Ray Ratto

Pence deal intrigues, but ...


Pence deal intrigues, but ...

Programming note: Tune in to a special trade deadline edition of SportsNet Central today at 2 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, or stay logged on to the CSNBayArea.com LIVE page and watch from your desktop!

Hunter Pence, eh? Feel better now?Or more accurately, feel worse about grinding on the cheap old Giants and do-nothing Brian Sabean?Well, you shouldnt feel either happy or angry. You should be intrigued, but you should also remember how excited you were when you got Carlos Beltran a year ago.You see, a trade is a trade, but its isnt more than that. Pence gives the Giants a right fielder, if he can play the treacherous right field at Cash Cow Park. He gives them a middle of the lineup bat, if he doesnt get crushed by the park in that way either. It gives them a dynamic response to the Dodgers shopping spree, if he decides he likes San Francisco.In sum, what you have here is a fascinating addition by a team that actually is not shy about doing things at the deadline, and one that has increased its payroll by approximately 50 percent in two years. But you dont have an E-ticket to October, not at all. In fact, you may not have anything except proof of payroll flexibility and the eagerness to deal.For the moment, that is enough for most folks, because most folks are addicted to shopping in all its forms. The Giants have been as active on the phone as any other team, but until this morning were condemned as cheap or indolent.Now, for the cost of minor league catcher Tommy Joseph, whom the Giants liked (though not as much as they liked pitcher Zach Wheeler a year ago), they have the outfielder the customers demanded. They also dont have the closer theyve been demanding, but one cannot buy shoes and trousers at the same time.Pence will command a huge arbitration payout come winter, which the Giants know. But having decided that they need the bat Beltran was supposed to be, they have decided yet again to worry about cost later for the short-term dream.If it is in fact a dream.Pence goes from a hitters paradise to a hitters prison unless he can either shorten the left field wall or find happiness in the gaps. Hell go from high-heat, high-humidity to night and morning fog. He goes to a place that conquered Beltran, most notably, which is why you shouldnt be leaping from tree to hilltop singing I Am 16 Going On 17.What you have is a team willing to re-up. What you dont have is assurance that this is the answer. After all, nobody thought the moves of 2010 would result in a World Series, and everyone thought Beltran would be the cure.Let that be todays lesson for you. This one will take time before a smile turns to untrammeled glee. But its something better than the drone of constant bitching.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

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?”