Ratto: Giants Dancing All the Way to Texas

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Ratto: Giants Dancing All the Way to Texas

Oct. 28, 2010RATTO ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEOMLB POSTSEASONRay Ratto
CSNBayArea.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Its been another hellishly bad postseason for pre-series analysis. But well be back at it next spring, undeterred by the fact that the Giants are laughing at us all for the dolts we surely are.

They didnt hit for six months and three weeks, and now they have a hundred runs and a thousand hits in two games of the World Series nobody thought theyd ever see.

They faced pitchers who made them scrape for everything they got for 172 games, and now they find the one team in baseball that lets them do whatever they want.

They sweated bone marrow and spinal fluid to get past San Diego, Atlanta and Philadelphia, and now theyve formed a conga line around the basepaths in the Series.

Anyone see this coming? Liar! Anyone see 20 runs and 22 hits in two games against the Texas Rangers, including seven with two outs and nobody on (a Series first)? Falsifier! Anyone not believe there was the dreaded T-word (torture) looming in every at-bat? Fibster!

Anyone see these guys two games away from The Parade That Dare Not Speak Its Name? You Prevaricating Swine!

Fortunately, there is the nagging fear all Giant followers still have, that the Rangers arent this bad, that the invigorating waters of Arlington will purify and revivify them and change this World Series before Monday dawns.

Hint: The 1960 Yankees scored 20 runs in the first two games against Pittsburgh and split. They also scored 21 runs in the last two games and split again. They lost that Series. They were mighty unhappy.

But thats it. Thats your look-out-theres-a-trap warning. Because right now, the Giants couldnt look better, and the Rangers couldnt look more like the Washington Senators from which they were spawned.

If you had to organize the heroes in the first two games in order of importance, youd have to start with Game 2 starter Matt Cain, whose third consecutive masterwork made him the pending new face of the franchise. He pitched through and around the Rangers for 7 23 innings, needing neither an overpowering fastball or luck behind him to stifle the Texas hitters.

But after that, what you have is a list of the forgotten, the slandered and the worse-money-after-bad.

Freddy Sanchez doubled three times and drove in three runs in Game 1. Edgar Renteria homered and drove in three runs in Game 2. Aaron Rowand tripled home two runs in Game 2. Juan Uribe hit a three-run homer in Game 1. Nobody has, when the hat has been passed, not kicked in more than his share.

Heres another one. Only three Giant starters, Buster Posey in Game 1 and Andres Torres and Sanchez in Game 2, have not scored. Only Sanchez, Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff in Game 2 have not had hits. The Giants have had 11 extra-base hits after having only 20 in the previous 10 games.

In the meantime, even the two things the Rangers could hang their hats on, the C.J. Wilson start that ended with a blister and the Ian Kinsler 398-12-foot double, ended up kicking Texas right in the cash-and-prizes.

Kinsler ended up at second on the ball that bounced off the tippy-top of the fence looking like someone had just spit in his plate. And Wilsons departure turned into a Family Guy skit -- 19 balls in 22 pitches, followed by Renterias single, Rowands triple and Torres double.

In summation, this has been preposterous. Unfathomable. Not even the uncounted legions in the Downtown Pot Brigade could have emptied out the entire Mendocino County Storehouse Of Fun and hallucinated this.

So the whole of GiantsWorld now boils itself down to a single existential answer to a single existential question, namely:

Is this team -- the one that spent the whole season laying naked on the third rail daring the 12-car train from the airport to come barreling down the track -- prepared to finish the job in Arlington?

Bruce Bochy, who has managed like his mortgage was on every at-bat, will try to manage that way in Games 3, 4 and If Necessary, but can the Giants actually make his job this easy twice more?

In other words, is torture at last an outmoded construct here at the corner of King and Ball Four?

The quiz resumes Saturday, with Jonathan Sanchez, who blew up in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series, against Colby Lewis, who was an As mop-up man in 2007 and a nearly-ex-player in 2008 and 2009.

So yeah, this can get a hell of lot weirder. But after these two games, the bizarro-bar is pretty damned high.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

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

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AP

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.