Ray Ratto

Hats off to the famous, but healing Houston will come from everyday heroes

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AP

Hats off to the famous, but healing Houston will come from everyday heroes

There is a sudden burst of NFL owners deciding to give $1 million to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, the latest two being Baltimore’s Steve Bisciotti and Detroit’s Martha Ford. These acts of generosity are not to be dismissed because Houston and the entire western gulf coast need all the help, both monetarily and otherwise.
 
But while we are counting the pledges as though this was a tribute to the Jerry Lewis telethons (and wondering why the 131 people who control the 147 North America pro franchises in the five major sports didn’t just decide via conference call to do a million apiece), we might want to remind ourselves that money given by celebrities, while indisputably noble and needed, is not how the resuscitation of Houston will be accomplished.
 
So here’s to the folks on the ground who wrangled boats and opened shelters and ferried in food and drinkable water and are getting the power back up and are organizing the actual day-to-day cleanup, and the people who live in all the towns that need rebuilding. They’re the ones who will get this done, and lacking famous names doesn’t mean they aren’t the ones doing the most important work.
 
Hats off to J.J. Watt, to be sure. He used his gift – being famous – to be a provider. And to Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander, who gave $4 million, then jacked his donation to $10 million two days later. And Houston Astros owner Jim Crane, who tossed in $4 million himself. And to all the other “name” names who made their money count rather than making it just to count it. I’m sure there is a list somewhere with all of the givers, and here’s hoping you can find yours somewhere (hint hint).
 
But in the end, the ones who will make the area whole again are the ones hip-deep in water, the hands and feet and vehicles and buildings who gave freely of their time and possessions. Here’s hoping this is a better and more complete job than the one in New Orleans for Katrina.
 
And here’s hoping that the federal government, no matter who is running it, finally decides to do something with FEMA rather than use it as a political stalking horse to reward friends and punish enemies. Here’s hoping it is so lavishly funded that the next victims of nature’s sharp hand can feel confident that there is more than just the kindnesses of rich strangers keeping them from desolation. Because that, ultimately, is what government is for.

Sabean's return: Giants want team's dominant mind to be dominant again

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Sabean's return: Giants want team's dominant mind to be dominant again

Brian Sabean’s return to the con in San Francisco, as first reported by noted troublemaker and barista A. Baggarly in The Athletic, is not a turn back to the past as much as it is a demand for a better future.

That is, unless the Giants sign Tim Lincecum, in which case you never read Paragraph One.

But Sabean’s return means that Giants ownership (presumably president Larry Baer and major stockholder Charlie Johnson) wants the team’s dominant baseball mind to be dominant again.

This of course generates rich speculation about current general manager Bobby Evans’ future, but that probably is beside the point . . . at least through the current calendar year. This isn’t really about Evans specifically anyway – it’s about ownewrship’s impatience, fear of a worrisome unknown and need for the comfort of the man who succeeded.

The Giants are at a similar fork in the highway as they were when Sabean first took the job in 1997. The 1996 Giants were 68-94, older chronologically against the league average, offensively substandard and horrific as a pitching staff. A year later, they won 90, got younger, improved in both areas, and then did it again in 1998. From that turnaround, they began what can fairly be described as the franchise’s renaissance, which finally ended last year with what in the eyes of most baseball experts and all meaningful metrics was the fourth worst year in the franchise’s 136-year history.

And because Sabean actually never left daily contact with the team and its decision-makers, this isn’t your standard chase for past glories fixation. It is, however, a measure of how little patience the Giants are willing to be with their present predicament.

But mostly, this is the team understanding that its ability to identify, develop and lure young talents is what saved it at the turn of the century and will have to do so again at the turn of the decade if they intend to make 2017 a blip rather than a harbinger.

The Giants could conceivably spend their way back into relevance, but their money wasn’t good enough for Giancarlo Stanton when every other suitor would be paying exactly the same number, and for that matter neither was their reliance on “We won three rings and we have a full stadium.” That they thought their past could work more than their present with a player who is looking for a future is a sign that they have over-relied on the lure of the good old days.

So they want that changed . . . with the guy who built those good old days. If that seems inconsistent, well, it is. But impatience and fear are going to do what they do, and Brian Sabean is as good an answer as they are likely to find. Which is why they found it.

Eight things that should happen during NBA All-Star Weekend

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Eight things that should happen during NBA All-Star Weekend

The NBA All-Star Game under any format is as hot a mess as the sport can produce, but it is all NBA fans have this weekend. Sorry, no Nets-Suns for you.

But for those of you who need more than the Celebrity Game, the Dunk Contest, the Three-Point Competition and the Magic-Johnson-Gagged-And-Nailgunned-To-His-Chair-So-He-Doesn’t-Get-Caught-Tampering-With-Everyone-On-Both-Rosters Challenge, here are some things that either haven’t happened before or happened so long ago that they should happen again.

- One or both teams should score 200. The 196 scored by the West two years ago was educational enough, and the 192-182 West win last year set a new record for combined points, so this seems like the time for one team to go for two bills. I mean, if you’re going to make the game senseless, why not go all the way?

- Someone should challenge Nikola Jokic’s freshly-minted record for fastest triple double in league history. He did the deed Thursday night against Milwaukee in a stunning (even by Westbrookian standards) 14:33, beating the old record set in – oh for God’s sake – 1955 by Jim Tucker of the Syracuse Nationals. There have only been four triple doubles in All-Star Games, most recently by Kevin Durant last year, but he needed 27 minutes to do so. This is simply slothful indolence, especially in a game with 374 points.

- The two teams should combine for 300 shots. The current high is 286, set two years ago, in a game in which 16 of the 24 players jacked up at least 10. After all, there are standards we have grown accustomed to seeing.

- Someone should be forced to play all 48 minutes as a commemorative hat-tip to the new rest-conscious players and coaches, in honor of the glorious Miami-Philadelphia game at the end of the 2015 season in which the 76ers, who were trying to lose all their games, let Joel Embiid draw up plays during time outs and the Heat in response played six players, four of them (Michael Beasley, Henry Walker, James Ennis and Tyler Johnson) for all 48.

- Stephen Curry, who struggled to make the play he drew up work the other night, should designate Embiid to draw one up Sunday. He is, after all, the game's most experienced player-coach.

- Someone should get ejected as a cheery sendoff to the bad old days between officials and players that will have ended with their happy peace talks this weekend. No player has ever been tossed from an All-Star Game, and Red Auerbach is the only coach, having been tossed in the 1967 game (played at Our Beloved Cow Palace) by official Willie Smith. And if the players won’t go that extra mile for your entertainment (we’re looking at you, Draymond Green), the least one can do is to foul out as an homage to Hakeem Olajuwon, the last player to do so in 1987.

- Cleveland general manager Koby Altman should perform an in-game trade, just to show he isn’t a one-trick pony.

- And finally, Adam Silver should bet on the game as an olive branch to his friends in the gaming industry who think ill of him for that 1% integrity fee gouge. And a helpful hint, A.S. – bet the over; it’s 346. That should get done in three quarters.