Ray Ratto

Ratto: Forget 'Torture, Fear the Beard, the Rally Thong'


Ratto: Forget 'Torture, Fear the Beard, the Rally Thong'


SAN FRANCISCO -- This has nothing to do with the players. It has everything to do with you. So pay attention.

The pom poms are played out. So are the rally rags, Aubrey Huffs thong, the stupid "Fear the Beard," and the word Torture.

Youre superstitious, you believe in the power of marketing to set you free, and we dont want to disabuse you of any notions you might hold near or dear at this point.

But Im telling you, theyre played out. They may have gotten you this far in your mind, but now its time for something else. Something new. Something that hasnt been done before, so that people wont confuse you with nerds, geeks or sheep. You go to such lengths to act like youre cooler than everyone else, and then you do the same stuff in the stands everyone else does? Please. If youre better than all that, prove it.

And were to help you.

First off, torture. This isnt torture, not any more. Being a Phillies fan is torture. Being a Yankee fan is torture. Being a 49er fans is particularly exquisite torture, since your team has just been deported and forced to play the Denver Broncos in front of people who were once our allies. Now how the hell does that enhance our standing in the world community? Whats next, spent nuclear materials hidden inside Easy-Bake Ovens?

What this is, if it has a name, is the blind pig finding the acorn, over and over again. The guy at Fishermans Wharf who pops out from behind bushes and scares the tourists. This is hitting on 18 and pulling nothing but deuces and treys.

There. Theres your battle cry. We Hit On 18. And for those of you know you wont be around children or the faint of heart, you can still have the Lincecum motto, ---- Yeah, Shut Up. Or, if you go for acronyms, FYSU. People will figure it out. And it looks good on a T-shirt.

Besides, it's about the only time they hit.

Next, the thong. Huff has worked that visual as long as he can, and the Brian Wilson references to The Machine, too. Now its time for something else, Wed go with the same theme to honor the players promotional gifts, but you cant show a thong in its natural state on television, and an orange submissives outfit really doesnt work as an effective ensemble, especially in high definition. But a tasteful 175 hoodie that looks like one . . . well, you cant blame a dodgy entrepreneur for trying.

Or how about a simple ski mask -- orange, again, so the cops dont think youre going to hold up a garlic fries stand. Sure, orange isnt much to hang your hat on, but the Giants started this nonsense again in 1947 after going red-white-blue during World War II, so youll just have to with it.

Now youll get grief about any Barry Bonds stuff you wear, and deservedly, but if youre going to go that route, go proudly. A simple T-shirtsweatshirt elegant legend, like Yeah, But The 586 Homers Help Dull The Pain.

And finally, theme music. Tony Bennetts still good when the crowd is filing out, but something to identify this team, these players is still sadly lacking from an otherwise clever and creative music department at the ballpark. We recommend (and highly) Mister Bad Example, by Warren Zevon. Upbeat, kicky, and with inspirational lyrics like these:

Im very well acquainted with the seven deadly sins,

I keep a busy schedule trying to fit them in,

Im proud to be a glutton and I dont have time for sloth,

Im greedy and Im angry and I dont care who I cross


Im Mr. Bad Example, intruder in the dirt,

I like to have a good time, and I dont care who gets hurt,

Im Mr. Bad Example, take a look at me,

Ill live to be a hundred and go down in infamy.

Now who wouldnt to take the field to that? Or care about a team who would? It sure as hell beats Sweet Caroline. Hell, they played that one at Guantanamo.

OK, weve done as much as we can for you. Now were going back to baseball, and leave us alone.

Phrase that Matt Joyce left out of his apology is key to talking the talk

Phrase that Matt Joyce left out of his apology is key to talking the talk

Matt Joyce said the word, he did the apology, he’ll do the time, and then we’ll see if he’ll get the forgiveness he asks.
Joyce’s two-game suspension by Major League Baseball for using a gay slur at a fan during Friday’s Athletics-Angels game in Anaheim is well within industry norms (though it might have been more tactically impressive if the club itself had issued the suspension), and his apology did not deflect blame or contain the always-insincere caveat “if I offended anyone.” He did offend people and he knew it, so he didn’t couch it in the phraseology of “I don’t think what I said was improper, but I’ll do the perp walk just to get this over with.”
He even offered to do work with PFLAG, the support group that supports the LGBTQ community, thereby putting his time (which is more meaningful than money) where his mouth was.
In other words, he seems to have taken his transgression properly to heart, which is all you can really hope for, and now we’ll see if he is granted the absolution he seeks.
You see, we’re a funny old country in that we talk forgiveness all the time but grant it only sparingly, and only after a full mental vetting of important things like “Do we like this guy?” and “Is he playing for my favorite team?” and “Do I feel like letting him up at all?”
In other words, forgiveness is very conditional indeed.
Joyce said what he said, but his apology seemed to be given freely and unreservedly rather than crafted to meet a minimal standard of corporate knee-taking/arse-covering. If he follows through on his offer to do face-to-face work with PFLAG or an associated group and absorbs the lesson of not using other people as a weapon for his own frustration, then he ought to be acknowledged for doing so. That’s what forgiveness is.
But if the principle you adhere to is “once guilty, forever doomed,” then you’ve succeeded at giving in to the mode of the day, which is jumping to a conclusion and never jumping back because it’s just easier and more convenient to do so.
It’s up to him. But it’s also up to you.

Promotion and relegation would be a great idea in all sports


Promotion and relegation would be a great idea in all sports

There is no inherent reason why you should care about Miami FC or Kingston Stockade FC, two lower level professional soccer leagues in the lower right quadrant of the nation.

But when they joined together to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the international governing body for any sport not run by Americans for Americans, to demand that all American teams submit to the concept of promotion and relegation, from MLS to, presumably, your kid’s under-8 team, they became interesting.

And the best part about soccer, except for Neymar being worth twice as much as all other humans in the history of the sport, is promotion and relegation.

In fact, it would be a great idea in all sports – although the idea of the Giants and A’s in the Pacific Coast League might scare the bejeezus out of Larry Baer and John Fisher.

Now we are not optimistic that the CAS will see this Kingston and Miami’s way. Americans like their sports top-heavy, where only a few megaclubs get most of the money and attention while the rest sort of muddle along, safe but unremarkable. And to be frank, promotion and relegation is most a fun media construct for making fun of bad teams – say, like the A’s and Giants.

But we can agree, I think, that having Jed York pay Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch to keep his football team out of the Canadian Football League, or better still, the Mountain West Conference, would add to healthy dose of spice to what promises otherwise to be a pretty humdrum year.

And promotion/relegation would certainly reduce all that troublesome tanking in the NBA people endlessly whinge about.

So here’s to Kingston Stockade and Miami FC. Your cause is just. Persevere. After all, in this rancid period for American sporting culture, someone's got to stand for the quixotic yet indisputably correct thing.

And when it fails, and it probably will, just know you sleep with the angels -- if that’s what passes for fun at your house.