Ratto: Be careful about cheering Dodgers' demise


Ratto: Be careful about cheering Dodgers' demise

June 27, 2011


Follow @RattoCSNRay Ratto

Were I you (and lets all agree what a bad idea that would be), I wouldnt be quite so smug about the Dodgers filing for bankruptcy, as they did today.Sure, it may make Giant fans feel good, and it might inspire in As fans that There but for the grace of God . . . feeling. But thats not what the Dodgers going Chapter 11 is about at all.
NBC BAY AREA: Dodgers' bankruptcy could affect Stow case
This is about Frank McCourt wanting another 150 million to operate the team while he shakes his bare behind at Bud Selig and says, Hey, Buddy, better get some more lawyers, and make sure they bring their lunches. Its on now, Giggles.And it is. The Dodgers are about to become the St. Louis Browns in ways the As never have been. In fact, when As fans think of Frank McCourt, they should hit their knees and thank the God that killed Cain and squashed Samson that they have Johnny-Boy Fisher and Lew Wolff. At least theyre not actually looting the team through shell companies to pay for messy divorces.
Worse than that, though, the Dodgers hold down a job in your brains that nobody else does -- as The Team You Can Mindlessly Hate For No Better Reason Than The Fact They Exist.NEWS: Dodgers file for bankruptcy in battle with MLB
Every fan base should have one, in fact, and those that dont have to scramble about trying to find a cheap substitute. The Giants have the Dodgers, and the As have the Giants, and beyond that ... you got squat. Bupkiss. Nada. The null set.The 150 million that the bankruptcy filing frees up is ostensibly for the care and upkeep of the team, which is on the verge of missing payroll. It isnt going to suddenly turn into Prince Fielder, so calm down.But the weak, pathetic, small-minded Dodgers, run by a carpet-bagging lamprey who is trying to loot the team to pay for his hideous divorce and still make eight or nine figures for his continued personal enjoyment, are not in your best interest.You need the Dodgers as big and as bad and as imperious as possible, because you are invested in them being big and bad and imperious. Those characteristics feed your scorn, and it salts and spices your mindless chants of Beat-L-A. The fourth-place Dodgers, winning 73 games and wearing barrels with shoulder straps where the uniform used to go just doesnt cut it. You know it, we know it, they know it.This isnt about hating the Dodgers, or hating anything. This is about taking comfort in the caricature of the Dodgers (or in the case of As fans, the caricature of the Giants). Mocking these Dodgers has a bit of the running-over-the-dead-squirrel feel to it.And it also serves as a reminder that every team in the world is a bad owner away from destruction. Tradition, history, the beauty of the game, the shared experience, the passing of one generation to the next ... its all one small-minded rich guy away from going to hell.Between the owners principal goal of buying high and selling higher, the way that produces owners who buy with debt rather than with cash (see Frank McCourt again), and the way they demand that cities build them playing palaces on their own dimes and then let the owners take the profits from those buildings ... were all one venal thought away from hating the teams we grew up loving.Dodger fans didnt ask for Frank McCourt. Frank McCourt was thrust upon them like a lien against their property. They were fine with the OMalleys, and didnt mind them owning the team in perpetuity. Now theyre stuck looking at the Giants, the ones they mocked for the Bonds years, and saying, Man, wouldnt it be cool to be them?And you would look at them and say, with your usual magnanimousness, Take a hike. Live with the shame of your team. Go watch Tommy Lasorda begging for money by freeway on-ramps. No room here at this inn for you.Then you feel bad for looking like the fan you have always hated. Yes you do. Dont try to pass that off.So dont get too happy about the Dodgers latest shame-fest. You get no enjoyment in beating the weakened, you need the strong rivalry, you know this could be your team in five years, and youd want them to let you up when it happens to you.And dont try to pass that off, either. Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.

Marshall's admission a reminder culture of health doesn't exist

Marshall's admission a reminder culture of health doesn't exist

Brandon Marshall of the New York Jets had one of his greatest games ever against the San Francisco 49ers two years ago and remembers almost none of it, because, as he told reporters Wednesday, he was cloudy-minded on painkillers.

This admission is one more reminder that sports are not necessarily good for one’s health, in large part because the culture of health in sports really doesn’t exist.

There is, rather, a culture of ordnance, and the players are the weaponry.

Marshall’s acknowledgement that he was masking pain from a high ankle sprain that should have kept him out of action for “four to six weeks,” by his own estimation but had him returning to action 10 days after the original injury.

“I’ll say it: I took a couple pain pills, so . . . I took a couple of pain pills to mask the pain,” he said on a conference call with CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco. “I really wasn’t supposed to play. So I don’t remember much from that game. I just remember catching those balls. That was pretty much it.”

We now re-enter the culture of playing when it isn’t prudent, either out of a misplaced sense of bravado or employer-based pressure to perform (there is no direct statement from Marshall saying that the painkillers were given to him by the team). The sense of bravado, which most athletes have, probably can never be legislated, and the culture of downward pressure to perform no matter what the infirmity has proven immensely difficult to conquer.

But there is another factor here, and that is the general lack of efficacy of painkillers. Warriors coach Steve Kerr took to using a form of medicinal marijuana because the painkillers he was taking for long-lingering symptoms from his back surgery were doing more harm than good. He said he found the marijuana was equally lacking, but he had enough concerns about the deleterious effects of Vicodin, OxyContin and other standard medications assigned to athletes in pain.

“I’m not a pot person; it doesn’t agree with me,” Kerr told CSN Bay Area’s Monte Poole on the Warriors Insider Podcast. “I’ve tried it a few times, and it did not agree with me at all. So I’m not the expert on this stuff. But I do know this: If you’re an NFL player, in particular, and you’ve got a lot of pain, I don’t think there is any question that pot is better for your body than Vicodin. And yet athletes everywhere are prescribed Vicodin like it’s Vitamin C, like it’s no big deal.”

He later expanded on that after the initial “Kerr Is A Sparker” headlines hit the Internet.

“Having gone through a tough spell over the last year with my own recovery from back surgery, a lot of pain, a lot of chronic pain, I had to do a lot of research,” he said. “You get handed prescriptions for Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet . . . NFL players, that’s what they’re given. That stuff is awful. That stuff is dangerous, the addiction possibility, what it can lead to, the long-term health risks. The issue that’s really important is how do we do what’s best for the players.

“But I understand that it’s a perception issue around the country. The NFL, the NBA, it’s a business. So you don’t want your customers thinking, ‘These guys are a bunch of potheads.’ That’s what it is. To me, it’s only a matter of time before medicinal marijuana is allowed in sports leagues because the education will overwhelm the perception. If you do any research at all, the stuff they’re prescribing is really bad for you and the stuff that they’re banning is fine.”

It is instructive, then, that when Marshall was asked for his position on the NFL’s stance not to include marijuana as a permissible substance for pain management, substance, a Jets public-relations employee who could be heard in the background of the call saying that Marshall “knows better than that.”

But Marshall did answer the question, saying in essence that he fully intends to know better, period.

“That is something that I actually want to research more this offseason when I have time,” he said. “I’m not a guy that knows about the benefits of what it can do for pain and other things. But I’d like to hear others’ opinions and really research the effects it can have on us – positives and negatives.”

In the meantime, sports soldiers on, using increasingly debunked methods for dealing with the pain their businesses inflict upon their employees and issuing warnings about breaching the silence of the workplace. But tales like Marshall’s will continue to surface until the businesses that require him and his like come to grips with the toll of their shortsightedness and, in some cases, neglect.

A's stripped of little-engine-that-could classification at a bad time


A's stripped of little-engine-that-could classification at a bad time

As rumored over the past two months, Major League Baseball just lowered the Oakland Athletics’ revenue by $34 million, and now all the other developments of the past few weeks have finally become a call to arms by an organization that has always been strident pacifists when it comes to money.

In other words, The Little Engine That Occasionally Could has now been stripped of its little-engine classification, and the conditions that allowed them to play the cute little underdog are gone. No more waiting for more clement economic circumstances, or a more favorable political climate, or for the ever-nebulous “future” which the A’s always dangled before its dwindling fan base.

That was the news of Wednesday. Thursday, reports from ESPN’s Jim Trotter indicated that San Diego Chargers owner Dean Spanos is going to swallow his pride to exercise his option to join Stan Kroenke in Los Angeles, thus reducing Mark Davis’ viable options to Las Vegas and the tender mercies of the NFL, or Oakland and the tender mercies of whoever decides to tackle the problem of a new football-atorium.

In other words, push and shove are now jockeying for position in what is expected to be a crash.

First, the A’s.

With the news that Major League Baseball is going to hack the team’s revenue sharing check by 25, 50, 75 and then 100 percent over the next four years, the margin of error for new front man Dave Kaval to get a stadium built has been reduced to those four years. He is following the dictates of his boss, the persistently hologrammatic John Fisher, who essentially shoved Lew Wolff out the door for preaching San Jose and then caution.

The A’s don’t want to share anything with the Raiders, which rules out a Coliseum site. They have investigated Howard Terminal, which is not without its issues. And there is a new darkhorse site, the land around Laney College which, in a tart bit of irony, is the site of the Raiders’ first Oakland home, Frank Youell Field.

The city and county are in the early stages of a deal to sell the Coliseum land to a group faced by Ronnie Lott and the money-moving Fortress group, and get out of the landlord business entirely. It has pledged somewhere between $190 and $200 million in infrastructure improvements, though in the case of two stadia, the question of whether that amount is split remains to be politicized.

But the real point here is that the Gordian knot that is Oakland’s weird hold on its franchises remains tightly raveled. The Fortress announcement was supposed to be a point of clarity, but the revenue sharing news and now the Chargers-to-L.A. rumors have returned chaos to its usual position at the tip of the food chain.

And chaos makes for hasty decisions, and hasty decisions are often regretted. But hey, what’s life without rich people awash in regrets?

The new developments ratchet up the pressure on the City of Oakland and Alameda County to decide what support – if any – to provide a new A’s stadium, and coincidentally what support – if any – can be provided to the Raiders if they are forced to stay in Oakland by the NFL.

It even ratchets up the pressure on the NFL owners to decide among themselves whether their actual end-game goal – to have the Raiders controlled by someone other than Mark Davis – is better served by allowing him to move his team to Las Vegas or denying him his escape route.

But now for the first time there are time constraints – a few months for Mark Davis, a few years for John Fisher and Dave Kaval. The principles of subsidized Moneyball are now conjoined with the principles of Darwinism, and as the A’s have had innovate-or-die thrust upon them, the Raiders have approached the day of reckoning they’ve been desperately kicking down the road since Al Davis’ death. Plus, the political structures of Oakland and Alameda County will catch the holiest of hells either way, and probably across the board.

But as Paul Weller once wrote, “That’s entertainment.” Find shelter, children. The acrid smell of roasting money is in the wind.