March 5, 2011RATTO ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTSVIDEO
A'S PAGE A'S VIDEORay RattoCSNBayArea.com
It was an unusually festive afternoon at Municipal Stadium, and we didnt even need a good bench-emptying brawl between the As and Giants to get it.Two fans had certified Hideki Matsui as the new face of the Athleticals by making T-shirts and a 30-foot sign that read MATSUILAND in old English script, which of course caused the movable feast of Japanese reporters and photographers to pose him in front of the sign.Manager Bob Geren waxed eloquent (yeah, yeah, I know) on how the As went from being the worst base-running team in creation to one of the best. A sun and a gentle wind conspired to make a downright pleasant day, and the smoke from the grills worked the kind of magic one normally finds from a roulette table at Gamblers Anonymous.But we still could have used the brawl anyway. It would given a little dusting of salt to the As 6-0 win over the error-saturated Giants before a sellout crowd of 8,330 sun-baked and temporarily indolent.
RELATED: Anderson, A's shut out Giants 6-0
All the comparisons between the 2010 Giants and 2011 Elephants have been made over and over again, to the point where they form a thin unappetizing gruel. Theyre not that similar unless you can squint and make Javier Lopez look like David DeJesus and Pat Burrell like Josh Willingham.But these are two teams that have never really engaged as much as lived on separate dorm floors. Even now, their closest connection will be the moment when Bow Tie Billy Neukom and Suitcase Lew Wolff olive oil wrestle over the San Jose territorial rightsmiscellaneous bribes debate.The two franchises have never really argued over the same space in any other context, save the 1989 World Series, and even then the earthquake made owning the area less valuable than it might otherwise have been. Put another way, the As did not plant their flag in the Marina even after the firemen left.The worm has turned in the ensuing 22 years, and now the Giants are walking the walk, and the As are finally just now re-latching on to an identity that isnt a Michael Lewis footnote or a reminded of the highly muscled 80s and early 90s.And that identity is apparently being supplied by a guy who has been on campus for only 81 days and willingly speaks almost no English.It is painfully, aggressively, immutably clear that the Bay Area has not only been a palace for front-runners and label-shoppers but for quirkybigger-than-life personalities. The two tams have gone through spurts with them, and without them, and frankly, with is way better.Not just for media purposes, either. The Giants not only won, they won by flogging the misfits label like it was a rented mule pulling a wagon through a mud bog. The clubhouse is thick with quirk, some of it even genuine and spontaneous. Even Bruce Bochy, who has historically worked every bit as hard as Geren at tarping his personality, has finally caved in and become something of a charmer.The As? Well, theres Dallas Braden, and the solid and essentially honest Mark Ellis and Kurt Suzuki. The rest is about young pitching, a school bus full of relievers, some new hitters to make the old ones better, Geren waxing euphoric about the base runners, when theyre not getting thrown out on steal attempts as Andy LaRoche did Saturday.And the apparent icon that is Matsui.Often, characters are built through winning. It may turn out that Daric Barton is only 20 homers away from turning into Sammy The Bull Gravano at the Congressional hearings on the Mafia, or that Brett Anderson is secretly Louis C.K. with a slider. Not sure that Oakland is yet ready for free-range lingerie a la Aubrey Huff, but wins buy leeway, and always have.On the other hand, personality is not so prized on a third-pace team. Carlos Silva had lots of personality the other day for the Cubs, and ended up having to apologize when his personality tried to get into a fight with Aramis Ramirez personality.
RELATED: Cubs' Silva takes blame for scuffle
In short, the As have to do with grassroots ideas like winning, as they did Saturday, and Matsuiland, although the old english thing seems a bit disingenuous, graphically speaking. At least when he posed for those pictures in front of the sign, he looked . . . well, bemused.And hardly the sort of guy who would make a cartoon character out of an article of womens underwear. Yet.