Ray Ratto

Ratto: Only Posey can defuse Cousins situation

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Ratto: Only Posey can defuse Cousins situation

June 3, 2011RATTO ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEORay Ratto
CSNBayArea.com

We may have reached the point at long last where it is time for Buster Posey to say, Enough is enough. He may not want to, and he may hate having to do it, but he is the only one who can save the Giants from themselves any longer.

He may even have to publicly forgive Scott Cousins. Whether hes in the mood to or not.

Posey is angry that he has lost an entire year of his career, and he is certainly entitled to that. His injuries are extensive and career-changing, and it takes a good long time for anyone to process that kind of trauma.

But hes going to have to find the strength to call off the whirlwind now. Cousins is getting death threats. Brian Sabean is saying that the end of his career will be a good thing. The Giants are giving off an aura as unbearable whiners, and whatever hopes they have of getting the home-plate-collision rule changed is diminishing with each new petulant act and statement.

In short, they are making Cousins seem sympathetic, and they are damaging their chances of righting what they see as a wrong.

Sure, they are playing to their own audience, which loves the very idea of Posey refusing Cousins attempts to contact Posey and Sabean going on the radio and savaging the Florida rookie as an unguided missile who does not deserve to play the game ever again. Rhetorical vengeance is always easiest when the audience is your own.

But just as the fan reaction has been over the top some actually using words like grieving, as though Posey had been blown to smithereens now the Giants has been. Sabean may have found satisfaction in speaking off the cuff about Cousins, his motives in the collision and his worthiness to draw a major league paycheck, but it is a luxury that works against Cousins, Posey, and yes, the Giants.

So why is it Poseys job to defuse this? Because nobody else can.

Should it have fallen to him? No, probably not. It is not unreasonable for Posey to be angry at Cousins even now, for reasons so obvious that they neednt be belabored.

But Bill Neukom cant, nor can Larry Baer. Bruce Bochy cant, and none of Poseys teammates, either. It can only come from him.

Maybe he wants the rage to remain stoked, and maybe the Giants do, too. Maybe they want Scott Cousins to become a cause for which they are willing to fight more publicly than any other baseball team has since the days of players sharpening their own spikes.

But tactically, its a fail. Its a fail for the rules change they would like to enact, its a fail for their national reputation, and its a fail for Posey as well. As well as this might play in the 415, everywhere else, he and they are coming off badly, very badly. Indeed, Bud Selig may have to step in and order the Giants to stop, and Bud never does anything unless he is sure he has the full complement of support behind him.

So yes, Buster Posey is going to have to muster the will to say, Okay, enough about me. Ill do my job knitting bones, and you guys should go win games, and well meet at the parade route, or some such well-wish. Hes going to ask the Giants to stop, for his good and theirs. Indeed, protocol may even require him to finally reach out to Cousins, although we suspect he wont be there for awhile yet.

But its his ballgame now, and only he can repair what has been wrought around him. That, too, is a measure of his presence, in a weird way. Buster Posey -- catcher, hitter, face of the franchise and mediator. Jobs not to be left to amateurs, or the faint at heart, or bad strategic thinkers. A job only he can do, if he accepts it.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.

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.