Big O Tires

Raiders leaving Oakland because not enough interest in them staying

Raiders leaving Oakland because not enough interest in them staying

The Oakland Raiders are down to their final week of existence, and you can tell it’s going to end because the leaks from owners who usually stay buttoned-up on NFL owner business are whispering to their approved receptacles.

They have essentially said that the 24 votes are pretty much there for Mark Davis to take the team to Las Vegas, and harp on the fact that Oakland offered them no alternative to voting for relocation.

And what they are saying here is that Oakland would not cheerfully play ball in the NFL’s most popular form of extortion – the city-pays-for-the-stadium-and-the-team-takes-the-money dodge.

This is important to note, because when the vote is finally held, there will be attempts to explain the Raiders in Las Vegas as Oakland’s failure, when in fact the actual shorthand history is this:

1. Years of sales, marketing and on-field neglect made the Raiders a poor revenue generator by changing NFL standards. The Raiders had been making money but they were also accepting supplemental revenue sharing from the league which was about to dry up.

2. Oakland and Alameda County chose not to bail out the Raiders A SECOND TIME after getting royally screwed the first time. Mount Davis is among the greatest architectural mistakes of the last three centuries, and it still isn’t close to being paid off, so the city and county made the utterly defensible stand of getting out of the stadium game entirely by making a deal with the Fortress corporation that gave the NFL no leverage – and the NFL loves leverage the way you love puppies.

3. Mark Davis has been eager to show how desperate he is to leave but has been remarkably silent on casting blame toward Oakland (and to that point, nobody in Alameda County government has called Davis any names either). The normal owner tack is to deflect blame by savaging the government that wouldn’t build them palaces, and yet the quiet here would deafen crickets.

4. There has been remarkably little outrage in town over the proposed move, far less than San Diego or St. Louis. This has been considered a fait accompli for awhile now, and even those good souls who desperately wanted to keep the Raiders have been relying on the kindnesses of contrarian owners to save them because it worked as recently as a year ago.

In short, the Raiders are leaving because there isn’t enough interest in them staying.


1. The NFL wants access to the hot international cash that flows freely in Las Vegas.

2. Nevada got hoodwinked by casino owner/king of Las Vegas Sheldon Adelson into pledging $750 million in stadium funds, and though the NFL spurned about half that figure to leave St. Louis a year ago, $750M free and clear would get Warren Buffett’s attention.

3. The NFL owners have always been frustrated by not getting their own way in California, and having managed to screw up Los Angeles twice and then doubled down by screwing up San Diego a year later, their attachment to Oakland has waned. One suspects that if the owners could come up with a good reason to move the 49ers to Beijing, they’d take it.

4. The league is not terribly troubled by the loss of market size (Oakland is half of the sixth-largest TV market, Las Vegas is 40th) because the changing face of sports consumption makes television market size less important with an easily identifiable brand like the Swords Through The Head Guy. As for attendance and local media revenues, the assumption the owners are making is that it can be made up by redefining the fan base as more regional (L.A. and the Bay Area as well as gamblers in general) than local.

5. Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, makes big cash by running stadiums through his company Legends, of which he owns a third. He is also a great vote-whipper among his fellow owners. Legends will run the Vegas stadium. Do the math.

So the Raiders move because there is literally no compelling reason to keep them in Oakland save tradition, and nobody cares about tradition any more.

Hell, not even the Raiders care about tradition – they were born to be put in Minnesota, got thrown into Oakland when the NFL beat the AFL into Minneapolis, moved to Los Angeles, and then moved back, and then investigated San Antonio before re-investigating Los Angeles.

But when the story about how this happened is told – by the winners, of course – just remember that this wasn’t Oakland’s failure. It was Al Davis’ failure, and Mark Davis’ failure, and the NFL’s failure – and Las Vegas’ victory, until it becomes a failure too.

After all, three franchise moves in two years means the league is trying to transcend geography, west to east. Seattle, your ass is next.

With resting players, there's one obvious solution for Silver, NBA

With resting players, there's one obvious solution for Silver, NBA

Somewhere David Stern is laughing at Adam Silver for fulminating about organized and scheduled mass player rest.

And then he is sad again as he realizes that his own response back in the day was so tepid and costume-jewelry cheap that the concept he so railed against is stronger and more fashionable than ever. Because this, kids, is a losing game for your average suit.

Silver is snippy that the Cleveland Cavaliers closed up shop last Saturday night on a game ABC had cleared out Saturday night programming to show, a week after the Golden State Warriors did the same thing. Both times, the real victims were not the fans but ABC, and both times ABC turned on Silver, and Silver just passed the abuse on down the chain.

This then turned into a huge debate about teams disrespecting the fans by strategically holding out their best players when in fact it isn’t that at all. What this is about is Silver trying to defend, as Stern did, the rights and prerogatives of a non-franchised client, and the teams – at least the good ones – saying, “Tell us when their needs are more important than ours.”

The obvious solution that nobody seems to mention – isolating marquee games by not making them part of a back-to-back – doesn’t seem to make sufficient sense to the lecturing classes. The second most obvious solution – not playing 82 regular season games – is dismissed out of hand as being too expensive to the owners.

So it becomes a morality play, in which players become lazy, pampered, slovenly idlers screwing the fans at every turn because their feet hurt. This is ignorance with oak leaf clusters, and self-defeating to the (ick! gakkk! bleargh!) brand, but that never stopped angry people from speaking stupidities.

The fact is, resting players works for them, and for their teams. If it didn’t, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich wouldn’t have done it so many times, and his team’s owner, Peter Holt, and general manager Robert Canterbury Buford, wouldn’t have signed off on it so happily and so often. If it didn’t, Steve Kerr and Tyronn Lue wouldn’t have done it the past two weeks.

Not only that, the owners (Holt, Joe Lacob, Dan Gilbert and anyone else lucky enough to be in such a position) have a very hard time understanding why their best (read: most expensive) assets shouldn’t have their shelf lives extended so that they can maybe get an extra year at the end of their contracts rather than making sure the sanctity of that February home-and-home with the Pacers is honored.

And besides, who gets to designate what players are too valuable to rest? Silver? A network executive? Are all the Warriors on the list because they’ve only played three games that weren’t announced sellouts? The Cavs because they have LeBron James? The Spurs for historical validity? Is James Harden that guy? Is Anthony Davis? John Wall? Giannis Antetokounmpo? Z-Bo?

Okay. Z-Bo for sure. Z-Bo is a god.

And finally, what is the effective sanction that doesn’t get Silver fired? Frankly, there are only two remedies for the problem Silver has been forced to see by his angry broadcast partners – not enough, and way too much. Do you turn wins into losses? Do you mandate teams lose places in the standings? Do you fine them $250K? $500K? $5M? What’s the drop-dead number, and if there is one, how many owners do you think will tolerate an employee taking money from them for lengthening the working lives of their most important players?

No, if there is a solution, it is the one that isolates marquee games so that the rest excuse plays too flimsily even to the teams themselves. I mean, if it’s about rest to avoid abuse, any clot of games should be treated the same.

But in exchange for those marquee games being treated specially, the big broadcast partners pay more for the privilege, and the lesser carriers (of which we are one, and hurray for craven sucking up!) get rebated by the big kids. Everyone is a little unhappy, but nobody has to take on the suicide mission of taking on Gregg Popovich

Because this much we know – Adam Silver may have to kowtow to petulant network executives (as though there were any other kind) as part of his job, but nobody wants the Popovich matchup. He not only makes sideline reporters sweat Windex with a raised eyebrow, he once actually vaporized a marketing executive with a single thought from a Buffalo Wild Wings 1,500 miles away, just to show his assistants that he could do it.

And maybe that’s the ultimate solution – to send the network guys to Popovich to try and tell him what to do with his team. There’d be blood on the moon, a shower of severed limbs, tattered pocket squares, and the ratings would top an all-X-Men Super Bowl.

And who wouldn’t want that as a prelude to the apocalypse, especially if the big networks could televise it? They'd get their money back, they can always find new executives, and everyone goes home -- happy-ish.

Van Derveer makes sense for vacant Cal men's job, but she won't get to try


Van Derveer makes sense for vacant Cal men's job, but she won't get to try

California has a basketball coaching vacancy that, if history is any judge, is going to be a look into the recent moderately successful past because, as we all know, the rule is every coach is unlike his or her direct predecessor but a lot like the predecessor’s predecessor.

In other words, this looks like a job for Tara Van Derveer, the Stanford women's coach who just pushed the Cardinal to its 74th trip to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. At the very least, it looks like an interview opportunity for Tara Van Derveer.

And now, the obligatory explanations, which you may judge by your own warped standards without telling me any of your findings.

1.        This is not pandering. She’s got coaching game plus, and that’s been more than established for a more than sufficient amount of time.

2.        She is as close as Cal is going to get to Mike Montgomery, who preceded Cuonzo Martin.

3.        Cal needs a clear spark to become locally noticeable and nationally relevant again. Two trips to the second weekend of the NCAAs since 1960 is a long time to not be.

4.         It would irritate the hell out of traditionalists, inside-the-box thinkers and her current acolytes at Stanford, not necessarily in that order.

5.        And yes, this is kind of pandering when you think about it because Cal isn’t ready to strike out in the bold and innovative way required. Damn it.

Cal has been sort of a hidebound middle-of-the-field team for years now, with the only real exception being the first of the two two Jason Kidd years (1993). They’ve had their share of 20-win seasons, their share of postseasons, and their share of quick eliminations. Oh, and let’s not forget the 1999 NIT championship, which of course you all forgot.

The Ursines, in short, have cast a properly short shadow for a school with high-profile dreams, and VanDerveer could surely lengthen it.

She won’t get to try, of course, because she won’t get to try, and that’s the best explanation you'll get as to why she won’t get to try, but hear me out anyway. I mean, what else do you have to do with your miserable rancid day?

She’s accomplished (her record is well known, especially now that she’s won 1,000 games). She’s well-spoken, which appeals to the snobbier alumni types. She’s never put her teams on probation, and she’s never had to apologize for a whole week for telling fans to punch random detractors in the face for badmouthing the school’s shoddy reputation as regards to student safety.

Plus, she doesn’t have to relocate and makes barely a fourth of what Geno Auriemma makes at Connecticut, and we all know how money matters at Cal in these perilous fiscal times.

So what’s to hate about this?

Well, right off the bat, she might not want the gig. She might be one of those tedious, unimaginative “I’m happy where I am, secure in my own skin, surrounded by the people I know and grateful for the things that are here” types.

In response, we should liquor her up and make her stop thinking such heresies.

More than that, though, there might be an awkward conversation with Cal women’s coach Lindsay Gottlieb. There might some reservations from anti-Stanford types who lost the Montgomery argument in 2008. There might be legitimate questions about the recruiting advantages she currently has that do not translate to up the road. And of course there will be the shrieks from people who believe that women cannot coach men because their God, who clearly has nothing better to do, would hate that.

But our position on this is a careful and considered “Screw all that arglebargle.” We want whatever mental and emotional chaos may come with Tara Van Derveer coaching the Cal men’s basketball team. We want pundits’ brains to melt on air and on set, and we want the unfathomable to be thought by people unaccustomed to fathoming. We want people unaccustomed to thinking once to think twice.

And if you are a Cal basketball fan and you have a better name in mind, by all means offer it up. I’ve turned in mine, and if you think she’s unqualified except by your notions of gender, then bring your best case.

Or better yet, don’t. I have smaller things to do than argue with you.