Ray Ratto

Ratto: Rowand Era ends seven months early


Ratto: Rowand Era ends seven months early

Aug. 31, 2011


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So ends the Aaron Rowand Era in Giants baseball history seven months before it was supposed to, and 24 months after it went wrong.

Rowand and Miguel Tejada were both designated for banishme . . . er, assignment before Wednesdays Giants-Cubs game, an indication that there really was monetary figure that management would be willing to eat. 14 million, as it turns out, give or take.

Rowands career in San Francisco ended badly, on the business point of a 1-for-24 slump and finished with a strikeout at the hands of Carlos Marmol. One last flail in a stay dominated by too much talk about his contract and universal frustration that he never made his production match it.

He had his moments, to be sure, contributing to the postseason drive that seems now to have happened 40 years ago. Like all other Giants on the roster, he kicked in with big plays at timely moments that nearly rehabilitated him with a fan base that never took to him from the moment Peter Magowan hauled him in for the bargain price of 60 million over five years.

NEWS: Giants DFA Tejada, Rowand; Burrell reinstated

But they never let him up for that month of glory because they were too invested in the contract and the lack of performance that came with it. His batting stance annoyed them by its seeming awkwardness, and his low power and inadequate secondary statistics combined with diminished playing time and trust from the management to create a Giants experience he will largely regret.

In short, unhappy and unproductive campers could be endured in good times, but not in bad ones, and this has been one bad good season. Thus, when Brian Sabean decided too much of nothing was enough, he opted to eliminate his Tejada gamble (a time-killer until Brandon Crawford could find a major league stroke) and the Rowand error (which surely had to be cleared with the up-aboves, who are still on the hook for one more full season at 12 million plus the balance of this season).

Will it change the Giants situation viz. The 2011 postseason? Probably not, unless Pat Burrell is ready to recreate his best Philly days and Brett Pill is the new Buster Posey, which is a fairly unfair standard for anyone.

URBAN: Giants fans need Vogelsong's story to last

And let us be clear, Rowand and Tejada were not the causes of this extraordinary hitting failure, but consistent with the symptomology. They were handy scapegoats in a field full of goats worthy of scaping, but they could no longer make a case for staying and probably wouldnt have if theyd been asked to. They were miserable here, and while they both believe they have more to give the game, they are probably as happy to be done with the Giants as the Giants are to be done with them.

So no, this does not usher in a new era of good feeling. People lost jobs today, and the team is probably not markedly better or worse for their departures. But there was no compelling to reason to keep their leaky buckets while the entire ship was taking on water and needed every bilge pump at full capacity and power.

In other words, it was time for this to happen. Miguel Tejada, we hardly knew ye. Aaron Rowand, heres for services rendered in the pursuit of a World Series ring nobody believed would ever exist. Wish it had ended better, but its Darwins world and were just trying to float through without too much scarring.

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?”