Ray Ratto

History won't be kind to Paterno

588160.jpg

History won't be kind to Paterno

The continued deconstruction of PaternoWorld advanced to the removal of his name from the Big 10 championship trophy, thus reminding us yet again of the First Law of Tributes.

Dont name things after the living.

And the Second:

Your legacy isnt yours, but is something given to you by others.

History is not immediately inclined to look well on Paterno, unless everything we have come to learn in the past nine days is actually wrong. His contributions, and there are many, do not square with the information regarding the Jerry Sandusky scandal, and ultimately this isnt about one horrible week against 61 years of devotion. Its about nine, or 13, or God knows how many years of doing what prior generations were more inclined to do under such circumstances.

RELATED: Big Ten removes Paterno's name from trophy

Look the other way, even when looking the other way was unthinkable.

But we dont need a 15,000th recitation of what happened, because that news changes all the time.

This, rather, is the story of the undoing of Joe Paterno the symbol, and the trophy is just the first thing. Indeed, in the worst-case scenario, the revelations are such that even the family name might be removed from the library he and his wife Sue gave to the university.

And that was the legacy he wanted as much as the football. He wanted to be Penn State across the board -- Penn State, Brought To You By Joe Paterno -- and there was no reason why that wouldnt be the case.

Now, his name is being sandblasted away, and the trophy is the first sign of that.

Few people seem bothered by what under normal circumstances would be considered a rush to judgment, and for that we can cite the horrifying nature of the alleged crimes, and the size of the conspiracy of silence. And we say alleged only in the most legal sense, because the seemingly overwhelming evidence has neither been presented in a court of law or rebutted.

But in this era, where nobodys business but my own is now a quaint old song title and nothing more, judgments are evaluated by speed first, and guilt is often determined in the public domain by the time it takes to claim innocence.

In short, the rule of thumb is now, The longer it takes to craft a defense, the more likely it is a lie.

So it is with Paterno and Penn State. Sandusky is fully within the legal realm, and his guilt or innocence is already in the system, so this isnt about that. This is about the slowly disappearing Paterno.

His allies (or more accurately, defeated adversaries) have been fired or suspended. The new president has no ties to the Paterno legacy save what the school wants them to be, and the school is largely more interested in moving forward than defending the past.

In short, the Big 10 trophy is only the beginning of the undoing of the Paterno name, unless we have all jumped to the wrong conclusions about the scandal, its depth and breadth. His legacy looks like nothing so much as a slow fade to black.

And thats the thing about legacies for the living. They can be built, and they can be demolished, all while you sit and watch. Depending on how badly you need a legacy while youre alive, that can be the worst punishment of all.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.

MLS respects timing more than dominance, so Quakes have a counterpuncher's chance

quakes-ratto.jpg
USATSI

MLS respects timing more than dominance, so Quakes have a counterpuncher's chance

The San Jose Earthquakes cheated the reaper Sunday, which is news in and of itself. I mean, they’re a playoff team so rarely that getting to a 35th game is quite the achievement, and they should not begin the arduous process of sobering up until Tuesday morning.

I mean, their playoff game with Vancouver is Wednesday night, so slapping themselves back into form is probably a priority.

They got an improbable stoppage time goal from Marco Urena Sunday against Minnesota to sneak through the back door into the final Western Conference playoff spot Sunday, their first appearance in the postseason in five years. It was as electrifying a moment as Avaya Stadium has seen since it opened, and one of the best goals in franchise history if only for its importance.

That said, the Quakes also enter the postseason with a losing record (13-14-7) and the worst goal difference (minus-21) for any playoff team in league history. They are the most cinder-based of the league’s Cinderella stories, and are dismissed with prejudice by most observers as being as one-and-done as one-and-done can be without being none-and-done.

This is a league, though, that has respected timing more than dominance. In 2016, the Montreal Impact finished last in the East and got to the conference final; in 2012, Houston (which was a relocated Quakes team) just snuck in to the postseason and reached the final; in 2005 and 2009, the worst (Los Angeles and Real Salt Lake) ended up first.

In other words, the Quakes’ pedigree, modest though it is, still allows it a counterpuncher’s chance. Its attack, which is third-worst in the league, playoffs or no, is matched by its defense, which is fourth-worst in the league. Their years as a de facto vehicle for Chris Wondolowski are coming to a close, sooner rather than later. They are in no way an elegant team. They are working on their second coach of the year (Chris Leitch).

But therein lies their mutating charm. Their postseason pedigree stinks, but there is a no compelling reason why they cannot cheat a result or two. After all, the lower scoring a sport is, the greater chance for an upset, and the Quakes’ history screams that no franchise could use one more.

So they head for Vancouver, a raucous crowd and a difficult side, carrying with them only their humble resume and the indomitable cheek demanded of the upstart. I mean, anybody in their right mind would much prefer the Whitecaps’ chances, but you gotta be who you gotta be.

Plus, the Quakes are getting a 35th game, which is more than they had a right to expect, all things considered.

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

baker-dusty-head-down.jpg
USATI

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.