Ray Ratto

Ratto: Taking A's temperature after two months


Ratto: Taking A's temperature after two months


OAKLAND -- It is June 1, the season is a third done (well, .345679012345679 over, if math be told), and we can make a clear and unambiguous statement about the Athletics.

They will go as far as Billy Beane will take them at the trade deadline.

And since for the As the trade deadline is too late, we can start anticipating some cross-armed toe-tapping as we wait for the As to repair themselves at the first pit stop.

RECAP: Anderson lit up by Yankees, A's lose 10-3

Oh, we all enjoyed the Bob Geren-Brian Fuentes psychological thriller for the comedy it provided, but the As will not be defined by that unless the As are a lot more trivial than we think they are.

In fact they are more of what we thought they were than when the season started -- a team loaded with starting pitchers, a bullpen that if healthy can stand with any of them (and since they arent ever healthy, we can give them the incomplete they deserve), without a lot of offense and a nerve-wracking defense.

The defense has been worse than we thought, the hitting has been nearly hopeless, and the starters have been exceptional. Indeed, any hopes and dreams they harbor now are based on the fact that neither Texas nor Los Angeles has made a move yet, either. They stand 2 game out of the division lead, 3 out of the wild card.

And nobody looks at this and sees a breakout coming. Of course, they could all be wrong about this, but that isnt the way to bet.

In fact, it looks far more likely that this season will be defined every bit as much by what Beane does to improve it at the same time that every other serious general manager is looking to improve his team, rather than by him being a seller surrounded by buyers.

In other words, unless the As decide to fall out of the race entirely in the next month, this will not be a Matt Holliday kind of year.

Beane has typically done his bargain hunting in the offseason, being bold when those around him are not. Its been a while since he had to throw elbows to clear himself some space below the rim, but if these are the As we will be presented with on June 15 (after all, the real trade deadline moves closer and closer to July 1 rather than July 31), he is going to have to make the kind of choice he usually asks another GMs to make, namely:

The morning, or the future.

Beane is not normally swayed by public sentiment. In fact, if you got him drunk enough, hed likely tell you he hates public sentiment because he knows lots more than the public does. Which ought to be the case, frankly -- either that, or we all have a piece of his salary and club share coming to us.

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

But this was the team with expectations. This was the team that was going to Giant-size its way into the tournament. Pitching pitching pitching, and a burst of late-season moves to patch up those plumbing and wiring.

Well, were heading toward the patching part of the season, or at least the part where the phone calls start getting plentiful. And somewhere in the next 61 days, sooner rather than later, Beane will have to decide whether this team can be fortified to make a run, will have to wait yet another year, or be stripped for and sold for parts.

There wont be a press release on it. Itll be a mental calculation he shares with owner John Fisher, front man Lew Wolff, aide de camp David Forst and, maybe, Geren as well. And well know it based as much on what he doesnt do as much as what he does.

So while you think this is a managers disconnect story, it isnt, not really. This is about the moment Billy Beane either has his Eureka moment, in which he makes the deal that says he is going for the gold, or his Yreka moment, in which he does nothing at all and decides that 2012 is a more fortuitous time for a playoff run.

And thats if the Mayans dont kick everyone in the hinder first.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.

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?”