Ratto: Rowand escapes dead player walking label

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Ratto: Rowand escapes dead player walking label

April 8, 2011RATTO ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEO
Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com

Just so we all understand each other, what the Giants provided Friday in their 5-4 12-inning pie fight victory over the St. Louis Cardinals was not torture. Torture is dead as a concept, and as a word. Move on, citizens.

RECAP: Wild home opener -- Giants walk off vs. Cardinals

If it has a name, and it should given the exertion you put into holding onto Torture a year later, it should be simply Rowand.

Yes, for A. Ryan Rowand, the 24 million piata who, if he is being greased to disappear this season, is making it hard for the Giants and their barely-sated clientele to dismiss him so easily. He still has some bite, and a hunk of your leg.

Sure, you could go with Bochy, since he and St. Louis manager Tony La Russa engaged in a game-long three-dimensional chess thrash that emptied both dugouts of available position players except the appendectomy victim (Matt Holliday) and the invisible catcher (Eli Whiteside).

Or you could with Wilson, for the Giant reliever who engaged in (and ultimately lost) an extended life-and-death struggle with home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman. He fought Dreckmans strike zone with indifferent results and thanked his after he left the game with a valedictory that only Cee-Lo Green could love.

But theyve been done to death the hat, the beard, all the props even the most ardent Gallagher fan could embrace.

Save for Rowand, whose only real prop, if you can conjure it, would be a hammock, which is what he looks like hes laying upon in the batters box. And somehow, Fear The Hammock doesnt translate.

No, only Rowand will do, and since you all had too good a day to dare call it torture, Rowand it shall be.

After all, it was Rowand who won last years home opener in the 13th with an infield single, moments after hitting Atlanta catcher Brian McCann with a swing as he tried to throw Juan Uribe out at second.And it was he who walled a 1-0 fastball from Brian Tallet with the bases loaded to score Nate Schierholtz in the bottom of the 12th Friday, making him the first player since 1977 to have successive Opening Day walk-off hits. If you guessed Toby Harrah of the Rangers as the previous one, go get yourself a drink. And then go out on a date. Youre clearly too focused on baseball.But never mind the game-winner. He also nearly won the game in the 10th with a hard smash that went right to left fielder Allen Craig, playing third in one of St. Louis manager Tony La Russas craftier gimmicks, the five-man infield. It is Rowands luck that Craig made a diving stop and forced a rundown to retire Andres Torres.But it is Rowands luck in 2011 that he got another crack at it, and delivered.If thats a metaphor, then so be it.Rowand has never found his happy place in San Francisco, from the moment when he signed the 60 million contract that rendered him a dollar sign rather than a player. He became a focus for all the Giants miscalculations, and his biggest crime was fighting against the tide too hard and too inflexibly. The more he fought, the worse it got, and the worse it got, the more he fought until he became a dead ballplayer walking.His name brought scorn, derision and demands that the Giants break a record for most salary eaten in one contract, which they have not done. That of course led to guesses as to how much salary they would eat, which led to guesses about when it would time to eat that salary, and when Cody Ross rises from the disabled list that speculation will rise again.But Friday was a moment when even his most strident critics had to acknowledge that there is still value in him, that he is not yet a spent force, that he is not a living example of worse money after bad. Maybe it wont last long, but it may have lasted long enough to give the Giants a battle cry for The Year After.Rowand. For the guy who cant be killed no matter how many people try.And if Rowand wont do, maybe the word that best describes his time here as a compromise candidate.Tortured.I mean, at least youll save on the shirts, right?

Frank Deford's longform storytelling made him worthy of our attention

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AP

Frank Deford's longform storytelling made him worthy of our attention

Frank Deford’s death over the weekend did not mark the end of longform sportswriting as we knew it; he had long ago become part of the electronic commentariat that has reduced longform’s place in the public’s attention span.

But there is still longform writing and storytelling to be found in many places, and it is still worthwhile. It has more production value, as the TV folks like to blather, and the words have to fight for their place between the cracks left by the pictures and the mutated graphics, but longform lives, and it should, lest we all agree as one people to further desiccate that attention span like a grapefruit left in the sun.

Deford’s death, though, reminds of when longform was the zenith of the storytelling art. It could, and still can, give you access and depth and breadth that a TV crew simply could not, and cannot. Even extended TV features are by their very nature so contrived by all the equipment that nothing is natural, nothing is a surprise, and the act of writing is almost an afterthought.

Deford knew this. He more than merely dabbled in TV himself, playing the wizened old raconteur who was as much character in his pieces as storyteller. He was also a star and a starmaker with The National, a daily sports network in newspaper form that was long on talent and ideas but short on delivery and distribution. It lasted 17 months, until mid-1991, but it led to grander attempts decades later, and could if you squint your eyes hard enough be the natural parent of Grantland and The Ringer and Vice and SB Nation and dozens of others – all bigger ideas, positioned in the post-typing world. Some lasted, more didn’t, but capitalism is like that – making fuel to keep the fires burning and the engines churning.

Deford could have thrived in such a world, to be sure. He was not, in the hideous phrase, “a man of his time.” Indeed, he was a crossover figure years ago in ways that other longform writers attempt to resist even now. They want to be Deford at the height of his powers at a time when the instruments for their gift are either dying or veering away from anything that hits the 600-word mark.

But his passing did not kill the art of clever writing and incisive storytelling. There are far too many people who can do that still, even if the market for their gifts is neither as pronounced nor as eager for the product as it once was. It did remind us not only that he was a giant, but that there are still giants among us should we deign to take the time to seek them.

Thus, Deford’s death marked his passing but not the thing that made him worthy of our attention. Storytelling, longform and otherwise, remains the heart of why this is still worthwhile to a culture, and when the generation his work spawned starts to die off, I suspect we’ll still be saying the same thing then. Notebooks are smartphones, photographs are streams, but the human eye and ear and hand still remain pre-eminent.

That is, until the robots take over, at which point reading won’t be worth it.

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.