Ray Ratto

Ratto: No wine for Bochy as Giant bats stay silent

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Ratto: No wine for Bochy as Giant bats stay silent

Aug. 6, 2011

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Bruce Bochy swears on a stack of Tractor Shed red that the Giants will snap out of their current offensive narcolepsy.At least he would if he could.I dont drink wine when we lose, he said, with the resigned air of a man who has not had his customary glass with dinner in a good long time. Doesnt taste the same.Well, everything tastes like bile with a frothy head these days for the Giants, and deservedly so. After Cole Hamels stood on their collective thorax for nine innings in Philadelphias 2-1 win Saturday, the ants found themselves in an even deeper level of the mine. The loss was their eighth in nine games and 11th in 16, and over those 16 games, they have scored a ridiculous 35 runs.Which is why Bochy believes the worst is behind him -- because 140 years of baseball history says it has to be.

Were better than weve shown, I know we are, he said after Saturdays loss. Weve got guys scuffling out there, sure, but weve made changes, and weve brought in new players, and we know its going to get better. Maybe being a little consistent about the lineups will help.RECAP: Cain takes hard-luck loss; Giants fall 2-1 to Phils
That is Bochys latest idea to spark this inert lineup -- leaving the players with fewer wonders about if and where they bat in the lineup. His frantic attempts to find and hold a working combination have clearly failed, as the Giants remain a stern 29th in runs scored, and 27th or lower in the other standard production metrics.And over those 16 games? Theyre hitting .214. Batting average may not be a great predictor of anything, but .214 with 2.19 runs per game not only predicts but screams.Granted, some of this is the opponent, as they have faced a steady stream of good pitchers at the upper right quartile of their game. But the Giants arent exactly throwing them a 32-sided Rubiks cube to solve, either. They have one consistent hitting outfielder (Carlos Beltran), first baseman Aubrey Huff is the new target du jour, shortstop Orlando Cabrera has not yet hit the stride expected of him, and catcher is an ongoing out.And yes, it is the stated opinion of this squalid little corner of the Internet that these are the truest form of the Giants -- a team of underhitting, overpitching adults who should be barely ahead of Florida in the overall standings, and not even contemplating October.But World Series champions arent afforded that luxury, or of pouting, or of excusifying (forgive us, but we just wanted to play with a word for a minute). This is the either-you-do-or-you-dont portion of the show, and they have stopped hitting just in time to lose five games off a 4-game lead.And Bochy is not hiding his greater contempt beneath a veneer of hopeful anticipation. He knows they wont become the Boston Red Sox. But he believes they cant be the Seattle Mariners. Talent, clear-headed, intelligent-approach-enriched talent, cannot average 2.2 runs per game. The National League average is 4.13; normal for the Giants ought to be, say, 3.75, even allowing for the horror implied in that number.But 2.2 is ridiculous, and .214 is impossible. Which is why Bochy believes that gravity cannot be defied, it can be delayed just long enough for the bullpen to save the day.Much has been made of the Phillies rivalry, exacerbated as it was by the Friday Night Luau. But the Giants have shown in this series, and moreover since June 30, that their real rivalries are with Arizona (the team that can keep them out of the postseason by holding its own until the schedule favors them in September) and themselves (they are 16-16 since June ended).RELATED: Giants Insider gallery: Anatomy of a Brawl
The Phillies? Make that Jim Mora high-pitched squeaking noise and say it again. The enemy is not leaving town tomorrow, it is in the Pacific Time Zone, and often in the 415 area code.But Bruce Bochy says it will improve because it has to, and he is right. There is so little room left for deterioration that the law of big numbers says it must be so.

The real issue that lingers now that OJ Simpson is a free man

The real issue that lingers now that OJ Simpson is a free man

O.J. Simpson is free. The system as it is defined by those who run it in the case of the Nevada Parole Board, worked.

But the issue that lingers is whether we can free ourselves of him. That system is far more amorphous, arbitrarty and essentially unfair. And in its own revolting way, it works too.

The O.J. market has always been bullish. The old cliché that people can’t get enough no matter how much you shovel at them is more true for him than for any other sports figure of the last 50 years. More than Tiger Woods. More than LeBron James. More than Michael Jordan. More than all of them.

And now his parole hearing, televised and streamed by every outlet except Home & Garden Television, proved it again. He will never not be O.J.

But he is also 70. He is also planning to go to Florida and be with his family, based on what he told the parole board Thursday. He has assiduously avoided the media in his nine years in Lovelock, and if his family is providing the support it pledges, it will do its utmost to keep him from our prying eyes as he enters his dotage.

There is nothing we have that can do him any good. We have eaten all the forms of O.J. there are, culminating in the Emmy-award winning documentary on him, and finally, his release from prison. If he is wise as well as smart, here’s nothing left of his life but re-airs.

So the question becomes not so much whether he can leave fame alone, or whether fame can leave him alone. Our national appetite is poor on the topic of leaving people be, let alone deciding enough is enough. The fame we make for people gorges, purges and gorges again, in a hideous cycle that demeans all involved.

In sum, O.J. Simpson can, if he is paying attention to the value of normalcy, end his addiction to fame. I have far more serious doubts about fame and its addiction to him.

Quietest time in sports yields a pair of idiotic fascinations

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Quietest time in sports yields a pair of idiotic fascinations

Some time not that very long ago, someone in sports management who will almost certainly spend all of eternity bobbing for razor-studded apples in a pool of lava saw an opportunity in the phrase, “The quietest time in sports.” And decided to fill it with filth.
 
It is believed to begin right after the end of the NBA Finals, although that artificial start date has been extended through free agency now that the NBA’s principal entertainment vehicle is the burning of money. It used to be right after the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, though now it has been extended backward. And it ends roughly at the beginning of NFL and/or college training camps, depending on where you live and which of those two beasts you profess your God to be.
 
But let’s get back to the management succubus who has set us on the path that has led inexcusably to the current point. The idea that baseball no longer holds the interest or attention spans of the young, cool and inadequately trained in the value of money is now accepted as fact, and as any marketing nitwit will tell you, nature abhors a vacuum.
 
So here’s what we’ve got. Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor in what is very simply a lazy-stereotype-laden comedy tour that isn’t funny let alone even mildly convincing. They have both been on the stage too long, with a month still to go before the final shame-off August 26, where they simply enter the arena, stand with their backs to each other at the ring rope and spend 45 minutes trying to target-spit into the eyes of the high-rollers. Why the promoters didn’t just muzzle Mayweather and McGregor and use actual professionals like Key and Peele and Aisling Bea and Ed Byrne to work the crowds for a million per is simply a lack of imagination at work.
 
Here’s what else we have. Our idiotic fascination for Lonzo Ball’s two best Summer League games being achieved wearing shoes other than those promoted by his father/huckster as though his skills and intelligence are all in his feet.
 
What this actually is, of course, is people using Lonzo’s momentary and mostly microscopic achievement to call LaVar a tedious swine without ever using his name or his product catalog because he, like McGregor and Mayweather, beats down crowds and calls it entertainment, and people have signed on in a weird backdoor way – by finding reasons to like the son as a weapon against the father.
 
Thus, Lonzo Ball gets to learn how to be a professional athlete of note while carrying the load of his father’s impression upon the nation as well as the loads of those who believe that sins of the father must revert to the son. Popularity’s dominant property is its corrosion, and Ball will have to have very fast feet and well-constructed shoes indeed to dance away from the rising tide of a bored fan base with an ax to grind.
 
It isn’t as instantly gratifying a train wreck as Mayweather-McGregor, but it is a triumph of the new marketing strategy of wholesale idiocy that diminishes the watcher as well as the watched.
 
Neither of these events are in and of themselves interesting. Mayweather-McGregor is simply a kangaroo boxing a bear because circus entertainment no longer has circuses as venues, and Ball’s summer bears almost no relationship to the true test of his career – how to be the best player on a terrible team and then make the adjustment to being the third best player on a rebuilding team.
 
Ball has a longer shelf life because of that single useful component, but it is made less rather than more interesting by the presence of his father, who is now indelibly part of the tale at a time when most parents leave their children to find their fortunes by the virtues of their skills and wits.
 
McGregor-Mayweather has the sole benefit of being cringeworthy both before, during and after the event, a month-long smear of degradation that reduces all involved, including those who buy the fight, into penitents, into rolling apologies. It is an event in which nobody gets out with any shred of dignity, with the single revolting example of the grisly accountant-beasts who will take the Internal Revenue’s cut immediately after the fight.
 
And if that isn’t Satan winning, then you don’t know how to score a game in which Satan plays on all the teams at once and sees to it that the game is scheduled in the middle of July because some client of his told him it was the best time of year for personal and professional disgrace with a scoreboard on the end of it.