Ray Ratto

Ratto: DH-Type Absent from NL Rosters


Ratto: DH-Type Absent from NL Rosters

Oct. 25, 2010RATTO ARCHIVE

SAN FRANCISCO -- Of the hidden benefits from the 2002 World Series I mean, other than the one that allowed Giant fans to whine about never having a championship team ceaselessly, right up to the present day it also marked the last time a National League designated hitter provided the planet with a postseason home run.Shawon Dunston, top five, two-run job off Kevin Appier. Perhaps the last happy moment in Giants postseason history.But never mind that. It also marked the absolute low-water mark in NLDH history a team that batted its designated hitter ninth in every game. The Giants ostensibly used its designated hitter as a second pitcher. And you wonder why you still get to act like such babies about no ring in 56 years.We mention all this because Bruce Bochy, the noted cleaver-juggler, has new decisions to make about a lineup that looks like it is written in invisible ink. Specifically, who to DH in the three games in Texas.Logic tells you Pablo Sandoval against right-handers Tommy Hunter or Colby Lewis, and perhaps Aaron Rowand against lefthanders Cliff Lee and C.J. Wilson. In fact, the absence of any other sensible candidate tells you that as well (we do not, for example, see Jose Guillen magically reappearing and being granted clemency).Logic, however, has failed you in trying to deduce Bochys moves so far this postseason. The lineup has become Questions 1, 1A and 2 in any Bochistic presser, to the point where he laughs and gives the stock Ill talk about it with the staff answer.But the matters for historical reasons as well as immediately practical ones. The 02 Giants offered up perhaps the worst NL DH collection in World Series history, and thats with all due respect to Dunston and his home run.Heres why: The other Giants DHs were the young and untested Pedro Feliz, pinch-hitter Tom Goodwin and (hold on to your sides) Tsuyoshi Shinjo. If that doesnt say ninth in the order, nothing does.Now there are other candidates for worst DH collection ever. The 08 Phillies won the Series with Chris Coste, Greg Dobbs and Eric Bruntlett. The 04 Cardinals elevated the Red Sox to their first World Series in 86 years by producing Reggie Sanders, Marlon Anderson and So Taguchi. The 99 Braves got swept by New York with Jose Hernandez, Ozzie Guillen and Keith Lockhart.And the 1989 Giants gave us two hitless games of Ernest Riles, then caused the earth to shatter so that the series would end in four games rather than have to go back to Oakland. Now thats taking problem-solving to its extreme.The issue, of course, is that National league teams dont normally have the luxury of carrying a classic DH-type during the regular season, and as a result have to scramble to invent one on the fly. Maybe the closest ever was Ryan Klesko with the Braves in 95 and 96, backed up by Mike Devereaux (not so much) and then Terry Pendleton (better), although the Braves did have Jeff Bagwell in its brief flirtation in 2005.The Giants would seem to have one in Sandoval, and out-of-town observers think him the obvious choice. They havent seen him day in and day out, though, which is why they are surprised when locals are surprised at the out-of-towners surprise at the locals surprise. If you know what we mean, and we think you do.Bochy has not yet announced what his combination will be, and probably wont until hes met with his staff mmpphhzzzzzzzzzzz, since the decision doesnt have to come before Saturday evening.That said, the Giants, who already have enough trouble scoring runs (three per game in the postseason, a ghastly figure for a team which is 7-3), will be offering yet another Kaopectate Choice to a lineup that already is trying to make hide nor hair of itself. Hell, they might decide to let Matt Cain give it a whirl in Game 3 if he gets that assignment.Or they could go with their last hitter in the NLCS the redoubtable Brian Wilson. I mean, he did no better than any other pitcher (Jonathan Sanchez and Cain were the two hits in the Giants 2-for-21 postseason), but he might look fearsomecrazy enough to coax a walk.Which, in truth, is more than Tsuyoshi Shinjo ever did.

One thing is certain about the Baseball Hall of Fame's new class


One thing is certain about the Baseball Hall of Fame's new class

The Baseball Hall of Fame, A Division Of Tedious Bitching Just To Hear Ourselves Bitch LLC, will announce its new class of inductees Wednesday, and we already know one thing.

People will be unhappy and make damned sure you know about it.

This is the new nature of all halls of fame -- the winners are a two-day story, but the losers go on forever, and so does the voters-are-morons sidebar. Frankly, I wonder why they don’t put a plaque up in Cooperstown for that -- you know, just to give the tourists something to hate in what was originally designed to be a joyful place.

We live in a whiny society, where anyone with a different opinion than your own cannot merely be debated with or ignored, but must be savagely mocked as either learning impaired, willfully stupid or aggressively evil. Thus, the new era of “Death To Whoever Doesn’t Agree With Me” is probably unavoidable.

But that’s why the myth that the Hall of Fame should be a temple of honor rather than a museum of the full history of the game should have died long ago. Everyone’s version of what should be honored is different, and the standard reaction to other people’s dissent from that opinion has gone from “I disagree” to “How about I burn your house down?”

People being unhappy that their favorite guy didn’t get the requisite 75 percent of the votes from an amorphous group of strangers who do not act in concert -- that part I get. It’s not up to me to decipher why one’s personal obsessions lean toward getting someone a plaque, and if we cannot invest time and energy in our pet causes, what are we as a species?

Don’t answer that.

But ever since the Giants put on a full court media press for most of 1998 to get Orlando Cepeda into the Hall through its veterans committee, the idea of campaigns for any particular idol which were once considered offensive and counterproductive became a requirement, and then a marketing tool. In the Internet age, that role has been usurped by people making single-minded and mostly well-intentioned cases for their own favorites, out of simple honest devotion. Nothing wrong with that.

If it stopped there, this would be an advancement in the process. But because nothing is as sure in the Internet age as the unintended consequence of anonymous invective, I have made it my work as a Hall of Fame voter to ignore any and all such lobbying and lobbyists. No matter how well-intentioned and polite their reasoned discourse may be, it becomes someone else’s demand for obedience and hive-mind orthodoxy --– and in the alternative, voter shaming and expulsion.

Moreover, the era of both benign candidate advocacy and anonymous invective serve as more reminders that the Hall of Fame and its mechanisms are political, just as Joe Morgan’s letter urging that players suspected of steroid use never be allowed induction is a political act, and the changes in voting eligibility reducing the voting pool are a political act. Expanding the voting franchise is always more sensible than restricting it, but shrinking it is a statement that fewer people know about baseball than think they do, which is a weird way of saying “Fewer people are entitled to care about this thing we care so much about.”

This is a longwinded way of saying I turned in my vote more than a month ago. It’s the best I can do based on the hours of research I’ve done, and that will have to be good enough. If I wanted your opinion on it, I’d have called you by now to obtain it, so just assume that I don’t. The ballot will be released when the other BBWAA votes are released, and if you need to know ahead of time who I voted for, you have a sick obsession, plus you can probably figure out the bulk of it by going to Ryan Thibodaux’s Twitter site (@NotMrTibbs) and look at my prior ballots.

But if it helps, I’ll tell you this much. I think  Arnold Rothstein should be in the Hall of Fame, and until that injustice is righted, I will feel as though the Hall is incomplete and flawed, and I’m damned unhappy about it.

See? I got in the spirit of the thing.

The four Super Bowl storylines everybody will be talking about


The four Super Bowl storylines everybody will be talking about

The Monday after the conference championships is devoted to replaying the games we already saw, but Tuesday is devoted to the assembling of the narratives that we will weary of no later than Friday.

And while football purists and gamblers, two demographics on the opposite ends of the Moebius strip of degeneracy, will cheerily break the game down to its molecular level, the rest of us will resort to a few tired carthorses to get us to the start of our individual Super Bowl parties.


This will be an argument with no resolution, as those who see history as preordination will see New England as invulnerable, pointing to their record, Philadelphia’s record, and the comfort of the mortal lock. But if it helps you maintain suspense, the Patriots have never won, or even played in, a Super Bowl with a margin as high as a touchdown – the margins have been 3, 3, 3, 4, 4 and 6 in overtime. In short, Bill Belichick’s brain, while always impressive, has never been an overwhelming presence against John Fox, Andy Reid, Tom Coughlin, Pete Carroll or Dan Quinn.

In other words, luck matters, and luck is good.


This is ridiculous because the Patriots are in painting-the-gold-bar-gold territory. People long ago made up their minds on Belichick, Tom Brady, Bob Kraft and the rest of the shifting cast of characters – they are either brilliant exemplars, or nefarious cheaters, or both. That’s the great thing about the Patriots – they can be heroes, villains and metaphors for 21st Century America, depending on what you decide. But their place as football figures has long ago been decided, this game will change none of that, and the only thing left is what to carve on the statues.


There are lots of Americas out there, as we are learning every day, and more people probably are rooting for the Eagles just to see something different. That’s not the way to bet, I grant you, but the best way to handle these next two weeks if you do not wear either New England or Philadelphia jerseys is to say nothing. These are two fan bases with reputations, if you know what we mean, and even if you come across gentle souls with a rooting interest, play the percentages. Even the nice ones can turn at any moment.

And finally, JIMMY GAROPPOLO. This discussion only matters of Bob Kraft cops to telling Belichick he ordered him to be moved. Which he won't, damn his eyes. And if Brady looks good next Sunday, they'll take credit for a brilliant move that saved the franchise because history always works best in the rear-view mirror.