Ratto: Lincecum's last chance to vent on the Giants


Ratto: Lincecum's last chance to vent on the Giants

Aug. 30, 2011


Follow @RattoCSNRay Ratto

Tim Lincecums last chance passed Monday night, and with it the last chance for the Giants pitching staff to unload a years worth of imprecations toward their teammates.All it would have taken was for Lincecum to say that one simple sentence, I know we were done when I gave up that Soriano homer. No chance after that. None.Then some snotty reporter would have asked, How did you know that? It was just 1-0. And Lincecum would have had his opening.Are you kidding? he could have yelped in his best scalded-dog voice as he crushed a swig of Old Overcoat. Have you been here at all? Were averaging zero a game. Zero. I give up one, were done. And its like this every stinking night. We all know it. They all know it. The fans all know it. First one to one run wins, unless its us.
The evidence is too overwhelming, the body language too revealing. Losing to the Cubs, 7-0, at home is hard not because of the 7, but because of the 0. Randy Wells, whose ERA is two runs higher than the Giants' scoring average, smothered them with a throw pillow like it was a spring training game.RELATED: Rock bottom? Cubs shut out Giants 7-0
And nobody in the clubhouse would have argued with him, or minded that he broke clubhouse protocol to shame his brethren. Hell, it might have been cathartic enough that even the hitters would have leaped to Lincecums defense.We stink, Aubrey Huff could have said. I stink, they stink, we all stink. Weve done everything we know to try and it always comes out the same. Were just grateful it took 135 games for one of the pitchers to finally lose it. They were overly kind, and we appreciate it.But the moments passed, and now a pitcher ripping the Giants offense is pretty much backing over a dead squirrel. It isnt going to get better, and it cant really get worse.And now, because Lincecum held his tongue as a good teammate would, none of the other pitchers can really unload either. Only he and Matt Cain have the legitimate right to do so, and Cains been through this too long to be either surprised or annoyed by it.URBAN: Giants just aren't very good
Since the fans are also coming around to the notion that these hitters cant be fixed this year, except maybe in the veterinary sense, laying them out in public is almost like yelling at a cat for stealing a car. You can scream all you want, but the cat isnt going to get why youre mad. Its a cat, for Gods sake.By, now, the numbers just double over and laugh. As of today, the Giants are on pace to score 544 runs, which would give them a ridiculous 3.36 runs per game. Only one team in franchise history, the 1902 Giants, failed to meet even that enfeebled standard, making this the 128th best offense in franchise history, out of only 129 teams.Since the All-Star Break, they have played 43 games, and only in 11 of those 43 games have they scored more than four runs, which is problematic in the extreme given that the average total for one team in any game is 4.15.But the pitchers have stiff-upper-lipped it through thin, thinner and starvation-level, keeping their comments under their breaths and in pitchers-only meetings in which Dave Righettis sole job is to search them for sharp objects and evidence of cutting.But Monday would have been the moment, simply because it seemed to be the moment that the fans and even the broadcasters accepted the inevitable -- that their world is going to be an endless parade of 4-to-3s, 6-to-3s and strikeouts, and that the teams average with runners in scoring position is no longer even listed.Monday was the night everyone finally realized that it isnt the batting orders that are wrong with this team, but the names on them. Monday was the night that the Giants finally stubbed out hope that they would ever hit again except in the most absurd of confluences.And yet Lincecum didnt crack, except for some oblique reference to Its hard to keep your head up. Bruce Bochy, who ran out of words long ago and had just been reciting from the Book of What Do You Want From Me, finally surrendered, skipping the postgame entirely and referring all hitting inquiries to whatever batsmen were available.So now the moment is gone, and theres no retrieving it. If a pitcher says something now, it will seem like piling on rather than frustration of constructive criticism. It certainly wont be a spontaneous outburst. It will be the dead squirrel, flattened for no good reason save being able to say, I ran over a dead squirrel.And whats the satisfaction in that?Ray Ratto is a columnist with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

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.

Patriots win one for the ages, but where does it rank?

Patriots win one for the ages, but where does it rank?

The price of watching Roger Goodell being booed back to the Bronze Age is a subtle but real one, and one that people will feel very dearly soon enough.

The last great cathartic Super Bowl is now done, with the New England Patriots winning the brilliant and decisive battle to be sports’ new evil empire. In doing so, it rendered Goodell a permanent and risible punch line in National Football League history, the mall cop who wanted the death penalty for littering, and in the words of the song “got what he wanted but he lost what he had.”

True, $40 million a year can make the dissolution of your public persona a reasonably decent tradeoff, but we lost the argument about who won his windmill tilt with the Patriots. It’s done, and he is now permanently and irrevocably a figure of ridicule.

But that’s not the only debating point America lost Sunday night, and while you wouldn’t think it given how much time we are willing to shouting at each other, quality arguments are not easily replaced.

We have almost surely lost the mindless debate about the best quarterback ever, because there is nothing anyone can bring up that the words “Tom Brady” cannot rebut except calling his own plays, and since that is no longer allowed in football, it is a silly asterisk to apply.

We have almost surely lost the equally silly shouter about the best coach ever. Bill Belichick is defiantly not fun, but he has built, improved and bronzed an organizational model that is slowly swallowing the rest of the sport. That and five trophies makes him the equal if not better of the short list of Paul Brown, George Halas, Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh and Tom Landry.

Plus, Belichick locked up the most absurd response to a question in coaching history Monday when he said, “As great as today feels . . . we're five weeks behind the other teams for the 2017 season.” Even allowing for Gregg Popovich in-game interviews, the so-grim-he-could-make-a-robot-cry worship-the-process response has now become a cliché. If 2017 prep was so important, he should have skipped yesterday’s game, and he definitely should have chosen not to waste so much time on the trophy stand after the game when training camp drills needed to be scheduled.

Oh, and DeflateGate died. Dead. No zombie possibilities here.

We do have a meatheaded argument ahead of us about which championship in the last year is the best, which can be settled here.

1. Leicester City, because 5,000-1 is 5,000-1, and the whole world understands that. Plus, there was invaluable three-month buildup that engaged non-soccer fans.

2. Chicago Cubs, because 108 years is 108 years.

3. New England Patriots, because . . . well, I don’t have to explain it unless you have no useful memory span. “Down 25 In The Third Quarter” is the new “Down 3-1.”

4. Cleveland Cavaliers, because they slayed the first unbeatable Warrior team by coming from 3-1 down, and even as a silver medalist, it will always be an internet meme, which is what passes for memorable in our decrepit culture.

5. (tie) Villanova basketball and Clemson football in a tie, because they were essentially the same great game.

7. The Pittsburgh Penguins, because the Stanley Cup Final was devoid of drama or high moments, and only 14:53 of overtime. Feh.

But everything else is settled, and this Super Bowl will not be topped for a long time. Our current cycle of absurd championships is almost surely going to end soon, because “Down 3-1” has happened twice in eight months (three times, if you count Warriors over Thunder), and the bar has now been placed well beyond reasonable clearing.

Indeed, the only thing left is for a championship team to spontaneously combust on the award stand. But if they do so and ignite Roger Goodell along the way, that would be an ending America would cheerfully endorse.

But that also isn’t an argument any more, and yes, that includes Gary Bettman.