Ratto: Overachieving Giants give fans day of respite

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Ratto: Overachieving Giants give fans day of respite

Aug. 3, 2011

RATTO ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTSVIDEO

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In a bad blow to Giant fans everywhere, the local nine scored four runs in a single inning Wednesday. Yes. Four. Runs. You know those things where a guy runs around the bases and touches the five-sided pointy thing with his foot?

RECAP: Giants score season-high at home, salvage win
Bad blow? Yes. Even though you have a thing for your team and approve of days like Wednesdays, in which the lads took and held a lead for Ryan Vogelsong, and regained the lead in the National League Amish Division.
RELATED: MLB standings
Bad blow? Yes, because youre the ones who started this fetish with torture and cling to it even though it was last years meme and should have been gracefully retired with Jose Guillen.

Fact is, the Giants are overachieving at an almost galactic rate, and for you to fret that the boys arent hitting enough (which they arent) is exactly one of the reasons why they have any charm at all.They are one of eight teams in the last decade to have reached the first week of August with such a meager attack. For the record, here are the others, and the reason why you need to know this will become clear shortly.YEAR TEAM RUNS ON AUG. 3 FINAL RECORD
2003 Detroit 362 43-119
L.A. Dodgers 371 85-77
2004 Montreal 377 67-95
2010 Baltimore 379 66-96
Pittsburgh 359 57-105
Seattle 344 61-101
2011 San Francisco 391 90-62
Seattle 361 71-91

Those last two are projections, of course, but the message is a pretty clear one. To score such a miserable number of runs this late in the season, you need to plan on finishing 67-95. Or worse, since the last Giants team to hit this poorly after 111 games was the 1985 model, which stands alone as the franchises one 100-loss team.Now thats the kind of rancidity you always said you enjoyed last year -- WHEN THEY WERE SCORING 100 MORE RUNS THAN THEY HAVE NOW. That was the sort of agony you said explained your love for this team -- WHEN THEIR RUN DIFFERENTIAL WAS PLUS-94 INSTEAD OF PLUS-3.So what is it, you big bunch of candies? Are you men (as in family of man) or mice (as in small obnoxious rodents who mostly make dumpsters come alive)? Are you up for this or not?Wednesdays game was so not-Giantic that it is a wonder that the crowd followed the rules. Multiple crooked-number innings (fours in the third and fifth innings), and the first six-run game at home all year -- IN ONLY THEIR 53RD HOME DATE.In the past nine years, the Giants broke the mythical six-runs-at-the-Phone mark in their third, first, first, fourth, first, seventh, sixth, first and third games. So waiting until 53 to nail down this arbitrary achievement tells us one thing.You folks better be up for the next two months. And days like Wednesday will not toughen you up properly.Sunny day. Wind blowing stridently to left field. Vogelsong pillow-smothering an all-right-handed hitting Arizona lineup. Carlos Beltran tripling and singling twice. Orlando Cabrera, mocked as a five-hitter, doubling home two runs. It couldnt have been easier on the eyes, the heart or the nervous system.But thats not how this is going to be. This was a day off for you, a freebie after two weeks of two runs a game. Frankly, we suspect Wednesday was just one more way to suck you back in when you were ready to take a hike on this team. Especially, as it turns out, with Philadelphia coming to town for a four-game series that will be falsely sold as Armageddon.No, this is a spectacularly modest team offensively, almost epically so. They will make you bleed through the eye sockets for your entertainment, but it wont be torture. Anything but.Frankly, children, youre playing with the casinos money here. With these numbers, your team should be 56-55. With the history of non-hitting teams over the last decade, your team should be 46-65.Torture? Hell. Day to day, this may be hard on your guts, but as large sample size matter, this is cashing a Scratcher. Now rub some dirt on your brains and walk it off. Youve got 51 more to go, and most of them wont be like this.

A sports-related pie-fixing scandal? Hell never felt so fun

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AP

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.