Ray Ratto

Ratto: Rowand escapes dead player walking label


Ratto: Rowand escapes dead player walking label

Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com

Just so we all understand each other, what the Giants provided Friday in their 5-4 12-inning pie fight victory over the St. Louis Cardinals was not torture. Torture is dead as a concept, and as a word. Move on, citizens.

RECAP: Wild home opener -- Giants walk off vs. Cardinals

If it has a name, and it should given the exertion you put into holding onto Torture a year later, it should be simply Rowand.

Yes, for A. Ryan Rowand, the 24 million piata who, if he is being greased to disappear this season, is making it hard for the Giants and their barely-sated clientele to dismiss him so easily. He still has some bite, and a hunk of your leg.

Sure, you could go with Bochy, since he and St. Louis manager Tony La Russa engaged in a game-long three-dimensional chess thrash that emptied both dugouts of available position players except the appendectomy victim (Matt Holliday) and the invisible catcher (Eli Whiteside).

Or you could with Wilson, for the Giant reliever who engaged in (and ultimately lost) an extended life-and-death struggle with home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman. He fought Dreckmans strike zone with indifferent results and thanked his after he left the game with a valedictory that only Cee-Lo Green could love.

But theyve been done to death the hat, the beard, all the props even the most ardent Gallagher fan could embrace.

Save for Rowand, whose only real prop, if you can conjure it, would be a hammock, which is what he looks like hes laying upon in the batters box. And somehow, Fear The Hammock doesnt translate.

No, only Rowand will do, and since you all had too good a day to dare call it torture, Rowand it shall be.

After all, it was Rowand who won last years home opener in the 13th with an infield single, moments after hitting Atlanta catcher Brian McCann with a swing as he tried to throw Juan Uribe out at second.And it was he who walled a 1-0 fastball from Brian Tallet with the bases loaded to score Nate Schierholtz in the bottom of the 12th Friday, making him the first player since 1977 to have successive Opening Day walk-off hits. If you guessed Toby Harrah of the Rangers as the previous one, go get yourself a drink. And then go out on a date. Youre clearly too focused on baseball.But never mind the game-winner. He also nearly won the game in the 10th with a hard smash that went right to left fielder Allen Craig, playing third in one of St. Louis manager Tony La Russas craftier gimmicks, the five-man infield. It is Rowands luck that Craig made a diving stop and forced a rundown to retire Andres Torres.But it is Rowands luck in 2011 that he got another crack at it, and delivered.If thats a metaphor, then so be it.Rowand has never found his happy place in San Francisco, from the moment when he signed the 60 million contract that rendered him a dollar sign rather than a player. He became a focus for all the Giants miscalculations, and his biggest crime was fighting against the tide too hard and too inflexibly. The more he fought, the worse it got, and the worse it got, the more he fought until he became a dead ballplayer walking.His name brought scorn, derision and demands that the Giants break a record for most salary eaten in one contract, which they have not done. That of course led to guesses as to how much salary they would eat, which led to guesses about when it would time to eat that salary, and when Cody Ross rises from the disabled list that speculation will rise again.But Friday was a moment when even his most strident critics had to acknowledge that there is still value in him, that he is not yet a spent force, that he is not a living example of worse money after bad. Maybe it wont last long, but it may have lasted long enough to give the Giants a battle cry for The Year After.Rowand. For the guy who cant be killed no matter how many people try.And if Rowand wont do, maybe the word that best describes his time here as a compromise candidate.Tortured.I mean, at least youll save on the shirts, right?

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?”