Ray Ratto

Ratto: Personality paramount for Bay Area baseball


Ratto: Personality paramount for Bay Area baseball

A'S PAGE A'S VIDEORay RattoCSNBayArea.com

It was an unusually festive afternoon at Municipal Stadium, and we didnt even need a good bench-emptying brawl between the As and Giants to get it.Two fans had certified Hideki Matsui as the new face of the Athleticals by making T-shirts and a 30-foot sign that read MATSUILAND in old English script, which of course caused the movable feast of Japanese reporters and photographers to pose him in front of the sign.Manager Bob Geren waxed eloquent (yeah, yeah, I know) on how the As went from being the worst base-running team in creation to one of the best. A sun and a gentle wind conspired to make a downright pleasant day, and the smoke from the grills worked the kind of magic one normally finds from a roulette table at Gamblers Anonymous.But we still could have used the brawl anyway. It would given a little dusting of salt to the As 6-0 win over the error-saturated Giants before a sellout crowd of 8,330 sun-baked and temporarily indolent.
RELATED: Anderson, A's shut out Giants 6-0
All the comparisons between the 2010 Giants and 2011 Elephants have been made over and over again, to the point where they form a thin unappetizing gruel. Theyre not that similar unless you can squint and make Javier Lopez look like David DeJesus and Pat Burrell like Josh Willingham.But these are two teams that have never really engaged as much as lived on separate dorm floors. Even now, their closest connection will be the moment when Bow Tie Billy Neukom and Suitcase Lew Wolff olive oil wrestle over the San Jose territorial rightsmiscellaneous bribes debate.The two franchises have never really argued over the same space in any other context, save the 1989 World Series, and even then the earthquake made owning the area less valuable than it might otherwise have been. Put another way, the As did not plant their flag in the Marina even after the firemen left.The worm has turned in the ensuing 22 years, and now the Giants are walking the walk, and the As are finally just now re-latching on to an identity that isnt a Michael Lewis footnote or a reminded of the highly muscled 80s and early 90s.And that identity is apparently being supplied by a guy who has been on campus for only 81 days and willingly speaks almost no English.It is painfully, aggressively, immutably clear that the Bay Area has not only been a palace for front-runners and label-shoppers but for quirkybigger-than-life personalities. The two tams have gone through spurts with them, and without them, and frankly, with is way better.Not just for media purposes, either. The Giants not only won, they won by flogging the misfits label like it was a rented mule pulling a wagon through a mud bog. The clubhouse is thick with quirk, some of it even genuine and spontaneous. Even Bruce Bochy, who has historically worked every bit as hard as Geren at tarping his personality, has finally caved in and become something of a charmer.The As? Well, theres Dallas Braden, and the solid and essentially honest Mark Ellis and Kurt Suzuki. The rest is about young pitching, a school bus full of relievers, some new hitters to make the old ones better, Geren waxing euphoric about the base runners, when theyre not getting thrown out on steal attempts as Andy LaRoche did Saturday.And the apparent icon that is Matsui.Often, characters are built through winning. It may turn out that Daric Barton is only 20 homers away from turning into Sammy The Bull Gravano at the Congressional hearings on the Mafia, or that Brett Anderson is secretly Louis C.K. with a slider. Not sure that Oakland is yet ready for free-range lingerie a la Aubrey Huff, but wins buy leeway, and always have.On the other hand, personality is not so prized on a third-pace team. Carlos Silva had lots of personality the other day for the Cubs, and ended up having to apologize when his personality tried to get into a fight with Aramis Ramirez personality.
RELATED: Cubs' Silva takes blame for scuffle
In short, the As have to do with grassroots ideas like winning, as they did Saturday, and Matsuiland, although the old english thing seems a bit disingenuous, graphically speaking. At least when he posed for those pictures in front of the sign, he looked . . . well, bemused.And hardly the sort of guy who would make a cartoon character out of an article of womens underwear. Yet.

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?”