Ray Ratto

Ratto: Giants' hurts, A's woes signal The Reaper


Ratto: Giants' hurts, A's woes signal The Reaper

Ray Ratto

It was another big week for The Reaper in these parts, our lock for Comeback Player of the Year.Or do we need to re-introduce you to Bob Gerens crumpled resume and Freddy Sanchezs accordioned shoulder?If 2010 was The Year Nothing Went Wrong on both sides of the Bay, 2011 is The Year Of Duck! Watch Your Step! Uh-oh! Medic! Last year The Reaper was LeBron James in the fourth quarter. This year, It hasnt missed an inning, or even a spring training workout.We take no joy in offering this, but facts are facts. The Reaper is kicking some serious hinder this year.
The As got shredded early, losing most of their bullpen in March and 60 percent of their starting rotation in the first two months. They also decided to use bats brought from the Amish country, and rank a proud 28th in runs scored and near the bottom in most of the other important categories. Cant stay healthy, cant hit, field indifferently, and to cap it all off, Geren couldnt distract anyone from seeing the shortcomings while he tried to figure out solutions. You can determine your own date when he should have been fired, even going back to never should have been hired, but you cant say he deserved to survive this.GUTIERREZ: Geren doomed from the start
But that was reaping in bulk, indiscriminate swings from the heel -- an approach more like shopping at Costco than boutique-ing. How the Giants were reaped was more a triumph of selectivity and target selection.Pablo Sandoval? Need him to have a big year, need him trim and re-motivated -- so he is trim and re-motivated, and he gets hurt.Buster Posey? Team icon, the one indispensable figure, the one who couldnt be replaced -- so he gets his leg broken so spectacularly that the whole organization is called into disrepute because of its hysterical reaction.RELATED: Giants videoAnd now Sanchez, at the zenith of his powers and acceptance, blows up his shoulder, and blows it up bad.But even more precise, and more diabolical, is the way Jonathan Sanchez has lost the beat, and how Tim Lincecum is having his second straight poor August -- only this August is in June.In short, The Reaper is screwing with the Giants in a way than It did the As. It knew that the As needed a carpet-bomb approach so that the budding enthusiasm for the team needed to be beaten down quickly. But given the Giants fetish for the tedious torture clich, The Reaper decided to show them what torture really is. Pick a different spot each time, while keeping them involved in the divisional race.So what comes next? For the As, the only possibilities left are Gio Gonzalez, Kurt Suzuki and Josh Willingham. If The Reaper maintains his stance regarding them, at least two of those three will go down before the end of the year. I mean, if youre going to blow something up, blow it all up -- the dam, the electric plant, City Hall, the high school, everything.For the Giants, in keeping with targeted strikes, a bit off the bullpen seems the likeliest way for The Reaper to go -- Brian Wilson, Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo or a combination thereof. I mean, a sure All-Star and two potential ones -- now thats vicious.That might also be perceived as The Reaper overplaying Its hand, being too malicious by half. I mean, Wilson would almost be too obvious, while Lopez or Romo would be simply mean-spirited for the sake of being mean-spirited.Still, if The Reaper is going to keep having the season It has had so far, mean-spirited cant enter into it. The decision to carpet-bomb the As has paid off (remember, The Reaper thrives on failures), but the surgical strikes in San Francisco are designed to break the local will before finishing the job on the field. Its a longer and more painful process, but its The Reaper taking what the franchise will give it.And a good Reaper will do that.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


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.