Ray Ratto

Giants-Dodgers pennant race is really on now


Giants-Dodgers pennant race is really on now

Sometimes theres no reason to dress up a beating. Sometimes theres really nothing much to say.

Thus it was with a spirit of blindest optimism that Bruce Bochy entered the interview room Saturday and heard no questions.

I agree, he said. Not much to say.

Then someone had to ruin his mood and ask something. Like any answer matters when you get 10-loved by the Dodgers in front of the home customers.

RECAP: Baggs' Instant Replay -- Dodgers 10, Giants 0

Of course, they probably had this coming after shutting the Dodgers out for an entire home stand a month ago. That isnt supposed to happen in big-kids ball, either.

But now it is clear that we have a chance for the pennant race we would all pay big cash to see -- the one with no participation medal. Just death or glory. As it should be.

Returning to the moment, though, those Dodgers were running on fumes. These are running on a rebuilt engine. Matt Kemp is back. So is Mark Ellis, and Hanley Ramirez has been rescued from the arsonists flames in Miami. And they may not be done trading futures for presents, either.

In other words, the race that has been on and off is on again. And it helps the Dodgers that they are cresting again as the Giants are flattening out.

They are without Pablo Sandoval, disabled after his hamstring decided to roll up his leg like one of those old cartoon window shades. They just picked up Marco Scutaro to take his spot and become the third baseman until such time as he can become the utility fill-in. There are three days . . . well, less than that, even . . . until the trade deadline. The Giants essential depth issues are rising yet again.

And they have 62 games to go. In other words, the race really is on now.

As with all trams not already dead, buried and issuing up its belongings to the highest bidder, the Giants are going to have these patches of rancidity. Chad Billingsley, who spent most of the season trying to relocate his essential Billingsley-tude, smothered the Giants on four hits, driving their at-bats into ground balls and limiting their few scoring chances leadoff doubles by Buster Posey and Angel Pagan, and a bases-loaded situation in the ninth to exactly what they got in their last weekend here.


And now the intermittent euphoria of late June and early July has settled again, because that is the nature of most pennant races. Two teams who need full participation to play well have exchanged injuries, and the Dodgers and Giants of a month ago have swapped positions.

In other words, even if Clayton Kershaw stomps on Ryan Vogelsong as he has Tim Lincecum in the past and the Dodgers sweep the Giants, all that will do is tell the audience what it already suspected. That these two teams will most likely be unable to separate from each other until the final week, perhaps even the final series.

Three games in Los Angeles, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, October 1, 2 and 3. And the only way it could be grander is if the two wild card spots had already been nailed down by, say, Pittsburgh and Atlanta. That way, there would be no consolation prize, no fallback position, no side door out of ignominy. If we get what we want (as opposed to what we deserve), the series would be for death or glory, the way the creator intended.

I mean, if the creator is on the job the way he or she should be. The creator isnt a wild card fan, you see. Likes expanded replay, but not the wild card.

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?”