Ray Ratto

H.O.F. moralists in a quandary over Clemens

795914.jpg

H.O.F. moralists in a quandary over Clemens

The Baseball Hall of Fames moralist parade just got handed a conundrum. Roger Clemens walked.Six times. Acquitted of everything connected with Brian McNamee with the accuracy of a circus knife-thrower. Well, a really good circus knife-thrower. Mediocre knife-throwers tend not to be hired by most quality circuses any more.But we digress. After all, this is not Carny News Quarterly.Clemens was cleared by a jury, and presumably is back on the Hall of Fame fast track. That is, if you think the moralists were waiting for a verdict to decide on his worth, or for that matter, anyone elses.RELATED: Roger Clemens acquitted of all charges
They werent. And they still arent. The Clemens acquittal actually confuses them more, because they wanted to make up their minds about induction without troublesome issues like drug evidence.After all, Barry Bonds was convicted of perjury rather than drug use, and he is considered a long shot to be inducted next year when his name first appears on the ballot.Then again, this has always been the prime issue with those who want to include and exclude players based on their affinity for illegal performance enhancers. They never seemed all that keen on prosecuting offenders, but they were fine with keeping them out of the Hall of Fame just because, well, just because.Well, heres a flash. Baseball isnt the law, and the Hall of Fame isnt church. Sports has always been a lousy way to determine someones fitness for sainthood, even if its a low-level sainthood like a hall of fame. The number of brigands, rounders, weasels, short-armers and out-and-out swine we have lionized in all sports would fill most of the flyover states, and we lionize them for one reason only.Because they helped our favorite teams win games and entertain us. And whatever they have do or use, and whomever they have to use or do it to for those moments is considered okay by us.Its what some folks might call a character flaw. Its what others call the cost of doing business. And its what sports fans call good old-fashioned fun.The point? Halls of fame are not the place we have designated to salute law-abiding upstanding gentlemen and ladies. Those who are law-abiding and upstanding do that on their own, but it isnt why we saluted them. If we did, all the folks who cheated and swindled and assaulted and kept their fellow citizens from playing the games we all put such stock in wouldnt be in any hall at all.But theyre all there, because they performed for us.So now comes Clemens. Does any voter who wanted to keep him out of the Hall of Fame because he or she believes he must surely have used PEDs now change his or her mind because a jury dismissed the best available proof? And if not, has the Hall of Fame standard been lowered to Because I dont like the guy, okay?And if thats the standard, shouldnt the Hall of Fame be converted to a JiffyLube?Thats always been the problem with the Hall of Fame moralists. They stand on too many wobbly planks, cortorted into too many logically indefensible positions, forced to bend facts and ignore history and inflate their ballots into lofty certifications of human value that the halls themselves have never held their members to, ever.In other words, if Clemens doesnt get 95 percent of the votes this winter, as he should given his resume, it means a lot of voters have decided to change the standard to BIDLTG, O. Because I dont like the guy, okay? And the same logic can be applied to Bonds because his conviction is not a drug conviction at all.We can extend this out to say the real truth that the Hall of Fame is not a measuring stick of anything at all except playing skill but that brilliantly constructed and logically unassailable argument has not yet convinced enough people.RELATED: Roger Clemens career stats
The slack-jawed dimwits.Which is why the Clemens verdict places the Hall of Fame moralists in an even greater quandary than before. And frankly, theyd better be ready to enjoy a steady diet of quandaries after all, theyve asked for them.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

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

bortles-ratto.jpg
AP

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

steve-young-ap.jpg
AP

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.