Ratto: Giants' World Series Defies All -- Logic and Opponents


Ratto: Giants' World Series Defies All -- Logic and Opponents


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The winners get to say whatever they want without time limit or rebuttal, so when Giants outfielder Aaron Rowand, who coincidentally hit the first pitch of the 2010 season from Houstons Roy Oswalt to shortstop Tommy Manzella for an out, said it, it made perfect sense.

Did I see this coming? Absolutely not, he said, holding a beer for refreshment and a champagne bottle for target practice. And thats the beauty of it.

Bingo. Case closed. No further interpretation required.

The Season That Dare Not Speak Its Name finally shouted to the heavens, and the San Francisco Giants are finally, finally, the champions of the baseball-speaking world.
They are so because they had the best pitching, over and over again. They are so because they squeezed every last drop from a roster that never really looked quite ripe to the outside world. They are so because Bruce Bochys cover as an elite manager was finally and irrevocably blown.

And they are so because Edgar Renteria is the gift that kept on giving, even after nobody really wanted to know what gifts he had to bring.

But he brought one last beauty to the final party of the most improbable championship season in decades -- an aggressive swing at a misplaced 2-0 cutter from Cliff Lee with two outs in the seventh inning that got legs and carried just over the Samsung sign in left-center field.

He is a great pitcher, and I knew the cutter was his best pitch, Renteria said as he basked in the glory of his Series MVP award. When he got to 2-0, I thought I might only get one pitch to swing at, so I guessed he would throw the cutter, and I got lucky.

This, of course, after he told center fielder Andres Torres that he was going to do just that. Luck? Maybe. Luck with a side of Damn straight! Absolutely.

Luck, of course, is the residue of a lot of things beyond merely design, and the Giants were designed in such a way that nobody in their right mind would see this as remotely possible even as recently at September 1.

Shows what the world knows.

These guys entered another world on September 1, bullpen coach Mark Gardner said. They were unbelievable. Beyond unbelievable. Right now, youd have to think they could beat whatever Yankees you can think of.

That might be more than most historians can endure.

This Giant team went through the playoffs with what most objective observers would say was an extraordinarily top-heavy team -- all pitching, lots of defense, so-so hitting. They were the first team in 20 years to have neither a 30-homer nor a 90-RBI man. Their four- and five- hitters Monday took turns batting eighth in the postseason.

They didnt make sense in a lot of ways, which is why they made perfect sense at the end.

Tim Lincecum was over-the-top good, allowing three hits and striking out 10 in eight innings. This, following Madison Bumgarners absurdly brilliant start Sunday in Game 4. In fact, Matt Cain, who threw 7 23 innings of four-hit shutout ball in Game 2, finished third.

Now how were the Texas Rangers supposed to cope with that? By going down quietly, thats how. By getting only one man past first base, Nelson Cruz, who homered off Lincecum in the bottom of the seventh. By hitting .190, 86 points lower than their regular season average.

By vanishing at games end, properly vanquished and knowing that if the Series had gone five more games, theyd be down 8-2.

This was the right result, for the right reasons, as absurd as the notion is. Even now.

This is surreal, Cain said. It doesnt feel like it really happened."

Theyll get used to it. Theyll have to. Theyre all getting jewelry that says they did it, and rings dont lie.

And in the end, the clinching game a blur (at 2:32, it was the quickest Series game since 1992), the process of making it all sink in began.

With players running around the bases and hugging wives and girlfriends and each other and equipment manager Mike Murphy -- the last original Giant, a former bat boy at Seals Stadium, wrestling unsuccessfully with tears and trying to decline over and over again to tell anyone how it feels to finally win the big one -- the fans on the floor of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington closed with a familiar chant: Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!

Youd have thought they would finally rise above such parochial concerns, but old habits die hard. Now they all have to learn how to wear the crown, and the adjustment from lifelong afterthoughts to the world of unalloyed bragging will be hell.

A delicious, joyous, relentless, giddy, drunken hell.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

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.