Big O Tires

Six things Warriors can do to mitigate the looming 'Warrior Fatigue'

Six things Warriors can do to mitigate the looming 'Warrior Fatigue'

The Golden State Warriors begin their Hubris Against America Tour Tuesday evening against the San Antonio Spurs, and one thing can be safely predicted even now.

Warrior Fatigue.

Not their fatigue; they seem in moderately acceptable basketball shape. Ours. Very much ours.

You see, the Warriors have been in our faces, mouths and brains on an almost daily basis since they became an Internet meme (blow a 3-1 lead in the semifinals, people take no notice; blow one in the final and nobody can forget it). They assembled the latest version of The Greatest Team Ever, they have been castigated for talking it without walking it (yes, you, Joey “The Flying Auctioneer” Lacob). They have been relentlessly psychoanalyzed because Draymond Green may in fact be Public Enemy Number One, and they have been Curried, Thompsoned, Duranted, Iguodala’d and maybe even Looneyed into a thin gray paste. They have not been left alone for a day.

And they still haven’t played a game.

[POOLE: Curry: 'There's nothing that's going to derail' 2016-17 Warriors]

So yes, Warrior fatigue is coming, if it hasn’t already arrived. And there will no solution or cure for it. Whether they go 74-8, 8-74 or anything inbetween, they are America’s new sporting fetish, even more than the Chicago Cubs, and because America knows only one way to kill – overkill – America will Warrior you to death.

What the Warriors do about it is the Warriors’ problem, though there are things they can do to mitigate the problem:

1. Win a lot without winning at a record rate, and taking themselves out of the Race To 74 early. We would never encourage them to tank games, at least not without advance notice to take advantage of wagering opportunities, but removing that first block in the Hell-Jenga of anticipation they have created for themselves can only help.

2. Avoid high-speed cyclical dramas with Draymond Green (and good luck with that). The living embodiment of the talent-tumult scale is already the focus of the Warrior-Kumbaya-Is-A-Lie movement, and that frankly is a good thing since no team is as zen as the Warriors have claimed they are for the past two seasons. That Nirvana-in-Nikes (or Utopia-In-UnderArmour, if you must) sloganeering has been a particularly irritating part of the Warriors’ rise up the hoop-volutionary chart, and the sooner they stop explaining to us that they are so damned special temperamentally, they can get back to the business of being so damned special athletically.

3. Keep Lacob from explaining how the Warriors invented the Internet, reinvented basketball or deconstructed investing, or whatever new fanciful claim he wants to make to harangue his pals on the Silicon Valley Strip. Basketball is still essentially a pastime of players and styles, and the Warriors have lots of players and one very appealing style, so concentrating on that rather the innovation fetish that so appeals to the entrepreneur in Lacob would be an excellent public relations move.

4. Have Kevin Durant admit publicly for the first time that the real reason he chose the Warriors and offended old-timers everywhere is actually because the Sixers didn’t want to expend salary cap space on him. Or that he wanted to see water again before he died. Or that he made up his mind that he would only go where Javale McGee went. Or best of all, have him deny on camera that he signed with the Warriors while wearing a Warrior jersey. Denial in the face of demonstrable fact seems to work in a political year, especially this one, so why not have him tell a different ridiculous story every time he is asked – because HE IS NEVER NOT GOING TO BE ASKED.

5. Play the Georgian national anthem in tandem with The Star-Spangled Banner just to throw people off the “Did Curry’s eyebrow just twitch during the ‘rockets’ red glare’ part?” scent.

6. And most importantly, convince themselves that despite the mob or semi-coherent notebooks, tape recorders, microphones, cameras and zombie media ingénues that never go away, that they can remember the most salient facts about the 2016-17 season.

That they DID blow a 3-1 lead, and that they didn’t win the championship, and they’re not reinventing the mythology of unshakable team unity or the laws of basketball or anything else, and that until/unless they do win the title they tell anyone around to listen that Cleveland is the best team and has the jewelry and the parade to prove it.

Nobody will buy it, of course, and Warrior Fatigue will still be a part of all of our daily lives, but until we as a nation can mature and let the games speak for themselves on occasion, this is all we have.

Now, before we start doing something stupid and watching the Warriors play the Spurs, let’s fire off a few molten-hot takes about that Zaza Pachulia For Defensive Player Of The Year campaign...

Very bad 49ers stay tumbling in truly lost 2016 season

Very bad 49ers stay tumbling in truly lost 2016 season

You can almost hear the sound whistling between the 49ers’ teeth at this point, beneath the droned platitudes and vague responses to what is a fully lost season:

“Look, what do you want from us? This is who we are.”

You can almost hear it, that is. They wouldn’t dare express such rampant defeatism – I mean, if they didn’t after Sunday’s 34-17 muzzling at the hands, arms, torsos and feet of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it’s unlikely you would hear it at any point.

But they must surely know by now that this is a season already in the rear-view mirror. There are no secret plans, or stashed players, or untried ideas left to unearth, sign or try. The coming bye week will not clear their heads and give them new inspiration, save that of having a week off from the steady beatings. They are 1-6 on merit, and proved it again yesterday before another dispirited two-thirds-of-a-sellout crowd which is coming to realize that their hope is a mile wide and an inch deep.

[MAIOCCO: Kelly: No changes to 49ers defensive staff after loss]

Sunday, for example, Colin Kaepernick was their best running back, Shaun Draughn was their best receiver, the downed kickoff was their best special teams play, and their best strategic decision – well, they lost the coin flip so they didn’t even get a chance to defer the opening kickoff.

And their defense? It only allowed whatever Tampa Bay wanted, and only on demand. Jacquizz Rodgers became the sixth running back to gain 100 yards against them (and the first to do it in one half), which is noteworthy only because they allowed five all last year in a bad season, and nine in the four seasons before that, four of those by Marshawn Lynch.

And quarterback Jameis Winston threw the ball to wide-open receivers and into coverage with the same sense of well-placed bravado. Though his numbers didn’t exactly aurora the borealis (21-of-30, 269, 3/1, 117.2), he never emitted a sense that he couldn’t do whatever he wanted – save get the officials to give him a better spot when he snapped and cost his team a potential touchdown with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for headless-chickening.

In other words, this was not materially different than the Buffalo game, or the Seattle game, or the Carolina game. The only game that has been different is the opener against Los Angeles, when everything worked and made sense and life was happy and Jed York hummed “I Am 16 Going On 17” all through the suite all night long.

That game was 50,000 years ago. These are who the 49ers are now, and who they are going to be for awhile to come.

They speak of consistency, and yet they are the very model of it – leading the league in punts, and ranking second in three-and-outs, 27th in first downs and 31st in plays per drive. They don’t stay on the field, in other words, and when on defense, they allow 118 more yards per game than their offense gets them.

And they swear with unanimity that they are together as a team, and work hard each week to achieve the acme of their talents and learning. So this, if that is so, must be at or near the top of their game – which, as head coach for now and the future Chip Kelly (stop thinking this is just a coaching problem, please) put it, “We’re not doing what it takes to be successful right now.”

That was in response to a question about whether the 49ers were going backwards. He ducked the issue by saying, “I don’t think forwards or backwards,” which is probably a lie, but we can help anyway.

They have gone dramatically backwards since Game 1, and essentially stagnated since Game 2. It’s how they have gotten to where they are right now, and how they have become who they are right now.

It may be that stranger things have happened in the NFL than a team starting 1-6 and rallying to win eight, nine or 10 in a row, but on this team, based all the available evidence, this team won’t be that strange. They have revealed themselves for what they actually are, which is not good enough to change what they actually are.

And if that is too tough a sentence for you to swallow, well, go out and write some of your own. You can tell any tale you want, but this is the tale of the 2016 San Francisco 49ers, a team awash in unpleasant self-realization and the knowledge that there is nothing to be done but to go out each week and do it again.

Except next week, of course. Bye may be a favorite, but Bye must be played, just like all the others.

Ratto's Top 25: Missing O/U forgivable when holding Stanford to five points


Ratto's Top 25: Missing O/U forgivable when holding Stanford to five points

Friday's Cal-Oregon game took four hours, 18 minutes to play. It had 203 offensive plays. It saw 101 points scored (no big deal) and covered a 90-point over (very big deal). In other words, it was not much enjoyed except by the noted torturer Sonny Dykes, whose team is winning by an average score of 44-41.

Or, for context, roughly three quarters of Oklahoma-Texas Tech.

Fortunately, the Pacific 12 Conference is running a stealth league this year, and Cal will play this coming Thursday night at USC, which means that while they may not beat the 90, they have an excellent chance to beat the 4:18 and both irk and exhaust the fan base one more time.

And now, the things that matter.

1. COLORADO (6-2, 8-0, 3-5): Stanford scored five points. Five. Half of ten. One fist. FIVE, FOR GOD’S SAKE! Oh, and missing the total (50) by five touchdowns is forgivable in this case, because anyone who thought this game was hitting 50 is too unstable to have money.

2. CHICAGO CUBS (playing through the acrid fumes of a town set ablaze by happy drunks): Win a World Series before you pop off, you maniacs.

3. CLEVELAND INDIANS (playing in a town spoiled by championships): The over/under on relievers used per game in the World Series has been set at 9½.

4. TEMPLE (5-3, 7-1, 5-3): A much different team than the one that lost on opening day to Army (which had seven turnovers Saturday), which lost to North Texas, which lost to SMU, which lost to TCU, which never covers.

5. EASTERN MICHIGAN (5-3, 7-1, 3-5): Lost to Western Michigan (8-0, 6-2, 4-4), but had the good sense to ignore the meaningless scoreboard in Kalamazoo for the far more important one in Las Vegas. In other words, simultaneously losing by 14 and winning by 12½ is a good thing.

6. AUBURN (5-2, 6-1, 3-4): Trust is an important thing if you want to bet the Iron Bowl.

7. ALABAMA (8-0, 6-2, 4-4): Like we said, trust is an important thing if you want to bet the Iron Bowl.

8. PATRICK MAHOMES III (52-for-88, 734, 5 TD, 1 INT, 145.6 rating): The Texas Tech (3-4, 5-2, 4-3) quarterback who killed all the video games in the world, broke the Russian hacker network, and still lost by a touchdown. On the other hand, Tech did cover the 16½, and if you had bet the over of 124, you still won.

9. WISCONSIN (5-2, 6-1, 2-5): Cal and Oregon had to cover a 90 total and took all night to do it. The Badgers and Iowa didn’t come close to hitting the lowest total of the day (a pathetic 42½) in a 17-9 win in good weather. Look, fellas, trying doesn’t just mean beating the line.

10. BOWLING GREEN (1-7, 2-6, 4-4): Couldn’t cover against Miami of Ohio. Couldn’t beat Miami of Ohio. Can’t be helped. Can’t be saved.

11. COLORADO STATE (4-4, 6-2, 3-5): Very stealthy cover machine. I say that without knowing a single member of the university – that’s how stealthy the Rams (yeah, that’s it, Rams) truly are.

12. FINLANDIA (1-6): Our favorite vodka-inspired university beat Maranatha Baptist, 27-22, for the Fightin’ Screwdrivers’ first win of the year. Sadly, that is not their real nickname.

13. LOS ANGELES SPARKS (32-11, 21-22, 23-20): Won the WNBA title on a questionable call, which is fine as far as that goes as it didn’t affect the line. But as you can see, not a good team against the number, and barely adequate against the total. If Nneka Ogwumike wants to be remembered as more than a great player and future entrepreneur, those last two numbers must improve next year, She will discover that ABC (Always Be Covering) is not just a slogan, it’s a way of life.

14. NEVADA (3-5, 1-7, 1-7): If you can’t ABC, there’s nothing all that wrong with NBC (Never Be Covering, not our corporate overlords).

15. OREGON (2-5, 0-6-1, 5-2): Another fine example of this phenomenon, until Phil Knight screws up and hires someone who prioritizing the art of covering every once in a while and makes our work more difficult.

16. MIDDLE TENNESSEE (5-2, 4-2-1, 4-3): Boxed Missouri, 51-45, which merits a vote even with the barely adequate record against the line.

17. QI (unbeaten, untied and unscored upon in 13 years): Back on the tube for a new season with new host Sandi Toksvig. And no, I could not be less interested in your quizzical confused-puppy-in-a-rainstorm look. Do your own Top 25 if you don’t like it.

18. NEW MEXICO (4-3, 3-4, 7-0): Bob Davie is rumored to be in on the Notre Dame job, even though he has already been fired by Notre Dame. “Touchdown Jesus bets overs too,” said university president John Jenkins.

19. MONTREAL CANADIENS (4-0-0-1, 5-0, 3-2): All covering matters, even with subpar currency.

20. JACKSONVILLE (3-3): Beat Morehead State, 61-49, and sent its offensive videos to Cal and Oregon, just to show them how it’s done.

21. THE HERITAGE CLASSIC (Calgary at Winnipeg, combined records 3-5-0-1, 2-7, 7-2): It’s going to be 48 degrees by game time Sunday, so what exactly is the point of playing outside if outside isn’t going to make an effort?

22. OKLAHOMA (5-2, 2-5, 5-2): So you gained 854 yards, committed no turnovers and still couldn’t cover 16½? Your conference shouldn’t expand, it should relegate.

23. BOISE STATE (7-0, 2-5, 2-5): As the Buddhist scholar and lecturer Vernon Wormer once said, “Winning and never covering is no way to go through life, son.” This sort of stuff never happened when Chris Petersen was alive.

24. SAN JOSE SHARKS (3-3-0-0, 1-5, 1-5): The crap record against the line and total belie the fact that in the entirely mythical ESPN Ultimate Standings, L’Ailette jumped 58 places from the year before, when they dropped 57 places. I’d like a job like that, where you just make up standings and rankings while drinking out of a janitor’s pail. Uh-oh, wait. I think I have one.

25. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (1-5, 1-5, 4-2): Speaking of the Ultimate Standings, the data here, being ranked dead last overall, in fan relations, and in the bottom 10 in five of the other nine categories reminds one of the actual line from Sally Field’s 1985 Oscar speech: “I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me.” Only Jed York’s phone autocorrects it from “like” to “hate with a near-solar intensity.”  

But hey, Sunday’s another day, for all the good that’ll get you. Just remember, there are 17 days until the election, and six years, eight months and 23 days before the last of the post-election lawsuits are dismissed as being frivolous, or all the lawyers die. Either way, keep a good thought, and go away.