Ray Ratto

Ratto: Sabean Slapped? Blame the Voters


Ratto: Sabean Slapped? Blame the Voters

Nov. 3, 2010


Ray Ratto

Weencourage you to read and enjoy The Sporting News, because in the wordsthat grace the motto of Faber College, Knowledge Is Good. Never passa chance to broaden your outlook.

That said, Giant fans will probably scratch their heads today at thewhole that TSN, through a vote of 24 team executives, determined thatWalt Jocketty of Cincinnati was the major league Executive of the Year,rather than someone (Brian Sabean) closer (Brian Sabean) to home (BrianSabean).

This is not the Sporting News fault. It sends out ballots, it countsvotes, and it reports the result. Period. If there is spleen to vent,it should be vented with the voters.

Which, we would be willing to bet, did not include Sabean, who isnt normally one to spend a lot of time on such pursuits.

Jocketty is by any measure a fine choice; his team had far lesspedigree and hope of reaching the postseason based on last yearsperformance and this years expectations, which is how those votesusually run.

That same panel of general managers also saw Bud Black of San Diego asthe manager of the year, Jason Heyward of Atlanta as the rookie of theyear, and Heath Bell of San Diego as the closer of the year. Alsoworthy candidates.

And one other thing: the balloting closed before the playoffs began, so the Giants postseason could not be taken into account.

But the fact is, and you need to take this into account, that theGiants are likely to be equally ignored when the most prestigiousawards, given by the Baseball Writers Association of America, areannounced later this month.

And maybe thats part of the appeal of this team. Nobody stood out, but everyone stood up.

The case for Sabean is fairly clear; he changed a third of his OpeningDay roster, and missed on only one decision, Jose (What, No UPSAccount?) Guillen. So, too, are the cases for rookie Buster Posey,closer Brian Wilson and manager Bruce Bochy.

But theirs arent the only compelling cases. Bell, Heyward and Blacksurely had legitimate arguments to be made their way. Its not like the24 general managers got drunk and voted for Francisco Cordero, AlcidesEscobar and Jerry Manuel.

The point, though, is that the Giants didnt evolve into a team thatshould hold much trophy weight save the one big one with the all pointyflagpoles on it. They just performed as required when all the chipswere in the middle of the table, so maybe they should have been namedthe Full Tilt Poker players of the year.

It would be interesting to know how the general managers voted beyondfirst, although the Sporting News doesnt break it down for second,third, fourth or 24th, as the BBWAA does. Maybe the Giants just have abunch of silver medalists.

And that may be its own metaphor in a season full of them. Becausethere was no central figure to stratify the clubhouse, the teamdeveloped as free-range rogues, rounders and utility players. Nobodycommanded the room, so it could grow and evolve organically, eachplayer free to contribute his share to the general tone.

Or maybe thats just a boatload. Maybe the Giants simply didnt havethe best player at any position, but enough at every position so thatthe superior pitching wasnt impeded in any way save, of course,consistent run support.

This would not be unprecedented. The 1990 Cincinnati Reds swept theOakland As, and won nothing unless you want to count Barry LarkinsSilver Slugger award and no, the Giants wont have one of those,either.

Anyway, the point is made. The Giants have a championship that in anational context wont be fully remembered and understood until theywin another.

But no pressure, boys. Just try to have designated drivers set up for the post-parade.

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.

Promotion and relegation would be a great idea in all sports


Promotion and relegation would be a great idea in all sports

There is no inherent reason why you should care about Miami FC or Kingston Stockade FC, two lower level professional soccer leagues in the lower right quadrant of the nation.

But when they joined together to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the international governing body for any sport not run by Americans for Americans, to demand that all American teams submit to the concept of promotion and relegation, from MLS to, presumably, your kid’s under-8 team, they became interesting.

And the best part about soccer, except for Neymar being worth twice as much as all other humans in the history of the sport, is promotion and relegation.

In fact, it would be a great idea in all sports – although the idea of the Giants and A’s in the Pacific Coast League might scare the bejeezus out of Larry Baer and John Fisher.

Now we are not optimistic that the CAS will see this Kingston and Miami’s way. Americans like their sports top-heavy, where only a few megaclubs get most of the money and attention while the rest sort of muddle along, safe but unremarkable. And to be frank, promotion and relegation is most a fun media construct for making fun of bad teams – say, like the A’s and Giants.

But we can agree, I think, that having Jed York pay Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch to keep his football team out of the Canadian Football League, or better still, the Mountain West Conference, would add to healthy dose of spice to what promises otherwise to be a pretty humdrum year.

And promotion/relegation would certainly reduce all that troublesome tanking in the NBA people endlessly whinge about.

So here’s to Kingston Stockade and Miami FC. Your cause is just. Persevere. After all, in this rancid period for American sporting culture, someone's got to stand for the quixotic yet indisputably correct thing.

And when it fails, and it probably will, just know you sleep with the angels -- if that’s what passes for fun at your house.