Big O Tires

Ratto's Top 25: Missing O/U forgivable when holding Stanford to five points


Ratto's Top 25: Missing O/U forgivable when holding Stanford to five points

Friday's Cal-Oregon game took four hours, 18 minutes to play. It had 203 offensive plays. It saw 101 points scored (no big deal) and covered a 90-point over (very big deal). In other words, it was not much enjoyed except by the noted torturer Sonny Dykes, whose team is winning by an average score of 44-41.

Or, for context, roughly three quarters of Oklahoma-Texas Tech.

Fortunately, the Pacific 12 Conference is running a stealth league this year, and Cal will play this coming Thursday night at USC, which means that while they may not beat the 90, they have an excellent chance to beat the 4:18 and both irk and exhaust the fan base one more time.

And now, the things that matter.

1. COLORADO (6-2, 8-0, 3-5): Stanford scored five points. Five. Half of ten. One fist. FIVE, FOR GOD’S SAKE! Oh, and missing the total (50) by five touchdowns is forgivable in this case, because anyone who thought this game was hitting 50 is too unstable to have money.

2. CHICAGO CUBS (playing through the acrid fumes of a town set ablaze by happy drunks): Win a World Series before you pop off, you maniacs.

3. CLEVELAND INDIANS (playing in a town spoiled by championships): The over/under on relievers used per game in the World Series has been set at 9½.

4. TEMPLE (5-3, 7-1, 5-3): A much different team than the one that lost on opening day to Army (which had seven turnovers Saturday), which lost to North Texas, which lost to SMU, which lost to TCU, which never covers.

5. EASTERN MICHIGAN (5-3, 7-1, 3-5): Lost to Western Michigan (8-0, 6-2, 4-4), but had the good sense to ignore the meaningless scoreboard in Kalamazoo for the far more important one in Las Vegas. In other words, simultaneously losing by 14 and winning by 12½ is a good thing.

6. AUBURN (5-2, 6-1, 3-4): Trust is an important thing if you want to bet the Iron Bowl.

7. ALABAMA (8-0, 6-2, 4-4): Like we said, trust is an important thing if you want to bet the Iron Bowl.

8. PATRICK MAHOMES III (52-for-88, 734, 5 TD, 1 INT, 145.6 rating): The Texas Tech (3-4, 5-2, 4-3) quarterback who killed all the video games in the world, broke the Russian hacker network, and still lost by a touchdown. On the other hand, Tech did cover the 16½, and if you had bet the over of 124, you still won.

9. WISCONSIN (5-2, 6-1, 2-5): Cal and Oregon had to cover a 90 total and took all night to do it. The Badgers and Iowa didn’t come close to hitting the lowest total of the day (a pathetic 42½) in a 17-9 win in good weather. Look, fellas, trying doesn’t just mean beating the line.

10. BOWLING GREEN (1-7, 2-6, 4-4): Couldn’t cover against Miami of Ohio. Couldn’t beat Miami of Ohio. Can’t be helped. Can’t be saved.

11. COLORADO STATE (4-4, 6-2, 3-5): Very stealthy cover machine. I say that without knowing a single member of the university – that’s how stealthy the Rams (yeah, that’s it, Rams) truly are.

12. FINLANDIA (1-6): Our favorite vodka-inspired university beat Maranatha Baptist, 27-22, for the Fightin’ Screwdrivers’ first win of the year. Sadly, that is not their real nickname.

13. LOS ANGELES SPARKS (32-11, 21-22, 23-20): Won the WNBA title on a questionable call, which is fine as far as that goes as it didn’t affect the line. But as you can see, not a good team against the number, and barely adequate against the total. If Nneka Ogwumike wants to be remembered as more than a great player and future entrepreneur, those last two numbers must improve next year, She will discover that ABC (Always Be Covering) is not just a slogan, it’s a way of life.

14. NEVADA (3-5, 1-7, 1-7): If you can’t ABC, there’s nothing all that wrong with NBC (Never Be Covering, not our corporate overlords).

15. OREGON (2-5, 0-6-1, 5-2): Another fine example of this phenomenon, until Phil Knight screws up and hires someone who prioritizing the art of covering every once in a while and makes our work more difficult.

16. MIDDLE TENNESSEE (5-2, 4-2-1, 4-3): Boxed Missouri, 51-45, which merits a vote even with the barely adequate record against the line.

17. QI (unbeaten, untied and unscored upon in 13 years): Back on the tube for a new season with new host Sandi Toksvig. And no, I could not be less interested in your quizzical confused-puppy-in-a-rainstorm look. Do your own Top 25 if you don’t like it.

18. NEW MEXICO (4-3, 3-4, 7-0): Bob Davie is rumored to be in on the Notre Dame job, even though he has already been fired by Notre Dame. “Touchdown Jesus bets overs too,” said university president John Jenkins.

19. MONTREAL CANADIENS (4-0-0-1, 5-0, 3-2): All covering matters, even with subpar currency.

20. JACKSONVILLE (3-3): Beat Morehead State, 61-49, and sent its offensive videos to Cal and Oregon, just to show them how it’s done.

21. THE HERITAGE CLASSIC (Calgary at Winnipeg, combined records 3-5-0-1, 2-7, 7-2): It’s going to be 48 degrees by game time Sunday, so what exactly is the point of playing outside if outside isn’t going to make an effort?

22. OKLAHOMA (5-2, 2-5, 5-2): So you gained 854 yards, committed no turnovers and still couldn’t cover 16½? Your conference shouldn’t expand, it should relegate.

23. BOISE STATE (7-0, 2-5, 2-5): As the Buddhist scholar and lecturer Vernon Wormer once said, “Winning and never covering is no way to go through life, son.” This sort of stuff never happened when Chris Petersen was alive.

24. SAN JOSE SHARKS (3-3-0-0, 1-5, 1-5): The crap record against the line and total belie the fact that in the entirely mythical ESPN Ultimate Standings, L’Ailette jumped 58 places from the year before, when they dropped 57 places. I’d like a job like that, where you just make up standings and rankings while drinking out of a janitor’s pail. Uh-oh, wait. I think I have one.

25. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (1-5, 1-5, 4-2): Speaking of the Ultimate Standings, the data here, being ranked dead last overall, in fan relations, and in the bottom 10 in five of the other nine categories reminds one of the actual line from Sally Field’s 1985 Oscar speech: “I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me.” Only Jed York’s phone autocorrects it from “like” to “hate with a near-solar intensity.”  

But hey, Sunday’s another day, for all the good that’ll get you. Just remember, there are 17 days until the election, and six years, eight months and 23 days before the last of the post-election lawsuits are dismissed as being frivolous, or all the lawyers die. Either way, keep a good thought, and go away.

NFL disregards domestic violence, as Giants extend its tolerance scale


NFL disregards domestic violence, as Giants extend its tolerance scale

The National Football League has been reminded yet again that it neither understands nor cares to understand about domestic violence.

But it will do better, you may rest assured. They’ll have a week where all the on-field personnel wear purple to commemorate the bruises.

That’s what the NFL does when it can no longer ignore its own tone-deafness – they turn their stupidity into a marketing opportunity. After all, every social problem can be solved in the league’s eyes by figuring out a way for the league to monetize it.

The latest example of the NFL’s slack-jawed world view comes from New York, where the Giants could not and still cannot figure out what to do about kicker/serial domestic abuser Josh Brown except not let him go to London for the weekend.

This means the league has learned nothing from the Ray Rice incident, even as Rice of all people is showing on a regular basis how to learn from it. More than that, it means it has no interest in learning anything about it, and will never prioritize it beyond crisis-management level – “Uh-oh, something bad just happened. Quick, put it behind us.”

Then again, the league has been so relentlessly ham-handed on so many things that, as convenient as this may be for it, we should stop expecting it to do so, to the point that when someone from the league wants to explain some social issue to us we should simply say with one voice, “Oh, shut up, you yammering frauds.”

It is difficult to prioritize the number of ways the Giants failed to comprehend the problem currently smacking them between the numbers, although owner John Mara’s “He admitted to us he'd abused his wife in the past. What’s a little unclear is the extent of that” may summarize it nicely.

Put another way, one could make a case that the Giants extended the universal talent-tolerance scale (if you have the talent, anything can be tolerated until it can’t) to include placekickers.

That seems less likely, though, than the more obvious point that the league doesn’t regard domestic violence as something worth concerning itself with, while bloviating all the time about all the things with which it is concerned. The league is the beat cop who never gets out of his car to see what is happening on his beat, and is shocked when something does.

And while it will be handy to pile this atop the list of reasons why Commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t get it, the truth is he is merely the painful rash that reveals the league’s case of shingles. The league’s 32 constituent elements are culpable here because ignorance in the face of so much evidence becomes willful, and Goodell’s skill is not in guiding the league but in figuring out where his 32 bosses want him to go, and avoiding all the places they don’t.

Hence, domestic violence. This is not an easy problem to solve, as any expert will say, but Mara trying to decide how many punches are enough isn’t it. The league’s six-game suspension guideline that is now four years old has never been imposed on any player. It wants the power to use the talent-tolerance scale at whim to do what it wishes when it wishes to do it.

Or in this case, not do anything at all until it has to, and then in as minimal a fashion as it can manage.

So, Josh Brown loses a week in a foreign country on the company dime as a trade-off for continually terrorizing his wife. The league says it punished him for a game but was powerless to do anything else while knowing all along how severe the problem had become.

In short, it did the minimum. Now that everyone knows the fullest extent of Brown’s abuse, and how much the league knew without doing anything, it will now extend the minimum out to what it thinks is a new minimum.

So we now know that the NFL is looking for some metric that will determine the transactional “extent of that,” as John Mara so eloquently put it for us. When it comes up with that formula, it will surely ignore that standard, because the real standard is still “talent-tolerance,” and the world is made up of concentric circles surrounding the people who make the league and its members a dollar more tomorrow than it made today.

And spouses are a long way from the center.

House of York vs House of DeBartolo: Shakespeare without rooting interest

House of York vs House of DeBartolo: Shakespeare without rooting interest

In defense of chaos as we are, the news that Lady Lisa DeBartolo, cousin of Prince Jed of York and daughter of the abdicated King Edward, decided to retweet and endorse a column by Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat urging (well, stamping his feet and demanding, really) that Prince Jed renounce the throne of Ninervania for having driven it into its current Ottoman Empire-level status.

Under normal circumstances, such an odd demand would fall on deaf ears, as not even the dimmest of dairy farmers would willingly walk on a multi-million-dollar cash cow. In fact, the idea would be derided as ridiculous.

But in this case, Cohn’s piece smoked out Princess Lisa’s dissatisfaction with the prince and even the line of succession, thus revealing a long-rumored rift in the House Of DeBartolo (which is Italian for DeBartolo). Evidently Prince Jed has been a bit imperious with the outer edges of the palace court, and as this is a totally modern-day royal house, conscientious objectors start a revolution with Twitter.

In other words, it’s cheap Shakespeare without a rooting interest, or fun-filled blood splash. And all it really does is tell us that the family is no longer capable of keeping its business from leaking into the street.

None of which puts Prince Jed’s crown, or the head beneath it, in jeopardy, as he won the crown from his father King John, who had won it from Queen Denise, who had won it from King Edward after he lost the famous War Of Louisiana despite an alliance with the former Duke Edward of Edwards.

But it does mean that we now can see that the royal house is showing its tatters, and the queen’s discomfort is as profound as that of Helen Mirren’s in the underrated movie “The Queen.”

And who doesn’t love a bit of messy and even degrading palace intrigue?

See? The beauty of chaos.

The problem, of course, is that the rivals to the throne really aren’t rivals at all. Queen Denise ousted King Edward in a bloodless yet delightfully vindictive coup more than 20 years ago, and maintains a stranglehold on Ninervania and the shiny new palace that is its nerve center. Neither Princess Lisa nor King Edward has the army to muster to take the palace, and in all likelihood has only seen to it that their likenesses will be removed from the great hall and family photos will be dramatically redone by Michael Zagaris, the Hans Holbein The Younger of the Yorks.

But the nation shall not have new leaders (nor is there any guarantee that Princess Lisa is any better positioned to fix the problems than Prince Jed), as old King Edward is still mostly a very interested outsider at best. Queen Denise, whose pathological need for privacy has been blown to Smithereens (one of the smaller duchies of Ninervania), will defend her son’s lands and properties with an increased fierceness, and she is considered a most implacable enemy.

In other words, you throw shade on the boy, and she’ll show you your spleen on Christmas morning and sleep the sleep of the joyful that very night.

But it is fun to speculate on how dirty this fight could get in the interim. The National Football League is an alliance of royal houses, and though there has been no evidence of treaties through marriage, there is a growing trend toward direct inheritance as the way to power.

The last really good in-house coup before Ninervania was in Ramistan, when Prince Steve Rosenbloom lost a power struggle to Queen Georgia of Frontiere, who had risen to the throne by surviving King Carroll of Rosenbloom, her husband in a morganatic marriage. A similar scenario has played in New Orleans, the place where King Edward lost his power base, where King Thomas of Benson undermined his children and left the kingdom in the hands of his third royal consort, Queen Gayle.

In short, Princess Lisa shot her Internetic yap off to no useful end, but Christmas will now include a battery of royal food testers, because you never know when a malicious gnocchi will turn up on someone’s plate.

And we have embellished that last vision for purposes of plot development.

But there is this much good news: Colin Kaepernick is no longer the biggest spike in Prince Jed’s leathern hide. In other words, “Party Down, Yorks. It’s On Now.”

And no cheerier words for a fan of chaos can be uttered.