Ratto: Texas History Makes Giants' Yankee-Esque


Ratto: Texas History Makes Giants' Yankee-Esque


SAN FRANCISCO -- As those who roam The Thing On King regularly, the Giants pound you into a thin gray paste with their history in this town. A steady, pulsing beat of Hey, look, its Cap Peterson, and now throwing out the first pitch, the ghost of Herman Franks. The players they havent hauled out for public viewings, you will see soon enough.

The Texas Rangers, on the other hand, have the history befitting the second incarnation of the Washington Senators -- the fourth-worst team in the history of baseball.

OK, the fourth-worst history of the still extant teams in the history of baseball. Were not going to include the Wilmington Quicksteps, Worcester Ruby Legs, Elizabeth Resolutes or Fort Wayne Kekiongas.

But the point is, the Rangers bring to this World Series a far more modest pedigree than the Giants -- Fifty Years, Forty-Seven Percent make a nice T-shirt -- and the Giants have marketed around the theory that they have suffered more than any team other than maybe the Chicago Cubs or Cleveland Indians.

Please. They havent smelled anything close to what the Rangers have cooked all these years.

The Rangers have been owned by:

- Elwood Quesada, whose claim to baseball fame was that he was an FAA administrator who couldnt figure out why the minor league players had to be paid;

- James Johnson, who with Jim Lemon bought out the investors in 1965 and whose reward was dying in 1967;

- Bob Short, who owned and moved the Lakers to Los Angeles and still went bankrupt;

- Eddie Chiles, an oil man who wanted statistical projections from his managers and players on how they would do each year. And that was one of his saner moments.

- George W. Bush. The George W. Bush. People pretty much liked him as an owner, and you may finish that sentence any way you like;

- Tom Hicks, who had enough money to pay Alex Rodriguez and buy the Dallas Stars, Liverpool Football Club and Mesquite Championship Rodeo, and went monumentally bankrupt;

- And Nolan Ryan, whose principal achievements as owner include sticking with manager Ron Washington, approving the trade for Cliff Lee, and being Nolan Ryan rather than Tom Hicks.

Well, one out of seven aint bad.

Theyve had good managers -- Billy Martin and Whitey Herzog and Don Zimmer. Theyve had good players too numerous to list, really. But by and large, they have been an afterthought of an afterthought, known mostly for playing their home games in a place whose average temperatures are actually closer to those of Hell than any other franchise.

Of course, the good thing about bad history is that as soon as you get a chance to make some, it will be the lasting impression for everyone else. You might have to work a little harder to find someone to throw out the first pitch, true, but the Rangers are playing more of the casinos money than the Giants are.

They have no good memories to overcome, except that one postseason win in Game 1 of the 1996 AL Division Series -- Giants hyperlink! The winning pitcher was John Burkett -- and the nine losses all tend to blur together, especially since theyve scored two runs in the last six games.

In short, the Rangers are OTO -- on their own, and the absence of any historical burden or template to overcome can only help, even if a eensy teensy bit. It sure beats having to apologize for being the Fort Wayne Kekiongas.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

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


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.