Ray Ratto

Matchup with Yankees exposes A's dire situation


Matchup with Yankees exposes A's dire situation


The Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees had completed their daily ritual Yankees win, As dont and the musical guardian at the Chicos Bail Bonds Coliseum thought it would be a nice touch to play Naive Melody by Talking Heads.

You know, as in, Home, its where I want to be, pick me and turn me round.

Or maybe hes a diabolical hyena and though the irony would be particularly delicious, because the As almost never come up with a game worth remembering against the Yankees at least not since the Jeter Flip in 2001, which for As fans wasnt worth remembering either.

Saturdays game was nothing of note, in fairness. Nine-two final, CC Sabathia overcomes his Bay Area jitters and turns in a masterful performance against a lineup easily mastered. Mark Teixeira homers twice, Robinson Cano homers and doubles. The As get two hits after Josh Reddicks daily home run in the third. Whats to remember?

Well, nothing, really. Even the crowd count of 27,112, which struck some as a surprisingly low attendance for a Memorial Day Saturday, was actually in keeping with the way Yankee crowds in Oakland have dipped since the mid-aughts.

Once upon a time, the Yankees defined a good schedule for the As. Indeed, when the Yankees only make one West Coast trip, the groans from the Oakland front office are audible, because those are six gates the team typically needed 18 dates to fill.

But the Yankees have not been an automatic sellout in Oakland for years now, and even drew a ludicrous 19,849 in the first meeting between the teams in 2010. It has come painfully clear that if the As arent giving away either fireworks or things with a neck spring, they arent filling the building for anyone except the Giants, and thats only because the Giants bring their own.

Now we hate crowd columns about the As with significant vigor, since they always say the same thing if you tell people to stay away enough times, theyll eventually take you up on it.

But having lost the Yankees as a free sellout, it hardly seems worth getting their brains beat out as well. And yet that is the other trend at work here.

Saturdays win was New Yorks 14th in 17 games in the Coliseum, and 24th in the last 32 games in Unwantedville. These are eye-opening but not eye-watering numbers, as the Yankees are a much better team in all areas of the game, from the accounting department on down.

And maybe that has finally sunk into this much-abused fanbase as well that Yankee games that dont include free take-homey things are just another exercise in frustration.

Bartolo Colons latest start unraveled a little bit at a time runs in the second, third and fourth, and then a three-spot in the fifth. Colon was their best pitcher early, but the tread is starting to wear unevenly, and Manny Ramirez is apparently nowhere near being ready to save the subterranean offense.

So now the spunky little start and the impertinent performances have given way to the gravity of a lineup that struggles to reach .250, and a pitching staff that is now feeling the pain of the defections and deals of the offseason. Oh, and the injuries are coming in right on time, too the big news of the day was that Yoenis Cespedes took batting practice and did not fall down shrieking in agony.

Not even the Yankees can save them, apparently.

If there is a way out of this, Bob Melvin would be eager to see it, as he is managing this team-with-one-hand-tied-behind-its-back with as much desperation as he can muster. The whole idea of keeping them close to the field into the trade deadline was the mark of success, and this current downturn looks less like a blip and more like the conditions that prevail.

Unless they can whip up a Tommy Milone bobblehead that shoots its own fireworks in time for tomorrows start, one can expect a substandard crowd for what has typically been the teams best drawing card. Indeed, they missed their calling Saturday by handing out a calendar that had dogs on it rather than what it should have had -- no dates on it, a legend that simply read, Bud Seligs Timetable For San Jose.

For that, they would have packed the place.

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?”