Ray Ratto

Message to Bay Area baseball fans: Be front-runners


Message to Bay Area baseball fans: Be front-runners

With the mood gone sour both inside the Giant clubhouse and out on the concourses after the Los Angeles Dodgers completed their retaliatory series sweep, there is a new way to consider this Bay Area baseball season.


Not the kind of front-running Giants and As fans are used to, when they rave incoherently about their teams strengths in good times and rave incoherently about their weaknesses in bad ones. No, were talking about flat-out front-running where you wait for each days results to come in and declare yourself a fan of the team that wins.

And when, as on Sunday, they both lose, youre a football fan.

The Giants were smothered by Clayton Kershaw (big surprise) Sunday, just as they were the day before by Chad Billingsley. The two teams are now separated by .000865135057195, which is probably how theyll be at seasons end.

The As, on the other hand, completed the second leg of their Eastern road trip with a 6-1 to Baltimore, and maintain a tenuous hold on the first wild-card spot a half-game ahead of the LAA Of A.

The two teams combined for one run and 12 hits, a nostalgic look back at their early season shenanigans, and now that they have the same record (55-46) and stand in the same place (with the fourth-best record in their respective leagues), what better time is there for pulling out the old split cap and declaring yourself a fan for hire?

Why, in the next two days, you can vault between fearing that the trade deadline will pass without your team doing something big (Giants) or with your team doing something big and screwing up the chemistry (As). That alone makes it fun to be a fan in your own head.

But by declaring yourself an emotional mercenary for the duration, you have a better chance of having a heartwarming October. You have a better chance of enjoying each and every morning when you have increased the likelihood of victory.

And best of all, you can always bitch about your cheap owners no matter what side of the coin lands on your bathroom carpet in the morning.

Why, its a marketing coup or at least it would be if you could convince either the Giants or As to become more like Switzerland and less like Yemen. You cant, of course, and you will be scorned in the office for being a turncoat, but what care you? You win more often than anyone else because you have the power of the flexible mind.

Better yet, you are only infrequently put in the position of having divided loyalties. The two teams have won on the same day only 29 times in 114 days, which means you have a three-in-four chance of not having to root for both teams on the following morning.

And like we said, when both teams lose, youre a football fan, and that works all but six days between now and the end of the season.

Now we know youre about to bleat about the quintessential fan experience being about both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, but we see you when your team loses. Youre freaking unbearable. You think that winning 55 percent of your games is an unendurable indignity. You think your front office is actively trying to screw you out of your birthright. Face it, when your team loses, youre kind of a pain in the ass.

And when your team gets swept by your most hated rival, your spouse has to spend an absurd amount of time hiding sharp things and bolting down the windows. Thats just selfish.

So this is your solution. Turn your coat, as often as you need to. Call it reversible fandom if you must. But when both the As and Giants are thick in the postseason argument, you mustnt waste the sentiment. Be a winner as often as you can get away with it not because loyalty is for saps, even though it is, but because when you have two teams in your market, you can have fun more often than most baseball fans.

Its like the old drinking theory its always five oclock somewhere. So make your own five oclock. You may be scorned, but youll be scorned with a nice brown IPA, or a rich purple shiraz, or a dark amber Scottish product in your hand and all of it with a buzz in your brain that says in a soft, lilting voice, Screw those guys. Your team won, whoever that is.

And tomorrow, well work on your Olympic experience through the acquisition of dual citizenship. Or United Nations diplomatic status, for increased flexibility.

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?”