Ray Ratto

Why the NFL loses to the NBA in free agency

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USATSI

Why the NFL loses to the NBA in free agency

Every judgment is subjective, and every decisive assertion is based on personal likes and dislikes.
 
Except this one: The National Football League doesn’t do free agency as well as the National Basketball Association, and it has failed again this year.
 
That’s probably as it should be as well. The NFL is best at the draft because there are more potential game-changers/team-fixers in football (and yes, we cleverly avoided the trap of typing team-changers/game-fixers) than basketball. It is also better at making the draft a year-long media-blowhard-o-rama because it has unfettered access to more media blowhards.
 
And yeah, you know who you are.
 
But free agency? The NFL is pure unadulterated meh on feh because unlike the NBA, the NFL acts ashamed to be throwing money around drunken sailors on leave in Bangkok. It gives money figures that aren’t really money figures because you not only have to subtract for guaranteed money, you also have to qualify what “guaranteed” actually means. It’s bait and switch with your customers, and a statement that you’re not actually proud of the thing you just bought. It’s like the owners want you to take their side in every deal  by marveling at the bargains rather than accepting the fact that all fans want to see is money flying around.
 
This even trickles down to players. Veteran safety Eric Weddle, among others, Twitter-ranted about Sam Bradford’s latest contract by pointing out that Bradford has made $134 million without producing much of substance as a quarterback. This shows not only petty jealousy but a basic misunderstanding of the market, and Weddle is actually much smarter than that.
 
Bradford got his $20M ($15M guaranteed, and see how much that sucks?) because he is a quarterback who might not stink in the right environment. The money wasn’t a reward but a desperate gamble based on the current quarterback scarcity and nothing more. The owners and general managers have decided that quarterbacks are the only players who actually deserve money, and everyone else is just tools on a belt. That sucks a lot of potential fun out of the market.
 
The NBA, on the other hand, recognizes all positions as essentially equal, and throws cash all around the floor like a Houston Rockets shot chart. It is no longer a center-centric league, so Stephen Curry can make as much or more than LeBron James. More total money is spent on guards, but centers make the highest average salaries, followed by small forwards. Everyone can get rich in such an egalitarian environment.
 
Plus, because the money is fully guaranteed, so the numbers you see are the numbers they get, making the joy of marveling at the deals less ambiguous and more jaw-dropping. And let’s face it, sports sells best when it amazes, even if what amazes here is “PAUL MILLSAP MAKES MORE THAN KEVIN DURANT?”
 
And finally, the NBA spends proudly and with a snootful of adrenalin, although there are signs that some Scrooge McDuck owners want to tamp that down, NFL style. That makes it a true bacchanal of roasted cash, and who doesn’t like a barbecue with dead president as fire starter? Fewer positions helps, a fat TV deal helps, and owners who actually want to compete, at least at the top end, helps too.
 
In sum, the NFL doesn’t do free agency well, and knowing their thickskulled approach to such things, they will try to make it even duller next year because they think America wants to see them deal out pay cuts rather than max deals. They understand nothing.
 
Again.

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?