Ratto: Cable's future in Oakland doomed all along

212011.jpg

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.

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

meat-pie-guy.jpg
AP

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.