Ratto: Giants' blueprint has no precedent

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Ratto: Giants' blueprint has no precedent

June 28, 2011

RATTO ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTSVIDEO

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What with the Giants scoring three days worth of runs in three innings Tuesday afternoon, this seems an odd time to bring it up.So what the hell? Lets do it anyway.When day dawned Tuesday, the Giants were the worst offensive team in baseball in the only category that truly matters runs scored. This would seem to eliminate them from postseason play just because the inability to produce runs ought to render your team Octoberifically useless.In fact, though, there are two models for success the Giants can cling to in this, their year of living Amish-ly. They are the 1985 Kansas City Royals and the 1973 New York Mets.

Going back to 1960, before the first expansion, only 15 teams have reached the World Series while having run support below the league average. Thats in 51 years and 102 league competitions. Most of those were near the league average, so the margin of error would seem to take care of them.But the 85 Royals, who beat St. Louis in seven games, ranked 13th in runs scored (of 14 teams), and the 73 Mets, who ranked 11th of 12, were bad by any measure, and as such become the templates for whatever dreams you might have about a repeat in the Thing on King.The Mets also hold the worst record of any team to make the postseason 82-79 so it can truly be said they achieved what they did by dealing directly with Satan. Indeed, they had no hitting, ranking last or next to last in every sensible metric, from batting average to OPS-plus, but their pitching was surprisingly uninspiring as well.The rotation started well enough, with Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman and Jon Matlack, and fourth starter George Stone went 12-3 with a 2.80 ERA. The bullpen, though, was even more problematic, with closer Tug McGraw being set up by the magnificent group of Ray Sadecki, Harry Parker, Phil Hennigan and Buzz Capra.In short, we can say that the 73 Mets essentially cheated all logic, which would be a harsh analysis when applied to the Giants.So lets consider instead the 85 Royals, who averaged 4.24 runs per game (almost .85 runs more per game than the Giants), were above average only in steals and almost never walked. They did play in a spacious ballpark, but were still average in extra base hits and only slightly below in home runs. So it can be said the Royals were better offensively than the Giants, even after you factor in the designated hitter.But the Giants, who arent even the best pitching team in the NL this year (Philadelphia and Atlanta have better numbers), had a similar starting staff and less inspiring bullpen.Bret Saberhagen went 20-6 in his second year in the big leagues, which is dominantreminiscent of Tim Lincecum, and the rest of the rotation was equally comparable. Charlie Leibrandt would be the Matt Cain, Danny Jackson the Madison Bumgarner and Buddy Black the Jonathan Sanchez, which all due respect to Black. After all that, Mark Gubicza outranks either Barry Zito or Ryan Vogelsong reputation-wise, making the starters roughly even.Dan Quisenberry is surely Brian Wilsons equivalent, if not his superior, but the setup men Joe Beckwith, Mike Jones, Steve Farr and the redoubtable Mike LaCoss dont compare with San Franciscos. Some of that is due to the fact that bullpens are constructed more completely than they used to be, but only Farr, who pitched in just 16 games, had presentable numbers. That may explain the 27 complete games (slightly above league average for 1985), two less than the Giants have had since 2006.Comparing statistics in this way is a fairly dodgy way to go, because the baseball of 26 years ago is, well, the baseball of 26 years ago. But as there is no recent parallel for the Giants excelling this way, one has to go well back to find teams that might.So until we get furtherbetter evidence, lets say the Giants have the rotation of the 85 Royals, the hitters of the 73 Mets, and the bullpen of neither. If that helps. Which it probably doesnt.

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.

A sports-related pie-fixing scandal? Hell never felt so fun

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AP

A sports-related pie-fixing scandal? Hell never felt so fun

I’m liking this 2017 so far. Then again, after 2016, nearly any year would be an improvement.

Just this last weekend we got a flat-earth scandal that turned into a mock-up about media self-importance and fake news (yay Kyrie Irving and his impish sense of satire!).

We got the overblown Russell-Hates-Kevin narrative, and the faux Russell-Secretly-Loves-Kevin counternarrative, all because we are stunningly attracted to meaningless and utterly contrived drama (yay our ability to B.S. ourselves!).

We got the NBA All-Star Game ripped for having no defense even though last year’s game was, if anything, worse (yay short attention span!).

We got the Boogie Cousins trade and the national revulsion of all the thought processes the Sacramento Kings put into this perpetually rolling disaster (yay making Boogie and Vivek Ranadive household names!).

And now we got the Great Sutton United Pie-Fixing Scandal. Yeah, pie-fixing. Hell never felt so fun.

So here’s the deal. Sutton United, a very small fry in English soccer, got to the fifth round of the FA Cup, a competition in which all the clubs in England are commingled and play each other until one team remains. The big clubs almost always win, so any time a small club goes deep, it’s a big deal.

Anyway, Sutton went deeper in the competition than nearly anyone in the last century, a charming development given that it is such a small club that it had a stadium caretaker, goalie coach and backup goalie all in one massive fellow, a 46-year-old guy named Wayne Shaw. Shaw became the globular embodiment of the entire Sutton Experience, a jolly lark for everyone involved and especially when he ate a pie on the bench in the final minutes of Sutton’s Cup-exiting loss to Arsenal.

And now he’s been eased into resigning his jobs with the club, because – and this is so very British – there were betting shops taking action on whether he would in fact eat a pie on the bench, and he either did or did not tip off his pals that he was going to chow down on television.

He did eat the pie. His pals collected on their bets. The sport’s governing body opened an investigation into market manipulation by gambling – which is hilarious given that no fewer than 10 gambling establishments have advertising deals with English soccer clubs. Shaw was invited to quit to kill the story, and he took the hint.

Hey, dreams die all the time. But it’s still pie-fixing. Let that rattle around your head for a minute. Pie-fixing. Not match-fixing. Not point-shaving. Pie-fixing.

Now how can you not love this year?

Sure, it sucks for Shaw, but it serves as a series of cautionary tales for athletes around the world.

* Gambling is everywhere, and every time you inch toward it, you dance on the third rail.

* If you want to help your friends, give them cash.

* This is a horribly delicious way to lose your gig.

* And finally, fun in the 21st century isn’t ever truly fun because someone in a suit and a snugly-placed stick is going to make sure you pay full retail for that fun.

But it is nice to know that something that has never happened before is now part of our year. Pie-fixing is a thing now, as silly in its way as Irving’s flat-earth narrative was. And as we steer away from normal games as being too run-of-the-mill-fuddy-duddy entertainment, we have replaced them with sideshows.

Or do you forget how many people complained Saturday and Sunday that the dunk contest wasn’t interesting enough? How stupid is that?

Lots. Lots of stupid. But against pie-tin-shaped planets and pies turned into betting coups, how can it possibly compare?

We chase a lot of idiotic narratives in our sporting lives. The great What Will The Patriots Do To Roger Goodell story died like the old dog it was. We still try to flog Warriors-Thunder as a rivalry in search of better TV ratings when all the obvious evidence is that it is no such thing unless you think a couple that broke up nine months ago is still a solid story. We have Bachelor fantasy leagues, for God’s sake.

This would leave most normal folks in despair, thus matching their everyday experiences, but yin meets yang, and every time it looks like we are all barrel-rolling into the sun, we get Irving, and then we get Wayne Shaw.

In short, 2017 is going to be fun of grand surprises for us all. I look forward to the day President Trump tries to fete the Patriots and only gets to Skype with Bob Kraft and the equipment guys who midwifed DeflateGate, and Mark Davis in Las Vegas, just to see if he can get a P.F. Chang’s into the Bellagio.

Why not? This is sport’s year-long tribute to sketch comedy, and evidently everyone is signing on enthusiastically to replace lessons of morality and honor and equality and dignity and sportsmanship with slackened jaws and belly laughs.

So yay sports! Or as it is clearly becoming, A Night At The Improv.