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.

The real issue that lingers now that OJ Simpson is a free man

The real issue that lingers now that OJ Simpson is a free man

O.J. Simpson is free. The system as it is defined by those who run it in the case of the Nevada Parole Board, worked.

But the issue that lingers is whether we can free ourselves of him. That system is far more amorphous, arbitrarty and essentially unfair. And in its own revolting way, it works too.

The O.J. market has always been bullish. The old cliché that people can’t get enough no matter how much you shovel at them is more true for him than for any other sports figure of the last 50 years. More than Tiger Woods. More than LeBron James. More than Michael Jordan. More than all of them.

And now his parole hearing, televised and streamed by every outlet except Home & Garden Television, proved it again. He will never not be O.J.

But he is also 70. He is also planning to go to Florida and be with his family, based on what he told the parole board Thursday. He has assiduously avoided the media in his nine years in Lovelock, and if his family is providing the support it pledges, it will do its utmost to keep him from our prying eyes as he enters his dotage.

There is nothing we have that can do him any good. We have eaten all the forms of O.J. there are, culminating in the Emmy-award winning documentary on him, and finally, his release from prison. If he is wise as well as smart, here’s nothing left of his life but re-airs.

So the question becomes not so much whether he can leave fame alone, or whether fame can leave him alone. Our national appetite is poor on the topic of leaving people be, let alone deciding enough is enough. The fame we make for people gorges, purges and gorges again, in a hideous cycle that demeans all involved.

In sum, O.J. Simpson can, if he is paying attention to the value of normalcy, end his addiction to fame. I have far more serious doubts about fame and its addiction to him.

Quietest time in sports yields a pair of idiotic fascinations


Quietest time in sports yields a pair of idiotic fascinations

Some time not that very long ago, someone in sports management who will almost certainly spend all of eternity bobbing for razor-studded apples in a pool of lava saw an opportunity in the phrase, “The quietest time in sports.” And decided to fill it with filth.
It is believed to begin right after the end of the NBA Finals, although that artificial start date has been extended through free agency now that the NBA’s principal entertainment vehicle is the burning of money. It used to be right after the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, though now it has been extended backward. And it ends roughly at the beginning of NFL and/or college training camps, depending on where you live and which of those two beasts you profess your God to be.
But let’s get back to the management succubus who has set us on the path that has led inexcusably to the current point. The idea that baseball no longer holds the interest or attention spans of the young, cool and inadequately trained in the value of money is now accepted as fact, and as any marketing nitwit will tell you, nature abhors a vacuum.
So here’s what we’ve got. Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor in what is very simply a lazy-stereotype-laden comedy tour that isn’t funny let alone even mildly convincing. They have both been on the stage too long, with a month still to go before the final shame-off August 26, where they simply enter the arena, stand with their backs to each other at the ring rope and spend 45 minutes trying to target-spit into the eyes of the high-rollers. Why the promoters didn’t just muzzle Mayweather and McGregor and use actual professionals like Key and Peele and Aisling Bea and Ed Byrne to work the crowds for a million per is simply a lack of imagination at work.
Here’s what else we have. Our idiotic fascination for Lonzo Ball’s two best Summer League games being achieved wearing shoes other than those promoted by his father/huckster as though his skills and intelligence are all in his feet.
What this actually is, of course, is people using Lonzo’s momentary and mostly microscopic achievement to call LaVar a tedious swine without ever using his name or his product catalog because he, like McGregor and Mayweather, beats down crowds and calls it entertainment, and people have signed on in a weird backdoor way – by finding reasons to like the son as a weapon against the father.
Thus, Lonzo Ball gets to learn how to be a professional athlete of note while carrying the load of his father’s impression upon the nation as well as the loads of those who believe that sins of the father must revert to the son. Popularity’s dominant property is its corrosion, and Ball will have to have very fast feet and well-constructed shoes indeed to dance away from the rising tide of a bored fan base with an ax to grind.
It isn’t as instantly gratifying a train wreck as Mayweather-McGregor, but it is a triumph of the new marketing strategy of wholesale idiocy that diminishes the watcher as well as the watched.
Neither of these events are in and of themselves interesting. Mayweather-McGregor is simply a kangaroo boxing a bear because circus entertainment no longer has circuses as venues, and Ball’s summer bears almost no relationship to the true test of his career – how to be the best player on a terrible team and then make the adjustment to being the third best player on a rebuilding team.
Ball has a longer shelf life because of that single useful component, but it is made less rather than more interesting by the presence of his father, who is now indelibly part of the tale at a time when most parents leave their children to find their fortunes by the virtues of their skills and wits.
McGregor-Mayweather has the sole benefit of being cringeworthy both before, during and after the event, a month-long smear of degradation that reduces all involved, including those who buy the fight, into penitents, into rolling apologies. It is an event in which nobody gets out with any shred of dignity, with the single revolting example of the grisly accountant-beasts who will take the Internal Revenue’s cut immediately after the fight.
And if that isn’t Satan winning, then you don’t know how to score a game in which Satan plays on all the teams at once and sees to it that the game is scheduled in the middle of July because some client of his told him it was the best time of year for personal and professional disgrace with a scoreboard on the end of it.