Ray Ratto

Ratto: Giants douse firestorm, Sabean feels heat

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Ratto: Giants douse firestorm, Sabean feels heat

June 3, 2011RATTO ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEOGIANTS STATEMENTRay Ratto
CSNBayArea.com

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.

Phrase that Matt Joyce left out of his apology is key to talking the talk

Phrase that Matt Joyce left out of his apology is key to talking the talk

Matt Joyce said the word, he did the apology, he’ll do the time, and then we’ll see if he’ll get the forgiveness he asks.
 
Joyce’s two-game suspension by Major League Baseball for using a gay slur at a fan during Friday’s Athletics-Angels game in Anaheim is well within industry norms (though it might have been more tactically impressive if the club itself had issued the suspension), and his apology did not deflect blame or contain the always-insincere caveat “if I offended anyone.” He did offend people and he knew it, so he didn’t couch it in the phraseology of “I don’t think what I said was improper, but I’ll do the perp walk just to get this over with.”
 
He even offered to do work with PFLAG, the support group that supports the LGBTQ community, thereby putting his time (which is more meaningful than money) where his mouth was.
 
In other words, he seems to have taken his transgression properly to heart, which is all you can really hope for, and now we’ll see if he is granted the absolution he seeks.
 
You see, we’re a funny old country in that we talk forgiveness all the time but grant it only sparingly, and only after a full mental vetting of important things like “Do we like this guy?” and “Is he playing for my favorite team?” and “Do I feel like letting him up at all?”
 
In other words, forgiveness is very conditional indeed.
 
Joyce said what he said, but his apology seemed to be given freely and unreservedly rather than crafted to meet a minimal standard of corporate knee-taking/arse-covering. If he follows through on his offer to do face-to-face work with PFLAG or an associated group and absorbs the lesson of not using other people as a weapon for his own frustration, then he ought to be acknowledged for doing so. That’s what forgiveness is.
 
But if the principle you adhere to is “once guilty, forever doomed,” then you’ve succeeded at giving in to the mode of the day, which is jumping to a conclusion and never jumping back because it’s just easier and more convenient to do so.
 
It’s up to him. But it’s also up to you.

Promotion and relegation would be a great idea in all sports

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Promotion and relegation would be a great idea in all sports

There is no inherent reason why you should care about Miami FC or Kingston Stockade FC, two lower level professional soccer leagues in the lower right quadrant of the nation.

But when they joined together to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the international governing body for any sport not run by Americans for Americans, to demand that all American teams submit to the concept of promotion and relegation, from MLS to, presumably, your kid’s under-8 team, they became interesting.

And the best part about soccer, except for Neymar being worth twice as much as all other humans in the history of the sport, is promotion and relegation.

In fact, it would be a great idea in all sports – although the idea of the Giants and A’s in the Pacific Coast League might scare the bejeezus out of Larry Baer and John Fisher.

Now we are not optimistic that the CAS will see this Kingston and Miami’s way. Americans like their sports top-heavy, where only a few megaclubs get most of the money and attention while the rest sort of muddle along, safe but unremarkable. And to be frank, promotion and relegation is most a fun media construct for making fun of bad teams – say, like the A’s and Giants.

But we can agree, I think, that having Jed York pay Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch to keep his football team out of the Canadian Football League, or better still, the Mountain West Conference, would add to healthy dose of spice to what promises otherwise to be a pretty humdrum year.

And promotion/relegation would certainly reduce all that troublesome tanking in the NBA people endlessly whinge about.

So here’s to Kingston Stockade and Miami FC. Your cause is just. Persevere. After all, in this rancid period for American sporting culture, someone's got to stand for the quixotic yet indisputably correct thing.

And when it fails, and it probably will, just know you sleep with the angels -- if that’s what passes for fun at your house.