Sunday, March 27, 2005

Ray Ratto

I've always said that Ray Ratto, although a smug asshole who is full of himself, can occasionally write something that is very insightful about Bay Area sports. All he has to do is just resist the urge to write a crappy knee-jerk piece that will rile up the public. What he wrote today is one of those rare, insightful pieces.

Naive A's actually pushing baseball, SF Chronicle 3/37/05

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.

<blah, blah, blah...I'm so smart...>

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.

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.

<blah, blah, blah...I'm so funny...>

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.

Let's face it A's fans, this is as positive as he's ever going to get on our beloved A's. Despite his really unbearable demeanor he hits several issues square on the head. The A's are a young team who are out to have fun, playing the game of baseball. It doesn't get much purer than that. We don't need no superstar on the DL to be the centerpiece of our marketing or a super-fancy ballpark where all the hipsters congregate because it's soooo in to be at SBC.

Yeah, the A's of the past are embroiled in all of this steroid ugliness (Bash Bros., Giambi...), but not these A's.

This current incarnation of A's baseball is 100% pure, unadulterated American Pastime. And that's why I love them so. This summer is going to be a fun one following these A's no matter what.

It's good to see Ray Ratto think for himself, he should do it more often.


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