Ratto: The mystery of Marleau resurfaces for Sharks


Ratto: The mystery of Marleau resurfaces for Sharks


It is the day after a Sharks loss in which too many players failed to meet the standards they hold for themselves, which means only one thing.Patrick Marleau.By now, it is the Sharks most enduring clich Wheres Patty? The teams longest serving servant , its best sniper, its most bewildering talent because he is its most intermittent talent, Marleau is back in the crosshairs again after another invisible turn against the Detroit Red Wings Friday night. Thirty-one shifts, 20:41 ice time, two shots, neither of them dangerous, and a minus-one.RATTO: Sharks can't capitalize on comeback
Two nights earlier, it was 35 shifts, 24:43, five shots in an overtime win. In Game 2, it was 31, 21:37, and four shots. Game 1, 32, 26:51 and one.VIDEO: Sharks practice interviews
No points at all, and a minus-one for the series, in 129 shifts and 93:52. For someone of Marleaus extraordinary sniping skills, this is not product at all.

Then again, since we do this dance every year, we have to admit to a fair level of boredom with the topic. Yes, he should be more visible, and more mathematically prominent. No, he shouldnt be the first person you think of when Todd McLellan complains of having not enough players.But thats what it is, and thats what it always will be. Marleau is Switzerland, his impact on a game seemingly unaffected by the events around him. He is not a barometer for the teams results, because they are 3-1 in this series without him, and he was outstanding last year in the 4-0 sweep by the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference final.And perhaps it is that we misunderstand his gift, that it isnt turned on and off the way some players are. You always see Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. You always see Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. Marleau is more ethereal, the oft-whispered rumor that doesnt always come to pass.And it frustrates his employer, and it bewilders his fan base, and it renders him too often the afterthought, which is far too low a bar for a player of his abilities. He ought to be noticed on every shift, he ought to change games for good or bad, he ought to be, for lack of a better phrase, PATRICK FREAKIN MARLEAU.RECAP: Red Wings win Game 4 late, stay alive vs. Sharks
And he isnt. In fact, it is hard to determine exactly what he actually is, because he vanishes from view for such long stretches.He is not lazy; you could see that. He is not wasted energy, because you could see that, too. He is not a diva, or a wallflower either. He is almost like an earthquake one second, your dishes are in the cupboard, the next, your tree is the street, and you never saw or heard it coming, or knew why it happened.Maybe he is just the sort of player you should pretend doesnt play for you. Maybe you should think of him as the big prize in a raffle that you never expect you can win.Marleau is not the reason San Jose lost Friday night. He could have changed the game, but he, well, didnt. Nor is he the reason the Sharks won Games 1, 2 and 3. He defies all known templates because there is no pattern to what he does or how it affects the world around him.It isnt that he doesnt score enough goals, either. His aggregate numbers are always good to very good. In short, he gets his, even in the postseason. So maybe the expectations are wrong. Maybe he isnt the guy you have to stop. Maybe the other team isnt sure how to deal with him either.Maybe the problem here ultimately is that we dont get him, and he doesnt get us. We see a goal machine that doesnt always start when the key is turned, and he sees a guy who does plenty and is the convenient scapegoat. We cant (or inadequately) explain our expectations to him, and he cant (or wont) explain his to us. So he remains what he has always been both scapegoat and victim, acquired target and missing person. San Jose stands on the edge of its second conference in succession and third in seven years, and still we wonder where Patrick Marleau was for all of it, while knowing he was there all the time.Camouflaged from view, while rustling the bushes.

The neck-breaking rise and fall of daily fantasy sports


The neck-breaking rise and fall of daily fantasy sports

The apparent cratering of the Draft Kings/Fan Duel phenomenon is largely a tale of greed gone wild, with coatings of arrogance and bullying through advertising, not to mention naked avarice, raw cupidity and what the Greeks used to call “pleonexia,” which is Greek for greed, avarice and cupidity.

It is a tale of what happens when you try to game a system that’s bigger than your own without cutting the people who run the bigger system in on the goods. It’s alleged wise guys finding out that it’s easier to skirt the law when you make the law. And it’s very definitely guys who got out over their skis trying to dominate a market that was doing fine on its own.

And hey, what’s better than smart guys getting theirs?

But there is actually a greater lesson in this for all of us, and it is this: Fantasy sports leagues are best left as small, interactive tribes whose competitors see each other, talk with each other, exchange money with each other and socialize (re: drink beer) with each other. The phenomenon began as an entirely holistic and communal idea in the 1960s in Oakland surrounding the still-larval American Football League, and grew on the ground level in other sports, in bars, rec rooms, bars, office break rooms, bars, vacations, bars, taverns, and ultimately, bars.

It was a way for friends to gather and ignore the bigger issues of living (like, say, families, which are far too time consuming, expensive and always end up with the parents battling desperately for a tie in a game once it becomes clear that they cannot win).

It was not meant to be mass-produced, let alone dominated by the guy with the best algorithms. That’s not sports, that’s math, and when was the last time you said, “Honey, I’m going out. Some math teachers are getting together to raise a little hell, and I don’t want to miss it”?

So never mind the “The DraftDuelers and FanKings tried to pull a fast one” angle, even though they did. Ignore the “They got too big and too grabby too fast” narrative, even though they did that, too.

What happened here was a perverse monetization of something that didn’t actually need improving or enlarging, because it was perfectly good the way it was. And perverse monetization is the path to perdition, I think we can all agree.

The fantasy industry also made a fatal error by trying to say for legal reasons that it wasn’t gambling, which it clearly was – except in one very granular way that nobody ever addresses.

Gambling, as in finding a bookie who will let you bet on games in any manner of exotic fashions, is meant to be a solitary pursuit left best for quiet brooders. If you have Seattle plus the 1½ when everyone else is bitching about the evils of a 6-6 overtime tie, you quietly accept your incredible good fortune and start to handicap Broncos-Texans, which you probably lost.

Fantasy sports, on the other hand, are meant to be shared, but only with those in your particular fantasy league as opposed to all other people, who do not give a steaming chalky damn about your made-up aggregation of athletes and actively hate you for breaching their worlds with your relentless yammering about your alternate-universe imaginings.

Put another way, people who tell you about their fantasy teams are people who need to be taken into the desert and abandoned. And people who commit these crimes should be allowed to avoid hypothermia, dehydration and coyote dinner only by making regular offerings of alcohol and foodstuffs to those whose peace and quiet they have thoughtlessly breached.

And the industrialization of fantasy sports was the last frontier of that obnoxio-hateful social development. It used commercial television to beat us all to death with something only a few of us cared about, and it reminded us that our culture loathes two things above all others – people trying to pull a fast one, and people telling us repeatedly about things we’re not remotely interested in hearing.

In other words, even if you were planning to be saddened by the collapse of the first wave of industrialized fantasy sports, don’t. They were people trying to cut themselves in on action that wasn’t theirs, and make a national phenomenon out of a social development best confined to a single room with six-to-20 people, all of whom had the good sense to bring wine and snacks.

I mean, seriously. Why would you want to screw with that setup?

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.