Ray Ratto

Hard lessons of Shayne Skov

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Hard lessons of Shayne Skov

Somewhere, Andrew Luck may be thinking about Shayne Skov and considering one of those there but for the grace of God matters.

We know, on the other hand, that Skov is mostly cursing his own buzzards luck.

Skov, the heart, soul and spleen of the Stanford defense, blew his knee out Saturday during the early stages of the Cardinals win over Arizona in Tucson, and it didnt take more than one replay to see that the injury was going to be a bad one.

As a result, Skov loses a year of what would have been largely enjoyable football with his mates, because one of the things that is a universal in sports is that when youre a member of the team but you cant play because of injury, you become a member with an asterisk. It doesnt matter whether your teammates treat you every bit as well as they did when you were a contributor -- you feel it anyway. Teams are concentric circles, and the injured are a part of the second circle. It is simply the nature of the animal.
NEWS: Stanford loses Skov for season

And it is the exact scenario that must have played in Lucks head when he was wrestling, albeit briefly, with the idea of skipping this season to become Cam Newton instead of Cam Newton.

This isnt about Luck, or Skov, though. It is about the first major gamble in a young persons life -- when to do what you love for free means risking the possibility of being able to do it for money later, It is a crass but very real consideration that not even paying college athletes would truly ameliorate.

Football is the worst of the team sports for this because it has the highest injury rate, the percentage of players who can consider a future in the game is relatively small, and the decision-makers can and do move off a player far faster than they moved onto them in the first place.

The more highly-regarded the player, the greater the fall. Skov was one of those players, a very likely draft pick and perhaps a high one. His size and speed made him an intriguing candidate at both linebacker and safety, and his play both last year and this warranted that consideration.

More directly, his value to the Stanford defense and the men with whom he served and led is palpable, as they will discover in the weeks to come.

Now all that is, as they say, under review, and even if Luck is not your standard athletic narcissist (and we make no judgment either way, lacking the ability to peer into his soul), he surely considered Skov as more than a teammate and friend. He must have at least thought momentarily of Skov as a potential cautionary tale, to be considered, processed and then walled out of his mind, because of the superstition that says, If you think about getting hurt, you will get hurt.

Football is a hard business even for the elite, which is why there is such a mad scramble for cash right now, and why the players are well within their rights to ask for a chunk thereof.

But the mercenary aspects for Shayne Skov were about future earnings, the kind of earnings the NCAA believes in most because they are the kind of earnings the colleges arent on the hook for. He lost a year, and maybe he can get it back by playing at Stanford next season; the choice is his.

That choice, though, has serious business ramifications now, and Skov has to weigh his love of the game against a whole new set of calculations -- adult stuff, no question.

Andrew Luck is quietly doing the same math in his head, because he is not oblivious to his surroundings, or the business he has chosen. That is, if he doesnt mind being attached to a quotation from Hyman Roth in The Godfather.

And even if he does, the facts remain the same. Its all trying to put a dollar sign on the muscle, pure and simple.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.

If eclipse ends life on Earth, it's bad news for fans of one Bay Area team

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USATI

If eclipse ends life on Earth, it's bad news for fans of one Bay Area team

If the lunatic fringe of the lunatic fringe is right and the total eclipse of the sun is actually a harbinger of the end of life on earth . . .

- It’s good news for the Giants, who have been eliminated from the National League West race for less than 24 hours, or that they will not have to watch the Los Angeles Dodgers put their feet up on baseball for the first time in 28 years.

Besides, there won’t be any more years, so time becomes meaningless.

- It’s good news for the 49ers, who won’t have to endure a harsh week of practice from freshly irked head coach Kyle Shanahan, who finally saw exactly why the job came open for him in the first place.

- It’s good news for Raiders’ fans, who won’t see their team move to Las Vegas, and because they won't be soul-crushed if they can't beat the Patriots -- who will also die en masse despite Bill Belichick's entreaties to ignore the noise of seven billion terrorized shrieks.

- It’s bad news for A’s fans, who will never learn in what location their fabulous new franchise-saving stadium will not be built.

- It’s good news for the Warriors, who can say in their death throes that they were the last NBA champions ever, and that the Lakers will never get LeBron James.

- It’s good news for the Lakers because they cannot be found guilty of tampering with Paul George. It’s also good news for Jimmy Kimmel because he can’t lose a draft choice (some faceless F-list actor as a guest) as a result.

- It’s good news for the Kings, because they’ll never have to have the difficult meeting about Zach Randolph.

- It’s good news for the Chargers, because they won’t have to answer any more questions about why only 21,000 people were announced as the crowd for their second practice game, or to confront the very real possibility that they could become the NFL’s Washington Generals.

- It’s good news for the Jets, Mets, Nets and Knicks because the end of the planet is the only just solution for them all.

- It’s good news for Cal because it can stick its middle finger to the sky and say, “Here’s your $400 million debt. Try to collect it while we’re all dying.”

- It’s good news for Kevin Durant because he doesn’t have to slalom through the Internet trolls any more.

- It’s bad news for Roger Goodell, because he sure left a boatload of money on the table as he was hurtled into space like the rest of us.

- It’s bad news for Nick Saban because he will have never seen it coming. On the other hand, it’s good news for the people who cover Alabama football because they’ve endured their last journalism lecture from Prof. Nick on why they do their jobs so poorly.

- It’s bad luck for Jim Harbaugh because he will feel like a complete nitwit as he learns just what “an enthusiasm unknown to mankind” really means – the end of mankind.

- It’s bad news for all the sixth graders in America who are being offered scholarships that they will never be used by college coaches they will never meet. Of course, that would have been true even  if the world doesn’t end.

- It’s bad news for the hackers who have been spoiling Game Of Thrones because this is Game Of Thrones, only the dragon is the sun incinerating us all.

- It’s bad news for Kyrie Irving, because he will have died a Cleveland Cavalier.

- It’s good news for America, for the obvious reason that the planet will expire before our current political class can murder it.

- And finally, it’s good news for dignity, because the Mayweather-McGregor “thing” will never happen, and that alone means that even as we are torn asunder, we will know that the deity loves us all because both McGrogor and Mayweather are being torn asunder too.

Of course, if you’re reading this Tuesday, you’ll know the world didn’t end, and we’re just as screwed as we ever were. Oh well. Try to find your happy place, and drink like there’s no Wednesday.

Phrase that Matt Joyce left out of his apology is key to talking the talk

Phrase that Matt Joyce left out of his apology is key to talking the talk

Matt Joyce said the word, he did the apology, he’ll do the time, and then we’ll see if he’ll get the forgiveness he asks.
 
Joyce’s two-game suspension by Major League Baseball for using a gay slur at a fan during Friday’s Athletics-Angels game in Anaheim is well within industry norms (though it might have been more tactically impressive if the club itself had issued the suspension), and his apology did not deflect blame or contain the always-insincere caveat “if I offended anyone.” He did offend people and he knew it, so he didn’t couch it in the phraseology of “I don’t think what I said was improper, but I’ll do the perp walk just to get this over with.”
 
He even offered to do work with PFLAG, the support group that supports the LGBTQ community, thereby putting his time (which is more meaningful than money) where his mouth was.
 
In other words, he seems to have taken his transgression properly to heart, which is all you can really hope for, and now we’ll see if he is granted the absolution he seeks.
 
You see, we’re a funny old country in that we talk forgiveness all the time but grant it only sparingly, and only after a full mental vetting of important things like “Do we like this guy?” and “Is he playing for my favorite team?” and “Do I feel like letting him up at all?”
 
In other words, forgiveness is very conditional indeed.
 
Joyce said what he said, but his apology seemed to be given freely and unreservedly rather than crafted to meet a minimal standard of corporate knee-taking/arse-covering. If he follows through on his offer to do face-to-face work with PFLAG or an associated group and absorbs the lesson of not using other people as a weapon for his own frustration, then he ought to be acknowledged for doing so. That’s what forgiveness is.
 
But if the principle you adhere to is “once guilty, forever doomed,” then you’ve succeeded at giving in to the mode of the day, which is jumping to a conclusion and never jumping back because it’s just easier and more convenient to do so.
 
It’s up to him. But it’s also up to you.