Ray Ratto

Ratto: Giants' World Series Defies All -- Logic and Opponents


Ratto: Giants' World Series Defies All -- Logic and Opponents


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The winners get to say whatever they want without time limit or rebuttal, so when Giants outfielder Aaron Rowand, who coincidentally hit the first pitch of the 2010 season from Houstons Roy Oswalt to shortstop Tommy Manzella for an out, said it, it made perfect sense.

Did I see this coming? Absolutely not, he said, holding a beer for refreshment and a champagne bottle for target practice. And thats the beauty of it.

Bingo. Case closed. No further interpretation required.

The Season That Dare Not Speak Its Name finally shouted to the heavens, and the San Francisco Giants are finally, finally, the champions of the baseball-speaking world.
They are so because they had the best pitching, over and over again. They are so because they squeezed every last drop from a roster that never really looked quite ripe to the outside world. They are so because Bruce Bochys cover as an elite manager was finally and irrevocably blown.

And they are so because Edgar Renteria is the gift that kept on giving, even after nobody really wanted to know what gifts he had to bring.

But he brought one last beauty to the final party of the most improbable championship season in decades -- an aggressive swing at a misplaced 2-0 cutter from Cliff Lee with two outs in the seventh inning that got legs and carried just over the Samsung sign in left-center field.

He is a great pitcher, and I knew the cutter was his best pitch, Renteria said as he basked in the glory of his Series MVP award. When he got to 2-0, I thought I might only get one pitch to swing at, so I guessed he would throw the cutter, and I got lucky.

This, of course, after he told center fielder Andres Torres that he was going to do just that. Luck? Maybe. Luck with a side of Damn straight! Absolutely.

Luck, of course, is the residue of a lot of things beyond merely design, and the Giants were designed in such a way that nobody in their right mind would see this as remotely possible even as recently at September 1.

Shows what the world knows.

These guys entered another world on September 1, bullpen coach Mark Gardner said. They were unbelievable. Beyond unbelievable. Right now, youd have to think they could beat whatever Yankees you can think of.

That might be more than most historians can endure.

This Giant team went through the playoffs with what most objective observers would say was an extraordinarily top-heavy team -- all pitching, lots of defense, so-so hitting. They were the first team in 20 years to have neither a 30-homer nor a 90-RBI man. Their four- and five- hitters Monday took turns batting eighth in the postseason.

They didnt make sense in a lot of ways, which is why they made perfect sense at the end.

Tim Lincecum was over-the-top good, allowing three hits and striking out 10 in eight innings. This, following Madison Bumgarners absurdly brilliant start Sunday in Game 4. In fact, Matt Cain, who threw 7 23 innings of four-hit shutout ball in Game 2, finished third.

Now how were the Texas Rangers supposed to cope with that? By going down quietly, thats how. By getting only one man past first base, Nelson Cruz, who homered off Lincecum in the bottom of the seventh. By hitting .190, 86 points lower than their regular season average.

By vanishing at games end, properly vanquished and knowing that if the Series had gone five more games, theyd be down 8-2.

This was the right result, for the right reasons, as absurd as the notion is. Even now.

This is surreal, Cain said. It doesnt feel like it really happened."

Theyll get used to it. Theyll have to. Theyre all getting jewelry that says they did it, and rings dont lie.

And in the end, the clinching game a blur (at 2:32, it was the quickest Series game since 1992), the process of making it all sink in began.

With players running around the bases and hugging wives and girlfriends and each other and equipment manager Mike Murphy -- the last original Giant, a former bat boy at Seals Stadium, wrestling unsuccessfully with tears and trying to decline over and over again to tell anyone how it feels to finally win the big one -- the fans on the floor of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington closed with a familiar chant: Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!

Youd have thought they would finally rise above such parochial concerns, but old habits die hard. Now they all have to learn how to wear the crown, and the adjustment from lifelong afterthoughts to the world of unalloyed bragging will be hell.

A delicious, joyous, relentless, giddy, drunken hell.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

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.

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.