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.

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


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.