Thursday, February 28, 2008

Some more fun with Ray Ratto, now in handy San Francisco Chronicle version...

I must admit, I've taken something of a shine to Ray Ratto's crazy ramblings. He's not intelligent or especially interesting, but he doesn't seem to take himself too seriously. Of course, that's been said of Peter King, and I know how my esteemed colleagues feel about him. So that probably isn't too much of a defense. Eh, let's just take a look at Ray's latest, this time for his hometown San Francisco Chronicle.

Before we even begin, I'd like to remind you of Ray's headshot for CBS Sportsline:

And now let's take a look at his headshot for the Chronicle:

Let nobody say Ray Ratto doesn't understand what makes an awesome headshot. But does he understand the mechanics of an awesome article? Only one way to find out...

I wish I knew how to quit Bonds stories

That's the subhead. And I got to say...Ray, that's a terrible start. Even ignoring recent tragic events, Brokeback Mountain references have been passe for at least a year. How about "Bonds stories drink my milkshake"? It doesn't make even the first lick of sense, but since I'm still enraptured by the crazy eyes of Daniel Plainview (saw it last night...second time!) I would totally respect you for making the reference, even if that threatens my integrity as a bad sportswriting deconstructionist.

We note with satisfaction the discovery that our reactions are still sharp, our willingness to dive headlong into a conclusion is still inspiring, and our desire to say the words "Barry" and "Bonds" in the same sentence remain unabated.

So, uh...did that make any sense to you? Is Ray happy he's still a bad journalist who is obsessed with Barry Bonds? And could he have chosen a more roundabout way of communicating that idea? I mean, I appreciate the fact that he doesn't take himself very seriously - I could never imagine Plaschke writing something like this, for instance - but I'd really prefer it if I didn't have to read that paragraph three times just to understand the intended meaning. If I wanted to read sportswriting by James Joyce, I'd read Finnegans Wake.

Monday therefore was a great day. First, St. Louis manager Tony La Russa had said a day earlier that despite his extraordinary powers of suggestion, his superiors, general manager John Mozeliak and the ownership group decided not to be interested in Bonds for the second year in a row.

Man, I hate Tony La Russa. I don't have much to add, other than the idea of him fancying himself some kind of Svengali-esque master manipulator moderately amuses me. Ray Ratto and me, joined in mutual disrespect for Tony LaRussa. As they say in Oregon Trail II, let's keep going.

Then, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said there had been some minor discussions among the oxymoron that is the Rays' brain trust about signing Bonds, pitcher Kenny Rogers or outfielder Kenny Lofton. Managing general whatsis Andrew Friedman called it a non-story, trying to do our job for us. Andy old sock, old shoe, old chimp, we'll be the ones to decide what is and what isn't a non-story, thank you very much indeed.

What, "old sport" couldn't make the cut? I'm pretty sure none of those are actual phrases, and I'm pretty sure you need at least one real one for the joke to actually work. Also, Andrew Friedman is director of baseball operations, not "managing general whatsis." Keep your comedy mistakes straight, Ratty boy.

And yes, I do realize Ray is feigning ignorance of the team to show his disdain for Tampa Bay, but I'm pretty sure there's some good old-fashioned real ignorance underpinning it. And real ignorance passed off as ironic ignorance, well...that makes me furious!

(Yep, that'd be another Mystery Men reference. I am so uncool.)

And then Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris, reminded us all that Bonds isn't ready to retire, and that he would be willing to play in Japan if need be.

This could be pretty awesome. If he played a whole season, how many homers do you think he could hit? He's not in his prime anymore, but even so, fifty has got to be very attainable. Or maybe they'd just walk him like 400 times. I'm perfectly willing to make crazed, Krukian-type predictions about this.

Also, what if he had to wear one of those crazy triple-digit numbers, like 118 or something, and when the Japanese media asked him why he chose it, he just smiled and said, "Because that's how many homers I'm hitting this year." Hell, what if Barry just really took a shine to the Japanese media? I mean, Japan has been known to embrace possibly misunderstood raging freaks of nature who are basically walking cautionary tales for unchecked technological advancement and also really appear to have cripplingly bad knees:

By the way, I was seriously considering not going for the obvious punchline there and making it somebody other than Godzilla. But that would have meant depriving you of random Godzilla awesomeness, and I'm just not prepared to do that. Also, I couldn't think of a better punchline. Maybe legendary Japanese warrior Yamato Takeru? But that's only because his name reminds me of the Yamato Gun from Starcraft, and that shit's badass:

Wait, what am I writing right now? Oh, that's right, making fun of a Ray Ratto article. Back to the grind!

So in one 24-hour period, we have no news on Bonds from the Cardinals, the Rays and the Yakult Swallows. But because someone said his name, that's good enough for us.

Way to cramp my buzz, Ratty Boy. You're about to get all serious and self-righteous and shit, aren't you? Aren't you? AREN'T YOU!? You were doing so moderately well taking neutered potshots at Tony LaRussa. Fuck it, let's just hear it...

Because playing or no, visible or not, in uniform or in a suit, Barry Bonds remains the gift that keeps on giving.

He sure is, considering how many crappy articles have been essentially gift-wrapped presents for bloggers far more talented than I to rip the ever-living shit out of. Can't really argue with you there.

Whatever moral issues you might or might not have with Bonds pursuing his career while he waits for a trial date, rest easy knowing that we have no issue with pursuing Bonds stories,

What the hell's the point of writing this article? It's a Barry Bonds article decrying Barry Bonds articles. Just don't write them and think of something else. What's that Ray? The real point is to make shitty jokes and weird analogies? Oh, OK then.

even if all they are is someone saying his name in a meeting as part of some Bizarro World Jeopardy category - "I'll take Baseball Players in Their Mid-40s Who Need a Gig for $1,600, Alex."

Actual baseball players in their mid-40s who would gladly accept $1,600 for a chance to play ball:
Who is...Jose Canseco? (Because he's still got so much to prove.)
Who is...Ozzie Canseco? (Because he still has to prove he has something to prove.)
Who is...Fred McGriff? (Because if Sosa can do it and Juan-Gon can try to do it, then the Crime Dog is come back for his seven fucking homers.)
Who is...Paul O'Neill? (Because fucking True Yankees never lose the itch. The itch to hit-and-run and sac-fly and turn perfect 9-6-3 DPs and just generally be gritty-licious and hustle-tacular all the way to another third consecutive championship, just like they used to back when being a Yankee fucking meant something. Fucking A-Rod man, fucking A-Rod just don't get that shit at all. Also Paul never got round to catching a fly ball in his hat.)
Who is...Rickey Henderson? (Nah, that doesn't work. Fucker's 49, for a start.)

Also, I believe Bizarro World Jeopardy would involve people asking questions in the form of a question to receive answers in the form of an answer. regular Jeopardy already Bizarro World Jeopardy? All I know is, I'll be watching Alex Trebek carefully from now on. Based on my research, Bizarros act something like this...

So if Trebek acts all intellectual and learned when any real dude would act like an immature, snickering moron...

Ah shit, Trebek's a fucking Bizarro. Or maybe he's actually Mr. Mxyzptlk...

Look, whatever the case, Trebek has definitely fought Superman in some comically bizarre way. I feel pretty comfortable saying that much. I also feel very comfortable saying Trebek vs. the Man of Steel would be better than Superman Returns. Just saying.

God, I'm getting so off-topic. I think this is what happens when I try deconstructing the ramblings of crazy people.

Could the Cardinals use Bonds the player? Of course, and especially so if Albert Pujols' plan to play the season with an injured elbow turns out to be nutty.

Trust me, Albert, Ray Ratto knows nutty. So if he says what you're up to might be nutty...well, all I'm saying is call some squirrels pronto, because we're talking a nut bonanza here.

Great. I've become Ray Ratto. I think I liked it better when I was figuring out which Superman villain Alex Trebek was.

Also, according to Pujols himself, "It didn't make sense having the surgery and just clean it up, when cleaning it up it wasn't going to make it good." I have no idea if this is accurate, but I do trust Pujols to know what's nutty and what's not and then to do what's not, in fact, nutty.

But St. Louis might not be as crazy about Bonds wearing its team's jersey.

Ray, you realize that this has morphed from an article decrying Barry Bonds articles into just a regular, straight-up Barry Bonds article? You know...that thing you hate? Shouldn't you be, I don't know, arguing that Bonds is a non-story or something? Wasn't that supposed to be your thesis?

Could the Rays use Bonds the player? Lord love a duck, yes.

As a fellow coiner of bizarre neologisms, points on the "Lord love a duck" thing. Although unless "Lord love a duck" is your way of communicating your detailed argument for why we shouldn't bother talking about Barry Bonds, I can't really give you points for, well, actually having a point.

Sure, we all know about Harry Lord's weird man-love for Ducky Swan (I mean, why else do you think his EQA dropped from .266 to .214 in 1914? Couldn't stop thinking about the Duck, dude) but what does that have to do with Bonds being excessively covered? Also, there was once a player named "Ducky Swan." This is why I love old time baseball so damn much, even if nothing will ever beat Rusty Kuntz on the awesomely improbably name front.

But given that the only people who go to Rays games are fans of the other team, the likelihood that he could win over customers who are predisposed to root against his team seems minimal.

Right, because if there's one thing Rocco Baldelli is about to do, it's singlehandedly win over what has got to be the most apathetic fanbase in sports. OK, fine, BJ Upton will help. Wouldn't a dude like Bonds be just the sort of publicity stunt a team like the Rays should consider?

Just to show you I am actually capable of baseball-related research, I'll give you one obvious example of signing an iconic, past-his-prime slugger...

1934 Boston Braves average attendance: 303,205, 6th out of 8 in NL
1935 Boston Braves average attendance, now with the drunken remains of Babe Ruth: 232,754, 7th out of 8 in NL

Well, that didn't fucking work. This is why I keep my research to comics and YouTube. Still, Babe Ruth was terrible at that point and the Braves won forty fewer games than they did the year before. So I don't know, I still think signing Bonds might work, even if the numbers don't really indicate it.

Let's put it like this: I don't think signing Barry Bonds will drive casual fans away. If anything, this is the sort of thing casual fans love; it doesn't require them to know anything about sports because Barry Bonds hasn't really been a sports story in years. By the way, Ray, feel free to use any of these as ideas for future articles about Barry Bonds articles. Just make sure to credit good ol' Archie Micklewhite when you do.

Could the Swallows use Bonds? Could the Dragons? The Buffaloes? The Nippon Ham Fighters? People who follow Japanese baseball say yes, and they would know. After all, we took Tsuyoshi Shinjo, right?

I don't know shit about Japanese baseball, but I do know this...

1. Barry posted a .344 EQA and a 170 OPS+ last year while playing in Major League Baseball
2. The MLB is better than the various Japanese leagues (yes, even the National League)
3. If Barry can do that in the MLB, then he can at least equal that in Japan and likely far surpass it
4. Any Japanese team could use somebody like that

Quod erat demonstrandum, bitch. Man, I'm so hardcore, what with the calling people "bitch" and all.

But as we've said more times than you've had hot dinners,

So why are you saying it again? Especially when your ostensible point is that everyone should just shut up about Barry Bonds. Isn't there some one-legged minor league pitcher out there you could profile or something? Or maybe some egghead catcher who went to MIT or some shit and works on game theory proofs in the dugout? I bet Ozzie Guillen's saying crazy shit right now! Wouldn't that be fun to write about?

signing Bonds isn't a baseball issue, it's an ownership issue, and no owner feels the urgency to bring in someone with Bonds' luggage in February. Those owners keep hoping that the promising young lad from Double-A will deliver the goods, because he won't be arbitration eligible, because he meets the criteria for the minor-league junkies out there, and because cheap is cheap.

Yes, because if there's one thing teams like the St. Louis Cardinals are doing, it's avoiding washed-up old sluggers with steroid issues. Although Juan Gonzalez probably would be willing to play for $1,600, and as Ray says, cheap is indeed cheap.

Bonds, on the other hand, isn't likely to be a bargain. He always has had a healthy regard for money, and if any team could tarnish his on-field accomplishments, Tampa Bay would be the one.

Are you sure playing for Tampa Bay is what's likely to tarnish Barry's on-field accomplishments? Really?

[The scene: Cooperstown in 2035.]

Son: Dad-unit?
Father: Affirmative, son-unit?
Son: Where is the plaque noting subject Bonds, Barry, late of Pirates of Pittsburgh, the Giants of San Francisco, and the Rays of Tampa?
Father: Tampa Bay, son-unit.
Son: But Tampa Bay is the bay, not the city. How can a baseball team play in a large body of water?
Father: That is not what they do, son-unit. Their stadium is located in the city of Tampa.
Son: Floridians are terribly illogical, aren't they, dad-unit?
Father: Terribly illogical, son-unit.
Son: It makes my diodes weep with electric sorrow. My inquiry regarding the absence of subject Bonds, Barry stands, dad-unit.
Father: Well, there's really one reason...
Son: Searching databanks...was it his rampant, widely-documented steroid usage in a time when such substances were still illegal?
Father: Negative.
Son: Perhaps his prolonged legal troubles for committing perjury in front of a grand jury?
Father: Negative.
Son: His notoriously frosty relationship with the media, the very same group that elects players to Fame, the Hall of?
Father: Negative, son-unit. You in fact have already stated it.
Son: Reviewing short-term memory files. Sufficient reason not found.
Father: Son-unit, he played for Tampa Bay. That is the black mark from which no baseball reputation can ever recover, no matter how glorious.
Son: I understand, dad-unit.
Father: Do you notice that gap in the plaques? That is where Wade Boggs used to be.
Son: I have only now properly processed the full implications of this.
Father: I know, son-unit. I had hoped not to tell you until you were older.
Son: would never make me play for the Rays, would you?
Father: With a first-rate cerebral computer like yours? Son-unit, the Orlando Billy Beanes signed you out of the womb.

[Exeunt. A mechanical Joe Morgan akin to one of those animatronic talking Presidents at Disney waves as they pass. He starts to cry, suggesting even the simplest of automatons is capable of human emotion.]

Exercise in cheesy b-grade social science fiction aside, I'm pretty sure there's nothing the Rays can do to tarnish Bonds's baseball reputation. I'm pretty sure Barry already beat them to that one.

But we're not talking about finding a new home for Bonds. We're talking about how his name snaps us to attention and propels us toward crank-addled speculative pieces about where he should go, where he should bat, where his lawyers can reach him in an in-game emergency.

Are you sure we're talking about "how" this happens? Because I haven't read you discussing "crank-addled speculative pieces" so much as "writing a crank-addled speculative piece."

Also...did Ray Ratto just admit he does crank? Fuck man, that explains the crazy headshots. Dude was fucking torqued the whole time.

The story must be advanced, even if it advances only from "could" to "might."

Wait, there's a story here? Could have fooled me...

And Monday showed that we've still got it. A big knee-jerk media win, this, and we're all heading for your homes to take a victory lap through your hydrangea plants and your koi ponds.

Sorry man, I had to let Leonard Maltin eat my hydrangea plants after he guessed all the technical Oscars correctly. The guy just loves the taste of the Azores. You can still have your lap through the koi ponds, though. Leonard says carp disagrees with him.

Also - and I realize Ray's writing to those ultra-liberal frosted-over-hippie heroin addicts in San Fran - but what the hell was that paragraph supposed to mean? How did the media "win"? Who were they competing against? Their readers? Is he tacitly admitting this is all a big exercise in just how much bullshit he and his colleagues can possibly peddle before any of us yokels get wise? Simply put...just how big of a dick is Ray Ratto?

This is the gift of Bonds in repose. We can't see him or hear him, but we don't need him any more to divine his future. We know the Giants don't want him, and we are pretty sure the A's won't sign him (although you never know when W.L. Beane will get a wild hair up his beezer). We also apparently can scratch the Cardinals, despite La Russa's silver-tongued wizardry.

W.L. Beane? You mean Billy Beane's son and partner, W.L. Beane? You do realize Beane's a family man and the A's are a family business, right? Man, There Will Be Blood references never get old. Not like Brokeback references, that's for sure.

Also, between the silver tongue and the apparent hypnosis abilities, Tony La Russa sounds like he's taking the final few steps to becoming a full-fledged supervillain. We'll know for sure when he starts randomly explaining to Lou Pineilla his incredibly complicated strategy for victory when the Cards are beating the Cubs 8-1. Of course, since in baseball managerial strategy doesn't count for shit, this won't mean anything, but that would still be vintage supervillain. Vintage La Russa, too, soon enough.

That still leaves 27 other teams, plus the 12 Japanese teams. We don't see him working the Mexican Leagues or the Caribbean, but if Raul Castro has an opinion about him becoming a Villa Clara Orange Grower in the next few weeks, we're keen to know.

Much more interesting: what if Bonds went to play baseball in Taiwan? That's vaguely more possible than Cuba (in the sense that Cuba is totally impossible whereas Taiwan is just basically impossible) and due to that pesky One-China Policy, there's no extradition from there.

So what if Bonds fled to Taiwan, started cranking out fifty homers a year over there until he was fifty-five, and held a daily press conference where he gleefully reiterated how many steroids he used to do and how much he loves lying to grand juries? Bonds is totally crazy enough to do something like that, and it'd pretty much be the most awesome thing to ever happen.

After all, his perjury and obstruction trial is moving at the expectedly glacial pace. The latest argument is about whether a typographical error was an accident, or an act so monstrously prejudicial that he cannot hope to have a fair trial in this solar system.

You know, they've got a hell of a judicial system on Neptune. I'm just saying.

That will be adjudicated ... well, presumably before the judge retires.

This isn't really about Ray Ratto, but I'm not sure I'd take that bet. That's a little worrisome.

Secondly, the Roger Clemens self-immolation saga is going to take some time before it runs its course. The latest development - that the Congressional committee that supervised his public trouser-drop two weeks ago is going to urge the Justice Department to get nasty with him - has its obvious fascinations.

So your argument is, "We shouldn't write endless, repetitive articles about Barry Bonds because we could be writing endless, repetitive articles about Roger Clemens." The logic's airtight, I'll give it that much.

Thirdly, regular old spring training cannot sustain our prurience in these hyper-nutty days. For the same reason that we can be diverted from the real outrage of performance-enhancing drugs (they're illegal, they're obtained without any guarantee of purity of efficacy, and they're often administered in germ-enriched environments), we can be entranced by names.

Wait, we get entranced by names because "they're illegal, they're obtained without any guarantee of purity of efficacy, and they're often administered in germ-enriched environments"? I admit I'm starting to hallucinate a little...but that doesn't sound right.

And who has a bigger name than Barry Bonds? And no, Roger Clemens' playing days really are done.

What, calling A-Rod a tranny-loving choker isn't famous enough for you? Fucking elitist.

So Tony La Russa scratched our itch. Then Joe Maddon did, much to the consternation of Fast Andy Friedman. And of course, Jeff Borris played his occasional game of Whack-a-Mole.

No one has ever before and no one ever will again call Andy Friedman "Fast Andy Friedman." Ladies and gentlemen, we have just witnessed a unique moment in the cosmos. Hope you enjoyed it.

Also, how is Whack-a-Mole at all the right game to convey what Jeff Borris is up to? Unless he's hitting Tony La Russa with a mallet, in which case I'm completely on board. And willing to help.

So whatever else happens with Barry Bonds' baseball career, at least we know we're still on our Pavlovian game - such as it is.

Classy reference to end there, Ray. Shame about the rest of the article, but still.

Well, that's this post done. I think I'll just ring my "post is done" bell...wait, Ray, why are you drooling and slobbering like that? Ray, dude, I don't have any steaks. Please stop looking at me like that, Ray. Seriously man, your eyes are crazy.

Aw shit...


Djmmm46 said...

The cheesy sci-fi neglected to note that even more illogically the Tampa Bay Devil Rays play in neither Tampa Bay the body of water nor Tampa the city, but rather ST. PETERSBURG!!!

Most illogical.

Archie Micklewhite said...

They had moved to Tampa by 2035. DUH...

Man, I don't research *ONE* thing and I get totally burned for it. Remind me again why you don't post more? Shouldn't your nitpicking be turned against, I don't know, Mike Celizic or something?

Djmmm46 said...

Checks 'n' balances, mate. Besides 90 percent of my nitpicking fuel is currently being burned up by nitpicking the record of a fake legal case involving a non-compete covenant and a whistleblower.

Archie Micklewhite said...

You mean this, right?

Passive Voice said...

12 ms word pages long. Holy shit, homes.