Ratto: Cable's future in Oakland doomed all along

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Ratto: Cable's future in Oakland doomed all along

Jan. 4, 2011RATTO ARCHIVERAIDERS PAGE RAIDERS VIDEORay RattoCSNBayArea.com

Before you get all carried away with Tom Cables firing as head coach of the Raiders, understand this.He was doomed way before today.
RELATED: Cable out as Raiders head coach
He did the one unforgivable thing in sports, or business. He was thehired dog who tried to bite his owner. He wanted to show Al Davis thathe was capable of independent thought (Bruce Gradkowski) when it wasclear that Al hired him because there is only room for one independentthinker (Al) with one independent thought (Jason Campbell).But beyond that, the idea that the 8-8 Raiders were a dramaticimprovement on the 6-10 Raiders or the 4-12 Raiders is a pretty thinreed upon which to seize. They were 6-0 in a bad division, 2-8 outsideit. They lost to some seriously bad teams. They had neither thepersonnel, the will nor the coaching acumen to be better than 8-8, butthe way they ended up 8-8, plus his occasional bursts of willfulnessre: the quarterback, put Al in a frame of mind to can him well beforeTuesday.
RELATED: Raiders results
Bizarrely, Cable survived punching out a member of his staff, andallegations of spousal abuse. Well, bizarre if you forget that these are the Raiders, where the only two sins are not winning 10 games anddefying the owner on a football matter without winning those 10 games.More than that, Al was done with Cable when he brought in Hue Jacksonto run the offense and made Cable a glorified offensive line coach whohad to deal with a bored media. They were interesting as a study indysfunction; as an average team that couldnt measure up to playoffteams, and got less out of their draft choices than Al intended, theywere just meh, with a capital-M.Indeed, we dont even have the strength to float a JimHarbaugh-to-the-Raiders rumor, because Harbaughs got many bigger fishto fry.No, this was Al finishing the job he meant to do all along. Cable wouldnot have gotten the job under normal circumstances, and he would havehad to be extraordinary to keep it. He wasnt.But it is also a measure of the World of Al that their first non-losingseason since that fateful Super Bowl had no impact upon his decision.He had soured on Cable well before this, and even beating the Chiefs131-10 Sunday would have made no difference.
REWIND: Raiders finish 6-0 in division with win in K.C.
Of course, it is Als fault that Cable got the job to begin with; hecame off as the guy who was in the office when Al finally found theoverhead projector in Laffaire Kiffin. If Cable had been at lunch, itprobably would have been John Marshalls job instead.And it was not a proud tenure, to be sure, which is why Cable couldnever dig his way out of the hole he started in three years ago. He wasa place-holder, and he should have known that before he decided to behis own man with Gradkowski. He wasnt hired because Al valued him. Alvalues no coach, at least none since Tom Flores, and hasnt treated oneas an equal since John Madden.It seemed, almost, like Al hired him so he could say to the world, See? Ill get anyone to replace that weasel Kiffin.In fairness, the players seemed to like Cable, and they didnt overtlyquit on him as they had some of his predecessors. But Cable didnt winany points for being a players coach either. He was Als coach, untilAl decided he wasnt being sufficiently Als coach.Now hes out, and it seems unlikely that there will be another headcoaching job for him in the NFL. He has some skills; he can teachoffensive line play. But he was hired at a time when nobody could havesucceeded in Oakland, and he didnt succeed. And no, 8-8 isntsucceeding.Put simply, Tom Cables attempts to show Al Davis he was worthy of thejob hed been given was a suckers bet all along. Maybe he knew thatand played Gradkowski in an attempt to see if Al valued independentthought. Maybe he decided he could teach Al something. Maybe he knew hewas going to get canned and tried to go down his way.That last one seems least plausible, because Cable often went offscript and then backtracked after a meeting on the second floor.In short, he lived out his lifespan in Oakland, and longer than most.There was nothing special about him, nothing so extraordinary that Alwould have to swallow hard and keep him. He was just a guy who went towork every day and did the best he could the best way he knew how.He just never impressed anyone with his product. And when he tried toescape the Raiders gravitational pull, the owners suite, he forgotwhy hed been hired, and that never goes over well.That last part is a lesson Hue Jackson better know, and that JimHarbaugh is at least aware of, and if neither of them take the job, thenext guy will learn right away. In Oakland, you buy your independencewith wins, lots more than Tom Cable managed. Lots more.What's on your mind? Email Ray and let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag.

The real issue that lingers now that OJ Simpson is a free man

The real issue that lingers now that OJ Simpson is a free man

O.J. Simpson is free. The system as it is defined by those who run it in the case of the Nevada Parole Board, worked.

But the issue that lingers is whether we can free ourselves of him. That system is far more amorphous, arbitrarty and essentially unfair. And in its own revolting way, it works too.

The O.J. market has always been bullish. The old cliché that people can’t get enough no matter how much you shovel at them is more true for him than for any other sports figure of the last 50 years. More than Tiger Woods. More than LeBron James. More than Michael Jordan. More than all of them.

And now his parole hearing, televised and streamed by every outlet except Home & Garden Television, proved it again. He will never not be O.J.

But he is also 70. He is also planning to go to Florida and be with his family, based on what he told the parole board Thursday. He has assiduously avoided the media in his nine years in Lovelock, and if his family is providing the support it pledges, it will do its utmost to keep him from our prying eyes as he enters his dotage.

There is nothing we have that can do him any good. We have eaten all the forms of O.J. there are, culminating in the Emmy-award winning documentary on him, and finally, his release from prison. If he is wise as well as smart, here’s nothing left of his life but re-airs.

So the question becomes not so much whether he can leave fame alone, or whether fame can leave him alone. Our national appetite is poor on the topic of leaving people be, let alone deciding enough is enough. The fame we make for people gorges, purges and gorges again, in a hideous cycle that demeans all involved.

In sum, O.J. Simpson can, if he is paying attention to the value of normalcy, end his addiction to fame. I have far more serious doubts about fame and its addiction to him.

Quietest time in sports yields a pair of idiotic fascinations

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Quietest time in sports yields a pair of idiotic fascinations

Some time not that very long ago, someone in sports management who will almost certainly spend all of eternity bobbing for razor-studded apples in a pool of lava saw an opportunity in the phrase, “The quietest time in sports.” And decided to fill it with filth.
 
It is believed to begin right after the end of the NBA Finals, although that artificial start date has been extended through free agency now that the NBA’s principal entertainment vehicle is the burning of money. It used to be right after the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, though now it has been extended backward. And it ends roughly at the beginning of NFL and/or college training camps, depending on where you live and which of those two beasts you profess your God to be.
 
But let’s get back to the management succubus who has set us on the path that has led inexcusably to the current point. The idea that baseball no longer holds the interest or attention spans of the young, cool and inadequately trained in the value of money is now accepted as fact, and as any marketing nitwit will tell you, nature abhors a vacuum.
 
So here’s what we’ve got. Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor in what is very simply a lazy-stereotype-laden comedy tour that isn’t funny let alone even mildly convincing. They have both been on the stage too long, with a month still to go before the final shame-off August 26, where they simply enter the arena, stand with their backs to each other at the ring rope and spend 45 minutes trying to target-spit into the eyes of the high-rollers. Why the promoters didn’t just muzzle Mayweather and McGregor and use actual professionals like Key and Peele and Aisling Bea and Ed Byrne to work the crowds for a million per is simply a lack of imagination at work.
 
Here’s what else we have. Our idiotic fascination for Lonzo Ball’s two best Summer League games being achieved wearing shoes other than those promoted by his father/huckster as though his skills and intelligence are all in his feet.
 
What this actually is, of course, is people using Lonzo’s momentary and mostly microscopic achievement to call LaVar a tedious swine without ever using his name or his product catalog because he, like McGregor and Mayweather, beats down crowds and calls it entertainment, and people have signed on in a weird backdoor way – by finding reasons to like the son as a weapon against the father.
 
Thus, Lonzo Ball gets to learn how to be a professional athlete of note while carrying the load of his father’s impression upon the nation as well as the loads of those who believe that sins of the father must revert to the son. Popularity’s dominant property is its corrosion, and Ball will have to have very fast feet and well-constructed shoes indeed to dance away from the rising tide of a bored fan base with an ax to grind.
 
It isn’t as instantly gratifying a train wreck as Mayweather-McGregor, but it is a triumph of the new marketing strategy of wholesale idiocy that diminishes the watcher as well as the watched.
 
Neither of these events are in and of themselves interesting. Mayweather-McGregor is simply a kangaroo boxing a bear because circus entertainment no longer has circuses as venues, and Ball’s summer bears almost no relationship to the true test of his career – how to be the best player on a terrible team and then make the adjustment to being the third best player on a rebuilding team.
 
Ball has a longer shelf life because of that single useful component, but it is made less rather than more interesting by the presence of his father, who is now indelibly part of the tale at a time when most parents leave their children to find their fortunes by the virtues of their skills and wits.
 
McGregor-Mayweather has the sole benefit of being cringeworthy both before, during and after the event, a month-long smear of degradation that reduces all involved, including those who buy the fight, into penitents, into rolling apologies. It is an event in which nobody gets out with any shred of dignity, with the single revolting example of the grisly accountant-beasts who will take the Internal Revenue’s cut immediately after the fight.
 
And if that isn’t Satan winning, then you don’t know how to score a game in which Satan plays on all the teams at once and sees to it that the game is scheduled in the middle of July because some client of his told him it was the best time of year for personal and professional disgrace with a scoreboard on the end of it.