A's get dose of good news


A's get dose of good news

The good news for the As is that Bob Melvin has gotten a three-year extension as manager. The even better news is that barring a sale, a firing of the general manager or a meteor strike, hell get all three years to complete the repairs he was charged with tackling back in June.

We say this with some confidence because while general manager Billy (Charles Laughton) Beane has been a grind on managers by habit, he has been loath to actually whack them buggers.

Oh, he called and visited and kvetched after games, and he harangued them over lineups and pitch counts and development issues, but he fired them with some reluctance. For a soccer fan, our little Kevin Kline treated managers contracts better than he would have if he were a soccer man.

Art Howe, who took such a beating in the film weve all been yammering on about this week, got seven full years, the last four being very good ones indeed.

Ken Macha did four years the hard way, fighting against the Beane-ian tide every day, and even after getting fired gut unfired shortly thereafter, for one more year he didnt like.

And Bob Geren, Beanes friend from yesteryear, got 4 years despite never producing a winning record.

In short, Beanes managers average more than five years per run, and whether its because he doesnt like to fire guys with time left on their deals or because he rides the gas but not the brake, it still means that Melvin ought to get the full length of his deal.

Melvin did not work miracles by any means -- he took a .429 team and transformed it into a .467 team, and a 12th-place team because a 10th-place team. He operated within the parameters of what he had, got the players to play with more verve and less resignation, and got true value out of more of them than he didnt.

But now he has to do the hard part -- transform them from players who like coming to the park to players who love coming to the park, and show it. The Elephants have been dramatically lacking in the sort of effervescence that this franchise desperately needs, and though it has plenty of youth, it still doesnt have the one thing that youth is best at providing:


The Bay Area is notorious for its front-running nature, and there is nothing that seizes its collective innards like a cool party just starting to assemble. The Giants did that a year ago, about four months into what because the Improbable Dream. It also got the teams managing general partner run off 10 months later, but thats another story.

The As havent had that in any way since 2006, and havent had it in a truly electric way since 2002 . . . which, coincidentally, is the year in which the movie Cries And Whispers is set.

In short, having gotten the lads to devote more of their energies to the tasks at hand, Melvin has three years to turn those energies into increased competence and the sense that the Coliseum can still be regarded as a cool place to spend a few hours. It happened five years ago, when the stadium was no prettier than it is now, so the excuse that the stadium depresses the team is nonsense. The team, more like, depresses the stadium.

And Melvin must, through words of mouth, show the players how to make Oakland a happening place again. Not through marketing, or through the ghastly mascot, or Moneyball 2: The Reckoning, but playing a brand of ball that makes people want to drop their chores and go to the ballpark on their own.

He has to overcome years of inertia, a difficult management situation above him (always agitating to move the team to another town is a serious downer), a resistance to changing habits and the omnipresent preening of the team across the pond.

If he can do that, he should get three more extensions.

But hell get the three, because thats how Alec Guiness operates. He promised three, and even if it isnt as much fun as it seems from the outside, even his pointed word is his bond.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.

Patriots win one for the ages, but where does it rank?

Patriots win one for the ages, but where does it rank?

The price of watching Roger Goodell being booed back to the Bronze Age is a subtle but real one, and one that people will feel very dearly soon enough.

The last great cathartic Super Bowl is now done, with the New England Patriots winning the brilliant and decisive battle to be sports’ new evil empire. In doing so, it rendered Goodell a permanent and risible punch line in National Football League history, the mall cop who wanted the death penalty for littering, and in the words of the song “got what he wanted but he lost what he had.”

True, $40 million a year can make the dissolution of your public persona a reasonably decent tradeoff, but we lost the argument about who won his windmill tilt with the Patriots. It’s done, and he is now permanently and irrevocably a figure of ridicule.

But that’s not the only debating point America lost Sunday night, and while you wouldn’t think it given how much time we are willing to shouting at each other, quality arguments are not easily replaced.

We have almost surely lost the mindless debate about the best quarterback ever, because there is nothing anyone can bring up that the words “Tom Brady” cannot rebut except calling his own plays, and since that is no longer allowed in football, it is a silly asterisk to apply.

We have almost surely lost the equally silly shouter about the best coach ever. Bill Belichick is defiantly not fun, but he has built, improved and bronzed an organizational model that is slowly swallowing the rest of the sport. That and five trophies makes him the equal if not better of the short list of Paul Brown, George Halas, Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh and Tom Landry.

Plus, Belichick locked up the most absurd response to a question in coaching history Monday when he said, “As great as today feels . . . we're five weeks behind the other teams for the 2017 season.” Even allowing for Gregg Popovich in-game interviews, the so-grim-he-could-make-a-robot-cry worship-the-process response has now become a cliché. If 2017 prep was so important, he should have skipped yesterday’s game, and he definitely should have chosen not to waste so much time on the trophy stand after the game when training camp drills needed to be scheduled.

Oh, and DeflateGate died. Dead. No zombie possibilities here.

We do have a meatheaded argument ahead of us about which championship in the last year is the best, which can be settled here.

1. Leicester City, because 5,000-1 is 5,000-1, and the whole world understands that. Plus, there was invaluable three-month buildup that engaged non-soccer fans.

2. Chicago Cubs, because 108 years is 108 years.

3. New England Patriots, because . . . well, I don’t have to explain it unless you have no useful memory span. “Down 25 In The Third Quarter” is the new “Down 3-1.”

4. Cleveland Cavaliers, because they slayed the first unbeatable Warrior team by coming from 3-1 down, and even as a silver medalist, it will always be an internet meme, which is what passes for memorable in our decrepit culture.

5. (tie) Villanova basketball and Clemson football in a tie, because they were essentially the same great game.

7. The Pittsburgh Penguins, because the Stanley Cup Final was devoid of drama or high moments, and only 14:53 of overtime. Feh.

But everything else is settled, and this Super Bowl will not be topped for a long time. Our current cycle of absurd championships is almost surely going to end soon, because “Down 3-1” has happened twice in eight months (three times, if you count Warriors over Thunder), and the bar has now been placed well beyond reasonable clearing.

Indeed, the only thing left is for a championship team to spontaneously combust on the award stand. But if they do so and ignite Roger Goodell along the way, that would be an ending America would cheerfully endorse.

But that also isn’t an argument any more, and yes, that includes Gary Bettman.

Raiders, 49ers can return to their normal madness after Fried Festivus 51

Raiders, 49ers can return to their normal madness after Fried Festivus 51

The Super Bowl is today, which means the best day of the year is fast approaching.

Namely, the day after the Super Bowl.

At that point, we as a nation can complete the inventory of gastric damage we did to ourselves on what shall be known to future generations as Fried Festivus.

At that point, the people who bombard us daily with news of the game – the least important part of the week-long trade show, as we have come to learn it – will all be on planes and too tired to re-explain what we already saw 37 times on game day.

At that point, nobody will care that Terrell Owens was apparently one of the first of the 15 Hall of Fame finalists to be rejected for induction because of crimes against the NFL state. The Hall of Fame is one of the sneaky ways in which the NFL never lets us escape its obnoxiously shouty profile, and the fact that Owens is right about the flawed process doesn’t change the fact that he’ll be just fine with the process when it allows him passage.

At that point, we’ll know whether Tom Brady is to be deemed a god, or merely maintain his demigod status. At least we’ll hear more about it, because it is easily the most tiresome debate in the football diaspora, engaged in by idiots with no better idea about how to kill time. A note: If you think Tom Brady is a greater quarterback because his team won a fifth ring, or a lesser one because he didn’t, your head is now officially empty enough to be reclassified a dance hall, and you are of no more value to normal society than a papier-mache goose.

And at that point, we can return to the two things we in these parts care to know – where the Raiders are going, and how the 49ers are going to present their new football brain trust.

We needn’t explain the Raiders again to you, first because you’ve heard it all if you’re paying any attention at all. Mark Davis has been trying to cobble deals at a frantic pace in hopes that one will stick, and his 31 fellow owners still have to decide how much longer they want to endure him, while faced with the painful fact that the East Bay is getting out of the exploitative license-to-be-stolen-from stadium business. They also get to know as they go to the meeting in Houston that will ostensibly decide Davis’ fate that they have ruined California as a market by their excessive greed-laced stupidity and deserve every lousy market the state can give them.

Which brings us to the 49ers, and the latest round of Judge Them By Their Press Conferences.

If there is anything worse than this team’s on-field profile, which is why Jed York hired Kyle Shanahan, it is the way it explains itself to the outside world, which is why Jed York hired John Lynch. Both Shanahan and Lynch will be paraded before a braying mobs, probably Tuesday, and York will be there as well for the cheesy photo array and a few unconvincing words of praise about each of them (as a note, Paraag Marathe will be present but only in hologrammatic form).

They will then promise – well, something or other – and Lynch will be hailed as the face of the glorious future because the man he replaced, Trent Baalke, had the public persona of a meth-tweaked hyena. Hard to find, and not worth it when you did.

Then we’ll all remember that the job Shanalynch (or Lynchahan, depending on what part of Ireland you’re from) are being asked to do is a three-year reclamation at the very least, and that the only useful question either can be asked is “Can you fix this before Jed gets embarrassed and angry and cans you both?”

And on Wednesday, there’s the start of pre-draft prep (in order words, The Eighty-Day Slave Market), and the hamster wheel to hell gears up again toward Super Bowl LII.

Only next year, the chances of relocation hysteria and a front office upheaval are that much less, and we haven’t sufficient distractions to make the year go faster.

But enjoy Fried Festivus. We can always look forward to that, even if we change the name back in December to the more traditional "Christmas."