Ray Ratto

Did Warriors prove regular season is one big warmup or is this their true selves?

Did Warriors prove regular season is one big warmup or is this their true selves?

Jim Barnett said an unusual thing at the end of Tuesday’s Warriors-Jazz defenestro-rama, and it was that he was glad the regular season was over. Better still, his voice oozed pain and disgust, as though the Warriors had monumentally failed the pre-test by not studying and might not be ready for the real thing.
 
And he might be right. He might also be wrong, because as the NBA is showing us over and over again, the regular season serves only to greatly diminish the concept of the warmup act.
 
In other words, Barnett grew up in an era in which the regular season was damned important, and these Warriors just completed the process of proving how small the regular season actually is.
 
That is, of course, if they win the title. If not, their disappointing 58-win regular season will be part of the proof of why they died. After all, when you’ve amassed the winningest season ever and the 10th and 11th winningest seasons ever in three successive seasons, people are going to notice when you drop the 97th winningest season ever and draw the requisite dire conclusions.
 
And the Utah game, in which the Warriors overachieved to lose by 40, was the final knee for folks who think the regular season is a direct link to the postseason, which is the very thing the Warriors worked so hard this year to disprove. In a season in which the final few days of the regular season have dripped drama, the Warriors left one last glob of spit on theirs because:
 
A. They didn’t have Stephen Curry.
 
B. They spent the entire year winning enough games while not meeting their internal standard, thus making 58 wins seem more like 38.
 
And C. The coaches and players prioritized rest and regeneration under the mantra “We’ll Be Fine When It Matters.”
 
Only nobody could truly agree on “when it matters” begins. Outsiders thought the deadline was the last 10 to 15 regular season games, the coaches figured five to 10, while the players pretty much decided on zero.
 
So now we’ll find out who was right – Jim Barnett, or the players he watches for money. And maybe that’s why he sounded so done with this regular season Tuesday night – because it either explained so little about the Warriors’ true selves, so revealed more than he, or anyone else, wanted to know.

Raiders' exit feels much more imminent after reported broadcaster swap

markdavisap.jpg
AP

Raiders' exit feels much more imminent after reported broadcaster swap

If Mark Davis really has decided to end Greg Papa’s tenure as the radio voice of the Oakland Raiders, then one of the last links between Oakland and the Raiders now is broken.
 
Rumors have spun for the better part of a month that Davis was looking to plant another flag in Las Vegas soil, and within the past few days, veteran network broadcaster Brent Musburger’s name has been linked to the job. Musburger is the main voice at gambling radio station VSiN and lives in Las Vegas, and as such is as recognizable a voice for the town as there is. The news of Musberger's hire by the Raiders was reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal late Tuesday.
 
The news picked up speed earlier Tuesday, first when tweeted out by “FakeRudyMartzke,” a largely credible voice on broadcasting gossip, and then picked up by AwfulAnnouncing.com and The Athletic. 
 
This would just be another inside-broadcasting story, though, if not for the fact that Papa, who's also a host for NBC Sports Bay Area, represents the second incarnation of the Oakland Raiders as Bill King represented the first, and breaking with that two years before the team’s actual departure from the Bay is another stark reminder of that departure.
 
The Raiders have not yet faced a real fan backlash over the decision to leave for Las Vegas, in large part because the process has gone so slowly and involved so many other cities. People have not only had a chance to face the fact that their team is leaving again, but the departure is not yet imminent.
 
Imminent arrives soon enough, though, and with it all the substantive and peripheral changes that will make the Raiders Nevada’s team. That Davis’ decision involves one of his father Al’s most trusted confidants also makes this another break with the old days, thus reinforcing Mark’s control of how the Raiders present themselves to the outside world.
 
The details on why Musburger has signed on for 2018 rather than 2020, when the Raiders are scheduled to relocate, still are to be ferreted out, but a team’s broadcaster, especially one with Papa’s tenure (21 years), is among the most enduring links between that team and its fan base, and change is jarring, especially as a harbinger of even bigger changes.
 
It is a change, though, that Davis is willing to undertake pre-emptively, either out of eagerness to begin the Las Vegas portion of his ownership or some professional/personal dissatisfaction with Papa. It breaks one of the last enduring bonds of this quarter-century of Oakland Raiders football, and with the minimal likelihood that there will ever be a third, this decision borders on the epochal.
 
In other words, Mark Davis now is making the Raiders' departure that much more real, and he's apparently ready to begin facing the belated reaction of a city scorned.

A's have obvious path at MLB trade deadline

A's have obvious path at MLB trade deadline

Trade deadlines often are exercises in fan tyranny, which is an odd thing to say about a group of people who hurl money and affection at their favorite teams with only a minimal possibility of return.
 
But fans do show what they think of their teams more aggressively around trade time, because they believe to their souls that teams show their devotion through player acquisition.
 
Be a buyer like the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are feverishly working to score shortstop Manny Machado from Baltimore, and the world loves you. Be a seller like the Orioles, and you die alone. Just check the attendance figures if you doubt that.
 
And do nothing? Well, if you’re not even going to try...
 
Which brings us to the Oakland Athletics, who might actually be best off being counter-intuitive doing exactly that much of nothing between now and the July 31 deadline-ette.
 
The reason? They might be good enough as is.
 
To believe this, one must first accept the idea that Houston, Boston and the New York Yankees are simply better teams that the A’s are not yet in position to overtake, either in the regular season or October.
 
One must then assume that Cleveland isn’t worth worrying about, which is the safest assumption of all because the Indians will not cross Oakland’s path, except in the unlikely event that both Oakland and Cleveland gather in the ALCS.
 
And finally, one must believe that the injury-savaged Seattle Mariners (without Felix Hernandez and James Paxton, their two best starting pitchers) are about to revert aggressively toward the mean.
 
And that would seem to be the obvious path to October for the A’s.
 
Sure, they could move Jed Lowrie for a starting pitcher, but does Jake Odorizzi make the A’s a World Series contender? Does J.A. Happ? And why do you weaken one of the game’s best offensive infields to do only that.
 
And they could get a nice haul of prospects by moving closer Blake Treinen, but does a team contend with Lou Trivino as its closer? Maybe, but it’s not a risk most teams would be willing to embrace.
 
Not only that, but Billy Beane has sworn on a stack of Fangraphs printouts that he is tired of being a seller and wants a team good enough to encourage roster stability. This is that roster – as long as you believe that it can’t be turned into the Red Sox overnight, which it can’t.
 
So this would be the best thing to hope for if you are an A’s fan. Unless you think Beane and David Forst can do a prospects-for-Jacob deGrom deal from the incredibly distressed New York Mets, standing with this roster is wise approach, flaws and all. As we said, this is counter-intuitive and very non-Beaneian, but a small yet recognizable bandwagon is gathering around them and it might just be perfect to emerge into the nation’s view as it is – the one American League team that isn’t too much a bully or, conversely, backing into the postseason like Cleveland.
 
This is not a permanent state, mind you. Once they break out, the A’s will be judged by their free agency and trade deadline work like everyone else. But for this one year, this one set of circumstances, the A’s might be better off being the A’s.
 
But if Machado comes open at the last minute... if he’s willing to play second... and bat seventh... oh, God, we’re getting sucked into the deadline vortex, aren’t we?