Ratto: L.A. talking the Raider talk, once again


Ratto: L.A. talking the Raider talk, once again

Aug. 11, 2011


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Every now and then, like a particularly predatory cicada, Los Angeles crops up as a quasi-suitable NFL site again, and when it does . . .Yes, its time for Oakland Raider Football. Dont blink. You never know how long it will be there.Our states largest city took a mighty stumble forward . . . oh, about a foot and a half, pretty much . . . toward its dream of stealing two franchises from other parts of the nation this past week, and L.A. being L.A., it declared itself ready for action. With none of the signs of a construction project -- no post holes blasted, no concrete mixed, no bribes paid.But there it is anyway. Los Angeles, ready and willing to prove what it could not (or didnt feel like proving) before -- that it is a two-team NFL market. And the two teams?

San Diego and Oakland. Of course San Diego and Oakland.We should guess that this is a story again on the cusp of the beginning of the Raiders exhibitionpracticenon-vitaltime-wastingmeaning-deprived season. The lads began the Hue Jackson era with a 24-18 loss to Arizona that mostly showed us that: Denarius Moore is going to be regarded as the next Chaz Schilens.
The Raiders are not deep at cornerback.
Sebastian Janikowski will probably keep his job after a 57-yard field goal off the dirt that temporarily gave the boys an 18-17 lead. Ticket sales are going to be a point of emphasis at tomorrow's staff meeting.But back to the bigger picture, hazy though it might be.We don't know that anything is in the works yet for either team, the game of stadium leverage being what it is, but it is a topic again.
And it is a topic with too many loose endings to be reasonably settled now. Construction, money, free-range lawyers, debt financing, ownership issues, long-term bonds, city, county and state governments, cash, other teams, Roger Goodell as the broker, and property taxes . . . it all stands in the way of this latest chimerical master plan.But well say it this way: The Raiders will go to Los Angeles if: The team is sold to someone who wants to put the team in Los Angeles. The Raiders disregard the two-tenant stadium idea. The Raiders cant get a one-tenant stadium going. Los Angeles doesnt try to side-door the Raiders with a different second tenant. The NFL tries to midwife its own deal and is willing to do the legal fight the Raiders would surely promise.And there are about six or seven or 26 other things in play here, but we cant list them all without bleeding out of our eyes.The point remains, though, that having crushed its fan base down to an impenetrable core -- sort of like a sun imploding -- the Raiders are back in play whether they are or not. They need to pick up some level of momentum on the field to rebuild that audience because of the many ways that they have made themselves repellent to the casual ticket-buyer, and that remains Job One.Well, Job Only, to be more specific. L.A. is too far away to throw away any more seasons on coaching uncertainty or booable quarterbacks or any of the other entertainments the Raiders have been better at than winning these past eight years.And while we all enjoy trying to foretell the future five years down the road while knowing maybe one-third of the variables, there really is only the now. Hell, whos to say if Santa Clara falls through that the 49ers wouldnt be interested by Los Angeles?See the problem? Neither of our football teams are standing firm against the vagaries of an uncertain future in a willow economy, and Los Angeles is the only potential leverage either one has.But Los Angeles is far far away, and doing what Los Angeles does best -- talk the talk. When someone is ready to walk, well cast another eye at the Raiders, if only out of habit.Until then . . . its time for Oakland Raider Football, and you know that because Greg Papa has promised to throw an extra 12 Rs into Touchdown Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrraiders. He managed that on Trent Edwards' third quarter touchdown pass to tight end David Ausberry, so he's in shape at least.
Hey, its how he drags himself through practice games. You have to find your own level of passion. But you have plenty of time before you need to begin any tearful vigils.

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.