Ratto: Advice to 49ers -- act fast or lose


Ratto: Advice to 49ers -- act fast or lose

Jan. 6, 2011RATTO ARCHIVE49ERS PAGE 49ERS VIDEORay RattoCSNBayArea.com

On a day when Jim Harbaugh both was and was not the nextcoach of the Miami Dolphins (ahh, the beauty of sources who arentclose enough or forthright enough to be reliable), the 49ers endedlooking like, well, rubes.And once that is the perception, the realities that follow tend tobring shellshock, and leave the inexperienced abuse-magnet turtled andmoaning in the corner of the room.Jed York, this is starting to look more and more like your fate.How do we know this? Because between telegraphing his ardor forHarbaugh, sending in an offer that is by all accounts much lower thanthe high bid to date, and undermining his general manager search byadvertising one thing while settling for something else altogether, hereinforced the notion that he is still overmatched and has nobody athis disposal to shorten the odds.
Nothing has been decided yet, mind you, and the 49ersarent out of it until theyre out of it. Miami Dolphins owner SteveRoss left his eight million calling cards (give or take) and headedback to Florida, where it is now being reported that the Dolphins aregoing to retain Tony Sparano. Stanford threw more money at Harbaughthan the 49er deal is worth, and Denver has not yet been heard from butis expected to begin its sales pitch shortly.RELATED: Reports say Harbaugh not going to Miami
But Harbaugh, a natural-born binge gambler when it comes to betting onhis career, must surely suspect that the wooing portion of the romanceis coming to an end.There is a point, not very far from this, where he will price himselfout of the market just by being too overtly mercenary. He is trying todo the trigonometry of powercontrolsuccess, and he has to come up withthe answer that satisfy him soon, or risk being perceived even by billionairedivas as a mega-diva, unworthy of the effort.But with so many irons still heating (Denver? Stanford? Miami, after asham Rooney Rule interview?), it is hard to project where Harbaughsfuture lay.
MAIOCCO: 49ers focus on Harbaugh, then what?
Ultimately, Harbaugh will land when he lands, and thatll be the end ofthat. But this much is known: barring an extraordinary rally by men whohave mostly looked overwhelmed throughout the process, the 49ers havebeen exposed yet again as pikers, led by a man who still wants to becredited rather than one who wants to succeed.This hire required greater skill than York exhibited. Harbaugh is, forgood or ill, the flavor of the week, and his value needed to be sussedout quickly by someone who understood the nature of the competition.The Dolphins would come with money, glitz and a measure of control. TheBroncos would come with money, John Elway and slightly more control.Stanford didnt seem to be a player, then decided with Andrew Luck onboard to dive in, coming with Luck, continuity and the Stanford cocoon.Next to all this, the 49ers had . . . what? A 29-year-old owner whowants to be a combination of his uncle and George Halas, a power vacuumbelow him (Trent Baalke, for good or ill, was hired to be an adjunct tothe coach), and no quarterback at all.Oh, and geography, which means nothing to the modern hyperamibitious coach.In other words, the 49ers needed to win the Harbaugh sweepstakes with aquick and overwhelming strike, and instead advertised how badly theywanted him without proving it to him. Now there are others in play,with more money, more tugs on his emotions, and more Andrew Luck.This is why you hire the general manager whos been around and knowsthe league terrain. This is why you let him run the football operationwithout interference. This is why you move aside and let the expertsexpertify.But no, Jed wanted this to be his big score. Putting his reputation inthe middle of the table next to the insufficient pile of chips, he endsup looking weaker. Even if he does get Harbaugh, it wont be perceivedquite the same way. Jed got played because he wanted too much to be aplayer, and he got played because he didnt bring enough jack withwhich to play.
RATTO: 49ers boss Jed York ... the big kidder
Lesson learned? We doubt it. Hey, there may not even be a lesson to belearned if Harbaugh gets a dramatically better offer from San Franciscoand decides that the 49ers were his bliss after all.But this wont look like Jed York knew what he was doing, no matter how it breaks down. And that was his real plan all along.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.