Ray Ratto

Ratto: Game 2 a Classic Phillies Win


Ratto: Game 2 a Classic Phillies Win


PHILADELPHIA -- If there was a telling moment in Philadelphias 6-1 win over the Giants in Game 2 of the NL Championship Series -- and there were plenty -- it was Roy Oswalt breezing through third base coach Sam Perlozzos frantic stop sign in the seventh inning to start the crushing rally.

It was a message from the Phillies, albeit an inadvertent one, reminding the Giants that all mistakes you make will be punished, and some mistakes they make will be rewarded. Thats why the Phillies are so hard to beat. The Giants got their split, but also got a full view of their offensive flaws, the kind that magnify the occasional defensive failure.

Thats it right there, manager Bruce Bochy said as he aggressively speared the remnants of the postgame spread. You have to play clean ball, or theyll get you. And sometimes they can make a mistake and turn it into a big inning.

And then he went back to mentally plotting the changes he intends to make for Game 3 Tuesday. And well get to those momentarily.

Game 2 was a classic Phillies win, in that they got great pitching from Oswalt (except for the nightly Cody Ross home run), extended Giant starter Jonathan Sanchez to a standstill for six innings, and then pounced on their one opportunity.

Sanchez entered the seventh inning a marked man. He had endured a dreadful first inning (35 pitches, three walks, including a bases-loaded one to eventual hero Jimmy Rollins), and though he tightened up his game, he also tightened up, period.

He fell behind Oswalt, 2-0, then threw an 87-mph fastball on his 100th pitch that Oswalt cracked into center field. I was going to get him there either way, Bochy said later. He was stiffening up.

But for the one of the rare times in the last month and a half, the bullpen failed. Ramon Ramirez got a sacrifice from Shane Victorino, walked Chase Utley intentionally and then strung a 1-0 fastball at Placido Polanco that ended up on a line to center. Oswalt was churning toward third when Perlozzo held up his hands, Oswalt blew through the sign and scored when first baseman Aubrey Huff, who saw Perlozzo try to hold Oswalt, cut off Andres Torres throw.

He kept coming, Rollins said later of Oswalt, or he was too tired to stop.

The first thing in my mind was to score, Oswalt said. When I got halfway and saw the stop sign, I said, Its too late now, no turning back.

That judgment made it 3-1. Jeremy Affeldt struck out Ryan Howard, but walked Jayson Werth intentionally to load the bases and bring on Santiago Casilla, who threw a 2-0 fastball that Rollins planted off the base of the right field scoreboard for a three-run double.

We dont have those very often, Bochy said wistfully. We usually play cleaner than that. But weve got to get the bats going, too.

Thats where the changes come in. Torres, who struck out four more times Sunday night and is now 3-for-25 with 12 strikeouts in the postseason, looks so jumpy that he almost surely will be moved down in the order and maybe to the bench. Freddy Sanchez (4-for-25) got two singles but also looks at the plate like he has a cab waiting outside. Mike Fontenot, too, looked overmatched against Oswalt, and in any event probably would sit against Game 3 starter and lefthander Cole Hamels anyway.

That would seem to open up spots for Pablo Sandoval, who walked (exclamation point implied) in his only at-bat, and Aaron Rowand (who hasnt played in the series yet, and is 3-for-15 lifetime against Hamels).

In addition, Juan Uribe, who was scratched with a bruised wrist before Game 2, may get back in at third for the struggling Fontenot, though some medical work will have to be performed before the Giants know whether he can play.

It is surely true that the Giants wont get much further in this series waiting for the obligatory Ross solo homer. Dont throw it down and in, Oswalt said, offering a cure for what has been ailing the Phillies. The last three balls he hit are in the same place. Bad pitches. I mean, throwing it right into his bat, pretty much.

That might be a tad harsh, but since nobody was betting heavily on Cody Ross being the Giants postseason linchpin, it may be safe to assume that the rest of the lineup should show some initiative soon if they want to get out of San Francisco up 3-2.

They are hitting .194 as a team in this series, .206 in the postseason, and have 16 runs in six games. In addition to Torres and Sanchez, Huff is 5-for-23, Pat Burrell is 4-for-17, and third base 2-for-12.

In short, the Giants need an offense that they really havent had since the Arizona Diamondbacks left town at the end of September. And though they are happy with their split here, the options for getting it fixed are narrowing considerably.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

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.