Ray Ratto

Ratto: Retribution? Luck? No, Giants Baseball


Ratto: Retribution? Luck? No, Giants Baseball


ATLANTA -- In the shards of broken glass, and the breathtaking prisms they emitted, that became Game 3 of the Giants-Braves series, it is hard to know which chunk to remember best.

But lets put it this way. Youd have to work hard to guess wrong.

It will be known to neutral observers everywhere as the Brooks Conrad Game, because of his three errors that contributed the first and then the winning run in the Giants 3-2 win. The killer came from Buster Posey, a sharp but unambiguous shot that nutmegged Conrad with two outs in the ninth and Freddy Sanchez at second.

Non-neutral observers (read: Giants fans) will view it as some form of divine retribution for any number of galling defeats of the past, but they will be wrong because, frankly, nobody should take too much credit for winning a game like this.

I mean, the Posey ground ball that goes through Conrads legs? God works in that mysterious a way? He has that kind of grudge on Brooks Conrad? Really?

Frankly, there is no way to explain this game save in the words of Brian Sabean, staring at a folded up piece of paper with a simple legend on it: Stranger than fiction.

That right there tells you what pressure is, he said, more dumbfounded than profound. I mean, how the hell does all that happen?

Its a question that will haunt Conrad, and Atlanta manager Bobby Cox for, well, about forever.

Not much (to say to Conrad), he said. Everybodys talked to him. Weve encouraged him as much as we can.

But does he return for Game Four? Ill have to sleep on it.

He wont sleep, though, and neither will Bruce Bochy, who said afterward with an odd smile, The baseball gods did me a pretty big favor there.

This was too ridiculous rich a game for sleep. Jonathan Sanchez pitched brilliantly and came out before the fun really started. Sergio Romo, the season-long eighth-inning man, mangled his second consecutive game by giving up what would have been the game-winning homer to pinch-hitter Eric Hinske.

And Hinske ended up being the not-quite hero, the owner of a story hell need a quart of Old Overcoat to tell his grandchildren: I hit the game-winning homer, and then we didnt win.

And Romo, who hung the slider to Hinske, may find himself the not-so-go-to-guy in the eighth inning, even though he managed to get the win.

Craig Kimbrel, who may well be the Braves closer of the future, got his first big shot at the job with the career-ending injury to Billy Wagner, and couldnt navigate the ninth inning. And Madison Bumgarner went from not seeing the light of day to starting Game 4 Monday night for the Giants.

Travis Ishikawa, the defensive specialist, coaxed a walk from a 1-2 count, and Freddy Sanchez, who looked quite overwhelmed by Kimbrel, snuck a ground ball through the middle to set up Huffs tying single.

Theres Brian Wilson, who got back on the horse after his Game 2 disaster and muscled the Braves into submission. There are even the absentees, like Wagner, whose blown oblique blew the Braves bullpen to shards, and second baseman Martin Prado, whose season-ending hip pointer exposed Conrad to a potentially career-shattering afternoon.

There is so much one can chew on (including a series of vice-grip managerial decisions that will overheat smaller minds) that digesting the game is impossible. Theres no time, not with 22 hours and descending before Game 4.

But know this. The Giants have pretty much run out of ways to exhibit the battle cry Torture, and that one should be retired with full honors. If they win another game like this, it will be a clich, and if they lose one, they cant complain. A lot of chits were called in Sunday night, and there were plenty of victims to go with the heroes.

Starting, and maybe even ending, with Brooks Conrad, who is either owed a lot of very good days from the baseball gods who covered Bochys behind, or will be forever hunted by the worst day a player can have.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

If eclipse ends life on Earth, it's bad news for fans of one Bay Area team


If eclipse ends life on Earth, it's bad news for fans of one Bay Area team

If the lunatic fringe of the lunatic fringe is right and the total eclipse of the sun is actually a harbinger of the end of life on earth . . .

- It’s good news for the Giants, who have been eliminated from the National League West race for less than 24 hours, or that they will not have to watch the Los Angeles Dodgers put their feet up on baseball for the first time in 28 years.

Besides, there won’t be any more years, so time becomes meaningless.

- It’s good news for the 49ers, who won’t have to endure a harsh week of practice from freshly irked head coach Kyle Shanahan, who finally saw exactly why the job came open for him in the first place.

- It’s good news for Raiders’ fans, who won’t see their team move to Las Vegas, and because they won't be soul-crushed if they can't beat the Patriots -- who will also die en masse despite Bill Belichick's entreaties to ignore the noise of seven billion terrorized shrieks.

- It’s bad news for A’s fans, who will never learn in what location their fabulous new franchise-saving stadium will not be built.

- It’s good news for the Warriors, who can say in their death throes that they were the last NBA champions ever, and that the Lakers will never get LeBron James.

- It’s good news for the Lakers because they cannot be found guilty of tampering with Paul George. It’s also good news for Jimmy Kimmel because he can’t lose a draft choice (some faceless F-list actor as a guest) as a result.

- It’s good news for the Kings, because they’ll never have to have the difficult meeting about Zach Randolph.

- It’s good news for the Chargers, because they won’t have to answer any more questions about why only 21,000 people were announced as the crowd for their second practice game, or to confront the very real possibility that they could become the NFL’s Washington Generals.

- It’s good news for the Jets, Mets, Nets and Knicks because the end of the planet is the only just solution for them all.

- It’s good news for Cal because it can stick its middle finger to the sky and say, “Here’s your $400 million debt. Try to collect it while we’re all dying.”

- It’s good news for Kevin Durant because he doesn’t have to slalom through the Internet trolls any more.

- It’s bad news for Roger Goodell, because he sure left a boatload of money on the table as he was hurtled into space like the rest of us.

- It’s bad news for Nick Saban because he will have never seen it coming. On the other hand, it’s good news for the people who cover Alabama football because they’ve endured their last journalism lecture from Prof. Nick on why they do their jobs so poorly.

- It’s bad luck for Jim Harbaugh because he will feel like a complete nitwit as he learns just what “an enthusiasm unknown to mankind” really means – the end of mankind.

- It’s bad news for all the sixth graders in America who are being offered scholarships that they will never be used by college coaches they will never meet. Of course, that would have been true even  if the world doesn’t end.

- It’s bad news for the hackers who have been spoiling Game Of Thrones because this is Game Of Thrones, only the dragon is the sun incinerating us all.

- It’s bad news for Kyrie Irving, because he will have died a Cleveland Cavalier.

- It’s good news for America, for the obvious reason that the planet will expire before our current political class can murder it.

- And finally, it’s good news for dignity, because the Mayweather-McGregor “thing” will never happen, and that alone means that even as we are torn asunder, we will know that the deity loves us all because both McGrogor and Mayweather are being torn asunder too.

Of course, if you’re reading this Tuesday, you’ll know the world didn’t end, and we’re just as screwed as we ever were. Oh well. Try to find your happy place, and drink like there’s no Wednesday.

Phrase that Matt Joyce left out of his apology is key to talking the talk

Phrase that Matt Joyce left out of his apology is key to talking the talk

Matt Joyce said the word, he did the apology, he’ll do the time, and then we’ll see if he’ll get the forgiveness he asks.
Joyce’s two-game suspension by Major League Baseball for using a gay slur at a fan during Friday’s Athletics-Angels game in Anaheim is well within industry norms (though it might have been more tactically impressive if the club itself had issued the suspension), and his apology did not deflect blame or contain the always-insincere caveat “if I offended anyone.” He did offend people and he knew it, so he didn’t couch it in the phraseology of “I don’t think what I said was improper, but I’ll do the perp walk just to get this over with.”
He even offered to do work with PFLAG, the support group that supports the LGBTQ community, thereby putting his time (which is more meaningful than money) where his mouth was.
In other words, he seems to have taken his transgression properly to heart, which is all you can really hope for, and now we’ll see if he is granted the absolution he seeks.
You see, we’re a funny old country in that we talk forgiveness all the time but grant it only sparingly, and only after a full mental vetting of important things like “Do we like this guy?” and “Is he playing for my favorite team?” and “Do I feel like letting him up at all?”
In other words, forgiveness is very conditional indeed.
Joyce said what he said, but his apology seemed to be given freely and unreservedly rather than crafted to meet a minimal standard of corporate knee-taking/arse-covering. If he follows through on his offer to do face-to-face work with PFLAG or an associated group and absorbs the lesson of not using other people as a weapon for his own frustration, then he ought to be acknowledged for doing so. That’s what forgiveness is.
But if the principle you adhere to is “once guilty, forever doomed,” then you’ve succeeded at giving in to the mode of the day, which is jumping to a conclusion and never jumping back because it’s just easier and more convenient to do so.
It’s up to him. But it’s also up to you.