Ray Ratto

Ratto: Raiders follow 49ers with ugly Week 1 win

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Ratto: Raiders follow 49ers with ugly Week 1 win

Sept. 12, 2011

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Evidently we hadnt made ourselves clear Sunday evening when we said that without Ted Ginn, the 49ers were pretty damned meh, because it seems we have to say it again Monday night about the Raiders.Except that Ted Ginn Jr. becomes Sebastian Janikowski in this version. And Darren McFadden is about three Frank Gores.Oakland subdued an erratic Denver team, 23-20, just as San Francisco had the day before to an equally uneven Seattle side, 33-17, but it wasnt all that much cleaner. Jason Campbell had more meager numbers than That Other Guy, the Oakland defense was as oppressive as the 49er defense was, and the game was defined by two enormous plays.Sunday, it was Ginn on Ginn. Monday, it was Janikowskis 63-yard field goal near the end of the first half, and McFaddens 47-yard sprint to the one-zinch line in the second half.

Oh, the Raiders tried to be more intrepid offensively than the 49ers did, because Hue Jackson is more committed to the deep ball by virtue of working where he is than Jim Harbaugh.But for the most part, what we got Sunday and Monday were two similar games by two similar (though not precisely so) teams.We can eliminate Ginns presence as a steady thing, unless he is actually Devin Hester just waiting to emerge, which we so far doubt. And we can feel comfortable thinking that Janikowski wont be kicking any other 63-yarders this year.And as an aside, I guess maybe we need to rethink Lane Kiffins 76-yard attempt request in his last game as coach as just an overexpression of his confidence in Janikowski. And we did rethink it. We were right the first time when we thought it was Kiffin waving his middle finger in Al Davis face, but you cant say we werent open-minded.But the two defensive lines dominated their space, the secondaries made throwing the ball difficult for Tarvaris Jackson and Kyle Orton alike, and they both controlled game tempo.If you wanted to find a radical difference between the two teams, its that San Francisco committed a downright law-abiding nine penalties for 102 yards, while the Raiders reverted to their old ways for their new coach, dropping a 15 for 131 for Jackson.But that isnt likely to continue if the two coaches have any concept of discipline through repetition. I mean, Oakland can get their misbehaviors up for Kansas City and San Diego too, but they cant a dozen and a quarter week in and week out.The Raiders looked crisper offensively because of McFadden, the 49er defense looked sharper because of the fewer penalties, and Ginn beats Janikowski by a final score of 12-11.But for the most part, what you all saw in Week One is that you have the same team, twice. Hope youre all up for it. This isnt going to be pretty, but it beat what it could have been.And hey, they both covered. Who can hate that?

Phrase that Matt Joyce left out of his apology is key to talking the talk

Phrase that Matt Joyce left out of his apology is key to talking the talk

Matt Joyce said the word, he did the apology, he’ll do the time, and then we’ll see if he’ll get the forgiveness he asks.
 
Joyce’s two-game suspension by Major League Baseball for using a gay slur at a fan during Friday’s Athletics-Angels game in Anaheim is well within industry norms (though it might have been more tactically impressive if the club itself had issued the suspension), and his apology did not deflect blame or contain the always-insincere caveat “if I offended anyone.” He did offend people and he knew it, so he didn’t couch it in the phraseology of “I don’t think what I said was improper, but I’ll do the perp walk just to get this over with.”
 
He even offered to do work with PFLAG, the support group that supports the LGBTQ community, thereby putting his time (which is more meaningful than money) where his mouth was.
 
In other words, he seems to have taken his transgression properly to heart, which is all you can really hope for, and now we’ll see if he is granted the absolution he seeks.
 
You see, we’re a funny old country in that we talk forgiveness all the time but grant it only sparingly, and only after a full mental vetting of important things like “Do we like this guy?” and “Is he playing for my favorite team?” and “Do I feel like letting him up at all?”
 
In other words, forgiveness is very conditional indeed.
 
Joyce said what he said, but his apology seemed to be given freely and unreservedly rather than crafted to meet a minimal standard of corporate knee-taking/arse-covering. If he follows through on his offer to do face-to-face work with PFLAG or an associated group and absorbs the lesson of not using other people as a weapon for his own frustration, then he ought to be acknowledged for doing so. That’s what forgiveness is.
 
But if the principle you adhere to is “once guilty, forever doomed,” then you’ve succeeded at giving in to the mode of the day, which is jumping to a conclusion and never jumping back because it’s just easier and more convenient to do so.
 
It’s up to him. But it’s also up to you.

Promotion and relegation would be a great idea in all sports

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Promotion and relegation would be a great idea in all sports

There is no inherent reason why you should care about Miami FC or Kingston Stockade FC, two lower level professional soccer leagues in the lower right quadrant of the nation.

But when they joined together to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the international governing body for any sport not run by Americans for Americans, to demand that all American teams submit to the concept of promotion and relegation, from MLS to, presumably, your kid’s under-8 team, they became interesting.

And the best part about soccer, except for Neymar being worth twice as much as all other humans in the history of the sport, is promotion and relegation.

In fact, it would be a great idea in all sports – although the idea of the Giants and A’s in the Pacific Coast League might scare the bejeezus out of Larry Baer and John Fisher.

Now we are not optimistic that the CAS will see this Kingston and Miami’s way. Americans like their sports top-heavy, where only a few megaclubs get most of the money and attention while the rest sort of muddle along, safe but unremarkable. And to be frank, promotion and relegation is most a fun media construct for making fun of bad teams – say, like the A’s and Giants.

But we can agree, I think, that having Jed York pay Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch to keep his football team out of the Canadian Football League, or better still, the Mountain West Conference, would add to healthy dose of spice to what promises otherwise to be a pretty humdrum year.

And promotion/relegation would certainly reduce all that troublesome tanking in the NBA people endlessly whinge about.

So here’s to Kingston Stockade and Miami FC. Your cause is just. Persevere. After all, in this rancid period for American sporting culture, someone's got to stand for the quixotic yet indisputably correct thing.

And when it fails, and it probably will, just know you sleep with the angels -- if that’s what passes for fun at your house.