Ray Ratto

Ratto: Sharks to show true colors Wednesday

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Ratto: Sharks to show true colors Wednesday

Dec. 6, 2010RATTO ARCHIVESHARKS PAGE SHARKS VIDEO
Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com

We won't know for sure whether the Sharks played well Monday night in Detroit until Wednesday in Philadelphia.By then, we'll know whether they figured it out. Casual fans would swear they did, but they don't know what the Sharks are just now learning -- that for them, it seems to take a kick in the groin to get the heart started.They blitzed the Detroit Red Wings, 5-2, by playing perhaps their best 40-minute stretch of the season against a good team. They sought out, handled and shot the puck as though they'd bought it. They got in Detroit's passing lanes. They won the one-on-one battles. They outshot the Wings, the best team in the West, 24-11 in the final two periods, 34-14 over the last 50 minutes. They were in every sense the dominant team.RELATED: Couture, Sharks batter Red Wings 5-2 in Detroit
But only after they had another one of their come-to-Jesus meetings to see if they were capable of, well, coming to Jesus, at least in the hockey sense."I don't know that we need to SEE that we're a good team," defenseman Dan Boyle said, referencing a between-periods meeting in which the general theme was anal-cranial inversion and how to combat it. "We know what we can do. I would just like to see us come out and take the game to the other team right from the start and see where it takes us.""Me, I'm very disappointed in our guys," head coach Todd McLellan said, revising and adding to Boyle's remarks. "The first period, the first 10- minutes, we obviously didn't understand what we were coming into. We somehow didn't know how good the red and white team is, especially in their building."In short, McLellan was saying that spotting the Red Wings 20 minutes is a bad idea, and that dominating the final 40 as San Jose did means they still may be thinking they can turn their level of play on and off at will.It is why a post-period meeting was needed to vent their anger after falling behind, 2-1, giving up four penalties of which two turned into Detroit goals, and in all measurable ways looked like they believed they could not play with the Wings.When asked if the meeting was a quiet or loud one, goalie Antti Niemi said, "Both." Everyone else seems to think it was more the latter.In fact, the meeting was a contentious one, filled with self- and team-wide excoriations, first from McLellan ("I said, Get a clue") and then from unnamed players."I think we were all just pissed off that we played like a bunch of . . . blank in the first period,"Boyle said, and he said the world "blank" only because there were tape recorders on the job. "It's just so easy to see. Offensively, defensively, the second and third periods, were really good. But some nights, some guys just don't want the puck, and we're not very good when we have that."The result of the meeting was goals from Niclas Wallin and Logan Couture eight seconds apart, and then a Dany Heatley snap shot right before the end of the second. The Sharks were as dominant as the Wings had been before, and stayed that way through the remainder of the game.Only they've had these little epiphanies before -- so often, in fact, that McLellan isn't sure whether to trust this one."To be honest with you, I think backward," he said. "The number of times where we've had what you call a catalyst . . . the one (Edmonton) where we only had four defensemen . . . going to Ottawa, playing for a teammate (Heatley, who was demonized before the game for sins against the Senators) . . . Chicago, we were playing for our goaltender (Niemi, the former Blackhawk). But we can't keep needing those to play the way we're supposed to.""We didn't talk about a lot of technical stuff. The first period, we could have put in a whole new system and it wouldn't have made any difference. We have to get past the point where we have to get them fully committed before they do anything. This is all really bittersweet."So then it's agreed. This was the worst Sharks five-goal performance in Detroit ever -- conveniently, there has only been one other, the Game 1 playoff win in 1994.But it may also have been the best one ever. All we need to do is look at the film.From Philadelphia. Then we'll know for sure. Maybe. Depending on how they play in Buffalo on Thursday.What's on your mind? Email Ray and let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag.

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.