Ratto: What if the Giants don't make a deal?


Ratto: What if the Giants don't make a deal?

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Ray Ratto

Hey, heres an idea. What if the Giants dont get the shortstop and the second baseman and the catcher they desperately need to finish the season? What if Brian Sabean doesnt throw the roster up in the air? What if he does nothing at all, just to spite you?All for it. In fact, the position here in this squalid little corner of your favorite web site is that Sabean shouldnt do anything at all, and show the panic freaks his hand.Not necessarily because improving the side would be a bad idea, mind you. Who among the Giant fan base wouldnt want a more reliable option at second base until Freddy Sanchez (a player most of you hated for a good long time, by the way) returns?No, our position is that the fan base needs to be dead wrong again, as it was a year ago, as it was when it screamed that Bruce Bochy was a terrible idea as a manager, as it seems to be every time the boys either win two games in a row or lose two games in a row.
Put another way, Nate Schierholtz was regarded as a disaster two days ago. Today, he is considered Roberto Clemente. And both times, those analyses are wrong.URBAN: Nate makes it worth the wait
The Giants, you see, have built a profoundly loyal but decidedly schizophrenic fan base since moving to the Thing on King. They leap back and forth from conclusion to new conclusion with a speed and alacrity that shames even Red Sox fans, and they hate and love the same players with almost preposterous fervor, and often at the very same time.Or do we have to wave Barry Zito in your faces again?What seems to be missing in the We Gotta Get A Fill In The Blank discussion is, as always, what the Giants have to attract that blank. And the answer is too much. Way too much.First, understand that what the Giants have is pitching. Second, understand that they dont have as much as you think they do, at least not for depth or dealing purposes. The market for Jonathan Sanchez is understandably depressed, the market for Zito does not and will not exist, and the Giants like Madison Bumgarner too much to give him up.In addition, Sabeans history not only suggests but veritably screams that he moves pitchers who do not thrive after being moved. Joe Nathan was moved in the A.J. Pierzynski deal because (a) the Giants had no catcher and (b) because Felipe Alou had lost all confidence in Nathan and vice versa. Next up -- Kevin Correia, who would on this staff be at best the fourth starter and more likely another fifth starter.For the most part, though, the Giants have made very few poor moves with pitchers (and we neednt go through who wanted Zito and how and why he was again, do we?). Sabean understands pitching value, whether you wish to acknowledge it or not, and he knows who can be moved and who should be moved.URBAN: Giants at midseason still hard to believe
Second, other general managers know what Sabean needs, and the price he is quoted is higher than most. Cincinnati doesnt want Zach Wheeler for Ramon Hernandez, Cincinnati wants Bumgarner or better. Are you doing that deal? Let me help you with that. No. San Diego doesnt want Brandon Belt for Orlando Hudson, San Diego wants Belt and Wheeler, or two other prospects. Are you doing that deal? Only if you have convinced your insurance company to cover your brain-for-turnip transplant.And third, and most important, these offense-deficient Giants are the Giants you have become accustomed to, and the notion of being the first team since 1968 to score fewer than 600 runs in a full season and make the postseason is an ideal metaphor for the least offensively potent season in nearly 30 years. The Giants are on a pace for 591, which I know you think seems too high for this offense.But this is who and what they are, and I as your guide and mentor can assure you that you, being suckers for sloganeering, want to replace Torture with a new battle cry -- like How The Hell Do They Do This?Bruce Bochy asks that question all the time. So does Sabean. So do the broadcasters and the players and the rest of the baseball and you and you and you. This is a team that defies all logic in a season that defies all known patterns, and you desperately want to tell all your non-believing pals, We lost our two best players and still kicked hinder, and we dont know why. We just accept what is true. What you got, Skippy?Dont forget, 2010 was not just about surprise for you, it was about We know things you dont, and the Bay Area loves to pretend it knows things the rest of the world doesnt. It plays to our vanity, and we are as vain as everyone else when it comes to our sports teams.Everything we see in this season suggests that the Giants know things everyone else doesnt -- again. So why not prove that theory by standing pat with a mutant offense, too many fifth starters, and holes at three most important interior positions? Why not stick your middle finger in the air to baseball convention?Trust me, however it plays out, youll be happier than if you wake up on August 1 with John Buck. I know how you are.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.

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.