Ray Ratto

Ratto: Peering into the Giants' Post-Bowtie era


Ratto: Peering into the Giants' Post-Bowtie era

Sept. 15, 2011


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CSNBayArea.comWere only a few hours into the Post-Bowtie era of Giantsbaseball, so anyone who thinks he or she knows what the future will look likeis a certifiable know-it-all, gasbag and idiot.So heres what the future will look like:
In the vaguely-defined immediate term, not much different. The new world orderhasnt even been settled upon, and until that happens, the old world order isstill in play.Indeed, Billy Neukoms tenure of four years is among the briefest in baseballhistory for operational control of a team, except inheritances, but the WorldSeries of 2010 casts significant throw-weight. One, it helps inure most of theimportant figures from immediate dismissal, while also being the largest causeof Neukoms forced exit.The Giants, you may know, have been raking massive piles of cash through salesof everything down to spent sunflower-seed shells expelled from Buster Poseysmouth. But Neukom, who came into the big chair because Peter Magowan forgot howto keep the rest of the owners acknowledged, consulted and mollified, amazinglymade the same mistake.And both times, the linchpin for that dissatisfaction came from the HarmonBurns family.Burns was the silent partner with the most money in the game, and he didntmind Magowan running the shop alone. His wife Sue, who took over his 35 percentof the club (give or take a receipt) upon his death, did want to be consultedmore, and had the most shares to make change happen.Enter Neukom.Now, because the math is roughly the same, the Burns daughters, TrinaDean and Tori Burns, had to be among those disaffected by Neukoms style. Afterall, if they approved of his operational skill and control, their third and his20-some-odd percent made more than a majority. And unless the sisters have hada split, that math holds now.In short, nothing this momentous could have happened without their approval, ifnot instigation. There is no other big-piece investor to force his or her will.And for those of you who want to see in Larry Baer, the man who would win everySurvivor series without even taking off his coat, aSvengali-esqueMachiavellian mastermind, stop. He can be persuasive, but asthey say in baseball, money talks and -------- walks. Baer could not haveorchestrated this, and his place at the top of the food chain is eithertemporary, cosmetic, or both.The safest and most logical guess, in fact, is that either a big new investoris coming who wants Neukoms operational control (for which there is noevidence), or Burns and Dean are desirous of taking a more active role. Towardthat end, Trinas husband Rob Dean has long been believed to have taken aninterest in the business.Nothing along that line is imminent, though, unless this ownership moves a lotfaster than it ever has before. Neukom was moved out because he overstepped hispercentage of the stock, and the smart play is for the replacement orreplacements to remember that lesson as well.As to the baseball side, thats an open question as well. The Series stillweighs heavily on everyones judgments, and even the largest complaints, thecontracts of Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand, are sunk costs from two owners ago,and not the responsibility of Brian Sabeans wing of the building.Of course, Sabean is also a convenient and often misplaced target for fandisaffection, so if tickets suddenly become more plentiful on the market nextyear . . . well, who knows?That ultimately is the point. The volatility of the moment prevents anyone Baer, the Burnses, Emmanuel Burriss from declaring him- or herself the newemperor. That will play out in a transition far less linear and far moreconvoluted than the one which elevated Neukom in 2008.
And that will be the new Giants Way until further notice.

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?”