Ratto: Giants douse firestorm, Sabean feels heat


Ratto: Giants douse firestorm, Sabean feels heat


SAN FRANCISCO -- A year ago, the battle cry was Torture. Friday, it was Self-Flagellation.

Either way, the Giants are about punishment, which brings us yet once again to The Injury That Will Not Quit, The Agonizing That Will Not Die.

General manager Brian Sabean, whose remarks to KNBR Thursday about Florida Marlin Scott Cousins caused a national firestorm of rebuke, recognized that he had jumped up and down on the third rail Friday and reached out both to Cousins, who bowled over and injured local icon Buster Posey, and Florida general manager Larry Beinfest, who were in Milwaukee to start a three-game series with the Brewers.

Sabean, who sat in his usual pregame spot about 10 rows behind the Giants dugout, said he didnt want to speak on the record. I just want to let this die down a little bit, he said. Look, I dont have a problem with the kid, I have a problem with the culture (of taking the catcher out when there is a perceived alternative).

He did, however, confirm that while he did not speak to Cousins (he left a message), he expected that the two would speak soon. He indicated he did speak with Beinfest, and the chat was amicable, and that they both intended to let bygones remain so, and let the incident and its backdraft die of its own accord.

Sabean also said that he spoke with Major League Baseballs new overseer of baseball relations, Joe Torre, but that the subject of discipline (fine, suspension, etc.) never came up.

But back in San Francisco, it was full damage control, with both manager Bruce Bochy and club vice president Larry Baer trying to, as they say in Congress, revise and extend Sabeans remarks.

After a club statement which read in part, Brian Sabeans comments yesterday were said out of frustration and out of true concern for Buster and were not meant to vilify Scott Cousins. Brian has (spoken with Beinfest) to clarify his comments and to assure him that there is no ill-will toward the player, both Bochy and Baer chipped in.

Look, theres nobody in sports who is more protective of his players than Brian, Bochy said in his developing role as club spokesman for all things Posey. Hes like a papa bear -- when something happens to one of your kids, your claws are going to come out. As we all know, Brian's very emotional. As well as I know him, sometimes he needs time to let his emotions settle down. He's not out to demonize any player. He's hurt for Buster and what's happened here. I certainly don't want the media or fans to demonize Brian, either. He is very concerned about Buster and the ballclub.

Baer was more measured and politically careful, but tried to restate Bochys postulate.

The (team) statement is really intended to be the organizational statement and Brian's statement. I talked to (Florida president) Dave Samson (and said) similar things to what Brian said to Beinfest, which is this was not meant to be a personal thing toward the player and certainly not the organizational point of view, and I apologized for the way it came out. It was not stated properly. I don't want to say what Brian meant to say but our focus is on Buster Posey and his state of mind, feeling better, out of pain, recovered. He (Sabean) would be the first to say that the way that it's been interpreted is not the way the organization feels.

Sabean, too, said he did not mean to vilify Cousins, but kept the remainder of his remarks off the record, preferring to let the issue cool at its own rate.

The Marlins, for their part, werent quite so prepared to do so. According to Tom DAngelo of the Palm Beach Post, several players were still upset with Sabean, and to a certain extent, at Posey as well.

Outfielder Logan Morrison said Sabean should be liable for his comments. For him to come out and say something like that is just showing no compassion for a human being. This goes above baseball, this is life and death.

Morrison and outfielder Chris Coghlan also expressed displeasure with Posey for not acknowledging Cousins' apology. Cousins wrote Posey a two-page letter and he has attempted to contact him by phone.

It's troubling that (Posey) couldn't at least have the decency to say, Hey I appreciate that you care, Coghlan said. I think it portrays anger to the fans. He doesn't know what Scott is going through, He doesn't know what people say to his family. He doesn't know how people treat him in San Francisco now.

I have animosity toward Sabean for the comments he made. I have animosity toward Posey, Morrison said.

Cousins himself issued a statement through his agent, Matt Sosnick. I hope and believe that Mr. Sabean's comments were made in the heat of the moment and are based more on his fondness for Buster Posey than on any animosity towards me, it read. This situation is still an open wound for many, including myself.

I think what the GM has done is malicious, Marlins catcher John Buck said. (Sabean) has maliciously started this back up again to maliciously bring stuff back onto (Cousins). I just hope the league looks at what the general manager has done and what he said.

Buck said the club has requested extra security when the Marlins play their interleague series at Oakland June 28-30. The Marlins don't play in San Francisco again this season, although Florida hosts the Giants Aug. 12-14.

Morrison finished off by saying, If he doesn't like the rules, get in a different game, Morrison said about Sabean. If it was me running, I would have tried to put him in the third row of the stands and not thought twice about it.

Sounds like this is way short of being over, no matter what the Giants might want.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.

Internet immediately goes to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal


Internet immediately goes to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal

In what can be considered your standard bolt out of the blue, California head football coach Sonny Dykes has reportedly been fired.

In what can be considered your standard spur-of-the-Internet-moment-connect-the-dots inspiration, the Internet went immediately to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal rumors.

The logic, of course, is impeccable. Dykes never really snapped the Cal program around, taking a bad program and making it, well, mediocre, and he has spent much of the past two years aggressively seeking out other jobs, so one can assume there was at least some trouble in paradise, even if you want to make the case that Cal football and paradise are somehow connected.

And Kelly just got canned by the 49ers as part of Jed York’s latest I-will-not-be-made-to-look-ridiculous twitch, so he could sign a properly modest contract at Berkeley and still get his full $6 million with the offset from the three years left on his Jed deal.

So it makes perfect sense . . . which is why it should be judged with considerable skepticism.

For one, Kelly can almost surely do better in the college job diaspora. Cal is a big name with modest ambitions due in part to constant budget constraints, and there are better jobs out there even if he sits for a year.

For two, Cal and Kelly are an odd fit, given the persistent tensions between academia and athletica at Berkeley.

For three, the job comes with massive roadblocks, including Stanford, USC, Washington and (potentially) a resuscitation of the Oregon he left behind. Success will not come easy, if it does at all.

For four, Cal just finished four years of gimmick offense and overburdened defense, and Kelly would provide a more successful version of the same.

And for five, this is too easy, too simple, too convenient. Something about this scenario must be wrong somewhere. When people hit the Internet with photoshopped Kelly-in-Cal-costumes within minutes of the Dykes announcement, you know this is too obvious to actually come to fruition.

Why? Because we don’t live that well, that’s why.

The beauty of a triumphant Kelly at Cal glowering down at the charred ruin in Santa Clara seems more appealing than it actually is, because try as they might, Cal fans will never be backing the more popular horse here, and Kelly won’t win that battle unless he takes Cal to the Rose Bowl while the 49ers are still grappling over draft positions.

In that way, reality sucks. The idea that Jed York could be mocked in collegial absentia by his two biggest coaching hires is delicious but almost surely illusory.

But until we get more on why Dykes got canned 43 days after the team’s last game – recruiting, academic issues, legal issues, photocopier problems from him sending his resume out so often – all we have is the Chip Kelly rumor-ette to keep us intrigued.

Okay, to keep us amused.

Okay, to keep us from falling over in a coma. Cal should matter more than it does, but it’s been 13 years since the Holiday Bowl zenith of the Jeff Tedford Era, and 25 since Bruce Snyder took the Ursines to the Citrus Bowl. The evidence since 1990 is of a team with bigger dreams than means that is slightly below .500 (160-164). Sonny Dykes leaving means one more coach who didn’t make an impact unless his departure leads to either reassessment of the program’s standards, internal or external sanctions . . .

. . . or what the hell, Chip Kelly. Let’s face it – in these dismal days for wacked-out rumormongering, this is pretty intoxicating stuff.

Warriors are most geographically vague team in history of American sports


Warriors are most geographically vague team in history of American sports

The Philadelphia/San Francisco/Golden State Warriors have always had a casual attitude about their home court, even by the once-flexible standards of the National Basketball Association.

Thus, it should be only slightly amusing but not actually surprising that Warriors chief arenologist Rick Welts is now waffling a bit (courtesy Comrade Poole) on whether the team will change its name to San Francisco Warriors when it moves across the pond in 2019-20, or retain its current geographic association with Narnia.

I mean Golden State. I often confuse utterly fictional locales – when I can be bothered to give a toss either way.

But the Warriors, whether they play in Oakland, San Francisco, Pier 30, Pier 32, Westeros, Hobbiton, the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, Curryvania, the Klingon Empire, the Death Star or Planet Nine, are relocating, and once they break the seal on the earth in 12 days, Welts and his fellow elves will almost surely play the team’s future name as a mildly tedious cliffhanger.

Hey, fun is where you find it.

The matter of the team’s relocation will be a sore subject among lifelong East Bay residents, who have put up with the Warriors for 45 years in various stages of development, including the current “We Almost Never Lose” stage. They regard the Warriors’ transplantation to San Francisco to be an unspeakable crime given the high level of fan allegiance afforded them in Oakland.

And yes, they regard Oakland and San Francisco as very real places, as opposed to Golden State, Freedonia, Vulgaria or the Nexus of All Realities.

It is not yet fully known what San Franciscans think of this development, but that’s the nature of the gamble here. They may embrace the Warriors as the new toy in town and then lose interest, and frankly, neither Welts nor anyone else knows the answer to that.

Either way, their die is cast, and Joe Lacob and Peter Guber are now future former Oakland fixtures. Yes, they are quite fond of the exciting new real estate values and their exciting new unobstructed view of the bay, but it has long been assumed that the move would also entail changing the name back to “San Francisco” for the snob appeal.

Now Welts, who has overseen both arena projects (including the one at Piers 30 and 32 which ended up with the piers beating the Warriors in a rout), tells Comrade Poole that the San Francisco Warriors might not end up as the San Francisco Warriors after all.

“Four years ago, I think the conventional wisdom in our building here in Oakland was that yes, we should attach a city name to the team, then it becomes a more global franchise,” Welts marketing-gobbledy-gooked. “There was a lot of head-scratching four years ago about where the Golden State Warriors even played, in other parts of the world. What’s happened with the team over the course of the ensuing years, until today, has made the Warriors if not the preeminent, at least among the three best-known NBA franchises around the world. And everybody who didn’t know where the Golden State Warriors were four years ago, if you’re a fan today, anywhere in the world, you know where the Golden State Warriors are.”

In Oakland.

Now, the mic drop.

“The team’s success has caused us to really rethink whether or not that’s something we should or want to do,” he added. “I guess it’s fair to say there’s been no final decision made. But if you were a betting man, I think you would probably want to wager that the name might remain the same.”

Of course. Why not stay fictional when specificity might move fewer hoodies?

Then again, this is a team that in its 70 years has played home games in Philadelphia (the Arena, the Civic Center, Lincoln High School and Convention Hall), Hershey and Bethlehem PA, Atlantic City, Trenton, Collingswood and Camden NJ, and Saratoga Springs NY . . .

(a moment’s rest here to catch our breaths)

. . . and then after moving west in 1962, the Cow Palace, San Francisco Civic Auditorium and USF’s Memorial Gym, the Oakland Auditorium, San Jose Civic Auditorium, San Jose Arena, Richmond Auditorium, then Sacramento, Bakersfield, Fresno, San Diego, Eugene, Seattle, Phoenix and Salt Lake City.

In fact, and you can swindle the gullible at your neighborhood tavern with this one, the Warriors’ first game in San Francisco occurred almost three years before the team left Philadelphia. The Warriors played the visitors to the Minneapolis Lakers, who moved to Los Angeles a year later and had already played a regular season game at the Cow Palace earlier in the year, so this game, January 31, 1960, could have been considered a civic scouting trip for both teams as they sought new homes.

In other words, the Warriors are almost surely the most geographically vague team in the history of North American sports. Moreover, they are about to become the first team in sports history to go home for the third time under three different city names – Philadelphia, San Francisco and Krypton, or whatever the hell they want to call themselves this time.