Ray Ratto

How did Bud do it?


How did Bud do it?

Bud Selig says he will retire after the 2014 season, which we believe to be a recurring whopper. That, though, isnt the cool thing.The cool thing is that he said he wants to teach and write a book. And while I have no faith at all that he would choose me to be his hagiographer . . . er, ghost writer, I do want to take that course.I want to know what he thought when Joe Torre and Bob Brenly came up him in that All-Star Game and said, We ran out of pitchers, and what are you going to do about it? I want to know how he continually enraged the Internet coven and still managed to stay more lovable than Roger Goodell, David Stern and Gary Bettman. I want to know how he managed to guide the quintupling of MLB revenues while mastering the overflowing hamper fashion statement. I want him to explain territorial rights without invoking the names James Monroe, Emperor Franz Joseph or Walter OMalley. I want to know how he not only kept the 30 owners from eating each other but became an eight-figure a year employee while doing it.And I dont want to read it in the book, where he has editorial control, but I want him in the classroom, leather patches on his coats and whiteboard marker stains on his short-sleeved white shirts, explaining it all.I want him to tell us about the letters C as in contraction, and E as in expansion, and R as in Reinsdorf, and L as in Loria. I want him to show us how an avowed purist caused interleague play, moved teams from league to league, expanded playoffs twice, and how to monetize the Internet. I want him to explain how Major League Baseball sued to gain sole control of the numbers of baseball and, after losing, profited madly from their use by others.I want him to explain how to sell a used car, a bad team to a rich guy, and an imaginary committee to an entire region of fans and get them to buy it for four years.That last one, I definitely want to take as an extra-credit class.I mean, as near as I can tell, he picked a unicorn, a sasquatch, a UFO and D.B. Cooper and convinced them to become a blue ribbon panel to study the Bay Area baseball situation. And the longer nothing happened, the longer people believed in it. He put together a mythical panel, never had the stones to even fabricate a report, then decided the Giants and As had to barter out a bribe schedule all while getting people to believe the committee did exist and was tackling a problem thornier than the Middle East.So, yeah, I want to know how he clones sheep without any sheep DNA.And I definitely want the seminar on how not to know about PEDs in 2000 after being warned about them in 1988 with all the other owners. I will absolutely play double the class fee for the steroid lecture series alone.I surely want him to preview his Hall of Fame induction speech, especially if he goes in with Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.And I really dont give a damn what grade I get, because even if his lessons are filled with historical anomalies and legacy-protecting errata, I think he could sell of it the entire, inconsistent, head-scratching, logic-defying lot.Because lets be honest, Bud Selig is a natural teacher. He can hold a classroom even while the class is furiously tweeting to their friends about what a tool the instructor is. He just has this way of sucking you in even when hes arguing that expanded replay is both bad and good at the same time. He looks fearless while constantly having a wet finger pointed into the sky to monitor the wind.He is, in short, a freaking genius. The kind of guy who has tenure as an owner, a commissioner, and with any luck, a teacher too.And I want to be part of that first class, as soon as I take a second out on the house to cover tuition. After all, its college in the new millennium, and you need the money of a drug lord to stay long enough to earn a degree these days.Or maybe I can get a McCourt Scholarship. After all, a man whom Bud turned from a hundredaire to a billionaire while being hated by Bud all the same owes a debt to the business. Thats another lesson Im ready to learn, as soon as I can get Pat Courtney, the professor's aide, to send me a class schedule.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.