Ratto: Raiders invoke self-inflicted collapse

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Ratto: Raiders invoke self-inflicted collapse

Nov. 28, 2010RATTO ARCHIVERAIDERS PAGE RAIDERS VIDEORay RattoCSNBayArea.com

We know one thing for sure about the Raiders' latest disaster and their traditional descent into disinterest that such performances produce.Nobody will be blaming God.That was Stevie Johnson's reaction to the drop that cost the Buffalo Bills victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, and apparently God can only ruin one NFL team at a time.
Bills' Stevie Johnson Blames God
The Raiders did it the old-fashioned way. Self-infliction.In losing so demonstrably (33-17, though it should have been much worse) to the depleted Miami Dolphins, the Raiders collapsed. They found a new go-to guy in Jacoby Ford but lost everything else - both quarterbacks, the tight end, the functional offensive line, the running game, the defense as a whole and the secondary in particular, and quite likely Coach Tom Cable in due time as well.They allowed the Dolphins to have the ball for 41:38, the second-longest time of possession imbalance of the season. They allowed the pitiable Miami offense to gain 471 yards, by far a season high to go with their season high in points.But that's not the thing that has killed this season.There's Cable, who couldn't remember how many times he has tried to remember who his starting quarterback was supposed to be, committing publicly to Jason Campbell before the Pittsburgh game "because he's earned it," going back to Bruce Gradkowski before this game, and now has lost Gradkowski to a re-injured shoulder and has to go back to a Campbell who has lost the coach's trust and who seems hesitant to give the coach his own."I didn't understand the whole thing," Campbell said. "He explained to me that when Bruce is healthy, fully healthy, he goes back in as the starter. My thing was in the Pittsburgh game, I was like, well he was healthy.""It's not easy. It's not an easy thing to be going through, by no means. You're a competitor, you like to compete . . . but by no means are you understanding or anything. It's kind of tough because you're caught right in between something and you don't know what's going on. It's not something where I really know what's going on. I can't worry about it."You lose the quarterback, you lose, period. You lose the quarterback the owner traded for and is paying a princely sum, you lose something more.And then there were the effort issues, which typically crop up this time of year for the Raiders when they finally see the forest instead of the trees."It's a simple question," safety Mike Mitchell said. "Is everyone on our team going to decide that we're &@ around, and are we going to play? But that's what this game was. It wasn't coaching. It wasn't scheme. It wasn't anything. It was us. If you're not 100 percent committed, you can't play. You can't be with it. That's what it is. That's what I gotta say about it. We need everybody on the same page doing it. Every play. That's what it is." Or defensive tackle Tommy Kelly."I don't see what the problem is," he said. "I mean, we're going for the playoffs, the division. It's just hard to swallow. I mean, the thing is, we had a good week of practice. That's the frustrating thing. Everybody had a good week of practice. We knew what they were running. We just didn't execute worth &@."Or the injured cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who noticed the flagging attention spans as well."I didn't sense it in the beginning," he said. "We started off pretty fast with the kick return (Ford broke a 101-yard score from the opening kick to begin and end the Raider highlight package) and I thought the guys were fired up. I think that point might have come in the second half, I didn't see it in the beginning."But it came, and a number of players noticed, including defensive tackle Richard Seymour, who said, "It was horrendous. We've seen better days, but the beauty in it all is we'll make up our minds we want to go out and play. We can still control our own destiny, but playing like that, we don't control nothing."
This was, in short, one of those pearl-handled disasters the Raiders put up in November when they're not sure whether to push ahead or lay back and wait for January. This time, they were within screeching distance of the AFC West leading Kansas City Chiefs, playing one of the few seemingly easy games they had left, and they were comprehensively inert.And it makes you wonder if these are yet one more version of the end of days the Raiders have specialized in since 2003. The anger is still fresh, but the symptomology is clear because we've seen it so many times before. Important game, beatable opponent, no effort, no execution, no performance whatsoever.Indeed, it trumps even Cable's inability to convince Al Davis that Gradkowski is the best man for the quarterbacking job, or keeping Campbell's head in a happy space. Yes, the quarterback situation is an irredeemable mess, but it isn't the only reason the Raiders turned back into the Raiders in eight hard days.They went to Pittsburgh tied for first place, and they came out of the Miami game gasping for air and doubting their will to play hard, let alone actually win.Eight days, it took. Eight. And unless this team has a storehouse of will Raider teams don't typically possess, we can mark this as the day they surrendered their eighth consecutive season, and then waited for the NFL player lockout to end so they could start another new era with another new coach.And God won't have anything to do with it.What's on your mind? Email Ray and let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag.

Does St. Louis' suit against NFL mean hope for the City of Oakland?

Does St. Louis' suit against NFL mean hope for the City of Oakland?

You thought you were done worrying about the Raiders. You thought the votes were in, the moving vans booked for three years down the road, and all gnashing and sharpening of teeth was over. You thought you were free.

Then those buttinsky-come-latelies from St. Louis decided to rear their litigious heads, and now you find yourselves slipping back into that desperate-hope world from which no one escapes.

It seems the city and its regional sports authority has decided to sue the National Football League and its 32 semi-independent duchies over the relocation of the Rams 15 months ago because, and you’ll like this one, the league allegedly did not follow its own relocation rules when it moved the team.

As you know, there is no such thing as a rule if everyone governed by the rule decided unanimously to ignore the rule. This doctrine falls under the general heading of, “We’re billionaires, try and stop us.”

But all lawsuits have a common denominator, and that is that there is money at the end of the rainbow. St. Louis is claiming it is going to miss out on approximately $100 million in net proceeds (read: cash) and has decided that the NFL and especially their good pal Stan Kroenke is going to have to pay for permission to do what they have already done -- specifically, leave.

Because the suit was filed in St. Louis, the benefits of home field advantage apply, and the league is likely to have to reinflate their lawyers for some exciting new billable hours.

As to whether it turns into a windfall for the jilted Missourians, well, as someone who has known lawyers, I would list them as prohibitive underdogs. But there is nuisance value here, which brings us to Oakland.

The city and county, as we know, did not put its best shoe forward in trying to lure the Raiders into staying or the other 31 owners into rejecting the team’s pleas for geographical relief. By that, we mean that the city and county did not fall all over itself to meet the league’s typically extortionate demands.

But they did play angry enough to start snipping about the 2019 part of the Raiders’ 3-More-Coliseum-Years plan, and they are threatening to sue over about $80K in unpaid parking fees, so filing their own breach-of-rules lawsuit might be a possibility.

Because, hey, what’s the point of sounding like a nuisance if you can’t actually become one?

By now, it is clear that everyone in SuitWorld got what it needed out of the Raiders’ move. The city and county could concentrate on guiding the A’s into activity on their own new stadium. The team could go where Mark Davis has been agitating for it to go for at least three years – somewhere else. The state of Nevada could find a place for that $750 million that was burning a hole in its casino vault. And the league went to a market that it, at first reluctantly and then enthusiastically, decided should be its own.

The fans? Oh, please. Who cares about them? To the NFL, and to all corporations in all walks of business, folks are just walking wallets.

But for some cash? Well, climb on board, suckers. The gravy train is pulling out on Track 3.

Nobody is fool enough to think the Raiders would be forced to return. Hell, even St. Louis isn’t asking for the Rams back. They just want to get paid for the money they probably banked on in the good old days before Stan Kroenke decided to head west.

And that would doubtless be Oakland’s stance as well if. Now the circumstances are slightly different, in that St. Louis worked harder to keep the Rams than Oakland did to keep the Raiders. St. Louis scared up $350 million toward new digs for the Rams, well short of what Kroenke would have accepted, while Oakland said it could get its hands on some infrastructure money and no more.

But Mayor Libby Schaaf complained in her relocation post mortem that the league didn’t follow its own guidelines (yay correlation as causation!), maybe with an eye toward throwing a few lawyers into the fire to see how long it would burn.

There is not yet any indication that the city and county are going that route (and the silence may simply mean that they are sick of the Raiders’ saga as everyone else seems to be), but if they do, well, don’t freak out that the team might be forced to return.

Except, of course, in that place where migraines start. Dragging this back up is a bit like the phantom pain amputees feel -- but hey, people will do a lot for a bit of court-ordered cash. Anyone who has ever watched Judge Judy will understand.

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

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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.