Ratto: Singletary was perfect hire, now he's perfect fire

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Ratto: Singletary was perfect hire, now he's perfect fire

Dec. 26, 2010RATTO ARCHIVE49ERS NEWS 49ERS VIDEO
Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com
If Comrade Maiocco is correct (and you know his trackrecord, so you know this is very likely), Jed York is consideringwhacking Mike Singletary now instead of later.And if he is considering it, he has to do it now. No deliberations. Nostaff meetings. Definitely none of that idiotic I wanted him to showme he deserved to stay in the game stuff.Now.The reasons are clear, and the reasons not to do it now are all stupid,except one: If York thinks this team has a future with Singletary asthe head coach.If he does, well, God loves a man who stands in the face of all apparent logic.If not, Singletary deserves to know now, and deserves to be given thechoice to coach Sundays finale. Not because his record says so, butbecause York needs one last reminder that making the move that feelsgood is not the same as the move that is good.Singletarys hiring two years ago was a feel-good move, one thatscreamed Our team is good enough to win now but our coach has lost theroom. Yorks remarks to Comrade Maiocco suggest that he still believesthis, which was and still is painfully yet laughably false.Two years ago, it was the attitude that kept the 49ers down, which iswhy Singletary was the perfect hire for a few months. Now it istactical competence, which is why Singletary is the perfect fire.Lost in this, of course, is the notion that the real problem with thisteam is organizational competence that only a general manager withcomplete operational control can solve. But Singletary is the problemtoday, and therefore is at the top of the in-box.It has been our contention that Singletary would keep his job until the49ers learned that there would be no lockout; the teams performanceleading into Sundays 25-17 loss to St. Louis made that Impossible. Listless, confused, leaderless (as always) and contemptible, they got everything they deserved.But since it is clear that Singletary cannot keep the job, it isequally clear that the deed must be done now, with one final game forhim to coach or not, as he prefers.After all, the 49ers thought half-a-year of not being Mike Nolan earnedhim a four-year contract. Falling in love with his glare andmotivational dictums and his iron-fisted sense of surety got him a dealthat he has already outlived.And he did what he was capable of motivation. He stopped beingvaluable when he gave them the gift of belief without a thing tobelieve in, but that wasnt his fault. This was the totality of hisgame, and even his most strident critics never said he didnt give allhe had, the way he knew best.But what he knew wasnt nearly enough, and motivation without proof istoo much like science and not enough like NFL Films-inspired mysticism.Because he was true to himself, and because the mistake of hiring himwasnt his, he should get that choice of a 41st game. But not a 42nd,absolutely not. He has lost the owners confidence, and waiting to dowhat you know must be done is what makes a losing streak an eight-yearlosing streak.And not working hard to get a general manager to hire the hire the nextcoach is the best way to make it a nine-year losing streak, and a10-year losing streak, and on, and on, and on . . .

Frank Deford's longform storytelling made him worthy of our attention

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AP

Frank Deford's longform storytelling made him worthy of our attention

Frank Deford’s death over the weekend did not mark the end of longform sportswriting as we knew it; he had long ago become part of the electronic commentariat that has reduced longform’s place in the public’s attention span.

But there is still longform writing and storytelling to be found in many places, and it is still worthwhile. It has more production value, as the TV folks like to blather, and the words have to fight for their place between the cracks left by the pictures and the mutated graphics, but longform lives, and it should, lest we all agree as one people to further desiccate that attention span like a grapefruit left in the sun.

Deford’s death, though, reminds of when longform was the zenith of the storytelling art. It could, and still can, give you access and depth and breadth that a TV crew simply could not, and cannot. Even extended TV features are by their very nature so contrived by all the equipment that nothing is natural, nothing is a surprise, and the act of writing is almost an afterthought.

Deford knew this. He more than merely dabbled in TV himself, playing the wizened old raconteur who was as much character in his pieces as storyteller. He was also a star and a starmaker with The National, a daily sports network in newspaper form that was long on talent and ideas but short on delivery and distribution. It lasted 17 months, until mid-1991, but it led to grander attempts decades later, and could if you squint your eyes hard enough be the natural parent of Grantland and The Ringer and Vice and SB Nation and dozens of others – all bigger ideas, positioned in the post-typing world. Some lasted, more didn’t, but capitalism is like that – making fuel to keep the fires burning and the engines churning.

Deford could have thrived in such a world, to be sure. He was not, in the hideous phrase, “a man of his time.” Indeed, he was a crossover figure years ago in ways that other longform writers attempt to resist even now. They want to be Deford at the height of his powers at a time when the instruments for their gift are either dying or veering away from anything that hits the 600-word mark.

But his passing did not kill the art of clever writing and incisive storytelling. There are far too many people who can do that still, even if the market for their gifts is neither as pronounced nor as eager for the product as it once was. It did remind us not only that he was a giant, but that there are still giants among us should we deign to take the time to seek them.

Thus, Deford’s death marked his passing but not the thing that made him worthy of our attention. Storytelling, longform and otherwise, remains the heart of why this is still worthwhile to a culture, and when the generation his work spawned starts to die off, I suspect we’ll still be saying the same thing then. Notebooks are smartphones, photographs are streams, but the human eye and ear and hand still remain pre-eminent.

That is, until the robots take over, at which point reading won’t be worth it.

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.