Ray Ratto

Next owner is no sure thing for Dodgers


Next owner is no sure thing for Dodgers

There are a number of assumptions floating about the air now that Frank McCourt has been convinced in that Stop jumping up and down on my feet way by Bud Selig to sell the Dodgers, and most of them are, well, wrong.Starting with the asking price. With numbers being bandied about between 1 billion and 1.5 billion, the assumption is that suitors will be both plentiful and deep-pocketed. This aint necessarily the case.For one, we are running out of egomaniacal billionaires in this country, and buying the a sports franchise is a monument to ego. The Dodgers are a crown jewel in baseball, true, but so are the problems, including stadium issues. In short, the overhead is prodigious.And for two, this is a distressed sale, as McCourt is basically broke with creditors chasing him down the street. A smart buyer can avoid a bidding war and then get down to choke-slamming McCourt into accepting his terms, because McCourt cannot not sell. Well put the price at 850 million, and are willing to consider a lower end result, no matter what is eventually announced. Ball teams, after all, have a way of reporting one price and actually fetching another.Then theres the notion that what replaces McCourt is by definition better. After all, Major League Baseball does not have a great track record of vetting owners, as proven by the fact that Frank McCourt got in in the first place. Texas was bought in a panic auction and within a year had tossed out Chuck Greenberg as its principal owner. The Giants have changed hands twice in three years. And those are successful teams. Baseball ownership is, in short, a very volatile market.To that end, some ownerships are better than others. The Dodgers could get a guy like Mark Cuban, who has a reputation for throwing money around on the product, but is also a hardliner in the NBA lockout battle. They could get a bunch of investment bankers who want the quarterly reports to be tidy. They could get a blowhard with money, or an invisible guy with none. They could get another Frank McCourt. Oh, yes, they could. And there is also the possibility that McCourt could renege on the deal on the grounds that none of the offers are good enough for him. Even cornered as he is now, McCourt has that wrench-in-the-spokes look, as though he might want to screw Bud Selig one final time in some small and unsustainable way.In short, what we think we see here is a longterm solution to the Dodgers problems and therefore a long reign of stability and power in the National League West. What we actually see is someone different who is a short-term solution to Bud Seligs problem of having approved a guy who turned one of the franchises he is charged with safeguarding into a glorified money-laundering operation.Beyond that, we have no guarantees at all.So yes, for baseball, getting rid of Frank McCourt is a good thing on a lot of fronts. But what comes next is not a slam-dunk boon to society, or even to Bud Selig. There are, as hard as this seems to fathom, worse potential owners than McCourt, who have not yet revealed themselves.In sum, this isnt better automatically. This is, however, different. If, in fact, it turns out to be anything at all.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.