Ray Ratto

Check 'exhaustion' off the list: The Warriors aren't tired any more


Check 'exhaustion' off the list: The Warriors aren't tired any more

The day we narrative sluts have been dreading has finally arrived.

The Golden State Warriors aren’t tired any more.

There had been signs on the horizon that they were finding their old vim, vigor, vitality and pep before Monday, but they dealt the final blow to the “The short, busy and China-enriched offseason really took it out of them” plot line was delivered Monday when they held the Miami Heat to the new NBA minimum in points in a 97-80 victory.

Their defensive rating has risen in the past week from 28th to 18th. Their opponents’ effective field goal percentage has risen from 26th to 10th. The 80 points they allowed was the fourth lowest by any team so far this year, and on their poorest shooting night of the year, they saw to it that the Heat shot poorer still. Their last three games have seen them allow 92, 108 and 80 points (an average of 93.3 per game), and they have the second-best record in basketball.

Yeah, check “exhaustion” off the list.

Now most fans will find that development a relief because they have gotten well used to the Warriors as the Atlas holding up the rest of the NBA. Their third losses in the prior three seasons came in Games 24, 39 and 19, so losing No. 3 in Game 76 this year was a discussable point. Some people even speculated that they were struggling at home because they were 2-2 through four games and lost to Houston and Detroit.

Now that’s all gone, and the regular season is about to become the cavalcade of sameness that the previous three regular seasons have been. The only thing a Warrior fan pre-conditioned to worry has left is injury, and nobody is ghoulish enough to root for players to get hurt . . . although we haven’t polled all 29 other general managers on this.

The point is, they have another 10 to 15 allowable defeats this year, and as long as they don’t clump them in a couple of massive clots, we have nothing left to fret unnecessarily about them. Either that, or we’ll have to invent something new -- like why they can’t cover the spread more often.

After all, they’re 5-6 against the line, 20th overall. But then, they’re also 7-4 against the total, best in all of the National Vegas League.

That means their offense is doing just fine, which we already knew, and if we already knew it, that isn’t much of a narrative at all.

Bortles the worst QB in the NFL? Yeah, he doesn't care


Bortles the worst QB in the NFL? Yeah, he doesn't care

Blake Bortles of America’s Jaguars represents something new and dangerous in American sports, and no, it isn’t because he is the national punch line who punches back.

Rather, the Jacksonville quarterback who is preparing for the AFC Championship Game against the New England Monolith, is dangerous because he seems genuinely not to care at all that he is routinely savaged as the worst quarterback in the National Football League. Not just passive-aggressively so, but actually and completely.

Have you any idea what this does to the smack-talking industry? If this catches on, our generation of semi-malevolent athletic parrots are stuck without a reason to talk that trash.

Of course, Bortles is unusual in this regard, in that he has been mean-mouthed not just by players but by regular citizens. He has been used as a prop for the Why-Isn’t-Colin-Kaepernick-Working movement, he has been compared unkindly to Ty Detmer, the previous low water mark in championship-level quarterbacks, and essentially disparaged almost universally.

Put another way, a case can be made that he has been savaged in his idiom as aggressively as the President.

And what does he do? Well, win, sure, but he has help, as all quarterbacks do. We always seem to forget that in our only-one-position-matters depth of understanding about the sport.

No, what he does is say with all sincerity that he doesn’t care one way or another, and that he never claps back at anyone for their more pointed views re: his skill set. If this is so, he is not only the owner of a rhinoceros hide, but he may be the living embodiment of a movement toward, “Oh, I suck? Yeah, okay, whatever. You’re probably right. You have yourself a good day.”

Andrew Luck does that after receiving a big hit. Bortles seems to do it on command, and if this is the future of sports in America, we are heading for a fascinating new world of relative silence.

But we know better. Bortles is an outlier, again, and this will not catch on. There’s no putting the mess-talk back in the tube. But if it helps, Bortles has another round of grief awaiting him this week as he is compared to Tom Brady . . . as a compost heap is compared to the Taj Mahal.

Only with more F-bombs.

Let Steve Young's brilliant Monday Night Football idea come true


Let Steve Young's brilliant Monday Night Football idea come true

Steve Young recently told KNBR’s Tom Tolbert that he still wasn’t interested in replacing new Raiders coach Jon Gruden in the Monday Night Football analyst’s chair – “still,” as in he’s been approached before and declined, for the only legitimate dodge left on the books -- family reasons.
“I cannot take a job where you disappear for four days a week for five months,” Young said, later adding, “If I could do it from my backyard, sure, I’d do it.”
And therein lies an idea – a brilliant idea, if I do steal and say so myself.
Let Young do the games from his backyard. Put a camera back there and let him work from a lounge chair beside what I imagine is a pool. He should have a beer and snacks at hand, and his kids should be allowed to run in front of him and make noise like they would normally, because that’s how most of us watch the games. Maybe he can bring the neighbors over for a little ‘cue, as long as they don’t F-bomb through his pregame chat with Sean McDonough.
After all, these are not grand secrets he will be imparting. He is not going to be able to articulate the secrets of the bubble screen or the two-deep zone any more cleverly than any other analyst – he will just sound more agreeable and less cartoonish doing it. And if the payment for that sense of informality is him in a Tommy Bahama shirt, cargo shorts, flip-flops and a frothy IPA, well, what’s the harm.
I mean, it’s not like he would be torpedoing ratings momentum. This has been another year of diminishing viewership for the NFL, which continues to struggle with the “F” in its acronym – football. Catches aren’t catches, fumbles aren’t fumbles, holds aren’t holds, first down measurements need office supplies, and nobody can explain why the overseer on the Planet Replay is no better at getting calls right than the guys on the ground.
So why not Young lounging in his backyard? Or his garage? Or the hardware store? Or the local tavern? If McDonough needs company in the booth, there is a vast wildlife preserve of ex-players roaming the hills and flats just waiting to share insipid tales of jet sweeps and momentum shifts while Young sits working the business end of a pina colada and providing the big picture the sport is so weak at providing. Frankly, I'm stupefied that it hasn't been done already.
This has been A Tramp’s View Inside The Television Garbage Fire, and I will happily accept the standard consultants fee when this is universally adapted.