Ratto: 49ers' Tired Act Exposed in Latest Embarrassment


Ratto: 49ers' Tired Act Exposed in Latest Embarrassment

Nov. 21, 201049ERS NEWS 49ERS VIDEORATTO ARCHIVERay RattoCSNBayArea.com
Thisis what you get for having hope. This is your reward for believing thepreposterous. This is the real gift that keeps on giving, week afterweek, year after year.The 49ers -- Setting You Up And Taking You Off At The Knees Since 2002.Sunday's effort, if you can call it that, killed their minimal hopesfor something not miserable this season. Being shut out -- no, utterlyowned by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 21-0, is one thing. Being sohopelessly addled that head coach (for the time being) Mike Singletaryreferenced the films he and the team must review to understand thedefeat a whopping 11 times.Well, they can look for whatever the hell they want, but here's what the films will actually say.This whole act is done. The season, the Singletary Era, the myth ofteam-wide talent, the whole underpinning of the franchise. It'sstarting over for the third time in eight years, because this isno longer plausible entertainment.And no, there will be no more references to the NFC West beingcomprehensively rancid, and therefore winnable. The 49ers are the primereason why the NFC West is a four-team dumpster on fire.So the only question left to ask you, the consumer is this: Now do yousee this for what it really is? In other words, don't you have moredeserving things to believe in this holiday season?Finally, haven't you seen enough?Sunday, they thought they could run on the 29th best rush defense inthe league, and Frank Gore ran 12 times for 23 yards. They thought theycould find their bliss in thirdsecond-first quarterback Troy Smith,and he managed to complete barely half his passes and got sacked sixtimes. They thought they could play a ball-control game and had theball less than 40 percent of the time.They filled and emptied Candlestick Park in two hours and fifteenminutes. The game took 2:51, and 101 was clear both ways by 5:15 p.m. People flee burning trucks in less time.The first noticeable booing came midway through the second quarter, andthere was never a full-throated rage at the team only because there isno way to monitor the decibel level of people booing in their cars.The only positive to come out of the game was KTVU-TV's thoughtfulattempt to mollify the mood by running six-week-old scores on thebottom of the screen. And even then, that was the week the 49ers lostto Carolina, the Panthers' only win all year. (In fairness to KTVU, there was clearly a computer glitch that couldn'tbe repaired; still, the metaphor was too delicious to ignore). But for all those ephemeral pieces of evidence telling you that you'vewasted your hope yet again, the central truth was Singletaryreferencing the absence of leadership yet again, a laughably tiredrefrain that means nothing because it explains nothing. He alsoreferenced miscommunication yet again, and at this point one can onlyconclude that the plays must be sent in in Esperanto, because therecannot be this many misunderstandings by a team that is used to beingwell prepared. The 49ers are not well prepared. They do not have enough good players.They do not rally around their coach, nor he around them. There are sixgames left, and a few of them will be won, but it will not be becausethey have finally seen the light, because it's too late for that. Waytoo late. They are so comprehensively revolting that every fan can pick hisfavorite villain and fulminate about his shortcomings and how he ruinedthe season. Singletary? Check. Jed and Paraag? Check. Alex Smith?Check. The offensive line? Check. The secondary? Check. In fact, tosave time, let's just exempt Gore and Patrick Willis and then let youargue among yourselves. But you must all agree on this, at least. This has run its course,utterly and completely. Not knowing what to say in a postgame presser(a longtime Singletary trait) is one thing, not knowing what to fix issomething else. There's too much to fix, and not enough people who knowhow to use a wrench.Will it get fixed? One should assume the last eight seasons (includingthis one) would make you assume that the answer would be no. But youkeep thinking that happy days are here again, just around the corner,just a week or two away.And unless you are very careful and very disciplined, you will do soagain this coming Sunday if they win at Arizona. You'll leap to yourfeet and shriek, "We're in third now! We're closing in! I can feel it!" Well, let us break it to you. No you can't. They can't. The hand hasbeen played, the cards revealed, and once again it's a dry ace(Willis)-king (Gore). Starting over is the only way out, and there areanother six weeks of waiting for winter.Yes, winter. As in the time that you start getting your hopes up for 2011. And good luck to you with that one.
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Frank Deford's longform storytelling made him worthy of our attention


Frank Deford's longform storytelling made him worthy of our attention

Frank Deford’s death over the weekend did not mark the end of longform sportswriting as we knew it; he had long ago become part of the electronic commentariat that has reduced longform’s place in the public’s attention span.

But there is still longform writing and storytelling to be found in many places, and it is still worthwhile. It has more production value, as the TV folks like to blather, and the words have to fight for their place between the cracks left by the pictures and the mutated graphics, but longform lives, and it should, lest we all agree as one people to further desiccate that attention span like a grapefruit left in the sun.

Deford’s death, though, reminds of when longform was the zenith of the storytelling art. It could, and still can, give you access and depth and breadth that a TV crew simply could not, and cannot. Even extended TV features are by their very nature so contrived by all the equipment that nothing is natural, nothing is a surprise, and the act of writing is almost an afterthought.

Deford knew this. He more than merely dabbled in TV himself, playing the wizened old raconteur who was as much character in his pieces as storyteller. He was also a star and a starmaker with The National, a daily sports network in newspaper form that was long on talent and ideas but short on delivery and distribution. It lasted 17 months, until mid-1991, but it led to grander attempts decades later, and could if you squint your eyes hard enough be the natural parent of Grantland and The Ringer and Vice and SB Nation and dozens of others – all bigger ideas, positioned in the post-typing world. Some lasted, more didn’t, but capitalism is like that – making fuel to keep the fires burning and the engines churning.

Deford could have thrived in such a world, to be sure. He was not, in the hideous phrase, “a man of his time.” Indeed, he was a crossover figure years ago in ways that other longform writers attempt to resist even now. They want to be Deford at the height of his powers at a time when the instruments for their gift are either dying or veering away from anything that hits the 600-word mark.

But his passing did not kill the art of clever writing and incisive storytelling. There are far too many people who can do that still, even if the market for their gifts is neither as pronounced nor as eager for the product as it once was. It did remind us not only that he was a giant, but that there are still giants among us should we deign to take the time to seek them.

Thus, Deford’s death marked his passing but not the thing that made him worthy of our attention. Storytelling, longform and otherwise, remains the heart of why this is still worthwhile to a culture, and when the generation his work spawned starts to die off, I suspect we’ll still be saying the same thing then. Notebooks are smartphones, photographs are streams, but the human eye and ear and hand still remain pre-eminent.

That is, until the robots take over, at which point reading won’t be worth it.

Does St. Louis' suit against NFL mean hope for the City of Oakland?

Does St. Louis' suit against NFL mean hope for the City of Oakland?

You thought you were done worrying about the Raiders. You thought the votes were in, the moving vans booked for three years down the road, and all gnashing and sharpening of teeth was over. You thought you were free.

Then those buttinsky-come-latelies from St. Louis decided to rear their litigious heads, and now you find yourselves slipping back into that desperate-hope world from which no one escapes.

It seems the city and its regional sports authority has decided to sue the National Football League and its 32 semi-independent duchies over the relocation of the Rams 15 months ago because, and you’ll like this one, the league allegedly did not follow its own relocation rules when it moved the team.

As you know, there is no such thing as a rule if everyone governed by the rule decided unanimously to ignore the rule. This doctrine falls under the general heading of, “We’re billionaires, try and stop us.”

But all lawsuits have a common denominator, and that is that there is money at the end of the rainbow. St. Louis is claiming it is going to miss out on approximately $100 million in net proceeds (read: cash) and has decided that the NFL and especially their good pal Stan Kroenke is going to have to pay for permission to do what they have already done -- specifically, leave.

Because the suit was filed in St. Louis, the benefits of home field advantage apply, and the league is likely to have to reinflate their lawyers for some exciting new billable hours.

As to whether it turns into a windfall for the jilted Missourians, well, as someone who has known lawyers, I would list them as prohibitive underdogs. But there is nuisance value here, which brings us to Oakland.

The city and county, as we know, did not put its best shoe forward in trying to lure the Raiders into staying or the other 31 owners into rejecting the team’s pleas for geographical relief. By that, we mean that the city and county did not fall all over itself to meet the league’s typically extortionate demands.

But they did play angry enough to start snipping about the 2019 part of the Raiders’ 3-More-Coliseum-Years plan, and they are threatening to sue over about $80K in unpaid parking fees, so filing their own breach-of-rules lawsuit might be a possibility.

Because, hey, what’s the point of sounding like a nuisance if you can’t actually become one?

By now, it is clear that everyone in SuitWorld got what it needed out of the Raiders’ move. The city and county could concentrate on guiding the A’s into activity on their own new stadium. The team could go where Mark Davis has been agitating for it to go for at least three years – somewhere else. The state of Nevada could find a place for that $750 million that was burning a hole in its casino vault. And the league went to a market that it, at first reluctantly and then enthusiastically, decided should be its own.

The fans? Oh, please. Who cares about them? To the NFL, and to all corporations in all walks of business, folks are just walking wallets.

But for some cash? Well, climb on board, suckers. The gravy train is pulling out on Track 3.

Nobody is fool enough to think the Raiders would be forced to return. Hell, even St. Louis isn’t asking for the Rams back. They just want to get paid for the money they probably banked on in the good old days before Stan Kroenke decided to head west.

And that would doubtless be Oakland’s stance as well if. Now the circumstances are slightly different, in that St. Louis worked harder to keep the Rams than Oakland did to keep the Raiders. St. Louis scared up $350 million toward new digs for the Rams, well short of what Kroenke would have accepted, while Oakland said it could get its hands on some infrastructure money and no more.

But Mayor Libby Schaaf complained in her relocation post mortem that the league didn’t follow its own guidelines (yay correlation as causation!), maybe with an eye toward throwing a few lawyers into the fire to see how long it would burn.

There is not yet any indication that the city and county are going that route (and the silence may simply mean that they are sick of the Raiders’ saga as everyone else seems to be), but if they do, well, don’t freak out that the team might be forced to return.

Except, of course, in that place where migraines start. Dragging this back up is a bit like the phantom pain amputees feel -- but hey, people will do a lot for a bit of court-ordered cash. Anyone who has ever watched Judge Judy will understand.