Ray Ratto

Ratto: Busy day for 3B coach Flannery's gremlin


Ratto: Busy day for 3B coach Flannery's gremlin

Aug. 7, 2011


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This would have been the day for the little gremlin at the back of Tim Flannerys head to get his own way. A lot. And with predictable result.

Yeah, hes the part of me thats completely irrational, the Giants third base coach said. Hes the one I know will always get me in trouble.

And Lord, did he speak up Sunday. Loud, and often. The Giants, who have avoided third base like it was smeared in plague the last three weeks, turned it into a bus station Sunday in their face-saving 3-1 victory over Philadelphia.

Yes. Third base was very crowded indeed, on a day the Giants rolled up three entire runs. This is how they do, this is who they are. They even managed what seems to be a preposterous feat to get three hits in one inning with men in scoring position and score one run.
RECAP: Lincecum, Giants avoid sweep; hold of Phils 3-1

News which only makes Flannery and the voice inside his head laugh.

You should be in here after the games when we just look at each other and wonder how we do that, he said. Its amazing.

The Giants had been in a free-fall for more than a week, having lost eight of nine before Sundays game and holding first place in the National League Weak (cq) by the skin of Flannerys head. Sunday, though, they broke out, and kept breaking out, and kept breaking out against Philadelphia starter Roy Oswalt. They just couldnt break through, and as many times as Flannery could have sent runners, his good angel shouted down his bad one.

To the great consternation, it must be added, of another full house at the Thing On King.

Oh, I heard them every time, he said of the three noteworthy opportunities he had to send runners home on coin-flip plays. I wanted to, but I knew better. These were actually no-brainers when you remember they were all lower-half of the order, and they (the Phillies) have two of the best outfield arms in baseball in center (Shane Public Enemy No. 1) and right (Hunter Pence).

Indeed, Flannery and Victorino are good friends from Hawaii, and text each other over moments like Sundays: Ill let him know if I got one by him, and hell text me if he got one of ours, Flannery said.

But I always tell people its not where the ball is hit, its how we react when the ball is hit. We didnt get great looks right away, and knowing who was out there and who we had running, it wasnt close. I know the fans wanted it, but I knew.

The first such moment came in the bizarre fourth inning, when Pablo Sandoval led off with a double, couldnt advance on Aubrey Huffs bloop single behind shortstop Jimmy Rollins and then had a shot when Nate Schierholtz lined a single to Pence.Giants Insider gallery: Small ball rules the day

The ball was kid of hit behind Pablo and he didnt get a great jump, Flannery said, and I knew pretty quickly I had to hold him. When youre struggling like we have been, you want to take chances, you want to make things happen, but if I get him thrown out there, thats a real mood-killer.

The others, with Huff and Chris Stewart, seemed less troublesome but still had that element of Oh, go ahead and give it a try to them. Huff was held on Stewarts RBI single to center and was forced out at home on Tim Lincecums failed bunt, and Stewart was held on Andres Torres single to left-center.

Stewart didnt get a great jump either, but it worked out because we got him home (on Jeff Keppingers sacrifice fly), Flannery said. Again, it was one that you wouldnt even think about, but the way weve been going, you have to be careful not to try to take some chances.

As a result, the Giants managed to convert 13 hits, four with runners in scoring position, and four walks spread throughout the lineup into three runs. It was a day made for Tim Flannerys bad voice, only Flannery decided to be no fun at all.

To the Giants benefit, as it turned out. They needed the win more than they needed the boldness, and Lincecum muzzled the Philadelphia lineup well enough to save Flannery from the kind of alcohol-driven secondthirdfourth-guess that makes days like Sunday so deliciously maddening.

Yeah, he smiled. It worked out today. Fortunately, the players understand that if Im holding them up, they know theres a good reason.

The day ended with hundreds of kids running around the bases, as is the typical Sunday tradition. None stopped at third, none needed to be held up, none were stranded. Tim Flannerys bad voice was ringing loudly in all their ears: Go! Make a break for it! Make the imaginary outfielder make a play!

The little show-offs.

NBA All-Star Game more and more reveals personalities rather than skills


NBA All-Star Game more and more reveals personalities rather than skills

The voting for the NBA All-Star starters was properly instructive to both Adam Silver and the public at large about exactly what the game is meant to be – which is why I totally get their decision not to televise the All-Star draft.

It’s really a personality test for everyone involved, for good and ill.

I think having a draft nobody can see is idiotic, stealing an idea the NHL used and then discarded years ago and then not employing the reason why they did it to begin with, but if the All-Star Game is really an expression of ego, then the next best thing to having no draft is having one nobody can see.

The All-Star Game really only functions as a coronation of the elite by the elite, a festival of mutual backslapping friend-rewarding that has nothing to do with the playing of the game, or the moving of the T-shirts or jerseys or expensive hotel rooms. This is about stratifying the player pool so that everyone knows who’s who and what’s what.

Everything else is irrelevant, and the draft reinforces that. Kevin Durant not wanting to be a captain is strategic thinking by a future industrialist. Stephen Curry not minding being a captain is the perfect who-cares statement for someone who doesn’t mind playing the game because objecting to it takes too much work. LeBron James being a captain is the perfect political muscle-flexing that fits his personality.

Damian Lillard already assuming that he won’t be named to the team is a statement about his being considered the perpetual one-level-down guard. Russell Westbrook being named and then controlling the ball as he would in a regular season game is a statement about how he views his place as a disruptor. And on and on and on – the All-Star Game more and more reveals personalities rather than skills.

Does televising the draft help us understand the actual meaning of the event? Maybe, but the NBA would prefer you consider it a festival of the game itself, which it plainly isn’t. Proof, you say? 192-182 in 2017. 196-173 in 2016. 163-158 in 2015. 163-155 in 2014. There hasn’t been a normal-looking score in 15 years, which means it’s not a game at all.

That isn’t the news, though. It’s that the NBA has made this is a three-day event – the day the captains and starters are named, the day the reserves are picked, and the day that teams are chosen. And every bit of it is about the reaction to that. There is no show thereafter, and the players know it. They care about the selections, because that’s how they’re keeping score.

So go team. Whatever the hell that means.


Who is now the Warriors' biggest rival?


Who is now the Warriors' biggest rival?

Earlier we discussed how the Golden State Warriors have seemingly moved beyond hating on NBA officials (three technical fouls in 18 days is a stunning reversal of their formerly disputatious form), but we may have forgotten one new reason why they have found a more Buddhist approach to the cutthroat world of American competitive sport.

They lack someone new to hate.

Their much-chewed-upon rivalry with the Los Angeles Clippers actually lasted two years, and now the Clippers are busy trying to prevent military incursions into their locker room from the Houston Rockets. Their even more famous archrivalry with the Cleveland Cavaliers seems to be imploding – with the total connivance of the Cavs themselves – before our eyes. Even cutting off their hot water made them laugh when two years ago not letting the Warriors' wives get to the game on time torqued them mightily.

And since we know that you locals desperately need a bête noire for your heroes (even though their biggest foe is actually their own attention spans), let us consider the new candidates.


The Rockets have been among the Warriors’ most persistent contender/pretenders, having faced them in both the first round of the 2017 postseason and the conference finals in 2015. Both ended in 4-1 Warrior wins as part of a greater piece – Golden State is 19-4 against the Rockets in the Warriors’ bad-ass era, 10-2 at home and 9-2 on the road, and has finished an aggregate 59.5 games ahead of the Rockets in the past three and a half years.

Hateable players for Warrior fans include James Harden and Chris Paul, while Rockets fans loathe Draymond Green and Kevin Durant and work their way down from there.

RIVALRY RATING (out of 32,353): 19. The Rockets need to win a playoff series before even matching the Clippers, who as we all know came and went in a moment.


The previous platinum standard in Western Conference basketball, the Spurs have never really gone away, though they have aged. Their pedigree is not in dispute, and Steve Kerr has essentially become the next generation of Gregg Popovich. It is hard to create a rivalry out of such shamelessly mutual admiration.

Hateable players for Warrior fans include . . . uhh, maybe Kawhi Leonard for winning two Defensive Player Of The Year Awards instead of Draymond Green, though that’s not much to go on, frankly. Spurs fans hate Zaza Pachulia for stepping beneath Leonard and ending last year’s series before it started.

RIVALRY RATING (out of 23): 1. If they didn’t have to play against each other, I suspect these two teams would date.


The Thunder’s 3-1 collapse in 2016 is all but ignored now because the Warriors did the same thing one series later, but lifting Kevin Durant was quite the consolation prize for Golden State, and the definitive finger in the eye for the Thunder, who turned their team over completely to Russell Westbrook, for good and ill. Even with the additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony are still trying to relocate their stride.

Hateable players for Warrior fans include Westbrook and Anthony for defining the I-need-the-ball-in-my-hands-to-function generation, and owner Clay Bennett for Seattle SuperSonics nostalgics. Thunder frans hate Durant, followed by Durant, Durant, Kim Jong-un, Durant, leprosy, Draymond Green’s foot, and Durant.

RIVALRY RATING (out of 440): 220. Westbrook is a human lightning rod, Anthony is the antithesis of what Warriors now regard basketball (they’d have loved him a quarter-century ago), and Stephen Adams for getting his goolies in the way of Green’s foot. Plus, some savvy Warrior fans can blame OKC for extending their heroes to seven games, thus making the final against Cleveland that much more difficult. This could work, at least in the short term.


Damian Lillard is a much-beloved local. Plus, the Blazers have never interfered in the Warriors’ universe save their 1-8 postseason record. There are no truly hateable players on either side, though Stephen Curry threw his first mouthpiece in Portland, and Green is a perennial.

RIVALRY RATING (out of 1): 0.


The new pretender to throne, with the Eastern Conference’s version of Kerr in Brad Stevens. Even better since taking advantage of Kyrie Irving’s weariness with LeBron James, and until proven otherwise the team the Warriors should most concern themselves with.

Hateable players for Warrior fans include Irving, who made the only shot in the last five minutes of Game 7 of the 2016 Finals, while Celtics fans hate Durant for not signing with them.

RIVALRY RATING (out of 67.7): 26, though this will rise if the two teams meet in the Finals. The last time they did, Bill Russell owned basketball.


Still too remote to adequately quantify, though Toronto, Miami and Milwaukee are clearly difficult matches for the Warriors. If you put them together, Kyle Lowry, Demar DeRozan, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Hassan Whiteside with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe coming off the bench, coached by either Eric Spoelstra or Jason Kidd, would make a fun team for the Warriors to play against. Probably not functional, but fun.

And finally:


Some decade the two teams’ geographical proximity will matter, but for now, they remain essentially two full professional leagues away from each other. We just mentioned them so Kings fans wouldn’t feel any more slighted than they already do.