Ray Ratto

The flaw in Draymond Green's referee suggestion is obvious


The flaw in Draymond Green's referee suggestion is obvious

Draymond Green could be the next supervisor of NBA officials – of course he could. Of course, his catch phrase – “You’re fired!” – has already been taken by a far more notorious and objectionable figure.

Parsing out his suggestion, in the wake of his 11th technical foul of the season, that all the officials be fired and replaced by a whole new crop, however, belies one immutable fact.

The next 70 people brought in will almost certainly be worse than the 70 that already have gigs.

[SHILLER: Steph Curry defends Draymond Green, 'there are certain situations...']

That’s how it worked when the NBA expanded from two to three officials in 1988 – the additional officials were almost unanimously worse than the roster as it existed because the NBA didn’t hire officials 1 through 23 to join their ranks, but officials 47-70. The overall quality therefore did not rise, but lowered.

In short, Green’s suggestion is to take the first through 70th-best officials and replace them with the 71st through 140th best officials. The flaw here should be obvious.

His other complaint, that there is greater hostility between officials and players, has more merit, though he seems to modify that for purposes of his argument to “hostility from officials toward players.” Officials should be allowed greater latitude to talk with players and vice versa, and the best ones do it anyway, but Green has a habit of leading with his facial version of Edward Munch’s “The Scream” and goes from there. That approach has always failed, it fails now, and it always will.

Plus, it isn’t like he hasn’t been told by mentors and colleagues alike that his approach isn’t working for him. It took him awhile to build his rep, and even if he stopped today it would take awhile to rebuild it.

Either way, he is rapidly reaching that “I Fought The Law And The Law Won” stage of his relationship with the officiating community, and barring him asking to officiate one of the April 1 games (the Warriors play Phoenix as the second game of a back-to-back with Sacramento and can surely spare him), he seems unlikely to either change his views or have the views of him changed.

Thus, I’m guessing he will hit his quota of technicals right after the All-Star Break and miss the Los Angeles Clippers game February 22. Here’s hoping the official who brings the hammer is Courtney Kirkland, the master of the headbutt.


Taking politics out of sports? Now that’s a more interesting idea


Taking politics out of sports? Now that’s a more interesting idea

In lieu of the famous Invitation That Never Was, the Golden State Warriors decided to hook their annual trip to Washington to a trip to visit area kids. No visits to capital sights, no photo ops with politician/lampreys, no media at all in fact.

And in the immortal words of Poet Laureate Draymond Green, “It’s about something we did great. Why make it about (politics)?” he said.

But by that seemingly impeccable logic, the Warriors’ annual trip to Washington should be the equivalent of the Warriors’ annual trip to Milwaukee – a stop on a road trip.

Washington, you see, IS politics, and always has been. And sports and politics are joined at the forehead, and always have been. To take Washington out of sports would be easy – move the four area franchises (Wizards, Capitals, Nationals and Football Team X) to other cities, and never plan for championship teams to take another White House trip except as ordinary citizens.

But to take politics out of sports – now that’s a more interesting idea. Never mind kneeling for the national anthem; what about not standing for it, or playing it at all? How about taking the flag down entirely? And the Olympics? Without the politics, the Winter Games are just a weekend at Tahoe, and the Summer Games are just a massive company picnic.

And that’s the real depth of the rabbit hole. Nobody advocates for the Olympics to become a giant play date or an extended trip to the lodge. Nobody is advocating reducing the flagpoles to goal frames. Only a few think the anthem shouldn’t played before sporting events.

In other words, people have made their peace with sports and politics being intertwined. Me, I’d be good with giving all these ideas an extended try to see if they don’t make more and better sense than what we have now. But I am but one in a sea of many, and most people are perfectly okay with politics and sports – even the “Stick to sports” parrots. They’re not against sports and politics; they’re just against sports and politics they don’t like.

So with all due respect to Draymond Green, it’s all politics because we all have decided that we’re good with it all being politics. The day we decide otherwise may well be a happier and purer moment in human cultural development, but too few are willing to consider a world without conjoined politicosport, or commingled sportatics.

But if it helps, the Warriors are on the right track when they decided to do their visit without a media intrusion because media is part of this messy confluence as well. Going to see kids with no outsiders just because they’re kids is never a bad thing, and it has the added advantage that nobody can use it for their own nefarious greedfaced ends.

So maybe the Warriors can see some kids in Atlanta too, and Portland, and Minnesota, and Phoenix, all without anyone tagging along for fun and profit. There’s no politics in that, and if politics-free sport is something we actually want as a society, it has to start somewhere, and there’s no better place than a schoolyard to get that started.

Forever in search of an Oakland ballpark, the A's always have Japan


Forever in search of an Oakland ballpark, the A's always have Japan

If this helps the Athletics/Howard Terminal/BART/city government standoff in any way, there’s this:
The A’s open the 2019 season in Japan, according to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle
How this helps is anyone’s guess, but given the litany of ways that a new privately financed baseball stadium cannot get built in the Nickel-Dime area code, it must surely be a comfort to know that outside the continental United States, the A’s are golden.
Indeed, Oakland ‘s role as the leading exporter of professional sports contests to foreign lands (their series with the Seattle Mariners next year will be the 21st, 22nd and 23rd games played off-continent by Oakland’s three teams) simply grows. Indeed, once the Raiders go to Las Vegas and the Warriors to That Other Place, the A’s will be the only thing that can be exported, and once they get their new ballpa . . .
. . . oops, sorry. Didn’t mean to bring up cruel fictions again.
The A’s aren’t even part of this latest dustup except in receipt of a letter in which BART general manager Grace Crunican said that a station near a Howard Terminal site isn’t going to happen. This is more a grenade rolled under the chair of the Right Hon. Libby (Don’t Mess With Me) Schaaf, who has been flogging the Howard Terminal plan with the aggression one typically finds in an Aaron Judge at-bat.
And in honesty, an elected official who can flip off the National Football League and not feel the electorate’s wrath is not to be underestimated.
That said, the Crunican letter is one reminder that Oakland is as skilled as ever at finding ways to halt stadium plans before they even get started. More stadiums in more sites have been killed pre-shovel in Oakland than anywhere else in the U.S.
There will be horse trading and arm-twisting (not to mention arm trading and horse twisting, if it comes to that) between the current “no” and the series of “nos” to follow, but this does mean that the pot dispensaries need to step up now and speak as one about their own reason why a ballpark cannot happen in Oakland – maybe they can site a lack of arable land to cultivate the smoke for the woke.
And in the meantime, they’ll always have Japan – Oakland’s sister from another mother when it comes to hosting games our towns cannot.