Ray Ratto

Ratto: Axing Geren a start to fixing woeful A's


Ratto: Axing Geren a start to fixing woeful A's

Ray Ratto

Bob Geren was living a manager's nightmare; he had become the face of a failure, a team that couldn't hit, couldn't field and was rapidly becoming a team that couldn't pitch either. The Oakland A's were faceless and fuel-less and losing what little audience they had.

Thus, something had to give and typically, the manager is that give. That it took as long as it did for Billy Beane to pull the trigger and fire Geren, as he did this morning, is surprising to many, but clearly way too much was finally enough.

Geren struggled throughout his 4 12-year tenure as the Oakland manager to win the respect of either his roster or the outside world. It wasn't that he didn't know baseball as much as he didn't know how to convey it, and those who cannot communicate are doomed no matter how smart they might be.

NEWS: A's fire Bob Geren after four-plus seasons

Bob Melvin, Geren's replacement, is that communicator. In his two previous stops, in Arizona and Seattle, he held together mediocre teams with sub-standard payrolls long enough and a reputation as a manager who could handle nearly any situation.

He is probably as good a fit for this young and dis-spirited team as there is on the market because of his communication skills. His reputation as a bullpen manager is reminiscent of though not nearly equivalent to, Bruce Bochy's, and while he is more comfortable with the National League game, he was never a real detriment in Seattle.

As for Geren, it's hard to see him getting another chance to manage given that his relationship with Beane and Beane's long-standing belief that managers are not vital to a team's performance. That isn't to say he won't get one; there are not very many managers who end up being one-and-dones.

GUTIERREZ: Geren never had a chance as A's manager

In fact, it would be fascinating to see him managing a team on a more even playing field, where the franchise is more committed to competing with the rest of the league than in keeping costs down, and where his relationship with the general manager isn't seen as such a detriment.

This isn't likely to happen soon, and it would probably be surprising if it happened at all, but stranger things have happened, and there are stranger places than Oakland.

As for the A's, Melvin's hiring represents a badly needed first step in restoring their reputation in the Bay Area. Years of complaining about a stadium have left an impression that the ownership cares more about the real estate than the product on the field, thus any change will be viewed as a good one. It's not the only move they have to make to rediscover their relevance but it is a start.

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?”