Ray Ratto

Giants' Rolle says 'we cant be beat'


Giants' Rolle says 'we cant be beat'

If this guaranteed-win thing gets your delicates into a knot, well, there may be a flaw in your delicates.

You know what were talking about -- Giants safety Antrel Rolle essentially saying his team would win Sunday. This is much less newsy an item than him saying, We have no chance; I just I hope I can see my loved ones before we leave for the game, but thats not how it will be flogged.

But heres what Rolle told a series of reporters who patrolled the Giants locker room Monday, and you tell us when you think hes crossed a line of either logic or intent:

"We're not going to be denied. We understand what we have as a team. It's not all about talent, it's all about chemistry. We're jelling at this point."

And ...

"I might be a little biased, but in our minds, we cant be beat, Rolle said via the New York Daily News' Peter Botte. Were extremely confident and weve given ourselves the reasons to feel that way. We have to continue to give ourselves those reasons, and we will. We have no doubts. Its right there at the tip of our tongues.

And ...

You can put an All-Star team in front of us, and were going to go out there and compete, he continued. We dont fold. No matter what happens, if theres a bad call, or things arent going our way, were not going to break. Were not going to lose focus on whats at stake and our ultimate goal.

Now we dont doubt that Jim Harbaugh already has little elves in the 49ers Bunker Of Solitude turning these quotes into Alex Smith is evil, stupid, and made entirely out of Jenga blocks. We will kill him, skin him, gut him, season him, fry him and eat him at the 50-yard-line after Sundays game. Its what football people do -- the fabricating, not the cannibalism. At least not as far as we know.

But to get worked up about it is the height of stupidity. Antrel Rolle gets to talk, and he gets to brag about his team. Theyve earned it, in exactly the same way that Donte Whitner would have earned it if he said the same things (again, not the cannibalism part). Youre supposed to believe your team is ready for the big job. Youre supposed to.

I mean, hell, Jason Pierre-Paul, who is likely to create a good deal more havoc Sunday than Rolle, guaranteed a win over the Packers two weeks ago ("Were going to win," Pierre-Paul said after New York beat Atlanta. "One hundred percent were going to win ... because were the best."), and that worked out fine.

But the win had nothing to do with the oration, and all sentient beings understand that. Its all just words, and words are free.

So heres to Antrel Rolle, and whatever the 49ers have to say in response. Unless one of them loses their minds and says, This will be so easy that were actually just flying straight to Indianapolis on Saturday and skipping all those grass stains, this is nothing. Less than nothing, in fact. It doesnt even rise to the level of tedious clich any more. And anyone who wants to make this a big deal is just going to bore his or her friends.

Although, if this helps, Rolle said after the Giants lost to Washington in Week 1, As a team and organization we know that the Washington Redskins are not a better team than us. We know that. Hands down. If we played them 100 times they might win five. He might be right, but the Redskins beat them again in Week 15.

That was New Yorks last loss. So maybe if Harbaugh wants to call Mike Shanahan and ask him how he beat the Giants without resorting to murdering and consuming any players, fine. But this looks like a rhetorical dead end to us, and it should to you, too.

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.