Ray Ratto

Ratto: Giants Roster Set, Speculation Begins


Ratto: Giants Roster Set, Speculation Begins

Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Thebig news wasnt news, after all Barry Zito learned that he would notbe part of the Giants starting rotation and very nearly as surely offthe roster entirely for the NL Divisional Series and essentially blamedhis civilian predicament on, well, himself.The smaller news, though, was the bigger news. Aaron Rowand, theperpetually criticized outfielder, made the roster instead of JoseGuillen because of his history against the Braves pitchers, hisability to defend and therefore be double-switched in a close game, andbecause Guillen is limited by his defense and neck problem.Thus, the Giants have set their roster for Game 1 against Atlanta, and the surprise was, well, muted.He told me yesterday, Rowand said of manager Bruce Bochy. I came in with no expectations.Expectations, maybe not. Desperate hopes, almost certainly. He lookedlike one of the odd men out Sunday night, but manager Bruce Bochy saidthat he and general manager Brian Sabean met Monday and thought thatRowand gave the roster more flexibility.We hashed that one out awhile, and we finally just decided that hecould help up in more ways, Bochy said. The way were setting upright now, I like him on this roster. And I know he hasnt gotten a lotof playing time, but he will help out.Rowand did play sparingly down the stretch, but his history againstGame 1 starter Derek Lowe (11 for 23) and Game 3 starter Tim Hudson (8for 21) worked in his favor. In addition, Guillen, who was 4 for hislast 33, didnt exactly seize the job. As a result, what seemed like adecision made the other way late Sunday night took a 180 andbecame a clear-cut choice the other way, to Rowands great relief.Hey, who doesnt want to play in the postseason? Rowand said in asteely monotone. Im glad Im on the roster, and able to help in anyway I can. You prepare yourself, for an at-bat, defense, whateveryoure called on to do. Youre playing for a ring.The Zito decision, which has not yet been officially announced, wasless of a shock because of the flood tide of hints, his performance andBochys radio interview on KNBR Tuesday. Indeed, Zito seemed to accepthis fate as the logical result of a difficult second half and a brutalfinal game against San Diego Saturday.Im disappointed in myself for not cracking that rotation, he toldreporters after the workout Wednesday. I brought it on myself.But while he, as the highest paid Giant, would become a bit of anovelty by not making the team in the first round, Rowand and EdgarRenteria, who were Nos. 2 and 3, survived, making Zitos exclusion lessoverwhelming. After all, the figure 19.5 million is a lot lessimposing than 39.5 million, which would have been the number if allthree had been omitted.As a result, the Giants look less like money wasters and more likeflinty-eyed pragmatists, and neither decision will be evaluated untilthe series plays itself out.This is a series pitting a team that came to live on the home run facinga team that allows so few. A team with too many starting pitchersgoing against a team with just barely enough (Jair Jurrjens, the Bravesputative fourth starter, looks like he will miss this series because ofhis knee). Two teams clash that dont have big boppers, profligate runproducers or even ballparks that would reward such types if they didexist.And in such cases, who gets left off the roster is as important as whostays on. In short, this series might actually come around to AaronRowand, or it could miss him entirely. But hell be closer than mostpeople thought he was going to be.

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.