Ray Ratto

Ratto: Beltran deal a feather in Sabean's cap

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Ratto: Beltran deal a feather in Sabean's cap

July 27, 2011

RATTO ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEO

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CSNBayArea.com

On a day with big and big-gish names flying hither and yon, the Giants still ended up with the biggest name of all -- Carlos Beltran.Oh, you may debate Donovan McNabb to Minnesota as the deal of the day, or you may choose the crazy 49er-centric route and talk about David Baas to the New York Giants (well, we said youd be crazy), but the Giants nailing down Beltran in exchange for people not on the big league roster or named Gary Brown is a pretty significant bit of Sabeana.It is, by any definition, a good trade by the Giants. The matter of whether it will be a good trade FOR the Giants. That will be up to Beltran.RELATED: Giants deal Wheeler to Mets for Beltran
But the surprise here, that Sandy Alderson of the Mets would come off his top-prospects-and-cash demand before the last minute, is an indication that teams were dropping off New Yorks asking price, while Sabean kept finessing his offer without getting to the Brandon Belt trip-wire.And ultimately, he got the answer to the question, Will the Giants try to win this without a three-, four- or five-hitter? And the answer is no.Beltran was damaged goods as recently as last year, a player who seemed to be past his sell-by date. But his rising profile this year, and the apparent rekindling of his joy, made him the most appealing trade piece of the July shopping season.For that, Sabean deserves credit, and he will get it. More nationally than locally, to be sure, because Sabeans reputation runs opposite to that of Barry Bonds. With Bonds, the closer you were to the Thing On King, the more you liked him, and the further away, the less he appealed. With Sabean, it works the other way around.He is not as comfortable with that as he lets on; like anyone, he likes to be thought of well. He just doesnt make the minimal effort to inspire good feelings that much, and he hit a new fan low when he had his Scott Cousins snap on KNBR earlier this year.But this will jack him back up in local estimation. He came up with the goods in a crowded market, and he didnt denude his minor league system, and he didnt spend money the ownership group didnt have, and he didnt saddle the operation with a huge contract for a middle-aged player.Yet. Beltrans contract expires at seasons end, and he will presumably be expensive to retain. But thats Decembers problem. July 27ths problem is solved. July 26ths, of course, was Barry Zito, but now even his daily gyrations seem insignificant because of the central truth about Giant fans.They are suckers for something new. Before that, Good Zito was new, and before that, Nate Schierholtz was kind of new, and before that, the Posey Outrage was new, and before that, Brandon Crawford and his Hope Solo eyes were new, and . . . well, you get it. Its Short Attention Span Theatre out there, and Beltran is the newest and brightest name on the marquee.He has about a week to make good, then. That, too, is part of the deal here. Youre as good as your last eight at-bats in this town, and the number of at-bats shrinks a little more every month.Anyway, big ups to Brian Sabean and the deal of the season. Now its up to Carlos Beltran to prove that Sabean earns them.Ray Ratto is a columnist with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

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.