Ray Ratto

No reason whatsoever for Newton to be too clever by half, too contemptuous by double

newton-panthers-ratto.jpg
USATSI

No reason whatsoever for Newton to be too clever by half, too contemptuous by double

The Cam Newton/Jourdan Rodrigue story did what these stories are supposed to do -- go supernova, explode, and then leave a quiet dead spot in the universe.

And did so in less than a day.

You know the particulars -- Rodrigue, the Charlotte Observer writer and Carolina Panthers beat writer, asked Newton a fairly innocuous question about receiver Devin Funchess which Newton turned into a snippy pejorative of women, sportswriters and women sportswriters. Since then, someone deep-dove Rodrigue’s Twitter account and found her laughing at racist references (she apologized) and Dannon Yogurt dropped Newton as a spokesman in part because he didn’t (apologize, that is).

The clear takeaways are that Newton’s retrograde position on women in the business of sports was and is a public relations disaster, that Rodrigue’s weakness (her Twitter game) will become the secondary reasoning for Newton’s defenders, and that apologies remain the major way we as a culture measure someone’s ability to overcome an error in judgment (at best) and/or a sexism-racism debate (at worst).

And here’s the weirdest part of this very weird story. It was all over a simple question about Funchess that required only -- and I do mean ONLY -- that Newton pay compliment to one of his wide receivers.

The question was not accusatory in nature, or suggested some sort of shortcoming in either player. It wasn’t delving into team secrets or putting the Panthers in some sort of competitive disadvantage. Even if it was, the response Newton gave would be wrong, but in this case it was wrong for no good reason.

This will bear repeating as he eventually delivers the team-written apology, and when his agent scares up his next endorsement after the heat from the Dannon folks dissipates. Newton lost much by giving an answer to a question that had no risk at all and was even providing praise for a teammate.

And whether Funchess needs that or not is not relevant. Maybe his parents or friends or partner would have enjoyed it. Maybe he becomes a quick five-minute throwaway on one of the endlessly tedious and tediously endless midweek shows that gets him a bit of notice.

But Newton needed to be too clever by half and too contemptuous by double – FOR NO GAIN WHATSOEVER. NONE.

So while his views of women in sports are clearly problematic (and that’s giving him all the best of it, let’s be honest), it is the time and place and circumstances here that actually make this worse than he’s already been called. He became a talking point (which is about as bad as things get these days) because he couldn’t form the phrase, “Yes, Devin Funchess is a quite a help to me and all of us.”

Unbelievable. And yet completely believable.

Raiders' exit feels much more imminent after reported broadcaster swap

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AP

Raiders' exit feels much more imminent after reported broadcaster swap

If Mark Davis really has decided to end Greg Papa’s tenure as the radio voice of the Oakland Raiders, then one of the last links between Oakland and the Raiders now is broken.
 
Rumors have spun for the better part of a month that Davis was looking to plant another flag in Las Vegas soil, and within the past few days, veteran network broadcaster Brent Musburger’s name has been linked to the job. Musburger is the main voice at gambling radio station VSiN and lives in Las Vegas, and as such is as recognizable a voice for the town as there is. The news of Musberger's hire by the Raiders was reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal late Tuesday.
 
The news picked up speed earlier Tuesday, first when tweeted out by “FakeRudyMartzke,” a largely credible voice on broadcasting gossip, and then picked up by AwfulAnnouncing.com and The Athletic. 
 
This would just be another inside-broadcasting story, though, if not for the fact that Papa, who's also a host for NBC Sports Bay Area, represents the second incarnation of the Oakland Raiders as Bill King represented the first, and breaking with that two years before the team’s actual departure from the Bay is another stark reminder of that departure.
 
The Raiders have not yet faced a real fan backlash over the decision to leave for Las Vegas, in large part because the process has gone so slowly and involved so many other cities. People have not only had a chance to face the fact that their team is leaving again, but the departure is not yet imminent.
 
Imminent arrives soon enough, though, and with it all the substantive and peripheral changes that will make the Raiders Nevada’s team. That Davis’ decision involves one of his father Al’s most trusted confidants also makes this another break with the old days, thus reinforcing Mark’s control of how the Raiders present themselves to the outside world.
 
The details on why Musburger has signed on for 2018 rather than 2020, when the Raiders are scheduled to relocate, still are to be ferreted out, but a team’s broadcaster, especially one with Papa’s tenure (21 years), is among the most enduring links between that team and its fan base, and change is jarring, especially as a harbinger of even bigger changes.
 
It is a change, though, that Davis is willing to undertake pre-emptively, either out of eagerness to begin the Las Vegas portion of his ownership or some professional/personal dissatisfaction with Papa. It breaks one of the last enduring bonds of this quarter-century of Oakland Raiders football, and with the minimal likelihood that there will ever be a third, this decision borders on the epochal.
 
In other words, Mark Davis now is making the Raiders' departure that much more real, and he's apparently ready to begin facing the belated reaction of a city scorned.

A's have obvious path at MLB trade deadline

A's have obvious path at MLB trade deadline

Trade deadlines often are exercises in fan tyranny, which is an odd thing to say about a group of people who hurl money and affection at their favorite teams with only a minimal possibility of return.
 
But fans do show what they think of their teams more aggressively around trade time, because they believe to their souls that teams show their devotion through player acquisition.
 
Be a buyer like the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are feverishly working to score shortstop Manny Machado from Baltimore, and the world loves you. Be a seller like the Orioles, and you die alone. Just check the attendance figures if you doubt that.
 
And do nothing? Well, if you’re not even going to try...
 
Which brings us to the Oakland Athletics, who might actually be best off being counter-intuitive doing exactly that much of nothing between now and the July 31 deadline-ette.
 
The reason? They might be good enough as is.
 
To believe this, one must first accept the idea that Houston, Boston and the New York Yankees are simply better teams that the A’s are not yet in position to overtake, either in the regular season or October.
 
One must then assume that Cleveland isn’t worth worrying about, which is the safest assumption of all because the Indians will not cross Oakland’s path, except in the unlikely event that both Oakland and Cleveland gather in the ALCS.
 
And finally, one must believe that the injury-savaged Seattle Mariners (without Felix Hernandez and James Paxton, their two best starting pitchers) are about to revert aggressively toward the mean.
 
And that would seem to be the obvious path to October for the A’s.
 
Sure, they could move Jed Lowrie for a starting pitcher, but does Jake Odorizzi make the A’s a World Series contender? Does J.A. Happ? And why do you weaken one of the game’s best offensive infields to do only that.
 
And they could get a nice haul of prospects by moving closer Blake Treinen, but does a team contend with Lou Trivino as its closer? Maybe, but it’s not a risk most teams would be willing to embrace.
 
Not only that, but Billy Beane has sworn on a stack of Fangraphs printouts that he is tired of being a seller and wants a team good enough to encourage roster stability. This is that roster – as long as you believe that it can’t be turned into the Red Sox overnight, which it can’t.
 
So this would be the best thing to hope for if you are an A’s fan. Unless you think Beane and David Forst can do a prospects-for-Jacob deGrom deal from the incredibly distressed New York Mets, standing with this roster is wise approach, flaws and all. As we said, this is counter-intuitive and very non-Beaneian, but a small yet recognizable bandwagon is gathering around them and it might just be perfect to emerge into the nation’s view as it is – the one American League team that isn’t too much a bully or, conversely, backing into the postseason like Cleveland.
 
This is not a permanent state, mind you. Once they break out, the A’s will be judged by their free agency and trade deadline work like everyone else. But for this one year, this one set of circumstances, the A’s might be better off being the A’s.
 
But if Machado comes open at the last minute... if he’s willing to play second... and bat seventh... oh, God, we’re getting sucked into the deadline vortex, aren’t we?