Ray Ratto

Ratto: PR outreach a 49ers-Raiders photo op

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Ratto: PR outreach a 49ers-Raiders photo op

Aug. 29, 2011

RATTO ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEO

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CSNBayArea.com

Jed York sat in the stands at Parco del Candeliere Saturday night to show he was one of the people. Amy Trask sent photos of happy smiling New Orleans Saints fans with small children at Le Colisee dOakland to media outlets to show that Raider games are as close as you can get to Disneyland.And somewhere, public relations experts weep.The owner-as-fan idea was done first and best by Bill Veeck back in the 40s. He would roam the stands in Cleveland and later in Chicago so that people could express their desires directly to the one person who could make those desires come true.Then again, he also sat shirtless in the bleachers on hot days and bought beer for those around him. Taking a walk around the plant doesnt do it, but buying a beer for a section certainly would.
Jed isnt Bill Veeck, then. Okay, weve established that.And fan photos with babies and smiling parents are, well, sort of posed, and in todays hypercynical world, not entirely believable. I should know. I am the man who invented hypercynicism, and defend it against all humanitarian impulses. In fact, every time you use it in conversation today, I get a royalty, so let fly, my children. Daddy needs a new pair of tuitions.REWIND: Two men shot outside Candlestick Park
Now were all for owners commingling with the people who enrich them. Most owners would never ever consider it, and most who have tried stop pretty quickly when they decide that they are attracting exactly the wrong type of clientele for their personal comfort zones.You know. Fans.So while J.E. York and A. (middle initial unknown, though wed happily use it if we knew it) Trask may have had their hearts in the right places over the weekend, there is actually a trick to this that requires more serious and aggressive out-of-the-box thinking.And truth be told, it isnt a photo op as much as it is an attitude.And part of the attitude is this: if youre going into the stands, you have to go into the stands a lot. This means forgoing the suite, even if youre entertaining the other teams owner. This means getting to know some of the regulars. This means being the real deal, or as close as one can get when one is trying to catch up as frantically as York is.Once you get there, you can proselytize all you want about not being crass, crude or violent at the game. The fans will buy that because they perceive you as being one of them as long as you have plenty of other ways to encourage their best behavior. Even Veeck was prudent when it came to securing the atmosphere except maybe on Disco Demolition Night. Look it up. Theres plenty to find.As for Trask, the problem of fan identification is different. Her boss, The Al, used to be that real deal guy. He didnt go into the stands, but he would walk into the stadium and in front of the Black Hole to deal out high-fives and fists of approval to those who worshiped at the hem of his track suit.But Davis health forbids those trips now, and there really isnt a logical, credible alternative. Thus, the Raiders best way to show they make a safe environment is to work the parking lots before and let their customers to know to bring their best selves. An in, You punching that Bronco fan does a lot less for us when the Broncos have a third-and-nine at the Black Hole end than you making all the noise you have in you.Crowd security is an ongoing issue that can never be truly solved and done with sort of like performance enhancing drugs, if you really must know. But trying to change a perception isnt nearly as important as changing the conditions that prevail. Stadium policing and parking lot fan rapport are the minimal standard. Photos and photo ops arent really as useful.But the first step is in breaking down the barriers that most owners have built between them and their customers. And treating them less like customers or P.R. props and more like regular folks and fellow fans is the best way to start.Bill Veeck knew it 65 years ago. But just because he was first doesnt mean he has to be last.Ray Ratto is a columnist at CSNBayArea.com.

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

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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

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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.