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.
What's on your mind? Email Ray and let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag.

A sports-related pie-fixing scandal? Hell never felt so fun


A sports-related pie-fixing scandal? Hell never felt so fun

I’m liking this 2017 so far. Then again, after 2016, nearly any year would be an improvement.

Just this last weekend we got a flat-earth scandal that turned into a mock-up about media self-importance and fake news (yay Kyrie Irving and his impish sense of satire!).

We got the overblown Russell-Hates-Kevin narrative, and the faux Russell-Secretly-Loves-Kevin counternarrative, all because we are stunningly attracted to meaningless and utterly contrived drama (yay our ability to B.S. ourselves!).

We got the NBA All-Star Game ripped for having no defense even though last year’s game was, if anything, worse (yay short attention span!).

We got the Boogie Cousins trade and the national revulsion of all the thought processes the Sacramento Kings put into this perpetually rolling disaster (yay making Boogie and Vivek Ranadive household names!).

And now we got the Great Sutton United Pie-Fixing Scandal. Yeah, pie-fixing. Hell never felt so fun.

So here’s the deal. Sutton United, a very small fry in English soccer, got to the fifth round of the FA Cup, a competition in which all the clubs in England are commingled and play each other until one team remains. The big clubs almost always win, so any time a small club goes deep, it’s a big deal.

Anyway, Sutton went deeper in the competition than nearly anyone in the last century, a charming development given that it is such a small club that it had a stadium caretaker, goalie coach and backup goalie all in one massive fellow, a 46-year-old guy named Wayne Shaw. Shaw became the globular embodiment of the entire Sutton Experience, a jolly lark for everyone involved and especially when he ate a pie on the bench in the final minutes of Sutton’s Cup-exiting loss to Arsenal.

And now he’s been eased into resigning his jobs with the club, because – and this is so very British – there were betting shops taking action on whether he would in fact eat a pie on the bench, and he either did or did not tip off his pals that he was going to chow down on television.

He did eat the pie. His pals collected on their bets. The sport’s governing body opened an investigation into market manipulation by gambling – which is hilarious given that no fewer than 10 gambling establishments have advertising deals with English soccer clubs. Shaw was invited to quit to kill the story, and he took the hint.

Hey, dreams die all the time. But it’s still pie-fixing. Let that rattle around your head for a minute. Pie-fixing. Not match-fixing. Not point-shaving. Pie-fixing.

Now how can you not love this year?

Sure, it sucks for Shaw, but it serves as a series of cautionary tales for athletes around the world.

* Gambling is everywhere, and every time you inch toward it, you dance on the third rail.

* If you want to help your friends, give them cash.

* This is a horribly delicious way to lose your gig.

* And finally, fun in the 21st century isn’t ever truly fun because someone in a suit and a snugly-placed stick is going to make sure you pay full retail for that fun.

But it is nice to know that something that has never happened before is now part of our year. Pie-fixing is a thing now, as silly in its way as Irving’s flat-earth narrative was. And as we steer away from normal games as being too run-of-the-mill-fuddy-duddy entertainment, we have replaced them with sideshows.

Or do you forget how many people complained Saturday and Sunday that the dunk contest wasn’t interesting enough? How stupid is that?

Lots. Lots of stupid. But against pie-tin-shaped planets and pies turned into betting coups, how can it possibly compare?

We chase a lot of idiotic narratives in our sporting lives. The great What Will The Patriots Do To Roger Goodell story died like the old dog it was. We still try to flog Warriors-Thunder as a rivalry in search of better TV ratings when all the obvious evidence is that it is no such thing unless you think a couple that broke up nine months ago is still a solid story. We have Bachelor fantasy leagues, for God’s sake.

This would leave most normal folks in despair, thus matching their everyday experiences, but yin meets yang, and every time it looks like we are all barrel-rolling into the sun, we get Irving, and then we get Wayne Shaw.

In short, 2017 is going to be fun of grand surprises for us all. I look forward to the day President Trump tries to fete the Patriots and only gets to Skype with Bob Kraft and the equipment guys who midwifed DeflateGate, and Mark Davis in Las Vegas, just to see if he can get a P.F. Chang’s into the Bellagio.

Why not? This is sport’s year-long tribute to sketch comedy, and evidently everyone is signing on enthusiastically to replace lessons of morality and honor and equality and dignity and sportsmanship with slackened jaws and belly laughs.

So yay sports! Or as it is clearly becoming, A Night At The Improv.

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.