Ratto Says...(article posted)
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Naive A's actually pushing baseball
Sunday, March 27, 2005
And the A's wonder why the Giants get all the pub.
I mean, if you want people to notice you, you have to pay the price, and the A's don't want to. "This Is A's Brand" may as well be generic.
Now we can already hear you East Bay types getting that hump in your neck and growling, "Oh, it's one more cheap shot from those West Bay jackals," but you have to hear us out on this because, as is typically the case, we're right.
First, what has been the overarching theme of this spring training? Steroids, and the extraordinary efforts being made by baseball not to admit that they exist: "Honest, Mr. Congressman, we just thought they were meth- coated Flintstones Chewables."
That, and Pedro Martinez, for what that's worth.
But between Barry Bonds and Jose Canseco and Barry Bonds and Bud Selig and Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds and Curt Schilling and Barry Bonds, this has been a spring training straight from Satan's tubercular lungs. Baseball hasn't been held in this kind of malodorous regard since the Black Sox sold the 1919 World Series to Arnold Rothstein for 40 grand.
And where are the A's in all this? Giving us Huston Street.
And Kirk Saarloos.
And Seth Etherton.
And Eric Byrnes.
And Barry Zito.
And Jason Kendall.
The A's are giving us the eternal hope of spring, and the promise of the eager nonroster player, and the smell of the morning grass, and the sweet sounds of ball on bat, ball on leather, and "Kevin Pittsnogle from the corner . .. FOR THREE!"
Yes, the A's are giving us baseball, and man, are they missing the point.
Maybe Billy Beane and Ken Macha and whoever owns the team this morning think that the A's gave up a large part of their alumni list to the sideshow. Canseco, McGwire, Jason Giambi, Sandy Alderson, Tony La Russa ... those are quite a few ponies to add to the dogs that turned the steroid hearings into "CSI: Foggy Bottom."
Maybe they are too young to have earned their spurs in scandal, or too clever to have been caught on the bad side of the syringe.
Maybe they are just bluff old traditionalists channeling Connie Mack, Jimmie Foxx and the Dead Ball Era.
All we know is this: Baseball isn't selling the innocence of promise this spring, but the A's are.
Too bad for them, too, because life can be hard on page 5.
The sad thing is, it's probably too late for them to do anything about it, either. Beane can't really stand on the roof of Phoenix Muni in his underwear waving two pistols and demanding a helicopter to the Caymans. Macha can't set Mark Ellis on fire. Lew Wolff can't announce he is building a new ballpark right across the street from the Bed Bath & Beyond.
Well, he could, I suppose, but not without a lot more money than he already has, and not without Jerry Brown resigning as mayor of Oakland to become the new U.S. ambassador to Kyrgyzstan.
No, the A's are, as they like to say on the corner of Cliché and Trite, what they are. A team that pulled out its starting rotation the way your next- door neighbor pulls the carburetor out of his '67 Mustang. A team that is living on a harsh fiscal diet and the bounty of its minor-league system. A team that has to win its division because the wild card is simply unavailable to it. A team playing with a prosciutto-thin margin.
Under normal circumstances, that would be fine. But these are not normal circumstances, as if you couldn't guess. These are times that require lawyers, subpoenas, book deals, implausible denials, and Commissioner Bud holding his head in his hands and wondering why this couldn't be happening to Fay Vincent instead.
Baseball? You'd have a better time promoting "Cock Fighting From the Bellagio."
The A's only way out here is to hope that when the season begins, people will reacquaint themselves with the simpler verities -- pitcher vs. catcher, manager vs. umpire, concession stand vs. Dad's paycheck. They are an interesting but flawed team, and the flaws might turn out to be strengths by September. They play in a division of teams just like them, interesting but flawed, and if that doesn't light your wick, they have nine games with the Yankees and Red Sox.
What they don't have is Victor Conte's maniacal grin rising above the right-field stands ... at least not so far as we know, anyway. If this means they are out of fashion, well, what do you expect? They're still wearing white spikes and elephants on their sleeves.
*********We A's FANS have been enjoying the purest baseball in the leagues for a few years now... Ratto is a little late on this. Maybe if he got his head out of the Gnats' ass...could've noticed it.
| By deajay on Monday, March 28, 2005 - 03:44 pm:|
I read that column yesterday and thought it was dumb. Had the ring to me of a guy who had to get a column written ... regardless content.
| By kevink on Monday, March 28, 2005 - 04:42 pm:|
Just for the record, I love the white shoes!!!!!
| By oakchick on Monday, March 28, 2005 - 06:22 pm:|
Nothing wrong with white shoes - it makes us different.
Talking about pure baseball, I hope that when we get a new ballpark, it will not be like that yuppie horror across the bay....it should instead be a 100% devoted to baseball, baseball and nothing but baseball.
| By pachyderm on Monday, March 28, 2005 - 07:13 pm:|
All hail, white shoes and elephants on their sleeves!!!
| By cal_90 on Monday, March 28, 2005 - 07:14 pm:|
Beats Halloween colors any day.
Our UNIFORMS have a BRILLIANT GLOW!!! LOL!!! YES!!!!!!! ALL HAIL WHITE SHOES and ELEPHANTS!!! What the hell does Ratto know about style anyways?
| By ssblip on Monday, March 28, 2005 - 08:53 pm:|
You're all completely missing the point. The man is poking fun at his own perspective, his own (Giants) team, and the circus that is MLB these days. He's saying the A's are playing straight-ahead, pure, for-the-love-of-it ball, with no goofy sideshows. As though they're not with the program that is the Selig Slapstick Variety Hour.
God love us for it...it's a compliment, people. Fat bastards and all.
| By deajay on Monday, March 28, 2005 - 09:20 pm:|
Yes, Mr. Ratto is a glib tonguer. I don't think too many missed his point, by the way. The guy is simply not my favorite columnist by any stretch. Some of his columns I enjoy; most I can take or leave, shaking my head. I know many here hate Dickey and I didn't always agree with him. But frankly, his columns often had more meat than Ratto's columns. And when you agreed or disagreed with Dickey, explaining your opinion, as least he responded ... and often in length. I had some very good exchanges with Dickey over the years. Ratto can't be bothered. IMO, the Chron dumped the wrong columnist ... and yes, I know, my opinion is a minority one. But it's still my opinion.
I agree with sslip. That column was very complimentary to the A's.
And I'm sorry...I have to completely disagree with dj here in respect to Ratto vs Dickey. The latter, responsive or not, completely lacked in credibility and carried his personal vendetas and interests into his columns.
I never hated Dickey...but just had no respect for the guy, even though he did write many pro-Oakland stuff.
Its a compliment to some extent...but it also says we're boring and boring doesn't work...it only allows us to get 5th page coverage...Its media personel like him that would rather cover 2 men in a bathroom stall poking each others butt, rather than a great, young baseball team with characters (Zito, Byrnes etc...) that the country would love with a little exposure. He's giving a compliment??? Thats like being viewed as the homely, old fashioned girl next door that nobody wants to date...but GEE...what a SMILE!!!
| By deajay on Tuesday, March 29, 2005 - 08:32 am:|
lil, know your feelings about Dickey, that's why I stated that's my opinion. Ratto also rarely has time to bother responding to readers who don't agree with him ... even if they do. I almost always found Dickey willing to respond and even willing to concede if he felt the reader's points were valid. Columnists are paid to write their take and opinions on things. I often wonder where Ratto is coming from. Though I find some of his columns clever and amusing. Others, I just have to file a big ? after.