks a 3-2 overtime win over Los Angeles Thursday night in Game 1 of this Western Conference quarterfinal series.Wellwood broke out with Ryane Clowe on an odd-man break deep into the overtime period, got the perfect pass from Clowe and turned it into the perfect pass to Joe Pavelski for the game-winner 14:44 into extra time, and springing the Sharks to a quick but painful advantage in this series.The painful part had come much earlier, when Kings center Jarret Stoll drove defenseman Ian Whites head into the glass behind the San Jose net 26 seconds from the end of the first period. White wobbled to the bench and was helped to the dressing room, where he remained through the rest of the evening while the Sharks soldiered on a defenseman down.
NEWS: Sharks edge Kings on Pavelski's O.T. winner
But it took a play from Clowe, taking the puck from Kings defenseman Alec Martinez, to give the Sharks the escape they needed before Whites absence wore the rest of the team to a nub.Basically, Martinez tried to jump through and make a play, and I think he might have fallen down, but Clowie got the puck off his stick, Wellwood said as he described Pavelskis game-winner as well as Clowes third assist. He saw that the guys who were back were (Wayne) Simmonds and the other defenseman (Matt Greene), and he just went at them and I followed, and I figured when he got me the puck that I had time to make a play.
VIDEO: Game highlights
And Pavelski, who trailed the play as trained to do, took a gentle and accurate pass from Wellwood and beat Kings goalie Jonathan Quick with a 24-foot wrist shot to give the Sharks are harder-fought-than-they-might-have-hoped victory.We had a 3 on 2, and Wellie just put the puck right on my stick, and I just had to make a play on it, Pavelski said. I was aiming, definitely. I didnt just let it go.The goal ended a mutually-agreed-upon hit-fest that saw 80 shots, 45 from the Sharks despite a 15-minute stretch in the second and third periods where they got none at all, and it also relieved the Sharks of the growing burden of playing without White.White was taken to the dressing room and evaluated constantly during the rest of the evening by Sharks doctors. He not only did not return, he may not be available for Saturdays Game 2.It didnt look good, Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. We got a very good look at it; there was a camera right behind the glass. The good thing is, it will be dealt with by the league. But its disappointing because he is obviously very important to us, and because Jarret Stoll is a hell of a player.
VIDEO: Todd McLellan postgame
The hit, though, drew no penalty from either Brad Watson or Greg Kimmerly, both of whom seemed to be screened from a good enough look based on replays.What I would like to have seen is for there to be a penalty called on the play, McLellan said, sidestepping the idea of a suspension for Stoll for what looked to be exactly the kind of hit the league has been trying to crack down upon since midseason. But we have no control over it now. Its in the hands of the league.Whether the league chooses to discipline a player as important as Stoll in a playoff series is an open question, but the Sharks plan to take all of Friday and as much of Saturday as they feel necessary to decide if White can play in Game 2 or beyond. The logical replacement would be rookie Justin Braun, though McLellan did say that Kent Huskins, who had been Niclas Wallins defense partner before getting hurt, is getting close.In other words, it looks like the Sharks defense, already on the thin side, is going to get thinner, relying on significant minutes from Braun and Jason Demers, who had an impressive game, so that Dan Boyle, who fumed outwardly about the Stoll hit, doesnt have to play 35 minutes, as he did Thursday night.Otherwise, it was a game of luck, both good and bad, and goalies, both very very good. Antti Niemi stole several goals from the light-scoring Kings, and lucked out on two open nets that Brad Richardson couldnt finish, and Quick was superb throughout, assuring the fans in both cities that this series will be, as McLellan said Thursday morning, a race to three.What's your take?EmailRay and let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag. Follow Ray onTwitter @RattoCSN.

Frank Deford's longform storytelling made him worthy of our attention


Frank Deford's longform storytelling made him worthy of our attention

Frank Deford’s death over the weekend did not mark the end of longform sportswriting as we knew it; he had long ago become part of the electronic commentariat that has reduced longform’s place in the public’s attention span.

But there is still longform writing and storytelling to be found in many places, and it is still worthwhile. It has more production value, as the TV folks like to blather, and the words have to fight for their place between the cracks left by the pictures and the mutated graphics, but longform lives, and it should, lest we all agree as one people to further desiccate that attention span like a grapefruit left in the sun.

Deford’s death, though, reminds of when longform was the zenith of the storytelling art. It could, and still can, give you access and depth and breadth that a TV crew simply could not, and cannot. Even extended TV features are by their very nature so contrived by all the equipment that nothing is natural, nothing is a surprise, and the act of writing is almost an afterthought.

Deford knew this. He more than merely dabbled in TV himself, playing the wizened old raconteur who was as much character in his pieces as storyteller. He was also a star and a starmaker with The National, a daily sports network in newspaper form that was long on talent and ideas but short on delivery and distribution. It lasted 17 months, until mid-1991, but it led to grander attempts decades later, and could if you squint your eyes hard enough be the natural parent of Grantland and The Ringer and Vice and SB Nation and dozens of others – all bigger ideas, positioned in the post-typing world. Some lasted, more didn’t, but capitalism is like that – making fuel to keep the fires burning and the engines churning.

Deford could have thrived in such a world, to be sure. He was not, in the hideous phrase, “a man of his time.” Indeed, he was a crossover figure years ago in ways that other longform writers attempt to resist even now. They want to be Deford at the height of his powers at a time when the instruments for their gift are either dying or veering away from anything that hits the 600-word mark.

But his passing did not kill the art of clever writing and incisive storytelling. There are far too many people who can do that still, even if the market for their gifts is neither as pronounced nor as eager for the product as it once was. It did remind us not only that he was a giant, but that there are still giants among us should we deign to take the time to seek them.

Thus, Deford’s death marked his passing but not the thing that made him worthy of our attention. Storytelling, longform and otherwise, remains the heart of why this is still worthwhile to a culture, and when the generation his work spawned starts to die off, I suspect we’ll still be saying the same thing then. Notebooks are smartphones, photographs are streams, but the human eye and ear and hand still remain pre-eminent.

That is, until the robots take over, at which point reading won’t be worth it.

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.