Ray Ratto

Ratto: 49ers' stadium drive stalls short of end zone


Ratto: 49ers' stadium drive stalls short of end zone


So maybe, in light of the fact that the stadium cost overruns have begun and the 49ers still dont have half the money they need to make this Santa Clara thing happen, we need to tell them this:

If you aint got it, kids, move on. Either start sucking up to San Francisco again, find the other 500 large on your own, or just stop talking about it.

We bring this up because the 49ers, without anyone asking them, trumpeted the one-year anniversary of the vote from about 62 citizens from the City of Santa Clara that said they would be welcomed with open arms and turned-out pockets. And whats happened in that year?

The stadium costs another 50 million, no doubt for the platinum-inlaid urinals on the suite level. The financing from the 49ers and the NFL went, in the charming words of the San Jose Mercury News, from 493 million to unclear. The new governor of our state -- who is the same as the old governor of our state, only without the extraneous family -- is casting a covetous eye on the states development money. And there is a pending lockout by the owners of the players, of which John C. and John E. York clearly approve.

In short, the gap between can-do and theyre-screwed is growing, and all this inertia is allowing us to worry about the million billion other things that tend to intrude upon our lives.

Like the largely absurd Camp Alex, in which players who have been told by their boss not to come to work are working on the side, for free, so that theyll be ready to work harder when they are allowed back inside the compound.

Theres a name for this kind of labor-without-recompense philosophy: Student-Athlete.

But lets get back to the stadium that isnt, and may never be, shall we? Because there is nothing quite like perpetually undeveloped real estate to make the blood run hot.

The 49ers have talked this stadium to death and beyond, when it is painfully clear to anyone who can read a Forbes Magazine that they cant do this themselves. They keep saying they have good financing, but nobody gets to see it. They say theyre ready, and there is neer a shovel on the site.

This means one thing. They havent got the money yet, and they dont know where to find it. They may even think that investing half the family worth in a football stadium is a less than prudent investment, an idea whose time is beginning to come for a lot of teams and a lot of cities.

So why are we celebrating the first birthday of this stuff and nonsense? So that people will say, Hey, we forgot! Wheres the stadium?

I mean, since they forgot about it and need a press release reminding them, one can only conclude that it clearly is not an idea that resonates in their minds. I mean, what with trying to find schools for their kids that can afford pencils, jobs that dont evaporate and cost of living rises that shame Paraguay and all.

Thus, to the 49ers, heres an anniversary to celebrate and trumpet. The one when you say, in a press release as gaudy as the one you just put out:

Hi kids. Yorks here.

Listen, we still want the stadium, we still think its a good idea and all, but were not ready, and apparently neither are you. Its called re-bar fatigue, and we dont even have any re-bar yet.

So heres the deal. The Santa Clara thing is what we in the construction business call dead in the water, which means we have no hole in the ground to show you, and no bankbook to show how close we are to making the hole. Hey, it happens.

This then is our pledge to you. Were not going to say another word about it until burly men and burlier women with shovels and back hoes and cement mixers show up and start making that hole. Well get the money, well do the work, and we promise above all to shut up about it until the work has at least gone past the standing around and scratching our heads stage. Dont think another thing about it. Honest.

And if it doesnt get done, we wont blame anyone. Sometimes stuff just happens, and part of being a good citizen in these perilous times is in knowing when not to whine about it. So were not going to whine. Well either do, or we wont, and either way, were at your service.

People would applaud that rare bit of candor. Plus, theyd be able to return to their daily lives and say in a moment of tavern-inspired reverie, Remember that Camp Alex thing? I wonder why it never caught on in any other line of work.

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.