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.

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.
 

Patriots win one for the ages, but where does it rank?

Patriots win one for the ages, but where does it rank?

The price of watching Roger Goodell being booed back to the Bronze Age is a subtle but real one, and one that people will feel very dearly soon enough.

The last great cathartic Super Bowl is now done, with the New England Patriots winning the brilliant and decisive battle to be sports’ new evil empire. In doing so, it rendered Goodell a permanent and risible punch line in National Football League history, the mall cop who wanted the death penalty for littering, and in the words of the song “got what he wanted but he lost what he had.”

True, $40 million a year can make the dissolution of your public persona a reasonably decent tradeoff, but we lost the argument about who won his windmill tilt with the Patriots. It’s done, and he is now permanently and irrevocably a figure of ridicule.

But that’s not the only debating point America lost Sunday night, and while you wouldn’t think it given how much time we are willing to shouting at each other, quality arguments are not easily replaced.

We have almost surely lost the mindless debate about the best quarterback ever, because there is nothing anyone can bring up that the words “Tom Brady” cannot rebut except calling his own plays, and since that is no longer allowed in football, it is a silly asterisk to apply.

We have almost surely lost the equally silly shouter about the best coach ever. Bill Belichick is defiantly not fun, but he has built, improved and bronzed an organizational model that is slowly swallowing the rest of the sport. That and five trophies makes him the equal if not better of the short list of Paul Brown, George Halas, Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh and Tom Landry.

Plus, Belichick locked up the most absurd response to a question in coaching history Monday when he said, “As great as today feels . . . we're five weeks behind the other teams for the 2017 season.” Even allowing for Gregg Popovich in-game interviews, the so-grim-he-could-make-a-robot-cry worship-the-process response has now become a cliché. If 2017 prep was so important, he should have skipped yesterday’s game, and he definitely should have chosen not to waste so much time on the trophy stand after the game when training camp drills needed to be scheduled.

Oh, and DeflateGate died. Dead. No zombie possibilities here.

We do have a meatheaded argument ahead of us about which championship in the last year is the best, which can be settled here.

1. Leicester City, because 5,000-1 is 5,000-1, and the whole world understands that. Plus, there was invaluable three-month buildup that engaged non-soccer fans.

2. Chicago Cubs, because 108 years is 108 years.

3. New England Patriots, because . . . well, I don’t have to explain it unless you have no useful memory span. “Down 25 In The Third Quarter” is the new “Down 3-1.”

4. Cleveland Cavaliers, because they slayed the first unbeatable Warrior team by coming from 3-1 down, and even as a silver medalist, it will always be an internet meme, which is what passes for memorable in our decrepit culture.

5. (tie) Villanova basketball and Clemson football in a tie, because they were essentially the same great game.

7. The Pittsburgh Penguins, because the Stanley Cup Final was devoid of drama or high moments, and only 14:53 of overtime. Feh.

But everything else is settled, and this Super Bowl will not be topped for a long time. Our current cycle of absurd championships is almost surely going to end soon, because “Down 3-1” has happened twice in eight months (three times, if you count Warriors over Thunder), and the bar has now been placed well beyond reasonable clearing.

Indeed, the only thing left is for a championship team to spontaneously combust on the award stand. But if they do so and ignite Roger Goodell along the way, that would be an ending America would cheerfully endorse.

But that also isn’t an argument any more, and yes, that includes Gary Bettman.