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.

Frank Deford's longform storytelling made him worthy of our attention


Frank Deford's longform storytelling made him worthy of our attention

Frank Deford’s death over the weekend did not mark the end of longform sportswriting as we knew it; he had long ago become part of the electronic commentariat that has reduced longform’s place in the public’s attention span.

But there is still longform writing and storytelling to be found in many places, and it is still worthwhile. It has more production value, as the TV folks like to blather, and the words have to fight for their place between the cracks left by the pictures and the mutated graphics, but longform lives, and it should, lest we all agree as one people to further desiccate that attention span like a grapefruit left in the sun.

Deford’s death, though, reminds of when longform was the zenith of the storytelling art. It could, and still can, give you access and depth and breadth that a TV crew simply could not, and cannot. Even extended TV features are by their very nature so contrived by all the equipment that nothing is natural, nothing is a surprise, and the act of writing is almost an afterthought.

Deford knew this. He more than merely dabbled in TV himself, playing the wizened old raconteur who was as much character in his pieces as storyteller. He was also a star and a starmaker with The National, a daily sports network in newspaper form that was long on talent and ideas but short on delivery and distribution. It lasted 17 months, until mid-1991, but it led to grander attempts decades later, and could if you squint your eyes hard enough be the natural parent of Grantland and The Ringer and Vice and SB Nation and dozens of others – all bigger ideas, positioned in the post-typing world. Some lasted, more didn’t, but capitalism is like that – making fuel to keep the fires burning and the engines churning.

Deford could have thrived in such a world, to be sure. He was not, in the hideous phrase, “a man of his time.” Indeed, he was a crossover figure years ago in ways that other longform writers attempt to resist even now. They want to be Deford at the height of his powers at a time when the instruments for their gift are either dying or veering away from anything that hits the 600-word mark.

But his passing did not kill the art of clever writing and incisive storytelling. There are far too many people who can do that still, even if the market for their gifts is neither as pronounced nor as eager for the product as it once was. It did remind us not only that he was a giant, but that there are still giants among us should we deign to take the time to seek them.

Thus, Deford’s death marked his passing but not the thing that made him worthy of our attention. Storytelling, longform and otherwise, remains the heart of why this is still worthwhile to a culture, and when the generation his work spawned starts to die off, I suspect we’ll still be saying the same thing then. Notebooks are smartphones, photographs are streams, but the human eye and ear and hand still remain pre-eminent.

That is, until the robots take over, at which point reading won’t be worth it.

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.