Second half not about Lincecum

814516.jpg

Second half not about Lincecum

Giants fans have developed this nasty habit of turning on their own with swiftness and mercilessness that is both unpleasant and entertaining.Aubrey Huffs honeymoon after the 2010 season lasted half a year. Bruce Bochys, four months. Brian Sabean, 35 minutes. Hell, Pat Burrell and Freddy Sanchez are thought of more highly for having disappeared entirely than for flailing about in plain view.And now, its Tim Lincecums turn. That, and his rancid first half numbers, which are so bad that they actually produce more laughter than pity. Laughter, as in nervous, involuntary what-the-hell-do-you-make-of-that laughter that mostly replaces an undercurrent of fright caused by the conventional wisdom of years ago.RELATED: Baggarly -- Lincecum calls himself 'weak link'
You remember it: Hell have a short career because of the violent and unorthodox nature of his delivery. That wisdom is still out there, and it seems to playing itself out among the more distant and thoughtful members of society.Closer in, though, its more a demand among the hyperactive fan base of fixing the immediate problem so that he doesnt inflict himself on the customers every fifth day and harsh their mellows.Indeed, we are surprised that there hasnt been a groundswell for the Giants building a big red barn in the parking lot, taking him out behind it and shooting him, while people watch for the right contribution to the Giants Community Fund.Its probably just a sponsorship issue, though, one Larry Baer would have solved for Barry Zito some years ago if he could have. There may be time for them to demand and get the Old Yeller Solution for Lincecum they seem to crave.And now weve fallen into the trap of thinking 2012 is about Lincecum. It isnt. Its about a team that improved its offense, has held serve with its pitching, and yet has an odd combination of results that baffles more than it enlightens.Two years ago, the Giants were plus-57 in runs at the break, and five games over .500. Last year, they were 12 games over, and plus-five. This year, they are six over and minus-eight.Thus, based on current results, they should actually be 42-44, and are actually overachieving; the previous two years, they were four games worse. This probably tells us more about expected wins and losses at the All-Star Break than anything else, or maybe about the stat in general.But the fact is that they fixed their offensive problem, and they still havent reached the level of nirvana they have marketed their fans into believing they deserve.This means something, or someone has failed them, and therefore it must be . . . . . . do we really need to say?Zito has exceeded expectations. Matt Cain is the new golden child, which is perfect since he seems to be the one in the room who cares the least about being so. Ryan Vogelsong has consolidated his good year in 2011 with a better one, and Madison Bumgarner is enjoying more than enduring his second full year in the big leagues.RELATED: Giants 2012 stats
Buster Poseys leg hasnt fallen off. Brandon Belt has finally seemed to grasp the nuances of what the Giants coaching staff has been screaming at him to do for over a year. Ryan Theriot has plugged the hole at second, Pablo Sandoval remains both marvel and maddening at the same time, the outfield is pretty well fixed from foul pole to foul pole, and Brandon Crawford needs only to become the defensive specialist he has always been considered to get people to accept his hitting deficiencies.And nobody has seemed to miss Brian Wilson all that much, although they run hot and cold on Santiago Casilla while loving Sergio Romo all the more. How someone hasnt rammed an animal image suitable for stuffing and selling down his yap frankly escapes us.But nobody seems terribly happy about all this. Being a half-game behind the Dodgers, and south of the Nationals, Pirates, Dusty Bakers and Braves, and tied with the Mets seems to have unnerved the student body, and they have chosen the easiest target.The one they have loved the most.Theres probably something weirdly Freudian in all this, but smart folks dont do Freud at midseason. They do Jamesons, and wait for developments.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

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

deford-frank-obama.jpg
AP

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.