Ray Ratto

Ratto: Could Barkley and Webber buy the Kings?


Ratto: Could Barkley and Webber buy the Kings?

April 13, 2011RATTO ARCHIVE
Ray Ratto
The idea of Charles Barkley and Chris Webber buying the Sacramento Kings is so delicious, so exciting and so utterly preposterous that it should happen, at least in one parallel universe. A universe, we can all agree, that we should be able to at least visit, since it wont be happening in the one we currently inhabit.It seems that the fellows were giving the Maloof brothers, Chip and Dale, a right hiding for turning the Kings into a slick unlit hairpin turn in the NBA autobahn on Inside The NBA last night, and in doing so, they announced that they would buy the Kings.
This promptly induced two thoughts:1. With whose money will they be performing this act of mercy?And 2. Do those two erudite and charming gentlemen realize that theres the sale price, and then theres the debt load, and then theres the arena money, and then theres the investors to jolly up, and that 300 million turns into 800 awfully fast?NEWS: Kings finale feels like farewell for Sacramento
And then a third question leaped up: Do they understand that TNT will put contracts out on their lives for blowing up the best show on television? There are only so many Bones re-runs you can show before people start noticing.In short, if they can do this, great. But they cant do this. You know it. I know it. Sacramento knows it. Hell, even they know it. I mean, Ernie Johnsons face went all Celtic green when he heard them say it, because he knew they were already covetously eyeing his portfolio:Cmon, Ernie, you know you want to. You can have your section: Ernies Straight Men. Itll be fun. Besides, you dont want to work with backup versions of us, do you? Oh, and do you have Kenny Smiths Twitter account?Give them credit, though, for making the Maloof boys feel uncomfortable. The Maloofs were heroes in Sacramento when they bought the team from Gregg Luginbill and equally unmoneyed partners, and they stayed heroes until their other businesses tanked, and they couldnt get a new downtown arena, and the Kings got swindled in that playoff game with the Lakers, and like that there.RELATED: Is there enough room for 3 NBA teams in L.A?
Then they became public enemies. And if Barkley and Webber become the new faces of the franchise, they will really be yesterdays news.But the backhand that is relocating their jaws right now is the same backhand that will land on Barkley and Webber when they discover what it will take to revivify the Monarchy (as opposed to the Monarchs, which is another story entirely). Presumably the sale price will be north of the current Forbes valuation of 293M. But for arguments sake, lets say they make it work at 300M for purposes of math. They will now have a bad team, in an aging arena, on the outskirts of Bend, Oregon, in a state that is so much more broke than the Maloofs that they make the Maloofs look like Monte Carlo.And the City of Sacramento, which already has Kevin Johnson as mayor, does not have Kevin Johnsons money to play with, either. In short, its a broke team in a broke city in a broke state, and only enormous amounts of money, energy, spirit and money will change its fortunes.Put it this way. If the team costs 300M, the arena is going to run another 500M after all, you have to include the spiraling cost of graft. And in case you havent noticed, America is running out of billionaires with money bursting from their couches.Unless, of course, Larry Ellison, who was bearded out of the Warrior sale by Chris Cohans desperate desire never to sell to him, decides that he could do this team instead. Hes got money on money.He also has enough ego that he could do this without Barkley and Webber, and even if he wanted them for the sake of camaraderie, he doesnt want them around to make actual decisions. And one did not get the feeling last night that Chas. and C-Webb wanted to buy the Kings to be silent partners.Thus, the story that the Maloofs may not have the owner votes to leave Sactown, while gratifying, doesnt actually bell the cow, which is, Who wants a ball team?Charles Barkley and Chris Webber do. But their wanting it is about as useful as saying I want it. I mean, it would be fun and all, but Im a little short right now. Its tax day, got kids in school, and I only have so much bone marrow, blood and organs to sell.And so, with all due respect to the fellas and their fervor in the cause, do CharlesnChris. I mean, theres money, and then theres money, yknow?

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.