Ray Ratto

Brandon Jacobs is Braylon Edwards 2.0


Brandon Jacobs is Braylon Edwards 2.0

Brandon Jacobs, we hardly knew ye.

Well, we knew ye, but we didn’t hear or see ye very often. What we did, really, was read ye. And worse yet, so did Jim Harbaugh.

Jacobs’ suspension, good for the final three games of the year and almost certainly without pay, really is a small sidebar. He was the backup fullback on a team that barely used one. He was the fifth running back on a team that needs only four. He carried the ball five times, plus a sixth that was nullified by a penalty.

He was, in short, only slightly more of a 49er than your uncle Sneed. And after picking at the scab called Harbaugh one final time, he got what was inevitable. The last three weeks off, without pay.

Although, frankly, even if he got paid, it would have been worth it to the 49ers to pay to see the back of him.

This is not a tragedy, either, because Jacobs wanted this. He’d been agitating for it with his constant Twitterosity, which started as a plea to play and ended as a jailhouse rant. He was so persistent about it that Harbaugh surely felt cornered, almost as though the team was waiting for him to do something about Jacobs.

So with a few terse “no comments,” Harbaugh dropped the final pretense Monday afternoon. He had already decided long ago that Jacobs wasn’t worth the activation, so deciding that he wasn’t worth the roster spot was not a difficult choice. The only question that lingers is why this didn’t happen earlier.

And the answer to that may lie in the loss of Kendall Hunter. Jacobs thought he had finally found his way into regular duty, even though he is essentially a fullback on a team that doesn’t use one. When LaMichael James, who is militantly not a fullback, got not only the roster spot but the number of touches he got, Jacobs knew that escape, even if it was really exile, was his future in San Francisco.

And now it is. He will be known mostly as Braylon Edwards 2.0, if he is remembered at all. Then again, as we said, we hardly knew ye.

Except when he was on Ye Olde Twitterre.

Phrase that Matt Joyce left out of his apology is key to talking the talk

Phrase that Matt Joyce left out of his apology is key to talking the talk

Matt Joyce said the word, he did the apology, he’ll do the time, and then we’ll see if he’ll get the forgiveness he asks.
Joyce’s two-game suspension by Major League Baseball for using a gay slur at a fan during Friday’s Athletics-Angels game in Anaheim is well within industry norms (though it might have been more tactically impressive if the club itself had issued the suspension), and his apology did not deflect blame or contain the always-insincere caveat “if I offended anyone.” He did offend people and he knew it, so he didn’t couch it in the phraseology of “I don’t think what I said was improper, but I’ll do the perp walk just to get this over with.”
He even offered to do work with PFLAG, the support group that supports the LGBTQ community, thereby putting his time (which is more meaningful than money) where his mouth was.
In other words, he seems to have taken his transgression properly to heart, which is all you can really hope for, and now we’ll see if he is granted the absolution he seeks.
You see, we’re a funny old country in that we talk forgiveness all the time but grant it only sparingly, and only after a full mental vetting of important things like “Do we like this guy?” and “Is he playing for my favorite team?” and “Do I feel like letting him up at all?”
In other words, forgiveness is very conditional indeed.
Joyce said what he said, but his apology seemed to be given freely and unreservedly rather than crafted to meet a minimal standard of corporate knee-taking/arse-covering. If he follows through on his offer to do face-to-face work with PFLAG or an associated group and absorbs the lesson of not using other people as a weapon for his own frustration, then he ought to be acknowledged for doing so. That’s what forgiveness is.
But if the principle you adhere to is “once guilty, forever doomed,” then you’ve succeeded at giving in to the mode of the day, which is jumping to a conclusion and never jumping back because it’s just easier and more convenient to do so.
It’s up to him. But it’s also up to you.

Promotion and relegation would be a great idea in all sports


Promotion and relegation would be a great idea in all sports

There is no inherent reason why you should care about Miami FC or Kingston Stockade FC, two lower level professional soccer leagues in the lower right quadrant of the nation.

But when they joined together to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the international governing body for any sport not run by Americans for Americans, to demand that all American teams submit to the concept of promotion and relegation, from MLS to, presumably, your kid’s under-8 team, they became interesting.

And the best part about soccer, except for Neymar being worth twice as much as all other humans in the history of the sport, is promotion and relegation.

In fact, it would be a great idea in all sports – although the idea of the Giants and A’s in the Pacific Coast League might scare the bejeezus out of Larry Baer and John Fisher.

Now we are not optimistic that the CAS will see this Kingston and Miami’s way. Americans like their sports top-heavy, where only a few megaclubs get most of the money and attention while the rest sort of muddle along, safe but unremarkable. And to be frank, promotion and relegation is most a fun media construct for making fun of bad teams – say, like the A’s and Giants.

But we can agree, I think, that having Jed York pay Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch to keep his football team out of the Canadian Football League, or better still, the Mountain West Conference, would add to healthy dose of spice to what promises otherwise to be a pretty humdrum year.

And promotion/relegation would certainly reduce all that troublesome tanking in the NBA people endlessly whinge about.

So here’s to Kingston Stockade and Miami FC. Your cause is just. Persevere. After all, in this rancid period for American sporting culture, someone's got to stand for the quixotic yet indisputably correct thing.

And when it fails, and it probably will, just know you sleep with the angels -- if that’s what passes for fun at your house.