Ratto: Ranking Giants' second-half keys


Ratto: Ranking Giants' second-half keys

July 13, 2011


Follow @RattoCSNRay Ratto

Youre sitting there on the back edge of your couch, waiting for Carlos Beltran. Brian Wilson said you could have him, right there during the All-Star Game and you never doubt a single thing the good Swami Saveananda tells you.In short, you have issues that cant really be addressed in this small space..But on the off-chance that the Giants cant make Brandon Belt and picking up Beltrans remaining 8.5M stand up against the expected onslaughts from the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers and Phillies, lets consider instead what they have, and theyre going to need from what they have, between now and the final table.In order of importance, and set by your author, and not to encourage some sort of dialogue, because frankly, this is the correct list:
RATTO: A's stagger into season's second half

1. Matt Cain: Someone is going to have to be the bloodless stopper for this rotation, which frankly, has been running at about 70 percent efficiency, and Cain spent the All-Star Break topping off on the oil, hydraulic fluids and windshield washer for the rest of the trip. If he breaks down, the Giants break down.2. Aubrey Huff: Not much production, either with power or with simple getting-on-base-i-tude. If he has a second half of any quality in him, it should start, well, sort of now-ish.3. Sergio RomoRamon RamirezJeremy AffeldtJavier LopezSantiago CasillaGuillermo Mota: Because they have been doing yeomans work of the most extraordinary kind getting the Giants from their starters to Ulysses S. Grant, and if any of them lose their yeo between now and then, the whole enterprise could collapse.4. Tim Lincecum: His numbers are as bad as his record, but any faltering is considered the end of his career by those who think the panic button is actually the enter key. The Giants are built on the assumption that four of their five starters are going to be lights out, and Lincecums bulb, while still shining, isnt giving off all the lumens it should.5. Pablo Sandoval: More of his redemptive first half is required, so he doesnt look like a guy who needs to be constantly whipped to perform, and so that the Giants arent turning 2-1 wins into 1-0 losses.6. Cody Ross: The home runs take care of themselves.7. Rasputin: Three blown saves already, which means hes allowed three more.8. Nate Schierholtz: Hes not a regularly capable four-hitter, but he is now better than a fourth outfielder. At least hed better be if the Giants dont want to lament their inability to close the Beltran deal.9. Eli WhitesideChris Stewart: Because catchers do grow on trees, but there arent many trees out there.10. Andres Torres: There are those who think too little and those who think too much. Torres is one of the latter, but maybe if he stops thinking about going bad, hell start going good again.11. Miguel Tejada: This is his salarynew contract drive -- in case hes not motivated solely by showing he can be of greater help to this team.12. Jonathan Sanchez: At some point, hell be back. If he brings his friends Ball One, Ball Two, Ball Three and Ball Four, even Doctor Seuss will hate him.13. Madison BumgarnerRyan Vogelsong: Only one of the two really needs a dominant second half, and it doesnt really matter which one.14. Brian Sabean: Needs to have a trigger, needs to be ready to pull it.15. Belt: The most tradable non-major-league piece. He may serve going as well as coming. Although if Huff cant snap out of it, Belt might have to become the everyday first baseman again.16. The schedule: Favors Arizona down the stretch, so having a nice lead on 91 cant hurt. Of course, San Diego had a nice lead last 91 and, well, you know.17. Aaron RowandPat BurrellEmmanuel Burriss: You can win without a bench, but the 2002 Giants didnt have a bench and lost to the Angels. The 2010 Giants did, and well, you know.18. Brandon Crawford: If he catches the ball and throws the ball, nobody will mind that he hasnt yet mastered the hitting the ball thing.19. Bruce Bochy: He was smart before he got here, hes smart now, and hell be smart in September. He doesnt play, though, and in baseball, brains are defined by quantifiables like runs and outs and wins. Not ruining the bullpen is still Job 1, and he hasnt ruined a bullpen even in years when he didnt have one to ruin.20. Bob-Tie Billy Neukom: Resisting the impulse to be Jerry Jones is vital here. He has two jobs -- saying, We can afford it, or saying We cant afford it. This might be tough given that he doesnt have the distraction of sniveling about a new ballpark, and may have way too much time on his hands, but him going along for the ride worked a year ago, and theres no reason to think it wont again.21. Duane KuiperJon MillerMike KrukowDave FlemmingTito FuentesErwin Higueros: As more and more of the teams games go national, theyll have to bump up their original-insights-per-game numbers. We all know how people reflexively reel when theyre not getting their Giantsiana from The Boys, so panic may result if theyre not at the top of their laryngeal powers down the stretch. One blown double play call, and it could all go crashing down on them all.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.

Does St. Louis' suit against NFL mean hope for the City of Oakland?

Does St. Louis' suit against NFL mean hope for the City of Oakland?

You thought you were done worrying about the Raiders. You thought the votes were in, the moving vans booked for three years down the road, and all gnashing and sharpening of teeth was over. You thought you were free.

Then those buttinsky-come-latelies from St. Louis decided to rear their litigious heads, and now you find yourselves slipping back into that desperate-hope world from which no one escapes.

It seems the city and its regional sports authority has decided to sue the National Football League and its 32 semi-independent duchies over the relocation of the Rams 15 months ago because, and you’ll like this one, the league allegedly did not follow its own relocation rules when it moved the team.

As you know, there is no such thing as a rule if everyone governed by the rule decided unanimously to ignore the rule. This doctrine falls under the general heading of, “We’re billionaires, try and stop us.”

But all lawsuits have a common denominator, and that is that there is money at the end of the rainbow. St. Louis is claiming it is going to miss out on approximately $100 million in net proceeds (read: cash) and has decided that the NFL and especially their good pal Stan Kroenke is going to have to pay for permission to do what they have already done -- specifically, leave.

Because the suit was filed in St. Louis, the benefits of home field advantage apply, and the league is likely to have to reinflate their lawyers for some exciting new billable hours.

As to whether it turns into a windfall for the jilted Missourians, well, as someone who has known lawyers, I would list them as prohibitive underdogs. But there is nuisance value here, which brings us to Oakland.

The city and county, as we know, did not put its best shoe forward in trying to lure the Raiders into staying or the other 31 owners into rejecting the team’s pleas for geographical relief. By that, we mean that the city and county did not fall all over itself to meet the league’s typically extortionate demands.

But they did play angry enough to start snipping about the 2019 part of the Raiders’ 3-More-Coliseum-Years plan, and they are threatening to sue over about $80K in unpaid parking fees, so filing their own breach-of-rules lawsuit might be a possibility.

Because, hey, what’s the point of sounding like a nuisance if you can’t actually become one?

By now, it is clear that everyone in SuitWorld got what it needed out of the Raiders’ move. The city and county could concentrate on guiding the A’s into activity on their own new stadium. The team could go where Mark Davis has been agitating for it to go for at least three years – somewhere else. The state of Nevada could find a place for that $750 million that was burning a hole in its casino vault. And the league went to a market that it, at first reluctantly and then enthusiastically, decided should be its own.

The fans? Oh, please. Who cares about them? To the NFL, and to all corporations in all walks of business, folks are just walking wallets.

But for some cash? Well, climb on board, suckers. The gravy train is pulling out on Track 3.

Nobody is fool enough to think the Raiders would be forced to return. Hell, even St. Louis isn’t asking for the Rams back. They just want to get paid for the money they probably banked on in the good old days before Stan Kroenke decided to head west.

And that would doubtless be Oakland’s stance as well if. Now the circumstances are slightly different, in that St. Louis worked harder to keep the Rams than Oakland did to keep the Raiders. St. Louis scared up $350 million toward new digs for the Rams, well short of what Kroenke would have accepted, while Oakland said it could get its hands on some infrastructure money and no more.

But Mayor Libby Schaaf complained in her relocation post mortem that the league didn’t follow its own guidelines (yay correlation as causation!), maybe with an eye toward throwing a few lawyers into the fire to see how long it would burn.

There is not yet any indication that the city and county are going that route (and the silence may simply mean that they are sick of the Raiders’ saga as everyone else seems to be), but if they do, well, don’t freak out that the team might be forced to return.

Except, of course, in that place where migraines start. Dragging this back up is a bit like the phantom pain amputees feel -- but hey, people will do a lot for a bit of court-ordered cash. Anyone who has ever watched Judge Judy will understand.

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.