Ray Ratto

Ratto: Giants running out of options

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Ratto: Giants running out of options

Aug. 25, 2011

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CSNBayArea.com

So on a day in which the Yankees batted around four times in four innings, the Giants batted around . . . well, three and a half times in a game.

What the Yankees did was unprecedented. What the Giants did was be Giants. Six-hit by the crushing combination of Henry Sosa, Wilton Lopez and Mark Melancon, slapped about by the death bats of Jordan Schafer and J.D. Martinez, smothered again by the Houston-For-Gods-Sake Astros.

RELATED: Yanks' three slams put A's in record books

Except for the fact that these Astros are younger, hungrier and have nothing to lose between now and seasons end but their places in line come spring training, this would be a wounding result for the Giants.

The facts, though, are these: One hitter, Pablo Sandoval, is having a better season than he did a year ago. The fans newest darling is Brandon Belt, who is hitting .239 with a .341 on-base percentage and a .422 slugging average. Hes the one people want to bat leadoff, or cleanup, depending on who you ask and how many drinks into the evening you ask. The cries for minor leaguers like Brett Pill grow louder on the always-admirable theory that Well, they cant be worse than this.

And while we dont tend to enjoy arguing with fans who have We dont know what were asking for but we know what were tired of looking at on their sides, we do know this: When youre asking to see the minor leaguers before the September call-ups and the guys with 109 career at-bats in the four-hole, youre in the mood to throw the season away, and panic seems like a controlled response by comparison.

RECAP: Giants muster one run, fall to Astros

The Giants have been playing putrid baseball since the day they left Philadelphia on the wings of Tim Lincecums crushing of the Phillies. And when we say putrid, we mean this:

For an entire month, they are averaging, get this, 2.69 runs per game. For an entire month, they are hitting .214. They have the same record since July 28 as the . . . oh, you knew this was the answer, you salty complainers . . . Houston Astros.

You can stretch these statistics and hundreds more out to sabermetric infinity, and youll still come to the same conclusion:

Its a wonder these guys won the eight games they did.

Now moving Belt to a more important part of the order presumes he is ready for that responsibility, and calling up the Fresno Hussars for active duty is a grand notion, but they all smack of the same thing being out of other ideas because nothing seems to work with the people youre paying the real money to.

And when youve reached that point, youve probably reached the point of no return. Every disparaging thing you may say about Arizona might very well be true, but theyre not the ones winning twice a week, or losing the opener of every series they play, or averaging 2.69 runs per game.

The point? When youre this bad for this long, what you have is system-wide failure, and to expect Brandon Belt, or Brett Pill, or Eric Surkamp, or anyone else not currently dressing in the big boys room to save them from themselves is folly. A new lineup card cannot redeem them. Bunting around the bases is not the ticket to salvation.

They either save themselves as they did a year ago, or they cant be saved at all. Its not really more complicated than that. Today, the Giants have just walked a month in the Houston Astros shoes. Its up to them to decide how much longer they think thats a good way to kill a summer.

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

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AP

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?”