Ratto: Naming Giants All-Stars tough task for Bochy


Ratto: Naming Giants All-Stars tough task for Bochy

June 17, 2011


Follow @RattoCSNRay Ratto

Bruce Bochy wants the Bobby Cox Exception because, well, the Bobby Cox Exception has always been there.

The problem is, the Bobby Cox Exception has been largely muscled out of the All-Star Game selection process. Thus, Bochys flag-waving for Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo as All-Star-worthy pitchers is going to run into significant Ohhh, really? from the other people in the room.

Starting with the fact that there are other people in the room.

In the good old days, the manager picked the full All-Star roster with a little bit of help. Then the fans were allowed to pick the starters. Then the rosters were expanded. Now its a hugely convoluted mess with 34 players, but an Internet exception, and there are so many people in the room with Bochy who have their own ideas and urgencies that neither Lopez nor Romo is a lock to be anything other than cases of Guys, I did my best.

But lets do this systematically, and go through the 16 National League teams to decide how many open spots on his pitching staff Bochy actually has:


Brian McCann, Atlanta; Albert Pujols, St. Louis; Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati; Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado; Placido Polanco, Philadelphia; Ryan Braun, Milwaukee; Lance Berkman, St. Louis; Matt Holliday, St. Louis.


Joey Votto, Cincinnati; Prince Fielder, Milwaukee; Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee; Chipper Jones, Atlanta; Jose Reyes, New York Mets; Starlin Castro, Chicago; Miguel Montero, Arizona; Yadier Molina, St. Louis; Matt Kemp, Los Angeles; Hunter Pence, Houston; Jay Bruce, Cincinnati.

Thats 19 position players, and were probably shorting Stephen Drew (Arizona), Kelly Johnson (Arizona), Gaby Sanchez (Florida) and if you have to have a Giant, Cody Ross.

That means 15 pitchers, which is last years number and included three set-up relievers Arthur Rhodes, Evan Meek and Hong-Chih Kuo. So now lets take the starting pitchers.


Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay, Philadelphia; Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles; Anibal Sanchez, Florida; Jair Jurrjens, Atlanta; Tim Lincecum, San Francisco.


Brian Wilson, San Francisco; Heath Bell, San Diego; Francisco Cordero, Cincinnati; Jonny Venters, Atlanta; Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta; Tyler Clippard, Washington; J.J. Putz, Arizona; Joel Hanrahan, Pittsburgh; Drew Storen, Washington.

Thats 15 already, leaving zero spots open for Paul Maholm, Pittsburgh; John Axford, Milwaukee; Kyle Lohse, St. Louis; Jhoulys Chacin, Colorado; Shaun Marcum, Milwaukee; Tommy Hanson, Atlanta; and the Giant candidates Lopez, Romo, Ryan Vogelsong, Ramon Ramirez and Matt Cain.

Anibal Sanchez has to go, unless Bochy wants four first basemen and would make Gaby Sanchez his Florida choice. Either Maholm or Hanrahan have to go to represent Pittsburgh, and either Storen or Clippard will be the Washington rep.

Now comes the next hard part taking a setup man instead of a very qualified closer. Putz and Kimbrel get the congratulations letter in that case, and now there are 15.

But lets say Bochy wants to get hard-nosed, as he is wont to do, and wants to ramrod another one of his pitchers onto the 15. Which one would he pick over the others?

Herein lies the hardest part of all picking one of the kids over the others. Is Vogelsong having a better year than Romo? Are Lopez splits (great vs. lefthanded hitters, bad against righthanders) still good enough to bump Ramirez?

Frankly, Bochy needs some timely injuries to players other than his own to avoid having to make that painful I-like-you-more-than-you call. Barring that, he might be better off not taking any of them and blaming the other guys in the room for doing the right thing viz. Kimbrel, Putz or Cordero.

In short, he can talk about being conscienceless toward his biases, but the math suggests that he wont be able to use the Cox Exception. The last time he managed an All-Star team, he took only three Padres Tony Gwynn and Trevor Hoffman (obvious) and Andy Ashby, who had gone 17-9 the year before and was 7-4 with a low-threes ERA the first half of 1999.

That was a modest enough haul back in the day, when the rosters were a paltry 32. Now, at 34, Bochy thinks he has tons of room. He doesnt. What he has, is time. Time for this to settle a bit more. Time for players to get hurt (yeah, like he doesnt have experience with that). Time for decisions to make themselves.

And if worse comes to worst, time to throw up his hands and say, Fine. If you want Ryan Madson so damned badly, you manage the freakin team. And dont think he wont do it, in that deep, drawn-out baritone that people confuse at their peril for dull-wittedness or indecision. He is none of those things. He is also not omnipotent the way All-Star managers used to be.

You know. Like Bobby Cox.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

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.