Ray Ratto

Ratto: Overreaching prompted Neukom's ouster


Ratto: Overreaching prompted Neukom's ouster

Sept. 14, 2011


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The beauty of most ownership coups is that you rarely see them until theyre done.Well, OK, theres the McCourts.But Bill Neukom's ouster as the Giants managing general bow tie came as a bolt from the gray. As broken by the San Jose Mercury News, it plays as one guy taking control because he thought hed been given control.It is also, however, a flip of the Peter Magowan coin, in that, if the Mercury report is as portrayed (and so far, nobody has countered it), Neukom assumed that being the managing general partner meant being the same thing as being the only general partner. You know, in the way that Al Davis is the Raiders managing general partner.

RELATED: Giants release statement on Neukom's 'retirement'

In fact, Neukoms failure came in forgetting that having barely a fifth of the stock means that others have the other four-fifths, and if they get together, you come apart.Neukom apparently spent a chunk on the Giants World Series windfall in opposition to a majority of the other partners, who apparently wanted more tucked into an account to be used during the inevitable leaner times. Neukom didnt spend it on himself, but he didnt spend it with the partners agreement, and therein lies the chafe.There is no telling who organized the opposition, though it is hard to see how this happened without the agreement of Tori Burns and Trina Dean, the heirs to the Harmon and Sue Burns shares, as their one-third of the business had to be among the alienated portion by virtue of the math alone.Interestingly, it was Sue Burns -- whose dissatisfaction with Magowan put Neukom in charge three years ago, largely for the same reason -- who convinced others that Magowan had exceeded his allies in reach and dominance.Larry Baer, who came in as part of the original group that bought the Giants from Bob Lurie in 1992, is in charge for the moment, but there is no telling how permanent that situation will be, as he has even less financial skin in the game.In short, the cash cow has just kicked over its bucket, and the mad dash to clean the spill and replace the container will be months in the settling. It surely puts general manager Brian Sabean and the baseball operations people in a new squeeze, as they were largely Neukoms beneficiaries, but Sabean has always been a loyal company man, and if the company is different, he will adjust.If he is allowed to do so, and if he knows to whom he is adjusting.

More to come as this story grinds on. Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.

National SOB League can never forget the noble man who brought them together


National SOB League can never forget the noble man who brought them together

So after one day, the NSOBL (the National Son-Of-A-Bitch League, as if you couldn’t guess) has survived the contemptible brain-burps of the Panderer-In-Chief. Now we’ll see if the players’ fury has true staying power.
And by staying power, we don’t mean whether they will continue to defy the call of the National Anthem (an easy enough task), but whether they view their newfound solidarity as something that needs to be nurtured to truly endure.
After all, it’s easy to be galvanized by the noisy neighbor who spends his day on the porch shouting irrational obscenities at the neighbors. But Donald Trump isn’t the issue; he never was. All he did was put a face to the idiocies that prevent us from being the country we should be.
But this started a year ago with a single knee, a single person, and a broader cause than a President who needs to pick fights the way a vampire needs naked necks. Colin Kaepernick, whose career as a football player is essentially over because he caused the NFL a headache by honoring his conscience, took his knee to protest police excesses, and didn’t need to be called a son of a bitch to do so. He was later, of course, part of the medley of all the other insults that followed, but he didn’t kneel because he was insulted. He knelt because other were, and worse.
But the beauty of these days is that we take any idea or action and immediately change its meaning to fit our own prejudices. Kaepernick’s message was too nuanced for a lot of people’s facilities because they value symbols more than people, but nobody doesn’t understand being called a son of a bitch by a boss you hate.
So the new NSOBL is just starting to coalesce. There will not be a shortage of reasons for players to find their voice and conscience, and to break the bonds that required them to ask permission before speaking or thinking. If they are as they purport to be, they will remember that change happens with a single son of a bitch.

In retirement, Andre Ward will have days when he desperately wants back in


In retirement, Andre Ward will have days when he desperately wants back in

Andre Ward finally did what he said he would do – retire before the sport of boxing retired him.

Now we’ll see if boxing intends to leave him be.

Ward announced his retirement via Twitter Thursday morning, seemingly ending the career of one of the world’s greatest fighters in the elusive pound-for-pound category. He now plans to get into media, which is a battle of its own (ask Teddy Atlas when he talks with Stephen A. Smith how rewarding that can be).

But there’s that word “seemingly.” Boxers have a greater incidence of unretirement than any other sport because they miss what they do, they are typically surrounded by people who like the paydays the boxer’s fights provide, the unpaid tax debts some incur never go away, and sometimes they just don’t have anything better to do.

And then one day they find out they can’t do anything at all because of the punishments that come with violent sport, and then they become either tragedies or cautionary tales. Almost nobody gets to 95 like Jake LaMotta did.

Ward has said repeatedly that would never happen to him, that he was in control of his destiny and would remain so. And you want to believe him, because he would be that rarest of boxing stories – the unmitigated success.

It will be his toughest fight, however, far tougher than Sergei Kovalev. Boxing has this weird thrall upon its practitioners that can prove irresistible, if not outright necessary, and Ward will have to train as hard to repel its call as he did when he was neck-deep in it. It will not be easy, and he will have days when he desperately wants back in.

But retired fighters typically make poor unretired fighters, and the more one unretires, the worse the future becomes. So Andre Ward has to win this one more than any other fight.

And maybe it will be an easy victory for him – but it is a victory that will have to be achieved every day, almost like fighting alcoholism. Boxing is bad for you, and though it has been good for Andre Ward (as far as anyone knows), being an ex-boxer will be even better. He has done what needs to be done, and now he needs to do something else, one that doesn’t require putting his body and brain at risk for our amusement.

If this can be done, Andre Ward can achieve it. But neither he nor anyone else should think it will be any easier than understanding an Adalaide Byrd scorecard. Post-boxing will be difficult and rewarding business. All he has to do is master it every day for the rest of his life.