Ray Ratto

In the case of Yuli Gurriel, how much does a slur actually weigh?


In the case of Yuli Gurriel, how much does a slur actually weigh?

Rob Manfred was damned if he didn’t suspend Houston’s Yuli Gurriel for his racist references toward Los Angeles pitcher Yu Darvish, and damned if he did.

But even if damnation, he chose what most commissioners choose – to find the ground that he (or she) thinks will offend the fewest people. And that isn’t always the same as justice.

In deciding to let Gurriel continue to play in the World Series and hold over a harsher than usual suspension until the five least significant games of the 2018 season, Manfred decided that slurs carry different weight depending on timing, and it is not a surprise that both the Dodgers and Astros agreed. After all, both teams know that they can never know when one of their own will decide to take us back to the 1940s.

And therein lies the slippery slope part of our discussion. Do different slurs to different groups carry different weight? Should the timing of the slur really carry that much weight? Should the acquiescence of the slurred matter when punishment is administered? Are five regular season games really worth as much as one World Series game?

In short, how much does a slur actually weigh?

Gurriel didn’t cost either team or the industry any money, as former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling did when his decades of racism were finally exposed on tape in 2014. Nor did the Dodgers threaten to boycott Game 4, as the Clippers and Warriors did in the Sterling incident. Plus, Gurriel hadn’t offended in a similar fashion before this, as Draymond Green had when he was suspended for accumulated physical irritations during the 2015 NBA Finals.

And finally, nobody within the industry registered a complaint, and ultimately Manfred chose the path of least resistance in the time-honored, “If nobody complains, there is no complaint.”

Ultimately, Manfred either smoothed the ground before reaching his decision or all the characters involved (the principals, the Dodgers, the Astros, the players union, et. al.) smoothed it for him ahead of time. And he works for the industry and the industrialists who own the teams, so he was preternaturally bent toward finding the half-solution that irked the fewest people.

Is that justice? Not really. The lesson “We don’t tolerate slurs but we operate on a sliding scale” isn’t really not tolerating slurs. But it was the best way to make the story die – at least until every moment Gurriel is on the field at Dodger Stadium in this series.

In other words, it was just enough. Which, ultimately, is what Manfred was after all along.

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?”