Ray Ratto

Ratto: McLellan keeping doom in the air

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Ratto: McLellan keeping doom in the air

May 21, 2011RATTO ARCHIVESHARKS PAGE SHARKS VIDEO
Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com

The Sharks rolled out a spirited practice at their ancillary facility Saturday, in Todd McLellans words because I thought it was important for our hockey club to skate today. We felt it was important to get back on the ice before the noon start just to feel it again, get our legs moving, feel the puck a little bit.It was, in its own way, a reminder that the Sharks are at their most dangerous when theyve just enjoyed some good old-fashioned across-the-board success. Thats the time when they are most likely to go bad again.That is the undercurrent of their latest triumph, Fridays 4-3 victory over Vancouver. All the superior forechecking and neutral ice play, all the hits that decimated the Canucks defense corps (neither Christian Ehrhoff nor Aaron Rome skated Saturday), the fast start and the resumption of the renaissance of Patrick Marleau all of it tells a practiced Sharks eye that the worm is positioning itself to take another turn.
RECAP: Sharks survive Canucks' late flurry for first win
First, their good news. Jamie McGinn was not suspended for the hit on Rome that earned him a five-minute major and a game misconduct in Game 3.VIDEO: Jamie McGinn boards Aaron Rome
Next, their bad. Defenseman Jason Demers remains day to day.Now, back to cases.These are the Sharks things never look quite so dark as when they look so light, because they always respond best when backed into a corner with a wasp hive taped to their nethers. Hence, we suspect, the all-hands-on-deck practice barely 24 hours before Game 4.It wasn't an overly extensive practice, McLellan said, despite the visual evidence that suggests a considerably extensive workout. There wasn't a lot of exertion. We brought all of our black aces, if you want to call them that, on the ice, so the reps were down. It was more a cleaning out process, resetting the mental part of the game again.RATTO: Three keys to Game 4
In short, McLellan was doing more brain maintenance on a team that seems to know what to do at all times, but doesnt do it quite as often as one would expect of a true Stanley Cup contender.Not because of sloth, or disinterest in the coach, or even short attention spans run rampant. In fact, nobodys ever really out a finger on why the Sharks have had so much trouble maintaining momentum in the postseason, except the always trite Were playing good teams too, you know.Fact is, McLellan looks eternally for the edge that will keep his team on edge, because he has come to understand that they play better when theres doom in the air. There was doom Friday afternoon. By Friday night, they had reestablished their bonafides as a Cup contender. Now with Sunday, they have to do it again, because even if you ignore the other history, their work in this postseason has been, well, confounding.> Up 1-0 against the Kings, they get the news that Jarret Stoll is suspended, thereby leaving the Kings two very good centermen short for Game 2. Result: Kings win, 4-0.
> Up 3-1 against Kings, come back home for Game 5 and lose.
> Up 3-0 against Detroit in what was admittedly a great series, they need a seventh game to escape the ignominy of becoming the fourth team to blow a choke-slam.
> And now, with an inspiring win over the Canucks and two defensemen seemingly out for awhile, they have a Game 4 that will test yet again their ability to take good fortune and treat it like something other than a chicken-on-gelignite sandwich.Maybe the fear of going down 3-1 will serve the purpose of maintaining the teams revival. Or maybe they need to go down 3-1 before they take the hint. The test comes Sunday in a game that is no longer a must-win situation, but may become one if the Sharks arent careful.In other words, if the Sharks are, well, the Sharks.

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.