Ray Ratto

Ozzie the new Billy Martin

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Ozzie the new Billy Martin

Well, hell, if wed have known that Ozzie Guillen was going to force himself onto the market, wed have made louder objections to Bob Melvins new contract in Oakland.God love Oz -- and lets be fair, when you stack him up again the Wizard Of, the Canseco, the Osbourne, the HBO prison serial and the Raider offensive lineman, hes still the craziest of all.But by going out the way he did, with a full airing of everything that was going on in his mind, he left an imprint the next three White Sox managers cannot hope to touch. Its the job you turn down to handle tsunami repairs in Japan, while staying in the hotel closest to the ruined nuclear reactor.

So of course hes going to Florida, where the situation is wildly weirder. So of course he is replacing the man who traded him to the White Sox in 1984. So of course he explained what he wanted from the team that he is leaving while denying he wants to go to the team hes going to.F--- more years. I want more money, Guillen told a group of reporters. I dont work here for years. No, I want more money. Years, what, Im going to die poor with the White Sox? Hell, no. Listen this is my job. Its the only thing I can do. I have to make money out of somewhere. Im not a doctor or a lawyer, where youll have a job for the rest of your life.Life is about money. People dont believe that. People are happy after they make money, f--- it.And Florida?You never hear me talk about that, Guillen said. You never did. Did I ever say I wanted the Marlins out of my mouth? No, thats their problem. If they want me, they should. F--- it, Im bad, Im good at what I do. They should. Everybody can want me, but its one thing if they can get me. Its not easy like, OK Im going to get you and youre going to come here. No its a process.Now who wouldnt have wanted that in Oakland? Bob Melvin is an excellent manager, but nobody is Ozzie. Nobodys been Ozzie since Billy Martin.Then again, Oaklands done that. Nostalgia only goes so far.

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

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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.

 

U.S. Soccer: Patriotism-fueled frontrunning born of inexcusable arrogance

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AP

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.