Ray Ratto

Ratto: Sharks face Game 7 in sea of doubters


Ratto: Sharks face Game 7 in sea of doubters

Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com

The last thing the San Jose Sharks want right now is advice from Jimmy Howard. In fact, all they really want from the Detroit Red Wings goaltender right now is a torn groin muscle.But for the moment, theyll take what they can get. Its not like what they have is helping them."These are moments we dream out," Howard said after Detroit won Game 6 to tie this series at three-all and to all but complete the Wings comeback from the coroners slab. "How can you not? Of course we've been thinking about it. I've been thinking about it since we were down 3-0. But it's down to one game. Game 7's going to be a lot of fun."I stole that from the Red Sox."NEWS: Injured Clowe a game-time decision for SharksIts easy for him to be blithe about it now, because the Wings looked a week ago the way the Sharks do now, backed into a corner and sweating like a full malaria clinic. But it is San Joses only way out of cementing their legacy as the Windpipe Kids, so they may as well find their inner the-hell-with-it, because the alternative is choking their sticks until sawdust is their trail.RELATED: McLellan stays the course for San Jose
"I don't think you would've believed it if you came here and saw it after it was 3-0," Howard said. "It was loose, joking around, people laughing and being themselves. I think that's key when you dig yourself into that sort of hole. You don't hang your head. You pull up yourself and get to work.""You'd be lying if you didn't think about (the history)," winger Dan Cleary said. "We believed that we can and that's the one thing. If you believe you really, really can, and you're just not kidding yourself, then you've got a chance."I didn't think we should have been down 0-3, Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. We could have won them all, so could have they. That's how tight this has been. Not much to pick between the teams.''Yes there is. Detroit overwhelmed San Jose in Game 6 when San Jose had at bare minimum to play the Wings even and hope for a bounce to go their way. The Sharks, though, never gave themselves a chance for luck, because they decided to waste the largest part of an entire evening instead.They did have a brief flurry early in the third period, when Logan Couture scored the teams only goal, but it faded quickly as the Red Wings reasserted the dominance it held through two periods, and the goals from Valteri Filppula and Henrik Zetterberg merely reminded everyone involved who did the dictating, and who has the upper hand come Thursday night.And therein lies San Joses best shot. The knowledge that, well, nobody really knows who has the upper hand.Hockey does not use momentum as a guide. If it did, Vancouver would never have beaten Chicago after blowing a similar 3-0 lead in the first round.Secondly, the Sharks secondary M.O. is that they do their best work when freshly kicked in the nethers. They got run out of their own building by Edmonton, the worst team in the league by record, in mid-January, and got and stayed hot immediately thereafter.And third, the notion that they would guarantee their legacy as the least achieving good team in modern hockey history is too at an angle. Three weeks ago, they were the winners of this dubious honor. Two weeks ago, they had lost the title to Washington, and even fell behind Vancouver in the race. Suddenly, they are back atop the never-there-when-you-expect-them race, and only surviving and advancing Thursday night can forestall that.After all, nobody is harping about Vancouver nearly losing to Chicago any more. It will be brought up again if the Canucks dont get to the Cup final, because Vancouver is like that, and always has been. But lets be honest you dont remember the previous team to go up 3-0, fall to 3-3 and then win, do you? Heres a hint, though, its the same team that was the last one to come back from 3-0 down to win a series before last year.The 1975 New York Islanders. They came back from deaths lobby to beat Pittsburgh, then did so again against Philadelphia in the next round, but lost Game 7, 4-1.Point is, nobody brings that one up, and the Sharks may find themselves in the same happy sea if they can rally Thursday and beat Detroit.It will require a re-re-adjustment of the forward lines, as the Logan Couture-to-wing, Patrick Marleau-to-center plan didnt work, and Marleau went back to being the left wing on Joe Thorntons line by games end. It will also require the return of Ryane Clowe from Dream Street, where he was apparently planted by Niklas Kronwall in Game 5. Head coach Todd McLellan offered little new insight on that subject Wednesday, even though we suspect he already has all the input he will need to make a call. Clowe was not on the ice for Wednesdays afternoon skate, but got treatment in the morning is a game time decision based on the Thursday morning skate.But Clowe or no, the Sharks are on their own amidst a sea of doubters. Which, weirdly, is often how they like it. Its a Red Sox thing, apparently.

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.