'Rust' factor is a myth

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'Rust' factor is a myth

Call this The Myth Of Rust. Or call it, How Justin Verlander Is The Fixit Mans Friend.Or call it one last piece of overthinking before the World Series actually begins. At this point, there are only deeds and words anyway.There is an assumption that the Detroit Tigers are disadvantaged because they beat the New York Yankees in the minimal amount of time allowed by law, while the San Francisco Giants have a leg up in the Series because they squeezed in an extra nine hours and 33 minutes of baseball.Well, okay. Except . . . Verlander evens all odds. Not because he is well rested, although his work load is considerable enough that an extra day here or there is actually useful. No, its because unless he is horrible (and he isnt likely to be), the Giants wont be dropping a nine-spot on the Tigers in Game 1. Theyll have to make do with something closer to three, or even two, perhaps.This allows the Tiger hitters, who may have lost a bit of timing facing batting practice and minor league pitchers, to not have to have score, well, 10. The rust they have can linger a bit. Just not too long. The Giants dont get to set their rotation the way theyd really like. Despite the logic Bruce Bochy and Dave Righetti have applied in starting Matt Cain in Game 4 rather than 3, a perfect world would have Cain in any of the other three games. Even if Cain was getting his pitches up in Game 7 against the Cardinals (who by the way are a good hitting bunch and still did nothing with them), he is still preferable in an extra game to either Madison Bumgarner or Tim Lincecum. Having to go pedal to metal as the Giants have has caught them at sixes and sevens with their rotation, and youll likely see that the second time the Tigers see Bumgarner or Barry Zito.RELATED: San Francisco Giants 2012 World Series page
The difference between Verlander and Zito is pronounced enough that the Tigers have an advantage most Game 1 visitors dont have. This dovetails from Reason 2, in that the difference between Zitos best work and Verlanders best work is that Verlander displays his more often. Even the home plate umpire, Gerry Davis, whose numbers between 2007 and 2010 suggested an extreme hitters umpire, saw his numbers change in 2012; fewer walks, more strikeouts, closer to the mean in runs per game. That helps Zito, but it helps Verlander more. Finally, rust is a one-day stat. After Game 1, nobody is rusty anymore, and baseball reverts to its more normal do-or-be-done state. Rust is not forever, and were talking not about the last seven games anyway, but the 170-some-odd games before it. Weariness and nagging injuries are as important if not more than a few days off. Besides, by the logic of the day, the Giants should have been rusty going into the Cincinnati series, and if they were, they were for only two days.In sum, rust is a myth. If the Tigers lose the World Series, it wont be because they beat the Yankees too quickly. It will be because the Giants were better.And if the Tigers win, they obviously werent rusty at all now, were they?Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

Graveman delivers in front of 'Blue Moon' Odom, rest of A's can't

Graveman delivers in front of 'Blue Moon' Odom, rest of A's can't

ANAHEIM — The A’s collection of individual highlights during their visit to Angel Stadium shouldn’t have equated to a three-game sweep for their opponent.

Jesse Hahn fired eight one-hit innings Tuesday, the same night Josh Phegley delivered a pinch-hit homer in the 10th before the A’s lost in 11 innings. On Thursday, Kendall Graveman turned in perhaps the defensive play of the 2017 season by a pitcher, recording an unassisted double play that was the first by an A’s pitcher in 46 years.

All great moments to relive in the clubhouse afterward, but surely they ring a bit hollow given the final outcomes. The A’s were swept by an Angels team that, like Oakland, has been hit hard by the injury bug. Los Angeles is without key relievers Huston Street, Andrew Bailey, Cam Bedrosian and Mike Morin, not to mention starter Garrett Richards among others.

Yet the Angels pitching staff twice held the A’s to one run over the three-game series, including Thursday’s 2-1 defeat, when the A’s mustered just three hits.

“We’re a little streaky right now,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “… Give them credit, they pitched really well, and they really are down a lot of guys in the bullpen. We would expect to do a little more damage.”

They couldn’t Thursday, and that it made it tough to savor Graveman’s incredible play the way they should have.

With runners on the corners and no outs, he fielded Juan Graterol’s comebacker and caught Ben Revere in a rundown between third and home. Graveman ran him down and after applying the tag, hurdled Revere and made the tag on Cliff Pennington, who was trying to advance from first to third in the chaos.

“That’s probably the best play I’ve ever seen a pitcher make, hurdling over an (opponent) to get the second out unassisted,” Melvin said. “I didn’t even know how to put that one down on my card.”

Graveman, one of the A’s better overall athletes, was asked if he’d ever recorded an unassisted double play before.

“Never. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen one,” he said. “(Ryan) Madson said he’s never seen one and he’s watched over 2,000 games.”

Incredibly, the last A’s pitcher to pull off an unassisted double play previously was in attendance Thursday night. John “Blue Moon” Odom did it back on July 11, 1971, also against the Angels. Odom attends most of the A’s games in Anaheim, and he’s struck up a friendship with Graveman over the years.

“Every time we come here and even in spring training, I try to catch up with Blue Moon Odom and see how he’s doing,” Graveman said. “He and Wash (former A’s infield coach Ron Washington) are friends so we always cut up about Wash. He’s a great guy. He sits in the front row. He came in and saw me right before stretch and told me ‘I’m gonna be front row watching you.’ That is pretty neat that that happened.”

A’s first baseman Yonder Alonso said he’s never surprised to see Graveman make a great defensive play.

“The guy’s a pitcher, but it feels like he’s a shortstop playing the position.”

Graveman was visited by trainers after the fifth-inning play, but Melvin said it was mainly to give the pitcher a breather and let him get his adrenaline under control. Neither Graveman nor his manager revealed anything specific that bothered Graveman. Seeing him stay in the game and complete six innings of two-run ball had to be encouraging for Melvin.

“The first thing I asked him was ‘What’d you fall on?’” Melvin said. “He said, ‘My butt.’ I said, ‘Well, you’re all right then.’ But you’re not gonna see that play again probably.”

The A’s are giving their manager and fans some accomplishments to marvel over. As they move on to Houston trying to halt a four-game losing streak, they just need to figure things out on the scoreboard.

Raiders' first-round pick Conley opens up on emotions after off-field issues

Raiders' first-round pick Conley opens up on emotions after off-field issues

ALAMEDA – Gareon Conley’s name has been sullied, at least temporarily. He feared it would be long enough to send him free falling down the NFL Draft.

The Ohio State cornerback and top-15 prospect was accused of rape stemming from an April 9 incident in Cleveland, an allegation he called “completely false.”

The Raiders clearly believe him. That’s why they drafted him No. 24 overall on Thursday evening, and expect him to be a long-term solution in their secondary.

Conley wasn’t sure how far he’d fall after being beaten down by one rough week, when the allegation went public. Reggie McKenzie’s first-round selection and subsequent call was more emotional than expected.

“It made it 10 times more special,” Conley said Thursday night in a conference call. “Just having that doubt in my mind, just not knowing (how far I would fall). Just having faith and having doubt, I didn’t know what was going to happen. When it came, it shocked me. It felt unreal, honestly. It still feels unreal.”

Being a top pick was expected after an excellent career at Ohio State. The rape accusation threatened to destroy his draft-day dreams. Conley has not been arrested or charged in relation to the incident, though an investigation is ongoing.

Conley said he volunteered to take a polygraph test that was shared with NFL teams, and reportedly passed the one he took. He said in a statement there are witnesses and video evidence proving he didn’t do anything illegal.

Conley spent the last few days trying to proclaim his innocence. 

He is scheduled to meet with Cleveland police on Monday to discuss the April 9 incident -- he'll also submit a DNA sample, according to ESPN -- where group sex was suggested and a woman claimed she was sexually assaulted.

Conley believes his name will be cleared in time.

“I’m very confident it will be resolved," Conley said. "I took a test today that helps. Then when I made my statement and all the evidence that I have, I feel confident it’ll be resolved.”

Conley admits he shouldn’t have put himself in a compromising position, which occurred at a Cleveland hotel earlier this month.

“I could’ve made way better judgment,” Conley said. “I mean, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I definitely could’ve made a better decision.”

Conley hopes to move beyond it quickly and start focusing on football. He is scheduled to fly west for a press conference on Friday.

Conley is thankful to the Raiders for believing in him despite his recent troubles.

“It’s off the charts, honestly,” Conley said. “Just to know that they have faith in me, not even just as a football player but as a person like that, it speaks highly of them, and I really appreciate it. It’s an honor to be a part of the Raider organization.”