When Stanford didnt do a Heisman Trophy campaign for Toby Gerhart two years ago, it was a very cool notion. Put the man on the field and let his feet do the talking. It was right, and it worked he got more votes not preening than he would have if the school had preened on his behalf. He didnt win, of course he wasnt meant to. He went to the wrong school on the wrong side of the country, in a sport that is dominated in all ways by the southeastern and Midwestern chunk of the nation.So it is again, this time with Andrew Luck. David Shaw, his coach and a man so earnest you can do laser surgery with his sincerity, even went to the length of doing a power point presentation on Lucks behalf, showing how smart and clever and wonderful he is. How he missed the part about pulling the people out of the convalescent hospital while it was burning to the ground, well never know.But for all the 96 Sway Tango Edge Kill Spider 2 Y Banana Z Reno Alert 6 Zeus talk Shaw offered on his mans behalf, his argument suffered from one killing flaw.His guy apparently didnt want it.Even Shaw admitted that when he told his audience, I told him, Andrew, over the next week, were going to talk about you a lot, and youre going to hate every minute. Dont pay attention.Shaw then went on to say, But this is necessary. And the best thing is, none of it is fabricated.In fact, it was only necessary if Shaw was lying about how much Luck didnt want it. If he secretly enjoyed his coach defending his honor even though it hasnt really been besmirched, and if Shaw had deduced that, well, no harm in giving the kid a warm and fuzzy feeling on an otherwise drab Tuesday afternoon.But if he really didnt want a campaign, if it really made his spinal cord accordion up into the base of his neck, well, thats good enough for me. Lucks done plenty for Stanford, and if he wants something other than this in return, thats what he gets.I mean, if your kids been good this year and has a nice prezzie coming for Christmas, if he says he wants an iPhone 4, you dont get him Rosetta Stone.Besides, Shaw seems to have missed the one essential fact about the Heisman its not really a very useful tool for what Luck did, and if it mattered that much, he should have given him a couple of Go ahead, run up some numbers for the audience games.Of course, that would be cynical and neither Shaw nor Luck would feel good about it, so thats off the list. He played as he was meant to play, and thats either good enough or it isnt.But the Heisman is about numbers big, fat, wobbly numbers. And its about locale this matters more in SEC and Big XII and Big 10 and ACC country than it does out here except at USC, of course.And its absolutely not a character study, though some winners have plenty of character.Its about impressing voters, some of whom watch very little football, or have inbred local biases, or prefer running backs to all other creatures, or are prone to loud noisy campaigns. Not all of them, to be sure maybe the Heisman folks have winnowed out the herd to get rid of voters who just mail it in, and as someone whos never been offered a vote or particularly cared to have one, I can only say if theyre happy, Im happy.That said, if Luck didnt want a campaign, that should have been the end of it. Shaw could say, I can scream Andrews name every day between now and next Saturday, but it makes him uncomfortable because hes not about him, and if that doesnt move voters, then it doesnt move voters. Hes going to be bigger than all of us soon enough, anyway.The real point here is, each player should get to choose the campaign he wants anyway, rather than have it done by adults. Adults tend to do things on behalf of the young that make themselves feel good, and if that were such a grand idea, why dont more parents get invited to proms?Since Lucks Amish beard seems to reveal more about his view of fame than a chin ornament normally would, the Gerhart campaign strategy would have been ideal. Or maybe Shaw, in an attempt to right the wrongs of a balanced offense that involved a lot of people and got the Cardinal 11 more wins, should have done his powerpoint with a single legend:If You Really Have To Ask Why, You Wont Understand The Reason.It might have seemed a little snotty to some, but Luck wouldnt have spent Tuesday in full cringe. And isnt that reason enough to do it?Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com
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.
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.