Ray Ratto

Ratto: Expectations, Toronto too much for A's


Ratto: Expectations, Toronto too much for A's

April 6, 2011RATTO ARCHIVE
A'S PAGE A'SVIDEORay RattoCSNBayArea.com

As the As transition from small sample size to ruh-roh pending, a question must be asked.How fragile are their expectations for themselves?The answer is almost certainly calm down, stupid, because at 1-4, they have managed only to show that they have not yet meshed good pitching, good hitting and good fielding on the same day.Game 1 -- Five hits, five errors, bullpen flameout.Game 2 -- No hitting, bullpen flameout.Game 3 -- Gio Gonzalez.Game 4 -- Hitting, bad fielding, bullpen flameoutGame 5 -- Your standard dont-hang-that-cutter-Braden 5-3 loss. Also not much hitting, but the first errorless game of the year.There are, of couple, mountains of evidence to show that slow starts mean nothing until they extend out to, say, 21 games or so (see 1988 Orioles). Ten years ago, they started 2-10 and closed 100-50, for what that may be worth.But the As also have this incredibly fragile relationship with the casual baseball fan, one which never seems to nurture itself unless the team learns how to front-run. This is also true of the Giants, 49ers, Raiders and Warriors as well, but the As have a knack for making themselves look merely downtrodden because they dont vibe out a snarky attitude like some of their most appealing ancestors have.In short, losing four of the first five arent a big deal. Continuing this way on the rest of the road trip puts Oakland behind a series of atmospheric eight-balls that could turn expectations into burdens, and quickly.Truth is, teams that are new to the expectation game are far more likely to embrace them with a fast start. Winning builds attitude, attitude builds admiration, admiration builds ticket sales, and before you know it, youre the fresh new item on the menu.The Bay Area needs that fresh item, because the Giants have pretty well beaten the We Won The World Series thing into a thin gray paste, there isnt going to be any football for awhile, the Warriors are the Warriors, the Kings are about to be someone elses problem, and the Sharks remain an appealing niche product.And frankly, weve grown weary of the As refusal to attack their perception problems with more verve. They need to throw some elbows, and the only way to make folks take note of your elbows is to take note of you, period.Which is why 1-4, while not troubling yet, could be if it balloons into 3-9 by the time they get home. At that point, even the small-sample-size types will start to wonder if they backed the wrong elephant.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?”