Ray Ratto

Focus on Penn State's administrators


Focus on Penn State's administrators

After seeing and reading the variety of cries for restitution at Penn State University, we have seen that the targeting remains indiscriminate, even scattershot.But that figures. People are angry at something far larger than they can comprehend, and they want everything to burn, either in hell or on the temporal plane.RELATED: Freeh report says Paterno, Penn St. officials 'concealed critical facts'
Well, everything is too much, because too many innocents and uninvolved people burn too. Justice must be targeted, and the kneejerkery of closing the football program is just lazy thinking.And why? Because nobody who has advocated the death penalty for the football program has followed that logic train to closing the administration building. Because this was, and well need capital letters to emphasize this properly, A SERIES OF ADMINISTRATIVE ACTS.The Freeh Report makes this eminently clear. And do not be confused Joe Paterno was an administrator when he helped cover up the evidence of child rape on campus. He was not a coach in any sense of the word on this, and this wasnt just a bad choice. It was an act of criminality. He was in this up to his eyelids, like Graham Spanier, Gary Schultz, Tim Curley and whoever else we discover on the truth trail. They are equally culpable, because they were all administrators, making administrative decisions.RELATED: Ratto -- Paterno put 'the brand' ahead of human decency
So the demand to death-penalty the football program must logically extend to the schools administration, including those who never knew anything about Jerry Sandusky.Or it doesnt, because you dont punish the innocent for the crimes of the guilty.No current players or football staff members that we know of were aware of Sanduskys behavior if there are, they should be prosecuted with zeal. If there are not, they should be allowed to pursue their work and study without hindrance. And the same rules should apply to the people who work in the ad building.As for the money the football program generates, thats easy to solve. You make the program non-profit (which, frankly, all programs should be anyway) for an indeterminate period of time. Any money it generates should go to a rape crisis center or centers, or to restitution for the victims we know of now, or will learn of in time.And the Paterno statue and other honors that seems to chafe so many people? Im not one to support revisionist history, but a statue is nothing; a building name is nothing. Tear the statue down, leave it there, or put up one right next to it that has him covering his eyes with one hand and covering his mouth with the other. It doesnt matter, because thats not about making the wrong right. Thats about the biggest distraction in the entire mess.Joe Paternos legacy, Or, more accurately, legacies.He has as many of those as he has people he influenced. A persons legacy is not his or her own anyway it is defined by others based on their interpretations of his or her life. Joe Paternos legacy is everything that has been said about him, good, bad and potentially criminal. Its an eye-of-the-beholder thing, fodder for the marketplace of argument. And so shall it be forever.So screw the statue. Its a hunk of iron, symbolic of nothing except when it is beheld by an observer.Finally, lets remember that this story is the story of power and the defense of it. It is not the story of Penn State or the story of Penn State football, but of the oversized power it was granted by adults who had no right not to know better. It is about evil ignored, and how evil ignored is evil promoted.So fight the evil, and keep fighting it. Downgrade the power of the program, and pry open all the barriers that obscure full oversight of the entire university. Penn State did lose the right to institutional secrecy because of this, and that takes us back to the beginning.Close the ad building. Put the desks out in the quad, and let the university do its business where everyone can see it. It would be the best lesson of all for a problem that Louis Freeh showed was an administrative one.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

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.