Ray Ratto

Ratto: A's must change to either contend or entertain


Ratto: A's must change to either contend or entertain

May 30, 2011A'S PAGE A'SVIDEO

Ray RattoCSNCalifornia.com

OAKLAND -- Its never entirely fair to take one game and make sweeping generalizations about a baseball team not when there are 161 others that could mislead a body.And yes, the As are no more a failure after being suffocated by Bartolo Colon Monday than they were pennant contenders after sweeping the Orioles over the weekend. Their strengths were displayed against Baltimore, their crushing weakness against New York.RECAP: Yankees get to Cahill early, A's lose 5-0
But frankly, and we speak here only as people who crave entertainment, the As need another internal problem to get our attention.

Oh, the Brian Fuentes-Bob Geren-Huston Street dance mix was diverting enough, but as you knew he would, Billy Beane raced to quell the disturbance before it became, well, a disturbance.That is because Beane is a well known pooper of parties, no scatology intended. He hates when players speak up, and especially hates it when they speak up for a manager he likes (as opposed to, say, Ken Macha).GUTIERREZ: A's Insider notes -- Colon's fountain of stem cell youth
And Daric Barton, the stealth two-hitter who snapped at an abusive fan Sunday afternoon, might do so again. I mean, a fella can hope, right?Still, as it can now be reasonably inferred that the As will rank among the worst in baseball at generating offense through power, thoroughly mediocre at generating it through speed, and unlikely at generating it through misdirection or trickery, the As need such diversions for the masses to keep us from forgetting them in the summer to come.(Youll notice here that we are not going to go into an attendance rant. Thats a tired old chestnut that has been hashed out a hundred times in eight dozen different ways, and is unworthy either of these fingers or your eyes).Still, when the big payoff for the Elephants attempts at audience-wrangling center around Well, the rest of the division is lousy, too, there is no big payoff at all.Someone, you see, will come out of this division with 90 wins. Someone has to. Well, someones surely going to. Only 15 American League teams since 1969, the first year of playoffs, have reached the postseason with fewer than 90, and thats out of 56 possible spots (we excluded the two strike years), and twice, in 1987 (Twins, Yankees) and 1998 (Indians, Rangers), have two sub-90s made it in the same season.In short, unless this is a much worse year than we believe, the As are going to have to defy some extraordinary odds to find themselves playing that elusive 163rd game.As of today, they will have to pick up the pace to score 600 runs. Only one AL team, the 1972 Tigers, got to the postseason scoring fewer, with 558 in 156 games, pro-rated to 579. The As current pace is 580.In short, they are very much a National League team ... a National League team from the mid-60s. The 1968 Pirates, in fact, who finished 80-82, 40-41 both home and away and averaged less than a homer every two days.And that means they are bland without the hope of being a dynamic team in any other way save manager sniping.Now maybe were overselling the Rangers or Angels here (you cant oversell the Mariners as much as they are overselling themselves now), but we doubt it. Its hard to advance with as few wins as the As are projecting, so theyd better have something else to go with, and no, holding their breaths until they get a new stadium wont do it ... unless theres a hypoxia promotion scheduled for later this year.So we think lashing out at someone looks like the way to go. Media members dont raise the hackles, so itll have to be fans, the manager, the general manager, the owners, players on players, an umpire. You know, something a little closer to the action. I mean, we did have fun with the Geren-Fuentes thing, we really did. Sure it sort of sucked for Geren and Fuentes, but you cant have an omelet without throwing eggs against your breakfast partners face.Or maybe they can figure out a way to work the Buster Posey Kennedyesque-tragedy angle the Giants fan base has flogged so well this last week. I dont know how theyd do it, but a mere broken leg clearly wont be enough.Otherwise, theyll remain as they are a study in earnest inertia. Pitching well, hitting barely at all, fielding well below the norm and watching others have all the fun in September. And thats if there are NFL and NBA lockouts.This, kids, is no way to go through the summer. No way at all.

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?”