Ray Ratto

Ratto: Bailey returns, A's vaunted bullpen a reality


Ratto: Bailey returns, A's vaunted bullpen a reality

A'S PAGE A'S VIDEORay RattoCSNBayArea.com

We know a few things about Spring Training that are universal. Like someones going to have to take out a hive of Africanized bees on a stadium concourse. Like allergies will make the average stadium section look like a tuberculosis ward. Like the cutting edge music on the ballpark P.A. from Stealers Wheel and Jim Croce.And like the As giving some reason to worry about their health.Comrade Killion covered the general health topic elsewhere on our happy site, but Thursday the Oaklands got to see someone they need badly and hadnt seen in business yet their closer, Andrew Bailey.
KILLION: A's, Beane renew focus on health
Bailey has been recovering from an embittered elbow, and when thrown in with two other relied-upon pitchers who also havent worked yet, Craig Breslow and Michael Wuertz, he was starting to cause a little mild consternation in and around Phoenix Municipal Time Warp.Not because anyone thought he wouldnt be ready in time, but because when youre talking about the As, out of sight sends people out of their minds.But Bailey was ascendant in his first start since his elbow turned on him, retiring Kansas City Royals Mitch Maier, Alex Gordon and Wil Myers on 12 pitches in the As 4-4 tie.
RELATED: Suzuki homers for A's in 4-all tie with Royals
And he was not only ascendant on a day when the As got a point in their own building to go 5-7-1 in the Cactus League, he was apparently high on calcium and Vitamin D as well.Theres a little anxiety going out there the first time, sure, the As closer said after hitting 94 mph and 93 at least twice in his outing. But it felt fine. I was able just to let myself go. The extra 10-12 degrees of extension (in his arm) felt normal. I didnt notice and difference in my mechanics.And . . .Now I can go in my refrigerator and get the milk carton out. Before, I almost had to climb in to get it.But the September surgery to clean out several chips, spurs, scar tissue, corn chips, toy whistles and a small turtle from his elbow mostly served to heighten his anticipation and improve his dairy acquisition skills.I went in planning to just throw fastballs, he said, but once I got out there, the adrenalin kicked in a bit and I mixed in a few cutters. I didnt throw any curves or changes, but those will come.Two of those cutters were the murder weapons in the strikeouts of Gordon and Myers, but he found greater satisfaction hitting the gun at close to his normal velocity and putting the ball in the designated spots (he threw four balls and eight strikes).Baileys return gets the As one body closer to having their full bullpen complement. Craig Breslow (hamstring) and Michael Wuertz (shoulder) still have not appeared in a sorta-for-real game yet, and since the As have been bragging on the bullpen depth since Billy Beane started acquiring it last year, one can understand the casual As fan wanting to see it in full wingspan and plumage.But we knew they were going to take it easy and not hurry us, so thats been good, Bailey said. Well all be there when the season starts.Bailey is expected to hold his place as the closer despite the acquisition of Brian Fuentes, but the As long and proud relationship with the disabled list has always made long-term planning in Oakland the best way to hear God laugh. Baileys first outing, though, makes the possibility of that vaunted bullpen a little more likely.Id like to get about five or six more outings before the Bay (Bridge) Series, maybe eight in total, he said, and that should be good.The As, and the California Milk Board, certainly hope so.What'syour take? Email Rayand let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag. Follow Ray on Twitter @RattoCSN.

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?”