Ray Ratto

Four acts of blasphemy after 49ers' win

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Four acts of blasphemy after 49ers' win

SAN FRANCISCO -- On a day rich with highlights at La Candeliere, four acts of blasphemy stood out.The first was the event itself -- the 49ers crushing Tampa Bay 48-3, the largest number of points and winning margin in eight years. Thats pretty out of the norm right there, and an indication that the bad old days might not necessarily be over, but over is visible on the horizon.The second came when Colin Kaepernick entered the game for Alex Smith with 10 minutes to play, and the crowd expressed a clear and enthusiastic preference for the status quo.

And the other two came via the spoken word, the first being when Jim Harbaugh was asked about the passing of Al Davis, who once hired him in Oakland.I think Al would have been very proud of the way we played today, was his response, and the next sound anyone heard were the aortas of several DeBartolos and Yorks seizing like an overheated motor.And the final came from Frank Gore, who has yet again eased toward the third rail of running backery only to back away and break into a 125-yard sprint. After copiously lathering credit upon the offensive line and wide receivers for their work, and laying it on double thick for my guy Alex Smith, he said:For the first time in seven years since I got here, we can do whatever we want to do.Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the new version of Whats Your Deal?True, there was no rebuttal to be had for Gores analysis Sunday. The 49ers played their most complete and minimally-flawed game in eight years, both statistically and aesthetically.Smith nearly set a personal best in quarterback rating, the occasionally useful rubric, with a 127.2 -- no picks, no sacks, three scores. Gore, abandoned as done two weeks ago for the perfectly good reason that he looked it, rolled up 125 yards (6.3 average) and a score. The defense choked the allegedly smart-moving Bucs to 272 mostly useless yards (they got inside the 49er 30 once all day, five plays out of 61), picked off two passes and recovered a fumble ...
Oh, the hell with it. They knocked down a 3-1 team and jumped up and down on its chest for a full three hours, tying their next opponent, Detroit, for the most points and widest margin of the season.Is everything fixed? Surely not. If you havent figured it out by now, the National Football League cannot be figured out. A stinker is always right around the corner for everyone, and this weeks triumph means nothing next week.But thats as close as one can come to downing on this game -- unless, of course, you throw out Als name in support of the team he always found his greatest and most immediate irritant.Not that Harbaugh cares, mind you. Barring the fact that Davis would have watched the 49ers and spat with derision if he watched at all, the fact is Davis would have been almost content if he had seen Harbaugh do that for his own team. As it was, he and his newfound afterlife companions would have to find solace in his own teams 25-20 win in Houston -- another 3-1 team.But the ownership must have gritted a bit of enamel off their teeth hearing Harbaugh connect their team to Davis even for a moment, given that his passing throws their own stadium plans into disarray -- starting with the fact that nobody knows who will control the Raiders in a year, let alone where they will be controlled.Gore, too, tempted fate a bit by uttering the new battle cry, because hubris is not something that the 49ers have been very good at. Mike Singletary was the last one to try, and, well, lets put it this way. The last time the Bucs and 49ers met, in 2010, the Bucs won, 21-0, and held the 49ers to 187 yards. The 49ers have improved in a year by 66 points and 231 yards.In other words, tis better to sneak up on an opponent you mean to harm than to talk smack and let him know youre coming.In fairness, though, Gore hasnt been able to say anything like it since he left Miami. If it comes off as harsh or a bit too cocksure, well, chalk it up to the exuberance of the persistently beaten-down.The 49ers are, for the moment, one of the seven best teams in the NFL by record. There have been years when they havent been one of the top 27. So heres to Al Davis, who would be proud as hell of the boys ... except that he wouldnt be ... and wouldnt actually give a damn, since the two teams dont play again for the foreseeable.And heres to doing whatever you want to do, at least until Monday practice.

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

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AP

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.