Ray Ratto

Raiders' future -- the questions


Raiders' future -- the questions

The unpleasant but necessary questions about the future of the Raiders in the wake of Al Davis death, with answers where they can be divined.

Who now owns the team?
Carol and Mark Davis, Als wife and son, apparently inherit his shares, with investors brought in over the past few years maintaining their shares. It is not yet known whether Carol and Mark also inherit the title and powers of managing general partner, which conferred all the voting stock power in Als hands.

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What is their intention?
It is believed that Mark wants to maintain ownership in Oakland, but that may not be possible with the current laws regarding estate planning. It may be that he, in conjunction with his mother, might have to consider selling off a larger portion, or even controlling interest, of the franchise. It is not known whether the present investors would have the ability to pick up the available options without having to find new ones.

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Will the Raiders remain in Oakland?
Dependent upon who becomes the controlling owner, but a return to Los Angeles is certainly not out of the question, and in fact may be more likely now than while Al Davis was alive. The other owners may be more predisposed to look favorably upon the Raiders as the second of two teams in Los Angeles, but the level of political infighting is very much yet to be determined.

How does this effect other California teams?
The Chargers, the most likely first tenant in Los Angeles, would want the Raiders to remain in Oakland so that they could have the market to themselves. More fundamentally, the 49ers would want the Raiders to stay if they view a shared stadium plan as their best chance to get a new home, but the idea that the process could begin and then the Raiders leave in the middle of planning or construction would surely give them pause. It might even destroy the project before it begins, leaving the 49ers to do their own financing, or remain in San Francisco.

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How does this impact power balance among other NFL owners?
In recent years, Als influence has waned in league matters, and the most recent collective bargaining agreement did more to harm his position. The Raiders are valued 31st by Forbes, and as they do not have other businesses against which to leverage the team, they are among the most cash-poor of the 32 franchises. That does not mean they are not quite profitable, but in relation to other operations they rank among the lowest in the league. In addition, most of the owners and league officials Al had the most sway with have died, retired or are in less powerful positions, making him less influential than Jerry Jones of Dallas, Robert Kraft of New England, the Maras of New York, Jeff Lurie of Philadelphia, Jim Irsay of Indianapolis, Steve Bisciotti of Baltimore, and a handful of others.

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.