Ratto: Hot Coco makes A's a special team

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Ratto: Hot Coco makes A's a special team

March 11, 2011RATTO ARCHIVE
A'S PAGE A'S VIDEO
Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com

Coco Crisp started the spring slowly . . . well, pun intended.And while his DUI is still being adjudicated, he is doing what he can to keep it compartmentalized, by owning spring training.
REWIND: A's Crisp arrested on suspicion of DUI
He homered as the high point of a three-hit day in the As 9-2 win over the Dodgers at Phoenix Municipal, and is now 11-for-23 this March. And to the extent that one has something to do with the other, Crisp acknowledges that the ballpark serves as a nice way to shut out the outside world.I just find that when Im here, it clears my mind, the As starting center fielder said. Just a little sanctuary to separate me from the outside world is an easy thing for me.The off-the-field stuff is what Im trying to deal with now, but coming to the park is good for me.
RELATED: Crisp homers in A's split squad win over Dodgers
Crisp isnt trying to minimize the charge so much as to explain why he is hitting .478 and looking like the player the As hoped would stay healthy all last year. He didnt, of course, breaking a finger and missing more than half the season, thereby becoming just one more Elephant who has to prove in this season of heightened expectations that he can meet his own.And while he says he is typically a good spring hitter, he acknowledges that this is a bit better than the norm.I guess its good, he said when asked facetiously if he liked the way he has begun the Cactus League. Im definitely seeing the ball better, thats the biggest thing. But Im trying to keep everything simple and not do too much. I just figure if I do that, I can help this team be special this year.And in doing so, he is doing plenty, at least so far. His workload is likely to be cut back a bit, as manager Bob Geren figures hell be good with about 50 some-odd at-bats, but he already has nearly half that, and his on-base percentage of .565 would make Billy Beane speak in tongues.Crisp was the highlight on a day of them -- Gio Gonzalez gave up his first earned run of the spring but threw another exemplary 4 13 innings and looks like he might very well be the 1A in the teams starting rotation.Hideki Matsui, on the other hand, went 0-for-4, and his spring average of .048 would be a concern if he didnt have so many other more important things on his mind. He, too, will get a bit more time off, though Geren said he has not looked late or overwhelmed at the plate. Hes going to be fine, Geren said, chanting his usual mantra.
RELATED: Matsui issues statement, A's plan tsunami relief
The As lost their B-game in Maryvale to the Brewers, 4-3, with the noteworthy event being Josh Outmans struggle, giving up seven hits and all four Milwaukee runs in his three innings of work. Tyson Ross looked sharp as the starter, but Outman may be slowly working himself out of the fifth starter argument. Its still early to make such judgments, but at some point judgments will have to be made.And nobody knows that more than Coco Crisp, who needs nothing more than to make his good times at the park more directly reflect his off-field issue. Once thats done, he might just be able to be that special player for that special team he says he wants to be.What'syour take? Email Rayand let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag.

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

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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.