Ray Ratto

Ratto: Be careful about cheering Dodgers' demise


Ratto: Be careful about cheering Dodgers' demise

June 27, 2011


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Were I you (and lets all agree what a bad idea that would be), I wouldnt be quite so smug about the Dodgers filing for bankruptcy, as they did today.Sure, it may make Giant fans feel good, and it might inspire in As fans that There but for the grace of God . . . feeling. But thats not what the Dodgers going Chapter 11 is about at all.
NBC BAY AREA: Dodgers' bankruptcy could affect Stow case
This is about Frank McCourt wanting another 150 million to operate the team while he shakes his bare behind at Bud Selig and says, Hey, Buddy, better get some more lawyers, and make sure they bring their lunches. Its on now, Giggles.And it is. The Dodgers are about to become the St. Louis Browns in ways the As never have been. In fact, when As fans think of Frank McCourt, they should hit their knees and thank the God that killed Cain and squashed Samson that they have Johnny-Boy Fisher and Lew Wolff. At least theyre not actually looting the team through shell companies to pay for messy divorces.
Worse than that, though, the Dodgers hold down a job in your brains that nobody else does -- as The Team You Can Mindlessly Hate For No Better Reason Than The Fact They Exist.NEWS: Dodgers file for bankruptcy in battle with MLB
Every fan base should have one, in fact, and those that dont have to scramble about trying to find a cheap substitute. The Giants have the Dodgers, and the As have the Giants, and beyond that ... you got squat. Bupkiss. Nada. The null set.The 150 million that the bankruptcy filing frees up is ostensibly for the care and upkeep of the team, which is on the verge of missing payroll. It isnt going to suddenly turn into Prince Fielder, so calm down.But the weak, pathetic, small-minded Dodgers, run by a carpet-bagging lamprey who is trying to loot the team to pay for his hideous divorce and still make eight or nine figures for his continued personal enjoyment, are not in your best interest.You need the Dodgers as big and as bad and as imperious as possible, because you are invested in them being big and bad and imperious. Those characteristics feed your scorn, and it salts and spices your mindless chants of Beat-L-A. The fourth-place Dodgers, winning 73 games and wearing barrels with shoulder straps where the uniform used to go just doesnt cut it. You know it, we know it, they know it.This isnt about hating the Dodgers, or hating anything. This is about taking comfort in the caricature of the Dodgers (or in the case of As fans, the caricature of the Giants). Mocking these Dodgers has a bit of the running-over-the-dead-squirrel feel to it.And it also serves as a reminder that every team in the world is a bad owner away from destruction. Tradition, history, the beauty of the game, the shared experience, the passing of one generation to the next ... its all one small-minded rich guy away from going to hell.Between the owners principal goal of buying high and selling higher, the way that produces owners who buy with debt rather than with cash (see Frank McCourt again), and the way they demand that cities build them playing palaces on their own dimes and then let the owners take the profits from those buildings ... were all one venal thought away from hating the teams we grew up loving.Dodger fans didnt ask for Frank McCourt. Frank McCourt was thrust upon them like a lien against their property. They were fine with the OMalleys, and didnt mind them owning the team in perpetuity. Now theyre stuck looking at the Giants, the ones they mocked for the Bonds years, and saying, Man, wouldnt it be cool to be them?And you would look at them and say, with your usual magnanimousness, Take a hike. Live with the shame of your team. Go watch Tommy Lasorda begging for money by freeway on-ramps. No room here at this inn for you.Then you feel bad for looking like the fan you have always hated. Yes you do. Dont try to pass that off.So dont get too happy about the Dodgers latest shame-fest. You get no enjoyment in beating the weakened, you need the strong rivalry, you know this could be your team in five years, and youd want them to let you up when it happens to you.And dont try to pass that off, either. 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.