Ray Ratto

NHL realignment -- the perfect plan


NHL realignment -- the perfect plan

As the NHL owners debated the realignment plan that means so much to so few, there was a solution that will make everything fair for everyone, in that nobody would have liked it.But they got the jerry-rigged solution they wanted four conferences, with home and home games for everyone, the top four in each conference make the postseason, and the conferences no doubt named after famous cheeses, beers or curlers, and with no less grousing than before.Conference 1: Anaheim, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver

Conference 2: Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, WinnipegConference 3: Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, TorontoConference 4: Carolina, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington.Everyone in the room liked it, for the moment, anyway. But you know there will be continued gripes from the Detroit-to-the-east contingent, and whatever it is that Toronto bitches about at any given moment.So heres what it should have been the tri-tip cut. Straight across, west to east (wed say east to west, but why should those hyenas get what they want every time?). Nobody will like it, but everyones travel will stink evenly, and since rivalries arent built by geography but by playoff series, an even odor is the best kind.So here it is the only way to spread the misery so that nobody gets an advantage:The HelmetVancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Toronto, MontrealThe VisorMinnesota, Chicago, Detroit, Buffalo, the three New Yorks and BostonThe Protective CupSan Jose, Colorado, St. Louis, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Carolina and WashingtonThe SkatesAnaheim and Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas, Nashville, Tampa Bay and FloridaAll the other notions are all about petty concerns, like whether Mike Ilitch can move Detroit to the East, or whether Ed Snider and Mario Lemieux can stay together, or whether, if you went by who has the looniest mayor, Toronto could be in a division by itself.And if we know anything about the way owners operate, their idea of whats good for the league is whats good for me, and the rest of the league can move its franchises to Mexico. Theyve always worked that way, and until recently, commissioner Gary Bettman has always heeded the guys with the loudest voices with the greatest proximity to his office.This, though, is the perfect plan, because there is no east or west over which to haggle. Every eastern team has some crappy western TV times, and every western team has long flights. Everyone has a bitch, but that bitching turns into a Beach Boys harmony because nobody sings louder than the others.And because it is perfect, it is therefore, of course, the plan, nobody has ever considered. Too bad too, because we were going give each division a name that would remind the owners of one other valuable lesson how to vet their partners better.Say, like the Ballard Division, for old Leafs owner and chief irritable coot Harold Ballard. Or the Wang Division for current Islanders owner Charles Wang, who has carefully but systematically screwed that franchise into the earths core. Or the DelBiaggio Division, for former Nashville part-owner Boots DelBiaggio, who went bankrupt and is now in jail, and the For Sale Now Just Name Your Price Division, after the longtime owner of the Phoenix club.Ahh, that probably wont work, either.Instead, well get some haggling and horse trading, and Bettman will make sure his finger is wet and pointed into the wind to find out whose proposal he likes best. Thats a commissioners job, after all to know when not to outrun his supply lines. Well, and one other thing to make sure the owners always gather in places like Pebble Beach forever, rather than screw up and have a meeting in Winnipeg.Or worse, Atlanta.

If eclipse ends life on Earth, it's bad news for fans of one Bay Area team


If eclipse ends life on Earth, it's bad news for fans of one Bay Area team

If the lunatic fringe of the lunatic fringe is right and the total eclipse of the sun is actually a harbinger of the end of life on earth . . .

- It’s good news for the Giants, who have been eliminated from the National League West race for less than 24 hours, or that they will not have to watch the Los Angeles Dodgers put their feet up on baseball for the first time in 28 years.

Besides, there won’t be any more years, so time becomes meaningless.

- It’s good news for the 49ers, who won’t have to endure a harsh week of practice from freshly irked head coach Kyle Shanahan, who finally saw exactly why the job came open for him in the first place.

- It’s good news for Raiders’ fans, who won’t see their team move to Las Vegas, and because they won't be soul-crushed if they can't beat the Patriots -- who will also die en masse despite Bill Belichick's entreaties to ignore the noise of seven billion terrorized shrieks.

- It’s bad news for A’s fans, who will never learn in what location their fabulous new franchise-saving stadium will not be built.

- It’s good news for the Warriors, who can say in their death throes that they were the last NBA champions ever, and that the Lakers will never get LeBron James.

- It’s good news for the Lakers because they cannot be found guilty of tampering with Paul George. It’s also good news for Jimmy Kimmel because he can’t lose a draft choice (some faceless F-list actor as a guest) as a result.

- It’s good news for the Kings, because they’ll never have to have the difficult meeting about Zach Randolph.

- It’s good news for the Chargers, because they won’t have to answer any more questions about why only 21,000 people were announced as the crowd for their second practice game, or to confront the very real possibility that they could become the NFL’s Washington Generals.

- It’s good news for the Jets, Mets, Nets and Knicks because the end of the planet is the only just solution for them all.

- It’s good news for Cal because it can stick its middle finger to the sky and say, “Here’s your $400 million debt. Try to collect it while we’re all dying.”

- It’s good news for Kevin Durant because he doesn’t have to slalom through the Internet trolls any more.

- It’s bad news for Roger Goodell, because he sure left a boatload of money on the table as he was hurtled into space like the rest of us.

- It’s bad news for Nick Saban because he will have never seen it coming. On the other hand, it’s good news for the people who cover Alabama football because they’ve endured their last journalism lecture from Prof. Nick on why they do their jobs so poorly.

- It’s bad luck for Jim Harbaugh because he will feel like a complete nitwit as he learns just what “an enthusiasm unknown to mankind” really means – the end of mankind.

- It’s bad news for all the sixth graders in America who are being offered scholarships that they will never be used by college coaches they will never meet. Of course, that would have been true even  if the world doesn’t end.

- It’s bad news for the hackers who have been spoiling Game Of Thrones because this is Game Of Thrones, only the dragon is the sun incinerating us all.

- It’s bad news for Kyrie Irving, because he will have died a Cleveland Cavalier.

- It’s good news for America, for the obvious reason that the planet will expire before our current political class can murder it.

- And finally, it’s good news for dignity, because the Mayweather-McGregor “thing” will never happen, and that alone means that even as we are torn asunder, we will know that the deity loves us all because both McGrogor and Mayweather are being torn asunder too.

Of course, if you’re reading this Tuesday, you’ll know the world didn’t end, and we’re just as screwed as we ever were. Oh well. Try to find your happy place, and drink like there’s no Wednesday.

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.