Ray Ratto

Ratto: Can Cable, Raiders keep The Al happy?


Ratto: Can Cable, Raiders keep The Al happy?

Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com

It is a measure of the confounding nature of the 2010 Raiders that they managed to win and lose at the same time Sunday. And in more than one area.They gob-smacked the Denver Broncos, 39-23, but only after, in the words of laughing defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, they had to endure a lot of cursing from the head man. He got everybodys attention. RECAP: Raiders outlast Broncos, keep playoff hopes alive
They gained 502 yards, their fifth time exceeding 400 this year after managing it only four times in the previous 112. And yet, they were only 2-for-11 on third down conversions.They improved their intradivisional record to 5-0, outrushing the Chargers, Chiefs and Broncos by 669 yards and nine TDs, while their record outside it remains 2-7.And they won their seventh game for the first time since 2002 and lost one more chance at a playoff berth, because the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens both won.
RELATED: NFL Standings
In short, their vistas narrowed as their self-esteem expanded, and self-esteem matters less than actual achievement in the Darwin-was-a-sissy world of professional sport.Seven wins? Kelly said with a smile. Id rather have eight right now, but I guess seven is a good stepping stone.But for whom?I dont know about next year, he said. Ill handle next year when next year comes. I might not be here next year.Thats the problem with almosts, which is what the Raiders are looking at if Kansas City beats Tennessee or San Diego beats Cincinnati next week. Theyll be done, no matter what they do or dont do with Indianapolis at the Coliseum.And even if they get by the Colts and then beat the Chiefs on the final day, they have to hope the Broncos can beat San Diego and eliminate the Chargers from the tiebreaking formulas.Without playoffs to distract the masses, the what-ifs come into play. What if Darren McFadden, who has 1,113 yards rushing with two games left and two games lost, hadnt lost those two games? What if they hadnt laid such mighty eggs against Arizona, San Francisco, Miami and Jacksonville? What if they could have shown a little more gumption outside their enfeebled division?Which leads us inexorably to the Cable question . . . again. If, as seems likely, they will be among the outsiders again this year, will Al Davis view this as improvement or a blown chance? Will he see the 5-0 and smile, or the 2-7 and scowl? Will he decide not to risk Hue Jackson bolting for a head coaching job elsewhere, or decide that Cable has finally figured out how to keep The Al content?In short, can you start over and maintain momentum?Guessing at the inner workings of The Als brain box is always sketchy work, and its been so long since the Raiders werent down that it is hard to know how he defines up. For a man who is well known for his rigid philosophical views on football, to imagine him bending on something as elemental as the postseason is, well, difficult.And if he doesnt see this season as good enough to maintain the status quo, how can it be so?Again, we are working with the future, and the imponderables of The Als disposition. It is hard to see Jason Campbell finally winning the quarterbacking job beyond any question, or McFadden becoming an elite running back, or the defense developing beyond its subterranean numbers of years past.But one of the things about being relevant in December is the fact that you do look at a picture bigger than the postage stamps the Raiders have been churning out most of the decade. And these Raiders look great only in comparison to their grisly predecessors. They have miles to go before they can sleep well.But they can at least sleep for a change. When The Al is genuinely unhappy, as he has been for years now, nobody sleeps, ever. In fact, they may not sleep while he is deciding whether to be happy or not.But at least this year, for the first time in seemingly forever, he might be happy. Okay, content. Well, okay, mollified.Depending on his mood. And the day. And the weather.And thats a dramatic improvement by any measure.

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


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.