Ray Ratto

Ratto: Sandoval turns Media Day into festival of good feelings

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Ratto: Sandoval turns Media Day into festival of good feelings

Feb. 4, 2011RATTO ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEO
Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com

There could have been something inherently creepy about staring at Pablo Sandovals stomach to see if he is going to re-take his job as the Giants third baseman.Instead, Sandoval turned his press conference Friday into a festival of good feelings, weird history, promise, shame and televised vomit.The one thing he did not do is tell America how much weight he has lost, which ultimately is a trivia question when juxtaposed with how much better a hitter he plans to be.But heres what he did do:- Admit he realized he had a profound career problem during the postseason, before the Giants gave him their be one-sixth less large or learn to love Fresno ultimatum.- Say he has spoken several times about hitting to Barry Bonds, and worked regularly with Bonds personal trainer, Greg Sweets Oliver, which must have caused the Giants their own collective bout of indigestion. RELATED: Giants' Sandoval working with Bonds
- Say he has hired a full-time chef to help him mind his diet this coming season.- Spoke of his thrice-weekly workout regimen with former U.S. Olympic decathlete Dan OBrien, which involved regular track and field work, 400 meters, a mile, like that and long hikes and runs up the desert hills in and around Phoenix.- Say he didnt pick up a bat for two months while he was concentrating on losing weight and improving his stamina.- Oh, and he did share his first cameo for the Showtime documentary. I was running up the (Arizona State University) hill, and I threw up. Oh, yeah, they got that. I threw up a lot of times.Hurray, television!For the most part, Sandoval shouldered his share of the blame for losing his job as the Giants starting third baseman down the stretch and in the postseason. He said, I dont think it was my weight that explained his offensive and defensive plummet, but he did acknowledge it prevented him from working out as much as he had the year before, when he established himself as one of the teams best hitters.And he said he didnt mind being given the come-to-Jesus lecture by general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy after the World Series.I knew in the postseason already I had to change my body, I had to change my mind, he said. I have to think like a pro now. For all the things that happened with me in the postseason, I say thank you to the Giants because they made me grow up in that situation.Of course, there will still be weight jokes, at least until Feb. 19, when he said he would say how much weight he has lost. But there will also be snark related to his contact with Bonds and his personal trainer, which Sandoval seems not to mind. He needed hitting and fitness help, and clearly he felt Bonds and Oliver were excellent options.Ive talked with Barry a couple of times, he said. He talked to me about looking for a pitch I want to hit, looking for a pitch I can catch with my hands, just to (mentally) take a punch at the pitch I want to hit.He also said Oliver helped with running and pool work on Thursdays and Fridays, and with OBrien another three days a week, though his work now will be focused more on maintenance. I dont want to have to work so hard like that again, he said, an indication that he never wants to have to work so hard just to get back into workable shape. Now its up to me to keep to the workouts.Through it all, he seemed chastened by his 2010 but not so ashamed that he isnt devoted to making a 2011 that looks a lot more like 2009. And in doing so, he cleared his mind so much that he did not pick up a bat for two months because I had to relax my mind from baseball, by his admission the longest time he has ever gone without doing so.In fact, he said the first time he picked up a bat was at a home run derby contest in Venezuela three weeks ago, in which he finished third behind former Giant Eliezer Alfonzo. When I started it, the bat felt light. I feel like everything is fresh.Perhaps it is. If nothing else, Pablo Sandoval is now working on his third incarnation. He was the best Sandoval he could be in 2009, the worst Sandoval he could be in 2010, and now . . .It feels great, especially when you work out hard lifting the way Ive been lifting, you see the difference, you feel the difference when you hit the ball. I feel like Im using Andres Torres body right now.Lets hope for Torres sake he is at least paying rent.

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

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AP

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.