Ray Ratto

Ratto: Lack of leadoff man one of many Giant problems

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Ratto: Lack of leadoff man one of many Giant problems

April 11, 2011RATTO ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEO
Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com

Sunday, it was Mike Fontenots turn to be Andres Torres in a 6-1 Giants loss to the Cardinals. Monday, it was Miguel Tejadas in a 6-1 loss to the Dodgers.
RECAP: Giants can't solve Kershaw, Dodgers win 6-1
In other words, the answer to the question What will the Giants do until Torres returns to be the leadoff hitter? is now officially, Whatever comes to Bruce Bochys mind that day.With this addendum: After he frets about the other parts of his team.With the Giants poised to make a decision Tuesday on Torres possible shelving (if they arent sure hell be ready by the weekend, they will almost surely disable him retroactive to Sunday), Bochy has decided to do what he has done with the 5-6-7-8 spots in the order all last year and this:Put a name there and see if it sticks.

So far, it isnt. Then again, this isnt a microproblem that could immediately be solved by Torres health or an effective replacement. This is a macro-thing, as in, the Giants dont score in many ways at all from any part of the lineup.Again.Torres joined Cody Ross on the couch, squeezing Bochys hand in what was supposed to be one of the most populous parts of his ball team, the outfield. Ross is still a good two weeks and change away from returning in full form, and Torres makes it a problem.Add to that the indifferent results of Brandon Belt, Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff, and you get a team with far more profound issues than the leadoff hitter, and the reason why, even with a 10-spot against the Dodgers in L.A., the Giants are barely averaging three runs a game.True, Torres was the least agreeable injury the Giants could endure this year, save Buster Posey, because they dont have another leadoff hitter. None whatsoever.They have people whom they could put there in a pinch, true. Nate Schierholtz filled in for Torres after his Achilles tendon strained itself Saturday and went for 3-for-3. Fontenot got Sundays assignment and went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Tejada went 1-for-4 Monday. And no runs have been scored by any of them, and only one, Schierholtz triple in his last at-bat Saturday, resulted in a runner in scoring position, making those four hits pretty much empty calories.Bochy shrugged his voice (trust us, he can do this) when asked what his longer term plan was, largely because he knows that until Torres comes back, he has no linear solution. He spoke of Aaron Rowand, and Mark DeRosa, and yes, even Belt as possibilities.Belt was the name that raised eyebrows, given his 35 career plate appearances, .161 batting average, .257 on-base percentage and one stolen base. Truthfully, he seems overwhelmed right now in the seven-spot; at the top of the order, he could be crushed.Plus, as the starting first baseman, he would probably be the first of his kind to lead off in, well, damned near forever. Wed look it up, but in the time it took to do so, Mark Buehrle could pitch both ends of a doubleheader against the As.Still . . .I think he could do it in a pinch, Bochy said. Hes got good plate discipline, he can get on base, and he could even run some.But it isnt that Bochy believes that Belt is that guy; he merely reaffirmed that Belt could be a guy, and not one he would choose if he actually had a choice. Not now to be sure, and maybe not for a very long time.In saying he would consider it, though, he reaffirmed the dilemma when you have one of something, it is by definition irreplaceable.And his absence also underscores one other fact about the 2010 and 2011 Giants their margin for error is prosciutto-thin. They are neither hitting nor fielding, which more than eradicates the pitching theyve received.As a result, they are what they were at this time last year an incomplete team relying more than is prudent upon a pitching staff that cannot live on the subsistence run support they have received. Andres Torres fixes some of that upon his return, but not all. Not by a long shot.

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

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AP

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.