Ray Ratto

Ratto: Giants' win trumps sideshow for a day

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Ratto: Giants' win trumps sideshow for a day

Aug. 9, 2011

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The thing that most resonates after the Giants 6-0 victory over the Pirates Tuesday is the relief that comes with knowing that for one day there wont be a migraine-creating sideshow.

RECAP: Bumgarner, Huff lead Giants to 6-0 victory
That may be the most enduring issue with this team as it holds on desperately to first place in the National League Amish Division. When theyre not playing smart, crisp baseball, the hardest core of the fan base tends to get distracted by ancillary issues.Tuesday, it was whether or not Aaron Rowand had offended the city and his employers. Before that, it was the Internet argument over Ramon Ramirez immigration status. Before that, it was The Brawl For It All. Before that, well, theres always that hardly old perennial, Barry Zito.Thats how it is around these parts these days. Theres never a dull day, even if there is a dull game.

Thus, Tuesdays return to what Giant fans believe is normalcy came as somewhat of a relief around and about the Thing On King. Oh, there may be some highly caffeinated debates about Pablo Sandovals hands after his two errors, but since neither led to any kind of Pittsburgh inning, that would be looking for trouble where it doesnt yet need to be found.Madison Bumgarner threw his usual 70 percent strikes, but avoided giving up any first- or third-inning runs to propel his second career double-digit strikeout game. The oft-maligned Aubrey Huff homered and hit a double that looked like a departing plane. Chris Stewart muscled his way next to Duane Kuiper on the all-time major league home run list. Sergio Romo had his 10-inning perfect game broken up by Andrew McCutchens eighth-inning double but began a new one immediately thereafter.And in all, the Giants scored three times their normal complement of runs to stay a half-step ahead of Arizona, which played a Canadian Football League game against Houston before winning, 11-8. They became the 29th team to break the mythical 400-run barrier, something that happens to every team in every non-strike year.Mostly, though, they looked the way they have been advertised to look for one of the few times in the past three weeks. They took the audiences mind of what they havent been doing by, well, doing it, allowing the customers to avoid the side stories that exasperate some and befuddle others.There is always up-side to be a conversation-starter, as the Giants have become. Most notably, the question of Alex Smith never comes up when the topic is the Giants. Or the debt ceiling, or the stock market, or the London riots, or the collapse of civilization, or worst of all, the rumors of a four-hour Kardashian-related show.The down-side, though, is that when things go south as they have, little things become big, and semi-big things become enormous. And somewhere between those two extremes rests Carlos Beltrans wrist injury, which went from sprain to strain and from day to day without added incident.RELATED: Beltran day-to-day, might play Wednesday
That is, to be honest, the biggest story of the last week as it pertains to the Giants ability to survive August, but it lacks the effervescence of weirdness. The others, though, got legs and stayed running awhile because they filled in the long stretches of dead air between Giant hits.That is a hidden but still very real element of long hitting slumps. Nature abhors dead air, and will fill it with whatever happens to be available. The Rowand story came and died right before game time, and the game sold itself.But theres a game Wednesday, and unless Pat Burrells trip to North Carolina for a further examination of his foot reveals that it is in fact a hoof, the Giants may have to settle for more baseball like Tuesdays. I mean, thats novel enough given how theyve handled the last three weeks, but one can never tell where a fertile imagination will take a team with a soggy bat rack, an eager marketing department, and a beast that must always be fed.

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

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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

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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.

Starting with THE INEVITABILITY OF THE PATRIOTS

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.

Next is THE LEGACY

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.

Third is AMERICA HATES THE PATRIOTS AND WANTS THE EAGLES TO WIN

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.