Ray Ratto

Raiders, 49ers can return to their normal madness after Fried Festivus 51

Raiders, 49ers can return to their normal madness after Fried Festivus 51

The Super Bowl is today, which means the best day of the year is fast approaching.

Namely, the day after the Super Bowl.

At that point, we as a nation can complete the inventory of gastric damage we did to ourselves on what shall be known to future generations as Fried Festivus.

At that point, the people who bombard us daily with news of the game – the least important part of the week-long trade show, as we have come to learn it – will all be on planes and too tired to re-explain what we already saw 37 times on game day.

At that point, nobody will care that Terrell Owens was apparently one of the first of the 15 Hall of Fame finalists to be rejected for induction because of crimes against the NFL state. The Hall of Fame is one of the sneaky ways in which the NFL never lets us escape its obnoxiously shouty profile, and the fact that Owens is right about the flawed process doesn’t change the fact that he’ll be just fine with the process when it allows him passage.

At that point, we’ll know whether Tom Brady is to be deemed a god, or merely maintain his demigod status. At least we’ll hear more about it, because it is easily the most tiresome debate in the football diaspora, engaged in by idiots with no better idea about how to kill time. A note: If you think Tom Brady is a greater quarterback because his team won a fifth ring, or a lesser one because he didn’t, your head is now officially empty enough to be reclassified a dance hall, and you are of no more value to normal society than a papier-mache goose.

And at that point, we can return to the two things we in these parts care to know – where the Raiders are going, and how the 49ers are going to present their new football brain trust.

We needn’t explain the Raiders again to you, first because you’ve heard it all if you’re paying any attention at all. Mark Davis has been trying to cobble deals at a frantic pace in hopes that one will stick, and his 31 fellow owners still have to decide how much longer they want to endure him, while faced with the painful fact that the East Bay is getting out of the exploitative license-to-be-stolen-from stadium business. They also get to know as they go to the meeting in Houston that will ostensibly decide Davis’ fate that they have ruined California as a market by their excessive greed-laced stupidity and deserve every lousy market the state can give them.

Which brings us to the 49ers, and the latest round of Judge Them By Their Press Conferences.

If there is anything worse than this team’s on-field profile, which is why Jed York hired Kyle Shanahan, it is the way it explains itself to the outside world, which is why Jed York hired John Lynch. Both Shanahan and Lynch will be paraded before a braying mobs, probably Tuesday, and York will be there as well for the cheesy photo array and a few unconvincing words of praise about each of them (as a note, Paraag Marathe will be present but only in hologrammatic form).

They will then promise – well, something or other – and Lynch will be hailed as the face of the glorious future because the man he replaced, Trent Baalke, had the public persona of a meth-tweaked hyena. Hard to find, and not worth it when you did.

Then we’ll all remember that the job Shanalynch (or Lynchahan, depending on what part of Ireland you’re from) are being asked to do is a three-year reclamation at the very least, and that the only useful question either can be asked is “Can you fix this before Jed gets embarrassed and angry and cans you both?”

And on Wednesday, there’s the start of pre-draft prep (in order words, The Eighty-Day Slave Market), and the hamster wheel to hell gears up again toward Super Bowl LII.

Only next year, the chances of relocation hysteria and a front office upheaval are that much less, and we haven’t sufficient distractions to make the year go faster.

But enjoy Fried Festivus. We can always look forward to that, even if we change the name back in December to the more traditional "Christmas."

Sorting through Pete Carroll's latest flirtation with Kaepernick and the Seahawks


Sorting through Pete Carroll's latest flirtation with Kaepernick and the Seahawks

There are any number of ways to sort out Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll’s latest public flirtation with the concept (as opposed to the actual presence) of Colin Kaepernick on his roster, but they all end the same.

Not a chance in hell. Okay, not much of a chance in hell.

It is a measure of our industrial inability to let go of a seemingly dead storyline that the question was even raised in Carroll’s pre-draft press conference Monday, and even more bizarre that he dangled it as a possibility when all it did was remind people yet again that the National Football League is run by narrow-minded, inflexible and even socially thuggish billionaires.

What it did not to do is make anyone think that (a) this is a football decision upon which Carroll has final say, or that (b) this is an employment decision upon which owner Paul Allen has the only vote that matters.

Now we could end up dead wrong in public here – it has happened before, of course. But Kaepernick is the handy hot button the owners have used to show their fealty to the noisy symbols-above-rights crowd that are taking credit they don’t deserve for the decline in football’s television popularity. It seems unfathomable that they would give that up, or more specifically, to let any of their individual members give that up on their behalf.

At least not without running it through HR.

It could be that the depositions in Kaepernick’s complaint against the league are going badly for the league in a strictly legal sense, though there is no public indication of such. It could be that the dovish win of the owners find this a needless distraction that the league would be better off solving quietly and quickly (if 15 months can be described as quick). It could even be that at his advanced age Allen has decided to put a finger in the eyes of his colleagues just for the sake of seeing them tear up.

But these all seem unlikely. Moreover, Carroll may be trying to pressure his superiors through public discussion to get Kaepernick in for a workout that leads to a job, and that’s not normally a triumphant stratagem.

In short, the smart money is to bet that this is one more red herring in a lake full of them. Colin Kaepernick will be as ex- a football player as he has been, people will re-convince themselves that his future as a player still has value as a talking point of brain-free chat shows, and the hamster wheel will continue to spin.

And in the end, the only good thing to come out of any of it is the number of cranial collisions Kaepernick does not endure by still being that ex-player.

Odds are relatively strong that Belt actually doesn’t have the longest at-bat ever

Odds are relatively strong that Belt actually doesn’t have the longest at-bat ever

Brandon Belt’s 21-pitch at-bat in Sunday’s Giants’ 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels is the stuff of nerdley legend. It must also have made Rob Manfred pull off his own head in exasperation.

Baseball games are quicker this year because of the new speed diktats, all of them part of the Manfredian compulsion that pace is the thing that is keeping baseball from becoming the cool kids’ sport.

But here is Belt, laying down a 12-minute batting opus that droned on so long that Belt admitted later that he hates that sort of thing when he is in the field. He, too, understands where Manfred’s bread is buttered.

But it was also described as “the longest at-bat ever” by people who should know better but clearly don’t. It might have been the longest at-bat ever, but people have only been counting this for 20 years, and there have been long at-bats before. The odds are that there have been longer at-bats in baseball history, and that Belt’s extended soliloquy doesn’t rank first, but maybe 12th, or 29th, or 214th. According to BaseballReference.com, there have been 14,689,043 at-bats, so the odds are relatively strong that Belt actually doesn’t have the record at all.

So what we have here, then, is a fascinating oddity but not necessarily an epochal one. Frankly, if Belt really cared about the record, he would have fouled off seven or eight more pitches and made a better claim for having a record that nobody actually can make.

But every day is a new set of at-bats, and while Belt can never truly have a totally true record, he could make Rob Manfred turn purple with rage. That’s better than any record right there.