Ray Ratto

Dreaming of Tebow the Raider


Dreaming of Tebow the Raider

I wish Tim Tebow was the quarterback of the Oakland Raiders rather thanCarson Palmer. I wish Tim Tebow were the quarterback of the Oakland Raiders rather than anyone in the universe.I like culture shock, you see, and I believe that if there is any place on earth, and any group of people that could shake Tebows core beliefs, it is Raidervania.And vice versa.
First, this has nothing to do with religion. Religion flourishes in Oakland the way it does everywhere else in America, because we are not all that different as much as we wish we were. And Im not coming in favor of or against it, so dont come at us with that stuff. Im not interested in discussing religion with you in this context, and bringing it up gets you a ticket to Delete City.Second, this has nothing to do with football. Im already on record as saying I dont buy the mysticism surrounding Tebow, even after Sundays miraculous vanquishing of the decidedly rancid Miami Dolphins. I guess a guy with Tebows unique quarterbacking gifts has to start slowly, as though he were opening against Vanderbilt.Im also not against Palmer, orKyle Boller, or Terrelle Pryor, or draft choices, orJason Campbell, or Bruce Gradkowski. Or, because we are apparently obligated to mention the mans name at least once every three days whether he deserves it or not, Alex Smith. What Im for is slack-jawed looks of confusion, amazement and cries for help, which is why Tebow is in the wrong place in Denver. He should be playing to the Black Hole, not just a week from Sunday, but 10 times a year.Not because he couldnt do it, or wouldnt do it. Tebow seems the sort of guy who doesnt mind leading with his face on the theory that his face will win no matter how many times it gets hit.But to see the Raider clientele, which has its own core beliefs, deal with Tebows core beliefs, and the way his passes dont really spiral but get to their intended targets just often enough to make you not think he is hopeless, and the way he makesMichael Bushs runs look as though he hadKamerion Wimbleys body would somehow appeal to the audience . . .. . . well, it would be breathtaking to watch all those brains melt all at once.And it would be just as fun to see Tebow deal with Perpetual Halloween, and the burning torch that provides proof of the continuing Cult Of Al. His own skullcap would have a few 3.6, 3.7, 3.8 temblors themselves.In short, I seek the parallel universe where Hue Jackson talked John Elway into Tebow for two draft picks instead of Mike Brown. I seek the madness and the hilarity that would ensue. I seek this refreshing look at the end of the world, not as the Mayans predicted it, but as Al Davis probably envisioned it:You ----------s wont know what to do now that Im . . . what? You did what? For who? Thats it! Im coming back now and see if I can fix this, you ---------s! Im not gone two weeks and you talk to Elway and get Tebow? Youre all fired! All of you! Youd better be gone by the time I reappear on earth!Hey, its a bye week. We all have time on our hands.

Dusty Baker's postseason agonies and his Hall of Fame candidacy


Dusty Baker's postseason agonies and his Hall of Fame candidacy

Dusty Baker’s face tells a lot of different stories, but there is only one it tells in October.

Disappointment. Deflating, soul-crushing, hopeless disappointment.

With Thursday night’s National League Division Series defeat to the Chicago Cubs, the Washington Nationals have reinforced their place in the panoply of the capital’s legacy of failure.

But Baker’s agonies extend far further. His 3,500 games rank him 15th all-time, and only one manager above him, Gene Mauch, is not in the Hall of Fame. His 105 postseason games ranks seventh all-time, and his nine postseason appearances ranks sixth.

But his postseason record of 44-61 and no World Series titles curse him. He has been on the mailed backhand of eight series losses in 11 tries (plus a play-in game loss in 2013), and been marked by the media-ocracy as an old-school players’ manager who doesn’t wrap himself in the comforting embrace of statistical analysis.

He is now Marv Levy and Don Nelson – the good manager who can’t win the big one.

Only Levy and Nelson are in their respective halls of fame, and Baker probably won’t be. Having no World Series titles (his bullpen dying in 2002 being as close as he ever got) dooms him as it has doomed Mauch, although Mauch made his reputation as a brilliant tactician with bad teams.

But even if you take Baker’s worst metric – the postseason record – he still ranks in the 90th percentile of the 699 managers in the game’s history, though even then there’s the caveat of the 200 some-odd interim managers who you may choose not to count.

This is not to claim he should be in the Hall of Fame. This is to claim he should be discussed, if only to determine if reputations in the postseason are the only way managers are allowed to be evaluated. Because if that’s the case, Dusty Baker’s world-weary October face makes that conversation a very short one.


U.S. Soccer: Patriotism-fueled frontrunning born of inexcusable arrogance


U.S. Soccer: Patriotism-fueled frontrunning born of inexcusable arrogance

So Bruce Arena resigned as the U.S. National soccer team coach Friday. Big damned deal.

Oh, it is to him. He probably liked the job, and might have wanted to keep getting paid.

But whether he’s there or isn’t doesn’t matter. In fact, whether the people who hired him are there or not doesn’t matter either. U.S. Soccer is the definition of sporadic interest and patriotism-fueled frontrunning, of imbedded self-interest and general indolence, all born of inexcusable arrogance.

Bruce Arena didn’t bring that to the job, nor does he remove it by leaving. He’s just another head on a spike, like Jurgen Klinsmann was before him, and Bob Bradley before him.

But that would also be true if the head of U.S. Soccer, Sunil Gulati, quit or was fired too. Even the people bleating that the U.S. shamed itself by losing to Trinidad and Tobago display the same kind of blinkered ignorance and arrogance that dogs this sport in America.

Being in CONCACAF is a gift from the heavens, and the U.S. has decided as a national collective to replace that with actual achievement. Beating Germany in friendly is proof of long-term worth. The fact is, we don’t know how to evaluate America’s place in the soccer world except as an audience, let alone how much massive structural change is required to change that.

And change must be massive, and can’t be evaluated by the next cheap win or the next galling loss, or television ratings. America is good at watching soccer, good enough to catch on the actual chasm between its national team and development structure.

But that’s where it ends, because knowing what’s bad because you just watched it, or what is actually good (like, say, a UEFA or CONMEBOL qualifier) is light years from knowing how to fix a system built on the flawed concepts of work rate without creativity and money as a solution to crippling organizational problems.

So Bruce Arena does the decent thing given the circumstances, falling on a sword that should actually be a kebab skewer. But it makes no difference. The American soccer structure needs to get what it needs before it can get what it wants, and there are no more shortcuts to take in a short-attention-span world.