Ray Ratto

Award validates Melvin's exemplary work


Award validates Melvin's exemplary work

Bob Melvin remembers the last time he was a Manager of the Year. He got fired less than 200 games later.And while one wouldnt think this MOY will treat him as badly as the last one did, well, you never really know, do you?But for the moment, Melvins role in reversing the Athletics has been acknowledged by more than the people who watched him every day, and that, children, is how awards are won.RELATED: Melvin named 2012 AL Manager of the Year
Sure, most of the time award-winners regard honorifics given by those who know them best to be of the most value; in this way, the stream of Twitter hyperpraise from Melvins players warms his entire circulatory system, heart to extremities.The fact remains, however, that Melvin wouldnt be getting all this new social media love if not for the old media that saw Melvins gifts from afar and could still see in them a triumphant work.The Manager of the Year award is restricted to those who have overachieved with a team beset by low expectations. Toward that end, Melvin was a perfect candidate. A probable 94-loss team that ended as 94-win team is exactly the sort of thing that makes trophy engravers drool.But so did Buck Showalter of Baltimore, who was taking a team with an equally subterranean reputation and nearly managed the same feat.But nearly is the difference here. Showalter didnt win the AL East. Melvin did win the AL West. And enough of the 28 voters waited until the season actually ended to make up their minds. Moreover, while Showalters support came largely from the right side of the nation and Melvin the left, Melvin also got seven of the 10 votes from the Midwestern voters, and they had no reason other than unalloyed judgment to go the way they did.Well, that, and the fact that there were only the two candidates.The voting tells us this. Nobody else got a first- or second-place vote, which is something of a rarity. Every season seems to have a mystery choice, or a mystery voter, and sometimes it has a lot to do with a voter who covers the mystery choice.But there was no division of loyalties for Melvin. There was no vote-splitting. It was him or Showalter, and in the end, his teams deeds down the stretch made it him.And that happened only because voters outside Melvins natural constituency saw the wisdom in his election. Thats an even better sign than your friends being happy for you the idea that people who dont see you every day still acknowledge that you have the honor coming.I mean, theres loyalty, and then theres objectivity. And while loyalty is an admirable trait, it isnt always actually, well, honest. Rooting for your guy is easy. Acknowledging someone elses guy is just better, because it means more.And when you get both, well, its Christmas, or whatever passes for Christmas in your home. In Bob Melvins, its the gift of knowing you were subjectively liked an admired by the people who work for you, and seen as an exemplar in your profession by those who dont.

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

You don’t think you needed this game to go this way, but you did, and you do.

The Golden State Warriors spat out a 17-point lead and lost, 92-88, in Boston Thursday night, in a game that was taut if not particularly elegant, and in a game that elevated the Celtics to a place that makes them the new heir apparent to the heir apparent.

The Celtics have been a difficult out for the Warriors during the Brad Stevens Era, losing six of nine but only being blown out twice, and Thursday was not one of those nights. The box score will tell you the shooting and rebounding problems, but the Warriors had that lead and didn’t hold it. Or, to be accurate, the Celtics had that deficit and refused to let it destroy them.

Which is exactly the kind of team you, the fully licensed Warrior fan, want to watch play your team in the NBA Finals. You want to see them genuinely challenged, forced to win outside their comfort zone, induced to show their greatness in the highest of high leverage situations.

At least we think that’s what you want. Maybe you prefer blowouts so you can drink and go to the bathroom without care or fear. After all, the Warriors have taught the area the true meaning of front-running by being in front so often.

But the Celtics play a level of defense typically reserved for the San Antonio Spurs, and yes, the Warriors. They have a spiky exoskeleton that the acquisition of Kyrie Irving has actually enhanced, and Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum give them a gifted precocity that fits well with veterans like Al Horford and Marcus Morris, and Boston’s overall youth (they are fifth youngest, while Golden State is third-oldest) ought to make them a more difficult conundrum than Cleveland or any other team in either conference.

They are not yet the superior team; that remains to be proven, and betting against the Warriors requires a level of irrational bravery left only for the truly self-destructive.

But they are, as we sit this evening, the team the Warriors will have to work hardest to finish, because on a night when they had the chance to do so, they didn’t. In other words, the fight for a third ring still goes through Oakland, but it looks more and more like a one-stop through Boston.

And as much as you may hate thinking about it, you’ll almost certainly remember, and savor, a Celtics-Warriors final more than another round of Cavs-on-the-half-shell.

Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor


Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor

Programming note: Warriors-Celtics coverage starts today at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming live right here 

Draymond Green spoke to a group of students at Harvard Thursday on the subject of leadership, and if you find that incongruous, shame on you.
I mean, who else would you want as a college professor?
Green has led, and been led. He has learned, and he has taught. He has certainly lectured, as any teammate, official and media member will testify. He’d be a hell of a teacher, and the subject almost doesn’t matter.
For one, homework would be different, as in I’d bet there would be no written work. I don’t see Prof. Day-Day poring over essays about the Industrial Revolution, M-theory or pre-Raphaelite art. Not even the history of Basketball-Reference.com.

For two, having tenured faculty audit his classes may find his choice of rhetoric a little strident, as in “What the ---- were you thinking, dude?” is not typically approved instructional methodology.
And three, nobody would get a grade. Green would mark every exam with a “35,” as in his draft position, and besides, the exams would be students arguing with each other over whether that was a foul or a no-call, and who pulled the better face when the call was made. He’d give either an approving nod or give the loser a second technical foul and kick him or her out of class.
But it would be a hell of a class. Not at Harvard, of course, because Green probably would want to teach a school that could better use his brand of wisdom, and Harvard kids already have a healthy lead off third base. He’d want his students to make Harvard students cry, you can just tell.
But wouldn’t he look perfectly Draymond in a cap and gown on graduation day, pulling a bottle out of his sleeve to make the valedictory speeches less painful. “Damn, dude,” you could hear him yell. “Peaking?”