Ray Ratto

Big Game betting line seems to offer intrigue


Big Game betting line seems to offer intrigue

There was a Big Game not that long ago in which Cal was a heavy, even prohibitive, favorite over Stanford, and in an attempt to try and even out the sides, we recommended rain.Not just rain, though, but a Biblical torrent, frogs, locusts, water drops as big as a babys head the whole nine yards. It would ruin tailgates, make the game unwatchable (unless you like mud for more than the usual psychosexual or medicinal reasons), but it would even out the scales.People objected. It didnt rain. The game was a rout.And we are confronted by such a possibility again, with Stanford a heavy (though not yet prohibitive) favorite Saturday night, with everything to play for, while Cal is working for pride and a slightly better insignificant bowl berth.But rain to the point of flooding? Nah, and not a meteor shower, or monsters leaping up from the foot-high turf at Stanford Stadium. None of it. Cal is on its own, warts and all.And strangely, a lot of people seem to think so, too at least people who like to put their money where coaches mouths are.The game opened at 20 points for Stanford, a three-touchdown spread which typically is the harbinger of a five-touchdown victory. There arent many straight-up upsets in the face of such numbers, and only Oklahomas loss to Texas Tech this year while giving 29 falls under that category.Yeah, Oklahoma. The one thats in the thick of the BCS title race.But when the Stanford line was introduced, the assumption was that it was too low, that this really was one of those rout-of-the-century possibilities.Instead, the line has dropped, and its only Wednesday morning. Its 19 in some places, even as low as 18 in others. There is a groundswell for Cal in the only place where such things can be reliably measured in the marketplace.And when you have that, you dont need Gods Meteorology Department for intervention. This may have the makings of a big-kid college football game after all, and even if it doesnt, there is enough doubt in the minds of the spectator class to leave things as they are, cloud-seeding-wise.This is not a prediction of how the game will actually turn out, mind you. The players will determine that, and we leave them to their own devices in that way.No, this is about planning the folks who bring generators and satellite dishes and start tailgating at 9 a.m. by watching the days games with one eye and the fondue pot with the other. The folks who pick out their cardinal and blue and white and gold finery so that they can be identified by like species and cage free links and drinks from strangers and offer the same to others.This is an entreaty to whichever deity handles such mundane details that rain is not required for the game to be interesting, at least for awhile. The wine needs only to be protected from sunlight rather than hail; the venison wings and the brie sculptures do not need little tents to protect them from the horrors of death from the sky. The shoes do not need to be wrapped in Nike-approved foot-foil.This is going to be regular old football, with the two variables being the performances of the athletes and the last time the grass was cut. Stanford still has all the earmarks of the better team, but there is always the possibility of Cal being Texas Tech for one day, and for Jeff Tedford to get some weve-been-mean-to-you-and-were-sorry love from the fan base. Yes, the game is being played at an idiotic hour for what few people will be interested but not in attendance, and there may be minor Heisman Trophy implications.But intervention from the planetary forces that can lay waste to entire states? Not needed this year, thank you. If the line jumps back to 22 or 23, maybe youd have a discussion point or maybe that would be evidence that the games been fixed but for now, let the day be clement and the dispositions rosy. There is drinking and eating and high-speed collisions between young men to be enjoyed. And the gamblers are happy and moving money in the time-honored capitalist way. What more could you possibly want?Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

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?”