The mighty should fall every once in a while

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The mighty should fall every once in a while

One can often jump the gun on such matters, what with the NBA being eight days into its new season and as such subject to the law of small numbers, but life is good.Life is good because the Los Angeles Lakers are 1-4. And because the Boston Celtics are 2-2. But it is also good because the New York Yankees are in A-Rodical disarray, and the Boston Red Sox were galactically dysfunctional, and the Dallas Cowboys stink to high heaven and the architect of that odor reasserted his unwillingness to fire himself. In fact, if it werent for Notre Dame, this could be a very happy holiday season indeed.Now this is the part where ignoramii shout out, Aha! Youre a hater! Hater, of course, being code for, My world is small, my interests tiny, my curiosity sub-atomic, so anyone who doesnt agree with me is a hater.But those people would be, and this comes as no surprise, wrong. I dont hate their teams. I hate the boredom of the same old stories told the same old way. I am not an agent for change (too much work is involved), but I like a new narrative now and then.And I also dont like those who support those teams who regain their smug, who still believe in the divine right of kings and their elevated place in those kingdoms. Who act like the universe is right when the old familiar names are ascendant.For those people, I can muster up the energy to be a hater.The argument is always posed as the tired old, The game is better when its marquee teams are winning. And its modern corollary, The TV ratings are always better when the marquee teams are winning, and we should all approve of that.Well, four things. One, no it isnt. And shut up. If your imaginations are that stunted, if your curiosity about new things is that limited, you should cease emitting noises from your blowhole for the good of the nation.Two, if you like your team, what do you care what the ratings are? You like your team, and you shouldnt need numbers to show your support is true. In fact, you come off better when you dont have numbers because you are displaying the courage of your convictions.Two, a good tale is a good tale, and Notre Dames work this year is laudatory on its own merits, and would be so if it were Vanderbilt, Western Michigan or San Jose State. You can root for the logo if you want. I prefer the deeds, and Notre Dames season would be praiseworthy if it were Brand X A&T. Conversely, the stalling of the Yankees, the falling of Lakers, the tire fire of the Red Sox and the continued mediocrity of the Cowboys is good in and of itself, because watching a team struggle is just as interesting as watching one flourish. Especially if that team is used to acting as though it should never struggle at all. And thats because of third thing, which is . . . . . . New Faces Are Good. The resurgent Bill Snyder at Kansas State, the resurrection of the Minnesota Timberwolves, the rampant Houston Texans, the budding potential dynasty-ette of the San Francisco Giants . . . these are all signs that sports is still a meritocracy rather than the relentless oppression of the status quo, and tyranny of the big name.Plus, some of the new teams are actually old powers gussied up for the new year. The Chicago Bears, for example. And Alabama is still Alabama, for you old school junkies who cant stand the idea of new anything. And if youre still a junkie for big names in big cities, even if those names are mostly name only, there are the New York Knicks. In other words, there is nothing wrong when some of the mighty have fallen, and there is good when once having fallen, they cant get back up for awhile.Plus plus, this could be nothing but a giant moot point in a month if the Lakers and Celtics figure out how to not be old any more. Or if the Knicks suddenly realize what old really feels like.Plus plus plus, the Yankees are always one act of money-burning (Josh Hamilton?) away from being back in business.The Cowboys? Well, it may be that they simply cant be helped. Not while the owner has the general managers back, and not while a vote of confidence can be delivered in front of the shaving mirror.And who doesnt think that vision isnt a hoot and a half?In short, change is good, the mighty should fall every once in a while, nobody should get to win all the time, the monarchy should be dead (no matter what monarchy youre talking about), sloth is its own punishment, let a thousand flowers bloom, and the beer remains cold no matter what. And if you cant vote for that last one, youre just hopeless.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

Source: Kaepernick visits 49ers headquarters

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Source: Kaepernick visits 49ers headquarters

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who faces an uncertain future with the 49ers, visited team headquarters in Santa Clara on Wednesday morning, according to a league source.

Kaepernick was likely there to meet with 49ers general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan for the first time since they were hired to replace Trent Baalke and Chip Kelly.

On Feb. 9, Lynch said Kaepernick “reached out” to him shortly after he was hired as general manager. Lynch said he and Kaepernick planned on meeting in the near future.

Earlier this week, Lynch said he would have open and honest communication with Kaepernick about the club’s plan at the quarterback position.

“The one thing we will do very well with Kap is we’ll communicate,” Lynch said Tuesday on 95.7 The Game. “And I think that’s very important for both sides. Like everything else, that process is well in the works. We’ll continue to do that and we’ll be very up-front with him, in terms of what we’re thinking and we’ll want to know what he’s thinking, as well.”

Kaepernick and the 49ers agreed to a restructured contract in October. The sides tore up the final four years of Kaepernick’s contract and replaced it with a deal that enables Kaepernick to opt out to become an unrestricted free agent in March. Kaepernick's non-guaranteed scheduled pay is $14.9 million for the 2017 season.

Kaepernick does not currently have agent representation, according to the NFL Players Association.

He started 11 games last season after replacing Blaine Gabbert in the starting lineup and bounced back with a solid statistical season. Kaepernick threw 16 touchdown passes and just four interceptions for a passer rating of 90.7. He also rushed for 468 yards and a career-best 6.8-yards per carry.

 

MLB players’ union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players’ union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK -- There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."