Ray Ratto

Sabean, Bochy due for extensions

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Sabean, Bochy due for extensions

With nothing but the cash-and-prizes show Wednesday left for the Giants, the questions begin for 2012, starting with the logical one, namely:How long a contract extension should Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy receive?They got their shoes squeezed a year ago when Bow-Tie Billy Neukom only picked up the options on their current contracts, a move that came off as almost punitive given the results of 2010, which will henceforth be known only as The Results Of 2010.Cant sell T-shirts with that one, can you kids?

But after a year in which the team lost five more games and misplaced 130 runs, those extensions ought to come.Ought to, though, isnt the same as will. After all, Larry Baer or no Larry Baer, the ownership of this team is in flux again, and its executive committee has more clout than it ever had under either Neukom or Peter Magowan.In short, the Giants are very owned these days, and that tends to lead to delays and indecision while everyone hems and haws and tries not to step on anyone elses toes. After all, the last two guys who decided to try it the other way are now owners-in-crypto-exile.So we know what the right thing to do here is -- give Sabean and Bochy the two years and another option year. We just dont know who would carry the room when the topic comes up.Herein lies the essential problem with the Giants current setup. Moving Neukom aside, however valid the reason might have been, leaves a vacuum at the top of the flow chart. While Sabean can make the baseball decisions with relative confidence that his word would be the equivalent of law, the mechanism by which they would be extended or even kept is frankly more mysterious than it ought to be.In truth, the structure by which the Giants have operated in the past actually made more sense than this. The mistakes Magowan and Neukom made were largely of forgetting to use the other major investors the way they wanted to be used. Neither man was removed for any particular decision (although Magowan didnt hold a lot of votes after the Barry Zito deal) but for outrunning his supply lines to the rest of the investor group. They failed at politics, which is a greater cause of owner upheaval than any other.As a result, a decision like extending Sabean and Bochy, which shouldnt take much effort now becomes a head-scratcher, because it takes more effort to reach consensus.But heres what the consensus should be anyway, no matter who forms it -- they get new deals that take them through 2014. They won a Result in 2010, won more games than they had any right to in 2011, have shown that they can supply a minor league system, and in general have brought far more credit to the franchise than shame.And before you get on your stalking horses about their fetishes for veterans, remember that all the veterans you hated this year were instrumental in winning that Result, and had merited their contract extensions. That they all chose to have the same rancid year at the same time could not have been foreseen, nor could the loss of their two-, three-, and for a while five-hitters have been predicted. All the horseshoe-in-the-shorts good luck they burned in 2010 wasnt there in 2011. In addition, dont start with Brandon Belt, either. It is clear to anyone who watched the entirety of his season that he was called up a year before he had fully ripened by necessity, and that as a result he has now been passed on the first base depth chart by Brett Pill, whom nobody was asking for at the beginning of the year. These demands are all hindsight in action, and even if Bochy and Sabean lean toward experience, this was a year when that should have been allowed, or at least better understood.It wasnt, and so it goes.Nevertheless, Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy still have better contracts coming, even if the only reason is that they didnt get their full due last year. Now if someone will explain to us who will make that call, and how it will be made, we can rest easily until free agency starts and the hyperventilation resumes.

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.