Ray Ratto

Ratto: Why is Camp Alex so riveting?


Ratto: Why is Camp Alex so riveting?

June 29, 2011


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Just something Ive wondered about when Im not consumed with why there are no smores served at Camp Alex: Why the hell Camp Alex is such a riveting concept.To Comrade Maiocco, who covers this every day, I present a complete exemption. Its the job, and if he had a choice, he wouldnt do it. But he knows you want to know, he wants to provide you with all the camp hijinks he is allowed to see, and so you get daily updates on Michael Crabtree, the 49ers Reluctant Debutante. Ooh, look at him stand. Ooh, look at him study.
But taken empirically, Camp Alex is pretty much a hoax if you apply to it all the great philosophical and ethical guideposts being attached to it. It is a glorified pitch-and-catch, and there is nothing inherently wrong with that. Some guys get to learn a little more about the Harbaugh-ian playbook, but mostly its a day at the park, only the park is a football stadium, the kids are running about doing what you would do if you werent barbed-wire-tethered to your cubicle, and there are people watching it.
MAIOCCO: Smith takes charge at Camp Alex
Its not the activity. Its the import attached to it that is so, well, stupefying.For one, why is it Camp Alex? Because Smith calls it that? No. Because he organized it? No. Because hes the quarterback? No. It could just as well have been called Camp Vernon, or Camp Domonique, or Camp Wheres Michael. Its become Camp Alex because we think it is a form of proof that he is a natural leader, that he wants everyone else to know he is a leader, and this is what leaders do.This is the fact: Alex Smith will be viewed as a leader when the actual for-real you-can-bet-on-this-one games begin, and he actually, well, leads. People follow people who can guide them to success, and when his teammates and coaches decide hes the guy because he just is, then he will be a leader.For two, why is it such a shining example of devotion to duty? Its actually working for free, preparing to do your best for a boss who has essentially said he doesnt want you around. Its always dangerous to equate the work of an athlete with the work of a regular civilian, but the last time there was a stoppage at your plant, did you fill out forms in your spare time just to stay caught up? No. Nor should you have.This is the fact: The owners should have to suffer the rust of the football players they prevented from working. A diminished work product is a fair exchange for placing individual profit above the concepts of shared work experience and were-all-a-family that football is supposed to built upon. They wanted this to be about keeping more money? Fine, its about money. They just should just understand the costs of stopping the work for their own tactical benefit.For three, is this really going to be used as more proof of Crabtrees diva-hood? Wasnt football always about production? Werent the inherently uber-talented supposed to get their perks? Dont fantasy points trump all else?This is the fact: Crabtree will be condemned for any and all transgressions until he catches 97 balls for 1,358 yards and 12 touchdowns. Then he will be forgiven and hailed as a secretly wonderful human being who just needed time to warm to his surroundings. That he hasnt whole-heartedly bought in to the program this summer is indicative of nothing. He will either thrive or fail in September, October, November and December, because all athletes are graded by the amount of good they can do for the customer, either in entertainment, bets cashed or fantasy results, And dont kid yourselves that its about anything else.And for four, why arent there smores, and a campfire, and scary stories, and a veteran playing an acoustic guitar and singing selections from Lil Wayne Unplugged? while all the other kids sit around and share tales of their innermost fears and dreams? Isnt that bonding too?This is the fact: There should be smores. The rest of it is frankly too creepy to contemplate.

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

You don’t think you needed this game to go this way, but you did, and you do.

The Golden State Warriors spat out a 17-point lead and lost, 92-88, in Boston Thursday night, in a game that was taut if not particularly elegant, and in a game that elevated the Celtics to a place that makes them the new heir apparent to the heir apparent.

The Celtics have been a difficult out for the Warriors during the Brad Stevens Era, losing six of nine but only being blown out twice, and Thursday was not one of those nights. The box score will tell you the shooting and rebounding problems, but the Warriors had that lead and didn’t hold it. Or, to be accurate, the Celtics had that deficit and refused to let it destroy them.

Which is exactly the kind of team you, the fully licensed Warrior fan, want to watch play your team in the NBA Finals. You want to see them genuinely challenged, forced to win outside their comfort zone, induced to show their greatness in the highest of high leverage situations.

At least we think that’s what you want. Maybe you prefer blowouts so you can drink and go to the bathroom without care or fear. After all, the Warriors have taught the area the true meaning of front-running by being in front so often.

But the Celtics play a level of defense typically reserved for the San Antonio Spurs, and yes, the Warriors. They have a spiky exoskeleton that the acquisition of Kyrie Irving has actually enhanced, and Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum give them a gifted precocity that fits well with veterans like Al Horford and Marcus Morris, and Boston’s overall youth (they are fifth youngest, while Golden State is third-oldest) ought to make them a more difficult conundrum than Cleveland or any other team in either conference.

They are not yet the superior team; that remains to be proven, and betting against the Warriors requires a level of irrational bravery left only for the truly self-destructive.

But they are, as we sit this evening, the team the Warriors will have to work hardest to finish, because on a night when they had the chance to do so, they didn’t. In other words, the fight for a third ring still goes through Oakland, but it looks more and more like a one-stop through Boston.

And as much as you may hate thinking about it, you’ll almost certainly remember, and savor, a Celtics-Warriors final more than another round of Cavs-on-the-half-shell.

Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor


Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor

Programming note: Warriors-Celtics coverage starts today at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming live right here 

Draymond Green spoke to a group of students at Harvard Thursday on the subject of leadership, and if you find that incongruous, shame on you.
I mean, who else would you want as a college professor?
Green has led, and been led. He has learned, and he has taught. He has certainly lectured, as any teammate, official and media member will testify. He’d be a hell of a teacher, and the subject almost doesn’t matter.
For one, homework would be different, as in I’d bet there would be no written work. I don’t see Prof. Day-Day poring over essays about the Industrial Revolution, M-theory or pre-Raphaelite art. Not even the history of Basketball-Reference.com.

For two, having tenured faculty audit his classes may find his choice of rhetoric a little strident, as in “What the ---- were you thinking, dude?” is not typically approved instructional methodology.
And three, nobody would get a grade. Green would mark every exam with a “35,” as in his draft position, and besides, the exams would be students arguing with each other over whether that was a foul or a no-call, and who pulled the better face when the call was made. He’d give either an approving nod or give the loser a second technical foul and kick him or her out of class.
But it would be a hell of a class. Not at Harvard, of course, because Green probably would want to teach a school that could better use his brand of wisdom, and Harvard kids already have a healthy lead off third base. He’d want his students to make Harvard students cry, you can just tell.
But wouldn’t he look perfectly Draymond in a cap and gown on graduation day, pulling a bottle out of his sleeve to make the valedictory speeches less painful. “Damn, dude,” you could hear him yell. “Peaking?”