Ray Ratto

L.A. Rams-49ers rivalry could be renewed


L.A. Rams-49ers rivalry could be renewed

If youve been casting about for an archrival for the 49ers I mean, now that theyre no longer cruddy and boring and foolish and awful help may be on the way.Within six months of their mutually terminating their preseason deal with the Raiders for security reasons, and within a month of their exposing the NFC West as a group without any natural animosities, good news comes from St. Louis.
Seems that Stan Kroenke, owner of the Rams, has made an offer on the Dodgers, one which should be taken seriously. Which means, by the rules of ownership in the NFL, if he gets the Dodgers, the Rams come to L.A.The wisdom, explained by the lovely and talented Mike Ozanian of Forbes, The Magazine For People Who Have A Crapload Of Money More Than You Can Ever Dream About, goes like this:The NFL prohibits owners of a team in one city from owning a team in another city in another league. For instance, and as an example with momentary historical validity, Jed York could not run the 49ers and the Pittsburgh Penguins.So if Kroenke were to get the Dodgers, he would have to know that he could break his lease in St. Louis, where the city council is voting in February on a plan to throw money into an upgrade of Edward Jones Stadium by 2015. If they dont, he can leave in 2015, and the new L.A. football stadium (which is still mostly a coffee table book with cannabis resin on the cover) could be ready by 2016.And suddenly instant blood enemy. The same guy who owns the Dodgers and Rams, who also owns WalMart (and you cant spell WalMart without the L and the A). For local fans who have tried and failed to work up a good hate-on for the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals, let alone the Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres, it would be perfect.And to make it even better, Kroenkes real first name is Enos. As in Cabell. Tell me you folks wouldnt want to make some hay with that.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.