Ray Ratto

Ratto: 49ers' stadium details lack substance


Ratto: 49ers' stadium details lack substance

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Ray Ratto

Once again, the 49ers have thoughtfully informed us that they got two more approvals to do something to do with their potential stadium in Santa Clara.

Theyre good at that Heres more inconsequential stuff that makes us look like were on the job.

This time, the news was that the ESA (Ethereal Stadium Authority):
Approved the procurement process that will be utilized to hire subcontractors to perform some 500 million in construction trade work for the stadium.Approved a marketing sales agency to sell seat licenses.
Approved a pre-opening contract with the same people who have done the concessions at Candlestick Park since the early 90s.Approved two resolutions about the design of the ballpark.
But none of these have any real value until the press release that announces the following:
We have the money.We rented the equipment.
Theres a hole in the ground that were making bigger and bigger every day.
Without that one, all these others dont amount to much, and the fact the 49ers are so eager to tell us about these relatively trivial issues makes the absence of the big one more striking.Heres the thing, and its something the 49ers and As should both know, understand, and live by on stadium news: Weve been down all these roads before, going back to the mid-80s. Were not stupid, and were not easily distracted by minutiae.We know that stadia come down to two things: Where the money is, and where the shovels are. Stadium plans rise and fall on these two things alone, and the rest of it is trivia.If the 49ers would be so very kind as to inform us about those two things, well listen to everything else they have to say about all the other nonsense where the trees are going and what kind there will be, how much hoof will be in the hot dogs, when the first exorbitant deposit on the seat licenses will be due, all of it.But until they can manage that elemental news, what they are giving us suggests an elaborate ruse to make us think things are progressing in a meaningful way when they are not. I mean, if youve got everything you need and are starting construction on Day X, why wouldnt you say something like, We have everything we need and were starting on Day X? Why wouldnt there be a huge release, with a full-on presser with logos and people wearing business suits and hard hats and goofy grins? Why wouldnt there be fireworks, for Gods sake?Thats what were looking for here. Proof of money and proof of tools. They have no reason to hide the proof if they have it, and if they dont have it, who gives a flying flaming damn about a concessions contract for a stadium that doesnt exist?Anyway, thanks for the heads-up, kids. Now let us know when you have something to actually tell us.

The four Super Bowl storylines everybody will be talking about


The four Super Bowl storylines everybody will be talking about

The Monday after the conference championships is devoted to replaying the games we already saw, but Tuesday is devoted to the assembling of the narratives that we will weary of no later than Friday.

And while football purists and gamblers, two demographics on the opposite ends of the Moebius strip of degeneracy, will cheerily break the game down to its molecular level, the rest of us will resort to a few tired carthorses to get us to the start of our individual Super Bowl parties.


This will be an argument with no resolution, as those who see history as preordination will see New England as invulnerable, pointing to their record, Philadelphia’s record, and the comfort of the mortal lock. But if it helps you maintain suspense, the Patriots have never won, or even played in, a Super Bowl with a margin as high as a touchdown – the margins have been 3, 3, 3, 4, 4 and 6 in overtime. In short, Bill Belichick’s brain, while always impressive, has never been an overwhelming presence against John Fox, Andy Reid, Tom Coughlin, Pete Carroll or Dan Quinn.

In other words, luck matters, and luck is good.


This is ridiculous because the Patriots are in painting-the-gold-bar-gold territory. People long ago made up their minds on Belichick, Tom Brady, Bob Kraft and the rest of the shifting cast of characters – they are either brilliant exemplars, or nefarious cheaters, or both. That’s the great thing about the Patriots – they can be heroes, villains and metaphors for 21st Century America, depending on what you decide. But their place as football figures has long ago been decided, this game will change none of that, and the only thing left is what to carve on the statues.


There are lots of Americas out there, as we are learning every day, and more people probably are rooting for the Eagles just to see something different. That’s not the way to bet, I grant you, but the best way to handle these next two weeks if you do not wear either New England or Philadelphia jerseys is to say nothing. These are two fan bases with reputations, if you know what we mean, and even if you come across gentle souls with a rooting interest, play the percentages. Even the nice ones can turn at any moment.

And finally, JIMMY GAROPPOLO. This discussion only matters of Bob Kraft cops to telling Belichick he ordered him to be moved. Which he won't, damn his eyes. And if Brady looks good next Sunday, they'll take credit for a brilliant move that saved the franchise because history always works best in the rear-view mirror.

NBA All-Star Game more and more reveals personalities rather than skills


NBA All-Star Game more and more reveals personalities rather than skills

The voting for the NBA All-Star starters was properly instructive to both Adam Silver and the public at large about exactly what the game is meant to be – which is why I totally get their decision not to televise the All-Star draft.

It’s really a personality test for everyone involved, for good and ill.

I think having a draft nobody can see is idiotic, stealing an idea the NHL used and then discarded years ago and then not employing the reason why they did it to begin with, but if the All-Star Game is really an expression of ego, then the next best thing to having no draft is having one nobody can see.

The All-Star Game really only functions as a coronation of the elite by the elite, a festival of mutual backslapping friend-rewarding that has nothing to do with the playing of the game, or the moving of the T-shirts or jerseys or expensive hotel rooms. This is about stratifying the player pool so that everyone knows who’s who and what’s what.

Everything else is irrelevant, and the draft reinforces that. Kevin Durant not wanting to be a captain is strategic thinking by a future industrialist. Stephen Curry not minding being a captain is the perfect who-cares statement for someone who doesn’t mind playing the game because objecting to it takes too much work. LeBron James being a captain is the perfect political muscle-flexing that fits his personality.

Damian Lillard already assuming that he won’t be named to the team is a statement about his being considered the perpetual one-level-down guard. Russell Westbrook being named and then controlling the ball as he would in a regular season game is a statement about how he views his place as a disruptor. And on and on and on – the All-Star Game more and more reveals personalities rather than skills.

Does televising the draft help us understand the actual meaning of the event? Maybe, but the NBA would prefer you consider it a festival of the game itself, which it plainly isn’t. Proof, you say? 192-182 in 2017. 196-173 in 2016. 163-158 in 2015. 163-155 in 2014. There hasn’t been a normal-looking score in 15 years, which means it’s not a game at all.

That isn’t the news, though. It’s that the NBA has made this is a three-day event – the day the captains and starters are named, the day the reserves are picked, and the day that teams are chosen. And every bit of it is about the reaction to that. There is no show thereafter, and the players know it. They care about the selections, because that’s how they’re keeping score.

So go team. Whatever the hell that means.