Ray Ratto

A warning to Curry, other prospective buyers of the Carolina Panthers


A warning to Curry, other prospective buyers of the Carolina Panthers

In the wake of Jerry Richardson’s disgraceful behavior, his subsequent disgrace and his announcement that he intends to sell the Carolina Panthers, the list of people offered and offering to buy the team has created a feeding frenzy of celebrities wanting to buy.

Including, to what could be his eternal shame, Wardell Stephen Curry.

You see, owning an NFL team used to be a prestigious thing as well as a massively lucrative one. It was a cash machine, it was free access to any lawmaker in the country, it was a walking talking tax break, and it was a way to say, “Even among the special, I am special.”

Now, with the number of problems the league seems incapable of navigating, including the long-term medical danger to the sport itself, the growing willingness of cities not to be bullied into fiscal surrender, the diminishing ratings, the business’ growing inability to explain itself to even its biggest fans, the political thickets it can no longer avoid, and even the deteriorating quality of the owners themselves, the only thing you can say for owning an NFL team is that it is an ATM, and a less efficient one at that.

Plus you have to spend more time watching, listening and pretending to care about Jerry Jones while he nakedly (maybe even literally) muscles you into doing his bidding.

Now what’s fun about that? I mean, other than the ATM thing, I mean?

Being an NFL owner is not the thigh-slapping commode-hugging hoot it used to be. We as a nation know too much now, and whether it’s Diddy, Curry, Oprah, having a piece of the action means becoming a target of disdain and even revulsion. When someone says, “I’ll take a piece of that action,” I cringe for them. When someone is put forward as a potential owner, I think, “Why do you hate that person so?”

True, this may be an overgeneralization about the 32 owners – I mean, I don’t know if they’re all creepy, amoral, money-eating bullies. I haven’t met them all.

But NFL owners were royalty once upon a time, and we see yet again what’s happening to royalty -- it is being revealed as the rotting hulk it has always been. Maybe owners aren’t behaving differently than they used to, but they’re getting caught now, and between that and the widening flaws in the sport and its business, being an NFL owner looks like it’s a lot less enjoyable than it used to be.

Again, except for the ATM thing. Money is a hard thing to screw up – though, and let’s be honest here, it’s easier than it used to be.

Anyway, for Stephen Curry and all the other prospective buyers of the Carolina Panthers, this warning:

It won’t be any of you. Guaranteed. Bob McNair isn’t sitting down to talk expansion with Diddy or Super Bowl sites with Ted Nugent. Your eagerness to buy is not matched by their eagerness to watch you try.

Besides, there are other ATMs that allow you to take a little less and still sleep at night. Consider that.

Raiders' exit feels much more imminent after reported broadcaster swap


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?