Ray Ratto

Mark Jackson's next sermon


Mark Jackson's next sermon

OAKLAND -- Mark Jackson has himself a grand sermon for the next time he is on pulpit duty. And the lesson is, "What Goes Around Comes Around; It's All In What You Do When It Arrives."Jackson has released information about an extortion attempt over an affair he had six years ago with a stripper named Alexis Adams. Adams and her alleged co-conspirator, Marcus Shaw, have been arrested for threatening torelease information of the affair, including audio and photos.RELATED: Jackson confirms extortion attempt; Warriors stand by their coach
Jackson, who acknowledges the affair and also that he paid 5,000 at the time for the recording and photos that he later destroyed, was approached later by Shaw, claiming to be in the reputation management business, demanding a six-figure payment to prevent the information from being released to the media.Or, as The Smoking Gun quoted the document, 'the vultures of the media.'Only Jackson did the one thing that seemingly honest folks do when confronted by a squeeze. He contacted the FBI, which worked with Jackson to get recordings of the threats and arrested the two. And then he released the information to the "vultures" acknowledging his wrongdoing ahead of time.Ahh, the truth, forthrightly delivered. What a notion.What we seem to have here is a man making a profound marital error, owning up to it both to his wife (at the time, which resulted in a reconciliation) and then to the media when confronted by it. No spinning or prevarication, as far as we know, no misdirection or misplaced anger. On the assumption that he is being square with this story (and yes, we>have to use disclaimers even for men of the cloth), this was the best and only real way to handle it.Now if Jackson is not being square, his reputation is shredded, because America has a low tolerance for those who purport to stand on the higher moral plane residing south of that standard. But if he is, he can, and>probably will, stand before his flock and face the music knowing if nothing else that whatever he receives either in support or reproval will be accepted with a clear conscience and the knowledge that he has tried to make his failing right.And a clear conscience produced by making sincere amends is a highly underrated commodity.Ray Ratto is a columnist forCSNBayArea.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.