Ratto: 'Smilin' Hue' won't be smiling for long

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Ratto: 'Smilin' Hue' won't be smiling for long

Aug. 20, 2011

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Even when Hue Jackson is annoyed, he expresses himself with a smile. Saturday, it was an odd, forced, unconvincing smile, just like his claim that the Oakland Raiders decrepit performance against the San Francisco 49ers was on me.

How we doin? he said, trying to fake it as best he could. You guys are doing great? Im not.

Over and over again, he cited failure after failure in a 17-3 loss at Candlestick Park And UFC Octagon that made both Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick look like mid-level NFL quarterbacks and his own Jason Campbell look like what he was last year.
RECAP: Hunter runs 49ers past Raiders 17-3

Injury prone, at worst. Inconsistent at best.

And over and over again, he went back to the mantra, Thats on me. Im not going to put that on the players.

Were obviously a little disappointed in the way we performed tonight, he said. Obviously the practice performance hasnt met the on-field performance, and thats what I gotta get done. Thats my job. I will get that fixed. Were not playing like I think the Raiders can play, and I told them that. That starts with me. The head coach, and then it goes all the way down. We got some work to do. And thats what we need to get done.

So its not the players fault? A sensible person would say, Well, why the hell not? What else are they there for but to be reminded in public as well as private that being run on, thrown on and bullied by a team like the 49ers is a great way to be a 5-11 team?

Thats the real problem here for the Raiders as they limp back to the wine country. They have nothing except rookie wide receiver Denarius Moore to be excited about after a uniformly turgid performance. Even Smilin Hue, when tossed the, What impressed you tonight? softball, said, Nothing.

RELATED: Raiders' Campbell being tested for concussion

He elaborated, but your brain tends to stop at the word nothing. Hes right, of course, but when the optimist loses the lilt in his own voice on D-minus-23, the level of failure is considerable, and the fear of the future is palpable.

They allowed the 49ers to gain 239 yards rushing in 41 carries, including 105 by the new putative Frank Gore trainee, rookie Kendall Hunter, all on what Jackson dismissive called basic runs. The linebackers and secondary allowed both Smith and Kaepernick to throw at will to pretty much whomever they wished, except for the one time defensive end Matt Shaughnessy dropped into coverage and intercepted a pass aimed at tight end Vernon Davis. And they were stopped persistently when they needed either first down or touchdown yardage (2-for-11 on third or fourth downs, and 0-for-2 inside the red zone).

And if none of the starters looked good, and only Moore among the backups, against a team that is trying to find its own consistency, well, you can pretty much figure how downcast Smilin Hue must truly be.

And how nail-chewing angry his own head coach, Al Davis, must be.

Oh, no doubt. No doubt, he said, not about Davis but about how his own plans for the evening disintegrated. I mean, I made a statement that we wouldnt get the ball run on us like that, and we did. Thats disappointing. I guess thats my point. The things that I want to see fixed that we talked about that I think weve shored up a little bit, being able to stop the run, being a little more consistent in the scoring zone, doing some things I think our football team is starting to do, in practice, didnt show up today in the game.

But then he fell back on the old Im-not-worthy schtick that will age quickly if things dont change quickly.

Thats the disappointing part. Thats on me. Im not going to put that on them. Obviously we gotta go back and continue to do those things better than what were doing to get to where we need to be. Thank gosh today was the second preseason game. Its not the regular season.

And thank God these teams dont meet again this year.

An announced crowd of 69,732 which was actually 40,000-some-odd, distracted itself with what one security guard called, a lot of fights. It was crazy. There were some girl fights, too. A bunch of them.

In addition, three people were shot near Jamestown Avenue around 8:15, according to San Francisco police. One victim was hospitalized and two others had not yet been found at the time of this report (9:30 p.m.). No reason for the shooting could be ascertained, but the time and location of the incident suggested that it was fans leaving the game either as perpetrators, victims or both.
NEWS: Two men shot outside Candlestick Park

Of the brawls inside, we dont believe that they were expressing their opinions of the poor level of play one particularly strident encounter about six rows into the lower deck behind what once was home plate pitted two 49er fans against each other. The best guess as to why they went at it? One probably said, You know, I think Smith looked pretty good tonight. In this town, those are genuinely fightin words.

Even the peacemaker ended up throwing hands at the end, and they all had punched themselves into exhaustion before police, who doubtless had just finished adjudicating another coin flip, could reach them.

In short, it was a bad night for almost everyone. Oh, Jim Harbaugh crowed about his team, as you knew he would, but the 49ers arent that much further along the trail than the Raiders. They still hit their traditional two-touchdown glass ceiling, and thought they handled the Raiders at home, the Raiders were every bit as responsible for that as the 49ers.

And that, apparently until further notice, is the fault of Smilin Hue Jackson. A man who isnt going to be smiling much longer if this continues.

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.