Ray Ratto

Second half not about Lincecum


Second half not about Lincecum

Giants fans have developed this nasty habit of turning on their own with swiftness and mercilessness that is both unpleasant and entertaining.Aubrey Huffs honeymoon after the 2010 season lasted half a year. Bruce Bochys, four months. Brian Sabean, 35 minutes. Hell, Pat Burrell and Freddy Sanchez are thought of more highly for having disappeared entirely than for flailing about in plain view.And now, its Tim Lincecums turn. That, and his rancid first half numbers, which are so bad that they actually produce more laughter than pity. Laughter, as in nervous, involuntary what-the-hell-do-you-make-of-that laughter that mostly replaces an undercurrent of fright caused by the conventional wisdom of years ago.RELATED: Baggarly -- Lincecum calls himself 'weak link'
You remember it: Hell have a short career because of the violent and unorthodox nature of his delivery. That wisdom is still out there, and it seems to playing itself out among the more distant and thoughtful members of society.Closer in, though, its more a demand among the hyperactive fan base of fixing the immediate problem so that he doesnt inflict himself on the customers every fifth day and harsh their mellows.Indeed, we are surprised that there hasnt been a groundswell for the Giants building a big red barn in the parking lot, taking him out behind it and shooting him, while people watch for the right contribution to the Giants Community Fund.Its probably just a sponsorship issue, though, one Larry Baer would have solved for Barry Zito some years ago if he could have. There may be time for them to demand and get the Old Yeller Solution for Lincecum they seem to crave.And now weve fallen into the trap of thinking 2012 is about Lincecum. It isnt. Its about a team that improved its offense, has held serve with its pitching, and yet has an odd combination of results that baffles more than it enlightens.Two years ago, the Giants were plus-57 in runs at the break, and five games over .500. Last year, they were 12 games over, and plus-five. This year, they are six over and minus-eight.Thus, based on current results, they should actually be 42-44, and are actually overachieving; the previous two years, they were four games worse. This probably tells us more about expected wins and losses at the All-Star Break than anything else, or maybe about the stat in general.But the fact is that they fixed their offensive problem, and they still havent reached the level of nirvana they have marketed their fans into believing they deserve.This means something, or someone has failed them, and therefore it must be . . . . . . do we really need to say?Zito has exceeded expectations. Matt Cain is the new golden child, which is perfect since he seems to be the one in the room who cares the least about being so. Ryan Vogelsong has consolidated his good year in 2011 with a better one, and Madison Bumgarner is enjoying more than enduring his second full year in the big leagues.RELATED: Giants 2012 stats
Buster Poseys leg hasnt fallen off. Brandon Belt has finally seemed to grasp the nuances of what the Giants coaching staff has been screaming at him to do for over a year. Ryan Theriot has plugged the hole at second, Pablo Sandoval remains both marvel and maddening at the same time, the outfield is pretty well fixed from foul pole to foul pole, and Brandon Crawford needs only to become the defensive specialist he has always been considered to get people to accept his hitting deficiencies.And nobody has seemed to miss Brian Wilson all that much, although they run hot and cold on Santiago Casilla while loving Sergio Romo all the more. How someone hasnt rammed an animal image suitable for stuffing and selling down his yap frankly escapes us.But nobody seems terribly happy about all this. Being a half-game behind the Dodgers, and south of the Nationals, Pirates, Dusty Bakers and Braves, and tied with the Mets seems to have unnerved the student body, and they have chosen the easiest target.The one they have loved the most.Theres probably something weirdly Freudian in all this, but smart folks dont do Freud at midseason. They do Jamesons, and wait for developments.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?”