Ray Ratto

Sharks' trade scenarios multiply


Sharks' trade scenarios multiply

With one accidentally-placed knee, Ales Hemsky just changed Doug Wilsons next five weeks.

When Hemsky collided knee-to-knee with San Jose defenseman Brent Burns Monday night in Edmonton, the Sharks general manager went from peddling goaltenders for the missing piece of the grand puzzle to peddling goaltenders and more for a replacement on defense and special teams.

In short, unless the news on Burns is good (and he returns to San Jose Wednesday to be examined by team doctors, orthopedists and capologists, just in case), Wilson gets to reorient himself to a radically different world than the one he faced a week ago.

Plus, we get another glimpse of his poker skills, and eventually whether his hole cards had faces on them or the numbers 7 and 2.

Here, first, are your various scenarii:

- Martin Havlat, Ryane Clowe and Burns are all cleared within the next week or two, in which case Wilson could do as little as nothing. Nothing is unlikely, since he claims to have more goaltenders than he could use if he was running a second franchise, and who couldnt use a little good-natured roster depth? Still, skipping the Feb. 27 deal date is a possibility.

- Havlat and Clowe are back, but Burns is out, forcing Wilson to use whatever chips he has on a puck-carrying top-pair defenseman who can help run a power play and kill penalties. There arent many of those creatures on the market, so some improvisationoverpaying would have to result.

- Havlat is back but struggles as he has before his injury, Burns returns but Clowe doesnt, in which case Wilsons new priority is a disturbing forward who will invade the opponents crease, be something of a cop on the beat and still get 10 goals in the last two months. Again, those may grow on trees, but trees native to North America or Europe.

One thing we probably wont learn is Burns prognosis before the All-Star break. Wilson will either get a glowing report which he will cheerfully share with the nation at large, or he will get some form of bad news, in which case he will say that Burns is day-to-day, the catch-all phrase that covers anything from a week to were screwed. Wilson is not averse to the odd whopper to keep information from the general managing public, which puts him in a tie with 29 other guys.

So if he isnt betrayed by Twitter, or an agent with a gift for blab, or a family member who wants to share, he can keep this sufficiently hush-hush for enough time to cover himself until the deadline. It must be said, though, that if he starts casting among other teams for a Burns type, they will cheerfully share that knowledge, because nothing drives a conversation quite like a time constraint.

But this will allow a glimpse of Doug Wilsons gift for tactical prevarication. Maybe hell slip us a safe word as a tell -- maybe something from the George Carlin Words You Cant Say On Television Collection. Because if the news on Burns andor Clowe and Havlat is bad, hell be using all seven of them, loudly and repeatedly.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.

Taking politics out of sports? Now that’s a more interesting idea


Taking politics out of sports? Now that’s a more interesting idea

In lieu of the famous Invitation That Never Was, the Golden State Warriors decided to hook their annual trip to Washington to a trip to visit area kids. No visits to capital sights, no photo ops with politician/lampreys, no media at all in fact.

And in the immortal words of Poet Laureate Draymond Green, “It’s about something we did great. Why make it about (politics)?” he said.

But by that seemingly impeccable logic, the Warriors’ annual trip to Washington should be the equivalent of the Warriors’ annual trip to Milwaukee – a stop on a road trip.

Washington, you see, IS politics, and always has been. And sports and politics are joined at the forehead, and always have been. To take Washington out of sports would be easy – move the four area franchises (Wizards, Capitals, Nationals and Football Team X) to other cities, and never plan for championship teams to take another White House trip except as ordinary citizens.

But to take politics out of sports – now that’s a more interesting idea. Never mind kneeling for the national anthem; what about not standing for it, or playing it at all? How about taking the flag down entirely? And the Olympics? Without the politics, the Winter Games are just a weekend at Tahoe, and the Summer Games are just a massive company picnic.

And that’s the real depth of the rabbit hole. Nobody advocates for the Olympics to become a giant play date or an extended trip to the lodge. Nobody is advocating reducing the flagpoles to goal frames. Only a few think the anthem shouldn’t played before sporting events.

In other words, people have made their peace with sports and politics being intertwined. Me, I’d be good with giving all these ideas an extended try to see if they don’t make more and better sense than what we have now. But I am but one in a sea of many, and most people are perfectly okay with politics and sports – even the “Stick to sports” parrots. They’re not against sports and politics; they’re just against sports and politics they don’t like.

So with all due respect to Draymond Green, it’s all politics because we all have decided that we’re good with it all being politics. The day we decide otherwise may well be a happier and purer moment in human cultural development, but too few are willing to consider a world without conjoined politicosport, or commingled sportatics.

But if it helps, the Warriors are on the right track when they decided to do their visit without a media intrusion because media is part of this messy confluence as well. Going to see kids with no outsiders just because they’re kids is never a bad thing, and it has the added advantage that nobody can use it for their own nefarious greedfaced ends.

So maybe the Warriors can see some kids in Atlanta too, and Portland, and Minnesota, and Phoenix, all without anyone tagging along for fun and profit. There’s no politics in that, and if politics-free sport is something we actually want as a society, it has to start somewhere, and there’s no better place than a schoolyard to get that started.

Forever in search of an Oakland ballpark, the A's always have Japan


Forever in search of an Oakland ballpark, the A's always have Japan

If this helps the Athletics/Howard Terminal/BART/city government standoff in any way, there’s this:
The A’s open the 2019 season in Japan, according to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle
How this helps is anyone’s guess, but given the litany of ways that a new privately financed baseball stadium cannot get built in the Nickel-Dime area code, it must surely be a comfort to know that outside the continental United States, the A’s are golden.
Indeed, Oakland ‘s role as the leading exporter of professional sports contests to foreign lands (their series with the Seattle Mariners next year will be the 21st, 22nd and 23rd games played off-continent by Oakland’s three teams) simply grows. Indeed, once the Raiders go to Las Vegas and the Warriors to That Other Place, the A’s will be the only thing that can be exported, and once they get their new ballpa . . .
. . . oops, sorry. Didn’t mean to bring up cruel fictions again.
The A’s aren’t even part of this latest dustup except in receipt of a letter in which BART general manager Grace Crunican said that a station near a Howard Terminal site isn’t going to happen. This is more a grenade rolled under the chair of the Right Hon. Libby (Don’t Mess With Me) Schaaf, who has been flogging the Howard Terminal plan with the aggression one typically finds in an Aaron Judge at-bat.
And in honesty, an elected official who can flip off the National Football League and not feel the electorate’s wrath is not to be underestimated.
That said, the Crunican letter is one reminder that Oakland is as skilled as ever at finding ways to halt stadium plans before they even get started. More stadiums in more sites have been killed pre-shovel in Oakland than anywhere else in the U.S.
There will be horse trading and arm-twisting (not to mention arm trading and horse twisting, if it comes to that) between the current “no” and the series of “nos” to follow, but this does mean that the pot dispensaries need to step up now and speak as one about their own reason why a ballpark cannot happen in Oakland – maybe they can site a lack of arable land to cultivate the smoke for the woke.
And in the meantime, they’ll always have Japan – Oakland’s sister from another mother when it comes to hosting games our towns cannot.